Posted in Uncategorized on September 13, 2016 by ijeremiah

Melchizedek turns out to be Jesus after all

Once upon a time there was a city, a rather large one compared to others near by, rather attractively called Salem; how this name came about no one knows but it is steeped in the myths of history. The peaceful city was ruled, as are most cities, by some good kings, some not so good, and even several ugly ones, but all of the same extended family: usually the next king would be the first born son of the current one, perhaps a nephew every once and a while, but never farther out of the family than that. Regardless of that genealogical stuff, upon assuming the kingly throne, the new king would be given an “official” name, by habit each name included the word “zedek”; i.e., “righteousness.” For instance, one of the better of the bunch was called Adonai-zedek (“my lord is righteous”).

Sometime an incident occurred which continues to puzzle. I believe Abizedek was king at the time, but it may have been Zedekiah, it’s easy to confuse you know, all those names sound alike. Well one day—we will assume Zedekiah for sake of the story—the king was up and about early, since he planned a trip to the coast for the annual grain festival-—Ruth gone bad, if you know what I mean.

Well it wasn’t soon after Zeek left, that this guy showed up; I mean he just showed up, regal looking and all that stuff. I am your king he claimed, can’t you tell? My name is Melchizedek, just like all the others. Now we didn’t know what to do with him, but since Zeek was gone for the weekend we had fun and played along with his game. If he had showed up with a regiment or two, perhaps we would have taken him seriously but he seemed harmless enough.

It was not too long before this huge dust cloud formed on the horizon, drawing everyone to the walls—only the brave ones went out to investigate. “Abraham, Abraham” they returned shouting, and boy does he got stuff. We all run out, this Melchizedek comes along too, walking more stately than we all. And wouldn’t you know it, he steals the show; pretending to be our king he blesses good old Abe. Now here’s the amazing thing, Abe, who we have all known since forever—at least it seems that way—gives an offering to this Melchizedek, 10%, if you could believe it, of all the stuff he took from those raiding Mesopotamians (of course they had stolen most of it from the people of the valley—sin city if there ever was one).

Mel, we quickly reduce those long names to something more manageable, doesn’t keep anything—not even a new suit, but turns it all over to our temple and its priests. We had some storm damage to the temple, so the supplies will help fund the repairs. Party time to say the least, well it was more like a pot luck dinner, but while we were celebrating our new pseudo-king ups and leaves. Just like that, he left as he came, no one knew his family, where he came from, or what happened to him, weird stuff.

A few days pass and Zedekiah returns, he’s been up to something, we all know but he won’t tell. He wonders where all the money for the temple rehab project came from, but when we tell him he laughs. You got to come up with a better story than that he says, but when we can’t he doesn’t complain. He’s happy, we’re happy; all ends well when Santa Claus shows up.


Ezekiel as Watchman

Posted in Ezekiel on December 30, 2012 by ijeremiah

The 3 stories of Ezekiel as watchman, chapters 3, 18 (implied), and 33, have challenged me over the years to plot the presentation in a simple, but comprehensive graphic. After several attempts, I have a draft that I would appreciate response to. I have never tried this before, but if all goes well I may share other info graphics that I have prepared over the years. So, let me know what you think!

Ezekiel watchman filled in 12 30 12

On recognizing my sins

Posted in Uncategorized on September 4, 2012 by ijeremiah

Way back when I used to think that one sinned less as they matured (not necessarily “aged”): I pictured a uniform, upward slope of one’s sanctification, one’s living for God. Later I came to realize that God’s testing, life’s events, or my failures caused that upward path to be composed of hills and valleys, some of the latter very deep; thus a zig-zag graph, but still generally upward.

At the advanced age of 63, I realize how naive these representations were. I now picture my sin’s committed graph as horizontal; that is, I commit as many sins today as I did yesterday, and, as a matter of fact, as how many I committed 20, 30, or 40 years ago.

The only difference being that whereas I used to be unaware of many of my sins, now that I am more “mature” I am more sensitive to them. And hopefully I do something about them after committing them, confess, seek forgiveness.

If this is true, and I believe so, it helps better explain the lives of God’s spokesmen, those who so readily condemned their own behavior. They truly were saints, but they were able to see more of their sins, since they were closer to God. But concurrently, they also were able to appreciate God’s mercy (OT) and grace (NT) more.

If managed biblically, this mature recognition of one’s sins drives one closer to God, and that it good. It’s almost as if he had thought of that in advance–nice. Thanks Jesus.

Isaiah 64 Chapel Message

Posted in Isaiah on August 30, 2012 by ijeremiah

We just were challenged with a well articulated revival message from Isaiah 64–read it; it’s a great text. During a pause in the presentation, I glanced down to chapter 65, wherein God responds with his interpretation of their confession and plea for him to come down to deliver them.

It’s not nice what yhwh says. He has grown tired of hypocritical repentance. Words, words, words, it’s just words–pious though they be. But the lives behind that confession tell another story. In the temple one praises God, outside the same one’s behavior runs rampant over the 10 words–violating most of them. And that without concern that this Janus-life greatly grieves his God.

yhwh has had enough; new heavens and earth will be created. Few though will remain to experience them, rather the creative fire will toast them along with their hypocrisy.

