The Psalms in 5 minutes

If you ever struggle to grasp the Bible narrative as a whole, do yourself a favour and check out the free animated videos from The Bible Project.

Today they released a doozy on the Book of Psalms. How do you even explain how 150 Psalms fit together, let alone do it in 5 minutes?

Check it out. These masterful guys might even help you to see the Bible as the story of the Kingdom of God.  And don’t miss the details, such as the image of the tree in Psalm 1.

Psalms_TheBibleProject

Fresh language for Jesus’ kingdom

With other commitments, I won’t be posting much in December/January. Rest assured, I’ll still be pursuing my life-goal, seeking his kingdom.

The more I pursue this perspective, the more definitive it becomes as the framework that makes sense of everything. The whole Bible narrative fits together as the integrated, laser-focused story of God’s faithful kingship over the earth. We need fresh language to express this, language that communicates in our culture.

Continue reading “Fresh language for Jesus’ kingdom”

The king who heals creation (Exodus 15:22-27)

Open Exodus 15:22-27.

The euphoria of coming out from Pharaoh’s oppressive rule didn’t last long. The Hebrews soon discovered they were still in a broken world.

They had not returned to Eden’s Garden where the rivers of God’s presence gushed forth in all directions to water creation (Genesis 2:10-14). No, they were in parched wilderness, without water, for three days (15:22). Continue reading “The king who heals creation (Exodus 15:22-27)”

Using Logos Bible Software

Logos is the most powerful and efficient Bible study tool I’ve ever used. You can use it to like a Kindle app to read biographies on your tablet (iOS or Android), or you can use for PhD research of superbly hyperlinked and fully indexed academic resources on your computer (Mac or PC).

The new version released this week has integrated all the notes I’ve made in 10 years of using Logos — more than 7,000 annotations to my Bible, covering every book except 2 John.

It’s also telling me I’ve added 43,000 highlights to other books in my library. Top five: Continue reading “Using Logos Bible Software”

If you didn’t have to shop

Imagine if God did this miracle today:

Deuteronomy 29:5 (NIV)
During the forty years that I led you through the wilderness, your clothes did not wear out, nor did the sandals on your feet.

How do you feel?

  1. Wear these things for 40 years? Can I shop for a different religion?
  2. Ah, those were the good old days. They don’t make ’em like they used to.
  3. Amazing, God. You just freed me up to provide food for many more people.

 

The significant song (Exodus 15)

Open Exodus 15:1-21.

What makes a great song? Lyrics that voice what you feel? Rhythm that moves you? Layers of rich harmony? Chord progressions that take you places?

A song rang out over the  MCG at the final siren on 29 September 2018. It was the song every Eagles fan wanted to hear. The right song in the right moment sweeps you up and carries you like a raft on a white-water stream.

The first song in the Bible was that kind of song — the greatest victory song you could imagine. We waited 65 chapters to hear it. There’s only been one mention of a song, a song Jacob turned down. After 20 difficult years, Jacob slipped away quietly, rejecting the party Laban offered with mirth and song pretending everything is okay  (Genesis 31:27). Our world is still full of escapist songs that don’t quite ring true.

Finally we get the true song, the authentic celebration. The song celebrates the moment they were released from serving Pharaoh to serve a new king. With his chariots on the sea floor, Pharaoh had no power to enslave them again. You can’t stop the music: Continue reading “The significant song (Exodus 15)”

When the threat of force sinks under its own weight (Exodus 14:15-31)

Open Exodus 14:15-31.

The Red Sea event proclaimed a definitive message: God made a way where there was no way — literally through the sea (14:21-23).

Even there, Egypt’s military power pursued them: “all Pharaoh’s horses and chariots and horsemen” (14:23). In ancient warfare, chariots were the equivalent of tanks: a protective, fast moving vehicle, able to outrun an enemy.

