I gotta have my orange juice.

Jesu, Juva

Metábasis eis állo génos (2-18)

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Ezekiel relates inheritance laws to the prince in the restoration covenant:

‘Thus says the Lord Yahweh: “If the prince gives a gift of some of his inheritance to any of his sons, it shall belong to his sons; it is their possession by inheritance. But if he gives a gift of some of his inheritance to one of his servants, it shall be his until the year of liberty, after which it shall return to the prince. But his inheritance shall belong to his sons; it shall become theirs. Moreover the prince shall not take any of the people’s inheritance by evicting them from their property; he shall provide an inheritance for his sons from his own property, so that none of My people may be scattered from his property.” ’ (Ezekiel 46:16–18, NKJV)

The new covenant brings many changes, including the maturation of man, a progression towards the ultimate disappearance of the sea (Revelation 21:1) rather than the sweeting of an inland sea (Ezekiel 47), and a collapse of both prince and priest into the person of Jesus.

We also see the priesthood and sonship–kingship of all believers; Jew and Gentile have been fashioned into one man. Since we are now Mephibosheths made into sons of God, I wonder if this gives us a framework for the transfiguration of the jubilee year (Leviticus 25). At least within the household of God, deeding of property could be considered either to be an inheritance from the king, or else to be the transfer of city property, since the church is the city of God, meaning that there could be no right of redemption more than a year. But before selling property to an unbeliever, we might consider if we could lease it instead, or sell it to a believer. A Christian nation might even allow a right of redemption that didn’t fall along family lines but along covenant lines.

The righteous man is planted by rivers of water (Psalm 1:3). Jesus himself is living water (John 4), but so are all his people (John 7:38). One of the ways in which we are planted by rivers of living water, then, is that we are water and refreshment to one another. We do not stand with the ungodly, sinners, and scornful (Psalm 1:1), but rather in the congregation of the righteous (Psalm 1:5).

God measures two or three times, and cuts once:

“And this is the inscription that was written: MENE, MENE, TEKEL, UPHARSIN. This is the interpretation of each word. MENE: God has numbered your kingdom, and finished it; TEKEL: You have been weighed in the balances, and found wanting; PERES: Your kingdom has been divided, and given to the Medes and Persians.” (Daniel 5:25-28, NKJV)

God’s warnings and judgments are conducted with two or three witnesses, and so must be man’s.

For some time now, thanks to James Jordan and Peter Leithart, I’ve understood atonement–kaphar as covering, and taught my children as much. But L. Michael Morales comments that:

While the precise understanding of the Hebrew verb kipper, typically translated ‘atone’, has been complicated by its possible roots and cognates, its scriptural usage implies a twofold meaning: ransom from death and purification from pollution—both functions being involved by varying degrees in atonement, according to context.

An Arabic cognate, now generally rejected, suggests the meaning ‘cover’ or ‘hide’, an Akkadian and Aramaic root suggests ‘wipe off’, while the Hebrew noun kōper, which probably gave rise to the denominative piel form kipper, signifies ‘ransom'(R. L. Harris 1961; Feder 2010). Scriptural usage typically signifies the outcome or effect (‘purify’, ‘atone’, ‘expiate’) rather than the manner (‘wipe’, ‘rub’, ‘cover’, etc.). (Who Shall Ascend the Mountain of the Lord, 125)

It was encouraging last weekend to hear Leithart affirm the sense of covering. Clearly the sense of the word is somewhat broader, including some sense of appeasement and restitution. However, its use in Genesis 6:14 really does seem to bring in a sense of covering.

Leithart preached on Acts 2 for us:

When the Day of Pentecost had fully come, they were all with one accord in one place. And suddenly there came a sound from heaven, as of a rushing mighty wind, and it filled the whole house where they were sitting. Then there appeared to them divided tongues, as of fire, and one sat upon each of them. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance. (Acts 2:1-4, NKJV)

The starting of God’s altar-fire occurs at the inauguration of a covenant and is distinct from its continuation. It is no strange thing that a bonfire should flare brilliantly only from time to time, even and especially if it burns continually.

Hirelings flee:

“I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd gives His life for the sheep. But a hireling, he who is not the shepherd, one who does not own the sheep, sees the wolf coming and leaves the sheep and flees; and the wolf catches the sheep and scatters them. The hireling flees because he is a hireling and does not care about the sheep. (John 10:11-13, NKJV)

This makes me wonder: in what sense did the Sadducees and Pharisees flee? It seems from this that it must be possible for shepherds to flee without—at least at first—appearing to abandon their post.

What a glorious statement:

My God sent His angel and shut the lions’ mouths, so that they have not hurt me, because I was found innocent before Him; and also, O king, I have done no wrong before you. (Daniel 6:22, NKJV, emphasis added)

Aaron Renn shares a real lord of the flies story.

Perhaps I was wrong about the census:

“Pennsylvania driver” has for years been exactly the name that Lisa and I give to people who are excessively timid about merging:

Although Nassim Taleb has taught me to look askance at certifications, I am still excited that Asher and I are now certified beekeepers! The next level of certification, journeyman, requires us to have two years of experience.

Written by Scott Moonen

April 30, 2021 at 8:38 pm

Metábasis eis állo génos (2-17)

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Some quotes from Peter Leithart at this weekend’s conference on worship:

There is no worship anywhere in the Bible without food. . . .

The angels who continually sing the sanctus will be happy to have us join in for awhile. . . .

