Monday, July 31, 2006
The day was full of solid lectures on management and soft-skills. I hadn't much time or energy left for much reading or quiet time.
I followed some new found friends for a night visit to the city and discovered this absolutely amazing night market called Suan Lum. I did not buy much but my friends did - they kept on and on and on with it, and by the time we hailed a taxi, it was already 12.30am. And in the "interest" of time, it was 1.30am for me!
No wonder I have no energy left for anything theological! But then again, I am giving me a break.
The picture is from a outlet that sells lamps. They were all lighted up and it was really so pretty.
posted on 4-Aug-2006
Sunday, July 30, 2006
Saturday, July 29, 2006
I only pray this training is not packed with sessions like the one we had in Cameron Highlands. It will be good to have a retreat, sit back and learn instead of work, work, work and work. And in the meantime, of course some reading as well.
Picture by Holger Dieterich
Friday, July 28, 2006
The Behind Scenes of the New Testament by Paul Barnett
Acts (The Crossway Classic Commentary) by John Calvin
The Atonement, its Meaning and Significance by Leon Morris
I bought Calvin's Acts because of his explanation on casting lots though on closer read he didn't quite answer my question:
They drew lots.
Those who think it is wrong to cast lots are mistaken - partly out of ignorance and partly because they do not understand the meaning of the word. There is nothing that has been corrupted by insolence and deceit; casting lots is no exception. It has been seriously misused and reduced to the level of superstition. Predicting the future by lot is altogether devilish. But it is not wrong for officials to divide provinces by means of lots, or brothers their inheritance. Solomon plainly approves of this (Prov 16:33). This custom is no more invalidated by wrong use that the scientific study of the stars is invalidated by the debased pretense of the astrologers. The astologers claim to study the stars, but is a cover to hide their vile curiousity. Thus they bring a usefuland commendable scientific study into disrepute. The same is true of those who claim to tell people their fortunes by casting lots. It is our duty to distinguish the legitimate from the corrupt.
We do not live in times of much superstition anymore, not that there aren't people who does. The issue with casting lots with me is whether leaving decisions to probability is a good idea to making decisions and attributing the decision to God.
What the disciples did was in practice of using the Urim and Thummin, two sacred stones carried inside the breastplate of the high priest of ancient Israel and used as oracular media to divine the will of God. What can be said about the practice then is that the main obvious reason for casting lots was the impartiality of decision, to be sure there is not politics, nepotism, cronyism or favouritism involved. But as what Bruce has highlighted, "the disciples did not cast lots haphazardly: they first selected the two men whom they judged worthiest to fill the vacancy. I did a search and found that casting lots are carried out usually for property, land, duties and people; maybe except for two.
He is to cast lots for the two goats—one lot for the LORD and the other for the scapegoat.
After you have written descriptions of the seven parts of the land, bring them here to me and I will cast lots for you in the presence of the LORD our God.
As the men started on their way to map out the land, Joshua instructed them, "Go and make a survey of the land and write a description of it. Then return to me, and I will cast lots for you here at Shiloh in the presence of the LORD."
Joshua then cast lots for them in Shiloh in the presence of the LORD, and there he distributed the land to the Israelites according to their tribal divisions.
1 Chronicles 24:5, 31 (for ministerial duties)
They divided them impartially by drawing lots, for there were officials of the sanctuary and officials of God among the descendants of both Eleazar and Ithamar ... They also cast lots, just as their brothers the descendants of Aaron did, in the presence of King David and of Zadok, Ahimelech, and the heads of families of the priests and of the Levites. The families of the oldest brother were treated the same as those of the youngest.
1 Chronicles 25:8
Young and old alike, teacher as well as student, cast lots for their duties.
1 Chronicles 26:13 (to be gate keepers)
Lots were cast for each gate, according to their families, young and old alike.
1 Chronicles 26:14 (to be gate keepers)
The lot for the East Gate fell to Shelemiah. Then lots were cast for his son Zechariah, a wise counselor, and the lot for the North Gate fell to him.
"We—the priests, the Levites and the people—have cast lots to determine when each of our families is to bring to the house of our God at set times each year a contribution of wood to burn on the altar of the LORD our God, as it is written in the Law.
[ The New Residents of Jerusalem ] Now the leaders of the people settled in Jerusalem, and the rest of the people cast lots to bring one out of every ten to live in Jerusalem, the holy city, while the remaining nine were to stay in their own towns.
You would even cast lots for the fatherless and barter away your friend.
They divide my garments among them and cast lots for my clothing.
" 'For this is what the Sovereign LORD says: " 'Woe to the city of bloodshed, to the pot now encrusted, whose deposit will not go away! Empty it piece by piece without casting lots for them.
They cast lots for my people and traded boys for prostitutes; they sold girls for wine that they might drink.
On the day you stood aloof while strangers carried off his wealth and foreigners entered his gates and cast lots for Jerusalem, you were like one of them.
Yet she was taken captive and went into exile. Her infants were dashed to pieces at the head of every street. Lots were cast for her nobles, and all her great men were put in chains.
When they had crucified him, they divided up his clothes by casting lots.
And they crucified him. Dividing up his clothes, they cast lots to see what each would get.
Jesus said, "Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing." And they divided up his clothes by casting lots.
"Let's not tear it," they said to one another. "Let's decide by lot who will get it." This happened that the scripture might be fulfilled which said, "They divided my garments among them and cast lots for my clothing." So this is what the soldiers did.
Then they cast lots, and the lot fell to Matthias; so he was added to the eleven apostles.
The 2 exceptions:
For the king of Babylon will stop at the fork in the road, at the junction of the two roads, to seek an omen: He will cast lots with arrows, he will consult his idols, he will examine the liver.
Then the sailors said to each other, "Come, let us cast lots to find out who is responsible for this calamity." They cast lots and the lot fell on Jonah.
