Moving forward in 2018 or what is a nice Jewish boy doing speaking on Muslim apologetics

2017 was a wild and woolly year for us as far as the ministry. But interestingly enough as many challenges were thrown our way the Lord opened unique doors. One of the big questions on our mind's was, "What do we do now Lord?". This raises two issues discerning God's will and dealing with disappointment. Both of these issues have represented struggles for the follower of Messiah and led to the writing of many books. I thought I would weigh in with a basic model by which to examine the will of God in the basic decisions of daily life. Determining God's will in the details of life is a complicated process and probably best looked at as a grid as opposed to a simple question corresponding answer format. After doing this I like to apply this to some of what we have been through and hopefully it will edify you as you face issues pertaining to the will of God in 2018 for your life.  I will probably end with a little shameless advertisement for what God does have us doing given the way he is leading .

"Being in the way he led me" is a phrase that occurs as Eliezer's being led by God to what is to be Isaac's wife and it represents a principle of the way God leads his people. It is found in Genesis 24:27. One of the principles of God's guidance is that he opens doors and creates opportunities in directions that he wants us to go. We need to be willing and ready to respond to these opportunities. In fact when the Lord sets up such opportunities they often are opportunities that we could not have imagined ourselves. One might call this the principle of providence in God's leading. For me he opened up doors into addressing apologetics issues, that meant a lot to me as a teacher and apologist to the Jewish people, in the area of apologetics to Muslims. As I began to follow through on these open doors the Lord demonstrated to me that some of the same objections Jewish people have to the gospel are found also among Muslims. In fact is I heard a polemicist for Islam argue against faith in Jesus  borrowed arguments that I had heard when I was on the street in Brooklyn and inferred previously from Jewish people. God created new doors and new opportunities to develop wonderful apologetics material even introducing me to individuals who might never have been in my circle. However providence alone is not sufficient since it is often difficult to tell which things are directly divine providence.
So one question which must be asked.Is this biblical, does it correspond to the purposes that God has for his world and the development of Christ in you. It seems to be that our journeys with God are as much about the people we take along and what he makes us as they are about the individual tasks that we end up doing. Now before you think I have become somewhat brilliant this point is something that has began to really penetrate my heart as a complete. I am incredibly task oriented and rarely think about the importance of the process as it relates to my personal life. However, it seems that God is not simply interested in getting something done but actually creating something from the way he created us and even structured our lives.
So let us just take these together and summarize them if it is biblical and furthers the kingdom of God both in his world and in your life and God is providentially opening up doors in ways that you could not imagine your strong reason to consider the possibility of his leading. Is it possible to fool oneself, yes.
This brings me to another principles seek the counsel of those who have your best interest at heart. These are individuals that want to see you succeed regardless of their own personal or organizational success. These individuals are hard to find but when you find one or more these are the ones you should consult. To rule out individuals that might always as true friends you only need to ask yourself if you seen a consistent pattern of them acting on your behalf when he gained them nothing. Those who act on your behalf only to gain something they want are those with an agenda. Their advice may be useful in the secondary sense but they are not the ones to share your heart.

Does Providence seems to indicate that this is a good path to follow through unique open doors, this is biblical in terms of God's character and purposes, and you have the Council of true friends bearing witness than the third principle comes into play.

When you start moving in this direction does God seem to blessed. By that are other individuals being blessed and is God showing effective results from the enterprise. Beware the blessing may not always come in a tangible form for you but you will see it being effective in the lives of others in some way.

Well there you have some basic principles. And now it is time to see how they have applied in our crazy and woolly 2017. Now we do not know how everything's going to sugar off and are trusting God as we move forward in light of these principles. First, I was able to find the Council of true friends who encouraged me on the present path. I saw Scripture that indicated that the venture that we are on is in line with his word and workings in my life. And God has seemed to bless with effectiveness and opening unique doors the venture in which we are now involved.

