Simon's blog

Ezra 1:1-4: God does not play favourites

In the first year of the reign of Cyrus, king of Persia, to fulfill the word of the LORD spoken through Jeremiah, the LORD stirred up the soul of Cyrus, king of Persia, and he sent a proclamation throughout his kingdom by messenger and also in writing. The message said:
“Thus says Cyrus, king of Persia: All kingdoms of the earth have been given to me by the LORD God of heaven, and He has appointed me to build for Himself a temple in Jerusalem. (which is in Judah)

On forgiveness and moving on

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A generally-excellent sermon I heard on Sunday (sadly not on th’Interweb yet) made an interesting point that stuck with me, quoting from Colossians 3:13. (“Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another”) The preacher said that forgiveness deals with the problem; bearing with one another is what you do until the problem is dealt with.

And that makes a lot of sense. God did not merely move on from the problem of sin, or sweep it under the carpet, or pretend it wasn’t really a problem any more. He did something about it, something painful and costly which dealt with the problem. Forgiveness has a point of resolution to it.

Now consider a situation where one person declares to others that they need to “forgive and move on” - forgive him and move on, that is. Read more about On forgiveness and moving on

2 Chr 36:15-17: Enough is enough

The LORD God of their fathers sent messenger after messenger to try to warn them, because He felt pity for them and for His house,
But they mocked God’s messengers, despised His message and scoffed at His prophets until the wrath of the LORD rose up against the people until there was no way out.
And so He arranged for the king of the Babylonians to attack them, who stabbed the young men of Israel in the Sanctuary itself. He had no pity on the young men or the young women, or the old and infirm. God handed everyone over to him.

1 Chr 29:14-16: Foreigners and sojourners

But who am I, and who are my people, that we would hold the strength to make an offering like this? All things are from you, and from your own hand we give you.
Foreigners are we before your face, and sojourners as all our fathers; our days upon the earth like a shadow without hope.
O LORD our God, all this multitude which we have established to build a house for your holy name, is all from your own hand. Everything is yours.


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An intriguing quote from a book I am editing:

Paul J. Griffiths, in his book, Christianity Through Non-Christian Eyes, quoted a famous story by Buddha about the monk who uses a raft to cross the river. Having crossed the river, the monk says:

2 Kings 5:10-15: Wade in the water

Elisha sent out a messenger to him to tell him, “Go and bathe in the Jordan seven times, and your skin will get better and you will be ritually pure.”
Naaman was angry and walked away, saying “I thought he was definitely going to come out and stand here and call on the name of the LORD his god and wave his hands over me and gather up the disease.
Aren’t the rivers of Damascus, the Abana and the Pharpar, better than all the waters of Israel? Can’t I just bathe in them and be cleaned?” And he stormed off angry again.

Rob Bell and talking at cross purposes

This got too long for Twitter. And yeah, it’s another pointless post about Rob Bell, but I think I’m touching on something here I haven’t heard from anyone else.

Rob Hay points out the Evangelical Alliance official response to Love Wins. This raises lots of interesting thoughts for me. First, I didn’t realise that the EA were in the book review business, or otherwise I would have sent them a few. Second, they’ve clearly learnt a little bit from their treatment of Steve Chalke but not very much. Third, I didn’t realise that this book was so significant that it needed an official response. Heck, I didn’t realise that a similar, but theologically more rigorous, treatment of the same themes would not need an official response - which makes me wonder if they’re just going for the low-hanging fruit.

Or perhaps this is just another example of what is going on with the Rob Bell stuff: people completely talking past each other. Read more about Rob Bell and talking at cross purposes

1 Ki 8:33-43: Change is the only constant

This a long passage and I’m already way behind, so here’s someone else’s translation instead:

“The time will come when your people Israel are defeated by an enemy because they sinned against you. If they come back to you, renew their allegiance to you, and pray for your help in this temple,
then listen from heaven, forgive the sin of your people Israel, and bring them back to the land you gave to their ancestors.

2 Samuel 7:22-24: For yourself

I am woefully behind in my Lent Challenge posts, but let’s keep going:

“So you are great, my LORD, because there is none like you, and there is no god except you - this is what we have heard!
And who is like your people Israel? - the only nation of its kind on the earth - because God went out and redeemed (for Himself) a people to establish his name (for Himself).
You did (for yourself) great and awesome things for the land in the sight of your people which you redeemed (for yourself) from out of the Egyptian nation and its gods.