. . . sweet smelling sound . . .

The produce of the land is just as much bread from heaven as manna. . . .

The pathway to kingship is by learning to sing in order to bear bold witness.

James Jordan identifies the resurrection of Ezekiel 37 as a corporate resurrection, and furthermore links it with God’s judgment in Ezekiel 6. It is therefore a much more complex picture of God’s dealings with his church far more than a picture of individual salvation:

The four winds are the human expression of the great Wind of the Spirit; in Hebrew, “spirit” is “breath.” Ezekiel, writing at the same time as Jeremiah, speaks of the four winds in his famous resurrection chapter, Ezekiel 37. There the nation of Israel is pictured as dead corpses scattered all over the valleys below the idolatrous high places. “Can these bones live,” Ezekiel is asked? “Not just any bones, but the bones of the apostates, the idolaters, that God Himself has scattered (Ezekiel 6). Can they live? This passage does not deal with individual resurrection but with the resurrection and restoration of apostate, idolatrous Israel as God’s priest to the nations. Ezekiel is told to prophesy to the bones, that the Breath (Spirit) of God should come upon them. Specifically, Ezekiel is told to say, “Come from the four winds, O Breath, and breathe on these slain, that they come to life.” In other words, Israel will not be restored by some mysterious blast of the Spirit that comes from the clear blue sky. She will be restored when the righteous people, especially the prophets, bring the Spirit to her. It will be the four winds, God’s holy people, who restore Israel after the exile is over. This is a prediction of the events in Zechariah that we have just looked at.

David comments that worship ought not to cost him nothing:

Then the king said to Araunah, “No, but I will surely buy it from you for a price; nor will I offer burnt offerings to the LORD my God with that which costs me nothing.” So David bought the threshing floor and the oxen for fifty shekels of silver. (2 Samuel 24:24, NKJV)

Then King David said to Ornan, “No, but I will surely buy it for the full price, for I will not take what is yours for the LORD, nor offer burnt offerings with that which costs me nothing.” So David gave Ornan six hundred shekels of gold by weight for the place. (1 Chronicles 21:24–25)

It is not surprising that someone would have multiple names; think of any Russian literature. And the supposed numerical discrepancy here seems easily explained by the fact that Chronicles must record David’s purchase of the entire property rather than just the floor and oxen. But what really strikes me about these verses is the thought that we must always be bringing fresh worship and tribute to God. There is a sense in which we must always be working, not only so that we may eat (2 Thessalonians 3:10), but so that we have actual firstfruits to offer to God.

Although the Lord’s supper is primarily a meal served by Jesus to his bride, I’ve also suggested that we can think of it as a meal presented by the bride to her husband (out of the fullness of his own bounty). There are a few points of evidence for this: first, the entire sacrificial system consisted of savory meals offered to God. Second, memorials in particular are directed to reminding God more than ourselves. Third, grain offerings are invitations to God to visit and inspect his bride. Of course, everything God’s bride offers to him is representative her offering herself, a living sacrifice.

I told you that EDR systems ought to be treated cautiously: Critical cloud bug in VMware Carbon Black.

Some complexity and scale is inescapable, though it ought to involve a loose rather than a tight coupling. In order to scale a group or operation beyond a certain point, it is necessary to delegate responsibility. Delegation presents an opportunity for anxiety, because it means that there are areas of your operation that are outside of your direct knowledge or control. Someone may do something less efficient, different, or outright wrong! But the upside is that they can also be fruitful beyond you, and they may even counterbalance your own mistakes and blind spots. Non-anxious leadership—leadership that multiplies maturity and leadership—has the opportunity to multiply fruitfulness.

Aaron Renn has interesting reflections on the metaphors we use for social scenarios, including race relations. His metaphor of a dysfunctional family is helpful. However, it occurs to me that there is a very specific way in which the tort analogy actually comes back to bite those who are advancing it. Sowell has shown that the liberal project bears significant responsibility for poverty and fatherlessness in the West, by creating immense systems of perverse incentive. Thus: it is the liberal project that owes reparations. I propose we auction off all government agencies and projects created in the last century, pay off debt first, reparations second, and consider the case closed.

For a few years now we have been spraying Talstar insecticide in our yard to deal with mosquitoes, and it was effective. This year, with bees, we are trying an alternate approach, although we may need to step up our indoor treatments as the Talstar also seemed to help with creepy crawlies! Years ago we installed bat houses on the side of our house:

It took three years for the bats to discover it, but they have flourished there now for several years. In spite of that, the Talstar was definitely necessary. This year we are adding the DynaTrap insect trap together with some Octenol attractant. So far it has caught a lot of bugs and very few bees, and I haven’t gotten many mosquito bites. We’ve had dry weather, though, after a long wet season, so I’m not sure we can claim victory over the mosquitoes yet.