No we do not have all the answers but at least we have some direction as the year moves forward. We have been able to broadcast to both radio and television and revamp the website. We have seen God open doors to be able to actually broadcast into the Mideast on radio and TV into the Mideast. I have had the opportunity to do conferences that I never thought I would be able to do. So we find ourselves walking along in this interesting yet frightening venture. May you find your own God sized adventures as you enter 2018

 

 

 

Incredible ministry around the Word and defending its truth

While some of the objections which Jewish people have to the gospel are the same as Muslims some are not. However, the objections related to the incarnation in Trinity are the same for both Jewish people who do not follow Jesus and Muslims. The Lord provided an incredible platform for me to speak on satellite television and a program which is both Bible teaching and in the field of apologetics. This particular satellite program is being throughout the Mideast and allowed me to fulfill the Second of the purposes of my ministry calling. That purpose is stated below.

Second, To demonstrate and defend:

  • The Trinity, the deity of Christ and other critical doctrines using the Old Testament as well as the New Testament for proofs

  • This can be accomplished by teaching Believer sound arguments for defending these doctrines through training them in apologetics and the use of hermeneutics that takes into account the Jewishness of the Scriptures and the Jewishness of Messiah arguing against contrary positions among believers.

 

Day two

Today was an awesome day of training at the evening session, I was able to present my message on contextualization demonstrating that contextualization itself is biblical from Acts chapter 17 verses 16 through 31. I learned a great deal also in terms of sharpening my ability in areas related to outreach in apologetics. I learned some of the same issues and approaches related to Jews are also extremely important in reaching Muslims. I was so excited to see that the type of outreach which I have often done making use of the Akediah, the Passover are perfectly useful in more than just Jewish outreach. This was terribly exciting to me. Beyond this I was terribly excited to learn that the issue of blood atonement which is so much an issue for Jewish people in terms of the gospel is also an issue for Muslims. How interesting to see connections to the gospel in these two areas converging.

Speaking at Muslim outreach

I thought it would be good to give you a brief look at one of the outlines of the power points that I will be doing at the upcoming Muslim outreach. It must be noted that this particular presentation is set up to deal with Islam. However, the points about metanarrative, and fulfilled prophecy have broader applications then just to a Muslim audience. Showing the connections between the Hebrew Scriptures and the New Testament can act as a powerful apologetic in showing the Jewishness of the New Testament.

The Evidence for the Scriptures Can we trust the Bible

The Testimony of Jesus

Jesus verifies the Tanakh(Old Testament)

Jesus verifies the O.T

Jesus knew of the Translations of O.T namely LXX

Jesus is considered a prophet by Islam, and therefore would know is the text was preserved, even in its translations

Jesus verifieds The O.T by various statement

 major Translation

LXX is completed in 250 B.Csome 250 years before Jesus’ birth

Jesus lived in Galilee of the Gentiles

He would have been aware of the LXX

Jesus considered a prophet by Islam

Then We caused Our messengers to follow in their footsteps; and We caused Jesus, son of Mary, to follow, and gave him the Gospel, and placed compassion and mercy in the hearts of those who followed him. Surah 57:27

Muhammad M. Pickthall, ed., The Quran (Medford, MA: Perseus Digital Library, n.d.).

Therefore he would have known if there were any textural corruptions to the Scripture which made them less than the perfect word of God

Jesus verifies the OT

““Do not think that I came to destroy the Law or the Prophets. I did not come to destroy but to fulfill. For assuredly, I say to you, till heaven and earth pass away, one jot or one tittle will by no means pass from the law till all is fulfilled.” (Matthew 5:17–18, NKJV)

“that on you may come all the righteous blood shed on the earth, from the blood of righteous Abel to the blood of Zechariah, son of Berechiah, whom you murdered between the temple and the altar.” (Matthew 23:35, NKJV)

The division of the Scripture in Jesus The Law, Prophets, and The Writings.

Abel (Genesis The Law)

Zechariah   (The last book of the Writings 2 Chronicles 24:20-21)

Cross verification

Peter verifies Paul’s writings as Scriptures

“and consider that the longsuffering of our Lord is salvation—as also our beloved brother Paul, according to the wisdom given to him, has written to you, as also in all his epistles, speaking in them of these things, in which are some things hard to understand, which untaught and unstable people twist to their own destruction, as they do also the rest of the Scriptures.” (2 Peter 3:15–16, NKJV)

 

