Tuesday, August 23, 2005

Luke 4 and the Kingdom of God

Luke 4 and the Kingdom of God

NASB Luke 4:16 And He came to Nazareth, where He had been brought up; and as was His custom, He entered the synagogue on the Sabbath, and stood up to read. 17 And the book of the prophet Isaiah was handed to Him. And He opened the book and found the place where it was written,
20And He closed the book, gave it back to the attendant and sat down; and the eyes of all in the synagogue were fixed on Him. 21 And He began to say to them, "Today this Scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing."

Jesus describes his mission to his hometown synagogue members. Curiously, He doesn’t finish the rest of the chapter, although I’m sure it echoes in the minds of the hearers. Here is the rest of the chapter…

LXX Isaiah 61:1 The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me; he has sent me to preach glad tidings to the poor, to heal the broken in heart, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and recovery of sight to the blind; 2 to declare the acceptable year of the Lord, and the day of recompence; to comfort all that mourn; 3 that there should be given to them that mourn in Sion glory instead of ashes, the oil of joy to the mourners, the garment of glory for the spirit of heaviness: and they shall be called generations of righteousness, the planting of the Lord for glory. 4 And they shall build the old waste places, they shall raise up those that were before made desolate, and shall renew the desert cities, even those that had been desolate for many generations. 5 And strangers shall come and feed thy flocks, and aliens shall be thy ploughmen and vine-dressers. 6 But ye shall be called priests of the Lord, the ministers of God: ye shall eat the strength of nations, and shall be admired because of their wealth. 7 Thus shall they inherit the land a second time, and everlasting joy shall be upon their head. 8 For I am the Lord who love righteousness, and hate robberies of injustice; and I will give their labour to the just, and will make an everlasting covenant with them. 9 And their seed shall be known among the Gentiles, and their offspring in the midst of peoples: every one that sees them shall take notice of them, that they are a seed blessed of God; 10 and they shall greatly rejoice in the Lord. Let my soul rejoice in the Lord; for he has clothed me with the robe of salvation, and the garment of joy: he has put a mitre on me as on a bridegroom, and adorned me with ornaments as a bride. 11 And as the earth putting forth her flowers, and as a garden its seed; so shall the Lord, even the Lord, cause righteousness to spring forth, and exultation before all nations.

By the way, this is an English translation of the Septuagint, the Greek translation of the Old Testament. You’ll notice some differences in our modern translations based on the Hebrew Bible.

So did Jesus do this stuff? What glad tidings did he bring to the poor? He never offered them wealth. Which prisoners did he set free? We do know a lot of blind people got their sight back. Who was released from oppression? The year of the Lord’s favor is, perhaps the time that all this good stuff happens. It’s probably not bound to 365 days but more likely an era. The best part is that Jesus declares that this is fulfilled “today;” before any miracles, before any sight is restored physically, before anyone is released. Although this was written by Isaiah for the hope of the exiled nation of Israel, Israel’s leaders surely understood that this was more than that. This is a prophecy of God’s anointed leader and his accomplishments. So Jesus is claiming to his audience, his neighbors, that he is this Messiah. And if he is the Messiah then this is good news to the oppressed Jews of his day. God has finally sent a deliverer. The nation is under the thumb of Rome, and is not wealthy relative to Rome, and not free of Rome. Hence the nation is poor and oppressed. They aren’t blind or imprisoned though. Rome hasn’t plucked all their eyes nor placed them all in jail. It could be the good news is the proclamation of freedom and release. It’s interesting to me that Jesus skips the “binding up of the broken hearted” and emphasizes his proclamation. The prophecy isn’t that he will free prisoners or restore sight or release the oppressed, just that he will proclaim these things.  

I think clues of how to interpret this can be found in Isaiah 59 and John 9.

