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“Be still…”

Apologies in advance if this bursts your bubble…

Psalm 46:10 “Be still and know that I am God” is not about personal serenity. All Scripture is profitable *for* you, but not all of it is *to* you or *about* you.

Read the whole psalm, especially v 9. The warring nations are Israel’s Gentile neighbors who worshipped other gods. They believed that their military endeavors were reflections of the strength of their particular gods. Nation 1’s victory over nation 2 “proved” the superiority of nation 1’s god.

Amidst this chaos, Yahweh Himself poetically steps in. With no mention of Israel’s involvement, Yahweh personally obliterates the instruments of war the Gentile nations are using. He is saying in essence, “In the contest of the gods, there is no contest. I am the superior God, and all the earth will recognize this fact.”

So yes, in times of trouble, we as His people can rest secure that He will have the ultimate victory. But remember that this verse is a rebuke of His enemies for their refusal to recognize that He alone is God.

All My #BibleMonth Summaries

If you follow me on Twitter or are my friend on Facebook, you might have seen me do something strange last month. I decided (somewhat impulsively) to piggyback on the hashtag #BibleMonth—used by the SiriusXM CCM station The Message during the month of March—and summarize each book of the Bible in 140 characters or fewer.

As with any work of creativity, or any attempt at Biblical commentary, I am not completely satisfied with all the results. I produced each of these one at a time, though in some respects I wish I had composed all of them prior to posting. Some entries are better than others, and the style from one entry to the next is at times inconsistent. However, each one was produced with the intent that it would be as accessible and accurate as possible in the condensing of the content or the distillation of the themes of the book.

Without further ado, I present the content of all 63 summaries (I recombined the books of 1-2 Samuel, 1-2 Kings, and 1-2 Chronicles), minus the repeated closing hashtag #BibleMonth.

