Thursday, December 18, 2008

Are You Plugged-In? John 15:1-6

One of my fellow elders, Kevin, has been teaching through Jesus' upper room discourse (John 14-16) over the last few months for our Wednesday night service (and it has been superb by the way). He has been in John 15 now for over a month. As he was teaching through the first few verses of John 15 the Lord impressed upon my mind a helpful way of looking at John 15.

First of all, if you have read John 15 you know that it is an image-laden passage. Jesus was communicating to his disciples their ultra-need of remaining/abiding in him. In essence, Jesus was teaching his disciples that he is the very source of their life. He communicated this rich truth by using imagery from the agricultural world. After all, he likens himself to a "vine," the disciples to "branches" and the Father to a "vine dresser." Jesus' principle point is that the disciples are quite a lot like branches in that they need the life-giving sap from the vine (Jesus) to help them produce fruit (produce love).

Because we in America do not have a massive amount of experience working in vineyards, we can often times be confused about what Jesus is talking about. In so doing we can miss his most principle point.

As I was sitting there listening to Kevin teach I began to think of a better, more accessible illustration than a vine and branches (Not that Jesus blew it by giving a horrid illustration, but rather because we do not live in the same context as the disciples). After the study I drove home, sat down with my Bible opened to John 15 and began to rework it with different imagery--imagery that connects with the everyday lives of Americans.

Anyway, here is my reworking of John 15:1-6 with up-to-date, Americanized imagery (by the way, this is adapted from the NIV):

"1 I am the true generator and the Father is the electrician. 2 He unplugs and throws away every extension cord which does not channel electricity, while every extension cord that does channel electricity he cuts, splices the wires, and then tapes back up so that it might channel electricity more efficiently in order that it might light more light bulbs (bear fruit). 3 You are already clean because of the word I preached to you. 4. Remain plugged into me and my energy or life will remain in you. No extension cord can generate electricity on its own, it must remain plugged in to the generator. Neither can you bear fruit (light light bulbs) unless you remain plugged in to me. 5 I am the generator you are the extension cords. If a man remains in me and I remain in him, he will light many light bulbs; apart from me you can do nothing. 6 If anyone does not remain plugged in to me, he like an extension cord which is thrown away and looses its electricity-channeling capabilities; such extension cords are picked up and thrown away and taken to the dump and melted in the incinerator."
How useful is an unplugged extension cord when it comes to channeling energy? Extension cords cannot generate electricity on their own. They are dependent upon a generator for the electricity. In fact, just like us, extension cords exist simply for the sake of channeling--channeling life which flows from another source. In the same way, how useful is a believer in bearing fruit to the glory of God if he is not plugged into Christ. The point is that Christ is the source of our life. We are useless if we are not plugged into him--"apart from him we can do nothing."

For those of you who are serious students of Scripture, you may not like the changing of the imagery because it cannot account for the serious historical significance of Jesus calling himself the "true vine" or his people "the branches." In other words, no... this changed imagery is not perfect. After all, one cannot truly understand John 15 without at least a cursory understanding of Isaiah 5. I suggest you to stick with Jesus' imagery and only provide this for you in order to deepen your understanding of his principle point. The imagery is helpful in establishing the main point of Jesus discourse: namely, that the disciples cannot do anything which brings glory to God (John 15:8) if they are not getting their life from Christ, remaining plugged into him. This change of imagery also helps communicate the worthlessness (at least when it comes to bearing fruit to the glory of God) of those who are not actively seeking life in him--everyone knows how useless an extension cord is when it comes to lighting light bulbs if it is not plugged in to a power source.

Now go and read John 15 in your own Bible and see if the changed imagery sheds some light on Jesus' words. Also, notice that the fruit that Jesus wants his disciples to bear is love (see John 15:11-17). In other words, you cannot fulfill the Greatest Commandment if you are not plugged into Christ. Christ is the life-giving sap which flows through you--he is the life-giving energy which flows through you, enabling you to love others as he has loved you.

Monday, December 1, 2008

An Unthinkable Confession

I hate to say it... I can't believe I am going to splatter this confession on the all-access, all-the-time internet! My moral life and value has hit an all-time low. That's right, I payed $1.19 for a double cheeseburger at McDonald's this afternoon without even at least attempting to question the change in the menu. What have I become? What sort of a low-life victim have I become? As I saw the extra 19¢ leave my hand I tried to make myself spell out the world-wide consequences of raising the price of the burger. It reminded me of a middle schooler getting up the nerve to ask one of the school's cheerleaders out on a date--he walks around and around and around her locker, but can only belch forth air when he makes his stellar approach. It is not even as if the cashier beat me up and took the 19¢. Nope, I just gave it over like a goober.

I want to make an official apology to all of those college students out there that will go broke and hungry because of my lack of nerve.

I hate to say it, but the double cheeseburger, although making a much larger dent in my pocket (19¢ a pop to be exact), is still as greasy, cheesy, and scrumptous as ever.

Before I start sounding optimistic, however, I want to direct your attention to this slippery article put out by McDonald's regarding the change in the Dollar Menu. Click here to read it.

And I quote:

"When you visit us in December, also look for our latest addition to the Dollar Menu – the new McDouble® Burger. It’s pretty much the same as the Double Cheeseburger, just with one less slice of cheese."
What?! "Pretty much the same... just with one less slice of cheese." How can "pretty much the same" and "one less slice of cheese" be used in the same sentence? That's like saying, "Your car is pretty much the same as before you let me borrow it... umm... it just doesn't have an engine anymore."

They make it sound like a wedding as opposed to a funeral: "look for our latest addition to the Dollar Menu." They are actually optimistically telling you to gleefully look for the increase in price! 'Oh, next time you go to McDonald's you will be happy to know that you will have to pay more money to get less cheese.' Thanks for the promise! I will have to bring the whole gang along to maximize on the newness. I love price increases!

Ok, time to stop--I'm starting to drip with sarcasm.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Its Official!

Well, it is official, I am now the full-time preaching pastor at Sovereign Grace Fellowship in Boscawen, New Hampshire. I am excited about this new task that the Lord has laid on my shoulders. Please be praying for me as I seek to be faithful to God and his word. I thank the Lord that I am not the only elder at the church. The Lord has blessed me by placing 3 older, more experienced, more godly men to partner with me in the ministry here in Boscawen. Click here to check out the church's website.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

An Election Day Charge to Christians

Well, the day of decision has finally come. I just want to list a few things to remember as the votes are being recorded and counted.

-No matter the outcome of the election God is the true ruler of the universe . Because this is the case we need not despair no matter who wins the election.

Say among the nations, "The LORD reigns." The world is firmly established, it cannot be moved; he will judge the peoples with equity. (Psalms 96:10)
-Christians are to be an example to the world when it comes to respecting and obeying their leaders.
Everyone must submit himself to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God. Consequently, he who rebels against the authority is rebelling against what God has instituted, and those who do so will bring judgment on themselves. (Romans 13:1-2)
and
Render to Caesar the things that are Caesar's, and to God the things that are God's. (Mark 12:17)
-Christians are to be known for their love. This means that we need to be careful how we speak about our new president. The world watches Christians closely and if they hear us speaking against our new president in the same way that they speak against the president we will have completely destroyed what makes us distinct in the world. Often times Christians have the tendency to think that what makes us different from the world is how we dress, what music we listen to, or what TV shows we watch. Although this may be the case in some circumstances, it misses the point. Christians are not to be different from the world simply for the sake of being different. Rather Christians are to be different from the world in regard to biblical righteousness, which in most cases, at least for those who are actively seeking the Lord, righteousness different from the world has far more to do with how we speak about or to one another than what we wear, listen to, or watch on TV. No matter how badly you want to air the new president's dirty laundry, silence your mouth and be an example. This is so critical to our task as lights in the world. Sometimes it is necessary to speak up--in the face of injustice, outright nation-debilitating rebellion, or nation-debilitating misjudgment--however we must never let our speech against the man that God himself establishes to be the same as the world's. Respect ought to characterize our speech in regard to the man that God elects for the job.
Teacher, which is the great commandment in the Law? And He said to him, " 'YOU SHALL LOVE THE LORD YOUR GOD WITH ALL YOUR HEART, AND WITH ALL YOUR SOUL, AND WITH ALL YOUR MIND.' This is the great and foremost commandment. The second is like it, 'YOU SHALL LOVE YOUR NEIGHBOR AS YOURSELF.' On these two commandments depend the whole Law and the Prophets." (Matthew 22:36-40)
-If you feel that your life is going to fall apart if the wrong candidate gets in office your problem may be that you need to get right with God by setting your affections on the things above.
But as it is, they desire a better country, that is, a heavenly one, therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God; for He has prepared a city for them. (Hebrews 11:16)

Monday, November 3, 2008

Post Surgery Update

Thanks for praying for Luke (my brother). His surgery on Friday morning went well. There were no complications with the surgery. Luke is still quite uncomfortable, however the doctors say that he should be feeling better in just a few days.

Thanks for praying. Continue to pray for a complete and quick recovery.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Prayer Request

Be praying for Luke. He has to have surgery on his stomach tomorrow. The surgery is not complicated. In fact, it will be an outpatient surgery. However, it is a surgery. Pray that the Lord would give the doctors skill and wisdom as they seek to operate on him. Also be praying for a quick, painless recovery for Luke. The exact time of the Surgery is 10:00 am eastern time.

Friday, October 3, 2008

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Brian Regan Got it Wrong!

I am sad to report that Brian Regan got his information wrong. Brian Regan is my favorite comedian. Below I have pasted a video of one of his comedy routines making fun of Dora the Explorer. Watch the video and then read my concluding comments.



All of us up here in New England know that Regan's postulation that those in the Kennedy household would pronounce it "Dora the Explora" is completely off base. Rather, those in the Kennedy household (and the rest of New England for that matter) would pronounce it "Dorer the Explora." Oh well...