Fulfilled Prophecy

Cross verification between the Testaments

Birth of Messiah

Predicted

Of a Virgin  Isaiah 7:14

“Therefore the Lord Himself will give you a sign: Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a Son, and shall call His name Immanuel.” (Isaiah 7:14, NKJV)

 

Fulfilled

Of a Virgin

“But while he thought about these things, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream, saying, “Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take to you Mary your wife, for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Spirit. And she will bring forth a Son, and you shall call His name JESUS, for He will save His people from their sins.” So all this was done that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the Lord through the prophet, saying:” (Matthew 1:20–22, NKJV)

 

Death of Messiah

Predicted

Crucifixion

“For dogs have surrounded Me; The congregation of the wicked has enclosed Me. They pierced My hands and My feet; I can count all My bones. They look and stare at Me. They divide My garments among them, And for My clothing they cast lots.” (Psalm 22:16–18, NKJV)

 

 

Fulfilled

Crucifixion

“Then they crucified Him, and divided His garments, casting lots, that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the prophet: “They divided My garments among them, And for My clothing they cast lots.”” (Matthew 27:35, NKJV)

 

 

 

The Big Story

The Metanarrative

Transformed Lives

 

Stalking the Torah of Jesus Part Two

The possibility of a Torah of Jesus is sometimes denied because of two errors which are made. The first of these errors is not recognizing that the immutability of Torah is more of a rabbinical doctrine that a biblical one. It is true, that modern Judaism in its most Orthodox form regards the Torah as eternal and immutable but this thinking only became set in stone later. The second error is to not rightly regard the authority and person of Messiah Jesus. This particular blog will examine these errors briefly to both create awareness and hopefully create a new appreciation of Jesus’ person in relation to the issue of the Law or Torah

There is an assumption that the Torah of Moses will be the Torah of the kingdom with no substantial changes, but this assumption is more a result of rabbinical Jewish thought then of the Scriptures. As stated earlier, it is the Rambam or Moses Maimonides that solidifies and codifies the idea that the Torah is inviolable or totally immutable, “The Torah is unchangeable (nothing can be added or subtracted from it, “nor will there be another Torah from the Creator”)”.1   in other words there cannot be a new Torah or changes in Torah during the kingdom. When one takes into account the contradiction is predicated on Maimonides’ 13 Principals of Faith this is understandable. Jewish and Christian scholarship is indebted to Marc Schapiro who points out that the idea of the complete immutability and eternality of the Torah is added by Moses Maimonides or the Rambam, even if the idea previously appeared in some strains of Jewish thought.  It is not biblical to bring de facto an unchallenged assumption a creed which later is to become a part of standard rabbinical Jewish thought, “a number of rabbinical sources speak of future changes to the Torah.”2. If this is true that this becomes fixed in Jewish thought later that it is possible that the Torah will be God standard not as the Torah of Moses but possibly the Torah of Messiah during the kingdom and thus no contradiction exists. That God’s law which is reflected in Torah takes a different form in the kingdom and the Law as God’s ethical standard is not being applied in the same way at the same time.

W. D. Davies notes that there are references to Messiah changing Torah and even hints that he will introduce his own Torah. He even goes so far as to group these changes, making note of Yalqut on Proverbs 9:2 he notes “here Purim and the Day of Atonement alone are among the festivals to survive into the Messianic Age.”

An important yet overlooked point is that Jesus instituting ordinances proves The New Covenant is not just a series of rulings on the Torah or restatement of the Torah. Jesus/Yeshua institutes a new sign of entrance, Baptism. One cannot find Baptism in the name of the trinity as a sign of entrance in Torah community but Jesus commands this as a sign of entrance in Matthew 28:19-20. Surly this is new instruction or Torah. Surely this represents a change in form.

