In Jesus, All Is Fullfilled

September 22, 2012 at 8:47 am | Posted in Books and Movies, Devotional thoughts, Theology | Leave a comment

I am reading F.F. Bruce, The New Testament Development of Old Testament Themes.  Though I am only 1/3 the way through the book, it has already been interesting and thought provoking.  Bruce does exactly what the title implies; he follows key themes of the OT into the New, to show how they are developed.  I found this book, believe it or not, in a Mormon used-book store, when we drove to Utah to pick up our daughter and spend a day with Loren and Carrie, our church planter friends with whom she worked.  Loren said he often found some treasures there.

I was interested in the title, and wanted to see how Bruce handles some topics that affect Dispensational theology.  I was pretty certain he was not a Dispensationalist himself, since very few European theologians are, and that has already been confirmed by my reading.  However, Bruce’s development has been thought provoking in other ways.  Without going overboard into typological interpretation, he shows how the major themes of the OT are fulfilled in Jesus.  The following quote was in the first chapter.  It was worth the cost of the book just to find this:

In Jesus the promise is confirmed, the covenant renewed, the prophecies are fulfilled, the law is vindicated, salvation is brought near, sacred history has reached its climax, the perfect sacrifice has been offered and accepted, the great priest over the household of God has taken his seat at God’s right hand, the Prophet like Moses has been raised up, the Son of David reigns, the Kingdom of God has been inaugurated, the Son of Man has received dominion from the Ancient of Days, the Servant of the Lord, having been smitten to death for his people’s transgression and borne the sin of many, has accomplished the divine purpose, has seen the light after the travail of his soul and is now exalted and extolled and made very high.

That’s a great thought for the day.  I’m sure if the Mormon’s knew what was in it, they never would have sold it in one of their stores.

A Visit to Worship Woods — A Parable about Worship Styles

September 15, 2012 at 9:01 am | Posted in Devotional thoughts, Worship | Leave a comment

I created this illustration many years ago and have used it in numerous settings, but have never written it down.  I was reminded of this in my devotions this morning and decided it was time to write it.  It is the story of the churches in Worship Woods.

Imagine you are new to the small town of Worship Woods and are trying to find a church.  There are only three evangelical congregations in town, so you decide to visit them all.

The first church you come to is Praise Pentecostal.  It meets in an old remodeled warehouse on the outskirts of town.  When you enter the auditorium, you notice people milling around talking and laughing together with drinks from the coffee shop in the lobby.  Dress is very casual.  When it’s time to begin the praise band gets up and leads music, which is best described as exuberant, with guitars and drums.  It is upbeat, it is sometimes loud, and the people clap along, some even seem to dance in their places.  The music goes on for 45 minutes; in fact the music is the main focus of the service.

The next Sunday you decide to visit Liturgy Lutheran.  The building is a glorious old brick structure with gorgeous masonry and beautiful stained-glass windows.  The atmosphere inside is quiet.  There are a few people visiting softly in the foyer, but most are in the sanctuary praying as melodious organ music plays in the background.  The dress is obviously more formal.  The service follows a strict calendar with some well-selected hymns, numerous soft prayers and a proscribed reading from the scriptures.  There are kneeling pads available, and many of the participants are on their knees.  The word that best describes this service is awe.  The members at Praise Pentecostal think the worship here is boring, while the members of Liturgy Lutheran think the service at Praise is irreverent.

On the final Sunday you visit Biblical Baptist.  The building is again a traditional brick church building, but it is much simpler than the one you visited last week.  When you get inside you notice that the focus of the sanctuary is the pulpit.  In fact, everything at a Biblical Baptist service is centered on the message.  The music is a few songs selected to match the pastor’s theme, and when he gets up to speak, everyone pulls out their Bible and notes.  The pastor preaches for 45 minutes focusing on one passage of scripture, including detailed understanding and relevant applications to life today.  If the members here attend one of the other churches in town, they wonder why there is no focus on the Word.  The members at the other two churches readily admit that Biblical Baptist has the best preacher in town, but they wonder if those people ever worship.