Written by Scott Moonen

April 25, 2021 at 8:33 am

Metábasis eis állo génos (2-16)

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More Schmemann:

Baptism is forgiveness of sins, not their removal. It introduces the sword of Christ into our life and makes it the real conflict, the inescapable pain and suffering of growth. It is indeed after baptism and because of it, that the reality of sin can be recognized in all its sadness, and true repentance becomes possible. Therefore, the whole of the Church is at the same time the gift of forgiveness, the joy of the “world to come,” and also and inescapably a constant repentance. The feast is impossible without the fast, and the fast is precisely repentance and return, the saving experience of sadness and exile. The Church is the gift of the Kingdom—yet it is this very gift that makes obvious our absence from the Kingdom, our alienation from God. It is repentance that takes us again and again into the joy of the Paschal banquet, but it is that joy which reveals to us our sinfulness and puts us under judgment. (For the Life of the World, 79)

I read Jerry Bowyer’s The Maker Versus the Takers this week. He offers fascinating commentary on Jesus’s words and ministry in light of the first century economic context. Some quotes:

What you will see is Jesus confronting the takers of wealth, not the makers of it. He did this with such vigor and clarity, the ruling class who lived and worked in that nation’s capital saw Him as a threat to their system of economic extraction. That’s why they instigated His judicial execution by the Roman state. Elites failed to heed Jesus’s warnings about the ways in which the capital city and its ruling political/religious elite were courting disaster. Eventually, the economic problems Jesus warned about led to an economic collapse and the destruction of the capital city, Jerusalem (xiii)

Commenting on Exodus 18:

The people were to choose political leaders who hated dishonest gain. Why? Because political office by its very nature tempts one to dishonest gain. It is such a powerful factor so singularly connected with the nature of politics that it is one of only three qualifications for public office listed by Jethro (Moses adds wisdom and discernment) and the only negative qualification mentioned. That is to say, it is the only character flaw that is singled out in the qualifications for political office, which suggests that, at least in the eyes of Jethro, it is the quintessential political temptation. (50-51)

Commenting on Matthew 18:

If I tell you a story about someone who is $22 trillion in debt, then it is sensible to see this as an analogy (and parables are analogies) for a national debt. And it is likewise sensible, even without everything I’ve already told you about the seventy sevens and the debt rules and all the rest, to see this as a story about the combined debt of a nation over several years. . . . Israel continued their disobedience by continuing to shake the poor for debts that should have been released under the Torah. . . (81-82)

Bowyer recognizes the story of the rich man and Lazarus as a story about the temple and priesthood. The rich man wears purple and fine linen; rejoices literally “by lamp;” and has five brothers (evidently this is historically significant). And, significantly, we know that the actual priesthood was not persuaded by the resurrection of an actual Lazarus:

But the chief priests plotted to put Lazarus to death also, because on account of him many of the Jews went away and believed in Jesus. (John 12:10-11, NKJV)

They are not all Israel who are of Israel:

“Behold, the days are coming,” says the LORD, “that I will punish all who are circumcised with the uncircumcised—Egypt, Judah, Edom, the people of Ammon, Moab, and all who are in the farthest corners, who dwell in the wilderness. For all these nations are uncircumcised, and all the house of Israel are uncircumcised in the heart.” (Jeremiah 9:25-26, NKJV)

How interesting, then, that God commanded the circumcision of infants.

Jeremiah was the proximate fulfillment of Isaiah’s suffering servant. His ministry is a great foreshadowing of Jesus’s ministry. Jeremiah ministers at the end of the first seventy sevens, the beginning of the exile:

Has this house, which is called by My name, become a den of thieves in your eyes? Behold, I, even I, have seen it,” says Yahweh. (Jeremiah 7:11, NKJV)

Now in the fifth month, on the tenth day of the month (which was the nineteenth year of King Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon), Nebuzaradan, the captain of the guard, who served the king of Babylon, came to Jerusalem. He burned the house of the LORD and the king’s house; all the houses of Jerusalem, that is, all the houses of the great, he burned with fire. And all the army of the Chaldeans who were with the captain of the guard broke down all the walls of Jerusalem all around. (Jeremiah 52:12-14, NKJV)

Jesus comes to inspect his house at the end of Daniel’s seventy sevens. This time no stone will be left upon one another. Ezekiel, too (the earlier son of man), is a foreshadowing of Jesus’s ministry and AD 70. God does not take it lightly when his church is faithless:

Then those of you who escape will remember Me among the nations where they are carried captive, because I was crushed by their adulterous heart which has departed from Me, and by their eyes which play the harlot after their idols; they will loathe themselves for the evils which they committed in all their abominations. (Ezekiel 6:9, NKJV)

And this is how we ought to take it:

Now the glory of the God of Israel had gone up from the cherub, where it had been, to the threshold of the temple. And He called to the man clothed with linen, who had the writer’s inkhorn at his side; and Yahweh said to him, “Go through the midst of the city, through the midst of Jerusalem, and put a mark on the foreheads of the men who sigh and cry over all the abominations that are done within it.” (Ezekiel 9:3-4, NKJV)

To wit:

Now, we check back in on [mother Israel in Revelation] 17, and we find out that she’s riding around in the wilderness on the back of the beast. She’s not making war with the beast; she’s in league with the beast! She’s drinking the blood of the martyrs; she’s made up like a prostitute. She’s not engaged in warfare; she’s in communion with the dragon: she’s made a treaty with him, and she’s not protecting her holy offspring; she’s not defending them: she’s eating her young.

And you’re not alone if you’re shocked and revolted by this image. Even John has a hard time keeping it together when he sees this. (Duane Garner, “The beast’s warfare on the woman.”)

To wit:

One of the things that is valuable about Daniel and other books of the exilic period is the perspective it gives us on exile. Christians often think of exile as the state of the Christian church at all times in all places; it’s a pilgrim church, it’s always small and beleaguered; it’s always a minority and oppressed. And this is part of a picture that is skeptical about any notion of Christendom, any kind of public role for the church or power for the church.

