Friday, November 17, 2017

Prophetic mediation

The genuine prophetic mediator embodies not only the divine word but, to some degree, the divine pathos as well.— Standing in the Breach, page 394

Monday, November 13, 2017

I am weary of holding it in…

As the dialogue with God progresses, Jeremiah gives more and more expression to the tension of the mediator. On the one hand, he loves the people and intercedes for them, but on the other hand, the prophet sees their many blatant sins and thus he is weary with holding back the wrath of God that he came to embody (Jer 6:11, 20:9). Jeremiah’s inner struggle over the fate of Judah reflects in many ways God’s mercy and wrath (Exod 34:6–7). As mediator, Jeremiah stands between God and the people, he represents both sides to the other party, and he embodies the suffering, the uncertainty, the wrath, and the hopes of both sides at the same time.—Standing in the Breach, page 393

Friday, November 10, 2017

Intercession is a family affair

But it is also important to note that on the full biblical revelation, our prayers for justice are not our prayers alone. The Scriptures indicate that Jesus intercedes on our behalf (John 17) and “ever lives to make intercession for us” (Heb 7:25). They record that the Spirit intercedes as well, groaning on our behalf in our suffering (Rom 8:26–27). This shows us that even within the Godhead, the Spirit and the Son make intercession to the Father about the affairs of humanity, praying about sin and the mediating salvation of Christ (Heb 7:23–25), praying for support and fidelity to God (John 17), and groaning and interceding over suffering (Rom 8:26–27). In this, we are not alone in prayer, even in prayers of lament. God has gone before and behind us in the Son and the Spirit, drawing our prayers into his.—Heath Thomas, Habakkuk, forthcoming in the THOTC series (emphasis original)

Not even Moses and Samuel!

Jer 15:1 establishes a kind of biblical hierarchy as to who were the most influential mediators in the Old Testament. Moses and Samuel are Israel’s two great prophetic intercessors of the past. They have reached a proverbial status in the mindset of the Israelites (cf. Ps 99:6). We have seen in some detail how Moses and Samuel have managed to pacify Yhwh’s wrath and succeeded to preserve the covenant relationship. This time, however, there appears to be no room left for concessions. The fact that even Israel’s two outstanding intercessors could not achieve divine pardon for Israel anymore suggests that Israel’s relationship with Yhwh has reached an unprecedented low point.—Standing in the Breach, page 383

<idle musing>
Have we reached that point yet? I don't think so, but we do need to intercede more. See this. Here's a snippet:

If church history teaches us anything, it is that prayer meetings, seemingly out of style today, possess more potential to transform societies than vote counts.
And most "prayer meetings" that do happen end up being at least 90% singing and talking and at best 10% praying. Nothing wrong with singing and talking, but don't call it a prayer meeting if you aren't going to reverse the percentages!
</idle musing>

Thursday, November 09, 2017

Prophetic voice?

Lots of people want to be prophets, screaming doom and gloom, and calling down the end of the world on everybody and everything. Is that really what a prophet does, though? We've been extracting sections from Michael Widmer's Standing in the Breach for a while now. He would disagree, but he's not the only one.

Yesterday evening we went to the library. We hadn't been there for a while now, so I spent a good bit of time looking over the new books. One especially caught my eye, a short little 70 page book entitled Roots of Violence: Creating Peace through Spiritual Reconciliation, so I read it : ) Here's good little snippet that I managed to pull from it:

It isn’t easy to be a prophet. The prophet of doom prays like mad that his prophecy not be true. Any prophet of doom who isn’t praying like mad that it not happen is just on an ego trip. That was Jonah’s problem.—Krister Stendahl, Roots of Violence: Creating Peace through Spiritual Reconciliation (Brewster, MA: Paraclete, 2016)
Jonah sounds like far too many "prophets" doesn't he? : (

Accordance for Android!

Yes! Accordance has released a beta version of Accordance for Android!

To install it, I downloaded it via the link, copied it into Dropbox, and then accessed it on my phone to install it. Log in to your account, and do the Easy Install. Seems to run fine on my small phone, so I'm sure those of you with more memory will have no trouble.

