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M'Cheyne Reading Reflections - Jan 7

By heath - Posted on 08 January 2010

Gen 7

I remember in my Penteteuch class in college being told that because of v3 saying that Noah took seven pairs of clean animals and verses nine and fifteen saying they went in two by two there were two "flood accounts." I now realize that verses nine and fifteen are describing how they went in and not how many were taken. Now I can take this off the passages that make me nervous list. Looking back, it seems silly to have thought otherwise. I suppose the stature of the teacher weighed upon me in my reading.

That fact that every living thing on the "earth" was "blotted out" makes me think of the curse and the curse of the ground. Apparently the sea creature survived.

Ezra 7

It is interesting that v. 10 makes explicit that Ezra not only wants to study and teach God's law, but he also wants to DO IT. Many get two out of three. It is me too often.

The reverence with which Artaxerxes speaks of "the God of Israel" is surprising. It is highly unlikely that he had become a Jew, yet he understood the idea of being respectful and deferential to one greater than himself. It seems he did not doubt that the "God that is in Jerusalem" existed and that he was worthy of worship. While this is not the end of religion, it is refreshing compared to the lack of respect paid anything in our day.

Nevertheless, to live in a culture that takes the view of Artaxerxes makes one sleepy. It is easy to confuse this kind of deferential treatment for real faith. I believe this is the mistake our forefathers in the American church have made. We went along getting fat and happy as churches degenerated from true faith to a vague, but respectful religion. When the cultural underpinnings of that respect were undermined, and the underpinnings were merely social constructions, there was nothing of true faith left.

So many in the evangelical church have seen this second shift as the "real" problem. However, there are many who have seen through this to Satan's true scheme. Luke Skywalker says, "Your overconfidence is your weakness," when fighting Darth Sidious. When our confidence is in the flesh, it is a confidence in weakness, but when our confidence is God, he makes our weakness a strength. It wasn't for no reason that Schliermacher confused faith with the "feeling of absolute dependence." It is the dependence on the blood of Christ that is true faith and strength. This is the weakness we must recover.

Matt 7

It is ironic that 7:6 describes those who use 7:1 to say Christians have no right to preach God's law. It seems to me that Jesus is merely stating plain facts in 7:1-2. This is just what happens in the world. People hold you to the standard by which you judge them. However, his exhortation to be humble in correction is one I have often missed.

While Jesus does say that the Golden Rule is a summary of the Law and Prophets, later statements reveal that this is not the only summary. It seems to be a summary of the moral teaching regarding human relationships.

Verse 26 is another sober warning to do as well as hear.

I always love it when people respond as in v. 28. "He taught them as one who had authority," and they were astonished. Spirit empowered preaching has the same effect today.

Acts 7

This is one of my favorite passages. I really should commit it to memory. I love how Stephen builds his argument about Jesus beginning with Abraham. this is how we should feel if not do. We forget that we are part of the story of God redeeming the world. We forget that we are the instruments God is using to remake the world into his kingdom. We can read the stories of God doing it in the past both in scripture and church history. We as a people (God's people, not Americans) need to read more history and connect the dots of Abraham with ourselves.

Acts 7:54 is the other way people respond to Spirit empowered preaching. It is an outrage against which the world rages, and it is God who determines which effect the preaching will have. As is the call to many of the prophets, we are called to preach and let God work.

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