It’s important in looking at the actual exile in the Old Testament, that although Israel is in fact under another a foreign power, scattered, captured and transported to a new place: The main people we know from the exilic period are people who rise to great prominence within different empires. . . . Daniel and his friends are in high positions in Nebuchadnezzar’s court; Daniel remains or comes back to a high position by the time the Persians take over; Esther and Mordecai are in high positions in the Persian empire; Nehemiah is there before the king of Persia; and Ezra is at least known to the Persian king because he commissions him to go back to Jerusalem. So all of the prominent people we know in exile are people who are new Josephs that ascend within the exile.

That gives a different picture than many people have of what exile involves. There is a certain kind of weakness involved in being an exilic people, but the Lord regularly puts chosen people in high positions in order to accomplish his purposes—particularly to protect and guard his people, but accomplish other purposes too.

That’s an important component of the exilic situation that we don’t want to miss. (Peter Leithart, The Theopolis Podcast, lightly edited)

I’ve been reminded a few times this month of the importance of this:

The first one to plead his cause seems right,
​​Until his neighbor comes and examines him. (Proverbs 18:17, NKJV)

Amos and Annie are interested in military time. I can remember being fascinated by it at their age. Yesterday I overheard an excited conversation: “Annie, military time makes you be so smart.”

Bravo Steak-umm:

“Considering the evidence, it shouldn’t be necessary for [the jury] to retire.” (the character of Thomas Cromwell in A Man for All Seasons)

Written by Scott Moonen

April 17, 2021 at 6:32 am

Metábasis eis állo génos (2-15)

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More Schmemann:

It sounds like a paradox, but the basic religion that is being preached and accepted as the only means of overcoming secularism is in reality a surrender to secularism. This surrender can take place—and actually does—in all Christian confessions . . . . For the surrender consists not in giving up creeds, traditions, symbols and customs (of all this the secular man, tired of his functional office, is sometimes extremely fond), but in accepting the very function of religion in terms of promoting the secular value of help, be it help in character building bpeace of mind, or assurance of eternal salvation. It is in this “key” that religion is preached to, and accepted by, millions and millions of average believers today. . . . But if this is religion, its decline will continue . . . (109)

The Church is the sacrament of the Kingdom—not because she possesses divinely instituted acts called “sacraments,” but because first of all she is the possibility given to man to see in and through this world the “world to come,” to see and to “live” it in Christ. It is only when in the darkness of this world we discern that Christ has already “filled all things with Himself” that these things, whatever they may be, are revealed and given to us full of meaning and beauty. A Christian is the one who, wherever he looks, finds Christ and rejoices in Him. And this joy transforms all his human plans and programs, decisions and actions, making all his mission the sacrament of the world’s return to Him who is the life of the world. (113)

Other choice quotes from the upcoming conference readings:

Order is an outward thing. Be it as good as it may, it can fall into misuse. Then it is no longer order but disorder. So no Order has any intrinsic worth of its own, as hitherto the Popish Order has been thought to have. But all order has its life, worth, strength, and virtue in right use; else it is worthless and fit for nothing. God’s Spirit and grace be with us all. Amen. (Luther, “The German Mass and Order of Divine Service”)

We also had to read Baptism, Eucharist, and Ministry:

Baptism is an unrepeatable act. Any practice which might be interpreted as “re–baptism” must be avoided. (4)

Churches which have insisted on a particular form of baptism or which have had serious questions about the authenticity of other churches’ sacraments and ministries have at times required persons coming from other church traditions to be baptized before being received into full communicant membership. As the churches come to fuller mutual understanding and acceptance of one another and enter into closer relationships in witness and service, they will want to refrain from any practice which might call into question the sacramental integrity of other churches or which might diminish the unrepeatability of the sacrament of baptism. (5)

In order to overcome their differences, believer baptists and those who practise infant baptism should reconsider certain aspects of their practices. The first may seek to express more visibly the fact that children are placed under the protection of God’s grace. The latter must guard themselves against the practice of apparently indiscriminate baptism and take more seriously their responsibility for the nurture of baptized children to mature commitment to Christ. (6)

This reminds me of Poythress’s very helpful article, “Indifferentism and Rigorism.”

Calvin has an interesting take on God’s exercising his sovereignty in the world by means of angels. From his commentary on Ezekiel 1:

. . . it seems to me sufficiently plain, that God signifies angelic inspiration by the four cherubim, and extends it to the four regions of the earth. Now:, as it is equally clear that no creature moves by itself, but that all motions are by the secret, instinct of God, therefore each cherub has four heads, as if it were said that angels administer God’s empire not in one part of the world only, but everywhere; and next, that all creatures are so impelled as if they were joined together with angels themselves. . . . Since, then, there exists no fixed condition of the world, but continual changes are discerned, the Prophet joins the wheels to the angels, as if he would assert that no changes occur by chance, but depend upon some agency, viz., that of angels; not that they move things by their inherent power, but because they are, as we have said, God’s hands. . . . [T]he Stoics fancied that fate arose from what they called a connection of causes. But God here teaches his people far otherwise, viz., that the changes of the world are so connected together, that all motion depends upon the angels, whom he guides according to his will.

