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MAR & APR | 2010

ISAIAH: BRIDGING TWO WORLDS

G E T I N TO T H E W O R D

MAGAZINE Matt Chandler on

with Bible Study a resurrected servant prophesied

500 years before jesus

4Steps for

Howard Hendricks’

Better Bible Study

Immanuel’s Mother

Virgin or Not? Repaint the Sistine

ANGELS ARE BECOMING SNAKES


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Letter

FROM THE EDITOR

When Jesus Knows What We Don’t

editor-in-chief academic editor

Once while preaching, Jesus looked up at His followers and said, “Blessed are you who

art director

are poor, for yours is the kingdom of God. Blessed are you who are hungry now, for you shall be satisfied. Blessed are you who weep now, for you shall laugh” (Luke 6:20–

Michael S. Heiser Sean Fields

graphic designer

Sarah Knepper

senior writers

Karen Jones Tim Newcomb

21 esv). Perhaps the poor who were listening were at first enthralled by His passion, but then thought, “How can He say that? How can a poor rabbi fix this mess?” But

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Jesus knew something they didn’t. When I work with homeless people, they often say the same thing that the crowd said to Peter and the other disciples (Acts 2:12–13): “Are you drunk? How can Jesus, a poor

John D. Barry

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rabbi, perform miracles? How can He fix this mess?” But I know something they don’t.

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Jesus’ disciples changed when He told them what He knew. The hearts of our friends can change when we share what we know too: Resurrection is coming (Mark 8:31–38).

publisher

Jesus has risen (Luke 24:1–12). He has risen indeed.

Johnny Cisneros Eli T. Evans Jacob P. Massine Christy Tennant Jared Bryant Dan Pritchett W. Ryan Burns Phil Gons Scott Lindsey Logos Bible Software

As you study the Bible this Easter season, remember that Jesus can bring resurrection to your life. As Paul said,

STATEMENT OF FAITH

“Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father [so that] we too might walk in newness of life. For if we have been united with him in a death like his, we shall certainly be united with him in a resurrection like his” (Rom 6:4–5 esv). “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ [they are a] new creation. The old has passed away, behold the new has come. All this is from God, who through Christ reconciled us to himself” (2 Cor 5:17–18 esv adapted). If we believe, the poor rabbi can “fix this mess”: He can fix you and me (John 12:36–43; Isa 6:10). The Son of God raised people (John 11:28–44), healed people (Luke 4:16–37), and brought peace to those with heavy burdens (Matt 11:25–29; Heb 13:20–21). He can still do that now. How do I know? I have watched it happen. When you see someone completely change and begin living for Christ, you know that Jesus is the resurrection and the life (John 11:17–27).

We believe in God, the Father Almighty, creator of heaven and earth. We believe in Jesus Christ, His only Son, our Lord, who was conceived by the Holy Spirit, born of the Virgin Mary, suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, died and was buried. He descended to the dead and on the third day He rose again. He ascended into heaven, is seated at the right hand of the Father, and He will come to judge the living and the dead. We believe in the Holy Spirit, the holy catholic Church, the communion of saints, the forgiveness of sins, the resurrection of the body, and the life everlasting.

ABOUT US Bible Study Magazine is a non-denominational publication dedicated to providing readers with tools and methods for Bible study, as well as insights from respected Bible teachers, professors, historians and archaeologists. Some readers may disagree at times with some of the content, but we hope that overall, you will find the magazine helpful and insightful. May God bless you in your pursuit of Him and in your study of the Bible. — Editorial Board, Bible Study Magazine

— Apostles’ Creed

John D. Barry editor-in-chief

Bible Study Magazine

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Mar–Apr 2010. Vol. 2. No. 3.

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john@biblestudymagazine.com

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Bible Study Magazine (ISSN 1945-0923; USPS 25–311) is published bi-monthly by Logos Bible Software at 1313 Commercial St., Bellingham, wa 98225-4357. Periodicals Postage at Bellingham, wa and additional mailing offices.

PostMaster: Send address changes to Logos Bible Software, 1313 Commercial St., Bellingham, wa 98225-4357.