Of course Jesus also introduces the Lord’s Supper or what some call communion. This is another ordinance. The Passover Seder while it pointed to Messiah did not commemorate his work. Yet a new form is added by Messiah,

"He tells his disciples, by his words and prophetic symbolism, that the original meaning of the paschal rite has now been transcended, inasmuch as he is the paschal Lamb fulfilling the OT prefigurement (1 Cor. 5:7). His words and action in taking the bread and the cup are parables which announce a new significance. The bread becomes under his sovereign word the parable of his body yielded up in the service of God’s redeeming purpose (cf. Heb. 10:5–10); and his blood outpoured in death, recalling the sacrificial rites of the OT, is represented in the cup of blessing on the table. That cup is invested henceforward with a fresh significance as the memorial of the new Exodus, accomplished at Jerusalem (Lk. 9:31)." 3

Since a new form is added for Jesus’ community and the Passover of Moses’ Torah was for all Israel then it logically follows new torah is being given. The ordinances represent a change connected to the New Covenant. Remember Jesus inaugurates the New Covenant with the word “this is the New Covenant in my Blood in Matthew 26:28. The law of logic called the identity states, “The law of identity: something is what it is and not anything else”.5 If key differences are added it is not the exact same covenant.

There are some good reasons to postulate a Torah of Messiah. The Rabbis acknowledged the possibility of changes in Torah, even an additional Torah. The New forms and instruction of Yeshua to his community indicate New “Torah”. What about His authority over Torah, and direct statements of new “Torah”, this awaits the next blog

 

 

1 Ronald L. Eisenberg, The JPS Guide to Jewish Traditions, 1st ed. (Philadelphia: The Jewish Publication Society, 2004), 511.

2Ibid.

3. Martin, R. P. “Lord’s Supper, The.” Edited by D. R. W. Wood, I. H. Marshall, A. R. Millard, J. I. Packer, and D. J. Wiseman. New Bible Dictionary. Leicester, England; Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 1996.698

4 Donald A. Hagner, “Balancing the Old and the New,” Interpretation 51, no. 1 (January 1997): 1, accessed July 21, 2016, http://search.proquest.com/docview/202697576?accountid=8624

5. Garrett J. DeWeese and James Porter Moreland, Philosophy Made Slightly Less Difficult: A Beginner's Guide to Life's Big Questions (Downers Grove, Ill.: InterVarsity Press, ©2005), 13.

 

 

Haggai, The Rest of the story

By way of reminder, the book of Haggai consists of four basic messages. Haggai’s ministry overlaps with the ministry of Zechariah and both of these two prophets preached contemporary with each other in Jerusalem. This second message is delivered approximately one month later in the 21st day of the seventh month.
The people noticed as they been working on the temple for a period of time that it is far less ornate and does not contain the glory of the original Solomonic temple, to make things worse there are at least five items missing from this Temple that were part of Solomon’s Temple.
1.    The ark of the covenant
2.    the Shekinah glory
3.    the Holy Spirit in reference to prophecy or Revelation
4.    the sacred fire
the absence of the Shekinah glory was extremely discouraging. One can only understand what this particular absence meant when one understands the unique role of the Shekinah glory and its definition. Here one can look at Jewish sources and find out what was basically understood by the Shekinah glory in general within Jewish thought. The following quotes should suffice to create a general understanding, ““Divine Presence, the “immanent” or “indwelling” aspect of God.”  “Shekhinah n. Hebrew (sheh-khee-NAH) Literally, “dwelling.” “The ancient talmudic name for God’s presence, which is commonly described as a light or radiance that illuminates the world.”  In order to better understand the importance of the presence of God manifested in the Shekinah it is important to remember that both the tabernacle and the temple were designed so that God could dwell among his people, His presence among them acted as a sign of His continuing covenant with them. The absence of this particular manifestation of God made this temple seem empty in comparison to the glory of the previous temple. It seemed as though God was not a part of this Temple.
God’s message to this group of returned Jewish exiles is to be strong and finish the work that he had given them. In fact he promises them that the temple which they are building will end up being more glorious and not less glorious than Solomon’s Temple. This begs the question, in what way more glorious? Dr. Michael Brown gives a concise answer to this particular dilemma,
“New Jewish Publication Society Version, Malachi 3:1–5 states: Behold, I am sending My messenger to clear the way before Me, and the Lord whom you seek shall come to His Temple suddenly. As for the angel of the covenant that you desire, he is already coming… According to the famous medieval Jewish commentaries of Radak (David Kimchi) and Metsudat David, “the Lord” refers to none other than “King Messiah.” However, neither of these commentators took sufficient note of the fact that the Messiah was to come to the Temple that stood in Malachi’s day (and note also that it is called “his Temple”—pointing clearly to the divine nature of the “Lord” spoken of here). I ask you, did this happen? If it did, then the Messiah must have come before the Temple was destroyed in 70 c.e.; if not, God’s Word has failed. After reviewing the prophecy, we just read from Haggai 2, we can now put two big pieces of the puzzle together: The glory of the Second Temple would be greater than the glory of the First Temple because the Lord himself—in the person of the Messiah —would visit the Second Temple! And in this place he would grant peace because the Messiah, called “the Prince of Peace,” would come there in person and open the way for peace and reconciliation between God and man.” 17
Now for those who measured worth in terms of results or outward glory the second temple would hardly seem more glorious than the first Temple, missing those five items and the manifest presence of God in the Shekinah. However, that second Temple would carry a weight of glory that the first Temple would never see!
This brings us back to our central truth the weight of value in our work is not measured by the outward things that are so often used in both spiritual and secular spheres. But now this truth can be understood under the backdrop of what the people and Haggai’s day were struggling with and the reasons they felt this great discouragement. And in this way, their admonition becomes an admonition to us. We are to faithfully continue the work that God is given us despite the appearance that sometimes the work of others has a greater glory.


