Blood curse

God pronounced a blood curse on the royal family of Judah in Jeremiah 22:

Is this man Coniah a despised, broken pot,
a vessel no one cares for?
Why are he and his children hurled and cast
into a land that they do not know?
O land, land, land,
hear the word of the Lord!
Thus says the Lord:
“Write this man down as childless,
a man who shall not succeed in his days,
for none of his offspring shall succeed
in sitting on the throne of David
and ruling again in Judah.

This is the same Coniah (Jechoniah) that shows up in Matthew’s genealogy of Christ:

and Josiah the father of Jechoniah and his brothers, at the time of the deportation to Babylon…and Jacob the father of Joseph the husband of Mary, of whom Jesus was born, who is called Christ.

Of course, Joseph is only Jesus’ legal father, but still the inheritance comes down through the father and Joseph’s line has been cursed.  In step the daughters of Zelophehad.

The names of his daughters were: Mahlah, Noah, Hoglah, Milcah, and Tirzah. And they stood before Moses and before Eleazar the priest and before the chiefs and all the congregation, at the entrance of the tent of meeting, saying, “Our father died in the wilderness. He was not among the company of those who gathered themselves together against the Lord in the company of Korah, but died for his own sin. And he had no sons. Why should the name of our father be taken away from his clan because he had no son? Give to us a possession among our father’s brothers.”
Moses brought their case before the Lord. And the Lord said to Moses,”The daughters of Zelophehad are right. You shall give them possession of an inheritance among their father’s brothers and transfer the inheritance of their father to them. And you shall speak to the people of Israel, saying, ‘If a man dies and has no son, then you shall transfer his inheritance to his daughter.

and in Numbers 36:

And every daughter who possesses an inheritance in any tribe of the people of Israel shall be wife to one of the clan of the tribe of her father, so that every one of the people of Israel may possess the inheritance of his fathers.

Mary is an heiress to the line of David also, but through Nathan, Solomon’s brother, thus bypassing the blood curse and allowing Gabriel to say to Mary,

“Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus. He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. And the Lord God will give to him the throne of his father David, and he will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of his kingdom there will be no end.”

There will your heart be

Vapor of vapors, says the Preacher. Vapor of vapors! All is vapor. – Ecc 1:2

Sell your possessions, and give to the needy. Provide yourselves with moneybags that do not grow old, with a treasure in the heavens that does not fail, where no thief approaches and no moth destroys. For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also. – Luke 12:33-34

The things of this world are transitory, a vapor. Not to say matter is evil; God made it and called it good. But it’s not perfect. It is corruptible. To steal a dialog from George MacDonald:

“Why not lay up for ourselves treasures upon earth?”

“Because there the moth and rust and the thief come.”

“And so we should lose those treasures!”

“Yes; by the moth and the rust and the thief.”

“Does the Lord then mean that the reason for not laying up such treasures is their transitory and corruptible nature?”

“No. He adds a For: ‘For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.'”

“Of course the heart will be where the treasure is; but what has that to do with the argument?”

This: that what is with the treasure must fare as the treasure; that the heart which haunts the treasure-house where the moth and rust corrupt, will be exposed to the same ravages as the treasure, will itself be rusted and moth-eaten. Many a man, many a woman, fair and flourishing to see, is going about with a rusty moth-eaten heart within that form of strength or beauty.

Things revealed

The secret things belong to the LORD our God, but the things that are revealed belong to us and to our children forever, that we may do all the words of this law. – Deuteronomy 29:29

God has secret things, things he has chosen not to show or explain to us. These things belong to him. This is good news for us. If he told us, it would probably explode our heads.
So, the things he has revealed he has given to us and our children. And what he has given us is amazing. He has revealed himself to us in his son and him through the scripture. The scripture is ours radically and completely. He has given it to us and in so doing, has revealed himself (and thus given himself) to us and our children.
Why? So we may do all the words of this law. He has called us to obedience not because he wants us to follow a bunch of arbitrary rules, but in obedience he gives us himself. Obedience is absolutely fundamental not because it earns us anything, but because in laying down our lives he gives us his. It’s not about keeping the law, it’s about entering into life.

The incarnation of God

In Peter Leithart’s forthcoming book The Four: A Survey of the Gospels he quotes N.T. Wright’s summary of Jesus as the incarnation of Yahweh:

Let us suppose that this God were to become human. What would such a God look like? This is the really scary thing that many never come to grips with; not that Jesus might be identified with a remote, lofty, imaginary being (any fool could see the flaw in that idea), but that God, the real God, the one true God, might actually be like Jesus. And not a droopy, pre-Raphaelite Jesus, either, but a shrewd Palestinian Jewish villager, who drank wine with his friends, agonized over the plight of his people, taught in strange stories and pungent aphorisms, and was executed by the occupying forces.

