A Journey of Faith Begins and Ends at God’s House in Bethel.
Study Series Note: This study is one in a series of studies on the Bible’s sacred places (tabernacle, temple, etc.). The last study (posted in September under Study 4) focused on the Creation and the Garden of Eden as a Temple.
All sacred places of the Bible are made sacred by God’s presence. God walked in the Garden of Eden and was close to the people he created, which was why the Garden was closely associated with the later temple. Visiting the houses of God, therefore, doesn’t always entail entering a structure. In today’s study, we jump forward several chapters in Genesis and many thousands of years.
Today is the first Sunday of Advent; the season leading up to Christmas. During Advent, the Church remembers the anxious waiting that preceded the coming of the Christ. Although I posted the following sermon text last year, I am re-posting it (with modifications) as a reminder of the hope and expectation that the first Sunday of Advent usually focuses upon.
Simeon and Anna: An Expectant Faith.
In the last couple years, consumers have started to voice their displeasure with stores advertising for Christmas earlier and earlier. Stores couldn’t wait till Thanksgiving day – the decorating, the sales, and the preparations began shortly after Halloween. The situation seems to have improved, but stores still send out flyers throughout November to entice us to spend as much money as possible on black Friday. Have you received any flyers? Over the last month many Christmas sale flyers have made their way into both my postal and electronic mail boxes. These flyers tell us to be expectant and prepared because our shopping hopes will soon be fulfilled. While many are looking forward to saving 25% on electronics, just as many people wish that stores would at least wait until Thanksgiving before bombarding us with Christmas advertising. Before we become too upset with all this pre-thanksgiving Christmas advertising, we should realize that the first Christmas was actually advertised, and prepared for, centuries before the actual day. Continue reading
Below is the text of the sermon I gave at the “Night in the Light” on October 21, 2016.
In the fourth chapter of the book of James we come to a section that addresses two questions that have always plagued the church: 1) Why do Christians, who should be known for their love, often fall prey to infighting? 2) Why do our prayers often go answered, even though Jesus said, “Ask anything in my name and I will give it to you?” These two questions eventually present themselves to every Christian and to every church context. James not only addresses these questions, he gives a prescription to remedy the underlying ailment. Continue reading
Reading the first chapters of Genesis may not cause the average Westerner to think of the Jerusalem temple, but Israelites of biblical times associated the temple with creation and the Garden of Eden. Evidence of this association can be found in the furnishings of the temple itself as well as the testimony of non-biblical Jewish writers (the most prominent being Philo and Josephus).
In several places, both Philo and Josephus wrote about how the temple represented the entire universe and how the temple’s fixtures and the priest’s garments symbolized different parts of creation giving God the worship due him. The individual lights on the temple’s golden lampstand were thought to symbolize the planets and/or the lights that God fixed in the heavens (Genesis 1:14-16). Continue reading
Expect another post in the “Where Heaven and Earth Meet” series soon. For now, I present the following book review:
Thiselton, Anthony. The Holy Spirit—In Biblical Teaching, through the Centuries, and Today. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2013. 565 pages.
In The Holy Spirit—In Biblical Teaching, through the Centuries, and Today, Anthony Thiselton aims not only to produce a “thorough biblical and historical study of the Holy Spirit in systematic form,” but also to initiate and develop “a mutual dialogue with Pentecostals and those influenced by the Renewal Movement” (ix). Thiselton, for the most part, achieves these aims in a modest 565 pages (considering the magnitude of the topic). Continue reading
In study 2 we reviewed the theology of the temple in Jerusalem. In particular we studied how Solomon’s prayer at the temple dedication (1 Kings 8) demonstrates a belief that God’s true dwelling was in heaven, despite being able to manifest the Glory presence in the temple. A parallel account of the temple dedication in 1 Kings 8 can be found in 2 Chronicles 5-7.
Study Series Intro: Over the next several months I will be posting a series of group bible studies on the Bible’s sacred places. Each study focuses on what these sacred places reveal about the character of God and how these places point to God’s ultimate self revelation in Jesus Christ.
Let’s review the temple dedication and Solomon’s prayer by reading 2 Chronicles 5:5-6:3; 6:18-21.
Although the tabernacle served Israel well as they wandered the desert and began to establish a nation in the Promised Land, the eventual establishment of a territorial kingdom called for a more fixed sacred place. King David sought to build such a temple in Jerusalem, but the task was completed by his son Solomon. Continue reading
Study Series Intro: Over the next several months I will be posting a series of group bible studies on the Bible’s sacred places. Each study focuses on what these sacred places reveal about the character of God and how these places point to God’s ultimate self revelation in Jesus Christ. Though supported with deep research, this work is written for the average adult and structured for use in a discussion group setting. Thought provoking material equally balances discussion questions to encourage readers to discover important theological concepts for themselves.
Study 1. From Places to Place: God Draws near to His People.
Before diving into Hebrew ideas about sacred places, it is helpful to look at the ancient world in general. The ancient Near East was predominately polytheistic, and people generally considered sacred places as points of contact between heaven and earth, between a god and his/her earthly followers. Continue reading
Study Bibles with reference notes have become very popular in the last few decades. While the common refrain of “my Bible says in the notes . . . ” has derailed many group discussions, Bible study notes do more good than harm. These notes often provide helpful cultural or linguistic information to help modern readers understand the author’s intended meaning. One example of this benefit is found in Jesus’ well-known interaction with Nicodemus in John 3.
John 3:5 Jesus answered, “I tell you the solemn truth, unless a person is born of water and spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God. 3:6 What is born of the flesh is flesh, and what is born of the Spirit is spirit. 3:7 Do not be amazed that I said to you, ‘You must all be born from above.’ 3:8 The wind blows wherever it will, and you hear the sound it makes, but do not know where it comes from and where it is going. So it is with everyone who is born of the Spirit.” (NET Bible)
Those who have not studied Greek usually do not realize that in
this passage the English word “spirit,” “Spirit,” and
“wind”are translations of one Greek word: pneuma.
Below is a copy of one of the sermons I preached in Ukraine. This sermon is also available as a PDF on the page devoted to John’s Gospel. (Вы можете скачать эту проповедь в файл PDF на странице «ЕВАНГЕЛИЕ ОТ ИОАННА»)
Сие же написано, дабы вы уверовали, что Иисус есть Христос, Сын Божий, и, веруя, имели жизнь во имя Его.
Введение: я преподaвал курс по Евангелию от Иоанна в Запороской Семинарии. Мы обсуждали многие вопросы, связанные с Евангелием от Иоанна: автор, структура, цитаты из Ветхого Завета, и многие другие вопросы, которые теперь у нас нет времени обговоривать. Поэтому я хочу поделиться с вами только одиним вопросом, который мы обсуждали в курсе – цель написания Евангелия от Иоанна. В отличии от некоторых других библейских авторов, Иоанн ясно сказал почему он написал своё Евангелие. Нам важно понимать эту цель, потому что Иоанн не просто собрал кучу случайных историй и учений об Иисусе, у каждого из которых была своя собственная цель. Но Иоанн имел общую цель. Все написано чтобы способствовать этой цели. Нам важно и необходимо понимать не только значение каждого отдельного стиха, но и общее значение и цель книги, потому что они оба содержат истины, они оба вдохновленны Духом Святым. Continue reading