• Old Testament

    Hosea’s Kindergarten Disaster and the Bloodshed of Jezreel

    The names of the children of the prophet Hosea surely raised eyebrows in the Hebrew kindergartens of ancient Israel. God told Hosea to name the first child Jezreel, which means “May God sow” or “God will scatter.” The name could either be a blessing or a curse depending on how one looked at it. Furthermore, the Jezreel valley was notoriously known as a location of much fighting and bloodshed (1 Samuel 29:1-2 Samuel 2:8, 1 Kings 21:1, 2 Kings 9:24ff). One child with a strange symbolic name was not enough. Hosea’s second child was given the name Lo-Ruhamah, meaning “Not loved” or “Unloved.” Can you imagine the awkwardness during roll call when that name came up? “Is ‘unloved’ here?” For Hosea’s third child, God told Hosea name him Lo-Ammi, which means “Not my people.” Each of these names were rather shocking to the Israelites. Most importantly, they were symbolic names…

  • Hermeneutics,  Old Testament

    Understanding Corporate Solidarity Through Genesis 3:15

    The concept of corporate solidarity, deeply ingrained in the biblical world, might be challenging for those accustomed to an individualized, democratic culture. However, grasping this concept is essential for a deeper understanding of various scriptural elements, such as the notion of being “in Christ” and the instances where groups are punished for the sins of an individual. At the heart of corporate solidarity is the idea that a single individual can represent a group or a body of people, similar to how a patriarch represents a clan, a father represents his family, and a king represents his nation. Corporate Solidarity Illustrated in Genesis 3:15 A classic illustration of corporate solidarity is found in Genesis 3:15, a verse crucial not only for its theological implications but also as a foundational text for understanding the entire narrative arc of the Bible. Known among evangelicals as the Protoevangelium, which means the first gospel,…

  • Hermeneutics,  Old Testament

    Do We Use Jeremiah 29:11 the Wrong Way?

    Many a Christian has found comfort in the words of Jeremiah 29:11, “For I know the plans I have for you, declares the LORD, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.” But are we guilty of misusing this verse? The message of Jeremiah 29:11 is one of the oft quoted verses in Christian circles. I think I have seen Jeremiah 29:11 used in contexts of encouraging graduates, newlyweds, and new employees. There have also been many times where believers have quoted Jeremiah 29:11 in an attempt to comfort those who are suffering. The Problem with Using Jeremiah 29:11 as a Proof Text of God’s Love for Us I do not want to play the role of Debbie Downer, but I do want to point out how we are often guilty of misusing verses like this. The first thing I want to point…

  • Hermeneutics,  New Testament,  Old Testament,  Scripture

    Fulfillment of Scripture is More than Prophecy

    We see the use of “fulfillment” terminology all over the New Testament. For example, in reference to Isaiah 61:1-2, Jesus says, “Today this Scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing” (Luke 4:21). Elsewhere John says that the events of the crucifixion happened “that Scripture might be fulfilled” (John 19:36). These are just two of the numerous examples in the New Testament where a fulfillment formula is used. The question is, what does it mean? Fulfillment as Prediction and Actualization of Prophecy The most common understanding of the fulfillment formula is that of prediction-actualization. The Old Testament prophets predicted certain things, and the actualization of that prophecy comes to pass (i.e., it was fulfilled). For example, in Isaiah 7:14 we see a prophecy concerning a virgin giving birth. In Matthew 1:22–23 we see that this prophecy is actually realized (fulfilled) in the virgin birth of the Messiah, Jesus. Similarly, there are…

  • Old Testament,  Theology

    Does the Bible Say There will be a Future Temple in Israel?