(If anyone wants to buy this for me, maybe for Christmas, I wouldn’t mind.)

Balaam’s oracles

Balaam takes up seven discourses, four of them “against” Israel which points to Israel’s “fourness” – that is, that Israel is the land (four corners of the earth). There seem to be hints of a creation theme sprinkled throughout. The third oracle talks a bit about plants:

Like palm groves that stretch afar,
like gardens beside a river,
like aloes that the Lord has planted,
like cedar trees beside the waters.
Water shall flow from his buckets,
and his seed shall be in many waters;

Day three – separating land from water and bringing up plants yeilding seed

In the forth oracle, Balaam says,

I see him, but not now;
I behold him, but not near:
a star shall come out of Jacob,
and a scepter shall rise out of Israel;

Day four – stars, sun, and moon

The war between the seed of the woman and the seed of the serpent is also restated in the forth oracle:

a star shall come out of Jacob,
and a scepter shall rise out of Israel;
it shall crush the forehead of Moab
and break down all the sons of Sheth.

Pushing even farther, Moab means “from father” – Moab is the seed of the serpent

Fruitless trees

Jesus rode into Jerusalem as the King

And many spread their cloaks on the road, and others spread leafy branches that they had cut from the fields. And those who went before and those who followed were shouting, “Hosanna! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord! Blessed is the coming kingdom of our father David! Hosanna in the highest!” (Mark 11:8-10)

On the following day, when they came from Bethany, he was hungry. And seeing in the distance a fig tree in leaf, he went to see if he could find anything on it. When he came to it, he found nothing but leaves, for it was not the season for figs. And he said to it, “May no one ever eat fruit from you again.” And his disciples heard it. (12-14)

There is a link between the leafy branches that the people cut and spread and the leafy branches of the fig tree. The people look like healthy trees, full of leaves, and from a distance seeming to carry much fruit with their crying out of praise to the King. But, as with the fig tree, the people are nothing but leaves. They put on a great show of religion, but have no faith. So, they were cursed. Within a week the crowd rejected the very Messiah they had blessed.

He ties it together the next day.

As they passed by in the morning, they saw the fig tree withered away to its roots. And Peter remembered and said to him, “Rabbi, look! The fig tree that you cursed has withered.” And Jesus answered them, “Have faith in God. Truly, I say to you, whoever says to this mountain, ‘Be taken up and thrown into the sea,’ and does not doubt in his heart, but believes that what he says will come to pass, it will be done for him. (20-23)

The fig tree is “this mountain”, the mountain on which Jerusalem stood, which He told his disciples to pray would “be taken up and thrown into the sea”.

“O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the city that kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to it! How often would I have gathered your children together as a hen gathers her brood under her wings, and you would not! See, your house is left to you desolate.” (Mat 23:37)

Because Jerusalem “would not”, what they had trusted in – the oracles, commandments, temple, heritage – would be taken away. Because they were a fruitless show of leaves,

Therefore I tell you, the kingdom of God will be taken away from you and given to a people producing its fruits. (Mat 21:43)

Eucharist

From David Chilton’s Days of Vengeance:

The Eucharist is at the center of our life, and all of life
flows out of this central liturgy. The “shape” of the
Eucharistic liturgy, therefore, gives shape to the rest of
life, the daily liturgy we follow as we pursue our calling
to exercise dominion over the earth. The “rite of life” is
patterned after the central ritual of communion, which
is itself patterned after the liturgy of creation set forth
in Genesis 1: God took hold of the creation, separated
it, distributed it, evaluated the work, and enjoyed it in
sabbath rest. And this is the pattern of Holy
Communion, as James B. Jordan observes: “When we
perform this rite on the Lord’s Day, we are becoming
readjusted, rehabituated, retrained in the right way to
use the world. For Jesus Christ, on the night of His
betrayal, (1) took bread and wine, (2) gave thanks, (3)
broke the bread, (4) distributed the bread and wine,
naming it His body and blood; then the disciples (5)
tasted and evaluated it, eleven approving of it, and one
rejecting it; and finally (6) the faithful rested and
enjoyed it.
“It is because the act of thanksgiving is the central
difference between the Christian and the non-
Christian that the liturgy of the Christian churches is
called ‘Holy Eucharist.’ Eucharist means Thanksgiving.
It is the restoration of true worship (thanksgiving) that
restores the work of man (the six-fold action in all of
life). This explains why the restoration of true worship
takes primacy over cultural endeavors.”

