Tuesday, December 11, 2018

Bondage to the Status Quo

The snares of death encompassed me; the pangs of Sheol laid hold on me; I suffered distress and anguish. 
Then I called on the Name of the Lord: “O Lord, I pray, save my life!”

Ps. 116:3-4 

I am bothered by the Old Testament concept of death. All end up in Sheol, whether they're evil or good. And Sheol is a place of darkness and separation from God and all the living. Sheol might also be interpreted as nothingness, but is still negative. The only way I can reconcile it with anything but complete hopelessness is the notion that it is a place of sleep and rest.

I must, therefore, read this psalm from a Christian perspective, and interpret this as a prayer of Messiah, which was answered by God. Moreover, the First Letter of Peter has this to say about (what I believe to be) Sheol:

Monday, December 10, 2018

Something's Gotta Give

The heavens are the Lord’s heavens, but the earth he has given to human beings.
Ps. 115:16 

What a profound statement, stating no less explicitly than the creation story itself that human beings have dominion over the earth. Though Psalm 24:1 states th the earth and everything on it belong to God, stewardship of it has nonetheless been given to us. And the more we know about earth science, and the more aware we are of what's going on in other countries, on other continents, and even in the oceans and seas, the more responsible we are for what we do.

There are many who maintain that human activity cannot actually change the

Sunday, December 9, 2018

'The Right Time and the Appointed End'

By the tender mercy of our God, the dawn from on high will break upon us, to give light to those who sit in darkness and in the shadow of death, to guide our feet into the way of peace.
—Luke 1:78-79

Because we concentrate on the birth of Jesus at this time of year, most of us don’t spare a thought for the other birth that happens at the beginning of Luke’s gospel. So here’s the story:

There was a woman named Elizabeth and a man named Zechariah. Zecharaiah was a priest and Elizbeth was descended from priests, and both of them were genuine in their love for God. They had been married for quite a while, but Elizabeth hadn’t had any children. People said she was barren. And this is what Zechariah himself came to believe. It was a story that he’d told himself so long and so often, that the words “barren” and “wife” had in his mind become practically synonymous. It didn’t mean that he didn’t love Elizabeth. It simply meant that who she was and how people talked about her had become one thing in his mind.

Now, Luke tells us that the privilege of entering the innermost part of the temple was determined by drawing lots. The way this was done meant that a priest probably only got to perform this duty once

Second Sunday of Advent

Today we light the candle of peace, so I'll post this song looking forward to the reign of the Prince of Peace. Americans associate this tune with the Easter hymn, Thine is the Glory, Risen, Conquering Son, but in Germany it's an Advent tune. Here are the words being sung:

Daughter Zion, be glad! Rejoice loudly, Jerusalem! Behold, your King comes to you! Yes, he comes, the Prince of Peace.

Hosanna, Son of David, may you be blessed by your people! Now establish

Where Is Their God?

Why should the nations say, “Where is their God?”
Our God is in the heavens; he does whatever he pleases.

Their idols are silver and gold, the work of human hands. 
They have mouths, but do not speak; eyes, but do not see. 
They have ears, but do not hear; noses, but do not smell. 
They have hands, but do not feel; feet, but do not walk; they make no sound in their throats. 
Those who make them are like them; so are all who trust in them. 
O Israel, trust in the Lord! He is their help and their shield.
Ps. 115:2-9 

Because Israel was different, worshiping but One God—and That One invisible and without solid representation—I'm sure it was quite common for their neighbors to deride them as being godless. The Egyptians, Canaanites, Philistines, Assyrians, and Babylonians could all show off their gods. And some of them must've been quite exquisite—beautiful carvings, the purest precious