Monday, April 27, 2009

Ten for Tuesday: The Book of Job

1. The key text of the book of Job is…Naked I came from my mother’s womb, and naked I will leave this life. The Lord gives, and the Lord takes away. Praise the name of the Lord…Job 1:21

2. The word “suffering” could be termed to describe the events of Job. Despite God’s goodness and power we have suffering in our lives.

3. My Bible gives me a one sentence summary for Job….After the upright Job suddenly lost family, health, and possessions, he and his friends dialogued at length about the reasons for his sufferings, but God alone had the final word and ultimately restored what Job had lost.

4. The book shows that God permits an adversary, Satan, to challenge His sovereign righteousness, but that God’s glory is served in the end.

5. Jesus is foreshadowed as Job looks forward to the coming Redeemer…But I know my living Redeemer, and He will stand on the dust at last…Job 19:25 Within the book of Job he cries out for a mediator to stand between him and God. Christ is that answer as stated in 1 Timothy 2:5…For there is one God and one mediator between God and man, a man, Christ Jesus, who gave Himself – a ransom for all, a testimony at the proper time.

6. This is not enough information given in the Scripture to date the book of Job. There is enough evidence to point towards the time period of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. Job has already lived a long life as the story opens, his wealth is measured in livestock, and Job was the personal priest for his family. Also Job and his friends refer to the Creator as “God” (Elohim) or “the Almighty” (Shaddai). The Israelite covenant name, the Lord (Yahweh), which would suggest the time of the Exodus is not used.

7. The book of Job belongs to the literary type referred to as “speculative wisdom,” which explains the great question of the human experience. Other cultures have explored questions of human existence….the Mesopotamian text “I Will Praise the Lord of Wisdom”, and the Egyptian text “Admonitions of Ipuwer”.

8. The original author is not stated and the purpose for it being written is not divulged either. However, scholars believe the events occurred many, many years prior to the text being written.

9. The New Testament makes reference to Job’s perseverance or endurance. James 5:11 states….See, we count as blessed those who have endured. You have heard of Job’s endurance and have seen the outcome from the Lord: the Lord is very compassionate and merciful.

10. Job is known for its long dialogues and monologues. They indicate the futility of supposing that humans can understand the purposes of God apart from devine revelation.

Monday, April 20, 2009

From the Inside Out

This is a special selection for Monday Music. This is the Youth Praise band from my church. My daughter is the one singing. Please, no cute comments about the person behind the camera and how wobbly some parts are....:)

Friday, April 17, 2009

Find Your Wings

Wow, it's already Friday, and I never posted my Monday Music. It's been a busy week with giving Ceasar his due...taxes and other time consuming projects.

A friend of mine is organizing her son's graduation ceremony since he is homeschooled. One of the things the ceremony will include is a video presentation of images through her son's journey from birth to age 18. The music she is using is Find Your Wings by Mark Harris.

It is a beautiful song:

Friday, April 10, 2009

Simon of Cyrene

Matthew 27:32 states….As they were going out, they met a man from Cyrene, named Simon, and they forced him to carry the cross while Mark 15:21 tells us…A certain man from Cyrene, Simon, the father of Alexander and Rufus, was passing by on his way in from the country, and they forced him to carry the cross.

Simon is forced to carry Jesus’ cross at the point just after Jesus has been beaten and flogged by the Roman guards. Simon helps to carry the cross as Jesus is on his way to be crucified.
So, just who is Simon? Reading the Scripture we discover he’s a man, he’s from Cyrene, he was force to carry the cross, he had two sons named Alexander and Rufus, and he just happened to be passing by on his way back to Jerusalem from the country.

Cyrene could make reference to to Cyrene, Libya in northern Africa. Does this mean Simon was a black man? It’s been debated for hundreds of years. One fact that does remain certain is Cyrene was also the name of a section of Jerusalem. A section where thousands of Palestinian Jews had settled during the reign of Ptolemy Soter (323-285 BC).

Some support the argument that Simon was black by arguing that the Roman guards had a dilemma on their hands. They could not carry the cross. That certainly makes sense, doesn’t it? The whole point was to have the person being crucified carry the cross.

Some even argue that the Romans wouldn’t have asked a Jew to carry the cross because it was Passover and simply by carrying the cross he would be defiled and would be unable to participate in Passover. You might ask why the Romans would even care, but they had orders not to interfere with the religious practices of the Jews. If this holds true then Simon could have been a black man….a non-Jew.