NASB Isaiah 59:1 Behold, the LORD'S hand is not so short That it cannot save; Nor is His ear so dull That it cannot hear. 2 But your iniquities have made a separation between you and your God, And your sins have hidden His face from you so that He does not hear. 3 For your hands are defiled with blood And your fingers with iniquity; Your lips have spoken falsehood, Your tongue mutters wickedness. 4 No one sues righteously and no one pleads honestly. They trust in confusion and speak lies; They conceive mischief and bring forth iniquity. 5 They hatch adders' eggs and weave the spider's web; He who eats of their eggs dies, And from that which is crushed a snake breaks forth. 6 Their webs will not become clothing, Nor will they cover themselves with their works; Their works are works of iniquity, And an act of violence is in their hands. 7 Their feet run to evil, And they hasten to shed innocent blood; Their thoughts are thoughts of iniquity, Devastation and destruction are in their highways. 8 They do not know the way of peace, And there is no justice in their tracks; They have made their paths crooked, Whoever treads on them does not know peace. 9 Therefore justice is far from us, And righteousness does not overtake us; We hope for light, but behold, darkness, For brightness, but we walk in gloom. 10 We grope along the wall like blind men, We grope like those who have no eyes; We stumble at midday as in the twilight, Among those who are vigorous we are like dead men. 11 All of us growl like bears, And moan sadly like doves; We hope for justice, but there is none, For salvation, but it is far from us. 12 For our transgressions are multiplied before You, And our sins testify against us; For our transgressions are with us, And we know our iniquities: 13 Transgressing and denying the LORD, And turning away from our God, Speaking oppression and revolt, Conceiving in and uttering from the heart lying words. 14 Justice is turned back, And righteousness stands far away; For truth has stumbled in the street, And uprightness cannot enter. 15 Yes, truth is lacking; And he who turns aside from evil makes himself a prey. Now the LORD saw, And it was displeasing in His sight that there was no justice. 16 And He saw that there was no man, And was astonished that there was no one to intercede; Then His own arm brought salvation to Him, And His righteousness upheld Him. 17 He put on righteousness like a breastplate, And a helmet of salvation on His head; And He put on garments of vengeance for clothing And wrapped Himself with zeal as a mantle. 18 According to their deeds, so He will repay, Wrath to His adversaries, recompense to His enemies; To the coastlands He will make recompense. 19 So they will fear the name of the LORD from the west And His glory from the rising of the sun, For He will come like a rushing stream Which the wind of the LORD drives. 20 "A Redeemer will come to Zion, And to those who turn from transgression in Jacob," declares the LORD. 21 "As for Me, this is My covenant with them," says the LORD: "My Spirit which is upon you, and My words which I have put in your mouth shall not depart from your mouth, nor from the mouth of your offspring, nor from the mouth of your offspring's offspring," says the LORD, "from now and forever."

NASB John 9:35 Jesus heard that they had put him out, and finding him, He said, "Do you believe in the Son of Man?" 36 He answered, "Who is He, Lord, that I may believe in Him?" 37 Jesus said to him, "You have both seen Him, and He is the one who is talking with you." 38 And he said, "Lord, I believe." And he worshiped Him. 39 And Jesus said, "For judgment I came into this world, so that those who do not see may see, and that those who see may become blind." 40 Those of the Pharisees who were with Him heard these things and said to Him, "We are not blind too, are we?" 41 Jesus said to them, "If you were blind, you would have no sin; but since you say, 'We see,' your sin remains.

Jesus’s healing of a physically blind man was a metaphor for the spiritual blindness that Jesus wanted to address. Isaiah shows that the blindness (59:9-10) was due to the sinfulness of the people, and they were so bad off that they couldn’t turn themselves around and God had to intervene (59:16).

So I conclude that Jesus was speaking metaphorically and spiritually here. He comes to satisfy the poor in spirit, those imprisoned in their sins, those blinded by their sins, and those oppressed by their sins. Jesus has come for the world. And like most of the world, his own neighborhood rejected Jesus. They couldn’t accept this man as Messiah, God’s prophet, God’s son.

What are we the church to do with this? We are to proclaim the good news. We are to proclaim freedom and sight and release and God’s favor. It doesn’t mean we are obligated to tear down all the jails, or oppose seeing eye dog training since all the blind will see and we can’t free the oppressed in North Korea. This isn’t in our power. But what we can do is proclaim it to our neighbors.