Picture by Seer
Thursday, July 27, 2006
Then they cast lots, and the lot fell to Matthias; so he was added to the eleven apostles.
~ Acts 1:26
I checked FF Bruce's commentary on the Book of Acts where he said that historically speaking, the act of casting lots is very common and acceptable. Nevertheless, a lot of work will be put into the selection process before finally casting lots. Most probably it boils down to context and culture. Nowadays, it is just not acceptable to leave things to chance.
Picture by Anna Maria Lopez Lopez
Wednesday, July 26, 2006
Tuesday, July 25, 2006
1. Outline and Content
The book of Acts takes up the story where the Gospel ends with the resurrection of Jesus. It goes on to record his ascension, the coming of the Holy Spirit, the rise and the early progress of Christianity. It also covers the dispersal of the Hellenistic members of the church, the execution of Stephen, the evangelisation of distant region as far north as Antioch, the beginning of the Gentile mission, the account of Paul's conversion, Peter's evangelisation of the plain of Sharon that brought about the conversion of the first Gentile household, Paul's arrival in Antioch to take part in the Gentile mission there and Peter's departure from Jerusalem after his escape from Herod Agrippa I, Paul's apostolic ministry with Barnabas, Silas and others. Acts covers mission on the road from Jerusalem to Antioch and thence to Rome.
2. Origin and Purpose
The preface of the Gospel of Luke (Lk 1:1-4) applies equally to both books: so that Theophilus would have a consecutive and reliable account of the rise and progress of Christianity. The date of the Book of Acts is not indicated precisely. It could not have been written earlier than the latest event it records. Hence, with Paul spending 2 years in custody in Rome, covering probably AD 60 - 61. If it is dependent on the Antiquities of Josephus, it would not be written earlier than AD 93.
3. Historical Character
The historical trustworthiness of Luke's account has been amply confirmed by archaeological discovery. The characteristics of the book includes being apologetic, the0logical, with detailed accuracy and as a narrative of contemporary history. It is full of references to city magistrates, provincial governors, client kings and the like, allowing just the opportunity to prove the place and time in question.
4. Apologetic Emphasis
Luke in both his work set out to demonstrate that Christianity is not a menace to imperial law and order. He cites judgements of governors, pronounces 3 times that Jesus is not guilty of sedition and that the charges that were brought against his followers in Acts cannot be sustained.
5. Theological Interest
The dominating theme of Acts is the activity of the Holy Spirit. It also covers the inauguration of the new age in which Jesus reigns as Lord and Messiah.
Source: IH Marshall, et al (eds), New Bible Dictionary, Third Edition, (Leicester, IVP): 11-3
Monday, July 24, 2006
During dinner, my fellow sister and friend mentioned something that got me thinking. She was listing out the all the roles that I play: a wife, a mom, a homemaker, a boss, a subordinate, a theological student, music team leader, budding lay-preacher, Sunday School teacher, and by then I hoped she had stop counting.
I told her that I dare not even list it out but now that she has done it, I would cry out to God for strength and mercy. However, though I am perplexed and weighed down from every side, I am encouraged because I know God is with me all the way. And for that I am thankful.
Picture by Loretta Humble
Sunday, July 23, 2006
Why trying to work out lessons from this passage, I noticed that it can be systematically observed like a sandwich:
The Ark of the Covenant
What is the ark? What is the Ark of the Covenant? It is the most important object to the Israelites Back in Exodus, after the Israelites left Egypt, God instructed Moses to build him a mobile temple and the first thing he was asked to build is what was called the Ark of the Covenant. It is an ark, a box container. It is made of pure gold. It contains the tablets of the 10 commandments signifying the covenant or the promise-agreement made between God and Moses for the people of Israel.
To the people of Israel, it represents God himself, as a reminder of God in their midst and in their presence. The ark is a holy object belonging only to God. No one can touch it, no one can even see it with their bare eyes. During the journeys of the Israelites, the Ark was carried by the priests in advance of the host (Numbers 4:5, 6; 10:33-36; Psalms 68:1; 132:8). When carried, the Ark was always wrapped in a veil, in badger skins, a blue cloth, and was carefully concealed, even from the eyes of the Levites who carried it.
What happened at this point of David’s life is that the ark has been taken away from them. This is one of the lowest point of the Israelite nation because with the ark taken away from them. God’s presence is no longer with them. What is the ark to us?
(1) Priority in our lives
To the Israelites, it meant a lot to them. To them it is the very presence of God. When they move, the ark is at the front leading the nation. When they settle, the ark is in the center as the heart of their lives. It is a symbolic object signifying that God is with them. They do not worship the ark. They worship God and the ark reminds them daily of the presence of God in their lives.
The symbolic object in our times is the cross. While the ark represents the presence of God, the cross represents the grace and the mercy of God, who gave us his Son to die upon it so we may live and not die.
So the lesson is: how much of our lives is led by the cross and how much of what we do centers around the cross. Who leads? God? Our ambition? Who is our priority in life? God or ourselves?
The Israelites have the ark there to remind them. We have the cross to remind us. Every time when we gaze at the cross, we need to ask ourselves 2 questions: who is leading my life? And who is in the center of what I do?
What about David? When the ark is returning to the nation of Israel, it was a big event. The presence of God is big to the Israelites. It is their identity. God is their identity.
(2) The Holiness of God
The Ark of the Covenant is something holy, separated for God. God is light and no one can see his face. At one time, Moses, whom God speaks to personally at that time bravely asks to see God’s face, but God only showed him his back because no one can see God and live to tell it. Uzzah even died in the process of moving the ark back the very first time.
Sometimes we take for granted the holiness of God. We must remember that even though we are called to have a close relationship with God, it is not a disrespectful lovey-dovey relationship. He is a father to us and asks us to call him Abba Father, which is equivalent to a Daddy to us. Yes we can be close but we must also approach God with respect, awe, reverence and worship.
