Good Abominations?

Mary Douglas, in Leviticus as Literature, points out that Leviticus 11 should really stun the careful Bible reader. If we recall that God is the Creator of all things, and that He not only created all things but also declared all things good, how can some of them be “abominations” to the Hebrews? How are…

The Kingdom of Israel

When Yahweh makes covenant with Israel at Sinai, He inaugurates the kingdom of Israel. There, He says explicitly that He brought Israel out of Egypt in order that they might be a “kingdom of priests and a holy nation” (Ex. 19:6). The “kingdom” does not begin with the anointing of Saul or David. The kingdom…

Habakkuk, Abraham, Noah, and Lot

Habakkuk is a prophet like Abraham, talking with God about the destruction of the wicked and the righteous. Habakkuk is particularly concerned that God “do right” with regard to those who are righteous. Running through chapter 2 is a theme of drunkenness (2:5, 15-16). This “drunkenness” appears to be summary of the kind of mindless…

The Blood that Frees

This world is full of guilt, full of the weight and burden of sin. Everyone of us knows this. We know this in our brokenness and failures. We know this in the lives of our loved ones. And we know this in the lives and stories going on all around us in this world and…

Knowing Jesus, Sharing Jesus

This last week at the Ash Wednesday service, I invited the congregation to celebrate Lent through putting concentrated effort into evangelism: loving neighbors with the goal of sharing the life of Christ with them. I encouraged you to seriously consider and plan to have your neighbors over for a meal or to look for some…

The High Priest Leper

Another Mark 14 thought: Upon hearing Jesus’ “confession,” the high priest tears his clothes. Not only is it forbidden in the law for the high priests to tear their clothes (Lev. 10:6, 21:10), but it is required that lepers go about with torn clothes. As the high priest cries out “blasphemy!” he inadvertently dons the…

Cut without Hands

In Mark 14, one of the accusations brought against Jesus is that he had promised to destroy “this temple made with hands” and within three days he would build another “made without hands.” This is an allusion to Daniel’s prophecy regarding the stone in Daniel 2:34 which is cut out “without hands.” But Daniel’s stone…

Ash Wednesday Homily: Lent is for Evangelism

Stephen was stoned to death. James was beheaded. Matthew was pinned to the ground and beheaded. James the brother of Jesus was thrown off the temple tower and clubbed to death. Following Jesus is dangerous. Matthias was stoned and then beheaded. Andrew was crucified on an X-shaped cross. Mark was dragged to his death. Peter…

Luke’s Subtle Autobiography

John Foxe points out that St. Luke was likely a physician in Troas and probably converted there during Paul’s ministry. He explains: “Notice in Acts 16:8-10, that it is at Troas that Luke switches from “they” to “we” in his text — ‘And they passing by Mysia came down to Troas. And a vision appeared…

The Shepherd and the Lion

My friend and colleague, Joshua Appel, pointed out that 1 Peter 5 actually holds together fairly tightly: moving from exhortation to elders to “shepherd the flock” faithful as those who will give account to the Chief Shepherd ultimately to the exhortation to resist the devil who is a “prowling lion” seeking to devour them. This…