But the pathway God provided did not support chariots. They bogged down in the sandy sea floor. That’s when the Egyptians realized they were up against a foe they could not defeat: “Let’s get away from the Israelites! The Lord is fighting for them against Egypt.” (14:25).

When God’s people had passed through, Moses stretched out his hand again and the way through the sea closed. In this moment, the powerful chariots of Egypt’s mighty army become became junk on the sea floor.

Earth’s true ruler does have a way to release his world from the reign of evil and death. All the treacherous rulers and deadly weapons on earth cannot obstruct the purpose of the true sovereign, and his people.

The Red Sea event addresses the big justice question, “Can love defeat violence?” In YHWH versus Pharaoh, the power of love triumphs over the love of power.

The true ruler doesn’t need the power of an army to enforce his will. Nature itself responds to its true king. Even the sea. Even the uncontrolled places beyond human rule.

Continue reading “When the threat of force sinks under its own weight (Exodus 14:15-31)”

“Stand still and see the salvation of the Lord” (Exodus 14:13-15)

Open Exodus 14:13-15.

A friend was preparing to preach on this text: “Stand still and see the salvation of the Lord!” He planned to say that salvation is the work of God. I can’t earn it. I can’t contribute to it. Regeneration is a work of the Holy Spirit.

Great ideas, but is that what this verse is saying? I cringed, knowing I’d misused this text too. Quietists love it: all we need do is stand still and let God act, “let go and let God.”

But the context won’t allow us to use the verse this way.

Who spoke these words? They’re not a promise from God. They’re from Moses’ mouth. In a difficult situation, Moses contradicted what God told the Israelites to do. That’s why he received this mild rebuke: Continue reading ““Stand still and see the salvation of the Lord” (Exodus 14:13-15)”

When it feels like a dead end (Exodus 14:1-9)

Pharaoh’s pursuing army

Open Exodus 14:1-9.

Freedom! The Israelites are no longer Pharaoh’s slaves. They’re marching out of Egypt with a new identity: the people of YHWH! Their king is present in cloud and fire. He leads them south towards the Sinai Peninsula. There they will discover his character, and covenant with him to be his people.

But … there’s a problem. See that dust rising into the northern sky? It’s gaining on them. At chariot speed. The Middle East’s most powerful army is coming to take them captive again. Continue reading “When it feels like a dead end (Exodus 14:1-9)”

Bibleview

Bibleview is a free Bible reading app that gives you two chapters of Scripture each day, along with an Observation (what it meant), Application (what it means to us), and Prayer (responding to what God said).

It takes you through the New Testament every year, and the Old every two years. You complete a book before going to another (except for Psalms). Each quarter you read a gospel, some epistles, some Torah and history, some Psalms, and some prophets — a balanced diet.

What to know what’s coming up? Here’s the list for 2018 and 2019 (PDF, 15kb).

Bonus tips: Continue reading “Bibleview”

The king in the cloud (Exodus 13:17-22)

You can’t see God, but you can see the effect of his presence.

Open Exodus 13:17-22.

National leaders love to be seen out in front of their nation, leading their people. But what if your king is invisible? Released from Pharaoh, Israel has a king who cannot be seen and cannot be represented by any visible carved image. How on earth do you follow a ruler like that? Continue reading “The king in the cloud (Exodus 13:17-22)”

Significance of Passover (Exodus 12–13)

Open Exodus 12–13.

What’s the message of the Passover story? What comes to mind for you? Do you picture a lamb being sacrificed for the people of God to be forgiven their sins?

Would it surprise you to know the Book of Exodus never says anything like that? We can’t understand what Scripture says if we smuggle in assumptions about sacrificial theology that aren’t there.

This matters because Passover is so significant. Even today, it’s still one of the most significant weeks in the Jewish calendar, celebrating the birth of their nation. More than 3,200 years ago, God released them from serving Pharaoh, to be something new and privileged: a nation directly serving the divine sovereign, a kingdom of God.

So what does Exodus say? Continue reading “Significance of Passover (Exodus 12–13)”