Monday, September 29, 2008

Soon to be Seminaryless

Well, my Master of Divinity degree will be officially completed on Friday, October 10th. That's right, that means that I will be graduated in about 11 days! I am excited about graduation. There are a few things that have me smiling:

1. I will get to spend more time with Kristal and James.

2. I will get to spend more time evangelizing, mentoring, and preaching.

3. I will get to read whatever the poop I want--and I wont have to regurgitate it verbatim on a test or suffer the consequences.
I have truly had a great seminary experience. You can bet your bottom dollar that I have about 15 posts in my head regarding seminary. I plan on writing quite a few posts regarding seminary (whether or not its biblical, its pitfalls, its strengths, some advice to those who are thinking about going to seminary, some advice to those who are already in seminary, and whole boat load about my own experience). Anyway, I hope these future posts will be interesting to the two of you out there who have always wondered what the life of a seminarian is like.

Because graduation is so near, I am pretty slammed with the homework and thus I will not be writing much in the next 11 days.

Please be praying for me as the Lord opens and closes doors regarding what my life will look like after I graduate. The Lord is doing some amazing things up here in New Hampshire. Please especially be praying for the church Kristal and I are presently members of--they are in the process of considering whether or not they want to bring me on board as their preaching/teaching pastor. Pray as they (and us as well) seek the guidance of the Holy Spirit. It is our desire to do whatever it is that the Lord wills.

I leave you with the lyrics of a song by Robin Mark that has been an incredible encouragement to me over the past three years or so. Heck, I'll put a youtube video of Robin Mark playing the song at the bottom of the post--you can thank me later! The quality of the youtube video is pretty poor but it is all I could find so leave me alone (just kidding). Ok, the video is rather weird, so just listen to the music without watching the video. I have no clue who made the video but the images seem to have nothing to do with the song--oh well. On a serious note, the words of this song have been the prayer of our (Kristal and I) hearts as we face the unknown of where the Lord is going to take us. May you make these words the prayer of your life as well.

Jesus, all for Jesus,
All I am and have and ever hope to be.
Jesus, all for Jesus,
All I am and have and ever hope to be.

All of my ambitions, hopes and plans
I surrender these into Your hands.
All of my ambitions, hopes and plans
I surrender these into Your hands.

For it's only in Your will that I am free,
For it's only in Your will that I am free,
Jesus, all for Jesus,
All I am and have and ever hope to be


Thursday, September 18, 2008

New Moose A. Moose Song: "Can't Stop Rhyming Blues"

Well, I thought it was time to put up another one of Jamesy Poopy Pants' favorite songs by Moose A. Moose. This one is titled "Can't Stop Rhyming Blues." Enjoy!

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Walter Marshall Update

Well, Water Marshall, the man from my church who had meningitis, was apparently sent home from the hospital on Saturday, which is good news. However, today at church I was told that he is starting to regress. Hopefully he will not have to go to the hospital again. Please be praying for full healing for Walter. Thanks for your prayers. I will update as soon as I have new information.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Prayer Request: Walter Marshall

A dear brother in our church, Walter Marshall, has been in the hospital with meningitis for over a day now. It seems that his condition is getting worse. At this point he is not able to swallow. This, obviously, is serious. They will be doing an MRI soon. Anyway, please take a moment to pray for Walter. Also, pray for strength and rest for Toni, Walter's wife, during this trial. Thank you for your prayers. I will update as soon as I hear more.

Jimmy

Monday, September 8, 2008

The Cleft Coffee: A Guest Post!

I have asked my good friend Chris McSmith to write an informative post about a coffee house ministry that he and his wife, Debi, have established. I have pasted his post below. I am excited about the work that Chris and Debi are undertaking. Please commit yourself to praying for Chris and Debi as they seek to "Impact the Nations" through their coffee house ministry!

The Cleft Coffee

Cleft Coffee-“Impacting the Nations one cup at a time!” We’re changing lives with coffee! Not only are lives changed by building relationships over a cup of coffee – Nations are being impacted with the Gospel because of people purchasing Cleft coffee.

Here’s what we’re doing. We’ve taken something that most people purchase on a regular basis – coffee – Amazing quality specialty coffee’s from all over the world – sell them at a premium price and then donate our profits to do ministry. 100% of our roaster’s profits are donated to feed malnourished infants 24/7 at the Rock Solid Infant Re-Nutrition Center in Matagalpa, Nicaragua. We’re feeding 300-400 youth below the age of 12 twice a week and also put on a medical clinic to reach out to all the surrounding communities of Matagalpa.

Ok-that’s cool-great things are being done and lives are being impacted overseas when people purchase Cleft coffee. But, what about here at home? We believe strongly that if we’re going to impact nations it begins by impacting across the street. As we reach across our streets and overseas, we want to help financially empower your local church and ministries to reach across the streets of your community. So often ministry requires funding that’s not always readily available. We’re here to help! We work hard to raise funds for your ministry! We’ve launched 2 opportunities for churches and ministries to raise funds that can help you reach out into your communities while also impacting nations with the Gospel.

1) E-Impact Fund-Raiser
Working for you 24/7!
~Our web specialist is available to assist your ministry with inserting our logo link on your website.
~Your ministry supporters click the logo link from your page – order coffee – that order is tagged to your ministry – you raise $2.00/lb for your ministry and do absolutely nothing.
2) Impact the Nations Fund-Raiser
PERFECT FOR YOUTH GROUPS!
Your ministry chooses a lead person whom we work with step by step to launch and run this simple Fund-Raiser.
~We choose which day of each month to order...ie. 2nd Sunday of each month.
~You place our coffee sign up sheet in designated place with a payment box.
~Announcements are made to remind people of when the order will be placed.
~Coffee arrives and names of those who purchased coffee are written on bags.
~Members pick-up coffee!
~You raise $2.50 for every pound sold!
The coffee we sell is of absolute quality! You’re sure to love them!
-Quality Beans- We source and select only the finest Arabica coffee beans, favored for their characteristic sweetness and robust, nuanced flavor.
-Quality Roast- Fresh roasted in small batches. Each batch of coffee is carefully crafted by our artisan roasters.
-Freshness- We roast our customer’s beans when the order is placed. We do not roast coffee and let our beans sit – waiting to be purchased. Our beans are in our customer’s hands 4 – 5 days after being roasted. Now that’s fresh coffee!
What we do, we do with integrity and upmost conviction to live and uphold God’s Word! We’re not a business using ministry-throwing the cross on our business card to farther a corporation. We are a ministry using sound business principles to help empower kingdom work! When someone purchases coffee from the grocery store or coffee house chain-the profits are growing a company-which is not a bad thing. However, when someone purchases coffee from the Cleft-our profits are empowering your ministry and being donated to do ministry around the world-and this is a great thing! Amazing quality coffee at a great price with an incomparable purpose!

We’re asking coffee lovers and people who have a heartbeat for ministry to make the commitment. When you buy coffee-buy Cleft coffee. Imagine this-every morning you wake up and sit to have your morning cup of coffee-you’re making a difference in the lives of uncountable children and families around the world. You’re impacting the Nations one cup at a time!

Take the first step and check us out at:
www.cleftcoffee.com

-Chris McSmith

Friday, September 5, 2008

The Cleft Coffee--A Ministry to the Glory of God!

Greetings faithful blog readers. I am going to do something that I have never done on my blog before: I am going to have a guest post! One of my good friends from Hannibal-LaGrange College (where I did my undergraduate work), Chris McSmith (my old roommate's brother), just recently started a coffee house ministry called The Cleft Coffee (click here to access his website). I have asked him to write a post for my blog so that y'all can both lift his ministry up in prayer, and check the ministry out for yourself and your own church. I am excited about the work that Chris and Debi (Chris' wife) have begun. I trust that you will find this ministry to be as Christ-honoring, useful, encouraging, and down right creative as I have.

You can expect to see the post written by Chris regarding his coffee house ministry, Lord willing, this coming Monday, Sept 8. Please be praying for Chris and Debi as they seek to "Impact the Nations" through their coffee house ministry.

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Will the Clowns Continue to Fall: A Plea for the Unborn

We are all familiar with the famous “Shoot the Clowns” game present at every carnival across the country. The game is set up as such: A dozen clowns sit on a board just above eye level about 15 feet away. The participant is given some sort of a gun appropriate for shooting the clowns down. The goal is to knock as many clowns down in the allotted time as possible.

As soon as you knock one clown down you simply move to the next. As I consider the clown game I am reminded of America and her many injustices throughout her short history. Many consider America to be “God’s nation.”

“He’s got our back because we have been faithful to Him,” many say.

My purpose in writing this is not to make you think that America is the worst nation on the planet. No, we are not the worst nation on our planet. I love being an American. However, we are not a faultless nation.

The birth of America began with the slaughtering of the Indians. As soon as that clown was knocked down she moved to the blacks. This clown was knocked down less than 40 years ago. Within eight years of this clown being knocked down, America continued her killing rampage to unborn humans. The clowns continue to fall, one by one.

We advance our troops into Iraq to liberate her people (which does not upset me—although I can understand why it upsets many). Meanwhile, our own people are being massacred by the droves. We speak of Saddam Hussein as if he were the antichrist while our own leaders snuff out the lives of over 1 million unborn humans a year (that makes well over 40,000 million since 1972). Our mass graves are full of much smaller humans, yet they seem to be filling much faster than Hussein’s.

Is God going to send a foreign nation to our land to liberate our (unborn) people?

When will the American people learn? Do they not realize that 50 or 100 years down the road they will be saying the same thing about the killing of unborn humans that they have said about the mass killing of the Indians or Blacks? Is it all that different? When will we realize that future generations will consider us to be the infant murdering nation.

The great injustice of our “noble” settlers was that they drove the Indians off their land. They massacred them and stole their property. And why did they do it? Oh yeah, because they were savages—less than human. Such savages do not deserve the same rights that us white folk have.

