Who among you fears the Lord and obeys the voice of His Servant?

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Christ in the Old Testament: VanGemeren on Calvin and Daniel

The search for Christ in the Old Testament continues unabated.  This is a good thing.

For this brief post – I would like to point out a recent article published by Willem A. VanGemeren entitled “Christocentricity and Appropriation in Calvin’s Exposition of Daniel.”

The article was published in our own Torch Trinity Journal (volume 19) which hasn’t been posted online yet.  I can email you the article if you would like (c.rata@ttgu.ac.kr).

VanGemeren engages a bit in the introduction with the Westminster Seminary hermeneutic (see more recently Seeing Christ in All of Scripture) and then talks about Calvin’s interpretation of the Old Testament – especially as it pertains to the book of Daniel.

I highly recommend the article.  For a brief critique (yes – it has drawn criticism already) see the post by my colleague Nate Shannon here.

VanGemeren shows that Calvin was NOT a ‘Judaizer,’ but rather a careful interpreter of Scripture very much concerned with ‘appropriation’ and obedience.  He specifically applied the book of Daniel to himself and his fellow persecuted Christians who were in exile away from France.

Here are some worthy quotations from VanGemeren:

We cannot understand Jesus except in the context of the Bible as a whole.  To detach Jesus from this story is to create a mythical figure.  In his teaching and in his action he speaks and acts as the one who brings the story of God’s dealing with Israel to its point of crisis and decision. (p. 233)

John Calvin (JC) understood that the only way to serve Christ is to have a heart aflame for the GOSPEL.  (p. 234)

Fulfillment is a movie rather than a still picture. (p. 239)

CALVIN saw in Daniel a type of Christ. The prefiguration is shown in Daniel’s walk with God, his obedience to him, his confidence in God’s ability to raise him from the dead [note that Daniel was thrown in the lion’s den = like a grave], and in his witness to earthly powers. (p. 247)

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FREEDOM to Run – Even for the Wise

While I don’t remember much from the Latin I learned in school (I did not learn much to begin with :(), one proverb is still stuck in my memory: “Festina lente.”  That simply means, “Hurry slowly” (Grabeste-te incet – in Romanian).

Indeed – my image of a wise man is always that of one who takes his time, he ponders and thinks hard before speaking and/or acting.  It is after all, what we find many times in the Proverbs of Solomon.  See for example Proverbs 14:29: “Whoever is slow to anger has great understanding, but he who has a hasty temper exalts folly.”  It is the ‘slow’ guy who is the hero, not the hasty one (admittedly the context is a bit different).

That is why I was quite surprised in my morning reading of Proverbs (one proverb a day keeps the shrink away – I just made that one up! J) to find a proverb where the wise man was allowed to run:

When you walk, your step will not be hampered,

and if you run, you will not stumble.

(Pro 4:12 ESV)

A bit of context is important here.  The father/teacher is saying that if you go on the paths of righteousness (4:11), where there is light (4:18) and the path is level – you can run and you won’t stumble.  It is possible, therefore, for the wise to run, as long as he/she is on the right path.

Not so with the wicked/fool.  But why?  Because he/she will stumble.  Why?  It is really dark out there…: “The way of the wicked is like deep darkness; they do not know over what they stumble.” (Pro 4:19 ESV)  It seems to be not only very dark, but full with all kinds of unexpected obstacles.

Therefore, watch out wicked and foolish people.  It is really dark out there, even if you slow down, you will probably stumble.

Meanwhile – I am happy to know that I can be wise even if I am running…as long as I make sure I am on the paths of righteousness.  It is fairly level there, and plenty of light.

I got to run now.  The whether is quite nice outside!  🙂

 


To Play or Not to Play?

Did you know that there is a Theology of Play?  Just ask Jürgen Moltmann.

Now – closer to our times, there is a very important volume on this topic published recently by evangelical Christians.  It is called The Image of God in the Human Body: Essays on Christianity and Sports and you can have it for a mere $149.95 [though it seems to be out of stock on Amazon].

If you play with that kind of money, buy yourself one and then grab an extra copy and send it to me!  🙂

If you don’t play with that kind of money, you can start with this article by Erik Thoennes from Biola University.  Or you may want to listen to the Theology Refresh podcast from Desiring God.

As a ‘player’ [I play soccer almost weekly and I used to play many sports in my youth :)] I am very much interested in this subject and I plan to read some more.  I hope these readings will help me have a healthy/biblical view about this important topic.

I do know that God made Leviathan “to play [some translations ‘sport’] with,” but other than that I have my doubts about play in a Christian context.  What bothers me the most is that Jesus seems to have never played, at least in his last three years of life.  I can see, however, how this is a very special case.

But, did the disciples play?  Did my ‘heroes,’ the Puritans, play?  Hmm…I don’t see much play there either!?

I will have to ponder more on this.  Meanwhile, these resources should help to get us started.  If play is a big part of your life [well, it should not be a BIG part of anyone’s life; I am pretty sure about that] you will benefit if you have a clearer biblical/theological understanding of this.

Now I have to get back to work, lest my friends and family think that all I do is play!  🙂

P.S. I haven’t written much on this blog for quite some time.  Can you guess why?  Yes, you are right, no time for play! 😦

P.S. 2.  If you are one of our students taking Intensive Greek right now, please get back to your studies! I am pretty sure there is no time for you to play! Unless, of course, Greek is child’s play for you!?  🙂


An Interesting Debate: Dawkins vs. Sacks

I don’t have much time these days for posts, but I decided to post this debate between Richard Dawkins and Britain’s chief rabbi, Lord Jonathan Sacks.

