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Showing posts from September, 2014

Daniel 9-12

Lawrence Boadt provides so much helpful perspective on Daniel that I want to be sure to share it all with you. Here is the rest of what he has to say before we move on to our next book of the Bible….
The clear purpose of these visions is to predict in a veiled fashion the end of the kingdom of Antiochus Epiphanes and his persecution. This makes it highly probable that the author of chapters 7-12 was living through this terrible time and wrote these visions to give strength to Jews suffering for their faith with the promise that God would end both the persecutor and his persecution shortly. The author actually predicts the death of Antiochus in a great battle with Egypt (Dn 11:40-45). But since this was not the way the king actually died—he perished defending his empire in the east—we can suggest that at least this part of the book was completed by 164, the year before he died.
Today the consensus of scholars understands the whole book to be put together by an author and editor who first…

Daniel 5-8

Here is more of Lawrence Boadt’s commentary on Daniel….
The first part of the book is a collection of tales that originated during the Persian era from 529 to 333. They reflect many Persian court customs and interests, such as astrology and dream interpretation. But they are written from a very Jewish point of view using a legendary hero who was taken captive in the exile as a young boy and brought up in the court of the Babylonian king. This Daniel carefully observes all the jewish dietary laws and yet stays healthier than his comrades (chapter 1); he interprets reams that no one else can understand (chapters 2 and 4); he predicts the fall of Babylon (chapter 5), and is thrown into a lions’ den for refusing to worship idols and yet is saved by God (chapter 6). These are all charming stories that make the point that God guards and blesses those who are faithful to him in following the law and in observing prayer. Because the stories are set in the moment of Israel’s greatest persecutio…

Daniel 1-4

Lawrence Boadt provides this introduction to the book of Daniel….
In English translations of the Bible, Daniel is always found as the fourth of the major prophets, standing immediately after Ezekiel and before the twelve minor prophets. This follows the Greek traditions of the Septuagint and it is easy to tell why they thought it should be among the more important prophets. The book is filled with dreams and visions that reveal coming events. But, in contrast, the Hebrew Bible always places Daniel among the last of the writings, and does not consider it to be prophecy at all. Indeed, it can be readily understood as edifying examples of trust in God not much different from the stories of Esther, Judith and Tobit. Some scholars consider it to be prophecy, others to be wesdom, and others to be a whole new kind of literature called apocalyptic, because it speaks about the overthrow of the whole world order.
But before deciding what kind of literature the Book of Daniel is, we must look at w…

Ezekiel 45-48

Throughout the book of Ezekiel, there has been the repeated phrase, “Then they will know that I am the Lord.” Of course, it is one thing to know about God, but it is another thing to know God in a personal way. I believe it is the latter that Ezekiel is most interested in. For knowing the Lord in a personal way means that the Lord is present with us. The whole elaborate plan for the rebuilding of the Temple in Jerusalem and the renewed offering of sacrifice there has one goal, one end in mind, that the glory of the Lord should fill the Temple. It is significant that the book of Ezekiel ends on this note: “And the name of the city from that time on shall be, The Lord is There.” That is what we all most need and want in our heart of hearts, whether we realize it or not. The thing we long for underneath all our superficial longings, is that we should know the Lord, that he should be present with us, that we might have a relationship of love with the Lord our God.
And what will be the resu…

Ezekiel 41-44

From the web site, Prophet as Artist (http://www.prophetasartist.com)
Here is Lawrence Boadt’s commentary on Ezekiel 40-48….
These [chapters] are written in a prose style that may be from a disciple of Ezekiel but certainly follow the master’s thought. Once the people have returned to the covenant, made possible by God’s power alone and not by their own good will, then he shall give the land its order—a new temple at the center of a renewed nation in which everyone has his or her place. At the center of this vision, parallel to the new heart in the first part of the plan, are life-giving waters that flow from the temple to touch every living thing in the land (Ez 47:1-12). The source of hope and prosperity will be God alone truly worshiped. [Does any of this remind you of the book of Revelation?]
Ezekiel’s importance should not be underestimated. Many modern writers give the impression that he was more interested in legal questions than in the true spirit of the covenant. But this is not…

