Partnering with God (Exodus 3:11-15)

Open Exodus 3:11-15.

All power rests in the hands of the heavenly sovereign. Yet he exercises his power in partnership with his people: “Come, I will send you to Pharaoh that you may bring my people, the descendants of Israel out of Egypt” (3:10). Continue reading “Partnering with God (Exodus 3:11-15)”

Greater than the temple? (Matthew 12:6)

“Something greater than the temple is here?” How could a Jewish person say that?

Open Matthew 12:6.

Imagine for a moment you’ve always had a fascination with Windsor Castle, its architecture and 39 generations of monarchs stretching all the way back to William the Conqueror. One day, all your dreams come true: you’re invited to a royal banquet at Windsor Castle.

You arrive, and you’re ushered in for the first time. You pause to breathe its air and smell the history. You wonder what stories these stones could tell. You’re so engrossed that you don’t realize when Queen Elizabeth enters to speak with her guests. A voice brings you back to the present, “Something greater than the Castle is here.” How would you feel if that voice was not one of her aides, but the monarch herself?

Jesus meant to embarrass his opponents with some of this audacious royal claims, but this one takes the cake:

Matthew 12 6 I tell you, something greater than the temple is here.

What did he mean? What in all Judea could be greater than the temple? Continue reading “Greater than the temple? (Matthew 12:6)”

Our king among us (Matthew 1:22-23)

Immanuel — the whole scope of the Bible’s story is in that word.

Open Matthew 1:22-23.

How do you understand Immanuel? Matthew explains it means, God with us.

What does that mean to you? A warm and fuzzy feeling that you’re not alone? A comfort? Assurance of safety? Yes, God’s presence does make a huge difference to us individually, but there’s so much more than that going on in Matthew’s story. In fact, what Matthew has in mind is pretty close to the core of the Bible’s whole story. Continue reading “Our king among us (Matthew 1:22-23)”

Immanuel (Matthew 1:18-25)

In what sense is Jesus the Immanuel child spoken of in Isaiah 7:14?

Open Matthew 1:18-25.

Matthew 1:22–23 (NIV)
22
All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had said through the prophet: 23 “The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel” (which means “God with us”).

Continue reading “Immanuel (Matthew 1:18-25)”

Jacob’s dream: a portal between heaven and earth (Genesis 28:10-17)

Jacob dreamed of a ladder linking God’s two realms. We’d probably call it a portal. What is the connection between heaven and earth?

Jacob is fleeing for his life. He’s leaving the land God promised to Abraham. He has no reason to come back. His father is dying. He’ll never see his mother again. For his own safety, he hopes he never sees his brother either. Continue reading “Jacob’s dream: a portal between heaven and earth (Genesis 28:10-17)”

The king’s visit (Genesis 18:1-15)

Who were the three characters who visited Abraham in Genesis 18?

Genesis 18:1 says “the Lord” turned up at Abraham’s tent door. The next verse says “three men” turned up. When two of these “men” left (18:22), they’re described as “angels” (19:1). Who are these three figures? Men or angels? Perhaps all three are angels, with one of them speaking on God’s behalf? Or is one of these three men/angels actually YHWH in disguise? Read the commentaries on the Bible, and you’ll find a confusing array of opinions over how to understand this narrative.

Continue reading “The king’s visit (Genesis 18:1-15)”

How far does the kingdom of God extend? (Genesis 4:16-26)

For too long we have read Genesis 3 as a story about individuals, and Genesis 4 as a story about some other individuals. Genesis 3–4 is a communal story. It describes how human society sinks to something that is less than human when it resists God’s authority. Adam and Eve grasped power that belonged to God. Their son grasped power over his brother. The society Cain founds is a long way from God’s intentions for humanity. Continue reading “How far does the kingdom of God extend? (Genesis 4:16-26)”

Was Eden God’s palace? (Genesis 2:1-14)

Genesis 1 revealed who God is and who we are. Genesis 2 reveals how we were intended to live in his presence.

There was a place known as Eden. From the perspective of the people telling the story (Israel), it was to the east. The sovereign planted a garden there, “in Eden” (Gen 2:8). Does that suggest that Eden was something more than the garden?
Continue reading “Was Eden God’s palace? (Genesis 2:1-14)”