Monday, August 22, 2005

A letter to my young gay friend

My Christian friend is young and gay. I'm trying to encourage him....

first of all, your confession doesn't end our relationship. don't believe the stereotype of Christians who carry signs reading "God hates fags."

second of all, you aren't my first Christian friend
who's dealt with this.

third of all, when i was in high school, while i was
dating a girl, i was overcome with a thing for men. i
experienced it for months. i had a crush on my social
studies teacher for months. he was a fitness stud. but
somehow it passed. sexuality can be fluid for some
people, and the tide can turn.

fourth of all, you've got friends at church who will
walk with you through this stuff. did you know J-
knows more gay people than you do and has seen many of
them leave that lifestyle and walk in victory with
Jesus? when he got saved tons of his friends who were
getting saved too were gay. he walked with them
through their stuff as he walked through his stuff. so
in summary, come hang out with us. could you come to
our house for dinner once a week? and the focus
wouldn't be to cure you. the focus would be to hang
out. God heals I don't. I can pray for you. I have
tons of books you can read. You can give me book

fifth, the web...
Exodus J- helped start a local chapter of this in the 70's
Andy Comiskey this guy came and taught at our church a few times
Live Hope
Love Won Out these guys have a conference in Boston Oct 29th. i'd go with you if you wanted
NARTH this is science stuff. i like science. i even bought one of their books and liked it.
HOMOSEXUALITY NARTH is the only secular group of
psychologists, psychiatrists and counselors providing
psychological therapy to homosexuals who desire to
modify their sexual orientation. Although its
membership is comprised of many Christians of various
denominations as well as observant Jews, the group’s
approach is non-sectarian, scientific, fact-based, and
demonstrably productive of results. "
A fellowship of men and women, who through their common emotional experience, have chosen to help each other live in freedom from homosexuality.

sixth, will you still want to stay in touch with me
after i dropped all this back at you? i hope so. my
friendship with you is under the same conditions it's
always been. unconditional. we all have stuff that God
is dealing with in our lives. if God weren't in your
life, you wouldn't care. God adopted you. you are his.
if he could die for a world of sins, he can handle one
man's sins.

write me back soon.

Little Johnny Hugo

I think you should listen to Anthony Chapman's band,Little Johnny Hugo. There's a few songs you can download here.

Sunday, August 21, 2005

How the kingdom of God intersects with the kingdom of darkness

Isaiah 58 (NIV)
5 Is this the kind of fast I have chosen,
only a day for a man to humble himself?
Is it only for bowing one's head like a reed
and for lying on sackcloth and ashes?
Is that what you call a fast,
a day acceptable to the LORD ?

6 "Is not this the kind of fasting I have chosen:
to loose the chains of injustice
and untie the cords of the yoke,
to set the oppressed free
and break every yoke?

7 Is it not to share your food with the hungry
and to provide the poor wanderer with shelter—
when you see the naked, to clothe him,
and not to turn away from your own flesh and blood?

8 Then your light will break forth like the dawn,
and your healing will quickly appear;
then your righteousness [a] will go before you,
and the glory of the LORD will be your rear guard.

9 Then you will call, and the LORD will answer;
you will cry for help, and he will say: Here am I.
"If you do away with the yoke of oppression,
with the pointing finger and malicious talk,

10 and if you spend yourselves in behalf of the hungry
and satisfy the needs of the oppressed,
then your light will rise in the darkness,
and your night will become like the noonday.

This is one of the places where I derive my obligations as a Christian to the world.

Friday, August 19, 2005

Mary’s Magnificat and the Kingdom of God

Scott McKnight (SM) at Jesus Creed suggested I write my own takes on several of these Luke passages that indicate the Kingdom of God. His series can be found in his July 2005 archives.
He starts off his series with this
Today's post begins where we need to begin: with The Magnificat of Mary (Luke 1:46-55). Not only does it provide a plausible context for Jesus -- his mother's faith and vision (I sketch this in Jesus Creed, chp. 9), but it sets out the themes that will become consistent for Jesus.