Ezekiel 37-40

One of the most famous of all of Ezekiel’s visions is that of the valley of dry bones in chapter 37. The Lord asks the prophet, “Mortal, can these bones live?” And Ezekiel responds, “O Lord God, you know.”
That is a good answer. Only God knows if something that is dead can be brought back to life. Only the Lord can bring that something, or someone, back to the land of the living.
Then the Lord tells Ezekiel to prophesy to the bones and say, “O dry bones, hear the word of the Lord.” This shows us that the word of God is an essential ingredient to the giving of spiritual life. But there is another essential ingredient as well.
“Thus says the Lord God to these bones: I will cause breath to enter you, and you shall live.” The words for breath and wind in this chapter are the same as the word for spirit. Furthermore, we are told that the dry bones that are brought back to life are the whole house of Israel, God’s people. This is a picture of spiritual resurrection and restoration. It is anot…

Ezekiel 33-36

Lawrence Boadt has this to say about this section of Ezekiel….
Ezekiel’s actual words of hope to the people are not uttered until the city has fallen. When word reached Ezekiel in Babylon that all was lost (chapter 33) he immediately turned to the future to find God’s promise still alive. He foresaw a twofold plan of God. The first was to bring the exiles back from captivity and purify their sense of the covenant. For this reason, chapters 33-39 concentrate on conversion and change. There will be a new David to shepherd the people; God will abolish idols and abominations; old hearts will be removed so that new hearts and a new obedience can be given to the people, and God will drive all the arrogant pagans from the land and make his people secure in peace. Of all of these, the passage about the new heart in Ezekiel 36:22-32 is the most important. It takes up the work of Jeremiah and extends it to all areas of life. Where Jeremiah foresaw a new covenant written on the heart (Jer 31:31),…

Ezekiel 29-32

Here is Lawrence Boadt’s commentary on chapters 25-32….
The oracles against foreign nations in chapters 25-32 contain some of Ezekiel’s most stunning imagery. He hurls threats against seven nations: Ammon, Moab, Edom, Philistia, Tyre, Sidon and Egypt. These represent the foreign powers that oppose Israel in the promised land. In some ways Ezekiel must have had in the back of his mind the famous command of Deuteronomy that Israel was to destroy the seven people in the promised land who were greater and mightier than itself, and make no covenant with them and show no mercy toward them (Dt 7:1-2). As Joshua had conquered the Canaanite peoples, so now God would defeat the foreign nations as a sign of his renewed gift to those in exile. Ezekiel uses these oracles against foreign nations as a prelude to the new covenant and the new blessing of the people when he brings them back from exile. Each oracle was given on a particular occasion. Some of them we can guess. Ezekiel 29:17-21 against Eg…

Ezekiel 25-28

I want to pick up where we left off two days ago with Lawrence Boadt’s commentary on Ezekiel from his book, Reading the Old Testament….
Another striking side of Ezekiel’s message is the importance he attaches to individual responsibility. He quotes a proverb, used also by Jeremiah, “The fathers ate the sour grapes, but the children’s teeth shuddered” (Ez 18:2; Jer 31:30). He then forbids anyone to speak it again. No longer will one generation have to bear the sins of another, nor the whole people suffer because of the sins of a few. It is important to recall that Israel had often demanded responsibility on the part of individuals—all the law codes show that; but it also had a general belief that God did at times hold the entire people guilty of the acts of a few. Achan had sinned against Joshua in Joshua 7, and the entire army had met defeat as a result. Amos had warned that God would leave a remnant of northern Israel when he brought punishment, but it would be no more than a piece of…

Ezekiel 21-24

During today’s reading, I was reminded of a series of monthly devotional letters called Kaleidoscope that I wrote almost thirty years ago. In reading over this one from September 1986 I find that I still believe in its central message….
When you’re weary,Feeling small,When tears are in your eyesI will dry them all.I’m on your sideWhen times get roughAnd friends just can’t be foud.Like a bridge over troubled waterI will lay me down.(Simon & Garfunkel)
The Bible teaches us that Jesus is the only bridge which will carry us over the troubled water of our sin into eternal peace. Jesus is our one essential friend—the only one who layed down His life for you and me so that we could be forgiven. In Ezekiel 22:30 God says,
I looked for a man among them who would build up the wall and stand before me in the gap on behalf of the land so I would not have to destroy it, but I found none.
God became a man in Jesus Christ to bridge that gap which no one else could bridge, to bridge that gap between …