How to glorify God?

If God is great, what are we?

We know the chief aim of humanity is to glorify God. But how?

  1. Do we reflect God’s character in his world, so people see God in us?  OR
  2. Do we tell people to look at God and not at us, since we fall so far short of the glory of God?

Does our connection with God make us great too — God’s handiwork, the image of his character? Or would that approach make us prideful sinners who seek God’s glory for ourselves?

Continue reading “How to glorify God?”

Joseph: servant of the king (podcast) (Genesis 37–50)

How did the patriarch Joseph contribute to the story of the kingdom of God? This podcast (20 minutes) shows us how to hear the story of Joseph as the story of God.

We’ve now surveyed Genesis in four podcasts. The previous three:

The Scripture Index contains 75 articles on Genesis if you’d like more detail.

 


Image: Egyptian throne, Tutankhamun exhibition.

Why did Paul never speak of Jacob?

If Jewish people find their identity in Jacob, why do Christians focus on Abraham?

Conversations make you think, especially conversations with people who see things differently to you.

Last year, I was chatting with a Rabbi about Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. She knew Christians emphasize Abraham, but for Jewish people the emphasis falls on the third person of the patriarchal triad. Jewish identity is children of Israel — literally, descendants of Jacob. The man Jacob was Israel in the first generation.

That’s why the name Jacob regularly referred to the nation of Israel in later generations, especially in poetic passages. The nation is not Abraham, but it is Jacob. Examples:
Psalm 53 … let Jacob rejoice and Israel be glad!
Isaiah 43 1 … he who created you, Jacob, he who formed you, Israel …

In the Psalms and latter prophets (Psalms – Malachi), Abraham’s name appears only 11 times, while Jacob’s name appears 127 times. The nation’s identity was primarily in Jacob, not Abraham.

So, why are Christians more focused on Abraham? Continue reading “Why did Paul never speak of Jacob?”

Ephesians: a kingdom perspective (free commentary)

Here it is. Our first commentary on a book of the Bible, from the perspective of the kingdom of God.

We covered Ephesians over six months. Those 50+ posts have now been compiled into a free, downloadable commentary.

As the reverse of the title page explains, you have permission to use it yourself, share it with others, use it academically — basically anything except selling it for profit.

Here’s the PDF (1.1 MB). This is the best format for general use. Enjoy.

 


For Logos users

If you use Logos Bible Software and would like to compile this as a Personal Book, here’s the DOCX (600 kb) and cover (62 kb). Continue reading “Ephesians: a kingdom perspective (free commentary)”

Solving the world’s problems

What God is doing is effective: it will transform the world.

You might think it’s always off, but Eurovision really is off this year (2020).

That didn’t stop a Dutch team using a computer to generate a new Eurovision song. They fed it input from previous Eurovision hits and from social commentary site Reddit. Reportedly, it wrote a song “that crescendos as a robotic voice urges listeners to ‘kill the government, kill the system.’”

Artificial Intelligence (AI) doesn’t create those ideas. It reflects what people say. There must be quite a few anarchists reacting to the oppression and systemic injustice in the world for AI to produce that song.

Unfortunately, many of us in church don’t think of sin like that. I think of sin as my faults, the ones for which I need forgiveness, because that’s how I get saved. We lose the world-transforming power of the gospel when we reduce it to a story about me and how I can get my forgiveness. Sin isn’t just a problem in each individual. It’s the oppressive power that dominates the world, causing all the wars, all the social devastation, all the problems the anarchists react to.

Jesus acknowledged the oppressive power of sin, but offered a very different solution. The problem with “kill the government, kill the system” is that it adds fuel to the fire, feeding the cycle of violence. Jesus’ radical idea was to replace the cycle of violence (the power of sin) with God’s reign.

Jesus took no sword to Caesar. He took the cross from Caesar. Continue reading “Solving the world’s problems”

Jacob and the kingdom of God (podcast) (Genesis 25–36)

This podcast (27 minutes) discusses the significance of Jacob for the kingdom of God.

Jacob was Israel in the first generation. His life story is told in Genesis 25–36 in a way that his descendants could relate to, for the promises he received were being fulfilled through them.

 

Previous podcasts