So I chose the NASB for a more literal text to work from. And mix my comments with Scot’s.
Luke 1:46-55 (New American Standard Bible)
46And Mary said: "My soul exalts the Lord,

JU She lifts up God and gives him his rightful worship.

47And my spirit has rejoiced in God my Savior.

JU This is not only worship but adoration. She has received the greatest blessing any mother could ever receive.

SM 1. God is Savior and Lord in redeeming his people (1:46-47).

48"For He has had regard for the humble state of His bondslave; For behold, from this time on all generations will count me blessed.

JU God once again has raised up someone not esteemed by society for an amazing mission, like David the youngest son of Jesse, or Deborah, the woman who would trust God when the military commander wouldn’t.

49"For the Mighty One has done great things for me; And holy is His name.

JU God has conceived in her the child foretold in Isaiah. This is what all Israel has been waiting for for 700 years.

2. God, finally, shows his promised mercy to the poor and humble (1:47). [The terms here speak of the Anawim, the pious poor, those whom Jesus is blessing in "blessed are the poor."]

JU I’m not sure where Scot is reading out of this the poor and humble. Anawim is a Hebrew word and is not the word Mary uses as she describes herself as a humble, TAPEINOSIN, slave, DOULEIS. This is the promised fulfilled to all of Israel, not just the poor and humble.


JU Mary echoes Psalm 103:17 “But the lovingkindness of the LORD is from everlasting to everlasting on those who fear Him, And His righteousness to children's children,”
She places herself in the category of those who fear Him, which is why she has received his mercy. She also affirms the promise of God’s mercy to the God fearers. So the kingdom of God is filled with those who fear Him.

SM 3. God shows mercy to those who fear God (1:50)

51" He has done mighty deeds with His arm; He has scattered those who were proud in the thoughts of their heart.

JU God is characterized by His might. He’s able to put the proud in their place.

SM 4. God's Kingdom is demonstrable in "mighty deeds" (1:51)

52"He has brought down rulers from their thrones, And has exalted those who were humble.

JU In fact, God brings about regime changes. But this same God who deals with kings also interacts with a young Jewish girl like Mary. Nothing is too great or too small for God.

SM 5. God's Kingdom involves stripping the mighty and proud from their lofty places (1:51-52).

53"HE HAS FILLED THE HUNGRY WITH GOOD THINGS; And sent away the rich empty-handed.

JU – A quote from Psalm 107:9. Perhaps a post-exilic Psalm, which in context could refer to the Jewish trek through the wilderness back to the land of Israel. It may be a reference to God’s provision for his people on their return journey. However, this echoes God’s provision with manna when God’s people wandered in the wilderness with Moses. So why does Mary bring this up? She is, literally, being filled up with something good. Young, humble Mary, with no power in society is found with a child that owns the universe, and in her eyes will assume the throne of David. What’s this say about God and his kingdom? It’s an upside-down kingdom. Those who are needy, who depend on God, who aren’t self-sufficient are the ones God gives special attention to.

54"He has given help to Israel His servant, In remembrance of His mercy,

JU – Mary expresses the hope of most Israelites at the time that the Messiah will throw off the oppression of Rome and restore Israel to her Davidic glory and to the world changing kingdom that the prophets detail. But the truth of her utterance is that the help God gives to Israel is not physical. This upside-down kingdom will be politically weak. It will be popular only temporarily, a three year flash in a pan. In fact, his arrival precipitates the physical destruction of Jerusalem and a million of its people, 70 years later. The oppressed people of Israel end up crushed. But the church he starts changes the world, as the Holy Spirit pours out.

55As He spoke to our fathers, To Abraham and his descendants forever."

JU – And so the Abrahamic covenant is consummated.

Genesis 17:1-8 Now when Abram was ninety-nine years old, the LORD appeared to Abram and said to him, "I am God Almighty; Walk before Me, and be blameless. 2 I will establish My covenant between Me and you, And I will multiply you exceedingly." 3 Abram fell on his face, and God talked with him, saying, 4 "As for Me, behold, My covenant is with you, And you will be the father of a multitude of nations. 5 No longer shall your name be called Abram, But your name shall be Abraham; For I will make you the father of a multitude of nations. 6 I will make you exceedingly fruitful, and I will make nations of you, and kings will come forth from you. 7 I will establish My covenant between Me and you and your descendants after you throughout their generations for an everlasting covenant, to be God to you and to your descendants after you. 8 I will give to you and to your descendants after you, the land of your sojournings, all the land of Canaan, for an everlasting possession; and I will be their God."

