Isaiah: God Speaks to People of Sodom

jesus-on-cross

Isaiah One

Hear O heavens! Give ear O earth!

For the LORD has spoken:

“Children I have raised and brought up,

but they have rebelled against me.

The ox knows its owner;

the donkey its master’s trough;

Israel does not know,

my people does not understand.”

Woe! Sinning nation,

guilt laden people,

evil generation,

corrupt children.

They have forsaken the LORD:

they have turned away from the Holy One of Israel;

they have turned back. . . .

Hear* the word of the LORD, governors of Sodom;

give ear to the teaching of our God, people of Gomorrah. . . .

When you spread out your hands [to pray],

I will turn my eyes from you.

Even though you multiply your prayers,

I am not listening.

It is blood that fills your hands.

[*Hebrew does not recognize a distinction between hearing and doing. If you do not obey a command you do not truly hear it.]

Wash to be clean!

Take away the evil of your deeds from before my eyes.

Stop doing evil; learn to do good. . . .

“Come now, let us argue it out together,” says the LORD.

“Even if your sins were like scarlet,

they could become white like snow.

Even if they were like crimson,

they could be like wool.

If you are willing and listen,

you will eat the best of the land.

But if you refuse and rebel,

the sword will devour you.”

For the mouth of the LORD has spoken.

“This passage [18ff] provides a conclusion to the contrast between [religious system] and ethical behavior . . . there is only one intelligent course of action—obedience and submission.”

“. .. what God is asking the people to debate with him is the wisdom of the two alternatives that are left them. Should they continue as they are and be destroyed, or should they obey God and be blessed?”

“God does not contend with us as though he wished to pursue our sins to the utmost. There is hope, but in God’s way, not ours.”

“There is a delicate balance to be maintained here between human freedom and divine sovereignty. On the one hand, it ought not to be said that obedience produces forgiveness. God forgives and cleanses not because he must, but because he wishes to and has made a way for that to be done through the death and resurrection of Christ. But, on the other hand, it is also plain that God does not proclaim forgiveness to those who are unwilling to obey.”

“The primary emphasis in Scripture is upon act. It is not how one feels but what one does that is of primary importance.”

–John N. Oswalt, The Book of Isaiah, The New International Commentary on the Old Testament

How the West Is Killing Christianity

Originally posted on News and Information:

Foreign wars and conflicts launched and promoted by the United States and its allies since 2003 have led directly to the widespread persecution of Christians in Africa and the Middle East.

The ongoing slaughter of Christians, followed by the exodus of upwards of 1 million of them from war-torn countries like Syria and Iraq, where Christianity flourished for nearly two millennia, has encouraged many observers to warn of the death rather than decline of Christianity in that part of the world.

The great irony of the plight of Christians is that Western leaders, who profess to be Christian, were the ones who launched the wars that have torn the Middle East apart and created the most toxic sectarian nightmare in which Christians have become victims, often portrayed as supporters of Western interventionist policies. Some of the oldest Christian denominations, with links back to the time of Christ and his disciples…

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Three Passages that Prove Jesus was Violent (or not)

Michael Snow:

Excellent, succinct presentation of three misused NT passages. Fuller discussion of Two Swords here.

Originally posted on dave stimers:

Most people who have investigated Jesus even a little bit would agree that Jesus taught peace.  His ethic of enemy love, praying for those who persecute you, and blessing those who curse you are not hard to find.  But that hasn’t stopped people from debating how far this nonviolent teaching should be pushed, and how widely applied.  There are many layers to this, but in this post (and the next) I want to take on a couple of objections to deep and wide applications of Jesus’ nonviolent teaching.

The first objection is a biblical one: “Jesus taught peace, but also acted violently himself at times.  There are a number of passages that seem to prove that Jesus, at least sometimes, acted violently.  So, we shouldn’t take his ethic of nonviolence to apply to certain situations, just as Jesus didn’t.”

Let’s take a closer look at some of the common passages that…

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Yeshua Ha’Mashiach: Crucified

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Isaiah 52:13ff

“Behold, my servant [Targ. adds “the Messiah”] will accomplish his purpose;

he will be high and lifted up, and very exalted.