In biblical theology, the eye is often the source of light. This potentially sheds light on exposing the works of darkness:

For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Walk as children of light (for the fruit of the Spirit is in all goodness, righteousness, and truth), finding out what is acceptable to the Lord. And have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather expose them. For it is shameful even to speak of those things which are done by them in secret. But all things that are exposed are made manifest by the light, for whatever makes manifest is light. Therefore He says:​

​​“Awake, you who sleep,
​​Arise from the dead,
​​And Christ will give you light.” (Ephesians 5:8–14, NKJV)

The King James Version instead uses “reprove.” The eyes are not just a source of light but the organs of judgment. Instead of merely speaking, the eyes declare.

Does your world view deny to the government the possibility of evangelical obedience?

Written by Scott Moonen

April 9, 2021 at 7:12 pm

Metábasis eis állo génos (2-14)

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O sacred Heel sore wounded!

Part of the assigned reading for the upcoming Theopolis regional course on worship is Schmemann’s For the Life of the World. Searching for an audiobook, I was pleased to find that Ken Myers recorded it recently! Peter Leithart says that he rereads this book regularly. Speaking of re–reads, Doug Wilson places That Hideous Strength high on his own list.

Some choice quotes from Schmemann:

Sunday therefore was not a “sacred” day to be “observed” apart from all other days and opposed to them. It did not interrupt time with a “timeless” mystical ecstasy. It was not a “break” in an otherwise meaningless sequence of days and nights. By remaining one of the ordinary days, and yet by revealing itself through the Eucharist as the eighth and first day, it gave all days their true meaning. (52)

“There is but one sadness,” said Leon Bloy, “that of not being a saint.” (54)

This brings to mind James Jordan’s great statement that a saint is someone who has sanctuary access, access to the feast.

We are not “nice” Christians come apart from the ugly world. If we do not stand precisely as representatives of this world, as indeed the world itself, if we do not bear the whole burden of this day, our “piety” may still be pious, but it is not Christian. (61)

Schmemann makes much of the fixed day, the statu die. This makes me reflect on Paul’s sermon in Athens somewhat differently:

“Truly, these times of ignorance God overlooked, but now commands all men everywhere to repent, because He has appointed a day on which He will judge the world in righteousness by the Man whom He has ordained. He has given assurance of this to all by raising Him from the dead.” (Acts 17:30–31, NKJV)

There are layers to the day of the Lord. The church’s worship on the day of the Lord is simultaneously an announcement of the judgment of the world and a visitation of that Lord to his house, but also a temporary suspension of full judgment thanks to the priestly intercessory ministry of the church. But God’s bride calls upon him both for mercy and judgment, and God will not humor hardened hearts indefinitely:

At the banquet of wine the king said to Esther, “What is your petition? It shall be granted you. What is your request, up to half the kingdom? It shall be done!” Then Esther answered and said, “My petition and request is this: If I have found favor in the sight of the king, and if it pleases the king to grant my petition and fulfill my request, then let the king and Haman come to the banquet which I will prepare for them, and tomorrow I will do as the king has said.” (Esther 5:6–8, NKJV)

Nathan Zekveld helpfully asks: are we instituting new purity laws, writing that, “As a pastor, I have seen increasingly that people need in-person worship and contact.”

​This people honors Me with their lips,
​​But their heart is far from Me.
​And in vain they worship Me,
​​Teaching as doctrines the commandments of men. (Mark 7, Matthew 15, Isaiah 29)

Similar comments from a Russian Orthodox priest:

In Scripture, hiding one’s face always means, shame, distrust, unfavorable position, division and separation. Our Loving God has invited us to the feast, and if we come to the Lord’s Supper with fear that He will infect us with any kind of disease, and we demonstrate it by wearing a mask, we will insult Him in front of everyone.

I appreciated J. D. Vance’s recounting of his conversion and Mark Horne’s reflections on kingship and the crown of thorns.

James Jordan reminds us that God’s ways are higher than our ways:

Christ has created a heavenly host, and “host” means “army,” to accomplish His purpose of transforming the world. That army does not consist only of “sharp young single men and women.” Nor does it consist only of ostensibly “epistemologically self-conscious thoroughly Reformed theonomic postmillennialists.” This army includes mentally retarded people, feeble old people, hurt people, suicidal people, weak people, sinful people, people with minds warped by error, and much, much more. To the human eye, this army is not much to look at. It doesn’t look very tough compared to the kind of militant activism the communist party can sometimes command. It may not measure up to Douglas Hyde’s Dedication and Leadership, and it may not conform to the latest standards of “discipleship.” It is, however, the only army God has ever called into being. All the rest are only substitutes and counterfeits.

Last Saturday we were surprised to find one of our hives swarming, less than a month after installing it from nucleus! Asher did an outstanding job capturing it, and now we have a third hive. This week we scrambled to get them well established as well as preparing to give our other hives some more elbow room.

Which meant assembling many of these:

Written by Scott Moonen

April 2, 2021 at 3:04 pm

Metábasis eis állo génos (2-13)

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James Jordan reminds us that Good Friday ends in paradise:

And Jesus said to him, “Assuredly, I say to you, today you will be with Me in Paradise.” (Luke 23:43, NKJV)

As far as I can tell, with Blue Letter Bible as my trusty help, Genesis 7:9, 7:15, and 8:9 all use the same preposition with respect to Noah and the ark:

And they went into the ark [in]to Noah, two by two, of all flesh in which is the breath of life. (Genesis 7:15, NKJV)

Participation in the covenant and in salvation is participation in the head, and vice versa. Thus, for each of the three great baptisms (flood, Red Sea, church), we can speak of the body of Christ (e.g., 1 Corinthians 10–12), and the body of Moses (Jude 1:9 corresponding to Zechariah 3:2), and the body of Noah. Participation in the church and participation in Jesus and participation in his salvation are inextricably linked. It’s especially interesting that in Noah’s case the animal kingdom participates in the body that enters into a new creation.