And as Paul points out, this promise is made to Abraham and to Jesus, Galatians 3:16. According to Paul, the tutelage of the law has been set aside by the arrival of the seed of Abraham, Jesus. Galatians 3 is very helpful here.

Galatians 3:6 Even so Abraham BELIEVED GOD, AND IT WAS RECKONED TO HIM AS RIGHTEOUSNESS. 7 Therefore, be sure that it is those who are of faith who are sons of Abraham. 8 The Scripture, foreseeing that God would justify the Gentiles by faith, preached the gospel beforehand to Abraham, saying, "ALL THE NATIONS WILL BE BLESSED IN YOU." 9 So then those who are of faith are blessed with Abraham, the believer. …
16 Now the promises were spoken to Abraham and to his seed. He does not say, "And to seeds," as referring to many, but rather to one, "And to your seed," that is, Christ. …
22 But the Scripture has shut up everyone under sin, so that the promise by faith in Jesus Christ might be given to those who believe. 23 But before faith came, we were kept in custody under the law, being shut up to the faith which was later to be revealed. 24 Therefore the Law has become our tutor to lead us to Christ, so that we may be justified by faith. 25 But now that faith has come, we are no longer under a tutor. 26 For you are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus. 27 For all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. 28 There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free man, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus. 29 And if you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham's descendants, heirs according to promise.


6. God's Kingdom involves giving justice to the oppressed (1:51-53).
7. God's Kingdom involves the people of God, Israel (1:54)
8. God's Kingdom is connected to the Abraham promises (1:55).
In short, Mary's vision is the realization of the long-expected hope when God will create the society he promised to his people and through his prophets. This society will marked by justice and peace, by fear of God and holiness and mercy/love.

JU – Mary was hoping this. All the Jews were waiting for the amazing Messianic kingdom where the lamb and wolf would lay down together.

Isaiah 11:6 And the wolf will dwell with the lamb, And the leopard will lie down with the young goat, And the calf and the young lion and the fatling together; And a little boy will lead them.

But this didn’t happen. They didn’t know that the Messiah, and the nation of Israel, had to die for the kingdom to take effect. And the idyll time of lambs and lions won’t happen until his return. Until his return God’s people are called to love Him and their neighbors and make disciples of all nations.

Friday, August 12, 2005

Brett on Pagitt and EC

It is worth your time to listen to two shows from Stand to Reason (free reg. required) They are the July 31st show and the August 7th show. This blog after the second show with Dan Kimball is good followup.

Tuesday, August 09, 2005

Incarnational Versus Attractional Mission

An Emerging Aussie's compare and contrast article. Andrew Jones, the Tall Skinny Kiwi, pointed to it today. The discussion in the comments is expecially valuable.

Monday, August 08, 2005

Jesus Creed: Kingdom of God series

You have to scroll half way down this archive to get to Scot's series on the Kingdom of God. I think that because I got to them so late, Scot isn't interested in helping me understand his approach. So I thought I'd post my comments to him here in case anyone has elucidation for me.
In his second post discussing Luke 4:16-30 I say, "...i'm trying hard to understand the KoG from this perspective that isn't mine. i've been vacationing and looked forward to reading your series on the KoG upon my return. So this is what i don't get. From the is the Lord who brings down the proud and the mighty rulers. It's the Lord who lifts up the humble. He fills the hungry but sends the rich away empty. (How is this not metaphorical-it hasn't literally happened except incidentally). And its the Lord who helps Israel. So it says nothing of his means. If it is us are we to bring down rulers and turn away the rich?
Also, I'm having a hard time seeing the literal fulfillment of Isaiah 61. Is the gospel not for the rich? Are we to release violent criminals from their incarceration? Are we to put more effort in eye surgery and eye medicine and pray for more gifts of eye healing for the world's blind? Does the implausability of literal application leave this gang of four better understood in spiritual terms?..."

