Leviticus 16:7-10: Two goats

Oops, forgot to hit “publish” on this yesterday…

He is then to take two male goats, and make the goats stand before the LORD at the entrance to the Meeting Tent,
and then he is to put two lots over the goats: one lot for the LORD, one lot for Azazel.
Then is then to offer up the goat which has the LORD’s lot over it, and make it a sin offering,
And the goat which has Azazel’s lot over it should stay alive, right before the LORD, and should be sent off to Azazel in the wilderness for forgiveness.

Yesterday I sat down to write my devotion and thought, “Why on earth did I choose that passage from Exodus?” But I soon remembered. Today I sat down and thought, “Why on earth did I choose that passage from Leviticus?” I am still not sure. I think it might be just because the Azalel stuff is intriguing.

Still, this is a good time to remind us all that when people talk about what the Bible says, they generally exercise editorial selection in choosing a passage or set of passages, and this series is no different. If you have a different idea for a walk through the Hebrew Bible, that’s great; make your selection and we can compare them and dialogue together. “The Bible says” is a great way to start a conversation, but an awful way to finish one. Read more about Leviticus 16:7-10: Two goats

Exodus 19:3-6: The net widens

Moses went up to God, and the LORD called to him from the mountain, saying:

“This is what you will tell the clan of Jacob and declare to the descendants of Israel:
You saw what I did to Egypt, and that I lifted you up upon eagles’ wings, and I brought you to me.

And now, if you follow what I’m saying and keep my covenant, then you will be my treasured people out of them all. (Mind you, all the Earth is mine anyway.)

And you will be for me kingdom-priests and a holy nation.

That is what you will say to the descendants of Israel.”

A lot has happened since yesterday’s passage. Abram took the walk with God and became Abraham. God, for his part, kept his promises. God showed himself to be faithful and gracious to one person; He’s established a beachhead for His love invasion, and now it’s time to widen the scope - from one man to a whole nation. It’s an outward, invitational trajectory. Read more about Exodus 19:3-6: The net widens

Genesis 12:1-3 - Love stripped bare

And the LORD said to Abram: “Walk away.

Away from your country,
Away from your relatives,
Away from your father’s house,
To a land that I will make you see.

And I will make you into a great nation,
And I will bless you,
And I will make you famous.

And then, be a blessing.

I will bless your blessers,
But I will have to put a curse upon that man who will not take you seriously.

You are going to become an example of blessing for every family on earth.”

If the Bible is a love story between God and the whole of creation, then we’ve come in at Act 1 Scene 3. So far, it’s not been going so well for God. He has been reaching out to humanity again and again, but again and again He has been rebuffed. Rejected by Adam and Eve, rejected by the people of Noah and the citizens of Babel, the miracle of the Bible, the point of the whole story, is that God keeps trying. He doesn’t give up on us easily.

So here God decides to take a new approach - to start again at zero. Read more about Genesis 12:1-3 - Love stripped bare

My Lent challenge

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There are forty days in Lent. There are thirty-nine books in the Hebrew Bible. It’s almost too good to pass up. I’ve set myself the challenge of blogging through one passage of each book of the Hebrew Bible every day during Lent - writing an exegesis and simple reflection. I don’t know if I’m going to manage it, I might end up finishing Lent in September, but I’m certainly going to give it a shot. (And announcing it here makes me psychologically more likely to feel bound to it.) Read more about My Lent challenge

Devotions, the hard way

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Last week my mentor challenged me about my devotional life. I confessed that I often only dipped into the Bible these days when I’m preparing a sermon or similar. Sometimes I do pick it up just to read, but not regularly.

When I was at All Nations I came across a great book called More Light On The Path, which gives you one verse of Hebrew, one verse of Greek and one sentence of commentary, plus any vocabulary you need. It’s devotional hardcore, but it’s about twenty pounds, and we have the Internet these days. I set myself the task of creating my own. Read more about Devotions, the hard way

Apologetics should take the Bible seriously

The Simple Pastor links to a FAQ about the difference between Mormonism and what the Gospel Coalition grandly calls “Biblical” Christianity. (This is already a red flag for me; is there any other kind?) It turns out to be the sort of thing that makes me sad for the state of apologetics. The FAQ is a dubious collection of proof-texts with no developed argument and no exegesis. Biblical Christianity is, apparently, a facile and one-dimensional Christianity. Read more about Apologetics should take the Bible seriously


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I’ve been reading the book of Proverbs on and off recently.

Much of it, let’s face it, is pretty trivially obvious. Let’s take 12:17, for instance: “The faithful witness tells what is right, but a false witness speaks deceit.” Well, yes, by definition. (Mind you, Tony once told me that if someone uses “by definition” to seal an argument, you know they’re lying.) But I’ve found two things intriguing as I’ve read through Proverbs. Read more about Wisdom

Gordon Wenham on the nations in the Psalms

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On Wednesday night we had the inaugural Center for the Study of Bible and Mission lecture from Gordon Wenham, on the nations in the Psalms.

The great thing about Gordon Wenham is that he’s an outstanding Biblical scholar. I’ve read and referred to his commentaries, and they’re invaluable contributions to Biblical studies.

The unfortunate thing about Gordon Wenham, though, is that he’s an outstanding Biblical scholar. We were treated to a detailed, encyclopedic critical exegesis of the Psalms, with Wenham recapitulating the scholarly arguments about particular readings and giving a defence of his own hermeneutical method.

For forty-five minutes. I had to gnaw off my own leg to stay awake. Read more about Gordon Wenham on the nations in the Psalms