God’s Wrath

Hosea 5:14 “For I will be like a lion to Ephraim, like a great lion to Judah. I will tear them to pieces and go away; I will carry them off, with tno one to rescue them…(until they seek me) In their misery they will earnestly seek me.”

Hosea 6:5 (your love is like mist)…Therefore I cut you to pieces with my prophets, I killed you with the words of my mouth; my judgments flashed like lightning upon you. For I desire mercy (besed, both right conduct to fellow man and/or loyalty to God), not sacrifice, and acknowledgment of God rather than burnt offerings.

Here in the same passage there seems to be contradiction, God is angry and takes responsibility as the aggressor but then claims to desire mercy. Hosea 5:5 seems to place the responsibility for stumbling on Israel, that Israel’s arrogance testifies against her and her own sin causes her to stumble. God withdraws himself and when they seek him for their own purposes they won’t find him.

then again in Hosea 5:10 “I will pour out my wrath on them like a flood of water…” v. 14 “I will be like a lion to Ephraim…”

Even Peter in the new testament seems to allude to God’s need to judge sin in the early church, seems to describe the persecution as God’s weapon of judgement:
1 Peter 4:17 For it is time for judgment to begin with the family of God; and if it begins with us, what will the outcome be for those who do not obey the gospel of God? And, “If it is hard for the righteous to be saved, what will become of the ungodly and the sinner?” So then, those who suffer according to God’s will should commit themselves to their faithful Creator and continue to do good.”



Paraphrased from a message by Rick McKinley at Imago Dei – a series about Jacob and “wrestling with God”

Maturity is moving from a place of wanting stuff or blessing FROM God to just wanting God. Jacob encountered God in the desert, saw heaven open, God speak…and still had the nerve to place conditions on his service to God…”if you…then you will be my God.” God accepts this anyway. There is faith there, but an immature faith. the rest of the story illustrates a progression in Jacobs faith.

Korach’s Rebellion, a caution for today

the weekly eDrash at ffoz seems to provide a timely counterbalance to a lot of speculation I’ve been listening to on the podcast “Beyond The Box” questioning whether God really commanded everything that the OT says he did. A conversation with my friend Jeremy retrieved a similar conversation he had with Peter Davids where Peter confided his own doubts that a lot of what the OT claims as being God’s will or instruction actually was God’s heart in the matter. The other side of the pendulum is this reminder that Jesus fully put his trust and confidence in the Torah and endorsed it in every detail. In fact, the messianic perspective is that Christ was himself the living embodiment of Torah, or Torah made into flesh. He walked in complete consistency with the Torah and clarified every point of contention over the heart of it by his words and his example.

About Korach’s rebellion (Link to article):

They challenged the authority of Moses. To oppose the authority of Moses is to oppose the Torah. In the words of the Jerusalem Talmud, Korach declared, “The Torah was not given by God, Moses is not a prophet, and Aaron is not the high priest.” (j.Sanhedrin 50a)

In one way or another, we believers in Yeshua have often come to the same theological conclusions. It would seem that Korach’s theology has had some influence on our thinking. Throughout our history, it has been common to assume that the Torah is not really God-given. Rather it is considered to be a burdensome maze of laws, rules of men and rules of condemnation, never intended for believers. It is often said, “The Torah is not given by God, at least not to believers in Yeshua.” This was the very counsel of Korach.
But Messiah endorses the Torah of Moses saying, “For truly I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not the smallest letter or stroke shall pass from the Torah until all is accomplished. Whoever then annuls one of the least of these commandments, and teaches others to do the same, shall be called least in the kingdom of heaven; but whoever keeps and teaches them, he shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven.” (Matthew 5:18-19) On another occasion, He says that unless we believe Moses, we can not believe in Messiah. He says, “For if you believed Moses, you would believe Me, for he wrote about Me. But if you do not believe his writings, how will you believe My words?” (John 5:46-47)

If we are to be believers in Messiah, we must first acknowledge the authority of the words of Moses. We must not join in Korach’s rebellion.

The same Law for Israelites and aliens

Numbers 16:13-16
“The community is to have the same rules for you and for the alien living among you; this is a lasting ordinance for the generations to com. You and the alien shall be the same fefore the Lord: the same laws and regulations will apply both to you and to the alien living among you.”