After her bloody entry to this land, America simply moved her injustice to the blacks. Lynching, slavery, beating, and murder. And why? Because they are sub human, they don’t deserve the same rights that we have.

Although slavery ended in 1865, the injustice continued till 1965. With Martin Luther King Jr and the civil rights movement things started looking up for the Blacks. The white man began to see his error. America spent a good eight years washing her hands from all her filth. But the hand washing ended quicker than it began. In 1972 (eight short years later), America decided that the killing spree would continue. This time it would not be the Indians or the Blacks that were considered less than human, it would be the unborn. For the same exact reasons the killing continues: the unborn are simply not as superior as we are—they deserve no rights.

The graves continue to fill because we think that we have the edge. We think that we are above every other form and race of life. We feel that our rights have been put at jeopardy by those who are different than we are.

Will the clowns continue to fall? If the abortion war ends, where will America move next? Which subhuman savage will stand in the way of our great freedom next?

We need to wake up to the great injustice taking place in our land. We Christians need to be a voice, an advocate for the unborn in the same way that Brainerd, Edwards, Wilberforce, King, and others were for the Indians and Blacks. It is the same battle with a different, helpless victim.

No doubt about it, I love my freedom. I thank God for it everyday. But while I am thanking God for my freedom, I am also thanking Him that I am now a full grown WASP and no longer a living human in the confines of my mother's womb. I thank Him that I am now safe from the perils of the womb.

Just a few concluding remarks in light of the above address:

1. I in no way take lightly the freedom that I enjoy as a result of those who have fought (and are still fighting) on my behalf. I thank each and every veteran who has put their life on the line for my freedom. My concern is that the freedom secured by our beloved veterans has not been meted out to all Americans. Too many veterans have died for the freedom of Americans for American infants to have no freedom. That is my point. I am not an unpatriotic person, but I also cannot let grave injustice go in the name of patriotism.

2. If you have ever had an abortion (or coaxed someone else to do so), I want you to know that the blood of Jesus Christ can cover any and every sin you have ever committed. If you are a Christian and have had an abortion in the past and it haunts you every day, I want you to know that your sin is no match for the grace and love of Jesus—he took your sin upon himself and received the penalty for it on your behalf—you have been set free. Those of you who do not know the saving power of Jesus Christ, please feel free to contact me to learn about the all sufficient power, love, and grace of Jesus Christ to cleanse you from all of your sin.

3. Lastly, I never want to undermine the horrid situations that some women have found themselves in. It is my contention that the church exists to help women in these situations. Maybe this post, more than anything, can be a call to the church to get busy helping struggling mothers.

Friday, August 29, 2008

McCain/Palin: I Like It

I can honestly say now that I am excited to be an advocate for John McCain for President. After listening to his statements to Rick Warren regarding abortion, and after knowing who he chose as his running mate, Sarah Palin, I became convinced that McCain has every intention on being an advocate for the unborn. I make no bones about the fact that I am one of those hard-headed and ignorant (at least to many) people who vote primarily according to values. To be honest, I would rather have a president who runs the country into the ground financially than have a president who either advocates or turns a blind eye to the ultra injustice of the mass killing of the unborn. Anyway, I am officially excited about the McCain/Palin ticket. Only time will tell if McCain's choice of Palin was beneficial or not. One thing is for sure, his choice of her has determined my vote (have I mentioned how important my vote is? Let me just say this, "Ok, so my vote isn't that important." Leave me alone).

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Cornerstone Biblical Commentary Set

Logos Bible Software (I wrote a post about Logos a few months ago, click here to read it) has announced the publication of a new commentary set, Cornerstone Biblical Commentary (9 vols). The editors of the set are Philip W. Comfort, Tremper Longman III (OT), and Grant Osborne (NT). Anyway, it really does look like a good commentary set. You can check it out at their blog, http://blog.logos.com. Also, they are, for a limited time, giving away the first volume of the series (Matthew and Mark) for free! Check out their blog for details.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Got Gratitude?: An Exposition of Psalm 50

A few weeks ago I wrote an exposition paper on Psalm 50 for a class I was taking at seminary. I found both the studying and writing of it to be a large blessing. I have pasted the paper below for your own edification. It might be difficult to follow without a Bible by your side as you read it. If the exposition part of the paper proves to be difficult, skip down to the last part of the paper (the section entitled Theological Significance). This part of the paper is easy to read and it contains the major theological and practical points of the passage. Anyway, I hope you find it to be as encouraging as I did. Enjoy!


GOT GRATITUDE?: AN EXPOSITION OF PSALM 50

Exposition of the Text

I. Historical Setting

Psalm 50 is the first of twelve psalms which bear the superscription, “A Psalm of Asaph.” Although not much can be inferred from this superscription, it is possible to gain an understanding of who the sons of Asaph are from the Old Testament. Michael D. Goulder considers Asaph to be “David’s senior musician.”1 David appointed two of Asaph’s sons, Heman and Jeduthun, to the “ministry of prophesying, accompanied by harps, lyres, and cymbals” (1 Chr 25:1). Thus, Asaph and his children were worship leaders at the temple.

Goulder postulates that the Psalms of Asaph were all written in Bethel somewhere in the 720s b.c. during a time of national crisis,2 however Psalm 50 neither reflects nor rules out this hypothesis. C. Hassell Bullock says, “In view of the long and continued service of these temple servants, we cannot be absolutely sure when these psalms were composed.”3 Because the date cannot be ascertained, it is nearly impossible to read information from outside sources into the psalm. Whatever background information there is to Psalm 50 must be gained from internal evidence.

Psalm 50 is not easily categorized. L. C. Allen suggests that it “is a literary tapestry in which stylistic, thematic and form critical patterns have been articulately interwoven.”4 Willem A. VanGemeren accurately identifies the following features in the psalm: “theophany, accusation, warning, and invitation to repent.”5 Samuel L. Terrien is most accurate in identifying it as a “prophetic oracle.”6

II. Literary Analysis

Yahweh summons his people for judgment (50:1-6)

Although Psalm 50 may not strictly adhere to a certain style, it certainly does have a unified message. Artur Weiser correctly identifies the central concern of the psalmist, “God himself appears to sit in judgment on the overestimation of the sacrifices in the cult.”7 The psalm begins with what has been considered by many commentators to be “theophanic language.”8 In essence, God has appeared in his resplendent glory to call his people to account for both their theological immaturity and their lack of faithfulness to his covenant. VanGemeren suggests that Yahweh primarily indicts Israel for their formalism and hypocrisy.9 The psalmist uses three different names for Yahweh in vs. 1: el (The mighty one), elohim (God), and Yahweh (the Lord). Robert Davidson accurately defines the terms and communicates the significance of the psalmist’s use of all three in direct succession:

    el, an old Semitic term for deity and the name of the supreme god in the Canaanite pantheon… elohim, the generic word for deity in Hebrew; and “Yahweh,” the personal name of the God of Israel… The bringing together of these three divine names… probably serves to underline the awesome majesty of the God who comes to his people.10

While VanGemeren has identified the summons of the earth in vs. 1 as an indication of a universal covenant that God has made with the earth,11 John Eaton is most likely correct in understanding that the earth is called forth in order to be a witness to the covenant infidelity of the Israelites.12 After all, not only is Israel the only one rebuked in the context, but the earth is summoned as a witness against Israel on other occasions (see Deut 31:28 and Isa 1:2).

The Psalmist, in 50:2-3, does everything he can to present Yahweh as the judge who is not to be taken lightly. First, he is pictured as coming from Zion. In the Scriptures Zion is associated with both the temple of Yahweh and the city of Jerusalem. The reference to Zion is a metaphorical way of referring to the throne of Yahweh—after all, his presence was manifested above the mercy seat in the temple which was in Jerusalem.13 The psalmist’s words are purposed to create a posture of humility, fear, and silence. He wants the Israelites to know that the King has left his throne for the purpose of bringing a charge against them. He is further pictured in terms of beauty and radiance with a fire going before him and a storm raging around him (50:2-3). The imagery used by the psalmist is almost contradictory. The purpose of this imagery is not to detail specific aspects of who God is, rather it is to present the Lord, the one who is about to bring the charge, as the one who towers over any awe-inspiring image man may conjure up—he must be taken seriously. Weiser may be correct in associating this imagery with Israel’s experience with God at Mt. Sinai (Ex 19:10-15).14

Once again Yahweh summons the earth to be a witness against Israel, but this time he calls forth the heavens as well (50:4). One wonders whether this could be Yahweh’s way of fulfilling the law he laid forth in Deut 19:15 regarding the need for two or three witnesses for the purpose of conviction. It almost appears as if the Psalmist is trying to create a court room scene. Yahweh has come from his throne, summoned his witnesses, and sent for the culprit.

The psalmist then exposes those whom the Lord is about to convict. They are ironically identified as “my consecrated ones” and “those who have made a covenant with me by sacrifice” (50:5). Weiser says,

    It is precisely his own people whom God has the right to call to account because they are under a special obligation to him as a result of the covenant which they solemnly made with him by sacrifice (Ex. 24:4 ff.). The phrase ‘my godly ones’ is also to be understood as pointing in the same direction, since it addresses the members of the people of God on account of their special virtues but on the strength of their responsibility, which follows from their relationship with God.15

Yahweh, in 50:6 is identified as the righteous judge. VanGemeren suggests that Yahweh’s judgment is righteous in that he will “order everything on earth in accordance with his will.”16 In other words, he will judge that which is opposed to his will so that it might conform to it.