Sacks is pretty good, but fairly week on some issues. For example, he had no idea on how to follow up on his charge of anti-Semitism. However, he did get Dawkins to apologize that he had no idea that the people who persecuted the Jews in the Middle Ages had the same view of the OT (a God of violence etc.) as he does. Frankly, I was very surprised by his complete lack of historical understanding about the Jewish people (I take him at his word that he did not know).  There is a lot to be said about this.  I hope to do it in a future post.

It is also interesting to see the encounter about “junk DNA,” as it seems fairly clear that Dawkins changed his view on this, but the Rabbi did not know to press him on this. See for example thisanalysis by David Klinghoffer.

(more…)


Abstinence Education in the News

Put this one in the pile of cases where ‘research’ confirms what common sense could have told you a long time ago!

The House Energy & Commerce Health Subcommittee released a report on Friday entitled A Better Approach to Teenage Pregnancy Prevention: Sexual Risk Avoidance. The report makes it clear that abstinence education is the best approach when it comes to the different approaches for teaching sex education to teenagers.

How surprising! NOT!

For more detail and relevant links see this fine post.

Other studies (see the link above) have shown that abstaining from sex before marriage, and even limiting the number of partners, helps marriages to be more stable and also more intimate.


Before There Was Time, Before There Was Space…

I recommend Bible Mesh for a well done introduction to the Bible.  Their first era (Creation) starts with the following words: “Before there was time, before there was space, there was God! And God spoke time and space into being.  He spoke galaxies into being, …and on one  planet he spoke life….

Interestingly enough, towards the end of his monumental Tractatus, Ludwig Wittgenstein, the leading analytical philosopher of the twentieth century, conceded, ‘The solution of the riddle of life in space and time lies outside space and time.’85

Looking at the issue from a scientific angle, Michael Behe goes a significant step further: ‘As we reach the end of this book [Darwin’s Black Box], we are left with no substantive defence against what feels to be a strange conclusion: that life was designed by an intelligent agent.’86

Today, the enlightened scientific community tells us that the universe created itself from nothing!  I will let you choose which is the more sensible and logic choice.

Blanchard, John (2011-08-05). Does God Believe in Atheists? (Kindle Locations 6989-6993). Evangelical Press. Kindle Edition.


The Blessedness of Wisdom

I posted some notes on Proverbs 3:13 here.

ENJOY and feel free to send me your comments!


Some Thoughts on Psalm 73

These days I am preaching on psalm 73 at Wangsung English Ministry . This is a very deep wisdom psalm and it has a ‘pivotal’ role in the editing of the Psalter (it appears in the middle of the Psalter, the first of Book III).

To prepare for my sermon I try to read a few good commentaries (the best must be the one by Allen P. Ross) and to listen to a few good sermons (usually from the Gospel Coalition site).  Of course – one of the best on this must be Martyn-Lloyd Jones (see his book Faith on Trial).

This week I decided to also take a look at the Jewish perspective, and I found in my library the book   A Rabbi Reads the Psalms, by Jonathan Magonet.  It has some good insights, but I am not sure (from reading only the section on psalm 73), that it is worth the buy.

In any case, I find this quote from Levi Yitschak of Berditchev useful in connection with Psalm 73 (p. 188):

“I do not beg You to reveal to me the secret of Your ways – I could not bear it.  But show me one thing; show it to me more clearly and more deeply; show me what this, which is happening at this very moment, means to me, what it demands of me, what You, Eternal One of the world, are telling me by way of it.  Ah, it is not why I suffer, that I wish to know, but only whether I suffer for Your sake.”


Link

A New Website for My Beloved Hebrew Students

Due to my boundless love (chesed) for my Hebrew students I decided to start another website.  It is called One Proverb a Day and it is found here.

The intention is to provide 366 proverbs in Hebrew for students to read and memorize [YES – memorize!].  Also – I will provide notes on grammar and pronunciation, and some basic comments on the content (mostly based on Waltke and Bridges).

Because I do not know how to deal with the Hebrew well (help anyone?) in wordpress, all the files will be available for download in PDF form.  Those versions should be much better than what appears in the wordpress website!

Please let me know if you have any questions or comments, and if you would like to contribute to this project!

Cristian


Tatsuya Shindo – The Commitment of a Yakuza Preacher

Tatsuya Shindo was a gangster in Japan.  More precisely he was a Yakuza.

He converted to Christianity in one of his prison stints and is now a pastor/preacher in a converted bar.  You can read more about him here.

What really inspired me, and should encourage every church planter, was his commitment to preaching.  After he became a Christian in prison, he felt called to be a pastor and to preach the gospel.  According to his testimony at the TTGU Chapel, he preached for 6 months only to a dog.  That was his only audience, but he persevered because he believed that God called  him to preach the Gospel.

How many of us have displayed and will display that kind of commitment and perseverence?

Now he has been blessed by the Lord.  His church is full and he has been used by God for a revival in some of Japan’s toughest jails.

Praise the Lord and let’s keep our brother Tatsuya Shindo and Japan in our prayers.  Maybe revival in Japan will start from the prison!?