1 Menachem Elon, Jewish Law: History, Sources, Principles = Ha-Mishpat Ha-Ivri, A Philip and Muriel Berman ed. (Philadelphia: Jewish Publication Society, 1994), 1572.

2 Joyce Eisenberg and Ellen Scolnic, Jewish Publication Society, The JPS Dictionary of Jewish Words (Philadelphia, PA: Jewish Publication Society, 2001), 150.

3 Michael L. Brown, Answering Jewish Objections to Jesus: General and Historical Objections., vol. 1 (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books, 2000), 77–78.

Stalking the Torah of Jesus, Part One

     I’ve been busily working on my dissertation for my Doctor of Ministry degree. One of the questions that I discovered needed answering is whether there was a Torah of Jesus or Yeshua. I thought a three-part examination of this particular question properly nuanced by some of the very caveats that I will be using in my dissertation would be worth sharing with you my faithful readers.
     It is important, I feel, to define what Torah is and is not, without being as lengthy as I will need to be in my dissertation. I will begin by dealing with what the Torah is not. Once the definition of Torah has been established we will begin to collect clues like in every good detective show that I enjoy watching. We will start by dusting for fingerprints. That is usually the first thing the detectives on the scene do. So we will ask whether there any fingerprints that demonstrate that there could be a Torah of Jesus.
     To quote an old song let’s begin at the beginning because it’s a very good place to start — What is Torah? To use one of my favorite quotes by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, “when you eliminate the impossible whatever remains no matter how improbable must be the truth”. We will define Torah first by eliminating what Torah is not. The church has made a tremendous mistake in defining Torah as merely a legal code. However, there are sound evangelical scholars that have woken up to this error “However, Torah is more than mere law. Even the word itself does not indicate static requirements which govern the whole of human existence.”  In fact Walter Kaiser is noting something very important that the very meaning of the word Torah in its original language and is not that of law. It clearly carries the idea of instruction or direction, “תּוֹרָה (tôrâ). Law, teaching. ASV always “law,” RSV sometimes “teaching,” “instruction” and “decisions.” The word is used some 221 times.” 
     Neither Jesus nor Paul regarded the Torah as merely the legal code that some in the evangelical community has painted it to be. Neither Jesus nor the disciples understood Torah as mere law code “In the 32 verses in the Gospels where νομος occurs, it refers to both the law and the Pentateuch. The use of the Greek νομος to translate the Hebrew word תוֹרה expands the use of the Greek word νομος to embrace those of the Hebrew word תוֹרה.”  The Gospel writers, being Jewish themselves’ understanding of Torah would have been in line with the understanding of Torah that existed in the Judaism of that time.  If the inspired writers of the Gospel didn’t use nomos to refer to Torah us mere legalistic evangelicals should also avoid this practice. The gospel of Luke chapter 24 verse 17 it is made clear that Jesus regards the Torah as being more than law code as it states, “And beginning at Moses and all the Prophets, He expounded to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning Himself.”   There is good reason to suspect that the phrase “beginning at Moses” is a clear reference to Torah.