Israel’s Misuse of the Sacrificial System (50:7-15)

The psalmist, it appears, continues to speak of God’s encounter with Israel as if it were a courtroom session. In 50:1-6 God identified himself as the judge, sent for his two witnesses, and identified the culprit. Now, here in 50:7, God orders the court in session by calling the convicted to attention. The rebuke set forth by Yahweh in this section of the psalm can only be fully appreciated in front of the backdrop of 50:1-6. The Israelite’s main problem was the result of an insufficient view of God and his character—they did not see him as “God, your God” and therefore they did not take him nor his word seriously. Weiser says,

    The tremendous background of the theophany produced such an impression of God’s power and superiority that the people’s fundamental mistake in their behaviour at the sacrificial cult and in their moral conduct first became clear and can now be comprehended as a denial to the sovereign God of his due. 17

Before explaining to them the reason for their condemnation, he first wants to clarify the reasons for which they are not being judged. Thus, in much the same way that Jesus rebuked the Pharisees for their neglect of justice, mercy, and faithfulness for the sake of other commands which made them look better in the public eye, and then says, “you should have done the former without neglecting the latter” (Matt 23:23), Yahweh wanted his people to understand that his issue with their sacrificial offerings had nothing to do with the act of offering itself. Rather, his issue with their offerings was directly linked to their attitude, mindset, and commitment to Yahweh.

Here in 50:8-15 Yahweh confronts a theological error of the Israelites and its consequent results. The Israelites problem could have been the result of the infiltration of Canaanite theology and practices into their worship of Yahweh.18 Canaanite idolatry was, in many ways, a religion of equality: the idol worshipper would fulfill a certain need for the needy idol, which then put the idol in a position where he was expected to fulfill one of the needs of the needy idol worshipper. The problem with bringing this paradigm into the worship of Yahweh is that he has never had a need. However, the Israelites actually thought that God was in need of their sacrifices. Weiser helpfully suggests that their “cardinal mistake is, in spite of all their religious zeal, a lack of respect for God.”19 They had it in their minds that God was in desperate need of their sacrifices. They felt that they were, in the words of Eaton, “obligating God in some way.”20 They were making him their debtor.

However, the Lord rails against them for their preposterous thinking. They actually thought that Yahweh, the one who created them, would starve if they discontinued their sacrificial duties. Yahweh reminds them that if he were hungry he would not tell them because he, by right of his creatorship, owns everything in the world, including all the animals (50:12). In fact, Richard Whitekettle has suggested that the list of animals in 50:10-11 represent a truncated way of setting forth an exhaustive list of all of the animals, including those which are not offered upon the altar. His conclusion is that God “knows or owns all animals.”21 Thus, the Israelites were not scratching God’s back by presenting their offerings. Rather, the sacrificial system was set up precisely because of their great need and God’s overflowing abundance which alone was sufficient to meet that need. The Israelites were in need of understanding that the only reason God set up the sacrificial system in the first place was because of his self-sufficient, independent nature.

God responds to their wrong-headed pride by exhorting them to “offer a thank offering” (50:14). VanGemeren suggests, “The ‘thank offerings’ and ‘vows’ (i.e., votive offerings) belong to the category of voluntary offerings, in which the offerers shared by eating from the offering (cf. Lev 7:12; 22:29).”22 He then goes on, however, to suggest that the emphasis of Yahweh’s exhortation has less to do with the specific kind of offering than with the motive and heart attitude of the offerer: “Instead of presenting ‘dedicatory offerings’ in a spirit of pride, the people had to learn that the ‘Most High’ invites them for a banquet to enjoy his presence.”23 In a similar vein, Davidson suggests that “sacrifices are meaningless unless they are the expression of inner thanksgiving for the way God has enriched life and of the vows or promises made to God which must be kept.”24 The thanksgiving offering, thus, at its foundation, is an offering which arises out of a recognition of both the self-sufficiency of God and the need that humans have of the sustenance, redemption, and life which God alone can offer. It is this sort of offering, along with its humble and needy posture, which the Israelites were failing to bring to God.

God concludes his first charge with a logical exhortation. The Israelites were neither seeing themselves as helpless beggars nor God as a compassionate savior, and therefore they were not dependently crying out to him in the midst of their trouble. He wants them to know, however, that if they humble themselves by acknowledge their need and his self-sufficiency, he will deliver them in time of need. The sacrifices and prayers which the Lord desires and responds to are those which flow out of a needy heart of gratitude. Weiser helpfully comments on 50:15:

    The people are to realize to what large extent they depend on God in everything; they are to give expression to their recognition of his supreme power and saving will (which is in no need of first being persuaded by sacrifices) by adopting the attitude which alone befits man in his relationship with God—that of prayer.25

Charge 2: Israel’s lack of obedience (50:16-21)

Although Davidson suggests that the Psalmist, in 50:16-21, is turning away from those addressed in vv. 7-15 in order to speak to another group of people, the wicked,26 this is probably not the case. The “But” in 50:16 suggests that the author is about to contrast those who are described as acceptable to God in vv. 14-15 with the “wicked.” Those who are identified as “the wicked” in 50:16 are much like those addressed in the preceding section. After all, the wicked are apparently committed to the formal externalities of the law: “what right have you to recite my laws, or take my covenant on your lips” (50:16 cf. 50:8). Yahweh’s issue with the wicked is not that they have neglected the sacrificial cultus altogether, rather he is fed up with the wicked for hypocritically using religion as a way of parading their religiosity and righteousness. Weiser says, “the superficial appropriation of the commandments, learning them by heart, reciting them and boasting of knowing and keeping them… has been a symptom of the fact that the religious life of the people of Israel has become superficial.”27 The wicked are those who will work all day to look better than the next man by memorizing the law, but will not take a second out of his day to obey the law he has memorized. As S. Edward Tesh and Walter D. Zorn have said, “They give lip service to the word of God, but refuse to be guided by its teachings.”28

Yahweh accuses the wicked of hating and disregarding his law in 50:17, and then describes what he means by this in vv. 18-20. The charges brought against the wicked in vv. 18-20 have to do with thievery, adultery, and slander. VanGemeren suggests that the “particular charges are representative of the whole Decalogue.”29 In front of the backdrop of their sin Yahweh issues a stern warning: “I will rebuke you and accuse you to your face” (50:21). Interestingly, Yahweh accuses the wicked of misunderstanding his character in two ways: (1) they either question his justice or presume upon his grace, and (2) they deemed God to be just like them. Ultimately, the wicked thought that God’s silence meant that he was not going to do anything about their lawlessness. Weiser helpfully explains the heart of Yahweh’s rebuke:

    It is an anthropomorphizing of God to think that the absence of an immediate retribution, which they conceive in human terms, and God’s silence justify their equating their own will with the will of God and holding that God is one like themselves. This is their actual ‘sin’. For they always see God only in that light in which he appears to be useful to them and not as he really is, as the One whose claim and command are unconditionally valid.30

Yahweh’s Final Plea (50:22-23)

Yahweh urges his wicked covenant people to consider their relationship to him. He lays before them two options: they can either (1) obey his word with a grateful heart and receive salvation (50:23), or (2) ignore his word and be thoroughly judged (50:22). Here, in 50:23, it is thanksgiving itself, rather than a votive offering, which is offered as a sacrifice to the Lord.

III. Theological Message

Two primary theological emphases can be clearly seen in Psalm 50: (1) the aseity of God and (2) the consequent posture of worship. D. A. Carson correctly connects Psalm 50 with Acts 17:25. Carson says,

    This passage not only insists that God sustains life and rules providentially, but that he is characterized by aseity… This fine word has largely dropped out of theological discussion… It means that God is so independent that he does not need us. We cannot give him anything he lacks or wheedle something out of him by cajoling him.31

Thus, while God expects, honors, delights in, and gets joy from worship of and service for him, Christians are to never think that he needs their worship or service. In fact, according Malachi 1:10, God would rather have no worship than worship which does not flow forth from a reverential heart of thanksgiving. The foundational problem with the Israelites in Psalm 50 is that they saw God as their lowly and needy servant; they were intent on following him as long as it benefited them in the public square. There really is no difference between the Israelites in Psalm 50 and the Pharisees in both Matt 5-7 and 23. God is to be neither pitied nor manipulated.

In conclusion, John R. W. Stott says,

    It is absurd… to suppose that he who sustains life should himself need to be sustained, that he who supplies our need should himself need our supply. Any attempt to tame or domesticate God, to reduce him to the level of a household pet dependent on us for food and shelter, is again a ridiculous reversal of roles. We depend upon God; he does not depend upon us.32

Footnotes:

[1] Michael D. Goulder, The Psalms of Asaph and the Pentateuch (Sheffield Academic Press, 1996), 15.

[2] Ibid., 35-36.

[3] C. Hassell Bullock, Encountering the Book of Psalms (Grand Rapids: Baker Academic, 2001), 63.

[4] L. C. Allen, “Structure and Meaning in Psalm 150,” Vox Evangelica 14 (1984): 33.

[5] Willem A. VanGemeren, Psalms (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1991), 372

[6] Samuel L. Terrien, The Psalms (Grand Rapids: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 2003), 396.

[7] Artur Weiser, Psalms (Philadelphia: Westminster Press, 2000), 393.

[8] James D. G. Dunn and John William Rogerson, Eerdmans Commentary on the Bible (Grand Rapids: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 2003), 393.

[9] VanGemeren, Psalms, 372.

[10] Robert Davidson, The Vitality of Worship (Grand Rapids: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1998), 163.

[11] Vangemeren, Psalms, 373.

[12] John Eaton, The Psalms (New York: Continuum Publishing Company, 2003), 202.

[13] VanGemeren, Psalms, 355.

[14] Weiser, Psalms, 395.

[15] Ibid.

[16] Willem A. VanGemeren, Psalms (Grand Rapids: Zondervan Publishing Company, 1994), 852.

[17] Weiser, Psalms, 396.

[18] VanGemeren, Psalms, 852.

[19] Weiser, Psalms, 396.

[20] Eaton, Psalms, 203.

[21] Richard Whitekettle, “Bugs, Bunny, or Boar?” Catholic Biblical Quarterly 67, no. 2 (2005): 263.

[22] VanGemeren, Psalms, 376.

[23] Ibid.

[24] Davidson, The Vitality of Worship, 164-65.

[25] Weiser, Psalms, 397.

[26] Davidson, The Vitality of Worship, 165.

[27] Weiser, Psalms, 398.