Revival is great; it is needed, just don’t pretend; you may get burned.

Living in the Gap

Posted in Wisdom--hopefully on August 21, 2012 by ijeremiah

Just completed 8 weeks with my Sunday school class on Nahum; they seemed to enjoy the study. So what is a Christian supposed to get out of this vitriolic  message of this 7th century prophet, as he rails against the current evil empire? Several thoughts come to mind, but one stands out. Nahum as with all of Israel’s prophets (there is an exception or two) was not sent to Nineveh to deliver his message but to Judah itself. Thus his was not a word of warning but one of hope. “Assyria, you are about to let my people go; thus says yhwh.”

How then was Judah to receive this word from their god? After all their nation was vassal to Nineveh: a heavy tax burden was due every year, a rather large Assyrian idol occupied a central place in the temple, and a constant flow of foreign traders, soldiers, and politicians traveled through often stopping to ensure that Judahites understood who was in control–of everything.

This, more than anything else defines God’s relationship with his people; it’s one of promise, the fulfillment of which yet lies over the horizon. God could get rid of Assyria at anytime, either miraculously via cosmic events or through normal, divinely controlled, political events.

But then if he always acted on his people’s demand, who would be god?

Rather he has chosen to speak the future, while calling upon his people to live in the present having to realize that the God who would deliver them is more than capable of taking care of them until that deliverance occurs.

In other words: God wanted them, he wants us, to (learn to) live well in an ugly world. Yes, Jesus will soon return, but in the meantime, live with full assurance that he is in absolute control of the mess that we call this life. Live now as if then.

Twilight of the Elites: America after Meritocracy by Christopher Hayes

Posted in Book Reviews on August 14, 2012 by ijeremiah

This is a fascinating read that changed my thinking. I used to imagine that one could achieve beyond their station of birth–after all this is the land of the free and the home of the brave, the one place on earth where hard work, diligent study, extra hours returned their investment: what one merits one becomes.

In contrast what really happens is that merit does work but for a very short time. It doesn’t take long before the new generation of those who worked up to the top become the old aristocracy in different form.

For instance, most if not all who enter Congress leave as millionaires, Republicans and Democrats alike. Regardless of what they say, laws passed slant toward the wealthy, as in keeping them wealthy.

The adage that the wealthy should not be taxed at a higher rate, because they reinvest their profit in the economy is bogus. What they reinvest their profit in is making themselves more money! The rich are getting richer as the poor get poorer. Who’s going to stop that, your wealthy congressman?

After reading, and enjoying, my way through his book, I anticipated the conclusion–what can be done to redistribute wealth. I wasn’t disappointed, but I was discouraged. What Hayes proposes is a cross-party uniting of those who want to improve our broken system. Whether Republicans or Democrats or libertarians or conservatives, these have to put aside some of their differences and unite for the greater good.

And that’s where I became discouraged. Not in the history of the world has such happened. Man has been and ever will be short-sighted. The only cure is bankruptcy. We would rather fail then work with those on the other side, even if our differences are minor. Hayes is only 34 years old–he needs to read some history.

Now God, way back when, had a solution. Every 50 years Israel had a jubilee during which all land reverted to its original owners. Those who had expanded lost, those who lost regain, economic life started all over again. Nice.

The Joseph Story

Posted in Wisdom--hopefully on July 26, 2012 by ijeremiah

“I am Joseph” With those words Joseph introduced himself to his brothers after not seeing them for 14 years. Remember the last time he was with them? They had thrown him into a dry cistern, sat down to eat a meal, heartlessly listened to his pleading cries, while they plotted his death, or what turned out to be a better deal–they sold him to slave traders bound for Egypt, an equivalent death.

What a story. God worked, Joseph prospered those for whom he worked, slaved–Potiphar, jailor, Pharaoh: rags to management, prisoner to COO, Hebrew to #2 in the country. All for the purpose of protecting those to whom he had promised.

I am fascinated by the conversation that the brothers have with Joseph after returning from burying Jacob. “On his death-bed our father asked us to ask you to forgive us for what we had done to you those many (~44) years ago.” Did Jacob actually say that or did the brothers make it up? After all why didn’t Jacob ask Joseph directly?

The bigger question is: did Jacob ever know what his sons did to his favorite? Regardless, Joseph acted magnanimously–“you meant it for evil but God meant it for good.” Of course the bothers had to demonstrate that they were not the heartless bunch, who had sold their sibling to rid themselves of his and their father’s obvious relational preferences.

Here Judah came to the fore. In the longest paragraph in the Joseph story, Judah pleads with Joseph to spare his aged father’s grief if his beloved son Benjamin would fail to return from Egypt. Judah says “take me instead”; that’s all Joseph had to hear. What had been prejudice was now concern.

No wonder the tribe of Judah had the place of honor in the tribal distribution.

Are you a Joseph? would you forgive?

Or better, are you a Judah? do you learn from your mistakes?