Was plowing with twelve yoke of oxen (1 Kings 19:19-21) something out of the ordinary? If not, why is it mentioned?
Elisha was not plowing alone. Arab farmers worked together for social and security reasons, and a single plow was not very effective. Barbara Bowen writes:
We are apt to think that he had a team of twelve yoke of oxen with which he was working, but the picture is of twelve separate plows following one after another as closely as possible. We have seen a dozen of them work like this.
Now the arable land of nearly all villages is cultivated in common. The Arab farmers delight to work together in companies, partly for protection, but more for their great love of gossip.
Their small plows make no real furrow, but merely scratch the soil, so any number may follow after, each making his own scratch, and they go back and forth until the whole piece of land is plowed. It was well that Elisha was last, for they may not pass one another. We can believe that Elisha’s oxen and plow were like the ones in Palestine today. The people worked in companies then as they do now, and for the same reasons. 
If plowing with multiple oxen was no big deal, what is the significance of their number? Continue reading
In Born of the Spirit, Peter J. Leithart writes:
Alan Kerr (The Temple of Jesus’ Body: The Temple Theme in the Gospel of John (Library of New Testament Studies), 71) offers this comment on Jesus’ statement that Nicodemus had to be born of the Spirit before entering the kingdom: “It is almost universally accepted that Spirit here refers to the Spirit of God. But at this stage in the Gospel there was no Spirit (7:39), because Jesus was not yet glorified. It is not until Jesus is risen and appears to the disciples and breathes on them and says, ‘Receive the Holy Spirit’ that the Spirit is given (20:22). So from the point of view of Johannine timing what Jesus says to Nicodemus should only be realized in a post-resurrection setting. Properly speaking he can only be reborn from above when Jesus is glorified.”
This obviously affects the use of John 3:5 as a proof text for the doctrine of regeneration.
Is this support for the ‘giving of the Spirit’ in paedobaptism?
“The Sabbatarian vision is too small. This is why Paul chides the Galatians for observing ‘days and months and seasons and years.’ The Sabbath, along with the Torah administration as a whole, belonged to the stoicheia, the “elements of the world,” the things that constituted the first creation.”
From Tim Gallant’s blog:
“To have a God-given internal moral compass is to have God Himself.”
Maturation is the process of making God’s “external law” into our internal law, our operating, animating principle. This has huge implications for sanctification, but it also explains a lot of what is going on in the Bible’s symbolism and architecture.
[This post has been refined and included in Sweet Counsel: Essays to Brighten the Eyes.]
The Unexpected Luck of Widows’ Sons
A guest post by Luke Welch.
I’ve been reading The Hobbit again, out loud, to our children, and this time through, one phrase in the first chapter caught my attention.
or Sinai Unspoken
On Mount Carmel, Elijah had built an altar of 12 rough-hewn stones. They substituted for the tribes of Israel. They were built and then consumed. The priests of Baal were slain and “washed” in the brook as atonement. The Land was clean. But we know Jezebel trampled this sacrifice underfoot. 
Elijah headed for the wilderness. He was a man with a mission. He went to the same cave in which Moses stood, a cleft in the rock. Once again, the Lord “passed over.” He was making a new Covenant, a new Creation, a new Heavens and a new Land.
[Link to parts 1 and 2.]
In Revelation 4-5, Jesus ascends and opens the New Covenant scroll (Firstfruits). As Moses, He then opens the Law to Israel (Pentecost). These open seals lead into the partial judgments of the Trumpets. They summon a new generation of Israel and warn the old. The last trumpet, as in Joshua, is itself “seven thunders” (John’s “Little Book”) that bring total destruction to the defiant city, in this case, Herod’s Babylon (Atonement). This is the last trumpet Paul referred to.
or Weeping over Jerusalem
Then Jerusalem, all Judea, and all the region around the Jordan went out to him and were baptized by him in the Jordan, confessing their sins. But when he saw many of the Pharisees and Sadducees coming to his baptism, he said to them, “Brood of vipers! Who warned you to flee from the wrath to come? “Therefore bear fruits worthy of repentance, ”and do not think to say to yourselves, ‘We have Abraham as father.’ For I say to you that God is able to raise up children to Abraham from these stones.” —Matthew 3:5-9
Then, as He was now drawing near 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 they had seen, saying: ” ‘Blessed is the King who comes in the name of the LORD!’ Peace in heaven and glory in the highest!” And some of the Pharisees called to Him from the crowd, “Teacher, rebuke Your disciples.” But He answered and said to them, “I tell you that if these should keep silent, the stones would immediately cry out.” —Luke 19:37-40
The Bible is consistent with its symbols, so what is it with stones crying out? Continue reading
Elijah’s twelve stone altar “died” in the place of Israel, paying the debt for her idolatries, burned to nothing as a priest’s daughter who had committed harlotries. That passage follows the Bible matrix, with the prophets of Baal slaughtered as the scapegoat (washed from the Land in the “Laver” of Kidron, no less).
Did Ahab and Jezebel repent? No, they filled up their sins. So Elijah made an exodus to Sinai. This, too, follows the pattern. Elijah is a new Moses, and he makes a new Covenant for the remnant which will bring about the destruction of Ahab’s dynasty. His “new creation” will be built on the corpse of the old.