     The apostle Paul even teaches that the Torah is not a law code.
Paul uses the term “Torah” to refer to more than just the legal code material in the five books of Moses. We see this in Galatians, an epistle where he is dealing with issues pertaining to the dangers of potential legalism. Paul states clearly in 4:21 that those who would be under the law need to listen to the law and then reiterates the story of Sarah and Hagar. But the story of Sarah and Hagar or Isaac and Ishmael is not a part of the Mosaic legal stipulations at all but rather narrative out of the book of Genesis. Paul calls this narrative out of Genesis by the term “Law”. The force of Paul’s argument is entirely lost if Paul is not speaking of the Torah, and yet he is not referring to the Mosaic legal code. 
     Now to examine for fingerprints, are there any fingerprints at the very beginning that we can see at the scene that indicate that there is a Torah of Jesus/Yeshua? It is important to note that a Torah of Jesus/Yeshua does not necessarily mean a complete discontinuity with the Torah of Moses, but could be viewed as an additional Torah which realizes the Torah of Moses. It is possible when this caveat is taken into account to examine the idea of a Torah of Yeshua/Jesus without antinomies.
       There is clear evidence to suggest just such a Torah of Messiah existed. Markus Bockmeuhl points out that although Jesus affirmed Torah, his halakha (practice) becomes the authoritative instruction for the community and so literally functions as an additional Torah. “In the end, Jesus’ teaching and interpretation of the Law is the highest authority and this alone is what the apostles are to teach the new, Gentile community of his disciples”. Graham Stanton points out Jesus is pictured by Matthew as the new Moses who gives law (Torah) to his people, “Matthew's Gospel was probably an even more direct influence on Justin, even though it too is not named in Justin's writings. Today’s evangelist intends to portray Jesus as the "new Moses" who gives the "new law" to his "new people.” Dr. Louis Goldberg says it best, “it can certainly be agreed that the New Covenant can be regarded as  “Torah,” provided there is no suggestion of legalism and no suggestion that the oral laws are to be followed. Both of these would undermine the major thrust of the New Covenant message.”  
Works cited
Bockmuehl, Markus. Jewish Law in Gentile Churches Halakhah and the Beginning of Christian Ethics. Grand Rapids: Baker Academic a Division of Baker Book House Company, 2000.
Goldberg, Louis.  God, Torah, Messiah: The Messianic Jewish Theology of Dr. Louis Goldberg, edited by Richard A. Robinson, under “The Relationship of Torah To The New Covenant.”  99-124. San Francisco, CA: Purple Pomegranate Productions, 2009.
Kaiser, Walter Jr. “The Law as God's Guidance for the Promotion of Holiness.” In Five Views On the Law and, 177-99. Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1999.
Liebenburg, W.A .The Rape of the Torah in the New Covenant. Pretoria South Africa: Hebraic Roots Teaching Institute, 2011.
Malin, Barri. “Can 'telos' in Romans 10:4 be correctly understood as 'consummation'?” PhD diss., Trinity Theological Seminary, 2004. Accessed July 26, 2016. proquest.
Stanton, Graham. "What is the Law of Christ?." Ex Auditu 17, no. 01 (2001): 3

Exodus 10:1-13:16 "Bo" and the story of our lives

 

     This blog focuses on the traditional reading from the five books of Moses called a “parashah” or portion of Scripture read in the Jewish synagogue. This portion is called "Bo" and is found in Exodus 10:1 -13:16. One of the great purposes of the book of Exodus is to demonstrate how Israel goes from being a set of tribes to a worshiping nation. This particular section goes through  the plagues God brings upon Egypt. Also within this narrative there is the interchange between God, and Pharaoh with Moses acting as God’s representative and Aaron acting as Moses’ mouthpiece. Then the LORD said to Moses, "Go to Pharaoh, for I have hardened his heart and the heart of his servants, that I may perform these signs of Mine among them,and that you may tell in the hearing of your son, and of your grandson, how I made a mockery of the Egyptians and how I performed My signs among them, that you may know that I am the LORD."  It is important to note that both God and Pharaoh participate in the hardening of Pharaoh's heart."When Pharaoh saw that the rain and hail and thunder had stopped, he sinned again: He and his officials hardened their hearts. 35 So Pharaoh’s heart was hard and he would not let the Israelites go, just as the Lord had said through Moses.(Exodus 9:34-35) Even more significant is the way God hardens Pharaoh's heart. God continues to command Pharaoh giving him more Revelation of himself. However, this revelation does not come in pleasant means but rather through adversity.

