Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Colossians 4

At the end of another year, let's remember Paul's example in this and his other letters.

Appreciate the people in your life and thank them for all they've done.

Appreciate the Lord and thank him for all he's done.

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Colossians 3

This chapter is a CliffsNotes version of how to live a Biblical lifestyle.

It is more practical, less theoretical, than much of Paul's other writing.

Monday, December 29, 2008

Colossians 2

Key verse: 8

This is a very difficult thing for me to read, because I really enjoy philosophy.

I suppose this verse could be considered a warning against getting involved in message forums and debates between Christians and atheists. It's advice I should have taken before my three forays into this world.

Sunday, December 28, 2008

One Year Down, Eight to Go

Year two of the nine-year sequence begins with a six-week study of Colossians.

A key verse is 1:21:

You used to be far from God. Your thoughts made you his enemies, and you did evil things (CEV).

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Micah 7

The prophet acknowledges that he feels alone in his obedience.

But then he strikes a note of hope in verse 7:

But as for me, I watch in hope for the LORD,
I wait for God my Savior;
my God will hear me (NIV).

Friday, December 26, 2008

Micah 6

The classic passage of this chapter is verse 8.

Another pair of verses reminds me of the recent bailout of the financial industry, 12-13.

In conservative circles, blame tends to rest upon "social entitlements," but more liberal groups have a biblical basis to criticize the greedy rich as well.

Our nation is in trouble, but there is no single locus of responsibility. Sin is sin, no matter if you're rich or poor.

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Micah 5

Israel will be under attack, but a leader from Bethlehem will lead the nation to victory.

This is a great chapter to reflect upon on Christmas day.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Micah 4

A better day is coming, one of peace, one in which God's people are victorious.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Micah 3

Leaders and prophets-for-hire are denounced.

Serve faithfully, not selfishly.

Monday, December 22, 2008

Micah 2

Key verse: 11

A prophet who prophesies plenty of wine and beer will be very popular.

A corollary to this verse: a popular prophet is a liar.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Micah 1

Brief Summary:

Israel and Judah, the Lord is really angry with your sin and rebellion.

You're screwed.

Don't say I didn't warn you.

Saturday, December 20, 2008


I was surprised to find that the word "incarnation" does not appear in the Bible.

Friday, December 19, 2008

Messianic Prophecies in the Minor Prophets

Zondervan NIV Bible Commentary: Old Testament
OT Text NT Text Subject
Hosea 11:1 Matthew 2:14-15 Jesus to return from Egypt
Joel 2:28-32 Acts 2:14-21 God's Spirit to be poured out
Amos 9:11-12 Acts 15:13-18 Gentiles would believe in the Messiah
Jonah 1:17 Matthew 12:39-40 Messiah to be three days and nights in grave
Micah 5:2 Matthew 2:1-6 The Messiah to be born in Bethlehem
Micah 5:2 Luke 1:32-33 The Messiah as an eternal king
Micah 5:4 John 10:11, 14 The coming shepherd of God's flock
Micah 5:5 Ephesians 2:14-17 The Messian to be a man of peace
Zechariah 9:9 Matthew 21:1-9; Mark 11:1-10; Luke 19:28-38; John 12:12-16 The coming ruler on a donkey
Zechariah 11:12-13 Matthew 27:1-10 Thirty pieces of silver for a potter's field
Zechariah 12:10 John 19:37; Revelation 1:7 Looking on the pierced Messiah
Zechariah 13:7 Matthew 26:31; 26:55-56; Mark 14:27; 14:48-50 Striking the coming shepherd, the sheep flee
Malachi 3:1 Matthew 11:7-10; Mark 1:2-4; Luke 7:24-27 The forerunner to the Messiah
Malachi 4:5-6 Matthew 11:14; 17:11-13; Mark 9:11-13; Luke 1:16-17 The forerunner as Elijah returned

Thursday, December 18, 2008

At the End of The Rope

Poor Moses!

Here he is, leading a bunch of whining, ungrateful fools through the desert.

He loses his temper and hits a rock to produce water instead of speaking to it.

God informs Moses that he'll be dying in the desert.

When is the last time I "hit the rock" in anger?

Justifiable anger is not an excuse for disobedience to God. Eeek.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Balaam's Donkey

The other thing I wonder about in this passage is Balaam's interaction with his donkey.

It seems odd that Balaam would reply to his donkey in direct conversation, instead of responding with shock and disbelief. If one of my cats started questioning me, I wouldn't engage her in conversation. I'd back away slowly and keep eye contact until escaping.

Even more curious is verses 32-33:

The angel of the LORD asked him, "Why have you beaten your donkey these three times? I have come here to oppose you because your path is a reckless one before me. The donkey saw me and turned away from me these three times. If she had not turned away, I would certainly have killed you by now, but I would have spared her."

Would the angel have spared the donkey because she is not capable of moral choices, or because she was making an acceptable moral choice by following Balaam's command to keep moving?

"I was just following orders" doesn't seem to excuse humans in other situations, so I don't suppose it would apply to the donkey in this set of circumstances, either.

Therefore, donkeys are not capable of moral decision-making, even when they're allowed to speak.

That's no different a conclusion than I would have drawn before reflecting upon this passage. I find it encouraging that even when faced with an odd story, the Bible is internally consistent.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008


In 22:8, Balaam says that he will give the answer the Lord gives him.

Then, in v. 18, Balaam says that the Lord is his God. This is a phrase used by a committed follower of the God of the Bible.

This is surprising. I'd always assumed Balaam was a pagan prophet.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Friday, December 12, 2008

Renaming Hoshea

In the Bible, names are a powerful expression of a person's core and mission in life. They practically take on a life of their own.