This raises certain questions of course. How long would the alien have to become acquainted with all the unfamiliar laws before he was expected to abide by them? It is comforting to note that God makes provision in Num 15:22 for “unintentional sins.” I am sure a newcomer to the community would be needing this grace frequently. It seems to be the defiant sinner that God is chiefly concerned about. He instructs them to cut him off from his people (15:30). At least it’s not stoning…oh, wait a minute…here’s a guy in 15:32 caught gathering wood on the Sabbath. They’re not sure what to do with him so they keep him in custody until he can be brought before the whole assembly. Obviously this is a very public offense and a public statement must be made. At least they decide to ask Moses about it. And Moses asks God. God says they must stone him…and they do, outside the camp.

Woah, our evangelical mind reels with this…wants to cover it up from all our new converts out there, from the world we are trying to “evangelize”. We explain it by relegating this period of “law” to the old testament and something that has been done away with by Christ’s act of grace that reconciled us back to God at his own expense. Nice and tidy…dismisses us from having to wrestle with difficult questions. I think that’s too simple. I think we have to get back to wrestling with understanding difficult portions of the Torah with the new lens of Christ’s yoke as the 1st century church began to do…something which got interrupted by the democratization of Christianity by a profane gentile Roman society.

Some questions that come to my mind about this passage of stoning…

  1. Should we assume that this was clearly an act of defiance to belittle God’s requirement for Sabbath?
  2. Do we trust that God based his decision by a discerning of his heart…meaning, if this had been an unintentional violation, would God not have spared him?
  3. What were the implications of letting this small act of work slide? I mean, if this declaration of Sabbath is meant to be a gift to us to invite us into the “rest” of God, shouldn’t it be voluntary? Shouldn’t there be tolerance and grace for those that haven’t learned how to slow down – like an active 3 year old who is too wound up to settle down for his nap? Or do we need to look at the Sabbath more as the symbol of marriage covenant between God and us that is so precious to God that He will fiercely defend it?
  4. Do we come at this story with a preconception of the deep commitment of God’s love or of an angry God that is fed up with people and has lost patience with their petty insolence? I think there is no question that we will read into scripture what we already perceive about God. If I believe that Christ was the perfect representation, a direct embodiment, of the love and heart of God, how can I make sense of this through that lens?
  5. Was there grief or anguish in the heart of God with this judgment or was he the “immovable mover” as western theologians have called him?
  6. If I read this story with the advice of Theresa of Avila and put myself into this story as a character, perhaps the main antagonist, how can I resonate with it on a deeper emotional level? What questions will I ask of God in this place? God, would you require my life if I loved you but made a mistake and acted out of anxiety by working on the Sabbath? Would you consider the attitude of my heart?

All these details affect the way we engage with a story like this on an emotional level. The fact that we don’t get a lot of this background when we read various accounts of the “Old Testament” means we have to fill in a lot of missing pieces through our study of scripture and through our experience of “the Father” to help us begin to picture the heart and intent working behind the scenes. It is extremely dangerous to pick out one event that seems to describe the anger of God, with all it’s brevity of detail, and try to build a picture of the heart and character of God from that. Remember that God is described as being slow to anger, rich in mercy, full of compassion…if I believe he can never contradict himself or be inconsistent, then how does this belief affect my reading of this story? Does it change the questions I ask? Does it change the way I imagine myself in this story? Does it give me the courage to ask God directly why He had to do this…

For me I feel this journey to wrestle with the harsh depictions of God’s wrath in the old Testament is a crucial exercise for confronting the broken image of a hard, critical, disappointed God that haunts much of my history of relationship with God. I must confront this image depicted by our forefathers like Jonathan Edwards “Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God.” He read these passages with a broken lens along with many others in the reformation and the great awakening in the US. Though there was much revelation in their teachings, this image of an Angry God must be destroyed…it has driven me away from His presence to sin and distraction far too long. It has corrupted and distorted my discernment of God’s heart countless times. How many times he has spoken to me or come to me in ways that are opposite to my fears. And yet still they persist, like oil rising to cover the surface of the water, from somewhere deep within. These emotional images and experiences through childhood that shape our understanding of God are quite impossible for us to change. Only God can heal them.

I thank God for the discussion series i’ve been listening to between Brad Jersak, S.J. Hill and Russ Hewett. They are a great help to me in confronting my broken image of God and helping me to reach out in trust and confidence to a God who delights in me.

names of Torah books

Genesis = B’Reyshith “in the beginning”
Exedos = Shemoth “the names”
Leviticus = WaYiqra “the Lord called out”
Numbers = BaMidbar “in the wilderness”
Deutoronomy = Devarim “These are the words”

alternate version:

  • Bereishith (In the beginning…) (Genesis)
  • Shemoth (The names…) (Exodus)
  • Vayiqra (And He called…) (Leviticus)
  • Bamidbar (In the wilderness…) (Numbers)
  • Devarim (The words…) (Deuteronomy)

In Hebrew the names of the first five books of scripture, the Torah, are named after the first words written in each book. When they recite the names of the first five books of the Torah it is not simply a dry list of names but would sound something like:
In the beginning these are the names the Lord called out in the wilderness and these are His words.