Just as many were appalled over you–

his appearance was a disfigurement from the human

and his form from that of humanity–

so he will startle many nations…

He was despised, a rejection of people,

a man of pain, one who knows sickness

and like a hiding of face from him,

he was despised, and we did not pay attention to him.

But surely it was our sickness he carried,

our pains he bore.

But we considered him stricken,

smitten of God and afflicted.

But he was pierced through for our rebellion,

crushed for our iniquities;

the punishment for our peace was on him,

and his welts made healing  for us

All of us, like sheep we go astray,

each one to his own way we have turned;

but the Lord has caused to fall on him

the inquity of us all.

 From NICOT, Isaiah, by Prof. John Oswalt, Distinguished Professor of Old Testament at Asbury Theological Seminary.

High and lifted up are used in combination four times in this book (and no where else in the OT). In the other three places (66:1; 33:10; 57:15) they describe God….The same point may be made concerning exalted….only God can be lifted up. Is it here than being said that the nation of Israel [the explanation of some for ‘servant’] will be exalted to the place of God? Is it a prophet of Israel? In each case the answer must be no.  This is the Messiah or no one.”

53:7 …Like a sheep…

“the only extended metaphor in this poem involves sheep, the primary animals of sacrifice.”

“the Servant will be exalted to highest heaven…because it was all in order to carry the sin of the world away to permit God’s children to come home to him….redemption.”

“The text must still be read through the eyes of faith, but with that faith the mystery is no longer about how it is possible for sinful humans to have a healthy and whole relationship with God.  The only mystery is how God could love us like that.”

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Good Friday–Dying for the Ungodly

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Romans 5

Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, . . . the love of God has been poured out within our hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given to us.For while we were still helpless, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. For one will hardly die for a righteous man; though perhaps for the good man someone would dare even to die. But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. Much more then, having now been justified by His blood, we shall be saved from the wrath of God through Him. 10 For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son, much more, having been reconciled, we shall be saved by His life. 11 And not only this, but we also exult in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received the reconciliation.

We, as Christians, need to hold onto a keen awareness of the facts to which Paul points us in Romans 5.

Christ died for the ungodly (v. 6).

While we were sinners, Christ died for us (v. 8).

Even while we were enemies, . . . (v. 10)!

Accepting this sharpens our hearing as we listen to the words of our Lord:  “ But I say to you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you,  so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven; for He causes His sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous.”–Matthew 5

Christ tells us to imitate our Father.

 “But I say to you who hear, love your enemies, do good to those who hate you,  bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you. . . .  and you will be sons of the Most High; for He Himself is kind to ungrateful and evil men.  Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful.”–Luke 6

What resources do we have to obey? The gift given when we were reconciled. Romans 5 tells us that   “the love of God has been poured out within our hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given to us.”

Adolf Schlatter writes, “The ungodly were loved by the one who did the will of God.  The act of love by which he unites the ungodly with himself, at the same time is the act of obedience by which he does the will of God. Hence his love originates from God’s love. He has demonstrated the extent to which God values the person and intently unites him with himself, in that Christ died for the ungodly.” (Romans, p. 123f)

Thus, we (who were loved even as enemies) trust and obey and praise God for Good Friday! You might like to read Charles Spurgeon’s reflections on this day. See April 10 in his Morning and Evening book and read some of the days before and after. (You can find this to read on-line.) Spurgeon truly understood the effects and implications of Good Friday, both in what Christ did for us, and what He calls us to do for others.  Spurgeon Quotes Here

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Palm Sunday 2/3 – He (Jesus) set His face to go to Jerusalem!

Originally posted on agnus dei - english + romanian blog:

Pentru traducere automata, fa click aici – Romanian

from Desiring God. You can listen to the audio for this John Piper sermon here.

Luke 9:51-56

Luke describes the arrival of Jesus in Jerusalem at the beginning of that last week of his earthly life:

As he was drawing near, at the descent of the Mount of Olives, the whole multitude of the disciples began to rejoice and praise God with a loud voice for all the mighty works that they had seen, saying, “Blessed is the King who comes in the name of the Lord! Peace in heaven and glory in the highest! (Luke 19:37, 38)

Palm Sunday: Today and To Come

There is no doubt what was in the disciples’ minds. This was the fulfillment of Zechariah’s prophecy given centuries earlier:

Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion! Shout aloud, O daughter of Jerusalem! Lo, your king…

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