    One area of contention among those who argue about eschatological matters is whether there will be a future temple for Israel. Many think that the death of Jesus put an end to the sacrificial system (cf. Heb 10:18), so any rebuilt temple would be an attack on the all sufficient sacrifice of Christ on the cross. Does Scripture give any guidance on the issue of a future temple? Should Christians expect a temple to be rebuilt in Jerusalem? The answer to this question must be found by examining Scripture. One’s preconceived theological ideas should not influence the straightforward interpretation of Scripture. On that note, it may surprise some readers that the Old Testament prophets speak regularly about the concept of a rebuilt temple. Ezekiel 40–48 and the Future Temple The most well-known passage which talks about a future temple in Israel is Ezekiel 40–48. It is filled with detailed descriptions,…

  • Christian Living,  Old Testament

    When the Lovingkindness of God Leads to Disobedience

    We often rightly rejoice in the lovingkindness of God. We see His goodness all over the place. His love for us is what compels the believer to obedience (cf. 2 Cor 5:14). It should go without saying that the lovingkindness of God is one of the most powerful themes of the entire Bible. In fact, in the Old Testament, when God reveals His own character, He specifically zeroes in on His own compassion and lovingkindness as definitional characteristics He wants His people to know about. Then the LORD passed by in front of him and proclaimed, “The LORD, the LORD God, compassionate and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in lovingkindness and truth; who keeps lovingkindness for thousands, who forgives iniquity, transgression and sin; yet He will by no means leave the guilty unpunished, visiting the iniquity of fathers on the children and on the grandchildren to the third and…

  • Christian Living,  Ethics,  Old Testament

    Jealousy is Not Always Wrong

    Paul labels jealousy as a work of the flesh in Galatians 5:20, and we ought to view jealousy as a wicked sin. However, some people might assume jealousy is always a sin. But there are times jealousy is not a sin. Yes, you read that accurately—jealousy is not always a sin! In fact, jealousy can sometimes be good. If that surprises you, then we definitely need to look at the biblical evidence. A Deeper Look at the Concept of Jealousy We tend to think of jealousy (sometimes used as a synonym for envy) as wanting what someone else has or being resentful of them (and that is wrong). However, in biblical language the Hebrew and Greek words for jealousy are often synonymous for the idea of zeal. For example, in Psalm 69:10 the psalmist says, “Zeal for your house has consumed me.” Yet the same word can be used for…

  • Law,  Old Testament

    Collection of Articles on the Law

    Christians regularly have questions on the Law and how Christians should think about it. Because I have written quite a few articles on the subject of the Old Testament Law, and more specifically the Ten Commandments, this post will serve as a summary of these posts. Anyone who is interested in the Law or the Ten Commandments specifically may find the following articles interesting. The OT Law in Its Narrative Context This post was an analysis of the Law as it appears in the Pentateuch. Oftentimes we miss some of the significant applications of the Law because we neglect the context in which it occurs. Unsurprisingly, the narrative context of the Law becomes very important to interpretation and understanding. The Purpose of the Old Testament Law In this post we discuss the overall purpose of the Law. We discuss how some people have wrongly attributed other purposes to the Law.…

  • Law,  Old Testament

    Israel’s Prohibition against Coveting and the Need for Contentment

    As noted in other articles dealing with the Ten Commandments, the first four commandments relate to God’s relationship with man, a vertical component. The next six commandments pertain to man’s relationship with man, a horizontal component. The tenth (and last) of the Ten Commandments is a little different than the others, specifically targeting an attitude, not an action. The Tenth Commandment prohibits a wrongful desire, “You shall not covet.” Coveting in the Old Testament Compared to the Ancient World It is interesting that other ancient Near Eastern civilizations did not have laws prohibiting an attitude like coveting. There were many laws prohibiting wrongful action, but none that prohibited a desire for something that was prohibited. Coveting can be thought of as internal desire for something forbidden. It is not the action that is in view in the tenth commandment, but the implicit desire for what does not belong to you.…

  • Old Testament

    Why Didn’t Saul Remember David?

    One potentially confusing aspect of David’s story is that he is introduced to Saul in 1 Samuel 16, where he is brought on to the king’s staff as a talented musician. But later on, in 1 Samuel 17 it might seem like Saul has no idea who David is. Is this a contradiction in the Bible? Liberal scholars will often claim there are multiple versions of the David Legend which have been woven together into the whole story we read today. Liberals claim that these stories are not real history, but have been edited together to present a fanciful version of Israel’s kingship history. Does this apparent discrepancy between 1 Samuel 16 and 17 indicate we should not take Scripture at face value as a historical narrative? The Background of the Interaction between David and Saul David is introduced the first time to Saul in 1 Samuel 16:14-23. An evil spirit…