How can we show reverence to God? In all the things that we do everyday of our lives is a testament to him. Live our lives that reflect his glory. Read his word and pray to him with awe and reverence.
David’s Offerings and Sacrifices
Talking about offerings and sacrifices brought me to do a revision on the book of Leviticus and I quote Wenham, Leviticus used to be the first book that Jewish children studied in the synagogue. In the modern Church it tends to be the last part of the Bible anyone looks at seriously. … In practice then, though not in theory, Leviticus is treated as though it does not really belong to the canon of Scripture. That rings so true. When I was younger, I would start reading the bible chapter by chapter in January and by the time I reach the Chinese New Year holidays, I would find myself in the book of Leviticus and there the goal of completing the bible in a year would go down the drain! Thankfully, by God's grace I did manage to read the entire bible several years ago.
I found a very good bible study material in the Internet which I pdf-ed into a 214-page document!
So what is the significance of these offerings and sacrifices that David gave to God? They certainly hold different significance in comparison to our offerings.
(1) We are sinful
We are sinful and sacrifices have to be made for God to forgive us and Jesus is the ultimate sacrifice
(2) Jesus is the only way
Sacrifices are very meticulous and there are many rules and regulations to it. God is very particular about the way men approach Him. We can only come to God his way, Christ's way not our own.
David’s Linen Ephod
The linen ephod is the vestment or garment that is worn by the high priest and later by the ordinary priest symbolically showing their characteristics of office in the priestly role.
The fact that David wore the linen ephod is very significant, very very significant. Now who is David? He is chosen and anointed king of Israel. Therefore, in bringing back the Ark of the Covenant, he should be clothed in the finest kingly garment, with a crown and scepter.
Instead he wore a linen ephod. To him, as far as God is concerned he is not king, but a servant. Before God, he is acknowledging his servanthood. To David, the linen ephod represents who he is before the LORD.
(1) To the leaders of the church
To the church, yes, you may be a leader but to God you are but a servant.
(2) To the people of the church
You may think you are just members, not doing much but don’t forget what Peter says in 1 Peter 2:9-10.
But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people belonging to God, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light. Once you were not a people, but now you are the people of God; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy.
Now, David’s dance is a really popular account. I just feel that this passage is really taken out of context. Let’s take a look.
David danced before the Lord with all his might. There is no second guessing; he has no qualm about it. He did it with all his might. To David, his dance represents the worth and heart of his worship.
David’s dance sets the standard of the quality of our worship. Just like David, we must not have any misgivings over our act of worship to God. We must worship will all our might. This however, does not mean that we should start dancing and shouting from this Sunday onwards! It must be understood that dance and music as portrayed in 2 Samuel is typical and customary in David’s days. It is common. What is significant is David’s heart. He worshipped with all his might; with all of himself: body, soul and mind – and this is what God seeks in our worship. Worship him with all our might – in our songs, in our music, in our prayers, in our words.
David blessed the people with gifts as part of the celebration. To David, the gifts represents the symbolic blessings of God that with God back in the center of their nation, their lives will be full again.
David’s gifts to the people remind us of our responsibility to the people around us. God blessings must be shared. We are responsible to spread the goodness of God to the people around us to signify oneness in God and the bounteousness of God’s blessings in the body of the church.
The mention of Michal in this passage is very interesting. She is both the daughter of Saul and wife of David but here she is only referred to as King Saul’s daughter emphasising her position and attitude.
Comparing David and Michal, while David was rejoicing but Michal was despising, and while David brought back blessings, Michal responded with cursing.
(1) What is our response to the presence of God?
(2) How do we act in response to the presence of God?
Are we complaining or even acting in apathy when we are in the presence of God?
Saturday, July 22, 2006
We did not do anything much today. I guess I am too busy preparing the sermon for tomorrow.
For the coming year of my life, I shall make Psalm 139 my song, my hymn, to live my life for Him in all I think, say and do.
God's Omnipresence and Omniscience.
For the choir director. A Psalm of David.
1O LORD, You have searched me and known me.
2You know when I sit down and when I rise up;
.........You understand my thought from afar.
3You scrutinize my path and my lying down,
.........And are intimately acquainted with all my ways.
4Even before there is a word on my tongue,
.........Behold, O LORD, You know it all.
5You have enclosed me behind and before,
.........And laid Your hand upon me.
6Such knowledge is too wonderful for me;
.........It is too high, I cannot attain to it.
7Where can I go from Your Spirit?
.........Or where can I flee from Your presence?
8If I ascend to heaven, You are there;
.........If I make my bed in Sheol, behold, You are there.
9If I take the wings of the dawn,
.........If I dwell in the remotest part of the sea,
10Even there Your hand will lead me,
.........And Your right hand will lay hold of me.
11If I say, "Surely the darkness will overwhelm me,
.........And the light around me will be night,"
12Even the darkness is not dark to You,
.........And the night is as bright as the day
.........Darkness and light are alike to You.
13For You formed my inward parts;
.........You wove me in my mother's womb.
14I will give thanks to You,
for I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
.........Wonderful are Your works,
.........And my soul knows it very well.
15My frame was not hidden from You,
.........When I was made in secret,
.........And skillfully wrought in the depths of the earth;
16Your eyes have seen my unformed substance;
.........And in Your book were all written
.........The days that were ordained for me,
.........When as yet there was not one of them.
17How precious also are Your thoughts to me, O God!
.........How vast is the sum of them!
18If I should count them, they would outnumber the sand
.........When I awake, I am still with You.
19O that You would slay the wicked, O God;
.........Depart from me, therefore, men of bloodshed.
20For they speak against You wickedly,
.........And Your enemies take Your name in vain.
21Do I not hate those who hate You, O LORD?
