Sunday, September 23, 2012

Just Like Moses... Except For That Sin Thing

"The LORD your God will raise up for you a prophet like me from among your own brothers. You must listen to him."
     -- Deuteronomy 18:15 (NIV)

I love the Book of Deuteronomy. It repeats the entire Law, explaining it to the younger group of Israelites. It clearly has a great deal of Law in it, which is a good thing. But perhaps my favorite verse from Deuteronomy is the promise of the Second Moses in Chapter 18. Moses tells the people that the LORD their God will raise up for them a prophet. It would mean nothing if it wasn't for them and for us. It says he will be from among their own brothers, and as we know, Jesus was from the Abrahamic lineage like many of them were. Moses says that the prophet (Jesus) will be like him. This is where the parallel finally slaps us in the face. Moses foreshadows the coming of Jesus, the one who will rescue his people from slavery (slavery to sin) and ultimately lead them to the Promised Land (heaven). However, Jesus lived the life that Moses (and Adam) should have lived. He was perfect in every way, without sin.
This verse says that the LORD our God will raise him up for us... and he certainly did. He raised him up from the grave on the third day. And it is because of that death and resurrection that we are no longer slaves to sin, but rather slaves to Christ. God raised up a Savior for the Israelites in Deuteronomy. God raised up a Savior for us.

-- Jonathan

Sunday, September 16, 2012

The Vacuousness of Works Righteousness

"The fourth book [Numbers]... says much about the disobedience of the people and the plagues that came upon them... Indeed this is the way it always goes; laws are quickly given, but... they meet with nothing but hindrance; nothing goes as the law demands. This book is a notable example of how vacuous it is to make people righteous with laws; rather, as St. Paul says, laws cause only sin and wrath."
-- Martin Luther

If nothing else, the Book of Numbers shows us just how pathetic and unable we are as people to make ourselves righteous. It's not difficult to see connections with how the grumbling Israelites in Numbers acted and how we act when things don't go our way. The LORD gives his people a clear set of laws to obey in order for all to be well with them, and the first thing they do (and we do) is break it. We can never keep the Law. And to think for a second that we can be made righteous by the Law is beyond foolish. The Law shows us just how depraved we are, not how righteous we can become if we follow it. No, works righteousness is not the answer. Jesus Christ is. The Law is good... very good. But it does nothing to make us righteous. The Israelites in Numbers figured that out with difficulty. Abraham had faith, and God credited it to him as righteousness. And the same is true of the believing Israelites in Numbers... And the same is true of us.

-- Jonathan

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Why Do I Need a Pastor?

I've decided to work on writing a blog post about a passage, verse, or topic from every Book in the biblical canon. For today's blog, I decided focus is on the Book of Leviticus. And instead of quoting a verse or passage from the Book, I've chosen to quote Luther on Leviticus. Luther says:

"The special topic of the third book [Leviticus] is the appointment of the priesthood, with the statutes and laws according to which the priests are to act and to teach the people. There we see that a priestly office is instituted only because of sin, to disclose sin to the people and to make atonement before God, so that its entire function is to deal with sin and sinners."

Upon reading this quote, I'm instantly reminded of people asking a version of the question, "Why do I need a Pastor?" Growing up in the church and never really questioning the Office of the Keys, it hasn't always been easy for me to answer this question when asked. But Luther makes it clear that Leviticus makes it clear that we do indeed need pastors. "Why?" Because of sin. "Huh?" We're sinful. "Oh yeah, I know that, but what does that have to do with me needing a pastor?" The Office of the Holy Ministry was instituted by God  in order to show people their sins clearly and to make atonement for said sins before God. In the stead and by the command of Jesus Christ, a pastor makes our sins known to us and forgives us in the Name of Jesus. So I reckon the better question would be, "Why would anyone not want a Pastor?"

-- Jonathan

Sunday, September 2, 2012

The Dream Team's got Nothin' on Joseph

"When Joseph came to them in the morning and observed them, behold, they were dejected. He asked Pharaoh's officials who were with him in confinement in his master's house, 'Why are your faces so sad today?' Then they said to him, 'We have had a dream and there is no one to interpret it.' Then Joseph said to them, 'Do not interpretations belong to God? Tell it to me, please.'"
     -- Genesis 40:6-8 (NASB)

To those who claim that we should be open to all interpretations of morality and the Word, I would encourage them to read this text. Interpretations belong to God. And if our interpretations of morality, ethics, dreams, or anything else negates what the Word teaches, we can be certain that they have no merit. Shooting interpretations and philosophy from the hip seems to be --- well --- hip, these days. But if one's interpretations or worldview doesn't coincide with Scripture, it's not all that valuable, and it's certainly nothing new.

-- Jonathan