What do you fear? (Exodus 1:12-22)

What you fear, you serve.

Open Exodus 1:12-22.

Exodus 1 provides real insight into what’s wrong with the powers in the world. To keep people under their control, rulers afflict them with heavy burdens (1:11 ESV). But you can’t squash people so easily: the heavy burdens Pharaoh placed on the Hebrews only made them stronger (1:12). And that’s why rulers become progressively more brutal (pě·rěḵ in 1:13, 14). Continue reading “What do you fear? (Exodus 1:12-22)”

How human rule goes bad (Exodus 1:1-11)

Open Exodus 1:1-11.

By the end of Genesis, one of Abraham’s descendants was bringing divine wisdom to the greatest ruler of his day. In Joseph, Pharaoh saw the spirit of the heavenly sovereign (Genesis 41:38). He followed Joseph’s advice, and many lives were saved.

So is there hope in human rule? After all, human rulers are God’s servants, to limit violence on the earth.

Unfortunately, our human rulers always end up as self-serving. Four centuries later, Egypt has a new king, one who does not know Joseph (Ex 1:8). That means this Pharaoh does not know YHWH either.

The Exodus is not just about the heavenly ruler releasing his people from Pharaoh: it is about the heavenly ruler revealing himself to Pharaoh. The goal is that Pharaoh will know YHWH as earth’s true ruler (5:2; 6:7; 7:5, 17; 8:10 and so on). Exodus 1–15 is a confrontation between rulers, a kind of war—a challenge over who rules. It is a kingdom conflict—the paradigmatic kingdom confrontation of the Old Testament. Continue reading “How human rule goes bad (Exodus 1:1-11)”

A tale of two kings (Matthew 14:1-21)

How do we present Jesus as king, when he’s so different to the rulers appointed by this world?

Open Matthew 14:1-21.

Jesus’ regal authority can frighten people. We’ve all experienced power being abused. So how do we announce a king who cares for his people?

We’ll need to explain the contrast. Matthew shows us how by juxtaposing the stories of two kings. Continue reading “A tale of two kings (Matthew 14:1-21)”

How does justice come?

How can justice ever come to our communities? Did Jesus have anything ideas?

Imagine you’re in a class on Training and Assessment. Everyone makes a presentation, and you choose your topic. What’s your passion?

Students chose everything from surfing to swords. I wanted something related to the kingdom of God that could be relevant, appropriate for a non-religious setting, and doable in 15 minutes.

You can read what I said below, and I’d be interested in your feedback. The group responded well, and the experience helped me think through this issue further.

Clearly this isn’t the whole story. But is this an approach that could help us present the good news in a way Aussies see as relevant and important?

Here’s the script: Continue reading “How does justice come?”

Clash of kingdoms (Matthew 10:17-23)

The kingdom of God doesn’t leave unjust kingdoms in place.

Open Matthew 10:17-23.

For too long, the church has spiritualized Jesus as if he was just a personal saviour and not the king of the kingdom. Our purpose on this blog is to swing the pendulum back by focusing on the sovereign authority of Jesus as Lord, as Messiah, as king of the kingdom. Continue reading “Clash of kingdoms (Matthew 10:17-23)”

Acknowledging Jesus as Lord (Matthew 7:21-23)

What does it mean to call Jesus, “Lord”?

Open Matthew 7:21-23.

Matthew 7:21-23 (my translation):
21 Not all who call me “Lord! Lord!” will be part of heaven’s kingdom — only those who do what my Father wants. 22 There’ll be many who say to me at that time, “Lord! Lord! Didn’t we use your authority to speak for God? Didn’t we use your authority to cast out demons? Didn’t we use your authority to do many powerful things?” 23 Then I will confess to them, “But I never recognized you. Take your leave from me, you agents of lawlessness.”

The Good News of the kingdom is that Jesus is Lord. Sin and death no longer enslave humanity; our heavenly Father has brought us back under his reign through his appointed ruler, Jesus our Lord. Peter’s gospel was, “God has made him both Lord and Messiah” (Acts 2:36). Paul called people to “confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord” (Romans 10:9). The hope of the world is that “every tongue confesses Jesus the Messiah is Lord” (Philippians 2:11). He is “King of kings and Lord of lords” (Revelation 19:16).

We’re a quarter of the way through Matthew’s account of the Good News, and this is the first time he has applied the word Lord (κύριος) to Jesus. Jesus is not exercising power the way kingdoms normally do: he has not been running around Galilee demanding that everyone call him Lord. Continue reading “Acknowledging Jesus as Lord (Matthew 7:21-23)”