Faith versus mistrust

Last Sunday I was at a church where the speaker actually said, “I’m not trying to manipulate you.” Afterwards someone asked, “Why did he need to say that? Was he trying to manipulate us?” She was probably right: it was during “the invitation” where the speaker is after a response from the audience.

We live in a culture of mistrust. We don’t trust our politicians, and they don’t trust each other. We don’t trust banks. We don’t trust churches.

Australians don’t trust each other anymore: Continue reading “Faith versus mistrust”

Seventh plague: God’s big purpose (Exodus 9:13-35)

Open Exodus 9:13-35.

Hail falls from the heavens. Egypt’s proud rulers run for cover like everyone else. With lightening striking all around them, Egypt’s rulers are powerless before the one who reigns from heaven.

But God’s aim is not to strike Pharaoh dead: Continue reading “Seventh plague: God’s big purpose (Exodus 9:13-35)”

Six demonstrations of divine kingship (Exodus 7–9)

Open Exodus 7.

Whether it’s missiles parades in China or F35 fighters thundering over our heads in the west, our rulers love demonstrating their power. And according to the exodus story, rulers do have power to make people miserable (1:11-14; 2:23; 3:7; 4:31; 5:15; 6:6-9).

But the truth is, human rulers do not control the natural world. God alone controls the earth. That’s what the ten plagues showed. Despite all his claims, Pharaoh was not in control.

God demanded Pharaoh to release the people who weren’t his to rule. Pharaoh refused. The battle for the Hebrews begins. But God doesn’t fight with earthly weapons. With ten mighty acts, he demonstrates his kingship over the natural world. Continue reading “Six demonstrations of divine kingship (Exodus 7–9)”

Zenos on Son of Man

If you want to know how Jesus understood himself, you have to ask why he kept referring to himself as son of man. More than any other term. On more than 50 occasions.

Scholars offer opinions ranging from “it just means a human” (as it did in his language) to “it means Jesus is the divine figure of Daniel 7.”

You can imagine how exhilarating it was to find an author summarizing my own conclusions of what Jesus meant, especially one who wrote 100 years ago!

Continue reading “Zenos on Son of Man”

Salvation is bigger than you think

It won’t do to imagine salvation as a personal experience, unconnected to the woes of the world. In the Bible’s story, salvation is not relief from personal guilt. Salvation is God  saving his people from enslavement to evil, from the crushing affliction we experience under rulers like Pharaoh. Salvation is God rescuing his creation from evil, into his reign. Continue reading “Salvation is bigger than you think”

When faith fades (Exodus 6:8-9)

Open Exodus 6:8-9.

Know anyone who used to go to church? What happened? Disappointed with God? Hurt by people?

What happens when life doesn’t work out as you expected, when pain erodes hope?

There’s an apparent contradiction in the Exodus story:

  • Exodus 4:31 says the people believed Moses’ message.
  • Exodus 6:9 says they were unresponsive to Moses’ message.

What happened in between to destroy their faith? Continue reading “When faith fades (Exodus 6:8-9)”

The Saviour revealed (Exodus 6:2-7)

Open Exodus 6:2-7.

Who governs the affairs of the world? That depends who you trust. Fox News would give you a different answer to China Press, Aljazeera, BBC, or Spiegel.

Truth is, none of the world’s leaders have the kind of control they’d like us to believe. There’s another hand behind history, beyond the best laid plans of mice and men.

Pharaoh was the biggest name in Moses’s world. At least, that’s what Moses thought. Until he learned the name:

Continue reading “The Saviour revealed (Exodus 6:2-7)”

Significant kingdom

A blogger who goes by the name T just posted this:

“The topic of the kingdom or reign of God was so central, so thematic to Jesus’ own teaching and preaching that it is fair to say that even when he wasn’t talking about it explicitly, he was still talking about it.”

That shook me. And puzzled me. And motivated me …

After more sermons than I could count, after thousand upon thousands of Christian bible classes, I was largely ignorant about the main subject of Jesus’ teaching and preaching. Worse, I was far from alone in this.

Continue reading “Significant kingdom”

When it feels worse (Exodus 5:14 – 6:1)

What do you do when evil won’t let go?

Open Exodus 5:14 – 6:1.

Remember the time you tried to sort things out, only to make it worse? Moses knew that feeling.

He delivered God’s message to Pharaoh: “Hands off my people! Release them to celebrate with me in the wilderness.”

Pharaoh reacts like any self-serving tyrant: he comes down like a ton of bricks on those who dare to imagine themselves outside his control.

To stop them dreaming about freedom under YHWH, Pharaoh tightens his control over them. They won’t have time to dream of holidays and festivals: Continue reading “When it feels worse (Exodus 5:14 – 6:1)”

The party God (Exodus 5:1-13)

The God of the Bible is not a hard task-master; he calls his people to celebrate.

Open Exodus 5:1-13.

Who is God? What’s he like? What authority does he have in a world where there’s so much injustice?

The God of the Bible turns out to be very different from what many imagine.

Continue reading “The party God (Exodus 5:1-13)”