In Numbers 13:16b, we learn that "Moses gave Hoshea (Salvation) son of Nun a new name—Joshua (God-Saves)" (MSG).

I wonder why "God Saves" was a better name than "Salvation?"

Maybe it's because Joshua was an active participant in bringing the Hebrews into the promised land. "God Saves" is a more active statement than "Salvation."

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Messianic Prophecies in the Pentateuch

Zondervan NIV Bible Commentary: Old Testament
OT Text NT Text Subject
Leviticus 15:15-17 Romans 3:25; Hebrews 9:1-14, 24; 1 John 2:2 Atoning sacrifice of blood
Numbers 21:8-9 John 3:14-15 Life through looking at one on a cross
Numbers 24:17 Luke 1:32-33 Coming ruler from Jacob
Numbers 24:17 Revelation 22:16 Coming star out of Jacob
Deuteronomy 18:17 John 6:14; 12:49-50; Acts 3:22-23 Coming prophet sent from God
Deuteronomy 21:23 Galatians 3:13 Messiah cursed for hanging from a tree
Deuteronomy 30:12-14 Romans 10:6-8 Jesus is God's word near to us

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Messianic Prophesies in Exodus

Zondervan NIV Bible Commentary: Old Testament
12:1-14, 46 John 19:31-36, 1 Corinthians 5:7; 1 Peter 1:19 The Messiah as the Passover Lamb
16:4 John 6:31-33 Messiah to give true bread from heaven
24:8 Hebrews 9:11-28 The Messiah's blood to be shed as sacrifice

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

More Messianic Prophecies in Genesis

Zondervan NIV Bible Commentary: Old Testament
OT Text NT Text Subject
Genesis 12:3 Acts 3:25; Galatians 3:8 Gentiles blessed through Christ as the offspring of Abraham
Genesis 13:15 Galatians 3:15-16, 19 Messiah as the seed of Abraham
Genesis 14:18-20 Hebrews 7 Jesus' priesthood according to the likeness of Melchizedek
Genesis 18:18 Acts 3:25; Galatians 3:8 Gentiles blessed through Christ as the offspring of Abraham
Genesis 22:18 Acts 3:25; Galatians 3:8 Gentiles blessed through Christ as the offspring of Abraham
Genesis 49:10 Luke 1:32-33 Coming ruler from Judah

Monday, December 8, 2008

Zondervan NIV Bible Commentary: Vol. 1 OT

There is a four-page listing of OT messianic prophecies in this commentary. Here are the first two of 115:

OT Text NT Text Subject
Genesis 3:15 Luke 22:53 Satan against Jesus
Genesis 3:15 Hebrews 2:14; 1 John 3:8 Jesus' victory over Satan

Prophecies Fulfilled by Christ

One table:

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Messianic Prophecy

For the remainder of the year, in honor of Advent and Christmas, I will review various OT predicitive prophecies about Jesus.

In Luke 4:16-21, Jesus claims Isaiah 61:1-2 for himself.

People sometimes suggest that Jesus did not claim to be God, but that would require the reader to ignore many NT statements by Jesus himself.

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Leviticus 23 Summary of Festivals

The seven major festivals of the Jewish faith are all outlined in Leviticus 23.

In brief review, Ruth is read at Shavuot, which corresponds to Pentecost.

Concluding Genealogy

The Bible is countercultural in many ways, but Jesus' genealogies honor contemporary NT Jewish culture and expectations.

Matthew 1:1-17 and Luke 3:23-38 both connect Jesus through his earthly father Joseph back to King David and Boaz.

This was vitally important to establishing Jesus' spiritual and royal qualifications.

How amazing that Obed's mother, Ruth, was not originally Jewish, but only became one through conversion. This was one clear step on the pathway toward allowing Gentiles into the family of God.

Friday, December 5, 2008

What Was He Thinking?!

The unnamed first-in-line kinsman-redeemer in 4:1-12 blew an opportunity to be the great-grandfather of king David, and a direct ancestor of Jesus!

He stepped aside because of temporary concerns about his estate.

Thus, Boaz receives credit as Obed's father.

This is especially unusual because the firstborn of a kinsman-redeemer is typically credited to the late husband.

Because of Boaz's extraordinary devotion and character, he is honored forever alongside Ruth.

What risks have I refused because they seemed too risky? What may I have lost long-term as a result? What risk should you take, dear Reader?

Thursday, December 4, 2008

People of Action

In chapter 3, we see that Naomi, Ruth, and Boaz are all people comfortable with decisive action.

In under 24 hours, Naomi proposes that Ruth ask Boaz to serve as a kinsman-redeemer, Ruth follows through, and Boaz prepares to bring her proposal to the city elders.

Why wait when there is important business to transact?

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Ruth Meets Boaz

Verses 11-12 sum up Boaz's admiration of Ruth.

Why do I admire people? What really impresses me?

Boaz focuses on the core of Ruth's being. That's what ought to impress me, too. But too often it isn't.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008


In verses 6-22, we see Naomi leave Moab and return to her hometown, Bethlehem.

Orpah honors Naomi's guidance and returns to her family, but Ruth shares one of the classic statements of faith in verse 16:

Don't urge me to leave you or to turn back from you. Where you go I will go, and where you stay I will stay. Your people will be my people and your God my God.

Despite Ruth's loyalty, Naomi changes her name to Mara (lit. "bitter").

Monday, December 1, 2008

Brutal Times

In 1:1-5, we meet Naomi (lit. "pleasant").

She and her husband and two sons moved from Bethlehem to Moab to escape famine in their hometown.

This would have been a temporary move for the family, but Naomi's husband died. Then, within ten years, her sons both died, too. She was left with two kind daughters-in-law, but no source of income or property.