  • Genesis: God creates the world; man rebels against God, curses ensue; God promises blessing to/through Abraham, Isaac and Jacob
  • Exodus: God appoints Moses to lead Israel out of slavery in Egypt, establishes His law-covenant to distinguish His people
  • Leviticus: God sets laws for Israel’s holiness to mirror His own re: offerings, priesthood, feasts, and community life
  • Numbers: God readies Israel to enter Promised Land; Israel balks, forced to wander 40 years until next generation can enter
  • Deuteronomy: God through Moses reminds Israel of His law-covenant wherein obedience leads to life, disobedience to death
  • Joshua: God leads Israel through Joshua to conquer and settle in the Promised Land; Joshua warns about future disobedience
  • Judges: God punishes Israel through its enemies, sets up judges to rescue for a time; without a king, Israel spirals down
  • Ruth: God provides for an Israelite widow and her Moabite daughter-in-law, makes them part of the lineage of King David
  • 1-2 Samuel: God appoints faithful prophet Samuel, rejects sinful King Saul, blesses faithful King David but allows family drama
  • 1-2 Kings: God grants wisdom to King Solomon; Israel secedes from Judah; idolatry leads to downfall of both kingdoms
  • 1-2 Chronicles: God gives King David a dynasty and Levitical priests a temple; in exile Israel is given hope of restoration
  • Ezra: God brings Israel back out of exile to rebuild His temple; priest Ezra still finds lingering moral problems
  • Nehemiah: God inspires Nehemiah to rebuild the wall around Jerusalem; Nehemiah’s moral reforms have limited effect
  • Esther: God elevates a Jewish orphan to be queen of Persia so she may rescue her people from genocide; new festival Purim
  • Job: God permits Satan to afflict Job; Job and his friends argue about God’s power and goodness; God Himself sets Job straight
  • Psalms: God listens to His people in their praises, laments, requests, and other expressions of trust in His sovereign rule
  • Proverbs: God has ordered His creation according to the principles of wisdom, which are knowable to those who fear Him
  • Ecclesiastes: God frustrates human attempts to find meaning or satisfaction apart from fearing Him and keeping His commandments
  • Song of Songs: God ordains sexual love to be a special blessing for marriage as seen through the eyes of a newlywed couple
  • Isaiah: God rules over all, will judge all rebellion, and will establish His perfect rule over His people through His Servant
  • Jeremiah: God judges His people for their breaking His law-covenant, hinting at a future new covenant and a renewed people
  • Lamentations: God loves His people with an unending love even in the midst of His righteous judgment of their sin
  • Ezekiel: God condemns all sin yet graciously promises to restore His people so all may know that He is the LORD
  • Daniel: God proves His superiority by preserving His people in a hostile land and revealing His future perfect rule(r)
  • Hosea: God chooses His people fully aware that they will be faithless, pledges to restore them out of idolatry
  • Joel: God announces a “day of the LORD” when He will both devastate and deliver, blessing His people and judging their enemies
  • Amos: God holds all people accountable for their sin, pledges to destroy all sinfulness yet somehow also preserve His people
  • Obadiah: God pronounces judgment on the enemies of His people in contrast to the glorious future His people will enjoy
  • Jonah: God relents from judgment on those who repent and turn to Him, whether a pagan nation or a wayward prophet
  • Micah: God decries the flagrant sins of idolatry and injustice found in His people, ensures a King who will remove these evils
  • Nahum: God authorizes the destruction of the enemies of His people because they remain opposed to Him and His rule
  • Habakkuk: God uses wicked nations to His own purposes without excusing them from their wickedness; His people can still trust
  • Zephaniah: God declares the day of the LORD will wipe out all traces of rebellion against Himself; only humble worshipers left
  • Haggai: God rebukes His people for neglecting His temple, then promises an even greater sign of His presence among them
  • Zechariah: God foreshadows cataclysms and resistance that will precede the establishment of His appointed King-Priest
  • Malachi: God denounces all false piety in His people, admonishes them to ready themselves for the day of His coming
  • Matthew: Jesus confirms he is the promised Messianic King of Israel who supersedes the OT experts and the law-covenant
  • Mark: Jesus works miracles, teaches to prove his authority; rejected by some but filling his followers with awe
  • Luke: Jesus proves his greatness through his miracles and teaching on his journey to Jerusalem; the humble trust in him
  • John: Jesus performs 7 signs and makes 7 “I am” statements to prove He is the Christ, the Son of God in whom we may believe
  • Acts: Jesus sends his disciples to be his witnesses; Word of God spreads from Jerusalem to Rome via Peter and Paul
  • Romans: Jesus offers salvation through faith in himself to Jews and Gentiles; justification -> sanctification -> unity
  • 1 Corinthians: Jesus calls for unity in the church through shared faith in himself and shared obedience to himself
  • 2 Corinthians: Jesus certifies Paul as an apostle through his ministry and suffering; true Christians listen to his message
  • Galatians: Jesus rejects all attempts to reinstate Israel’s law-covenant which he has overridden by his new covenant
  • Ephesians: Jesus reconciles believers with God and unifies them through the gospel; church must uphold right preaching/living
  • Philippians: Jesus enables Christians to endure suffering with joy since he modeled humility and will complete his good work
  • Colossians: Jesus reigns supreme over all things, foremost the church; Christians submit to him, not earthly philosophies
  • 1 Thessalonians: Jesus orders his church by his word and the promise of his return; Christians live in a worthy manner till then
  • 2 Thessalonians: Jesus forbids misunderstandings of his return as excuses for idleness; Christians must speak and work well
  • 1 Timothy: Jesus appoints pastors over churches to guard the doctrine and guide the people; Christians imitate faithful elders
  • 2 Timothy: Jesus emboldens his messengers to trust in his word and speak despite opposition; Christians need faithful preaching
  • Titus: Jesus installs elders to teach sound doctrine and live holy lives so that believers may be equipped to do good deeds
  • Philemon: Jesus reorients relationships between Christians so that even a master and slave may fellowship as brothers
  • Hebrews: Jesus surpasses the OT messengers, priesthood, and sacrifices; Christians persevere in faith that he is better
  • James: Jesus grants wisdom to any who ask so that we may not only see our sin but also humble ourselves enough to obey
  • 1 Peter: Jesus sets his people apart from the rest of the world; Christians can endure suffering through their hope in him
  • 2 Peter: Jesus protects Christians from false teachers by reminding them of the Bible’s promises, especially re His return
  • 1 John: Jesus assures his people of salvation through negative examples and positive exhortations to believe, obey, and love
  • 2 John: Jesus distinguishes his people by their knowledge of truth and love for one another; Christians reject false teachers
  • 3 John: Jesus commends his people who show hospitality to faithful messengers of the gospel, proving they believe the message
  • Jude: Jesus keeps his people from apostasy by showing how self-destructive it has always been; Christians contend for the faith
  • Revelation: Jesus reveals he will conquer every foe and fulfill every Biblical promise at his return; Christians say, Amen, Come

And there you have it. I may revisit these at some later date and tweak them more to my perfectionist liking, but that will have to do for now. In the meantime, why not start thinking through how you would explain the Bible?