.........And do I not loathe those who rise up against You?
22I hate them with the utmost hatred;
.........They have become my enemies.
23Search me, O God, and know my heart;
.........Try me and know my anxious thoughts;
24And see if there be any hurtful way in me,
.........And lead me in the everlasting way.
Picture by Lynn Cummings
Friday, July 21, 2006
We pray for mercy and we pray that His will be done for His own glory.
Picture by Charlie Lawrence
Thursday, July 20, 2006
Things kept going wrong.
Oh I pray for God's leading and sustenance.
His grace is sufficient for me.
5 Trust in the LORD with all your heart
and lean not on your own understanding;
6 in all your ways acknowledge him,
and he will make your paths straight.
~ Proverbs 3:5-6
Picture by Bill Davenport
Wednesday, July 19, 2006
From the first chapter, The Glory of Preaching: A Historical Sketch:
Four chief characteristics of Chrysostom's preaching (he was nicknamed Chrysostomos, 'golden-mouthed' and is generally and justly regarded as the greatest pulpit orator of the Greek church):
(1) He was biblical, preaching systematically through several books and his sermons are full of biblical quotations and allusions
(2) He was simple and straightforward, following the Antiochene school of 'literal' exegesis in contrast to fanciful Alexandrian allegorisation
(3) His moral applications was down-to-earth
(4) He was fearless in his condemnations, he was a martyr of the pulpit, for it was chiefly his faithful preaching that caused him his exile
Luther's nine properties and virtues of a good preacher:
(1) teach systematically
(2) have a ready wit
(3) be eloquent
(4) have a good voice
(5) have a good memory
(6) know when to make an end
(7) be sure of his doctrine
(8) venture and engage body and blood, wealth and honour, in the Word
(9) offer himself to be mocked and jeered of every one
Tuesday, July 18, 2006
~Gordon J. Wenham, The Book of Leviticus (Grand Rapids: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1979), p. vii.
That rings so true. When I was younger, I would start reading the bible chapter by chapter in January and by the time I reach the Chinese New Year holidays, I would find myself in the book of Leviticus and there the goal of completing the bible in a year would go down the drain! Thankfully, by God's grace I did manage to read the entire bible several years ago, though there still much, much more to read.
The book of Leviticus now holds a very high priority in my study of His word, but there is so much to do, so much to read and so much to learn. In preparation for my sermon this Sunday though, I must at least read up some. I downloaded a bible study on the book from bible.org which turns out to be a 214 pages long pdf file!
The Book of Leviticus
Source: Robert L. Deffinbaugh, Th.M.
(1) Leviticus is largely a code book, a book of regulations.
(2) The Book of Leviticus is, to a great degree, a book of priestly regulations.
(3) The Book of Leviticus contains many regulations pertaining to the laity, as well as to the priests.
(4) The Book of Leviticus is a book of regulations which is given by God through Moses, spoken to him from the tent of meeting.
(5) The Book of Leviticus is essentially a narrative form of literature.
(6) Leviticus is closely connected with the entire Pentateuch, and especially with Exodus and Numbers.
(7) Essentially, Leviticus can be divided into two major divisions, separated by chapter 16, which deals with the annual day of atonement.
(8) Leviticus is quite frequently quoted or referred to, but in the Old Testament, perhaps no other book is more influenced by Leviticus than the prophecy of Ezekiel.
(9) Leviticus makes a great deal of some distinctions.
(10) Leviticus does not press the distinction between ceremonial holiness and civilian holiness.
(1) The burnt offering does not originate in Leviticus, but is found early in the Book of Genesis.
(2) The burnt offering regulated in Leviticus chapter 1 was viewed primarily a personal offerings, done voluntarily by the individual Israelite.
(3) The burnt offering is one of the most common offerings, which is offered on a great variety of occasions, often in conjunction with another sacrifice or offering.
(5) The regulations for the burnt offering (as well as the other offerings) are very important, and violations are taken very seriously.
(6) There are three types of animals to sacrifice in the burnt offering.
(7) The animal to be offered in the burnt offering was always to be of the highest quality.
(8) There is an alternation between the activity of the priest and the offerer.
What it means to us based on 4 principles:
(1) The principle of man’s depravity
The burnt offering is not an offering for a specific sin but in association with other offerings. It is a reminder to the Israelites of man's depravity, to acknowledge and make provision for their sinfulness. Only through Christ, the Son of God who can take away the sins of the world.
(2) The principle of particularity
If the Israelite learned anything from the meticulous rules and regulations which God laid down for the burnt offering and all of the rest, it was that He is very particular about the way men approach Him. We can only come to God his way, Christ's way not our own.
(3) The principle of acceptance with God
God accepts us when we come to him in nothingness, in humility.
The bottom line is that the Bible portrays God’s acceptance as the highest good of all, and that making great sacrifice is worth the price to attain God’s favor. Let us see God’s approval as our highest good, and let us forsake all, including self-seeking and self-love to attain it. It is in our death, in Christ, that God is well pleased. It is in giving up our life that we gain life. And as Christians, no motive should be stronger than that of pleasing God, of hearing Him say to us in that day, "Well done, good and faithful servant."
(4) The principle of atonement through the shedding of blood
The sinful state of man is dealt with by the shedding of innocent blood, the blood of a sacrificial victim. The burnt offering communicates and illustrates this principle of atonement.
(5) The principle of identification
The one who was to benefit from the death of the sacrificial victim had to identify with that animal. It was, first of all, his animal, one that he had either raised or obtained at a price. The offerer places his hand on the victim as a symbol of identifying himself with it, which he killed in his place. In the same way, Christ died for us, an atonement.
(6) The principle of sacrifice
One of the unique contributions of the whole burnt offering is that it illustrates sacrifice in its purest form. A very valuable animal is given up wholly to God. Neither the offerer nor the priest gains much from the offering, other than the benefit of being found acceptable to God, which, in the final analysis, is the ultimate benefit.
