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Jesu, Juva

Archive for February 2021

Metábasis eis állo génos (2-9)

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Some reflections inspired by Leithart, Meyers, and Roberts’ conversation “What is a Prophet“—Every visionary house of God is a blueprint from God that guides the work and worship of his people. We naturally think of this with the plans for the tabernacle that Moses received from God on Mount Sinai (Exodus 26:30) and the plans David received from God for the temple (1 Chronicles 28:19); there was a physical building to be built in order for worship to begin. But this is equally true of Ezekiel’s visionary temple (a picture of God’s church in the return from exile) and John’s visionary temple (a picture of God’s church in the new covenant), even though these temples do not have a direct physical manifestation. God gave these visions to Ezekiel and to John not merely to inspire his people to trust and marvel at the work he would do in these new covenants, but to instruct his people in the work that they must do; they are simultaneously prophecy and commission. Returning to Ezekiel 43:

“Son of man, describe the temple to the house of Israel, that they may be ashamed of their iniquities; and let them measure the pattern. And if they are ashamed of all that they have done, make known to them the design of the temple and its arrangement, its exits and its entrances, its entire design and all its ordinances, all its forms and all its laws. Write it down in their sight, so that they may keep its whole design and all its ordinances, and perform them. This is the law of the temple: The whole area surrounding the mountaintop is most holy. Behold, this is the law of the temple.” (Ezekiel 43:10–12, NKJV)

Thus: if the church’s worship does not immanentize the book of Revelation, then we ought to be ashamed.

It is also fascinating to think that the way a nation and church treats its prophets is how God will ultimately treat that nation, unless it repents. If you throw faithful pastors into prison, then you are surely destined for bondage.

The evil will bow before the good,​​
And the wicked at the gates of the righteous. (Proverbs 14:19, NKJV)

From this week’s To the Word reading:

Then Zerah the Ethiopian came out against them with an army of a million men and three hundred chariots, and he came to Mareshah. So Asa went out against him, and they set the troops in battle array in the Valley of Zephathah at Mareshah. And Asa cried out to the LORD his God, and said, “LORD, it is nothing for You to help, whether with many or with those who have no power; help us, O LORD our God, for we rest on You, and in Your name we go against this multitude. O LORD, You are our God; do not let man prevail against You!”So the LORD struck the Ethiopians before Asa and Judah, and the Ethiopians fled. (2 Chronicles 14:9–12)

Apropos being snatched from a snare, our church submitted this contribution to the Psalm 124 project. As Revelation shows us, worship is warfare!

It is well known that no such bricolage is complete without an impromptu aerial edition:

Silencing the enemy and avenger!

Girard anticipated by several centuries:

We believe and confess that Jesus Christ,
in whom the law is fulfilled,
has by his shed blood
put an end to every other shedding of blood,
which anyone might do or wish to do
in order to atone or satisfy for sins. (Belgic Confession, Article 34)

If ever there was proof that the emperor had no clothes:

Written by Scott Moonen

February 26, 2021 at 5:38 pm

Metábasis eis állo génos (2-8)

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This week’s readings in the revised common lectionary included 2 Kings 2:1–12 and Mark 9:2–9. Elijah accomplishes an exodus from Israel, and Elisha receives a double portion (the firstborn’s portion) of Elijah’s spirit. Jesus meets with Elijah, and we know from the parallel passage in Luke 9:31 that Jesus speaks of his exodus which was our salvation. And the church, through her apostles, saw him when he ascended. Thus, we receive the firstborn portion of his Spirit.

This Jesus God has raised up, of which we are all witnesses. Therefore being exalted to the right hand of God, and having received from the Father the promise of the Holy Spirit, He poured out this which you now see and hear.