[28] S. Edward Tesh and Walter D. Zorn, Psalms (Joplin: College Press Publishing Company, 1999), 361.

[29] VanGemeren, Psalms, 377.

[30] Weiser, Psalms, 399.

[31] D. A. Carson, The Gagging of God (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1996), 500.

[32] John R. W. Stott, The Message of Acts (Downers Grove: Inter-Varsity Press, 1990), 285.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Some Pre-surgery Pictures

These were some pictures that Kristal took before James went into surgery--we were having a bit too much fun for it being surgery day (and also for having gotten up at 3:15 am that morning).

Yep, Kristal took that one--her arms are sufficiently long for such a task.












I must have ticked him off or something.













Another evidence of Kristal's sufficiently long arms.












These are James' surgery clothes. The cap is just for fun. I liked the pants. We called them his Nadal pants. If you want to know what I am talking about, click here.
















What can you say to this? Pathetic, just pathetic.


















This is James interceding on his own behalf.


















Doesn't the lunch lady hat accent his eyes. It would have possibly fit him if he either had two heads or massive dread locks. Oh well, maybe it will fit better next year.

We're Home!!!

Well, James was released from the hospital this morning around 11 am. We were quite surprised--we thought we were going to have to stay a few more days. Praise the Lord! I told Kristal on the way to the car, "My favorite part about going to the hospital is... leaving."

James had a successful surgery with no complications. He experienced much unbearable pain for about 24 hours or so after the surgery. We felt bad for the little guy--he woke up at 2 am after his surgery and couldn't go back to sleep. Kristal held him from 2-7 am and then I held him from 7-10 am. He would fall asleep for about 2 minutes and then startle awake, scream his head off a bit, wail his arms and legs, and then go back to sleep for about 2 more minutes, and then he would startle awake again.... over and over and over. However, he started getting much better yesterday afternoon. He is not completely back to his normal self yet, but he is doing much much better.

A few things that you can be praying about:

1. James had a seizure after his surgery in the recovery room. The neurologist told us that it was probably just circumstantial, especially considering the fact that this was the first seizure he has had since birth. He said that he would only be concerned if it were to happen again. That's good news. Just be praying that it doesn't happen again.

2. Pray for continued recovery. He has about a 3 inch incision on his stomach just above his g-tube site (which is pretty large on a small tummy). Infection is always an issue when dealing with fresh wounds. Also, pray that the stitching of his stomach to his esophagus does not tear. If it were to tear, food and stomach acid could leak out and form an abscess, which is down right painful.

3. James has still been retching as if he were going to vomit. This is to be expected because the Nissen does not stop throw up reflexes, it just keeps stuff from coming up. However, pray that his retching stays to minimal at least until his stomach is fully healed (while you are at it, just pray that it would go away forever. It's uncomfortable for him and not fun to watch for us).

4. Pray for the Lord to take any pain or discomfort away. At this point his belly is still pretty tender when touched.

5. Pray that the Nissen continues to do what it is supposed to do (DUH! And most of you probably wouldn't have prayed for this if I wouldn't have reminded you to). It is designed to keep food and reflux from coming up his esophagus. The doctor told us that the Nissen does not work on about 10% of the patients who get it. Pray that he is not one of those 10%.

6. Pray for his feeding. They sent us home with a plan to gradually increase his feeds to where he was before he had the surgery. Pray that his retching and gagging do not increase with the amount of food that is in his belly (because it usually gets worse when more food is in his belly).

7. Pray for Kristal: She is pretty worn out. I am so proud to call her "my wife." Every single doctor we come across expresses amazement at how attentive and knowledgeable she is about James. She is such a good mommy--James is a blessed little boy.

8. Pray for me: I have a large paper due on Friday. I am making good headway, but I still have a lot left. I am starting to wonder if I will be finished by the deadline.

Thank you all for praying for us while James was in the hospital. The Lord has been so good to the three of us. I would write more but I have to get to my paper.

Monday, August 11, 2008

James In Surgery

Be praying for Jamesy Poopy Pants (our son). He is in surgery as I type this post. They are giving him a Nissen fundoplication (click here if you don't know what a Nissen fundoplication is--there is a really informative picture on the site to give an idea of what it is.) He should be getting out of surgery anytime now. Be praying for a successful, non-complicated surgery and a quick recovery. Also be praying that this operation helps stops his awful reflux, and helps him hold his food down. The doc told us that we will be in the hospital for 3-5 days: pray for me as I try to finish up a large, difficult paper for my Baptist History class. Also be praying for Kristal--as you could imagine, she is beyond exhausted. 

Saturday, August 9, 2008

I'm in Good Company

I just found out that I am in good company: Rafael Nadal hates the olympics for the same exact reason that I hate to go shopping. Martyn Herman reports, "Spain's hard man of tennis, Rafael Nadal, said today the Olympic opening ceremony had tired him out because it involved a lot of waiting around." (click here to read the full article). Amen to that Nadal!

It will be interesting to see who will come out on top at Beijing. Nadal will be officially ranked #1 in the world as of Aug 18. I wonder how long he will hold it. Any thoughts (or I am the only geek on the blogsphere)?

Monday, August 4, 2008

Double Cheeseburger to Leave the McDonald's Dollar Menu: A True National Crisis

Anyone who knows me more than they know their neighbors carpet cleaner knows that my favorite sandwich is the McDonald's $1 double cheeseburger. Not only are they tasty, but they are also impressively cheap. If there was ever a time for America to follow in the footsteps of the prophets of old by calling a holy day of prayer, beginning a fast, rending garments, and roaming about in sackcloth and ashes--it is today. What possible good can come from McDonald's taking the best sandwich in the history of the burger off the dollar menu? What on earth will life be like without affordable double cheeseburgers? Will the earth be thrown off its orbital pattern? Will TBN celebrities get hair cuts? One cannot even begin to consider the damage that will be done. Here is what I foresee: a mass extinction of college students. What on earth will college students eat? If it were not for the McDonald's $1 double cheeseburger I would have died of starvation during college (I blew up like a big balloon instead). College students need a food which is (1) made for them (because they are lazy), (2) cheap (because they are poor), and (3) tasty (because they are picky). If McDonald's cares for the future of America they will keep the double cheeseburger both tasty and affordable. I tremble to think of the damage that is bound to be done. If you think you can handle it... and you want to learn more about this national crisis, click here and read the most depressing article to appear in the Chicago Tribune since the day Crystal Clear Pepsi lost its place on the shelves of local convenience stores.

While reading this article put out by the Chicago Tribune I just could not help but identify with the broken spirit of one of Veggie Tales most beloved characters, Mr. Lunt. I feel a certain connection with him. If you want to know what I am talking about, watch the video below.

Open Season on the President?

What I am about to write will be offensive to almost everyone who reads this. As of late I have been burdened by a ridiculous immaturity on the part of most Christians when it comes to politics. God's word makes it abundantly clear that gossip has no place in the life of a Christian--we are to be people characterized by love and not by slander (Proverbs 16:28; 26:20-22; Matt 15:19; 1 Cor 5:11; 2 Cor 12:20; Titus 3:2; James 4:11). However, almost every Christian I know immediately throws off such commands as soon as the conversation turns to things of a political nature. I have heard many people question the motives of the president without having rock solid evidence for doing so. We have all heard it from time to time, "The only reason Bush went into Iraq was because of oil and money." The next time someone says this to me I will respond by saying, "Where's the rock solid, incontrovertible evidence? If you can't give it to me then knock it off." The Scriptural commands regarding gossip and slander apply to our conversations involving civilians and presidents alike.

I hear the same sort of things being said about Senator Barak Obama. I have gotten so many emails from Christians who will do everything they can to ruin the reputation of Senator Obama. For some reason we feel that the commands regarding gossip and slander do not apply to us in these situations. For example, I got an email that was trying to convince me that Obama is an undercover, closet Muslim extremist. Ben Witherington helpfully wrote against this email on his blog (click here to read it. I didn't agree with everything that Witherington said, but the overall message was excellent). I am not suggesting that Christians are not to call sin for what it is. There is a need to discuss the character, policies, and stances of those who are running for president. However, Christians are to never take anyone out of context, and they are to never entertain speculative gossip about another individual no matter their status, rank, or position.

Let me just tell you right here; I will never vote for Barak Obama. I just cannot support a man who advocates abortion. I find abortion to be one of the most gruesome injustices in the history of mankind. I will refrain from voting before I vote for someone who advocates abortion (no matter how great their policies are). This is just my personal conviction. You see, I am not against calling sin for what it is. However, I will never stand alongside a fellow believer and encourage the slander of Obama, Bush, Clinton, or any other public official. The fact that Obama supports abortion can be proven with incontrovertible evidence. Because of this I can talk about his stance on abortion. Even still, I must be careful to not entertain gossip about this man. There is a great deal of difference between stating, acknowledging, and dealing with the facts and engaging in reputation-destroying slander. And yet, the majority of Christians in America engage in such slander without a second thought.

As a Christian I cannot support misrepresentation, gossip, or slander. I just can't do it. I want to speak of Senator Obama in the same way that I would want him to speak about me. If the Devil himself were to come up to me and say, "Jimmy, nice hat!", and you (the reader) went around town telling people that the Devil told me, "Jimmy, I hate your hat!", I would tip my forehead into the wind, cross my eyes, and tell you to knock off your childish misrepresentation. I don't care if it were spoken by the Devil himself, Christians are to have too high of a standard of love, respect, and kindness to inconsiderately take others out of context.

Such misrepresentation makes Christians look both unloving and ignorant. First of all, it makes Christians look unloving because the political conversations that Christians engage in involve so much speculation--the conversation is built solely upon things which cannot be proven. Those in the world look on and say, "Wow, they fight dirty." Second, it makes Christians look ignorant because most Christians would rather debate things which cannot be proven than the real issues. The reason they prefer the unproven things is because it takes a lot of time and work to deal with facts. If your involvement with politics puts you in a position where you have no other choice but to slander your opponent, throw politics on trash heap--it's not worth it. The Lord can put the right man in office without our anti-scriptural help.