Picture from Brian Nelson's Bible Audio Visual
Monday, July 17, 2006
10 Jacob left Beersheba and went toward Haran. 11 And he came to a certain place and stayed there that night, because the sun had set. Taking one of the stones of the place, he put it under his head and lay down in that place to sleep. 12 And he dreamed, and behold, there was a ladder set up on the earth, and the top of it reached to heaven. And behold, the angels of God were ascending and descending on it! 13 And behold, the LORD stood above it and said, "I am the LORD, the God of Abraham your father and the God of Isaac. The land on which you lie I will give to you and to your offspring. 14 Your offspring shall be like the dust of the earth, and you shall spread abroad to the west and to the east and to the north and to the south, and in you and your offspring shall all the families of the earth be blessed. 15 Behold, I am with you and will keep you wherever you go, and will bring you back to this land. For I will not leave you until I have done what I have promised you."
I am sure many of us have always felt that life is a never-ending upward climb, which is why whenever this thought came to me, I am always reminded of Jacob's dream, the Ladder to Heaven. God's word is what holds us together: For I will not leave you until I have done what I have promised you.
Picture by Bill Davenport
Sunday, July 16, 2006
The Ark of the Covenant is ארון הברית, aron habrit in Hebrew. It is described in the Bible as a sacred container, wherein rested the stone tablets containing the Ten Commandments.
The Ark was built at the command of God, in accord with Moses's prophetic vision on Mount Sinai (Exodus 25:9-10). Its primary function was for God to communicate with Moses, "from between the two cherubim" on the Ark's cover (Exodus 25:22). The Ark and its sanctuary were "the beauty of Israel" (Lamentations 2:1).
During the journeys of the Israelites, the Ark was carried by the priests in advance of the host (Numbers 4:5, 6; 10:33-36; Psalms 68:1; 132:8). The Ark was borne by priests into the bed of the Jordan, which separated, opening a pathway for the whole of the host to pass over (Joshua 3:15, 16; 4:7, 10, 11, 17, 18). The Ark was moreover borne in the procession round Jericho (Josh. 6:4, 6, 8, 11, 12). When carried, the Ark was always wrapped in a veil, in badger skins, a blue cloth, and was carefully concealed, even from the eyes of the Levites who carried it.
It signifies the symbol of the presence of God. Exo 30:6, “And you shall put it in front of the veil that is above the ark of the testimony, in front of the mercy seat that is above the testimony, where I will meet with you.”
In olden times these things appeared more realistic to the people than they do to us; and when the ark was considered the visible representation of the presence of Yahweh, and as guaranteeing His presence, a close material connection was thought to exist between the ark and Yahweh, by virtue of which Divine powers were also thought to be present in the ark.
But the view advocated by some of the modern critics, that the Israelites had thought that the ark was the dwelling-place or the throne-seat of Yahweh, is nevertheless not correct. This opinion cannot be harmonized with this fact, that in the sources, dating from the same olden times, mention is made of His dwelling in many places in Canaan and outside of Canaan, so that the idea that His presence or even He Himself is confined to the ark is impossible.
Picture from www.greatpassionplay.com
- International Standard Bible Encyclopedia, James Orr, M.A., D.D., General Editor
- “The Ark of the Covenant”, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ark_of_the_covenant
Saturday, July 15, 2006
22 For we know that the whole creation has been groaning together in the pains of childbirth until now. 23 And not only the creation, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies. 24 For in this hope we were saved. Now hope that is seen is not hope. For who hopes for what he sees? 25 But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience.
There are many things we look forward to, nothing more than the Last Day of the Lord. Nonetheless, now is the time to wait and tarry and while we do, it is also time to build and to get ready. What should we build and what should we get ready? Souls and lives for God for sure but other than that, I seem to think that when the last day comes, we go to him with the amount of love, joy, hope, peace, charity and all the goodness that is available in our hearts and souls. I hope I have them when I am finally with Him.
Picture by Bill Davenport
Friday, July 14, 2006
15 As for man, his days are like grass;
....he flourishes like a flower of the field;
16 for the wind passes over it, and it is gone,
....and its place knows it no more.
17 But the steadfast love of the LORD
....is from everlasting to everlasting on those who fear him,
....and his righteousness to children's children,
18 to those who keep his covenant
....and remember to do his commandments.
Picture by Bill Davenport
Thursday, July 13, 2006
My 1000-word paper:
Plumbing the Text and Forming the Sermon from 2 Samuel 6:12-23
Plumb the Text
This passage gives the closing to the Ark Narrative that is found in 1 Sam 4:1-7:1, 2 Sam 6 and 1 Chr 13-15. Historically, the ark is a constant reminder to the Israelites of the holy presence of God – God is with them in their journey through the desert and during their conquest for land. The ark however, was captured during the time when religious life was at its lowest; the presence of God was no longer with the Israelites.
The 2 Sam 6:12-23 passage is therefore very significant. The ark is to be transported to the newly established capital in Jerusalem under the reign of King David. The presence of God is to return to the life of the Israelites as a nation.
The importance of this passage is evidence in the author’s emphasis on several aspects.
Firstly as mentioned, the ark is returning as a visible symbol of the return of the presence of God to Israel as a nation. Secondly, David is leading the procession taking on a priestly role by evidence of his linen ephod in place of his kingly robe. He sets an example to his people to serve the LORD, indicating that he is one with the people in service to God. Thirdly, David danced with all his might as a witness to the importance of the presence of the ark and as an act of worship to God. Fourthly, sacrifices were made to God at the onset of the procession acknowledging God’s power and providence, seeking for atonement of their sins, to express thankfulness for his blessings and to seek for a safe transfer. Burnt offerings, the epitome of all offerings and sacrifices, and peace offerings were made at the end of the procession. The burnt offering signifies David’s representation of the nation as a total and absolute dedication of himself and his people to God, while the peace offering denotes that Israel is already by the atonement at peace with God. Fifthly, David blesses his people as a sign to them that God is in their midst , that covenantal blessings are sure to come in the presence of the ark. Lastly, Michal becomes barren as a result of her priority that is evident based on her behaviour over David’s action.