     Another example of this type of revelation thru adversity comes from the Celtic Christians of old, while they were not Jewish; they greatly impacted the world for missions and left us with a well-articulated insight. The following dialogue is recorded in a book based on the journals of Patrick of Ireland and is related to Patrick questioning his abduction to and slavery in Ireland as he was taken from his home by Irish raiders. Spoiler alert, Patrick of Ireland was a Celt but he was not Irish neither was he Catholic.

" “Because He loves me? Don’t make me laugh!” Patrick sneered, his blue eyes flashing.

“No, I’m serious,” Cedd persisted, standing up and joining Patrick. “I think that God often uses calamity to bring people to Him.” 

“Well, if that’s what He̓ is trying to do, He is using the wrong method. This whole thing has turned me against Him “Sometimes that happens,” Cedd responded, fingering his staff thoughtfully. “You see, calamity is like the heat of the sun. The sun’s warmth hardens moist clay, causing it to become brittle. In fact, it can turn wet clay into bricks. Yet, the very same heat softens a lump of wax. Similarly, when God permits calamity to befall mankind, some hearts will be hardened and others will be softened. The choice lies with the one experiencing the calamity. Patrick, you can choose to be hardened by what has befallen you, or you can choose to be softened by it. The decision is yours." 

The application? For those of us who are not the Pharaoh of Egypt, and not necessarily under discipline or judgment from God, It is easy and understandable that at times we feel disappointment with God. King David of old went through this very thing. Disappointment with what God allows is not a lack of faith but an opportunity to draw closer to him

 

Haggai 1

I will be spending the next four weeks doing a series on the prophet Haggai. I would like to take the opportunity to share some of that studying the insights with you through this blog as I  teach the study back here in Arizona. All too often what are referred to as “the minor prophets” are treated as truly minor. However, since they are part of the great sacred story and teach vital truth it behooves us to hear their voice.

This first blog will introduce the series. There are at least three vital questions that must be asked whenever Scriptures interpreted, who (who is the writer and who is the audience), when (when is this happening, what is the situation), what (what does God want to say into this particular situation, and what does God want to say in view of the sacred story and the situations application to us).

By way of context

the who of the author: “Then the prophet Haggai and Zechariah the son of Iddo, prophets, prophesied to the Jews who were in Judah and Jerusalem, in the name of the God of Israel, who was over them. So Zerubbabel the son of Shealtiel and Jeshua the son of Jozadak rose up and began to build the house of God which is in Jerusalem; and the prophets of God were with them, helping them.” (Ezra 5:1–2, NKJV)

Samuel J. Schultz and Gary V. Smith, Exploring the Old Testament (Wheaton, IL: Crossway Books, 2001), 201.

 

The who of the audience

1.       Jews who have returned from the exile in Babylon

2.       Zerubbabel the governor of the returned exiles (as a particular part of the audience especially addressed by God

3.       Joshua the high priest (as a particular part of the audience especially addressed by God

           

The When of the Situation:

About sixteen years later (520 b.c.), in the second year of the reign of Persia’s King Darius, God raised up Haggai and Zechariah to challenge the people to start work on the temple again[1]

opposition and frustration by local and Persian authorities interfered with the temple and discourage the people on top of this a famine occurred which limited the funds of the people to rebuild the Temple, instead of spending those funds on rebuilding the temple anyway the people spends the funds on improving their own house and living better.

It is into this situation of frustration, procrastination, and indifference that God is going to speak through the prophet Haggai to the people of Jerusalem in a series of four messages. Since this is an introductory blog we will not deal with great details at this point. But rather end this blog with the simple take home truth.

Take home Truth: we need to be prepared to listen to God’s message to us in times of frustration and not allow frustration, procrastination, and indifference to make us deaf to the message he has for us

[1] Samuel J. Schultz and Gary V. Smith, Exploring the Old Testament (Wheaton, IL: Crossway Books, 2001), 201.