I will be an advocate for my candidate (and I don't have a clue as to who he is at this point), but I will treat the opponent as a human who has been created in the image of God. There is no such thing as open season on the President. I encourage you to back your candidate, but do not engage in politics as the world engages in politics. Do not let your disagreements regarding the policies of your opponent led to hatred and slander. Most Christians are hypocrites because most Christians shame the Clinton's for their smear politics while using the same tactics. These tactics are to be expected from those who know not the righteousness of the Gospel. However, Christians are without excuse.

I told you that you would be offended.

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Jesus' Melchizedekan Priesthood: Hebrews 7

For a class I took on the book of Hebrews I wrote a research paper on the topic of Jesus and Melchizedek. I have pasted the paper to this post. Although it may be a bit more difficult to read than a Reader's Digest article, it is doable. I encourage everyone to read it. I really do see Hebrews 7 as one of the most encouraging chapters in the entire Bible. If you decide to read it keep a Bible next to you so that you might be able to follow along. Enjoy!

JESUS’ MELCHIZEDEKAN PRIESTHOOD

Introduction

Many consider Hebrews’ discourse regarding Melchizedek to be overly complicated—a topic reserved for the intellectual elite. However, the author of the Letter to the Hebrews expressed frustration at the recipients of his letter, considering their inability to assimilate the truths concerning Jesus’ Melchizedekan priesthood to be a mark of pitiable spiritual immaturity (Heb. 5:11-14). If the rebuke resounding from the pen of the author of Hebrews was not amiss, and it is the present author’s contention that it was not, modern day Christians are in need of a similar rebuke. Surprisingly, the author of Hebrews did not go about fixing their problem by offering crash courses on the high priesthood of Jesus Christ, rather he stretched them by unreservedly throwing them into the thick of Christ’s Melchizedekan priesthood (Heb 6:13; 7:1-28). In this essay, the present author will argue that the author of the Letter to the Hebrews leans heavily upon the Old Testament to prove the insufficiency of the Aaronic priesthood, and thus the necessity of a change of law to allow for a priest of a different kind, “according to the order of Melchizedek,” who might bring about that which the Aaronic priests could not.

Melchizedek in the Old Testament

Interestingly, appearances of Melchizedek in the Biblical record are rather sparse. In fact, the author of Hebrews has much more to say about Melchizedek than the rest of Scripture combined. The only other passages which mention Melchizedek are Genesis 14:18-20 and Psalm 110:4. The following discussion on these two passages will not be exhaustive, but rather will focus on what is necessary for a correct understanding of Hebrews’ discourse regarding Jesus’ Melchizedekan priesthood

Genesis 14:18-20

Genesis 14:18 identifies Melchizedek as both a king and a priest. J. G. Vos aptly states, “Thus, this man combined in his own person the two offices of kingship and priesthood—something unknown among the Israelites, where these two divine institutions were always kept distinct and separate.”[1] The name Melchizedek literally means “my king is just.”[2] He is specifically identified as the king of “Salem,” which is usually associated with Jerusalem.[3] Second, he is called “priest of the Most High God.” Although “Most High God” (El Elyon) was associated with the supreme God of the Canaanites, Kenneth A. Matthews is correct in asserting that “As a Canaanite king Melchizedek acknowledged the God of the patriarch as the one true God by using the El-language that he knew.”[4]

Melchizedek appears on the scene as Abraham is returning home from defeating Chedorlaomer, King of Elam. Abraham attacked Chedorlaomer in order free his nephew, Lot, who had been taken as a prisoner of war while fighting on behalf of the nation of Sodom. The king of Sodom threw a welcome-home party in the Valley of Shavez for the sake of retrieving everything that Abraham won back from Chedorlaomer.[5] Melchizedek is found among those praising Abraham for his mighty feat in the Valley of Shavez. Genesis 14:18-20 mentions four things that Melchizedek did upon meeting Abraham in the valley: he “brought out bread and wine” (14:19),[6] blessed Abraham (14:19), blessed God (14:19),[7] and received a tenth of the booty Abraham gathered from battle (14:20). Because Melchizedek received a tenth of the spoils, scholars have suggested that he must have been “the principle king of the region.”[8] In essence, Melchizedek disappears from the narrative almost as fast as he appears.

Psalm 110:4

Psalm 110 was penned by David and has been widely accepted as being a psalm looking forward to the coming Messiah.[9] As can be seen by the first three verses of the chapter, Psalm 110 is written to King David. In essence, the Lord promises military victory to David. Strangely enough, although the covenant which the Israelites were under at this time only allowed those of the tribe of Levi to become priests,[10] the Lord swore on oath to the king that “You are a priest forever According to the order of Melchizedek” (Ps 110:4). The significance of this oath regarding Melchizedek is quite clear: the only figure in the biblical record up to this point that fulfilled the full-fledged duties of both king and priest was Melchizedek. Thus, the Lord swore on oath of one who would fulfill both the priestly office in a similar way to that of Levi and the kingly office in a similar way to that of David. One of the distinctives of this priest-king’s priesthood is that it will last “forever.”

Hebrews’ Use of Melchizedekan Passages

Before threshing out the details of Jesus’ Melchizedekan priesthood from Hebrews, it will be profitable to make three different generalizations regarding Hebrew’s usage of the Old Testament Melchizedekan passages. First, as can be seen from the section above, the Old Testament does not have much to say about Melchizedek. Ironically, it is precisely because of this that the author of Hebrews has much to say about him. F. F. Bruce points out that the author “finds as much significance in what is not said about Melchizedek as he does in what is said about him.”[11] A great deal of the author’s discourse is built upon an argument from silence. Although arguments from silence may be taboo in modern scholarship, D. A. Carson helpfully points out that silence can be remarkably informative where there should be noise.[12] He explains that for Genesis to omit information regarding the birth, death, and lineage of a character of such prestige—so much prestige, in fact, that he conferred a blessing upon the great patriarch, Abraham—to appear in a book which connects all of the important characters to a genealogy, is silence which speaks volumes.[13] It is a silence which should cause the casual reader to pause and consider what must be inferred in light of such a great omission.

On another note, George Guthrie suggests that the author of Hebrews uses the Rabbinic hermeneutical technique, verbal analogy.[14] Verbal analogy “refers to an interpreter’s utilization of one passage to explain another in light of a term or phrase the two have in common.”[15] In other words, verbal analogy is much akin to the modern day hermeneutical tool, “Scripture Interprets Scripture.” Guthrie argues that the author’s argument in Hebrews 7 is the result of interpreting Genesis 14:18-20 in light of Psalm 110:4: “with use of the words ‘forever’ (eis ton aiona), Scripture associates eternality with a Melchizedekan-type priesthood… When our author reads the Genesis passage in this light, the lack of reference to Melchizedek’s heritage and death makes sense.”[16] Guthrie’s observation is useful against those who surmise that the author of Hebrews was exegetically careless, or that he was sold out to mindless allegorical interpretations. Guthrie concludes, “Thus, the author of Hebrews interprets Genesis 14:17-20 contextually rather than grasping facts from thin air, but the context, in this case, is the broader context of Scripture.”[17]

Lastly, the author interprets the pertinent Melchizedekan passages typologically. Grant R. Osborne correctly states, “Hermeneutical principles in Hebrews must begin with typology. In one sense this permeates the whole book.”[18] Some, including the early Gnostics, have postulated that Melchizedek was a preincarnate appearance of Jesus. However, such an assertion overlooks the all-important phrase in 7:3 which suggests that Melchizedek was “made like the Son of God” (emphasis mine). In other words, “Melchizedek, for the author, is a type of Christ; he pictures imperfectly what will be realized in Jesus, the antitype.”[19] Guthrie says, “Melchizedek is not the Son of God but is ‘like the Son of God’ in that he ‘remains a priest forever’ (7:3) in the perspective of Scripture.”[20] Douglas McCready summarizes Hebrew’s typological teaching regarding Melchizedek: “The entire Melchizedek typology in Hebrews based Jesus’ qualification to be the priest of God’s new covenant on his eternal existence (Heb 7:24).”[21] The eternal priesthood promised to David in Psalm 110:4 finds its fulfillment in the high priestly ministry of Jesus Christ.

The Need For Jesus’ Melchizedekan Priesthood

The Lord did not swear on oath about an eternal priest “according to the order of Melchizedek” because he simply wanted to add to what the Levitical priests were already doing. Rather, the establishment of a priesthood of a whole other order was a necessity. The author of Hebrews, in 7:18, says that “there is a setting aside of a former commandment because of its weakness and uselessness” (emphasis mine). “The former commandment refers in particular to the legislation whereby the Levitical priesthood and its succession were regulated.”[22]

The Old Covenant Levitical priesthood was “weak and useless” primarily in the sense of 7:11, it could not bring about “perfection.” The word “perfection” has less to do with moral perfection than with “reaching a goal or fulfilling a function.”[23] Guthrie correctly suggests that, in light of the context, the Levitical priesthood was imperfect in the sense that it could not effectively establish “an eternal relationship” between God and people.[24] The author of Hebrews provides many reasons why the Levitical priesthood was incapable of bringing this end about, however only one is centrally pertinent to the author’s discussion regarding Jesus priesthood in the order of Melchizedek: the fact that Levitical priests were “prevented by death from continuing” their high priestly ministry (7:23).