Form the Sermon
The Ark of the Covenant is the holiest of all things to the Hebrew people . It is a visible sign that God is dwelling in their midst. Therefore, it must first and foremost be established that God must be the most important in the life of a Christian by evidence of the presence of God in his life. More than that, David knew that the ark must rest in the most central place in the life of the nation: Jerusalem, the heart of the kingdom, of life and of worship. In parallel, we must, like David, ensure that it is fundamental that God must be at the most central part of our lives: the heart of everything we do.
There are four things to take into account from this passage: David’s linen ephod, David’s dance, David’s offerings and sacrifices, and David’s gifts to the people.
David removed his kingly robe and donned a linen ephod, symbolic of a priestly role. Before God, he is acknowledging his servanthood. To David, the linen ephod represents who he is before the LORD. To us, David’s linen ephod reminds us who we are before the LORD. We may be leaders in our establishment and church as David is king, but before God, we are but servants.
David danced before the Lord with all his might. There is no second guessing; he has no qualm about it. He did it with all his might. In response to Michal outburst over his outward and lowly expression unbefitting of a king, he said to her that he will be even more undignified if need be, to celebrate before the LORD. To David, his dance represents the worth and heart of his worship. To us, David’s dance sets the standard of the quality of our worship. Just like David, we must not have any misgivings over our act of worship to God. We must worship will all our might. This however, does not mean that we should start dancing and shouting from this Sunday onwards! It must be understood that dance and music as portrayed in 2 Samuel is typical and customary in David’s days. It is common. What is significant is David’s heart. He worshipped with all his might; with all of himself: body, soul and mind – and this is what God seeks in our worship. Worship him with all our might – in our songs, in our music, in our prayers, in our words.
David began and completed the moving of the ark with sacrifices and offerings. These sacrifices and offerings are laden with purpose and significance. They are meant to accomplish and bring about something. To David, the sacrifices and offerings represents his frailty before God in the acknowledgement of his sovereignty, offering him thanksgiving, seeking for his favour, giving of himself and seeking peace by atonement. To us, David’s sacrifices and offerings reminds us that he must increase and we must decrease (John 3:30). As it is with the sacrifices and offerings in the beginning and the end of the moving of the ark, we must decrease ourselves for God to be the center of our being.
David blessed the people with gifts as part of the celebration. To David, the gifts represents the symbolic blessings of God that with God back in the center of their nation, their lives will be full again. To us, David’s gifts to the people remind us of our responsibility to the people around us. God blessings must be shared. We are responsible to spread the goodness of God to the people around us to signify oneness in God and the bounteousness of God’s blessings in the body of the church.
In closing, we finally turn to Michal. It is notable that she is identified in this passage as Saul’s daughter rather than David’s wife, implying her choice in position and attitude; not with David in rejoicing but with her father in despising (1 Sam 18). While the entire house of Israel was out rejoicing, Michal stayed home loathing; while David returned home with blessings to give, she greeted him with curses to give. To David, Michal attitude represents the response to the ark of God, the presence of God. To us, Michal’s attitude reminds us of our response to the presence God. Are we complaining while others are rejoicing; are we cursing while others are blessing? How do we act in response to the presence of God? We need to time and again remind ourselves with the linen ephod, the dance, the sacrifices and offerings, and the gifts of blessing.
Picture by Nicole Shelby
Wednesday, July 12, 2006
We read the shortest book of the OT - Obadiah. Short but powerful. It is a letter written to the nation of Edom. Basically, it condemns Edom for not aiding their neighbour Israel when in need. Lesson: we may see our "enemies" in triumph for the moment, but not for all time.
We read the account of Zacchaeus and I commented that it would be quite an event to meet him in heaven! Calvin found that delightful.
We read Luke 19 and came to verse 26, 'I tell you that to everyone who has, more will be given, but from the one who has not, even what he has will be taken away.' I told my son that once in awhile I use this verse to remind the worship team of the talents that God gave us that should be used in return for his glory. He has been practising his piano but not very happily. In fact, he moans and whines the whole time. I told him that God gives us various gifts and talents and the more we give it back to him in service, he will increase our talents but if we do not, even what we have will be taken away. He had his practice just now and surprisingly he went about it in a more relaxed and willing manner; and he had fun. I now remember what I said to him and I think it registered in him.
Picture by Luis Rock
Tuesday, July 11, 2006
I just delivered my paper in class several hours ago - complete with a Powerpoint presentation - my paper on Romans 6. There is still much to do before the final submission but on the whole the feedback I received was that it was well done and they have enjoyed the discussion. I thank God, for helping me persevere through it all. It was not easy.
However, I was commenting to Noel (my fellow brother and classmate) that I should footnote the entire paper in one big citation creditting Douglas Moo and CEB Cranfield! Only because I think I practically quoted them everywhere. Therefore, I need to give it a re-work to add on more thoughts and what I learnt from class today. But I am glad I have finally got the presentation over and done with.
My lesson for the day though is: God's word is God's word.
One can say it is tough, but one can also say it is easy;
It is profound, and yet it is simple truth at same time.
The more we dwell in His Word, we know more;
And yet realise we don't know enough.
For the word of God is living and active,
sharper than any two-edged sword,
piercing to the division of soul and of spirit,
of joints and of marrow,
and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart.
