When the people on your team cause a problem for others, whose side do you take? Which matters more: loyalty or justice? There may be a hint in the way God handles us.
We’re reading Genesis as the story of the kingdom of God. As people rebelled against God’s kingship they grasped power for themselves, turning violent. The heavenly sovereign permitted earthly government to avoid anarchy, resulting in nations. To bring the nations back under his authority, God established his own nation through Abraham. But he still takes responsibility for the nations: we just saw him act against the injustice of Sodom, and now we see it again as he acts against a Philistine king. Continue reading “God stands with his flawed people (Genesis 20)”
Did you know that this season used to be called kingdomtide in some churches? Continue reading “Kingdomtide”
The same phrase is the climax of the opening and closing sentences of the Book of Romans. Do you know what it is?
Paul’s letter to the Romans opens with one of the best gospel summaries anywhere. It’s a precis of the whole kingdom story, rising to a key phrase that is the goal of the gospel in Paul’s view. It’s so crucial that the same phrase is the culmination of both the opening sentence and the closing sentence of this remarkable letter. Do you know what it is? Continue reading “Romans: opening and closing theme”
The city of Sodom is an image of sin in the Bible, but not in the way we use the word in English.
In English, the name Sodom is associated with a particular kind of sexual sin. Why are we preoccupied with one aspect of Sodom’s sin? That’s certainly not what Sodom connotes throughout the rest of the Biblical narrative. Of the 48 references to Sodom, you’d struggle to find a handful that focus on sexual sin.
Continue reading “What was the sin of Sodom? (Genesis 19)”
Lot was rescued from Sodom, but for what purpose? What did he do with his second chance?
Lot and his daughters survived Sodom, but their life was so invested in Sodom that they lost everything. He was driven by wealth (13:10-11), and now it’s all gone. All that remains is regret for the wasted years. The little town they fled to holds nothing for them. They seek refuge underground, in the darkness and isolation of a cave (19:30).
Continue reading “Rescued, but restless (Genesis 19:30-37)”
If God wants to rescue people, why did he destroy Sodom?
YHWH’s attendants are checking out Sodom, in the guise of travellers. How they are treated will indicate whether this place is as bad as reports have claimed, whether the rot has permeated and corrupted everything.
Continue reading “Why was Sodom destroyed? (Genesis 19:1-29)”
What is prayer? Does it make any sense to try to change God’s mind?
What do you do when you’re mistreated? Things get nasty when people take matters into their own hands to enforce their own justice (Genesis 4:23-24). It’s better to appeal to our sovereign’s authority (Genesis 4:26). But that only works if the king does something about the injustice.
Continue reading “Arguing with God (Genesis 18:22-33)”
Why did God choose Abraham and his family? Were they the only ones to be saved, or what was his election about?
After enjoying Abraham’s hospitality, the king sends his servants on an errand while he himself stays to discuss matters with his governor. Listen to the delight in his voice as the sovereign talks with his friend: Continue reading “Friend of the king (Genesis 18:16-21)”
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)”
Circumcision was the sign of God’s covenant with Abraham (Genesis 17:9-27). What relevance does it have today?
As God Shaddai establishes his covenant with Abraham for the generations to come, he asks for a response. All the males are to be marked as belonging to him, and it is a very personal marking: circumcision (17:10). It’s the sign of the patriarchal covenant (17:11).
We’ve seen the Hebrew word ʾôṯ (sign) three times: Continue reading “The sign of the covenant (Genesis 17:9-27)”
How do you take a book that tells you everything is meaningless?
How would you respond if a mature-aged person told you that everything is meaningless? You might conclude, “Well, I guess the poor cynic is right about himself.”
So, is the book of Ecclesiastes meaningless? Or is it a sharp tool to carve away the meaningless layers and sculpt something of significance from our existence? Continue reading “Ecclesiastes: a meaningless book?”
The covenant with Abraham is all about God’s reign.
The ruler is establishing his covenant with his nation, as yet unborn. He reveals his name: God Shaddai. He gives his servant a new name, a new identity: he is now Abraham: Continue reading “God’s commitment to rule (Genesis 17:4-8)”