So which church worships the right way?  There may be one of these styles you prefer; there may be one you’re really uncomfortable with, and, though all of these churches are out of balance, you can’t say that any of them are wrong.  Biblically, worship should be all three of the styles demonstrated by these churches.  Psalm 95 was used by the Jewish people as a call to worship during the Feast of Booths, and I believe it should serve as a pattern of worship for us today.  It begins with loud, upbeat, Praise Pentecostal kind of worship.  The first verse says, “Come, let us sing for joy to the LORD; let us shout aloud to the Rock of our salvation.” (NIV)  But then the middle of the Psalm goes into a quiet, awesome, Liturgy Lutheran style of worship.  “Come, let us bow down in worship, let us kneel before the LORD our Maker.” (v6)  And, finally, the chapter adds the warning, “Today, if you hear his voice, do not harden your hearts” (v8), indicating that genuine worship involves hearing God’s voice and responding in faith – a Biblical Baptist kind of worship.

Corporate worship should, at times, be exuberant and noisy.  Yet, at other times, it should be quiet and awe inspiring.  And it should include opportunities for worshipers to hear God’s word and apply it to life.  Though most churches will emphasize one of these styles over the others, each of them should be a part of the worship experience.

Did Moses See God’s Face?

September 10, 2012 at 3:03 pm | Posted in Questions for Pastor Glenn | 3 Comments

Hello Pastor Glenn,

I’m reading the NASB and in Exodus 33:11 it says “The Lord used to speak to Moses face to face, just as a man speaks to his friend.”  But later on, in Exodus 33:20, we read that God said, “You cannot see My face, for no man can see Me and live!”  So did Moses see God’s face?

The whole idea of God’s face is interesting.  I was asked this question a few months ago but haven’t had time to answer it.  However, since I preached on Psalm 13 last week, and had to give some thought to God’s face, I was reminded of this question.  In Psalm 13 David prays, “How long will you hide your face from me?”  And in Psalm 27 the same author writes, “Your face, Lord, I do seek.”  There are probably many more thoughts on God’s face we could find, but these suffice to show that the passage in Exodus 33:20 can be confusing.

The face, in the Hebrew language, literally is the front of the physical head, but, since God doesn’t have one of those, the language must somehow be metaphorical.  (As are references to God’s wings, eyes, mouth, etc.)  Metaphorically, face can be a reference to a person’s countenance, attitude and sentiments; it can mean a person’s presence; it can also mean a person’s character, entire being,  and even his glory.  In addition to this, we see in the OT numerous idioms using the word for face, such as “hide your face,” and “seek your face” in the passages cited above.

When we read of God’s face in the Old Testament, there are many possibilities what it could mean, and usually the context will help us understand the passage.  In some cases, the translators have already determined for us what the passage means.  For instance, in Exodus 34:20, a literal “none shall appear before my face empty-handed” is translated by most as “none shall appear before me empty-handed.”  However, often times the metaphor is left in the text for us to figure out.

So the “face-to-face” language in Exodus 33 must also be a metaphor.  That phrase in English can mean not only literal looking-at-each-other conversations, but also intimate conversations or direct personal conversations.  Thus I take the verse in Exodus to mean God talked directly and personally to Moses.  Notice the qualifying phrase which supports this idea, “just as a man speaks to his friend.”  This language clarifies that, though God didn’t talk to anyone else at that time in such a personal way, he talked to Moses personally.  There is a parallel phrase in Numbers 12:8 where God was said to speak to Moses “mouth to mouth.”

However, God’s face in Exodus 33:20, “You cannot see my face, for man shall not see me and live,”  must mean something else.  I take it as a reference to God’s total character, his glory.  He lives in unapproachable light, if we were to see him in that light while still mortals, we would die.  Remember that God allowed Moses “to look on his back side (v23),” probably meaning to see a part of his glory, and that experience gave Moses a glow the people could not look at!  That part of God’s glory was all that Moses could stand.  This understanding is also clarified by the words surrounding the metaphor; in this case the request Moses had asked God, “Please show men your glory.” (v18)

For us who came after Christ, the Theological Wordbook of the Old Testament adds this encouraging thought, “In the New Testament God is manifested in Jesus, who alone has seen the Father (John 1:18; John 6:46; 1 John 4:12).  Christ is not only the Word through whom God is heard.  He is the image through whom God is seen.”   As we study Jesus, we see more of God’s glory in him than most OT saints ever saw.  He is for us “the image of the invisible God.”

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