Tag Archives: Old Testament

Article on Ezekiel 20

I’m pleased to announce the publication of an essay in the journal Biblische Zeitschrift: “‘Anger Exhausted’ for the Sake of YHWH’s Name in Ezekiel 20: Did YHWH Really Relent from Wrath Poured Out on Israel?” Continue reading

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Epiphany Sermon: “Nations Shall Come to Your Light” (Isaiah 60:1-14)

This was YHWH God’s purpose all along in calling Israel to be his people: that his glory would be shown in their midst, and the nations would see and be attracted to it. Very often, Israel failed to live up to God’s glory—as we all have sinned and fallen short of God’s glory. None of us is worthy to carry forth God’s glory into the world. In Isaiah 60, despite all that Israel, Judah and Jerusalem had done to bring shame on God’s name: God still displayed his glory through them. In Matthew 2: despite all that the Jews, and all that humanity, had done to dishonor God: God still chose to be born a Jewish baby, a human baby, and to show his glory in the world through Jesus Christ. Continue reading

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Advent Sermon: “He Will Stand and Shepherd His Flock” (Micah 4:9-5:6)

The fact that Micah mentions “the land of Nimrod” is not just trying to be more specific—“Oh, you mean that Assyria, the one founded by Nimrod.” It’s reminding us of the rebellion and evil that Nimrod spread throughout the world. But this king from Bethlehem who would bring peace and lead Israel, will not just defend his people from outside attacks, although that is part of it. In the first part of verse 6, we see that he will lead the people to the gates of Assyria, the land of Nimrod, the heart of the land where evil dwells. In other words, he is going to lead an attack, to take the fight to the evil land—and he will win! Continue reading

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Seminar on Old Testament, in English and Lithuanian

This summer, I was honored with the invitation to speak at a retreat for one of our sister churches in Vilnius, 180º Bažnyčia (Church). This Saturday seminar was in two parts and is titled, “How Can Christians Make Sense of the Old Testament?” (“Kaip krikščionys supranta Senąjį Testamentą?”) Continue reading

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Write As Children of the Light

Our work as Christians within the academic system should be redemptive. For those of us at early stages of our career, perhaps this means that we should seek—never at the sacrifice of integrity, always resisting corruption and mediocrity—to obtain the credibility within the system that would allow us to make reforms. Those in middle or later stages of their careers may take more active steps to restructure systems of publishing, to lift up and reward others for talent and virtue, and perhaps even to create alternate structures where God’s truth can be drawn out into the light, where all can benefit. Continue reading

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Sermon: “I Have Dealt With You for My Name’s Sake” (Ezekiel 20:30-44)

The elders in Ezekiel’s day were at a loss as to how to approach God. Their guilt was before them, and everything that YHWH said through Ezekiel was abundantly true. Continuing to the time of Jesus: How did God deal with his sinful people, still in exile, still oppressed by the Romans and their gods, and victims of their own sinfulness? There seemed to be no way out.
But God, who was rich in mercy, provided a solution for his people, in Christ. Jesus was tempted in the wilderness for 40 days, as Israel was for 40 years. Jesus went into “exile,” the death of a cross, separation from his father. Not because he deserved it, but because he chose to take our sin upon himself. Jesus “passed under the rod of the Father’s anger” for us! Jesus did so, so that he could bring his people into the land, that we would be fit to bear the name of YHWH God! And, he gave us his body and blood, continuing offerings so that we can be in fellowship with God! Continue reading

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Sermon: “Laws Through Which They Could Not Live” (Ezekiel 20:11-29)

If we don’t live by God’s law, the alternative is not “freedom”—it is slavery—either slavery to chaos and disorder, or to human-made law. If we will not say to God, “Let your will be done!” then God says to us, “OK, let your will be done.” We probably live in the time where at least people in the developed world have the most self-determination, but it seems to lead to depression and anxiety, rather than to liberation.
God wants us to be holy because it’s good for us, and because of his reputation. If were so consumed with God’s reputation, what would that mean for our personal discipleship—the choices we make on an hour to hour, day to day, year by year basis? For our worship? For our evangelism? We should be shouting it from the rooftops, and it should work into our lives like yeast and affect everything that we do. Continue reading

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Sermon: “Shame Rolled Away” (Ezekiel 20:1-11)

Each of us here today still lives with the scars and the effects of sin in our life: the sins that we have committed, and the sins committed against us. That is a reality of life in this fallen world. But the good news is that because of Christ’s death and resurrection, for those who believe and turn to God in repentance, we are no longer defined by our past sins. Continue reading

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Sermon: What Are You Building? (Eccl 3; 6; 7)

Things fall apart, and they don’t bear fruit like they should. Sometimes, a farmer plants a seed in the ground—and there is no rain. Sometimes, an entrepreneur builds a great business by wise decisions and honest dealings—and a hurricane wind comes through and wipes her investment away. Sometimes, a married couple tries for years and years to get pregnant—with no success. Sometimes, a single mom works for years scrubbing floors to get out of debt—and then she gets sick, can’t work, and falls right back into debt. In a broken world, wisdom, hard work and obedience to God’s law don’t always yield the results they should.
But the good news, Paul says, is that there is hope for redemption and re-creation. Human beings subjected the world entrusted to them to frustration, to futility—but because of what one perfect Human Being has done, all of creation can be reborn. The creation itself, Paul says, groans as if in labor pains, waiting for us as reborn human beings to be re-created in our resurrection bodies. In one sense, the creation has more “faith” and hope than we humans have! The trees and beasts of the field know that Jesus Christ is risen, and when he returns they will rejoice to see him restore creation to its full purpose. Continue reading

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Pandemic Sermon: Job 42:10-17 and Isaiah 49:14-23, “Receiving Double from YHWH’s Hand”

COVID-19 and the reaction to it has caused deep divisions in our societies, and right down the middle of Christian communities as well….When we come back to meeting together, as a full church, or as an LCC family, or as societies reckoning with the effectiveness of policies (as I hope there will be investigations and evaluations, based in actual scientific understandings of how these viruses work that we had at the time), there will be anger and resentment that has to be dealt with….If we don’t, we could have a permanent division in our communities, which would be tragic.
…As we build back our lives, and build back our church community, can we think of our process as parallel to this—and also see it as an opportunity? Can we articulate our losses, express our anger and our sorrow, hear the anger and sorrow of others, and pray that God would help us to direct it and deal with it appropriately? Can we accept that nothing happens outside of God’s knowledge or control? Continue reading

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