The purpose of the priesthood was to make the needed provisions so that defiled men could draw near to a holy God. Without the proper sacrifices there could be no access to God. Thus, death was no mere bump in the road—it was an avalanche blocking men from God. So long as those who mediated between God and man were “prevented by death from continuing,” eternal salvation simply could not be attained. This is not to suggest that the Old Covenant sacrificial system was bad in any sense of the word. Guthrie helpfully explains: “Hebrews 7:11-28 really confronts us with two paradigms of relating to God, one that has anticipated but has now been replaced by the other, because by nature it was unable to arrive at God’s ultimate aim.”[25] Thus, the inevitability of death was a glaring problem which plagued the Levitical priesthood. Bruce states, “In generation after generation the high priest died and his office passed to another, until in all (so Josephus reckons) eighty-three high priests officiated from Aaron to the fall of the Second Temple in A.D. 70.”[26]

The Character of Jesus’ Melchizedekan Priesthood

There are three things, at least according to Letter to the Hebrews, that characterize Jesus’ Melchizedekan priesthood. Because the author of Hebrews was calling his recipients away from the pull of Judaism unto the superior hope of Christ, he primarily explains Christ’s priesthood by comparing it to that of the Old Covenant. All three of these characteristics of Jesus’ Melchizedekan priesthood have to do with it’s superiority over/against the Aaronic priesthood.

First of all, Jesus not only fulfilled the basic requirement of becoming a high priest by “being called by God” (5:5-6), but he surpassed the basic requirement by being sworn in by God on oath: “The Lord has sworn and will not change his mind, you are a priest forever” (7:21). David R. Worley says, “Within the author’s syncrisis (comparison) in 7:20-22, the presence of an oath for Jesus’ priesthood is in stark contrast to the absence of such an oath for the Levitical priesthood.”[27] While the Levitical priesthood was established on the basis of a command (Ex. 29:35), Jesus’ Melchizedekan priesthood was established on the basis of something much more binding than a command, an oath.[28] Worley explains the significance of God’s oath: “What God’s oath does is to assure the reader that he will not awake tomorrow and find that while he slept God decided to change priests. No: ‘The Lord has sworn and will not change his mind.’ Jesus will be priest forever.”[29] Hebrews 6:18 is the central text concerning the reliability of God’s oath concerning Jesus’ Melchizedekan priesthood. After all, 6:17-18 points to the trustworthiness and unchangeable nature of God’s oath.

Interestingly, Guthrie suggests that the “two unchangeable things” in 6:18, rather than referring to God’s promise and God’s oath,[30] refers to the fact that “Jesus is of the order of Melchizedek and that he has been declared by God as an eternal high priest.” Although Guthrie’s position is not standard, it fits the context much better. The whole purpose of this section is to show the superiority of Christ’s priestly ministry by calling attention to its unchangeable, eternal nature. Here we see that the unchangeable nature of Christ’s high priestly ministry is sure and solid because the one who cannot lie has sworn on oath that it will last forever.

Second, in 7:1-10 (primarily 7:4-10) the author expounds upon two different things explicitly mentioned in Genesis 14:18-20 regarding Melchizedek’s meeting with Abraham: (1) the fact that Abraham gave a tenth of all of the plunder to Melchizedek as a tithe and (2) that Melchizedek blessed Abraham. The author brought these two features of the Genesis passage to the fore so that he might prove Melchizedek’s superiority over Abraham and thus his posterity, for the purpose of establishing the superiority of the order of Melchizedek over/against the order of Aaron. Hughes explains,

The purpose is to demonstrate how great Melchizedek is in comparison with Abraham—a superiority that is especially startling in view of the fact that Abraham is himself the patriarch, that is, the ancestral founder of the Hebrew people, the one to whom the covenant promises concerning his posterity had been given by God, and therefore the possessor of a position of primacy in the long history of the Jews. The great boast of the Jews was that they were the descendents of Abraham, the friend of God and the recipient of the promise… But here is someone in their own Scriptures who is manifestly Abraham’s superior.[31]

Surely, if Melchizedek is seen to be greater than Abraham, he is, without equivocation, greater than Abraham’s posterity (i.e., those still in his loins, 7:10). The first observation made by the author is that Abraham gave one tenth of the spoils of war as a tithe to Melchizedek. The principle which drives the author’s argument is that “the person who receives tithes is superior to the person who pays them.”[32] Numbers 18:21-32 establishes the Levites as those among the Israelites who are to collect the tithes.[33] This specific function of the tribe of Levi “set them apart as unique among the people of Israel.”[34] And yet, it is almost as if, the Levites were paying tithes to Melchizedek through their father Abraham (7:9-10). Bruce explains the author’s logic on this point:

Levi was Abraham’s great-grandson, and was yet unborn when Abraham met Melchizedek; but an ancestor is regarded in biblical thought as containing within himself all his descendents. That Levi may be thought of thus as paying tithes to Melchizedek is an afterthought to what has already been said about the significance of this particular payment of tithes; lest it should be criticized as farfetched, our author qualifies it with the phrase “one might almost say.[35]

The author also calls attention to the fact that Melchizedek blessed Abraham (and thus his descendents still in his loins). Guthrie suggests that 7:7 “is not… a maxim that assumes only superiors give blessings.”[36] He continues, “Not only do subordinates give blessings throughout the Old Testament, but in Genesis 14:17-20 Melchizedek blesses God immediately after he blesses Abraham!”[37] His conclusion is that the author of Hebrews is not here arguing for the superiority of Melchizedek on the basis of the blessing conferred upon Abraham and his posterity, but rather on the basis of receiving Abraham’s tithe. Thus, Guthrie suggests that, here in 7:6-7, the author “parenthetically proclaims… the superiority of Melchizedek in connection with the blessing offered by him.”[38]

Lastly, and most preeminently, the author establishes the superiority of Jesus’ Melchizedekan priesthood on the basis of his eternal nature. As already noted above, Levitical priests were “prevented by death from continuing in office” (7:23). The eternal nature of Christ and his high priestly ministry is set in stark contrast against those of a more feeble order. Worley correctly identifies Psalm 110:4 as the author’s key Old Testament text in proving Jesus’ superior high-priestly ministry.

Without Ps 110:4 there would be no chapter 7 in Hebrews. The commissive utterance in the Psalm suggests the two main considerations of the chapter: the greatness of Melchizedek (who resembles the son of God, 7:3-4) and Jesus, a priest forever (7:3, 17, 20, 28). These twin considerations in turn are magnified and elevated by frequent comparisons to the inferior Levitical priesthood. But what is highlighted above all in these comparisons is the permanence of Jesus’ priesthood (7:8, 24).[39]

The author first seeks to prove the high priestly ministry of Christ by interpreting the Genesis narrative in light of Psalm 110:4. In 7:3 the author is in no way suggesting that Melchizedek is some sort of a demi-god or super-human not susceptible to death. Hughes helpfully explains:

The description without father or mother or genealogy, accordingly, should not be taken literalistically to mean that Melchizedek had no parents or family, nor does the statement that he had neither beginning of days nor end of life intend us to understand him as an eternally existent being who experienced neither birth nor death. The point is that these assertions apply positively to Christ, not to Melchizedek. The significance of the biblical silence is that it makes Melchizedek out as a type who in these respects resembles the Son of God, who alone exists everlastingly, from eternity to eternity. Surrounded by this silence, Melchizedek is the figure, but Christ is the reality.[40]

Much the same argument is made in 7:8 where Melchizedek is set in contrast to Levitical priests as one who, unlike them, “is declared to be living.” The point is that, in the Biblical record, “no mention is made of his death, not because he did not die, but because he symbolizes a priesthood that abides eternally.”[41]

Interestingly, Jerome H. Neyrey postulates that the way in which the author of Hebrews details Christ’s eternal nature is much akin to the way Hellenistic philosophers describe what they deem to be a true God. Neyrey explains, “Unmistakably, the author of Hebrews intends his readers to understand the figure described in 7:3 as a true deity, completely in accord with the topoi which describe true gods as fully eternal, uncreated or ungenerated in the past, and imperishable in the future.”[42] Whether or not the author of Hebrews was heavily borrowing concepts from the Greek philosophical world in order to suggest that Jesus is God here in 7:3 is not all that clear from the text. After all, whether the language used parallels that of Hellenistic philosophers or not, the author’s words in chapter 7 are crucial to his overall point. Nevertheless, Neyrey correctly calls attention to the fact that “the author of Hebrews seems considerably more interested in Jesus’ imperishability and eternity in the future than he is in his eternity in the past.”[43] This is a point of utmost importance considering the fact that the author’s purpose is to prove the superiority of the priestly ministry of Christ over/against that of the Levitical order—the crucial flaw with Levitical priests was that they were “prevented by death from continuing.”

In 7:16 the author gets to the heart of the reason why the Levitical priesthood was so insufficient in its function: namely, insufficient qualifications. The main qualification, on the one hand, which needed to be met in order to be a priest in the order of Aaron, was to be born in the tribe of Levi. Christ’s priesthood, on the other hand, set the bar much higher. Being born into the right tribe was simply too low of a standard for a priest in the order of Melchizedek; rather the base line qualification to be a priest in this order is possession of “an indestructible life.” Bruce comments, “Like everything else in the Levitical regime, the Aaronic order of priesthood was marked by transience; it stands thus in contrast to the permanence and effectiveness of the priestly office of Christ.”[44]

Implications of Jesus’ Melchizedekan Priesthood

The author of the Letter to the Hebrews draws out three main implications regarding Jesus’ Melchizedekan priesthood. First, in 7:12 the author asserts that a change of priesthood necessitates a change of law. Carson correctly suggests that the logic of 7:11-19 is entirely dependent upon the information in the parenthesis of 7:11.[45] In other words, it is the knowledge that the law was given on the basis of the Levitical priestly system that leads one to the conclusion that if there is a change in the priesthood, there must of necessity be a change of the law. Simply put, the law is so thoroughly shot through with regulations, ceremonial procedures, and the like which all pertain to the priestly system that to make a change in the priestly system requires a change in the basic foundations of the law itself. Such a change of priesthood was necessary because the Levitical system would not allow for the only one who possessed “the power of an indestructible life” to offer sacrifices. The only one who possessed such a “power,” Jesus Christ, belonged to the tribe of Judah—“and in regard to that tribe Moses said nothing about priests” (7:14). Thus, in order for an eternal priest in the order of Melchizedek, as opposed to a mortal priest in the order of Aaron, to arise, the whole foundation of the law must be changed.