I recently listened to the Pugcast fellows reflecting on Darwinism and its false assumption that life is essentially competitive. This same assumption lies at the root of the Girardian process of envy and imitation and scapegoating. But that is not how my Father’s world works. Because of the processive and productive work of his Spirit—and especially with the breaking in of the new creation, in which life rather than death is contagious—this world is not zero–sum but is super–abundant.

Good poetry is one little gift–proof of this. Here is a clever little poem by Billy Collins: “Workshop” (thanks to Jon Barlow for the find). I also dug up these two wonderful addresses given by Ted Kooser while I was chasing a poem shared by John Barach: Poetry and healing, Keynote address.

It occurred to me recently that I rarely read poems twice, devouring them more than savoring them. But a poem is one of the easiest things to re–read, and a good poem will repay it well.

Beverly Cleary passed this week. May she rest in peace!

My pastor commented recently that the Sabbath is a tithe of our time. Forty days is a tithe of time too.

Alex Berenson published Unreported Truths part 4 this week, on vaccines. It’s concise and compelling; I recommend it if the subject interests you!

Written by Scott Moonen

March 27, 2021 at 10:55 am

Metábasis eis állo génos (2-12)

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I listened to Nevin’s The Anxious Bench recently on a friend’s recommendation and appreciated it. Nevin twice uses the striking phrase “justification by feeling rather than faith.” Here is a longer section I enjoyed:

Christ lives in the Church, and through the Church in its particular members; just as Adam lives in the human race generically considered, and through the race in every individual man. This view of the relation of the Church to the salvation of the individual, exerts an important influence, in the case before us, on the whole system of action, by which it is sought to reach this object.

Where it prevails, a serious interest will be taken in the case of children, as proper subject for the Christian salvation, from the earliest age. Infants born in the Church, are regarded and treated as members of it from the beginning, and this privilege is felt to be something more than an empty shadow. The idea of infant conversion is held in practical honor; and it is counted not only possible but altogether natural, that children growing up in the bosom of the Church, under the faithful application of the means of grace, should be quickened into spiritual life in a comparatively quiet way, and spring up numerously, “as willows by the water–courses,” to adorn the Christian profession, without being able at all to trace the process by which the glorious change has been effected. Where the Church has lost all faith in this method of conversion, either not looking for it at all, or looking for it only in rare and extraordinary instances, it is an evidence that she is under the force of a wrong religious theory, and practically subjected, at least in some measure, to the false system whose symbol is the Bench. If conversion is not expected nor sought in this way among infants and children, it is not likely often to occur. All is made to hang methodistically on sudden and violent experiences, belonging to the individual separately taken, and holding little or no connection with his relations to the Church previously. Then as a matter of course, baptism becomes a barren sign, and the children of the Church are left to grow up like the children of the world, under general most heartless, most disastrous neglect. . . .

Thus due regard is had to the family, the domestic constitution, as a vital and fundamental force, in the general organization of the Church. . . . (John Williamson Nevin, The Anxious Bench, Chapter 7, 130–132)

For many years I was a non–practicing paedobaptist and paedocommunionist because I wished to continue in the particular weekly fellowship where God had placed me. Although my littles did not partake of the supper, I always involved them in such a way as to stress their participation in Jesus. We would speak something like this:

Q: What does the bread signify?
A: Jesus’s body
Q: Where is Jesus’s body?
A: We are Jesus’s body
Q: Thank you Jesus for making me a part of your family!
A: Thank you Jesus for making me a part of your family!
Q: What does the cup signify?
A: Jesus’s blood
Q: What does Jesus’s blood do for us?
A: It covers our sins!
Q: Thank you Jesus for covering my sins with your blood!
A: Thank you Jesus for covering my sins with your blood!
Q: Isn’t it good to be forgiven?
A: Yes!

The key to unlocking the book of Job is to see that Job is, first of all, a type of Jesus, complete with a Luke 2:52 and Hebrews 2:10 arc. Then it becomes clear how to understand Job as a type of the church and of the righteous man.

The book of Job is, in effect, an immense psalm. (René Girard, I See Satan Fall Like Lightning, 117)

This perspective helps us to recognize that, among Job’s friends, even Elihu is not representing the voice of wisdom. It is right for God’s people to wrestle with him:

​​“Look, in this you are not righteous.
I will answer you,
​​For God is greater than man.
​​Why do you contend with Him?
​​For He does not give an accounting of any of His words. (Elihu, Job 33:12–13, NKJV)

And He said, “Let Me go, for the day breaks.”
But he said, “I will not let You go unless You bless me!” (Genesis 32:26, NKJV)

Mark Horne argues that Proverbs is consistent with Job and Ecclesiastes in presenting a vision of a world where wisdom does not appear always to bear fruit. On reflection, I wonder why this has not seemed blindingly obvious to me until now. Certainly if the world appeared to function by sowing and reaping in a coin–operated fashion, God would not need to spend such time exhorting me to live by wisdom, nor would I be so readily tempted to forsake it. He intends for us to grow year by year in patience and faith and wisdom.