~ Heb 4:12
Picture by Bill Davenport
p/s: What I find amusing is that I am fresh and wide awake right now even though it is 1:08 in the morning, compared to the previous nights when I practically knocked off at 11:00pm. Amazing how stress affects a person. A really feel a heavy burden being lifted now that I am done with my Romans paper (though I still have to complete it for submission) - the sky is bright again and I can breathe easy now. Now, what else can I do?!
Monday, July 10, 2006
I am too tired to write much today. My presentation paper on Romans 6 is due tomorrow and it had been a long week. But in the midst of it all, I still stand on the promises of God - his love and his grace - therefore I am rest assured.
Picture by Bill Davenport
Sunday, July 09, 2006
14What good is it, my brothers, if a man claims to have faith but has no deeds? Can such faith save him? 15Suppose a brother or sister is without clothes and daily food. 16If one of you says to him, "Go, I wish you well; keep warm and well fed," but does nothing about his physical needs, what good is it? 17In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead. 18But someone will say, "You have faith; I have deeds." Show me your faith without deeds, and I will show you my faith by what I do.
Justification is only by faith but if this faith is not active in doing good works, this faith is dead and dead faith is no faith; and no faith, no justification.
"... I will show you my faith by what I do."
Picture by Pipp
Saturday, July 08, 2006
Find us Faithful
by Jon Mohr
We’re pilgrims on the journey of the narrow road,
And those who’ve gone before us line the way,
Cheering on the faithful, encouraging the weary—
Their lives a stirring testament to God’s sustaining grace.
Surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses,
Let us run the race not only for the prize;
But, as those who’ve gone before us,
Let us leave behind us
The heritage of faithfulness,
Passed on through godly lives.
After all our hopes and dreams have come and gone,
And our children sift through all we’ve left behind,
May the clues that they discover,
And the memories they uncover
Become the light that leads them to the road
We each must find.
O, may all who come behind us find us faithful;
May the fire of our devotion light their way.
May the footprints that we leave
Lead them to believe;
And the lives we live
Inspire them to obey.
O, may all who come behind us find us faithful.
It is indeed my prayer.
They will make war on the Lamb, and the Lamb will conquer them, for he is Lord of lords and King of kings, and those with him are called and chosen and faithful."
~ Rev 17:14
Friday, July 07, 2006
To the choirmaster: according to The Gittith. A Psalm of David.
1 O LORD, our Lord, how majestic is your name in all the earth!
You have set your glory above the heavens.
2 Out of the mouth of babes and infants,
you have established strength because of your foes,
to still the enemy and the avenger.
3 When I look at your heavens,
the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars,
which you have set in place,
4 what is man that you are mindful of him,
and the son of man that you care for him?
5 Yet you have made him a little lower than the heavenly beings
and crowned him with glory and honor.
6 You have given him dominion over the works of your hands;
you have put all things under his feet,
7 all sheep and oxen, and also the beasts of the field,
8 the birds of the heavens, and the fish of the sea,
whatever passes along the paths of the seas.
9 O LORD, our Lord,
how majestic is your name in all the earth!
Picture by Bjarne Kvaale
Thursday, July 06, 2006
4Look at the ships also: though they are so large and are driven by strong winds, they are guided by a very small rudder wherever the will of the pilot directs. 5So also the tongue is a small member, yet it boasts of great things. How great a forest is set ablaze by such a small fire! 6And the tongue is a fire, a world of unrighteousness. The tongue is set among our members, staining the whole body, setting on fire the entire course of life, and set on fire by hell. 7For every kind of beast and bird, of reptile and sea creature, can be tamed and has been tamed by mankind, 8but no human being can tame the tongue. It is a restless evil, full of deadly poison.
I felt slighted by a friend recently, with words shot point blank without first checking. Obviously I was most unhappy but decided to do the opposite - reticence. The air is already bad, although I don't think this person knows it; and I rather it not get worse. So I have decided to keep mum over it.
I was checking out some proverbs and found this:
The Taming of the Tongue by Leonard Ravenhill
Until recently, we were pretty much in the dark about the human body. But then came the X-ray with its peeping eye...a marvelous instrument which has saved us much human misery. It was able to show us the human heart, but it couldn't show us the soul or it could show us the throat, but not the voice. The brain, but not the mind. Nevertheless, medical science has done much to help this outward man that perishes. If our eyes are getting dim, we can get glasses. If our kidneys or heart fail, we can have a transplant. But as far as I know, there is one member of the body that has never been transplanted. If we used our arms and legs as much as we use this part, we'd be incredibly stiff and sore. But this member never gets tired, and I've never seen one with a splint on it. As you get older you may get dentures - but you will always have the same tongue you were born with! There are artificial joints made these days, but no artificial tongues.
For more, read it here.
And some other interesting sayings and proverbs:
The human tongue is more poisonous than a bee's sting. ~ Vietnamese saying
The tongue has no bones, yet it breaks bones. ~ Greek saying
Your mouth is like an axe, and your tongue a butcher's knife. ~ Chinese saying
Better slip with foot than tongue. ~ Ben Franklin
Righteousness is better than cunning words, A sensible person speaks carefully. ~ Chinese saying
Give thy thoughts no tongue. ~ William Shakespeare
Having two ears and one tongue, we should listen twice as much as we speak. ~ Turkish saying
Once a word leaves your mouth, you cannot chase it back even with a "chariot drawn by 4 horses." ~ Chinese saying
Turn your tongue seven times in your mouth before you utter a word. ~ Chinese saying
Let a fool hold his tongue and he will pass for a sage. ~ Anonymous
The tongue speaks, but the head doesn't know. ~ Russian saying
Better to stumble than make a slip of the tongue. ~ Russian saying
Listen or your tongue will keep you deaf. ~ Native American proverbThe wise man has long ears and a short tongue. ~ German proverb
I can't really control how other people will guard their tongue, but I had better guard mine.