Renew Now! Bible Study Magazine. John is a 10+ year veteran of Logos Bible Software and loves helping Logos users: ilovelogos4@learnlogos.com

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“Do not be unequally yoked...” II Corinthians 6:14

applies to health insurance, too. Buying health insurance is not the same kind of decision as buying a cup of coffee, or a car, or a house. When you sign onto a health insurance plan, you are agreeing to partner with the other policyholders to pay for everything covered by your policy. If they and the company are not committed to Jesus Christ, you can easily end up supporting practices that violate His teachings. Does your health insurance cover abortions? What about sexually transmitted diseases resulting from an immoral lifestyle? What about health problems caused by drug and alcohol abuse? The list goes on. Certainly Christians should respond with compassion to those who are suffering, but our charity should be given by helping those who are actually in need, not by encouraging unbiblical living by agreeing ahead of time to cover any consequences of immoral living. Members of Samaritan Ministries share one another’s medicals needs without using health insurance, and they have agreed not to share for abortions or other consequences of unbiblical living. The monthly share has never exceeded $285* for a family of any size, even less for singles and couples, with special provisions for members aged 25 and under or 65 and over. The 13,700* member households share more than $36 million* each year in medical needs. Call today toll-free at 1-888-268-4377 for more information about how you can join this group of caring believers and stop supporting the darkness. You can also visit us online at www.samaritanministries.org. * As of November 2009

Biblical principles applied to health care www.samaritanministries.org 4 |

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Matt Chandler on

with Bible Study 2| 6| 7| 8| 20 | 44 | 46 | 48 |

Letter from the Editor

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In the News Comics and Puzzles When There is No Justice, Seek Peace Facing Today : 8 Weeks in Hebrews 13 Start-to-Finish Bible Study Guide for Prophetic Narrative Wordplay in Jonah 3 New Books and 1 Teen-Magazine-Style Bible Reviewed

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Isaiah is about Life in General Before You Read Isaiah, Read This Standing in God’s Council Repainting Seraphim in the Sistine: A Hebrew Word Study without Hebrew Immanuel’s Mother : Virgin or Not? A Resurrected Servant 500 Years before Jesus Exile to Exodus (In That Order) Jesus Misquotes Isaiah 61? A diy Bible Study The Dead Will Rise : Church-Father Tertullian on Isaiah 66

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HEADLINES

IN THE NEWS

mary hollaway

The Bible on the Xbox 360 Gaming Console Broadman & Holman Publishing Group has released the complete Bible for Xbox 360, called Bible Navigator X, downloadable through Xbox.com’s Indie Games channel.

Users of Bible Navigator X can scroll through (and read) the Holman Christian Standard Bible (hcsb), run concordance searches, bookmark a favorite location, select one of ten themes (or skins), and project biblical text on a large screen.

The idea originated with Aaron Linne, a 2008 Liberty University Online Master of Business Administration graduate. It was carried forward by Broadman & Holman’s executive producer of digital marketing.

Although anyone can use the application, it was designed for youth ministry. Linne says, “This is also a great tool for youth ministers who teach in youth spaces that already have Xbox consoles in them. It’s a quick way to create teaching aids from equipment you already have” (source: HCSB.org).*

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Tweeting the Bible

Batter-Fried Scripture

Former Religion Editor for Publishers Weekly, Jana Riess, now goes by the “Twible Lady.” She posts a short summary of a Bible chapter each day on Twitter.com/JanaRiess. With 1,189 total chapters, the project is estimated to take three years and three months.

Two artists, Craig Little and Blake Whitehead, presented a batter-fried Bible at a Glasgow, Scotland art exhibition. The 200-year-old Bible was coated as if it were in a basket of restaurant fries (or chips).