Excerpts from Loving Our Kids on Purpose

Loving Our Kids on Purpose

The reason that many of us have an Old Testament parenting model is that we are still living in an Old Testament paradigm that builds an external structure to protect us from the powers of sin and death, instead of activating the power of God within us to do so. We still believe that sin is more powerful than we are. When children grow up in an environment where their parents are scared of sin, they learn to fear failure. All the methods by which they deal with their kids seem to build fear instead of love. As they work to eliminate opportunities for sin, parents develop an expectation that their children live a mistake-free life, and the goal of parenting becomes teaching obedience and compliance. As a result, their children miss the whole lesson about freedom.

Simple Chiasm Jonah 1:3

this is an example of a simple chiasm structure within a single verse. It illustrates how different translations can either maintain this literary device or overlook it completely in favor of translating the perceived meaning of the text.

to Tarshish from the presence of the LORD


      to Tarshish


to Tarshish from the presence of the LORD


Notes on Revelation – Brian Buhler

How should it be read?

Reading Revelations leads to many problems when try to interpret it literally and look for one to one equivalences in our modern times, i.e. this person is the anti-Christ, this describes this country, etc. Revelations is Apocalyptic literature (like Narnia books), which means that it transports you to another universe in order to help you better understand your own universe.

Eugene Peterson says,”I do not read Revelations to get additional information about the life of faith. I have read it all before in the previous 65 books of the Bible. The Revelation adds nothing of substance to what we already know. The truth is in the Gospel and it has already been made complete in Jesus Christ. There is nothing new to say on the subject.”

“But…there’s a new way to say it. I read the revelation not to get more information but to revive my imagination. St. John uses words the way poets do, recombining them in fresh ways so that old truth is freshly perceived. He takes truth that has been eroded into platitude by careless usage and sets it in motion before us in an animated and impassioned dance of ideas.”

To Be is To Do

copied from http://www.abarim-publications.com/ToBeIsToDo.html

A dynamic language

The Hebrew language works different from ours. That makes it very
difficult to translate, and that causes translations to be often poor
and lacking. One of the differences is that the Hebrew language is much
more dynamic than ours. Hebrew is all about action. Something is
reckoned after what it does, not after how it looks. This principle is
quite fundamental in Scriptures; it is applied all over. Probably most
drastic in the Second Commandment where the Lord prohibits the making of
graven images. A graven image after all does not move, and a statue
that, for instance, tries to display a calf is not showing typical
calf-behavior but static appearance.

The principle even occurs in the New Testament, which is
written in Greek but with a Hebrew way of thinking. The second chapter
of James, for instance, explains that a believer is not someone who
looks like one, or even says she’s one, but rather someone who acts
like one. To be is to do.

Hold that thought (15)

In Hebrew Scriptures, and all models derived thereof,
entities are reckoned solely after their behavior and not after their

An entity is a behavior, not that which executes the

It is crucial that the reader takes a firm hold of this
principle. If a modern Westerner would see a picture of a lion, she
would say, “That is a lion.”
If an ancient Hebrew would see someone gather and devour
food, she would say, “That is a lion.”

horsecowspacerspacerspacer swallow

Imagine: you’re on a farm. In a field ahead you notice a
cow, a horse, and overhead flies a swallow. Question: of the horse, the
cow and the swallow, which two are most alike?

In our modern, Western way of thinking we are prone to
define something after the way it looks. Both horse and cow are large
mammals and are more alike than a cow and a swallow or a horse and a
swallow. Our answer: the cow and the horse are most alike.

But a Hebrew minds looks at activity, not appearance. And
it’s when these animals begin to move around that their characteristics
show. Cows graze or lay down and chew the cud. Horses however can be
seen racing along the hills, in tight packs or alone. Horses are swift,
may turn abruptly, shear the meadows like… swallows in flight.

The Hebrew verb sus means to be swift or to flash
by, and the noun derived from this verb indicates both the horse and the
swallow. A swallow would probably be known as something like ‘one who
is swift and flies with wings’. A horse would probably be deemed ‘one
who is swift and strong and vigorous.’
For the next paragraph it is important that we understand
that in Biblical times a horse was not seen as a giddy cousin of the
cow, but rather as a big, strong version of a swallow.