Mar 10 2014

The Last Sin

For as in those days before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day when Noah entered the ark, and they were unaware until the flood came and swept them all away, so will be the coming of the Son of Man. (Matthew 24:38-39)

Most disputes concerning the meaning of the Scriptures are not due to a lack of trying when it comes to hermeneutics. They result from a lack of due process. By this, I do not mean the process of interpretation but the identification in the Scriptures of the processes of God.

An example would be the meaning of Christ’s words concerning the unpardonable sin, which have terrified many Christians unnecessarily. Blasphemy against the Spirit is unpardonable not because it is the worst sin. It is unpardonable because it is the last sin.

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Feb 28 2014

One Like The Son Of Man

Jesus’ reference to Daniel 7 in Matthew 26:64 (and Mark 14:62) is a source of some confusion. To figure out what is actually going on in Daniel’s vision, we have to go back to Leviticus 16. James Jordan writes:

…when Jesus calls Himself “the Son of Man,” He is referring to Ezekiel, not to Daniel 7 (except perhaps indirectly). Jesus is the Greater Ezekiel. Christians are those who are “like the Son of Man,” like Jesus.

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Feb 12 2014

The Shape of Matthew – 5

“As always, the beauty of the arrangement is breathtaking. It is historical narrative, poetry, legal Covenant and high symbolism all at once… It consists of three Cycles which recapitulate the triune ‘Garden, Land, World’ architecture of the Creation and the Tabernacle.”

Matthew 28: SUCCESSION

The fifth major cycle takes us to the end of the Covenant pattern, from the Covenant Sanctions to Covenant Succession. In the Old Testament, this concerned handing Covenant authority to the faithful of the next generation. It was the blessings of Jacob upon his sons (Garden), and Moses passing the baton of headship of Israel to Joshua (Land). This time, the inheritance was not the Garden Sanctuary of Moses [1] nor the Land of Canaan, but the entire World. Thus, it is no accident that in both cases, in that of Joshua and that of the disciples, He said, “I am with you.” A battle lay ahead.
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Jan 29 2014

Jesus and Covenant – 1

Looking God in the Eye

The history of mankind is one of good gifts turned into idols. Blessings abused become curses in the hands of those who won’t look God in the eye.

For those of us who know the Bible, the idolatries become more subtle. This was the case for the Pharisees. The exile had purified Israel of old-school idolatry, so she invented a new school: an elitism bound by an Abrahamic heritage and energized by the abuse of Moses and the Law as a means of salvation: heritage instead of faith; obligation instead of salvation. The good things given as gifts once again became the gods.

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Dec 27 2013

Babylonian Bookends

Now after Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea in the days of Herod the king, behold, wise men from the east came to Jerusalem, saying, “Where is he who has been born king of the Jews? For we saw his star when it rose and have come to worship him.” When Herod the king heard this, he was troubled, and all Jerusalem with him… (Matthew 2:1-2)

An atheist recently declared to me that a cumulative reading of the Bible makes no sense, since the Bible is not a single book but an anthology. I agree, but this “anthology” is indeed a single work because it was compiled by God. Without that foundation, the significance of much of its detail appears redundant. A good example is the wise men from the east in Matthew 2.

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Dec 11 2013

Men Caught Like Fish

“Titus was the only individual in history that could be said to have fulfilled Jesus’ prophecies concerning the Son of Man.” – Joseph Atwill

“But whenever they persecute  you  in this city, flee to the next; for truly I say to  you,  you  shall not finish going through the cities of Israel, until the Son of Man comes.” (Matthew 10:17-23)

Joseph Atwill is a biblical scholar who believes that the Gospels were a satirical invention of the Romans for the purpose of pacifying the Jews. This sounds harebrained, but as I have written elsewhere (see Jesus’ Caesars), he does have a gut sense of the way the Scriptures speak. He has observed that the conquest of Judea by Titus follows a similar route to the one traced by Jesus in the Gospels one generation earlier. Atwill’s conclusion is back-to-front, but his observation remains profound. If Judea would not accept the true King of the Jews, she would be “ministered to” by a Prince of the Gentiles. Jesus’ ministry ended with the tearing of the Temple Veil. Titus’ campaign ended with the destruction of the entire Temple.

“What time Ierusalem that Cittie faire,
Was sieg’d and sackt by great Vespatians heire”
(Thomas Dekker, Canaans Calamitie, Ierusalems Misery)

What follows is an excerpt from Atwill’s book, Caesar’s Messiah, which includes the kind of chart you might be used to finding around here.

*    *    *    *    *    *    *

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Dec 9 2013

The Shape of Matthew – 3

“A stone would be rejected by builders because it was ‘unhewn,’ like an Altar stone. But priestly submission was the only possible foundation for the perfectly chiseled stones of Israel’s temples, including the one still taking shape as Jesus spoke these words.”

Matthew 16-25: ETHICS

The third cycle moves us from the “Exodus” of Jesus and His ministry to the threshing of Israel under His new Law. His growing influence among the people (Hierarchy) brings Him into conflict with the authorities (Ethics).

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Dec 6 2013

The Judgment of Galilee

[A guest post by Chris Wooldridge]

“Woe to you, Chorazin! Woe to you, Bethsaida! For if the mighty works done in you had been done in Tyre and Sidon, they would have repented long ago in sackcloth and ashes. But I tell you, it will be more bearable on the day of judgment for Tyre and Sidon than for you. And you, Capernaum, will you be exalted to heaven? You will be brought down to Hades. For if the mighty works done in you had been done in Sodom, it would have remained until this day. But I tell you that it will be more tolerable on the day of judgment for the land of Sodom than for you.” (Matthew 11:21-24)

If we are paying careful attention to the historical context of this passage, it should be clear enough that the “day of judgment” referred to was fulfilled in the Jewish war of 66-70 AD. But why then does he seem to bring Tyre and Sidon/Sodom onto the scene in verses 22 and 24? Are we dealing here with a future judgment of the inhabitants of these cities, perhaps one which awaits the second coming of Christ?

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Dec 3 2013

The Shape of Matthew – 2

“John was not a court prophet but a man in skins, like Adam, representing both the goodness (covering) and severity (death) of God. John’s food and shelter, like his ministry, came directly from God, and was not the result of the wisdom of men.”

Matthew 10-15: HIERARCHY

The theme of the second major cycle of Matthew is the Hierarchy phase of the Covenant, which concerns the delegation of authority. This section contains seven cycles, a complete “week.” Identification of the structure answers some interesting questions concerning Jesus’ directives.

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Nov 29 2013

Kingdom of the Parables

“…we tend to read the parables as if Jesus’ ministry is at the beginning of the parables… I’m suggesting that we think about Jesus coming at the end of the story instead.”

Peter Leithart puts Jesus’ parables where they belong — in the context of Israel’s history.

Parables thus teach us about God’s ways and help us to anticipate what happens next. Whenever a field is planted with wheat, whenever we see the word spreading out through the world, we can expect the devil to spread his own seed, and the two grow up until a harvest. These are mysteries of God’s dealings throughout the ages. By learning to interpret parables, God forms us into prophets who know the times and can see God’s trajectories.

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