Jesus the Prophet

April 3, 2011

I’ve posted this on a couple other blogs I write on, but I wanted to put it up here for your consideration and because the content fits so well within the scope of this blog.  So, here it is…

In Deuteronomy 18:18-19 the Lord said something amazing to Moses: “I will raise up a prophet like you from them, from their fellow Israelites.  I will put my words in his mouth and he will speak to them whatever I command.  I will personally hold responsible anyone who then pays no attention to the words that prophet speaks in my name.”  What grounds for expectation, right?  What if you missed his coming?  What if you fail to pay attention to what he speaks?  I mean who wouldn’t be looking for this person?

It is no surprise then that one of the first questions the Jews put to John the Baptist is “Are you the Prophet?” (John 1:21).  Thousands of years after Moses and this prophecy is still in the front of their minds.

Not long after this Philip tells Nathanael, “We have found the one Moses wrote about in the law, and the prophets also wrote about” (John 1:45).  Though Nathanael is incredulous over Jesus’ origin, he goes to see him nonetheless.  Upon meeting Jesus, “the one Moses wrote about”, we find Jesus speaking prophetically about Nathanael and what the disciples will experience and see in the future (John 1:47, 50-51).  And it is not the last of his prophecies in John either (John 4:44; 13:21).

In John Jesus is clearly displayed as the one who makes the Father know, who speaks by the Father’s authority what the Father has told him (John 12:49-50) and who is himself the Truth (John 14:6)

Jesus is the Prophet who not only speaks but also fully embodies God’s truth and makes the Father fully known.  This is Good News, because it tells me that we can stop looking for truth apart from him.  He is our teacher.  He is the one who tells us what is true and what is not.  He shows us the Father, sanctifies us by his truth (John 17:17) and has sent us the Spirit to lead us in to all Truth (John 16:13).  No longer must we search asking “What is truth?” (John 18:38). Now is the time to know him and to believe the truth he shows us and to worship him in spirit and in truth (John 4:24).


The Transfiguration

February 1, 2011

Sufjan Stevens serenaded me as I was doing the dishes this evening.  His take on the Transfiguration in the synonymously named song got me to thinking.  Some years ago I got to making parallels between the transfiguration and the book of Exodus.  Moses attends both events.  Both take place on a mountain.  A departure/exodus is imminently related to both.  And both mountains become shrouded in cloud.  Tonight though, two more things struck me.

Near the end of the scene God shows up and has his say, “This is my Son, my Chosen One.  Listen to him!” (Luke 9:35)  Two things came out of this for me tonight:

  1. Another notable time someone was told to listen to someone was in Deuteronomy 18:15 when Moses had this to say: “The Lord your God will raise up for you a prophet like me from among your brothers–from your fellow Israelites; you must listen to him.”  And of course, God confirms this by saying, “I will raise up a prophet like you for them from among their fellow Israelites. I will put my words in his mouth and he will speak to them whatever I command.  I will personally hold responsible anyone who then pays no attention to the words that prophet speaks in my name.” (Dt 18:18-19).
  2. Secondly, it struck me that, when Moses ascends the mountain he returns with the words of God written on stone tablet.  When Jesus ascends the mountain he returns utterly confirmed as the one through whom God would express his words.

What do you guys think of this?

A Short Study of Joel

June 3, 2009

Just wanted to post some notes from recent messages I’ve been studying for and teaching over here.  Most of what follows came from a question based, one night look at the book of Joel, but some of it also come from my notes and is a bit more eclectic in its focus.  All in all, not much more than study notes in this one I’m afraid, but still here she is.

What is the structure?

  1. 1:1-3 Intro
  2. 1:4-14 Destruction described and a call to lament
  3. 1:15-2:11 Day of YHWH
  4. 2:12-17 Call to repent
  5. 2:18-3:21 YHWH’s response in three movements:

Coming to restore the land
Coming to dwell with His people
Coming to judge the nations

Why the devastation of the land? (1:4-20)

On top of the devastating effects of sin on those of us who perpetrate it, the land also always feels the effects of sin.  It always has (Gen. 3:17-19) and it always will–at least, as long as man continues to pollute it with sin.  More specifically though, the coming of the locusts and the destruction they bring should harken us back to the covenant curses detailed in Deuteronomy 28:38-42.

You will take much seed to the field but gather little harvest, because locusts will consume it.  You will plant vineyards and cultivate them, but you will not drink wine or gather in grapes, because worms will eat them.  You will have olive trees throughout your territory but you will not anoint yourself with olive oil, because the olives will drop off the trees while still unripe. You will bear sons and daughters but not keep them, because they will be taken into captivity.  Whirring locusts will take over every tree and all the produce of your soil.

What’s more, Joel’s ambiguous language in chapter 1:15-2:11 (Who is this army?  Locusts or people?) actually moves us in to the next phase of covenant curses: military seige (Dt. 28:47-57).

What of the peculiar language of 2:1-3?

As the language makes clear, this is the “day of YHWH”, but not the special language cues: trumpet, holy mountain, shaking, fear, darkness, storm clouds, blackness and fire.  Now, think of the first time this same language is employed in a group (at least as far as I can tell)–Exodus 19:16-19.  Israel is invited to come up on the mountain, shrouded in cloud and wreathed in flame, when the trumpet sounds.  Instead they disobey and remain at the foot of the mountain shaking in fear as Moses goes up to meet with the Lord.  I may be preaching to the choir on this one, but I love this connection: the scene distinctly communicates the coming of YHWH to his earth.

What about God’s response to the repentance of his people?

Compare Deuteronomy 30:1-10 with the repentance (2:12-17) and response (2:18-3:21) sections of Joel:

  • “Return” – Dt. 30:2; Jl 2:12
  • “Pity” – Dt. 30:3; Jl 2:17
  • Return of exiles – Dt 30:3-5; Jl 3:1
  • Making up for loss – Dt. 30:5, 9; Jl 2:25
  • Israel’s curses transferred to enemies – Dt. 30:7; Jl 2:32-3:16

It seems pretty clear that the two bookend facets of the response sections of Joel (restoring the land and judging the nations) are pretty clearly paralleled by the restoration section of Dt. 30.  The one piece from Deuteronomy that does not appear to be explicitly recapitulated in Joel though comes in Dt. 30:6–

The Lord your God will also cleanse your heart and the hearts of your descendants so that you may love him with all your mind and being and so that you may live.

The only parallel I see in Joel to this passage in Deuteronomy is the central piece of YHWH’s response to His people where Joel details the coming of the Spirit.  Finally, after so many years (Num. 11:29), the Spirit will finally bring the presence of YHWH back to the people of God as he indwells them at the coming of the end and restoration of all things! (for more, follow this link, to Peter’s take on Joel)