Picture by Craig Jewell
Wednesday, July 05, 2006
Meanwhile, Codepoke posted a story he wrote for his nieces. I love it! Check it out here.
Picture by rfirman
Tuesday, July 04, 2006
The purpose in a man's heart is like deep water,
but a man of understanding will draw it out.
I thought this proverb deep and profound, but I do not quite understand it.
1. The purpose in a man’s heart – his purpose in doing something or his purpose in life?
2. A man of understanding – the same man or a second party?
I feel there could be several meanings to it.
One, a man can have purposes deep in his heart and being reticent about it. It takes another person with deep understanding to know what the purposes are behind the actions and words. Lesson: a person’s ultimate motive in doing something could be so hidden that we need to be wise enough to see him behind the façade.
Two, a man’s purpose in life as willed by God, other than to live for Him, could be difficult to know even by oneself, it takes a person with wisdom and understand to know it and live it. Lesson: for a person to know his purpose in life as designed by God, he needs to seek God daily for wisdom and understanding.
To me, that is the splendour of a proverb. Its meaning depend on the situation that one needs to apply it to. In contrast to the other parts of the bible, be it, epistles, narrative history, songs or prophecy, all which are confined to history and context, proverbs are wise sayings which can be applicable to any corresponding situation in life as long as the application is in line with the rest of Scripture.
Such is the beauty of the Word of God.
Monday, July 03, 2006
- A’ in respond to A
- B’ in respond to B
- C’ in respond to C
- D carries the epitome of argument in the entire passage.
A. What then, should we remain in sin so grace may increase? God forbid.
.....B. We who have died to sin, how can we live in it?
..........C. Do you know
...............we are baptised into Christ
...............we are buried with him
...............we are united with him in death and resurrection
.................D. Knowing this
......................the old man was crucified and brought to nothing
......................he who has died has been justified
......................if we died with Christ, we shall also live with him
..........C’. We know
...............Christ is raised from the dead
...............Christ will never die again
...............Christ died to sin once and for all, he live to God
.....B’. So you must consider yourself dead to sin but alive to God
A’. For sin have no dominion over you, since you are not under law but under grace.
Paul’s argument can be seen in the following:
- The affirmation (A A’): God forbid!
- The requirement (B B’): We have died to sin, so …
- The reasoning (C C’): do you not know … we know
...notice the we, we, we and the Christ, Christ, Christ?
- The crux (D): knowing this
I don't know. I certainly hope I will finally settle down to complete the paper. Thankfully, I do have one more week to do it.
Working into the chiastic sections, I am doing the C C' right now and I am totally blown away with this discovery. Utterly amazing, the way Paul writes, and more so the inspiration of God. It really looks too good to be true, I am beginning to wonder if I am seeing things. A chiasm within a chiasm?
The reasoning (C C’): do you not know … we know
This section presents the heart of the argument, where Paul reasons: “do you not know” because “we know”.
A chiasm is clearly and amazingly seen in these 2 sections: the 3 “we are” statements in contrast with the 3 statements on Christ. Placed in juxtaposition:
1. The believers who have been baptised into Christ Jesus have been baptised into his death (v.3) and this Christ has been raised from the dead (v.9)
2. We were buried therefore with him through baptism into death in order that just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father in the same way we too in newness of life might walk (v.4) and he will never die again for death no longer has dominion over him (v.9)
3. For if we have been united with him in the likeness of his death in the same way also we shall be united in the likeness of his resurrection (v.5) for that he died he died to sin, once for all, but that he lives he lives to God (v10)
Picture by Witek Burkiewicz
Sunday, July 02, 2006
My boss at work was just telling me to just do it and not think about getting As as it is not important as it were in school days. But that's the thing with me - I do aim for an A. And knowing that I am not A material in this module, I really really find it hard to work at it.
But nevermind, I have an extra week to work things out. I had better do it tonight, to really work it out, that is.
Meanwhile, I must talk about this book that I have picked up yesterday from the bookstore: The Va Dinci Cod, by Adam Roberts, writing as Don Brine. My husband noticed it and the three of us, my son inclusive (though I am sure he was just laughing along!), were really laughing as we leaf through it. We have not read it yet, but here are some of what we find hilarious:
At the back cover: In his own blood, the dying man had written a single sentence in splashy, red letters. It was very much in a red letter statement:
THE CHATHOLIC CURCH HAD ME MURDERED!
At the "FACT" page: This is a work of parody. Nevertheless, all the facts contained within this book are in fact, factually speaking, factitious. Some scholars dispute the existence of Eda Vinci. But again some scholars are just disputatious. Otherwise everything in this book is a fact. Even the jokes are factual jokes. Factual jokes are better than docudramatic jokes, and much much better than fictional jokes. On that we can all agree.
Robert Donglan, Professor of Annagrammatology
Inspector Curvy Tash
Herbert Alistair Teabag Bart or Sir Herbert Teabag
Priceless, don't you think?
Anyway, here's a peek into my great weekend.
Saturday, July 01, 2006
This reminded me of some interesting things I learnt 3 years ago.
For one, the names of the books in the Pentateuch in Hebrew takes on the very first word of the book; we find this quite odd.
Genesis, בראשית Bereshith, In the beginning
Exodus, ואלה שמות Ve-Elleh Shemoth, These are the names
Leviticus, ויקרא Vaiyikra, And he called
Numbers, וידבר Vaidabber, And he spoke (but in most Hebrew Bibles its running title is במדבר Bemidbar, in the wilderness, which is the fifth word in the first verse)
Deuteronomy, אלה הדברים Elleh Haddebarim, These are the words
Imagine refering to the first five books of the bible: In the beginning 3:3, These are the names 10:1, And he called 18:2, And he spoke 6:24-26 and These are the words 6:4.
Picture by Rado Nachev