For David did not ascend into the heavens, but he says himself:​

​‘​The LORD said to my Lord,
​​“Sit at My right hand,
​​Till I make Your enemies Your footstool.” ’

Therefore let all the house of Israel know assuredly that God has made this Jesus, whom you crucified, both Lord and Christ. (Acts 2:32–36, NKJV)

Wisdom is a qualification for church office:

Therefore, brethren, seek out from among you seven men of good reputation, full of the Holy Spirit and wisdom, whom we may appoint over this business. (Acts 6:3, NKJV)

I have for some time had a chuckle at how we used to sing “Blow the trumpet in Zion” with an attitude of rejoicing rather than alarm. Clearly the context in Joel 2 is one of alarm: “Let all the inhabitants of the land tremble . . . Who can endure it? . . . Turn to me with all your heart, with fasting, with weeping, and with mourning. . .” The army referred to is not God’s people, but is sent to chasten his people. Joel himself cries “Alas! . . . O LORD, to you I cry out.”

And yet, it is a great relief to the faithful that God’s church is purified. Those who are hidden in him need not fear his discipline. And the result of God’s judgment is rejoicing and great blessing: “Fear not, O land; be glad and rejoice . . . be glad then, you children of Zion, ​​and rejoice in the LORD your God . . . And it shall come to pass afterward​​ that I will pour out my Spirit on all flesh.” And after judgment has begun at the house of God, he will vindicate his people by judging the nations: “I will also gather all nations, ​​and bring them down to the Valley of Jehoshaphat; ​​and I will enter into judgment with them there​​ on account of my people, my heritage Israel.”

God’s people pray for and welcome his judgment (e.g., Psalm 7), rejoicing in it together with all of creation, as in Psalm 96 and 1 Chronicles 16:

Let the heavens rejoice and the earth exult, let the sea and its fullness thunder.
Let the field be glad and all that is in it, then shall all the trees of the forest joyfully sing
before the LORD, for He comes, He comes to judge the earth.
He judges the world in justice and peoples in His faithfulness. (Psalm 96:11–14, Robert Alter)

Asher and I attended the Wake County Republican party Fuquay region meeting last weekend. In spite of this being an odd–numbered year, there are 44 positions of various kinds within Wake county that will be up for election.

Public opinion! I don’t know how sociologists define it, but it seems obvious to me that it can only consist of interacting individual opinions, freely expressed and independent of government or party opinion.

So long as there is no independent public opinion in our country, there is no guarantee that the extermination of millions and millions for no good reason will not happen again, that it will not begin any night—perhaps this very night. (Alexandr Solzhenitsyn, The Gulag Archipelago, Vol. 3, 92)

I ran across the phrase “coincidence theorist” this week. I like it.

And so,
all who withdraw from the church or do not join it
act contrary to God’s ordinance. (Belgic Confession, Article 28)

Written by Scott Moonen

February 19, 2021 at 10:23 pm

Metábasis eis állo génos (2-7)

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Mark Horne charges us not to have a merely personal relationship with Jesus:

In both the West and the East, people commonly think of the being they call “God” as some sort of vague ghostly force which cannot be approached except through some sort of vague, internal—often called “spiritual”—contemplation. At best, this “God” is considered personal, and the “spiritual” exercise involves verbal communication—prayer. Nevertheless, as important as prayer is, it is hardly an adequate way, by itself, to relate to a real person. Believing in such a God too often resembles a child’s imaginary friend.

In contrast to this popular view, the God presented in the Hebrew–Christian Scriptures is a real person who has real relationships with human beings. More than that, He is a great king over the whole universe (which He made in the first place). People who are rightly related to Him are said to be members of His kingdom, citizens of His commonwealth. . .

I want Christians to know so that they confess the truth: “I have a public relationship with Jesus Christ.”

I found this passage from Dinesen striking:

Virginie looked hard at Elishama, her dark eyes shining. “I suppose that nobody could insult you even if they tried hard?”

Elishama thought her remark over. “No,” he said, “they could not. Why should I let them?”

“And if I told you,” she said, “to go out of my house, you would just go?”

“Yes, I should go,” he said. “It is your house. But when I had gone you would sit and think of the things for which you had turned me out. It is when people are told their own thoughts that they think they are being insulted. But why should not their own thoughts be good enough for other people to tell them?” (Isak Dinesen, “The Immortal Story”)

It is striking on its own as an observation of human nature. But it is doubly striking because Elishama is a serpent–tempter here who is seeking to override Virginie’s conscience. It is her reaction rather than his that is the righteous one.