P.S. The Christian satirical news site The Babylon Bee has also presented their own summaries.

The Defiant Officer

[Note: this is an updated version of something that I wrote a few months back before I had a blog. It is much more political than I tend to be in general; I publish this to communicate spiritual truths and not to alienate those with whom I would disagree on political matters. It also may not be as timely as it used to be, but I think it still holds up.]

The government has issued an order that, while it is not far removed from the social conventions of the day, signals a dramatic change in public policy. The government insists that this new ruling will not intrude on people’s privately-held beliefs; all that is required is compliance. However, there is someone who refuses to comply on religious grounds, and that someone happens to work for the government. The government offers the officer two options: submit to the ruling, or suffer the consequences. The officer instead chooses a third option: stand firm.

Of course, I’m talking about Kim Davis, the controversial county clerk from Kentucky who, because of her conscientious objection to same-sex marriage, refused to issue marriage licenses and consequently was given jail time. (And, in truth, much has already been written regarding whether Ms. Davis’ actions were a violation of the so-called “separation of church and state” or whether the First Amendment was drafted specifically for such occasions.)

But the outlines of the story above do not apply exclusively to Ms. Davis. I am also talking about Daniel (Daniel 6), and his friends Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-Nego (Daniel 3).

To be certain, these cases are not identical. Ms. Davis did halt issuing marriage licenses, but also requested an adjustment be made to the form itself so that her signature would not be required; Daniel and his friends requested no such religious accommodation. Ms. Davis was imprisoned for what turned out to be five days; Daniel and his friends were sentenced to death. As a result of Ms. Davis’ actions, the law of the state of Kentucky has been amended, though the ruling of the Supreme Court still stands; for Daniel and his friends, after seeing God deliver his people from certain death, both Nebuchadnezzar and Darius turned to God (however temporarily) and rescinded their previous orders.

But in all three cases, the act of defiance was borne not out of animosity toward anyone, but out of devotion to a higher authority. For these believers, to obey the government would be tantamount to disobeying the King of Kings.

In his ruling on Ms. Davis’ case, Judge Bunning said, “The idea of natural law superseding this court’s authority would be a dangerous precedent indeed” (cited here). In the case of Shadrach et al, Nebuchadnezzar said something similar (Daniel 3:15 NET): “Now, who is that god who can rescue you from my power?” It is hubris, plain and simple, that would elevate the dictates of the state over the commands of the Creator. Conversely, it is humility in its purest form that allows the believer to look the ruler du jour in the eye and say, “I must not bow.”

Fellow Christians, we have already surrendered to Christ, so it would be improper—rather, impossible—to surrender to anyone or anything else.

Let us with one voice proclaim the name of Jesus as Savior, Lord, King.

Let us understand the case of Kim Davis as prototypical—she is merely the first of many who will suffer similarly due to the Supreme Court’s ruling, barring political action on our part (which is of limited usefulness) and divine intervention on God’s.

Let us pray for our American brothers and sisters in the days ahead, when the faith of many will be tested by the trials of the prevailing culture, primarily in the temptation to capitulate.

Let us pray even more for our brothers and sisters around the world who are currently suffering far worse for remaining faithful to Jesus.

Let us love our unbelieving neighbors enough to oppose that which would ultimately cause harm to themselves, no matter how vocal their support.

Let us petition the Lord to humble those arrogant Nebuchadnezzars and Belshazzars who would exalt themselves over and against our God.

Let us remember the cases of Daniel and his friends as exemplary—we must demonstrate allegiance to the one true God, though it cost us our lives.

Let us truly believe that Jesus is Lord and Christ, not just inwardly with all our hearts, but also outwardly in all our vocations, saying with Peter and the apostles, “We must obey God rather than men” (Acts 5:29).

And let us look forward to the day when the stone of Daniel 2 becomes an immovable mountain that fills the whole earth, and the Son of Man of Daniel 7 takes his rightful place on the throne as King of All.