Sunday Thoughts – 1/31

I am having some murderous thoughts this morning. The ground is covered in snow and ice – it was 7 when I work up this morning. I am thinking, murderously, that if that groundhog sees his shadow, I will be bbqing a rodent of unusual size.

We have a good devotional this morning, reading in our NLT Mosaic. One passage stood out –

Listen to me, all you in distant lands! Pay attention, you who are far away! The LORD called me before my birth; from within the womb he called me by name.

He made my words of judgment as sharp as a sword. He has hidden me in the shadow of his hand. I am like a sharp arrow in his quiver.

He said to me, “You are my servant, Israel, and you will bring me glory.”

I replied, “But my work seems so useless! I have spent my strength for nothing and to no purpose. Yet I leave it all in the LORD’s hand; I will trust God for my reward.”

And now the LORD speaks– the one who formed me in my mother’s womb to be his servant, who commissioned me to bring Israel back to him. The LORD has honored me, and my God has given me strength.

He says, “You will do more than restore the people of Israel to me. I will make you a light to the Gentiles, and you will bring my salvation to the ends of the earth.”

The LORD, the Redeemer and Holy One of Israel, says to the one who is despised and rejected by the nations, to the one who is the servant of rulers: “Kings will stand at attention when you pass by. Princes will also bow low because of the LORD, the faithful one, the Holy One of Israel, who has chosen you.”

This is what the LORD says: “At just the right time, I will respond to you. On the day of salvation I will help you. I will protect you and give you to the people as my covenant with them. Through you I will reestablish the land of Israel and assign it to its own people again.

I will say to the prisoners, ‘Come out in freedom,’ and to those in darkness, ‘Come into the light.’ They will be my sheep, grazing in green pastures and on hills that were previously bare.

They will neither hunger nor thirst. The searing sun will not reach them anymore. For the LORD in his mercy will lead them; he will lead them beside cool waters.

And I will make my mountains into level paths for them. The highways will be raised above the valleys.

See, my people will return from far away, from lands to the north and west, and from as far south as Egypt. ”
(Isa 49:1-12 NLT)

This passage enabled me to launch into an incarnational view of Scripture in discussion with my family. As a point, Isaiah is not speaking/writing about Christ, but  in completion it became about Christ.

Recently, while reading a few things (here and here), I’ve been hit with the notion that over-interpreting the Old Testament in light of Christ is not a good thing, and indeed, could be something detrimental to understanding the progressive revelation found in Scripture (Hebrews 1.1-3). If we completely see the Old Testament in light of the New, it is possible to miss the situation on the ground, so to speak. In the passage above, God is talking about Isaiah and Israel in a time in which Israel was facing the wrath of God, exile, and had to meet such things only with the Hope that it was something God was directing. It carries in it a subtle messianism, yet, but was not seen completely as such until the time of Christ. Then the Old Testament was incarnated into Christ, the Living Word. If we over emphasize in our interpretation the New in the Old, we will have apply to Scripture that which is not there.

I have a few things planned for this week, and have already started to set up the posts. I am currently reading a book, which I will start posting on tomorrow.

I hope all is well with each of you!

For our Sunday song…one of my favorite from George Jones:

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44 Replies to “Sunday Thoughts – 1/31”

  1. Agreed. Viewing prophecy as primarily about prediction can not only lead to misunderstanding, but can also be dangerous. It sets up these texts as “proofs,” and when a person learns that these are not “proofs” that can be harmful to their faith. As I’ve said on my blog before, I think this is thinking backwards. It’s not that we should be looking at these texts as foretelling Jesus, but we should be asking what was it about Jesus that made his followers see him everywhere in the Old Testament. Their experience of Christ must have been something very powerful indeed.

          1. What development? And why does it feel like we’ve had this discussion before? Um….

            I don’t see it that the Church replaced Israel, but that Israel opened her borders to us pesky Gentiles. Of course, my ecclesiology is based on Ephesians.

          2. Of course, not everything is a development. But, let me ask it this way:

            I think you have said that you affirm the idea of development elsewhere. When does this development begin?

          3. Development is contained only in Scripture, in my humble opinion. By completionism, I mean the completion of the eschatological Israel.

          4. And, did you draw upon scripture for that principle, i.e. that “development is contained only in scripture”? Or, did you drawn upon a later development?

  2. Joel,
    I don’t think Hebrews 1 means what you are taking it to mean.

    When I speak of development I am particularly using Newman’s sense of the term (not addition as Joel is stating). It is the idea that in the scriptures you have doctrines that are in the form of an “acorn” so to speak which only later develop into a “tree” (and continue to grow). And, in some ways, that tree may not much look like the acorn it started from.
    Another way of saying it might be that scripture sets trajectories. So, everything is not yet in any kind of final form. Those trajectories are still taking shape down into this very day.
    With this concept of development there is both a conservative aspect and an aspect of openness to future change. A blog comment is too short a space really to deal with this, but if you want to know more, I would recommend Newman’s On the Development of Christian Doctrine. And, in case you haven’t figured out, I’m Catholic BTW.

    1. I dunno, Jeremy, but I am open to being shown.

      Also, there is that ‘the faith once for all delivered bit.’

      That’s my issue with development. For me, what the Apostles, and their eyewitnesses, knew, it is enough for me.

      However, I don’t understand why if people allow for development, on any level, they don’t allow it to continue.

      Newman is an excellent read, btw.

      1. I dunno either Joel. You’ve dealt with it before on your blog. The canon provides again the best example here. The apostles didn’t tell us what books belong in the Bible.

        Here is what the concept of development does I think. Yes, there is the idea of a canon within scripture itself (i.e. think “the law and the prophets”), but it takes centuries (after the death and resurrection of Christ) for the decisions concerning what belongs in there to develop. Acorn=idea of canon; tree=fully formed canon.

        1. Or, the tree is there, and they didn’t see it for a while. 🙂

          But, yes, Canon is something that I’ve struggled with, however, I will say that by the time the Petrine epistles were written, Paul’s writings were being added to the Scriptures.

          1. But Joel, I know for a fact you’ve read Eusebius and realize it wasn’t like that for every book … Hebrews, James, Revelation (in the Eastern Church)

          2. Yes, I know. Even for the Protestants, although many forget, the ‘c’atholic epistles were almost thrown out.

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