How did Joseph cope with treachery and accusations from a sexual predator?
Role-reversal stories help us break down our stereotypes and cultural bias. As a boy, I was warned against seductive females like Potiphar’s wife, but I don’t remember being warned against mistreating women as the men of Genesis did: Pharaoh (Genesis 12:15), Abimelek (20:2; 26:8), and Hamor (34:2).
Maybe the real issue is power rather than gender. Those three guys were all kings or princes. And Potiphar’s wife held all the power while Joseph was merely a slave.
Women are devalued in patriarchal society. Judah’s mistreatment of Tamar isn’t resolved until he realizes that, even though she used her sexuality against him, She is more righteous than I (38:26).
So, rather than treating gender as the problem in the conflict between male and female, could we make some progress by identifying abuse of power as the real issue? The role-reversal story of Genesis 39 suggests that might be a productive approach.
What happens when the woman has all the power, and the male is her slave?
Continue reading “Finding God in an unjust world (Genesis 39)”
Walking with Jesus, and sitting at his table. Two of Luke’s metaphors for sharing life with our Lord.
Here’s a brief podcast in the lead-up to Easter: ten minutes, on the Emmaus Road.
Continue reading “Emmaus Road (podcast)”
How does the world discover her king? In the community that recognizes him.
How does heaven’s reign come to earth? We’re meant to be a kingdom of heaven, so how is heaven’s authority restored to the earth? The kingdom becomes our living reality as people recognize Jesus as heaven’s anointed king, the Son with his Father’s authority.
Continue reading “The king is in community (Matthew 18:18-20)”
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)”
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)”
“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)”
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)”
In what sense is Jesus the Immanuel child spoken of in Isaiah 7:14?
Open Matthew 1:18-25.
Matthew 1:22-23 (my translation)
22 This whole thing has come about to fulfil the word of the Lord through the prophet, 23 “See, the virgin will conceive and bear a son and they will call him Immanuel” which translates as “God-with-us.”
Continue reading “Immanuel (Matthew 1:18-25)”
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)”
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)”
Abram is now the representative on earth of the heavenly ruler’s kingdom. His descendants will be the great nation through whom YHWH will restore his rule to all the families of the earth. Continue reading “God shows up (Genesis 12:4-9)”
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)”
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)”