​​For the vision is yet for an appointed time;
​​But at the end it will speak, and it will not lie.
​​Though it tarries, wait for it;
​​Because it will surely come,
​​It will not tarry.
​​“Behold the proud,
​​His soul is not upright in him;
​​But the just shall live by his faith. (Habakkuk 2:3–4)

Andrew Isker is blogging through James Jordan’s outstanding book Through New Eyes, which you should read. Elsewhere Andrew summarizes his choice of name, The Boniface Option. What a thrilling thing to say: Jesus Christ is God, ____ is not!

A programming friend cautioned me to beware the IDEs of March. I am unconcerned since I use the magnificent Roman editor 6.

Written by Scott Moonen

March 19, 2021 at 9:21 pm

Metábasis eis állo génos (2-11)

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Misplaced fear is a sin:

And I said, “Should such a man as I flee? And who is there such as I who would go into the temple to save his life? I will not go in!” Then I perceived that God had not sent him at all, but that he pronounced this prophecy against me because Tobiah and Sanballat had hired him. For this reason he was hired, that I should be afraid and act that way and sin, so that they might have cause for an evil report, that they might reproach me. (Nehemiah 6:11–13, NKJV)

Peace I leave with you, My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid. (John 14:27, NKJV)

Most translations speak of mist in Genesis 2:6, but a few either allow for the possibility of its being a spring (e.g., ESV) or do so explicitly (the NET Bible uses spring; Everett Fox uses surge or flow). The NET Bible comments:

The Hebrew word (ʾed) was traditionally translated “mist” because of its use in Job 36:27. However, an Akkadian cognate edu in Babylonian texts refers to subterranean springs or waterways. Such a spring would fit the description in this context, since this water “goes up” and waters the ground.

Job 36:27 is the only other passage where this word appears. Most translations (including NET) render it there as mist or vapor, though a few as flood. Flood seems closer to what is going on in Genesis but not close enough to use it there. But maybe we can use spring after all? God’s people seem to have had knowledge of the water cycle:

All the rivers run into the sea,​​
Yet the sea is not full;
​​To the place from which the rivers come,
​​There they return again. (Ecclesiastes 1:7, NKJV)

He made the Pleiades and Orion;​​
He turns the shadow of death into morning​​
And makes the day dark as night;
​​He calls for the waters of the sea
​​And pours them out on the face of the earth;
​​Yahweh is His name. (Amos 5:8, NKJV modified)

Thus, to the springs seems an entirely appropriate rendering in Job.

I read Jakob Van Bruggen’s The Ancient Text of the New Testament recently and greatly appreciated it. I’ve started using the NKJV and have appreciated the footnotes that call attention to variants. The Byzantine text has “of Christ” in Romans 1, which gives me great pleasure:

For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ, for it is the power of God to salvation for everyone who believes, for the Jew first and also for the Greek. (Romans 1:16, NKJV)

I appreciate modern neo–Calvinists like Calvin Seerveld, but have always felt wary of them. Their love for creation is thrilling to me, but it sometimes blinds them to the antithesis. Kuyper’s heirs do not really have a corner on this market, as I have similar mix of appreciation and concern for Malcom Guite and Tim Keller and Marilynne Robinson. James KA Smith is a particularly interesting neo–Calvinist. I appreciated the first two installments of his Kingdom trilogy, and still plan to find time for the third. But over the past few years it seems that he has really come unmoored. Even our appreciation and approval must come under discipleship to God’s law:

Who, knowing the righteous judgment of God, that those who practice such things are deserving of death, not only do the same but also approve of those who practice them. (Romans 1:32, NKJV)

Romans 4 is such an outstanding proof text for paedocircumcision, I mean paedobaptism:

Does this blessedness then come upon the circumcised only, or upon the uncircumcised also? For we say that faith was accounted to Abraham for righteousness. How then was it accounted? While he was circumcised, or uncircumcised? Not while circumcised, but while uncircumcised. And he received the sign of circumcision, a seal of the righteousness of the faith which he had while still uncircumcised, that he might be the father of all those who believe, though they are uncircumcised, that righteousness might be imputed to them also, and the father of circumcision to those who not only are of the circumcision, but who also walk in the steps of the faith which our father Abraham had while still uncircumcised. (Romans 4:9–12, NKJV)

Asher: Dad, did you work out or run when you were growing up?
Scott: No, not until after college.
Asher: What kinds of things do you think we will do with our kids that you didn’t do?
Scott: Well, for sure you will baptize them much younger. And they will learn all the Psalms much younger.

I was impressed and thrilled when a group of men at church belted out a metrical version of Psalm 124 with only the first line as advance notice. We have had about half of the Psalms under our belt for several years thanks to Jamie Soles and a few others. This week we just reached the halfway point in our family project to chant through the entire psalter using a combination of the Concordia ESV Psalter and Theopolis Psalter.

