Thursday, September 30, 2010

September 30

OT: Isaiah 60:1-62:5

Today's prophecies seemed uniformly cheery. I'm not sure in what way they were fulfilled in Isaiah's day, but a lot of the imagery also seems to point to "end of time" type stuff. I remember Randy Alcorn referencing this section in his book, Heaven. I particularly remember how he supported his idea that this passage gives a picture of heaven by citing verse 19, which says,

"The sun will no more be your light by day,
nor will the brightness of the moon shine on you,
for the Lord will be your everlasting light,
and your God will be your glory."

Alcorn pictured heaven literally being a "new earth," and apparently one in which we don't have a sun or a moon. Clearly, his theories of heaven are just that--theories. But I did enjoy reading his book.

I have to say, the NT adds such a larger dimension to the book of Isaiah. I've mentioned before that I would be more hesitant to take the long view of a lot of these prophecies if the NT did not explicitly interpret them in that way. For instance, Jesus reads from Isaiah 61:1-2a when he first "goes public" in the Temple:

"The Spirit of the Sovereign Lord is on me,
because the Lord has anointed me
to preach good news to the poor.
He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted,
to proclaim freedom for the captives
and release from darkness for the prisoners,
to proclaim the year of the Lord's favor."

Apparently, his scroll was a slightly different version, but it is clearly the same passage (Luke 4:18). After he reads it, he announces, "Today this scripture is fulfilled in your hearing." Wow!

My question of the day is, given that Jesus cited that passage as referring to himself, is he also implicitly citing the context of that passage? Or was it just those particular words that were applicable to Him?

NT: Philippians 1:27-2:18

So many gems are in today's reading:

"Whatever happens, conduct yourselves in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ" (1:27). This verse reminds me a lot of Ephesians, where Paul urges his readers "to live a life worthy of the calling you have received" (4:1). I liked that one, too, if you recall:).

Verse 27 also emphasizes the importance of "stand[ing] firm in one spirit, contending as one man for the faith of the gospel." So much of Isaiah today (and every day) refers to God's people as a corporate body, a nation. And obviously, Paul's letters are also written to corporate bodies, to churches. It occurred to me today how much emphasis the Bible places on God's people as a group. Really, the individual isn't that important. I mean, the individual is important like an arm is important, but what's an arm, away from the body? I think that corporate emphasis is interesting b/c I tend to view my relationship with God as private and individual. Yes, I am a part of the body of Christ, and my church is a wonderful community. But at the end of the day, it's between me and God, if that makes sense. I value private time with God, I question what God wants from me as an individual, and I picture me as an individual standing before Him one day. And while I do believe that the Bible teaches that we will be judged individually, I'm beginning to think that I am overemphasizing the role of the individual in relating to God and in fulfilling His purpose. It gets fuzzy in my head, b/c I really love my personal relationship with God, but I also see how God tends to act through a body, not just a body part. Does that make sense?

Oh, dear. I haven't even gotten to one of the greatest passages ever, but thankfully, it kind of goes with my current thoughts. In 2:1-4, Paul places a huge emphasis on the importance of group unity among Christians. And the only way to achieve cohesion, according to verses 3-4, is through the selflessness of the individual members of the body. We are to give up our own rights and preferences for the good of the group. And as verses 5-11. Paul holds up Christ as our model for this selflessness.

Verses 12-13 admonishes the Philippians to "continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you to will and to act according to his good purpose." There is so much to write here, but I have to wrap this up. Thus, I will only note two quick things. One, verse 13 reminds me of Ephesians 2:10. And two, ponder the meaning of the word, "for." It led me down an interesting thought path and maybe even to a new understanding of the "fear and trembling" bit.

Lastly, as a teenager, my favorite Bible verses were 2:14-15: "Do everything without complaining or arguing, so that you may become blameless and pure, children of God without fault in a crooked and depraved generation in which you shine like stars in the universe." I'm not sure why I loved these verses so much, as I'm sure my parents could testify that I did my fair share of arguing and complaining. I think that I just loved the image of being a shining star in universe. And I desired to be blameless and pure, and I loved that God gave us a path to be those pure and blameless shining stars.

Psalm 72: 1-20

A lengthy blessing for a king.

Proverbs 24:11-12

Oddly, these verses remind me of the Holocaust. I guess that's the clearest picture I have of people "being led away to death" and "staggering toward slaughter," surrounded by a mixture of people trying to help and people choosing to bury their heads in the sand.

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