For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I have been fully known.
So now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; but the greatest of these is love.
The ‘still small voice’ of 1 Kings 19 is possibly the most frequently preached text from the books of Kings. Preachers love to point out that hearing God is often a matter of quietness, that God more often speaks in whispers than thunder, and that sometimes the most spectacular signs are the ones that pass by almost unnoticed. This is true, but often what passes by unnoticed is the biblical-theological significance of this moment. (more…)
My university graduation featured an address by a speaker who told us he intended to be “aspirational, inspirational, and motivational”. Sadly, he was none of those things, but was a rather dull speaker who trotted out the standard tropes of such occasional addresses: work hard; act well towards your colleagues and clients; persevere towards a better tomorrow. (more…)
Ezekiel is full of terrifying words from God. For the prophet Ezekiel, they often have a double edge to them: not only are they awful words of judgement on Israel for their rebellion and apostasy, but he is charged with speaking them to a stiff-necked people, hard-headed and hard-hearted, who do not want to listen to God’s word (cf. Ezek 3:4-7). God grants Ezekiel a hardness of his own to match that of his hearers, but this is still one of the toughest jobs around—Ezekiel here must warn God’s people of his impending judgement, so that they might turn away from the evil they’ve been doing. (more…)
“Why do you seek the living among the dead?
He is not here, but has risen.”
Even for the women who had known Jesus well—who by now must have been accustomed to apparently tangential answers and statements from the lips of Jesus—I guess that on the scale of unexpected questions this would be about a nine. (more…)
“Thus says the Lord GOD: Behold, I will open your graves and raise you from your graves, O my people. And I will bring you into the land of Israel. And you shall know that I am the LORD, when I open your graves, and raise you from your graves, O my people. And I will put my Spirit within you, and you shall live, and I will place you in your own land. Then you shall know that I am the LORD; I have spoken, and I will do it, declares the LORD.”
Poor Ezekiel. I can’t think of a biblical character I feel more sorry for, more often. Charged with the unwelcome job of speaking God’s word to Israel—the nation who in God’s own estimation are a rebellious, stiff-necked people who do not listen—he gets some of the worst gigs in prophetic history. He’s required by God to not just tell people what they’ve done and what is about to happen, but show them as well (because if he simply told them, they wouldn’t listen). (more…)
And they sang a new song, saying,
“Worthy are you to take the scroll
and to open its seals,
for you were slain, and by your blood you ransomed
Oh sing to the LORD a new song;
sing to the LORD, all the earth!
Sing to the LORD, bless his name;
I charge you in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who is to judge the living and the dead, and by his appearing and his kingdom: preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, and exhort, with complete patience and teaching.
But the people refused to obey the voice of Samuel. And they said, “No! But there shall be a king over us, that we also may be like all the nations, and that our king may judge us and go out before us and fight our battles.”
What do you look for in a leader? When it comes to election time, in addition to policy platforms do you look for any attributes in particular? Israel certainly had something in mind for the leader they wanted to replace the aging judge Samuel:
If the Bible’s all-time favourite passages were ranked, I suspect this verse would make the top three. From t-shirts to sandwich boards to The Simpsons, “John 3:16” has appeared almost everywhere. That John 3:16 is famous seems beyond doubt. Whether the awesome implications of this passage are appreciated, however, is perhaps harder to gauge. (more…)
Where do you go to worship God? Muslims face east in prayer, and may go on the Hajj (The Muslim pilgrimage to Mecca.); Jews might go to the Wailing Wall in Jerusalem; you go… to church? (more…)
“For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures, and that he appeared to Cephas, then to the twelve. Then he appeared to more than five hundred brothers at one time, most of whom are still alive, though some have fallen asleep. Then he appeared to James, then to all the apostles. Last of all, as to one untimely born, he appeared also to me.”
In the midst of being busy—busy at home, busy at work, busy at play—it can be so easy to not keep the main thing the main thing. This can be our experience today, and it was certainly the experience of the church in Corinth, which had gone off-centre. They claimed to be wise, but they hadn’t wised-up to what Jesus did for them. They claimed to be mature, but they didn’t have any problems in abusing their sexuality. They claimed to be gifted, but they neglected the greatest gift of all, love. (more…)
“As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good, to bring it about that many people should be kept alive, as they are today.”
My younger sister and I have never had much of a sibling rivalry. I suspect it was lack of imagination rather than anything else, but mostly we were pretty good to each other. Apparently I once made some comment about taking all the good genes and leaving her the dross—which she continues to remind me of—but nothing really major went on. (more…)
Over my years in Christian ministry I have fielded more questions on the theme of predestination than any other—from Christians, at least. Does God choose me? Does that mean I’m just a puppet, or a robot, or otherwise uninvolved or irrelevant in the whole process? Isn’t that unfair? And when we look at what the Bible has to say about God’s election, surprise is the most common reaction. We find it’s a reason to praise God, not to be embarrassed by or confused about what he’s said and done. (more…)