The letter/sermon to the Hebrews opens, like any good sermon, with a punch. The first four verses are beautifully constructed and designed to capture the hearer’s attention.
1 Long ago God spoke to our ancestors by the prophets at different times and in different ways. 2 In these last days, he has spoken to us by his Son. God has appointed him heir of all things and made the universe, through him. 3 The Son is the radiance of God’s glory and the exact expression of his nature, sustaining all things by his powerful word. After making purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high. 4 So he became superior to the angels, just as the name he inherited is more excellent than theirs.
— Hebrews 1:1–4 (CSB)
The entirety of verses 1–4 is one long sentence in the Greek, and at its heart is “God has spoken to us by a Son.” Everything else in the Greek is a dependent clause. The author’s main point in his introduction to the book of Hebrews is that the Son is God’s greatest act of communication to mankind, and he will spend the rest of the book of Hebrews explaining that point and all its implications.
Today we’re going to cut this sentence in half and look at the first half of this introduction in verses 1-2a.
1 Long ago God spoke to our ancestors by the prophets at different times and in different ways. 2 In these last days, he has spoken to us by his Son.
Three comparisons dominate, all centered around God’s speaking...
Christianity Is True ✝️
How Many Women Went to the Tomb - Supposed Bible Contradiction #23 | Inspiring Philosophy (Michael Jones) 📽 →
Skeptics love to bring up the claim the gospels contradict because they all mention a different number of women who went to the tomb. But exploring the cultural context can help address this objection.
This is a challenge that I’ve heard more than perhaps any other, and on its face, it’s a clear contradiction. Once you understand the conventions of the time and how the Gospel authors wrote, however, it really is quite simple to understand.
There’s no contradiction here. In fact, as Jones says, the “contradiction” probably shows how the Gospel authors were careful in not overstepping their knowledge and sources.
It’s not a long video, and it will do more than just show you how to resolve a commonly raised “contradiction” in scripture. It will teach you how to understand the four similar but different pictures of events we have in the four Gospels.
Challenge Your Brain 🧠
Naked Bible 101: Jesus, the Exile, and the Tribulation | The Naked Bible Podcast (Michael Heiser) 🎧 →
Lots of Christians interested in prophecy talk about the tribulation period (aka, the “Great Tribulation”), but they never seem to get around to asking where the idea comes from. In this episode we explore the development of the eschatological tribulation idea in Second Temple Jewish literature up to and including the time of Jesus. Surprisingly, asking what the tribulation meant in the actual New Testament era is a recent strategy of scholars – and something that never happens in popular prophecy teaching.
I hadn’t ever heard that there was a context to the “great tribulation” language from the Hebrew Scriptures to the Christian. Connecting the Hebrew exile to the “great tribulation” makes sense though. This will challenge you, especially if you’re not used to people talking about Jewish sources outside of the Bible, but I thought it was well worth the effort.
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Living This Christian Life 🤴👸
Sin assures us that we’re safe behind the mask of lies, but we’re not. We scramble to disconnect being honest with God about our sin from the need to be honest with others, too. And in that dark void, we change. We start to tell lies, and eventually believe them. We resist the Spirit’s nudges and quench his convicting voice. Slowly, living with hidden lies becomes normal.
Confessing sin to another believer rips off the mask of hypocrisy so we can breathe the air of honesty. It enlivens our heart to feel again, and it removes the veil so we can see Christ afresh. Confession humbles us, which by nature uproots the pride that keeps immorality alive and attractive to our souls.
Our hope for change lies in seeing Christ, but we will never see him until we step into the light and confess our sin to others.
Consider Another Perspective 🤔
The Danger of Useful Christianity with Russell Moore | The Holy Post with Phil Vischer and Skye Jethani 🎧 →
What is the greatest threat facing Christianity in the U.S. today? Socialism? Cancel culture? Wokeness? Not according to Dr. Russell Moore. He says it’s “means-to-an-end-Christianity” which seeks to use Christ to achieve some other goal. This, he argues, is what’s fueling everything from Christian nationalism to the cover up of sexual abuse in churches and ministries. Don’t miss his wide-ranging conversation with Skye. Also this week, the podcast crew discusses the “Seven Mountain Mandate” behind so many of the cultural and political wars Christians are fighting today, and why it’s more about seizing power than serving Christ. How do we convince evangelicals to abandon conspiracy theories and get the Covid vaccine? Plus, Phil’s tired of hard butter.
The interview with Dr. Moore, former head of the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention, is the highlight to me. The discussion about the “Seven Mountain Mandate” was interesting as well.
The title says it well: as Christians, our focus must be on being "little Christs," and not to turn Christianity into a useful political or social tool. I think that's a temptation for us all, in different ways. It certainly is for me.
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Read and Reflect 📖
A friend told me he thought his eyes were too close together. Another feels self-conscious about being too skinny; another about his height. Once we start broaching the subject of what we like or don’t like about our bodies, it seems as though the vast majority of people feel unhappy about some aspect of their physical appearance: the shape of the nose, size of the ears, or proportion of different features relative to one another.
Very few of us, it seems, are happy with our body image. There are all sorts of reasons for this, of course—the unrealistic standards of beauty being pushed on us almost constantly by the media for one—but the cumulative effect is that it can leave us thinking about our bodies in a seriously distorted way. Five myths about body image seem particularly prevalent.
- What God Has to Say about Our Bodies: How the Gospel Is Good News for Our Physical Selves | Sam Allberry 📚
Listen and Learn 🎧
In the middle of Dr. Keener’s four-volume work on Acts, he decided to investigate modern miracle claims. He ended up with two-volume scholarly work on miracle claims from around the world. He did his best to find claims with documentation and that he could verify. More recently, he’s written a more popular work: Miracles Today: The Supernatural Work of God in the Modern World | Craig Keener 📚.
Here he’s interviewed about what miracles are, how we should assess them, and a few different miracle claims.
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Best with a Cup of Tea ☕️
Misreading Scripture with Western Eyes: With Brandon J. O’Brien and E. Randolph Richards | Remnant Radio 📽 →
The authors of Misreading Scripture with Western Eyes: Removing Cultural Blinders to Better Understand the Bible | E. Randolph Richards and Brandon J. O’Brien 📚 are interviewed by the Remnant Radio team.
From the book description:
What was clear to the original readers of Scripture is not always clear to us. Because of the cultural distance between the biblical world and our contemporary setting, we often bring modern Western biases to the text. For example:
When Western readers hear Paul exhorting women to "dress modestly," we automatically think in terms of sexual modesty. But most women in that culture would never wear racy clothing. The context suggests that Paul is likely more concerned about economic modesty--that Christian women not flaunt their wealth through expensive clothes, braided hair and gold jewelry.
Some readers might assume that Moses married "below himself" because his wife was a dark-skinned Cushite. Actually, Hebrews were the slave race, not the Cushites, who were highly respected. Aaron and Miriam probably thought Moses was being presumptuous by marrying "above himself."
Western individualism leads us to assume that Mary and Joseph traveled alone to Bethlehem. What went without saying was that they were likely accompanied by a large entourage of extended family.
Context is king when we interpret the Bible and apply it to our day, and the cultural context is one of the most difficult contexts to bring to the text because the Bible was written so long ago and so far away. We can gain clues from the text of scripture itself, but sometimes we need historical context so that we don’t read scripture through the lens of modern America and the West.
Keep Your Mind on Things Above
I will be praying for you this week.
“You have heard that it was said, An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth. But I tell you, don’t resist an evildoer. On the contrary, if anyone slaps you on your right cheek, turn the other to him also.
— Matthew 5:38-39 (CSB)