Saturday, October 22, 2011

Psalm 110, Jesus as King, Priest and Judge!

Psalm 110 is seven short verses that really brim over with knowledge, prophecy and even doctrine. In the book of Matthew (22) Jesus quotes the first verse to the Pharisees asking them how David, speaking through the Holy Spirit, could call the Messiah “Adonai” (Lord). You see, the Pharisees probably knew that this was a Messianic psalm, but they hadn’t really understood that it revealed the Messiah would be divine, too.

Vs. 1 says
The LORD (Yahweh) says to my Lord (Adonai): “Sit at my right hand until I make your enemies a footstool for your feet.”

Jesus asks the Pharisees, “What do you think about the Messiah? Whose son is he?” They quickly answer that he is the son of David. Jesus asks then how the Messiah could be both the son of David and his Lord, quoting the above psalm. That stops the Pharisees in their tracks. They had never thought it out before.

There’s a lot more in that single verse. God gives the Messiah right hand authority, Kingship, and then leaves room for a great expanse of time – “until” his enemies are completely subjugated. Making your enemies a “footstool for your feet” refers to Joshua 10: 24-25 when the captains put their feet on the necks of the kings they conquered. When it was written this first verse of Psalm 110 was prophetical, now it is historical for Jesus now sits at the right hand of God.

There’s a lesson in each succeeding verse, but I’ll summarize: The LORD makes the Messiah the Ruler, his troops (we) are as numerous as the dew, the Messiah acts as a priest (covering our sins once and for all), the second coming is in verse 5, then the Judgment and finally the Triumph.

A couple of cool things I discovered while trying to puzzle out parts of this psalm were in verse 3. The Messiah’s troops will be arrayed in holy majesty, that is, dressed in priestly robes. (See Revelation 19:14 –
And the armies which were in heaven followed him upon white horses, clothed in fine linen, white and clean.) The troops will be great in number like the “dew of your youth” which was confusing until I found this in Micah 5: 7: "And the remnant of Jacob shall be in the midst of many people as a dew from the LORD." When I looked at the original I found that the Hebrew word for dew is just one letter off from the word for lamb. Perhaps God was making a play on words since so often Christians are referred to as Jesus’ flock.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Today is Brought to You by the OT book of Hosea

The major theme of the Old Testament book of Hosea is that Israel is Jehovah’s adulterous wife, apostate, sinful and rejected, but ultimately to be purified and restored. The book is in 3 parts: the dishonored wife, the sinful people and the ultimate blessing and glory of Israel.

Here is a summary of the story of Hosea:

God tells the prophet Hosea to take “an adulterous wife” so he marries a woman named Gomer. Think about how humiliating that must have been for Hosea. (After all, Jesus was judged as “no prophet” when He merely let a prostitute touch His feet.) Gomer has two sons and a daughter. God tells Hosea to name the first son Jezreel, the daughter Lo-Ruhamah and the second son Lo-Ammi. The names are important to the story. They mean “God scatters”, “not loved” and “not my people”. Take a moment and think about how significant those names are.

Gomer is, as expected, an adulterous wife and Hosea rebukes her for the adultery. She leaves to be with her lovers, but we read a poetic declaration of Hosea’s (read God’s) love and promise of mercy. Look at Hosea 2: 14-23:

14 “Therefore I am now going to allure her; I will lead her into the wilderness and speak tenderly to her.
15 There I will give her back her vineyards, and will make the Valley of Achor a door of hope. There she will respond as in the days of her youth, as in the day she came up out of Egypt.
16 “In that day,” declares the LORD, “you will call me ‘my husband’; you will no longer call me ‘my master.’
17 I will remove the names of the Baals from her lips; no longer will their names be invoked.
18 In that day I will make a covenant for them with the beasts of the field, the birds in the sky and the creatures that move along the ground. Bow and sword and battle I will abolish from the land, so that all may lie down in safety.
19 I will betroth you to me forever; I will betroth you in righteousness and justice, in love and compassion.
20 I will betroth you in faithfulness, and you will acknowledge the LORD.
21 “In that day I will respond,” declares the LORD— “I will respond to the skies, and they will respond to the earth;
22 and the earth will respond to the grain, the new wine and the olive oil, and they will respond to Jezreel.
23 I will plant her for myself in the land; I will show my love to the one I called ‘Not my loved one.’ I will say to those called ‘Not my people,’ ‘You are my people’; and they will say, ‘You are my God.’”

Did you notice at the end the wonderful references to the names of Hosea’s children? Do you see the prophetic story of God’s persistent love for His children? Since the beginning of time God’s ungrateful and undeserving creation has been accepting God’s love, grace, and mercy while still unable to abstain from sin and wickedness.

Hosea reconciles with his wife. In fact, he has to buy her back from the sex trade. The last part of Hosea shows how God’s love once again restores His children as He forgets their transgressions when they turn back to Him with a repentant heart.

