Sinai and Zion: How Learning the Terrain of God’s Holy Hill Helps Us Read Isaiah

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[This blogpost is one of many on Isaiah, this month’s focus book in the Via Emmaus Bible Reading Plan. For more resources on Isaiah, see here].

In the book of Isaiah, the word “Zion” and the concept of the Lord’s holy mountain is prominent. Yet, Zion is not something that only appears in Isaiah, it is a theme that runs through Scripture. In the days ahead, I hope to put a few notes down on this concept.

For starters, consider the observations of Stephen Dempster, author of Dominion and Dynasty: A Study in Old Testament Theology. Describing the connection between Zion and Sinai, he writes (on an old blog that had so much promise . . . but little fulfillment :-):

I have been just reading and thinking about the whole relation between Sinai and Zion. Hartmut Gese’s chapter on The Law in his book Essays in Biblical Theology is extremely stimulating. . . . Gese makes the point that the Torah given at Sinai was given to one nation and there was an exclusive emphasis on it—a wall of separation was erected between the Holy and the Unholy. When the covenant was made and the atonement was made, representatives of Israel were allowed to ascend the mountain and eat and drink with God. The text clearly says that they saw God and were not harmed (ch. 24). They had unbroken fellowship with their Creator. Continue reading

What is the Kingdom of God Like?

kingdomIf there is one chapter in the Bible which best describes the kingdom of heaven (in other places, the “kingdom of God”), Matthew 13 is it.

Through seven parables, Jesus spoke to the crowds who came to see him (v. 1). In these parables, he laid out aspects of the kingdom that were both hidden and revealed, spiritual and physical, contested and certain, already and not yet. In short, by looking briefly at each parable we can get a list of the kingdom’s characteristics. Then, as we look at all the parables together, we are positioned to answer the question: What is the kingdom of God like?

What follows are five observations from individual parables (some are taken together), and two larger observations taken from the whole of Matthew 13.

The Kingdom of God Is . . .

. . . Mysterious

Perhaps it would be better to say the kingdom is hidden and revealed. For this is what mysterion means in the Bible. Beginning with Daniel 2, the word “mystery” speaks of a kingdom reality that was once hidden but now revealed. Continue reading

Biblical Theology in the Life of the Church: An Interview with Michael Lawrence

John Starke interviews Michael Lawrence at TGC Reviews, senior pastor (to-be) of Hinson Church (Portland, OR) about his newly published book, Biblical Theology in the Life of the Church: A Guide to Ministry.

In the interview, Michael helpfully defines biblical theology as a mediating discipline, which helps properly interpret and apply the Bible.  Thus, he sees biblical theology as a necessary step between understanding what the Bible meant and what it means today, and as the subtitle suggests, this is an essential part of the minister’s task.

I encourage you to check out the interview, and pick up the book.  I just got my copy and look forward to reading it and helping our church see the value of biblical theology.

John’s interview with Michael is one of many resources on TGC Reviews.

Soli Deo Gloria, dss