This year's Christmas has been dreary due to the death of my father. Before his death, I began reading Dietrich Bonhoeffer's Christmas Sermons for my yearly Advent reading. I continued reading after my father's death. I'm glad I did because this little volume was good for my heart during this time. Ever since I started these yearly Advent readings, no volume clearly defined what Advent is as well as this one. Advent is not just a time to meditate on Christ's birth. It is a time to determine just how separate from the world we really are. Do we long for the return of Christ as the ancient Israelites, such as Simeon and Anna in Luke 3, longed for Israel's Messiah? Bonhoeffer used various illustrations to demonstrate how we should be longing for Christ's return. Here are two:
"Think of a prison. For long years, the prisoners have born the shame and punishment of their imprisonment. Hard forced labor has plagued them, until life itself has become a burden. Again and again, they have tried one way or another to escape, but they were caught and brought back to even harsher conditions than they had before. Even if some escape, the others suffer. With sighs and tears these others lament their loss and hate their chains. And now suppose that a message came to the prison: 'Within a short time, you will all be free. Your chains will fall off. Your tormentors will be bound and you will be delivered.' Can you not hear the prisoners with one voice crying out with all their heart: 'Yes. Deliverer, come!
"Think of a hospital where a patient lies, suffering from an incurable disease, in agony with indescribable pain,dying slowly, and slowly longing for the peace of death to end this plague. And now, one day, the doctor comes to the patient and says with confidence and says with confidence: 'Today, you will be released. Your terminal illness will be healed. Lift up your head and be delivered from your pain.' "
Not only did Bonhoeffer clearly define what Advent is, he also captured better than most how the spirit of contemporary Christianity is opposed to true spirituality and how true disciples of Christ should separate themselves from it.
On Christmas day, I began reading Athinasius' On the Incarnation. Next Christmas, I shall read Luther's Christmas Sermons.
Friday, December 27, 2013
I taught one lesson on the book of Joshua on a Wed. morning, I think on 12/4. I have been unable to teach on Wed. since then. On the 11th, my father passed away, and class was canceled on the 18th. Of course, Wed. was Christmas. As the next Wed. is New Years, the next class will probably be cancelled. Anyway, here are my notes for Joshua, which I will be teaching over the next couple of weeks.
Joshua: “Jehovah as salvation”
Names for Joshua: Hoshea (Num. 13:8, 16, Dt. 32:44), Jehoshua (1Chron. 7:27), Jeshua (Neh. 8:17), Jesus (Heb. 4:8). Jesus is the Greek form of Joshua.
Born a slave in Egypt, son of Nun, a descendant of Ephraim, younger son of Joseph, blessed by Jacob, the greater blessing than older brother Mannasseh.
Ex. 17:8-16- victory over the Amalekites, descendants of Esau, Esau’s son’s concubine, Gen. 36:12. Older will serve the younger, Amalekites destroyed by David. Josh. Leads fight.
v.14- 1st account of Moses keeping written record. Wanted Josh. To have physical reminder.
v.15- Built an altar, The Lord is My Banner
Ex. 24: 12-18- Josh. With Moses on Mt. Sinai, saw the glory of the Lord with Moses.
Ex. 33:11- Josh. A constant worshipper of God.
Num.13- Josh. sent to spy out the Promised Land.
Num. 14: 6-10- Josh. tries to change Israel’s mind, Israel was going to stone him, Caleb.
v. 30- only Josh., Caleb will enter the land. All other spies died of plague, v. 36-38.
Num. 27: 12-23- leadership given to Josh. by Moses before the people.
v.18- Josh. “in whom is the Spirit”
v.20- a portion of Moses’ authority, share authority with Eleazar the priest, son of Aaron. E inquires of the Lord, Josh. carries out commands.
v.23- Moses lays hands on Josh, see Dt. 34:9, Josh full of the Holy Spirit
1. Moses servant of the Lord, Josh. his assistant.
2. 2-4, a command and a promise.
5.- remember God’s history with Moses.
6, 7, 9- be strong and courageous. Also 1:18.
7-8- meditate upon, follow the written Law.
Josh 3:1-8, see v. 5 (sanctify yourselves),.
v. 7 Josh. to be exalted before people.
v.10- know that the living God is among you, will drive out other nations.
Cross Jordon with Ark, Memorial Stones.
5: 1-12, circumcision.
v. 8-9- in the presence of the enemy. Vessels of bronze
v.10- kept the Passover
v.11-12- eat produce of the land, manna stopped.
13-15- whose side, NO!, holy ground, Jesus.
See Dt. 20 for rules covering warfare.
Josh 6-Jericho- “Moon City”- center of worship of moon god. Nor just destroying city, but worship center of pagan god.
v.2- God says “See, I have given city” while it was closed up. Also v.16.
God’s instructions unusual, before the enemy, not repeated. Josh. was to inquire before the Lord.
v.17- doomed to destruction, all that could not be put in the treasury.
v. 18- abstain from accursed
v.19- gold, silver, vessels of bronze, iron into treasury.
v. 21, 24- utterly destroy Canaanite paganism
v.27- Lord with Josh., fame spreads
v.26- curse fulfilled by King Ahab, 1Ki. 16:34
Josh. 7:1-Ai- 15 mile climb from Jericho onto central plain. Strategic. Achan took accursed things
v. 2-Beth Aven-House of Wickedness.
v. 6-10- didn’t inquire of the Lord in the 1st place. V.7-Josh. speaks to God like Israelites spoke to Moses in the desert.
v.13- can’t stand before enemies.
v. 24-26, see Dt.24: 16- children can’t be executed for father’s sin. Most likely adult collaborators. No mention of Achan’s wife. Either dead or innocent. See also Ezk. 18:3 onward. Achan executed in manner like Canaanites.
Josh. 8:1-2- don’t be afraid, dismayed (feel ashamed). Share the spoil. Achan was greedy, could have shared in spoil. God gave instructions. See v. 4-8, 18. v.3-35,000 men, not the couple thousand from 1st battle.
v.30-35- rewrite, speak whole Law, command of Moses, Dt. 11:26-30, 27:1-8. Memorial, for future generations, in presence of enemies.
Josh. 9: 1-2, enemies join, plot against Israel.
v.3, 9-10, knew what God had done for, through Israel. Like Rahab.
v.14- did not take counsel from God.
v.15- made covenant
v. 16, on- will not break cov.- Gibeonites made to carry wood to tabernacle, exposed to true worship. Helped Nehemiah rebuild temple.
Josh. 10- fought according to cov.
v.25- Josh. says be strong, of good courage.
Josh 11:15- Josh did all Moses commanded.
v.19-20-no one but Gibeonites made peace. Lord hardened hearts, no idolatry in Israel.
Josh. 23:6 0n- courage to keep Law in midst of pagan nations. Don’t serve idols, do not cling to remnant, do not marry pagans, or will be slaves.
Josh. 24: 2, 13, 14-15, onward. Choose!
v.29-32- those that knew Josh. served the Lord. Joseph’s bones buried.