I don’t always agree with Alan Jacobs but he is always a thought–provoking read. Here he is reflecting on grace and Girardian dynamics:

I think most of our projects of reconciliation, when they exist at all, have it backwards. They want a long penitence at the end of which the offended parties may or may not forgive. I think the Christian account says that forgiveness given and accepted is where reconciliation begins. So if we say we are Christians and want reconciliation but do not put grace, mercy, and forgiveness front and center in our public statements, then we’re operating as the world operates, not as the ekklesia is commanded to. 

Almost four years ago I wrote: “When a society rejects the Christian account of who we are, it doesn’t become less moralistic but far more so, because it retains an inchoate sense of justice but has no means of offering and receiving forgiveness. The great moral crisis of our time is not, as many of my fellow Christians believe, sexual licentiousness, but rather vindictiveness. Social media serve as crack for moralists: there’s no high like the high you get from punishing malefactors. But like every addiction, this one suffers from the inexorable law of diminishing returns. The mania for punishment will therefore get worse before it gets better.”

There is very much going on in Ezekiel 43:15. In this one verse, we see God’s altar named a hearth, and a mountain, and that with four horns. James Jordan writes:

Ezekiel describes an altar in the form of a stepped pyramid. The top section is called “the Mountain of God,” and the platform on top for the fire is called the “hearth.” A literal translation of Ezekiel 43:15 is: “And the Mountain of God: four cubits (high); and from the hearth four horns extend upwards.” While the altar in the Tabernacle did not have this shape, the statement in Ezekiel clearly expresses the theology of the altar (see Diagram 12.8). When God appeared on Mount Sinai, the top was covered with fire and smoke (Exodus 19: 18). We can hardly fail to see the visual association of this with the burning sacrifices on the bronze altar, and the incense on the golden altar. Moreover, altars for sacrifice were generally built on the tops of mountains before the Tabernacle was set up (cf. Genesis 22:9), and during the interregnum between the dissolution of the Tabernacle and the building of the Temple (cf. 1 Samuel 9:12). Thus, the association of altar with holy mountain is fairly pervasive. (James Jordan, Through New Eyes, 158–159)

I introduced the kids to Patrick this week:

Written by Scott Moonen

February 13, 2021 at 8:56 am

Metábasis eis állo génos (2-6)

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I read and greatly enjoyed Dinesen’s “Babette’s Feast.” I love the tenderness that she shows towards each of her characters. It is one of those transcendent stories that is hard to read aloud without getting misty eyed.

Ron DeSantis is on a roll:

Marxism is the opiate of the masses, fed to them by fascism. Actual fascism, mind you. But see also: Tu quoque.

God is sharpening the antithesis, testing to see whether his church and her shepherds will stand loyal to him and contra mundum. And this is in part a result of our failures to do so until now. Such times lend clarity to matters of first importance.

“And it shall come to pass at that time
​​That I will search Jerusalem with lamps,
​​And punish the men
​​Who are settled in complacency,
Who say in their heart,
​‘​The LORD will not do good,
​​Nor will He do evil.’
​​Therefore their goods shall become booty,
​​And their houses a desolation;
​​They shall build houses, but not inhabit them;
​​They shall plant vineyards, but not drink their wine.” (Zephaniah 1:12–13)

Such times inevitably contract our sphere of cooperation outside the church. In all times the church never cooperates or sympathizes with: serpents and demons; accusers of the bretheren; scapegoaters; Amalekites and Canaanites; worshippers of Ashtoreth and Moloch; Jezebel; and the N. I. C. E.

Praise God for faithful Lutherans who recognize the antithesis:

And don’t forget that God not only gave us the imprecatory Psalms, but he also commanded us to sing them (Eph. 5:19, Col. 3:16).

Scott: What is distinctive about the space bar?
Ivy: Oh! There are no distinctions between words without it!
Scott: Oh. That’s much better than what I was thinking: the drinks are out of this world.

It’s been a long time since I used a trackball. Sometimes I still miss my old Trackman Vista:

If you have the thing on the right, you want to get yourself the thing on the left. It’s a Lock-Jaw collar.

Written by Scott Moonen

February 6, 2021 at 8:47 am