The prophetic message of Hosea foretells the coming of Israel’s Messiah 700 years in the future. Hosea is quoted often in the New Testament and is one of the most significant books of the Old Testament. No other messenger gives as full a summary of the ways of God with man as this book does. For example, Hosea reveals that God suffers when His people are unfaithful to Him. Hosea shows that God cannot condone sin. Yet through the marvelous analogy of Hosea’s love for Gomer we see that God will never cease to love His people. And most marvelously of all we learn that God seeks us and will not fail to win us back no matter how far we have sunk and abandoned Him.

(this was an excerpt from CROSSING THE SCRIPTURES)

Tuesday, October 18, 2011


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Sunday, October 16, 2011

Paying Taxes

Have you heard the quote “Give unto Caesar the things that are Caesar’s”? This comes from the story in Matthew 22. Jesus has been talking in parables to answer many of the accusations that the Pharisees, chief priests and elders make. He catches them up every time, of course, and they get angrier and angrier. They decide to lay plans to trap Jesus in his words.

The Pharisees, who are traditionalists and ritualists, send their lesser known disciples off to team up with the Herodians. The Herodians, who supported the Roman authority in Palestine, were actually the Pharisees’ enemies. The two groups try flattery and praise to begin with: they say, “Teacher, we know that you are a MAN OF INTEGRITY and that YOU TEACH the way of God IN ACCORDANCE WITH THE TRUTH. YOU AREN’T SWAYED by men, because you pay no attention to who they are.” Ah, they think they’re so clever. I especially like the last phrase because it’s sort of an underhanded poke at the way Jesus hung out with tax collectors and prostitutes.

After the flattery they get to their big question: Is it right to pay taxes to Caesar or not? This is like the old “Have you stopped beating your wife” question. If Jesus says it’s right to pay taxes to Rome they will claim that then he cannot be the Messiah. If he says no, then they will report him to Rome as an insurrectionist.

Of course, Jesus knows their evil intent. He calls them hypocrites and asks them to show him a coin that is used for paying taxes. He doesn’t ask for any old coin. There were specific coins used for paying taxes to Rome and different ones for the temple taxes. Clearly they could see Caesar’s image on the Roman coin, the denarius, that he asked for. Jesus says, “Give unto Caesar what is Caesar’s, and to God what is God’s.”

Lesson for me: pay my taxes without resentment. Give to God what is God’s. Hmm, would that be everything else?

Friday, October 14, 2011

The Parable of the Wedding Banquet

This parable used to scare me because the ending is so violent and final. Jesus is still talking to the Pharisees who haven’t been able to trip him up. He tells them that the kingdom of heaven is like a king (God) who prepared a wedding banquet for his son (Jesus). People (Israel) had already been invited and when the wedding was ready God sent his servants (prophets) to tell them to come, BUT THEY REFUSED.

God sent more prophets, but they paid no attention and either mistreated or killed the prophets. At this point in the parable (verse 7) Jesus inserts a prophecy that from our point of view we can see was fulfilled a few decades later in 70 A.D. at the destruction of Jerusalem. Verse 7 reads: The king was enraged. He sent his army and destroyed those murderers and burned their city.

The parable continues. God told his servants (now the Apostles) to go to the street corners (all the earth) and invite anyone they could find (Gentiles). People come, good people and evil people, and the wedding hall was filled.

Now it gets kind of scary. In the story the king comes in to see the guests and notices a man not wearing wedding clothes. Doing a little cross-referencing I found that in Isaiah 61:10 the wedding clothes are the “garments of salvation”. The man without the wedding clothes is someone who is not saved. What happens to him? He doesn’t just get kicked out of the wedding hall. The king tells his attendants to tie him hand and foot and throw him outside into the darkness where there will be “weeping and gnashing of teeth”. This doesn’t scare me personally anymore because I have the wedding clothes – the garments of salvation. The Pharisees that were listening didn’t get it, though. In fact they laid plans to trap Jesus. More about that on Sunday.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Psalm 99

There are several Psalms that are considered “Royal Psalms” because they proclaim God as King. Several begin with “The Lord reigns” or “The Lord is King”. Psalm 99 does that, too. The mood is reverent and worshipful: “The LORD reigns, let the nations tremble”. The first three verses praise and exalt the Lord’s name and end with the Hebrew word “qadowsh”, holy.

Verses 4 and 5 sing of how just the Lord, our King, is. In fact, that attribute is tripled in one verse: “The King is mighty, he loves JUSTICE – you have established EQUITY; in Jacob you have done what is JUST and right.” Verse 5 says that we are to worship the Lord at his footstool. Where’s the footstool? In Isaiah 66:1 the Lord Himself tells us that the earth is His footstool. Therefore, we can worship Him everywhere. This section ends with one word: He is holy, “qadowsh”.

The last four verses of this Royal Psalm tell of how God answers prayer, how He is just and how He is forgiving. The last word is, of course, “qadowsh”, so this psalm triples this particular characteristic of our Lord, ending each section the same way: the Lord is HOLY. Holiness is the only attribute that is presented in triplicate this way, as in Isaiah 6:3: “Holy, holy, holy is the Lord God Almighty”.

I need to ponder the holiness of the Lord. Like most people in this world, I am often irreverent.

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Get Your Hopes Up!

