For my Old Testament Exegesis course, I was assigned to write an exegetical paper on 1 Samuel 28:3-25, a somewhat bizarre story in which King Saul requests a medium to bring up the spirit of the prophet Samuel. It’s rather a long paper, and not for the faint of heart or short of attention span. But if you can hold on through the historical context sections at the beginning, I think there’s some interesting application at the end. Click on the link below to access the PDF.
I’m making a little bit of progress on my Hosea Bible studies. I haven’t done much writing yet, but I’ve done a lot of reading and praying, and have divided it up into 13 sections for 13 weeks. This may change as the project progresses, but here’s a sneak peek:
1. The Story
2. A Call to Action
3. Chasing After Lovers
4. Searching for Healing
5. God’s Anger
6. God’s Broken Heart
7. When Discipline and Mercy Collide
10. Breaking Up the Unplowed Ground
11. Destroying Strongholds
12. A Prayer of Repentance
13. A New Identity
I’m sure I’ll keep you updated with bits and pieces from time to time. In the meantime, I’d encourage you to dive into it yourself and explore these topics. I did a couple of talks from Hosea for youth ministry classes this semester, and I can’t wait to dig even deeper. It’s a beautiful book and one that’s been working on my heart since this summer.
“I will betroth you to me forever; I will betroth you in righteousness and justice, in love and compassion. I will betroth you in faithfulness, and you will acknowledge the Lord.” — Hosea 2:19-20.
Today marks a somewhat strange and surprising milestone in my life. This is the first Sunday ever that I have not been sick, and still voluntarily decided not to go to church. Because truthfully, today is one of those days where instead of being “led in worship”, I really needed to find it on my own. I didn’t feel like celebrating this morning; I felt like being quiet.
I mentioned in my last post that I’ve just been a little “off” the past couple of weeks. One thing that’s tricky about being a Bible major is making sure you don’t forget the purpose behind what you’re doing. It had been a while since I’d read my Bible just to read it. And because I’ve been in frantic finals week mode, I knew that going to church this morning would make me feel resentful. Turn in paper, get an A. Go to church, get an A. It would be somewhere else I had to go, something else I had to do, to punch the ol’ time card and say that I went. Plus, a good friend was in town this weekend, and we’d made plans to get lunch together. To be able to do that, I would have to go to early service. And since most of the people I know go to second service, would there really be all that much community? No. I would sit there alone and not be able to muster up the energy to sing after 6 hours of sleep.
After the hustle and bustle and stress and frustration and confusion of the last couple of weeks, I really just needed to be alone with God to refuel. And honestly, it was the best thing I could have done.
Instead of getting up at 7, I slept until 9. And here’s what I did.
First, I spent a few minutes journaling and praying. Then I listened to Fire Fall Down by Hillsong United and Give Me Faith by Elevation Worship. And then I got on youtube and watched Lifehouse’s Everything skit and cried. Feel free to take a couple of minutes to watch it yourself, if you haven’t.
The end of the skit reminded me of a Scripture in Colossians about God making a public spectacle of the powers of darkness, but I took a little journey through the Bible to get there. First, I read the crucifixion account in Luke through the lens of the skit, which made me approach it in a whole new way. That led me to Psalm 22, and then I went to Colossians where the verse was, and ended up reading the whole book. There was a lot that really stood out to me today, but two passages in particular:
“Once you were alienated from God and were enemies in your minds because of your evil behavior. But now he has reconciled you by Christ’s physical body through death to present you holy in his sight, without blemish and free from accusation.” –Colossians 1:22-23.
“When you were dead in your sins and in the uncircumcision of your sinful nature, God made you alive with Christ. He forgave us all our sins, having canceled the written code, with its regulations, that was against us and that stood opposed to us; he took it away, nailing it to the cross. And having disarmed the powers and authorities, he made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them by the cross.” –Colossians 2:13-15.
The contrast of these two verses really stood out to me. Christ made me holy, without blemish, and free from accusation. But he made the powers of darkness disarmed, humiliated, and defeated.
I feel like I’ve been in super defensive mode lately, but what am I fighting? I am not my enemy. Other people are not my enemy. Finals are not my enemy. The real enemy has already been vanquished, and God finds me beautiful and perfect. And that’s what I found worth celebrating today, in my pajamas, in my bed, without any grand instrumental worship or a message from a famous guest speaker. Just me and God, and a quiet reminder of what this is all about.
This is the second paper I wrote this semester for my New Testament Exegesis class on the Parable of the Unjust Steward in Luke 16:1-13. Click on the link below to access the PDF.
It’s pretty lengthy, but the gist of it in blog-lingo is this: A lot of times we tend to shrug off this parable because it’s just plain hard to understand. How could the master possibly commend the manager when he’s just been swindled? Well, Jesus’ listeners felt the same way about the parable of the “good” Samaritan or the “righteous” tax collector. Those parables don’t shock us because we don’t have preconceived notions of what Samaritans or tax collectors should be like. But because we still find dishonesty offensive in our culture, this parable retains its full shock value. “For the first time, we ourselves must truly grapple with the idea that an unrighteous person may, in fact, be better than a Christian at some aspect of spirituality.” Therefore, we should seek to make use of what we have been given to glorify God.
And I wrote about a lot of other stuff too, like where the parable ends and how it relates to the larger context and all sorts of widely debated scholarly issues. If you can wade through the Bible major jargon, go for it. If you actually read it all, leave me a comment and I’ll give you a cookie.
This is an exegetical paper I wrote for my New Testament Exegesis class, affectionately known as NTX. You can click on the link below to access the PDF.