Standing before the Lord

[I]t [Jer 15:10] is important because it uses one of the main “technical” terms to describe the role of the prophetic intercessor. The prophet was traditionally a mediator between Yhwh and the people (Deut 18:15–22). The prophets were responsible to pass on the words of God to the people and to “stand before the Lord”(`āmad lifnê) in prayer on behalf of the sinful people. The expression “standing before the Lord” on behalf of the people is also used by Jeremiah to describe his intercessory activity (cf. Jer 18:20), and it goes all the way back to Abraham’s prayer on behalf of Sodom and Gomorrah (cf. Gen 18:22–23, 19:27). Elijah introduces himself as the prophet of Yhwh, “before whom I stand” (1 Kgs 17:1; 18:15). God raises up prophets to serve him (“to stand before him,” Deut 18:5) as advocates and messengers (Deut 4:10).—Standing in the Breach, page 382

About that timeline of yours…

Faith means being faithful to God rather than relying upon a specific timeline. Temptation seduces believers when they begin to rely on God’s schedule for security and hope rather than in God himself. This is a kind of disordered love, which will lead to disordered lives. Timelines may take our eyes away from the One who gave it.—Heath Thomas, Habakkuk, forthcoming in the THOTC series (emphasis original)

Wednesday, November 08, 2017

The inner life of God revealed

Following the logic of the text, Yhwh does not reveal the dramatic tension of His inner life primarily for the benefit of the readers, though with the canonization of these oracles this obviously became a central purpose of the text. God’s tears also introduce anew a note of hope for Jeremiah. They witness to a deeply involved God and to the changing nature of divine inner life. Divine tears raise the possibility of forgiveness and healing. In other words, taking the flow of the narrative seriously, it looks as if the divine tears encourage Jeremiah to persist in his intercessory prayer effort on behalf of the people (cf. Jer 14:19–22). Perhaps no other book of the Bible witnesses so clearly to the divine tension between love and wrath. Together, love and wrath cause divine pain, something that comes to powerful expression in these verses.—Standing in the Breach, page 374

Tuesday, November 07, 2017

Anthropomorphism from a different angle

"Actually, Israel conceived even Jahweh himself as having human form. But the way of putting it which we use runs in precisely the wrong di- rection according to Old Testament ideas, for, according to the ideas of Jahwism, it cannot be said that Israel regarded God anthropomorphically, but the reverse, that she considered man as theomorphic. . . . It has been rightly said that Ezek 1.26 is the theological prelude to the locus classicus for the imago doctrine in Gen 1.26." [Footnote: Von Rad, Old Testament Theology 1:147.] Heschel (The Prophets, 51–52) makes the same point: “God’s unconditional concern for justice is not an anthropomorphism. Rather, man’s concern for justice is a theomorphism.”—Standing in the Breach, page 372

<idle musing>
I like that—especially the point made by Heschel!
</idle musing>

Monday, November 06, 2017

Your walk betrays your talk

The book of Jeremiah contains a long divine oracle that helps one to discern between false and true prophets further (cf. Jer 23:9–40). A mark of false prophets is that they tolerate or promote other gods besides Yhwh, or even prophecy in their names (cf. Jer 23:13, Deut 13:1–5). Spiritual adultery begins with ungodly spiritual leaders who lead the people astray. Thus, Yhwh is testing loyalty to Himself by seemingly allowing false prophets to appear among his people. Moreover, there is the important criterion of moral living (cf. Jer 23:9). False prophets commit adultery, walk in lies, and strengthen the hands of evildoers. Instead of turning Israel from their evil ways, they spread vain hopes and visions (Jer 23:14–16).—Standing in the Breach, page 370

Why don't we pray more?

In many ways, prayer is a difficult practice to understand. I say “practice” rather than “topic” precisely because prayer is not to be discussed in an abstract sense, but enacted through regular discipline of communion with God. Prayer is that practice, perhaps above all others, that is open to all Christians, and yet neglected most. This may be the case because we fear the terrifying intimacy of communion with God in prayer. We are intimidated by Martin Buber’s famous “Thou” that demands an exacting encounter. Or it may be that the church prefers the reduction of God to a list of doctrines or a mechanistic principle instead of encountering the numinous and personal God who encounters us in prayer just as we encounter him. Perhaps in these days it is easier to commodify God into a principle or a totem for consumption rather than treat him as the personal God that he is, who deserves (and demands) the reverence and awe that is due him in prayer.—Heath Thomas, Habakkuk, forthcoming in the THOTC series.