A powerful remedy for any kind of sin and foolishness:

You won’t need it any more, Bilbo, unless I am quite mistaken. (Tolkien, The Fellowship of the Ring, Chapter 1)

I commented recently on the principle of sowing and reaping when it comes to tyrants. This principle appears repeatedly throughout scripture:

Whoever rewards evil for good,
Evil will not depart from his house. (Prov 17:13, NKJV)

But this principle is equally a spur and encouragement to the righteous! He who forgives is himself forgiven:

And forgive us our debts,​
As we forgive our debtors. (Matthew 6:12, NKJV)

He who shows grace and mercy and honor to his wife will receive it himself:

Husbands, likewise, dwell with them with understanding, giving honor to the wife, as to the weaker vessel, and as being heirs together of the grace of life, that your prayers may not be hindered. (1 Peter 3:7)

And mothers reap great reward from their own faithful sowing:

Nevertheless she will be saved in childbearing if they continue in faith, love, and holiness, with self-control. (1 Timothy 2:15, NKJV)

I am fond of saying that worship is warfare. But worship is also a feast. Peter Leithart points out that Psalm 100’s “enter into His gates with thanksgiving” most likely includes the bringing of a thanksgiving, that is, a thanksgiving–peace–offering fellowship meal with God and his people. And Nehemiah 8 teaches us how we are to behave on the Lord’s day:

“This day is holy to Yahweh your God; do not mourn nor weep.” For all the people wept, when they heard the words of the Law. Then he said to them, “Go your way, eat the fat, drink the sweet, and send portions to those for whom nothing is prepared; for this day is holy to our Lord. Do not sorrow, for the joy of the Yahweh is your strength.”

My church is hosting Peter Leithart to teach on “How should we worship” in April. Please join me there!

Reportedly there is not much nectar flow in North Carolina in March, so you must feed your bees. We are feeding our bees, but I was pleasantly surprised to see that even so, they are bringing back some pollen. We are seeing a mix of orange and yellow pollen coming back right now. (Bees have “flower fidelity,” meaning that they will visit only one kind of flower on each foraging flight.) I didn’t realize until our studying this winter that the bees actually eat pollen; it is a source of protein for them. Here is one of our ladies taking a brief rest with her load of orange pollen:

I also didn’t realize that bee poop was a thing, albeit much more dainty than that of birds. They seem to have established one of their cleansing flight paths directly over our cars.

Written by Scott Moonen

March 12, 2021 at 7:05 pm

Metábasis eis állo génos (2-10)

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Ezra pulls out his own hair at intermarriage with unbelievers:

When these things were done, the leaders came to me, saying, “The people of Israel and the priests and the Levites have not separated themselves from the peoples of the lands, with respect to the abominations of the Canaanites, the Hittites, the Perizzites, the Jebusites, the Ammonites, the Moabites, the Egyptians, and the Amorites. For they have taken some of their daughters as wives for themselves and their sons, so that the holy seed is mixed with the peoples of those lands. Indeed, the hand of the leaders and rulers has been foremost in this trespass.” So when I heard this thing, I tore my garment and my robe, and plucked out some of the hair of my head and beard, and sat down astonished. (Ezra 2:1–3, NKJV)

But Nehemiah pulls out other men’s hair:

In those days I also saw Jews who had married women of Ashdod, Ammon, and Moab. And half of their children spoke the language of Ashdod, and could not speak the language of Judah, but spoke according to the language of one or the other people. So I contended with them and cursed them, struck some of them and pulled out their hair, and made them swear by God, saying, “You shall not give your daughters as wives to their sons, nor take their daughters for your sons or yourselves. (Nehemiah 13:23–25, NKJV)

There actually is an occurrence of six hundred sixty-six in the Bible apart from Solomon’s gold (1 Kings 10, 2 Chronicles 9) and John’s land beast (Revelation 13):

Now these are the people of the province who came back from the captivity, of those who had been carried away, whom Nebuchadnezzar the king of Babylon had carried away to Babylon, and who returned to Jerusalem and Judah, everyone to his own city. . . the people of Adonikam, six hundred and sixty-six. . . (Ezra 2:1–13, NKJV)

Interestingly, some of Nehemiah’s numbers differ slightly from Ezra’s, and he counts six hundred sixty-seven sons of Adonikam. The numbers are similar enough that it is unlikely they are arrived at by completely different means (e.g., excluding and including women, or excluding and including males under or over a certain age). It seems to me that they must reflect numberings at different times.

Why is it that Asaph only perceives the destiny of the wicked in the sanctuary?

Behold, these are the wicked.
And always carefree, they increase wealth.
Surely, in vain I kept my heart pure,
And washed my hands in innocence.
Yes, I was plagued all day long
And my punishment arrived every morning.
If I had said, “I will speak thus”;
Behold, the generation of Your children I should have betrayed!
When I pondered to understand this,
It was oppressive to my eyes.
Until I cam into the sanctuary of the Mighty One;
There I perceived their destiny. (Psalm 73:12–17, James Jordan)

I think he perceives this in part because worship is warfare and in part because worship takes place in the heavens, in the future.

We should not be surprised that the wicked seem to outnumber and overwhelm the righteous. God is not limited by numbers. Micaiah was one prophet against four hundred (2 Chronicles 18). Solomon found one man among a thousand (Ecclesiastes 7). If God’s church is faithful, then five shall chase a hundred, a hundred put ten thousand to flight (Leviticus 26), and one shall chase a thousand (Joshua 23).

This was outstanding:

And this was touching and thought provoking. Pray for Peterson:

Charlotte and Asher have kept chickens for a few years, and we’ve been brainstorming how we can expand that. Asher settled on bee keeping and has been learning and strategizing for awhile. We took a class with our county bee keeping association this winter, and this week we set up our first two hives!

Written by Scott Moonen

March 6, 2021 at 6:50 am

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