The mention of Simon’s sons, Rufus and Alexander, have also caused debate. Many ancient sources claim the two became missionaries. Some even went so far as to include the name Mark to imply Rufus was mentioned by Paul in Romans 16:13…Greet Rufus, chosen in the Lord, and his mother, who has been a mother to me, too. Simon has also been linked to the “men of Cyrene” mentioned in Acts 11:20…Some of them, however, men from Cyprus and Cyrene, went to Antioch and began to speak to Greeks also, telling them the good news about the Lord Jesus.

While it can be entertaining to argue the point regarding Simon of Cyrene’s ethnicity… does it really matter?

I find the back and forth interesting, but it doesn’t matter either way to me. I prefer to look upon the fact that someone picked up Jesus’ cross and carried it for him to remind me that today I should be about my Father’s business….it’s up to me in 2009 to continue to spread the word and become more Christ-like.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Ten for Tuesday: The Book of Esther

1. This book appears in the Hebrew Bible as well as the New Testament. It provides the backstory regarding the Jewish holiday of Purim, and the name is derived from the main character of the story.

2. The events discussed in Esther occurred during the third year of the reign of Artaxerxes, king of Persia. This was during the time Jewish people were living in exile in Persia. My very own Bible states the story portrays God’s providential care of people committed to Him in the midst of overwhelming challenges to their faith.

3. God is never mentioned by name or referred to, however the book has several instances that provide evidence of belief in the active involvement of God.

4. Only canonical text not found among the Dead Sea Scrolls.

5. Most scholars agree that the author of Esther is unknown, but Jewish tradition holds that the book was written by Mordecai, her uncle. Esther had never lived in the promised land. She was from a wealthy and powerful family even in exile.

6. The story recounts how the hatred of one man for the Jews nearly resulted in the eradication of the Jewish people in the entire Persian Empire.

7. The basic plot involves Esther, a Jewish girl, and her uncle Mordecai. Esther becomes the new wife and queen of Artaxerxes, but doesn’t tell the king she is Jewish. My Bible states Esther’s risky work in preserving the Jewish people reflects the worldview category of ethics and morality.

8. Most discussions concerning the book of Esther state the villainy of Haman demonstrates human depravity at its worst; the integrity of Mordecai shows the enormous good that one person can do. Esther’s story (like Joseph’s in Genesis) demonstrates that when God’s people face difficult circumstances, they are to act courageously and risk themselves for a righteous cause rather than give in to “fate” or “being unlucky.”

9. The key verse of the book…Who knows, perhaps you have come to the kingdom for such a time as this….Esther 4:14.

10. The first ones to hear the story of Esther were Jews in Persia, sometimes after the feast of Purim had become an established custom. By this time, the post-exillic people of Israel had adopted the name “Jew” for the term Jew(s) occurs more in the book of Esther than in the rest of the Old Testament combined.

The image with this post is the painting Esther by John Everett Millais in 1865. Millais painted Esther as she prepares to enter the presence of her husband uninvited. Notice the yellow gown Esther has on. Millais borrowed the yellow gown from General Gordon. He had received the gown from the Chinese emperor after his defeat of the Taiping Rebellion. Millais turned the gown inside out so that the fact the gown was obviously Chinese could be hidden….notice the culturally unspecific abstract patterns. One of General Gordon’s military exploits is detailed in the movie The Four Feathers.

Sunday, April 5, 2009

How Beautiful

We had the Lord’s Supper tonight at church and this song was performed by a couple of my friends and our choir director. So appropriate…..

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Wordless: Verse 56

These two images are titled Eve and Apple, with Counterpart. They were created by Giuseppe Arcimboldo in 1578.

I find the paintings be interesting but disturbing at the same time. These are very different than the usual religious artwork you see dating back to the late 1500s. Arcimboldo used objects such as fruits, vegetables, flowers, fish, and books to form portrait heads.

Are these the works of whimsy or the products of a deranged mind? ….Art critics have debated this for years. I’d say Arimboldo was definitely a man before his time….He was a Surrealist before the school was birthed by the likes of Salvador Dali.

You can see more of his work here.

You can discover other bloggers participating in Wordless Wednesday here.
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