The will of God

From David Chilton’s Days of Vengeance, regarding Revelation 17:17:

The sovereign Lord is thus not at the mercy of the
Beast and his minions; rather, all these events have
been predestined for God’s glory, through the execution
of His decrees. For God has put it into their hearts to
execute His purpose by having a common purpose,
and by giving their kingdom to the Beast.
Obviously,
it is a sin for these kings to give their kingdoms to the
Beast, for the purpose of making war against the Lamb.
And yet it is God who put it into their hearts! Some
will complain, of course, that this makes God “the
Author of sin.” The obvious answer to such an
objection is that the text says that God placed the evil
purpose into their hearts; at the same time, we are
assured that “the LORD is righteous in all His ways.” If
we believe the Bible, we must believe both Revelation
17:17 and Psalm 145:17. We must hold firmly to two
(seemingly contradictory) points: First, God is not
responsible for sin; Second, nothing happens in spite of
Him, or in opposition to His purpose.
(These seem contradictory to us because we are creatures.
Problems such as the relationship of God’s sovereignty
and human responsibility, or of God’s sovereignty and
God’s righteousness, or of unity and diversity within
the Trinity, cannot be “solved” by us because we are
not capable of comprehending God. Cornelius Van Til
writes: “Human knowledge can never be completely
comprehensive knowledge. Every knowledge transaction
has in it somewhere a reference point to God. Now
since God is not fully comprehensible to us we are
bound to come into what seems to be contradiction in
all our knowledge. Our knowledge is analogical and
therefore must be paradoxical”)
Thus, to those who fight against the Word of God,
the Biblical response is blunt: “On the contrary, who
are you, O man, who answers back to God? The thing
molded will not say to the molder, ‘Why did you make
me like this,’ will it? Or does not the potter have a right
over the clay, to make from the same lump one vessel for
honor, and another vessel for dishonor?” (Rom. 9:20-21).
St. Augustine observed: “It is, therefore, in the power of
the wicked to sin; but that in sinning they do this or
that is not in their power, but in God’s, who divides the
darkness and regulates it; so that hence even what they
do contrary to God’s will is not fulfilled except it be God’s
will.”

Boasting

A mighty boast got me thinking:

“I deal with the White House. I deal with Tony Blair. I deal with presidents around the world. I pastor a multimillion-dollar congregation.”

 – Eddie Long, pastor of New Birth Missionary Baptist Church in Lithonia, GA

Shall the axe boast over him who hews with it, or the saw magnify itself against him who wields it? (Isa 10:15)

God uses Satan to carry out His will (Job 1,2; 2 Sam 24:1, 1 Chr 21:1)
He used Joseph’s jealous brothers (Gen 50:20)
He used Pharaoh (Ex 9:16)
He used the Pharisees (Mat 26:5, 17, 47; John 11:50-52)
He used Judas (John 13:27)
He used Pilate (John 19:10,11)

Every good work that men do has been laid out ahead of time (literally) –

For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.

Since even boasting about being used by God is out of the question, in what shall we boast?

Let the one who boasts, boast in the Lord.

The death of death

From Athanasius’ On the Incarnation:
 
“All the disciples of Christ despise death; they take the
offensive against it and, instead of fearing it, by the sign
of the cross and by faith in Christ trample on it as on
something dead. Before the divine sojourn of the
Saviour even the holiest of men were afraid of death,
and mourned the dead as those who perish. But now
that the Saviour has raised His body, death is no longer
terrible, but all those who believe in Christ tread it
underfoot as nothing, and prefer to die rather than to
deny their faith in Christ, knowing full well that when
they die they do not perish, but live indeed, and
become incorruptible through the resurrection. But
that devil who of old wickedly exulted in death, now
that the pains of death are loosed, he alone it is who
remains truly dead. There is proof of this too; for men
who, before they believe in Christ, think death horrible
and are afraid of it, once they are converted despise it
so completely that they go eagerly to meet it, and
themselves become witnesses of the Saviour’s
resurrection from it. Even children hasten thus to die,
and not men only, but women train themselves by
bodily discipline to meet it. So weak has death become
that even women, who used to be taken in by it, mock
it now as a dead thing robbed of all its strength. Death
has become like a tyrant who has been completely
conquered by the legitimate monarch; bound hand and
foot as he now is, the passers-by jeer at him, hitting him
and abusing him, no longer afraid of his cruelty and
rage, because of the king who has conquered him. So
has death been conquered and branded for what it is by
the Saviour on the cross. It is bound hand and foot, all
who are in Christ trample it as they pass and as
witnesses to Him deride it, scoffing and saying, ‘O
Death, where is thy victory? O Grave, where is thy
sting?’”