At his 3rd post on the Lukan Beatitudes I comment, "I just don't know Scot. these are such relative terms. Relative to the rest of the world, we Americans are in the "woe" category. Relative to my work community i may be blessed but to my inner city neighborhood i'm in the woes again. i think physical situations can lend themselves to different spiritual states, e.g. it is ahrd for a rich man to enter the Kingdom of heaven Mt. 19:23, but spirtual poverty and hunger and mourning are scattered across groups."

and at his 4th post on Matt 11:2-6 I ponder, "These things that Jesus tick off are so extraordinary that they seem to be ordination events. Even in charismatic circles these don't happen every service or that often. This is the stuff John Wimber called Power Evangelism. They awaken society and force an acknowledgment of the supernatural. The result is rejection by some and greed for more gifts by others and love for the giver by a few. As a church elder I pray for healing frequently but see it rarely. My friend wasn't healed of brain cancer last night.

"As far as enlarging the acts to a principle of "restoring the marginalized to society," it sounds so baby boomer. We see only a little psychological ministry by Jesus, listening to the whole story of the bleeding woman after her healing, and fellowshipping with the despised. I'm not sure if the application is fairly made from here. I don't think it is an incorrect ethic, just not sure if it is found here."

and i guess the rest of the series didn't compel me to reply any further.

Sunday, August 07, 2005

James MacDonald-Why I'm Not Emerging

At Walk in the Word with Dr. James MacDonaldwe get another irenic criticism. Perhaps some things are strawmen as Andrew Jones contends. I will refrain from freaking out at Andrew Jones' sarcasm since that seems to be considered by emergent defenders a major sin of emergent critics. Another emergent blogger finds the silver lining in MacDonald's thoughts.
MacDonald's gist is, hey I've got 7000 people coming to my church and I baptize 200 people a month and i didn't even have to grow a goatee...oops. He does have one. It's a short article. Is it helpful? It's very reductionist, which drives those being reduced crazy, but his subtitle is A Brief Response to the Emergent Church. He notices things other critics notice and he has more cred because he knows those leaders and likes them.

Friday, August 05, 2005

Wicca Emerging as America's Third Religion by 2012

After you read this,Christians and Pagans Agree, Wicca Emerging as America's Third Religion, go to to see the courses available. Right now they are at number 10.

An Interview with E P Sanders

An Interview with E P Sanders is extremely helpful for those who want to know how at least one of the propounders of the New Perspective on Paul, which includes N. T. Wright, views scripture. I'm shocked at his relativism and offfended by his hubris as an historian who needs to be consulted as a final authority in exegesis.

Wednesday, August 03, 2005

another irenic conversation with EC

At Miscellanies on the Gospel interacts with Mclaren's PBS interview. He makes one comment that relieves me because I wasn't sure if I was the only one on the block who saw the convergence of EC with N.T.Wright. He quotes Mclaren, "I think it would be safe to say that everything we're doing with the emerging conversation is summed up in saying, 'What is the message of Jesus, and what is the message of the kingdom of God? What does that mean?'" and writes, "The last sentence is of particular importance since it reveals that, at least for McLaren who is now the chief spokesperson for the ECM, their understanding of the gospel greatly differs from the current, mainstream view. The statement itself reveals just how much the Third Quest. and the New Perspective on Paul movements have very deeply influenced the ECM's understanding of the gospel."

an EC critic and an EV critic

At Cerulean Sanctum: Nyah, Nyah, Nyah, We're Not Listening! Dan Edelen writes, "The issue as I see it is that Evangelicals are only compounding the very problems they are accused of by the EC by their constant tirade against it. It is possible to reject the doctrinal aberrations in the EC and still thoughtfully listen to its criticism of today's strain of Evangelicalism."
My question is which is worse, bad individuals with good doctrine or wonderful individuals with lousy doctrine? I think the 2nd. You can walk away from a person, but a doctrine gets in your blood.