Tom Wright helpfully points out that the necessity for a change does not, in any sense, call attention to the fact that the law was a bad thing; rather, he suggests that the author “is contrasting something… good with something better.”[46] In fact, both the law and its priestly system were a success. Truly, the law adequately bore witness to Christ. The purpose of the law and its priestly system was never to bring about “perfection” in the first place. Rather, it was to be preparatory for something much greater. Guthrie says, “Progression may be seen in the relationship between Jesus and the Levitical priests. God has not started over—he has brought to perfection, in the sense of arriving at a desired goal, to that which was anticipated but unachievable in the Levitical priesthood.”[47]

Secondly, Jesus’ Melchizedekan priesthood guarantee’s an eternal salvation. This is the author’s most central point in his discourse regarding Jesus’ high-priestly ministry. Everything said about Jesus’ Melchizedekan priesthood finds its climax in 7:22-28. The major point is that since God has sworn on oath (and it is impossible for him to lie, 6:18) that Jesus’ priesthood will last forever (7:21), Jesus can eternally intercede for those who receive him (7:24-25). This is why Worley is correct when he says that without Psalm 110:4 there would be no Hebrews 7.[48]

It is precisely because Jesus is able to eternally intercede for his people that he “has become the guarantee of a better covenant” (7:22). Wright is accurate in communicating the concept of covenant in relational terms. He says,

Psalm 110 reports God swearing on oath that the Messiah, the coming king, will indeed be a priest according to the order of Melchizedek, not for awhile but for ever. And this, as the next three chapters will go on to explain, is the basis of the claim that in Jesus the covenant itself, the marriage bond between God and his people, has been renewed.[49]

The eternal nature of Christ’s priesthood is set in contrast to the temporal (yea, hopelessly temporal) nature of the Levitical priesthood, in order to prove the completeness of salvation mediated by Christ over/against the inadequate ministry of the levitical priests. Because Christ’s ministry is eternally effective, men can eternally relate with God—their sins never interfere because Christ always lives to make intercession (7:25). Thus, Guthrie gets at the heart of this passage when he says,

Hebrews 7:11-28 really confronts us with two paradigms of relating with God, one that has anticipated but has now been replaced by the other, because by nature it was unable to arrive at God’s ultimate aim. So the question posed by this passage is, ‘Who provides a superior basis for relating to God?[50]

In conclusion, Christ’s Melchizedekan priesthood is greater than the priesthood of Aaron because it can, in light of its eternal nature, win eternal gifts.

Relevance for Original Recipients

The author of Hebrews did not expound upon Jesus’ Melchizedekan priesthood for the mere sake of indoctrinating his audience. Rather, the reason he put so much thought and work into such a seemingly complex instruction was because they were in need of finding great reason to cling to Christ as the preeminent priest. The Letter to the Hebrews was written to a group of Jewish believers who were toying with the idea of going back into their native religion, Judaism, for the sake of avoiding the reproach of bearing the name of Christ.[51] The author set forth to dissuade them from such an action by proving the superiority of everything associated with Christ against the backdrop of the limited, temporal nature of everything associated with Judaism. In essence, they were looking to the Levitical system for something that it could not give, a lasting relationship with God. Worley summarizes the author’s intent for his original audience,

“Tired people can keep on going if there is hope for rest… For some the hope was failing and so was their endurance. The author decides upon a rather stunning, novel approach to encourage endurance: He will tell them how great a high priest we have. His rhetorical quiver is not lacking as he shoots his arrows, through teaching this primary consideration, admonishing them throughout the letter, and using syncrisis extensively as a way of magnifying the greatness of Jesus’ priesthood.[52]

It is a knowledge of Jesus’ Melchizedekan priesthood that will be effective to make them stand strong against the pressures of persecution, because it is Jesus’ Melchizedekan priesthood which guarantee’s their eternal salvation. Thus, “We have this hope as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure. It enters the inner sanctuary behind the curtain, where Jesus, who went before us, has entered on our behalf. He has become a high priest forever, in the order of Melchizedek” (Heb. 6:19-20)

Conclusion

The author of Hebrews leans primarily upon Psalm 110:4 to prove the eternal nature of Jesus’ high priestly ministry. It was the author’s intent to not merely show the efficacy of Jesus’ priestly work, but to package it in such a way to demonstrate both the folly of clinging to the Levitical priestly system and the reasonableness of clinging to Christ. While Melchizedek was neither a super-human nor a demi-god, the absence of details regarding him in Genesis 14:18-20, read in the light of Psalm 110:4, provide the author of Hebrews an excellent illustration of the eternal nature of Christ’s new covenant priesthood. The most crucial point in all that it said about Jesus’ Melchizedekan priesthood is that it provides those trusting in Jesus an eternal way of relating with God.


[1] J. G. Vos, Genesis (Pittsburg: Crown and Covenant Publisher, 2006), 226.

[2] Victor P. Hamilton, The Book of Genesis: Chapters 1-17 (Grand Rapids: William B. Eerdmans, 1990), 409.

[3] Vos, Genesis, 226.

[4] Kenneth A. Matthews, Genesis 11:27-50:26 (Nashville: B & H Publishing Group, 2005), 64.

[5] Hamilton, Genesis, 408.

[6] This is most likely a reference to hospitality rather than to a priestly duty. He was merely providing refreshments to a weary warrior after battle. Matthews, Genesis, 149.

[7] Matthews suggests that “To bless God means to recognize goodness as shown in the bestowal of divine benefits to his subjects.” Ibid. 150.

[8] John H. Walton, Victor H. Matthews, and Mark W. Chavalas, IVP Bible Background Commentary: Old Testament (Downers Grove: Intervarsity Press, 2000), 47.

[9] Robert Davidson, The Vitality of Worship: A Commentary on the Book of Psalms (Grand Rapids: William B. Eerdmans, 1998) 363.

[10] Surely, David did fulfill certain priestly functions (2 Sam 6:14, 17-18), however David was not a priest-king; rather he was a king who irregularly performed priestly duties.

[11] F. F. Bruce, The Epistle the Hebrews (Grand Rapids: William B. Eerdmans, 1990), 157.

[12] D. A. Carson, “Hard Texts: Why Does Hebrews Cite the Old Testament Like That?”; available from http://pjtibayan.wordpress.com/2006/10/17/d-a-carson-audio-sermonslectures/; Internet; accessed 16 June 2008.

[13] Ibid.

[14] George Guthrie, Hebrews (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1998), 255.

[15] Ibid., 25.

[16] Ibid., 256.

[17] Ibid.

[18] Grant R. Osborne, The Hermeneutical Spiral (Downers Grove: Intervarsity Press, 2006), 340. Typology refers to “the recognition of a correspondence between New and Old Testament events, based on a conviction of the unchanging character of the principles of God’s working.” R. T. France, The Gospel According to Matthew (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1985), 40.

[19] Harold S. Songer, “A Superior Priesthood: Hebrews 4:14-7:27” Review and Expositor 82, no. 3 (1985): 355.

[20] Guthrie, Hebrews, 257.

[21] Douglas McCready, He Came Down from Heaven (Downers Grove: Intervarsity Press, 2005), 131.

[22] Philip E. Hughes, A Commentary on the Epistle to the Hebrews (Grand Rapids: William B. Eerdmans, 1988), 264.

[23] Paul Ellingworth, The Epistle to the Hebrews (Grand Rapids: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1993), 371.

[24] Guthrie, Hebrews, 266. Hebrews 7:19 solidifies Guthrie’s statement: “(for the Law made nothing perfect), and on the other hand there is a bringing in of a better hope, through which we draw near to God.”

[25] Guthrie, Hebrews, 271.

[26] Bruce, Hebrews, 172.

[27] David R. Worley, “Fleeing Two Immutable Things, God’s Oath-Taking and Oath-Witnessing,” Restoration Quarterly 36, no. 4 (1994): 231.

[28] Ellingworth, Hebrews, 384-85.

[29] Worley, “Fleeing Two Immutable Things,” 232.

[30] This is the standard position on this passage. It is held by Bruce, Hughes, Ellingworth, and many others. Bruce, Hebrews, 154; Ellingworth, Hebrews, 342; Hughes, Hebrews, 223.

[31] Hughes, Hebrews, 251.

[32] Ibid.

[33] In one sense, therefore, the order of Melchizedek predated the law in much the same way that the Abrahamic promise predated the law (Gal 3:17).

[34] Guthrie, Hebrews, 254.

[35] Bruce, Hebrews, 164.

[36] Guthrie, Hebrews, 254.

[37] Ibid., 254-55.

[38] Ibid., 255.

[39] Worley, “Fleeing Two Immutable Things, 232.

[40] Hughes, Hebrews, 248.

[41] Ibid., 253.

[42] Jerome H. Neyrey, “‘Without beginning of days nor end of life’ (Hebrews 7:3),” Catholic Biblical Quarterly 53, no. 3 (1991): 440, 54. The “figure” Neyrey is speaking of is Christ and not Melchizedek. He clarifies, “That predication… is directed not to Melchizedek, but to Jesus. The author of Hebrews inflated the character of Melchizedek in 7:3 beyond anything found in Scripture or Midrash, so as to make comparable statements about Jesus, who is unquestionably acclaimed a divine figure in Hebrews.”

[43] Ibid., 452.

[44] Bruce, Hebrews, 169.

[45] Carson, “Hard Texts”.

[46] Tom Wright, Hebrews for Everyone (Louisville: Westminster John Knox Press, 2004), 76.

[47] Guthrie, Hebrews, 166.

[48] After all, it is in Psalm 110:4 that God’s oath concerning an eternal priesthood is found.

[49] Wright, Hebrews, 79, 182.

[50] Guthrie, Hebrews, 271.

[51] Ibid., 19-22.

[52] Worley, Restoration Quarterly, 235.