I learned long ago that when someone said to me “but don’t get your hopes up” that I should ignore that advice completely. The excitement, anticipation and daydreaming that comes with getting your hopes up are all part of the best things in life. Go ahead and get your hopes up. Enjoy thinking about the possibility that you might go to Disneyworld when you’re ten, that cute guy might ask you to homecoming in tenth grade, you might get into your first choice of colleges, the next interview might land you your dream job, that finished manuscript might be picked up by a major American publisher. Oh, I really like that last one.

Have you entered a contest or lottery to win a million bucks? The odds are way against you, you know that, and you probably didn’t spend too much time fantasizing. But listen, most things in life are worth getting your hopes up for. The odds are fifty-fifty or better for normal life events (not contests) – so squeeze out a few excited giggles, bounce a bit in expectation and don’t be glum.

Let’s say you don’t get your heart’s desire this time. Oh, well, at least you experienced a part of the joy if you allowed yourself to be hopeful. If you didn’t get your hopes up then you had nothing – lose/lose.

Let those hopes fly and it’s at least win/lose and often win/win – much better options.

To those of you who don’t want to jinx things by getting your hopes up, I say stop being foolish and superstitious. What aren’t you letting yourself hope for? Think about it and GET YOUR HOPES UP.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Link to Logs (Link 'n Logs?)

Lisa at Insignificantatbest has posted a lovely interview that features how we built our log home. If you want to see more pictures and learn what we did, please visit her blog at Insignificantatbest

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Nick Bazebahl and the Forbidden Tunnels

Sometimes you have to change directions. I posted several excerpts from a work in progress tentatively called TUNNELS. I swapped out the main character and by changing from the perspective of a 30-something soccer mom to a 12 year old kid I had to rewrite everything I had done so far. But what fun that was! And then the story just flew off the keyboard. I finished it, wrote a sequel and started a third. I intend to write several more sequels because the concept is so fun.

12 year old Nick finds himself stuck in a nightmarish world, but he’s not dreaming. He escapes from a strange reformatory only to come upon an even stranger place where he is teamed up with a partner and given an assignment. They slide down a forbidden tunnel and begin their odd and mysterious mission with the characters and scenes of the classic, and now banned book, Huck Finn.

Sliding through tunnel after tunnel gets him in and out of more trouble. He attempts a mission by himself and finds he can break through barriers including invisibility as he interacts with Jim from Treasure Island, also a banned book.

On his third mission he teams up with Samantha, a friend from school, as they visit the very beginning of a recently banned book: Harry Potter.

NICK BAZEBAHL AND THE FORBIDDEN TUNNELS will be out in paperback soon and the sequels will follow. Right now the Kindle and Barnes & Noble versions are available for $2.99. I hope kids ages 8 – 12 will find them as fun to read as they were to write.

Saturday, October 1, 2011

The Parable of the Tenants

In the Parable of the Tenants in Matthew 21: 33 – 46 Jesus continues to speak to the chief priests and elders and Pharisees pulling them into another story where they again make a quick judgment and incriminate themselves. These leaders are familiar with the way the parable opens: there is a landowner, a vineyard, a wall, a winepress and a watchtower. If you read Isaiah 5: 1 – 7 you can get into the heads of these men and know what they know. The same landowner, vineyard, wall, winepress and watchtower are presented in the Old Testament.

In Jesus’ parable the vineyard (the kingdom of heaven or Israel) is rented to some farmers (the leaders and people of Israel) and at harvest time the landowner (God) sends his servants (the prophets) to collect the fruit. They are beaten, killed and stoned. He sends his son (Jesus, the Messiah) and they kill him, too.

Jesus asks the Pharisees what the landowner will do to the tenants and they immediately say “He will bring those wretches to a wretched end and he will rent the vineyard to other tenants, who will give him his share of the crop at harvest time.”

Boy, they got that right. Jesus then directly says that the kingdom of God will be taken away from them (the Jews) and given to a people (the Gentiles) who will produce its fruit. Just before this, in verse 42, Jesus says “Have you never read . . .” and then he quotes Psalm 118, the very psalm that was sung and shouted three days before (Palm Sunday) on Jesus’ triumphal entry into Jerusalem (“Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!”). I think he is ridiculing or at the least being condescending and disdainful of the priests when he starts that statement with the negative “never”.

“Have you never read in the Scriptures: ‘The stone the builders rejected has become the capstone; the Lord has done this, and it is marvelous in our eyes’?” The stone, of course, is Jesus as Peter proclaims quite clearly in Acts 4:11.

Verse 44 is double deadly: “He who falls on this stone will be broken to pieces, but he on whom it falls will be crushed.” The Pharisees and the chief priests have fallen on the stone (Jesus) and they are being broken because they just don’t “get it” and they still look for a way to arrest him. The stone will fall on and utterly crush those who don’t believe – unbelievers will be destroyed – ground to powder. That’s a pretty gruesome picture and it’s one that you can find first in the book of Daniel, chapter 2, where the same crushing stone refers to the Second Advent. Daniel warns that if we do not respond to the ministry of the gospel in the present age, there is coming a time when the enemies of the gospel of Jesus Christ shall be utterly destroyed.
(I am fascinated with how the Old and New Testaments inter-weave so divinely.)