Riess calls the project a “lark.” Her summaries are aggressive and playful. She uses abbreviations to ensure they stay under Twitter’s 140 character limit: ‘G’ for God, ‘Ex’ for Exodus, and ‘Aar’ for Aaron. Here are some examples: Ex 25: G gives specs for Not-Yet-Lost Ark. G quite micromanagerial re: architectural detail. Mercy seat, table, lampstand. Check. Ex 26: G gets seriously overinvolved in blueprints for Tabernacle. Hires hgtv designer to ensure purple & crimson drapes will “pop.”

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Ex 27: G spells out Tab interior design: custom & top of the line. Lighting, artwork & dimensions. Stainless steel kosher kitchen. Ex 28: Priests’ Project Runway! G turns from inter design to fashion. Ephod hottest garment since loincloth. Blue’s yr color, Israel. Ex 29: How-to for priests’ ordination: 1 bull, 2 rams, lots o’ blood. Get blood on Aar’s right ear. Wash ephod in Tide on delicate. Source: Twitter.com/JanaRiess

The Good Book was designed to be sold at auction as a master’s course fundraiser for the Glasgow School of Art. Church leaders have criticized Glasgow City Council for allowing the artwork to be displayed. Reverend Ian Galloway from the Church and Society Council of the Church of Scotland called it an “act of desecration.” Although the artistic benefit has been questioned, the artists assert that the batter and the Bible “are two quintessentially Glaswegian things” (source: The Christian Messenger).

Biblica’s 200th Birthday December 4, 2009 marked 200 years for Biblica— formerly the International Bible Society and Send the Light. From a small group of Manhattan Christians in 1809 (then called the New York Bible Society), Biblica has grown into a worldwide outreach. Their most well-known work is the New International Version (niv), which they created with Zondervan. Today, they provide the Bible in print, on the Web, and for digital media. They also oversee the publishers Paternoster and Authentic, which publish academic and general Christian titles.

Mary Hollaway is a freelance writer with Mark of Perfection llc in Columbus, Ohio.

*Xbox and its controller are registered trademarks of Microsoft, Inc.

A Note about the Chart Accompanying “Paul Never Wrote an Autobiography” by J. Paul Tanner (bsm Jan–Feb 2010), pgs. 30 –31: Under the “Formative Period,” the middle column should read “Tarsus and nearby regions including Syria” (not Samaria).


PUZZLES & COMICS

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Puzzle generated by Logos Bible Software. For the answers, go to BibleStudyMagazine.com/wordfind

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MOMENT WITH GOD

When There is No Justice

It was a normal, hectic New York City commute. I was walking through the Staten Island Ferry terminal to the subway, when I witnessed two young men collide. What was clearly an accident quickly became a showdown. The men began hurling racial epithets at one another and squared off for a fight right in the middle of morning rush hour. I wanted to keep walking. This was none of my business. But as I watched the interaction begin to escalate I thought: “Blessed are the peacemakers.” The irony was not lost on me. In my devotions, I had been meditating on Matt 5:1–12, and there was no question that God had prepared me for that moment by reminding me that I was to be a peacemaker. As my heart began to pound in my chest, I said a quick prayer and then walked up to these two strangers, already embroiled in a bitter battle of words. Placing a hand on each of their forearms, I said gently but firmly, “Guys, it’s not worth it. Just let it go. I saw the whole thing. It was an accident. Neither of you meant it.” After a moment, they did. Casting a few parting shots at each other, they walked separate directions. Crisis averted, peace restored—with a few simple, gentle words. The world desperately needs peacemakers. According to Isa 59:8–9 (esv), peace and justice go hand in hand: The way of peace they do not know, and there is no justice in their paths; they have made their roads crooked; no one who treads on them knows peace. Therefore justice is far from us, and righteousness does not overtake us; we hope for light, and behold, darkness, and for brightness, but we walk in gloom.

What would happen if, in our everyday interactions, we stopped to ask: “How can I be a peacemaker in this situation?” What if, when we encounter small injustices, we ask ourselves, “What would a peacemaker do?” In that subway station, I experienced that peacemakers can change the atmosphere of a situation. Peacemakers bring light into darkness. Hostility dissipates when a peacemaker enters the fray. 8 |

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Christy T ennant

Isaiah 59 recognizes this. It does not merely present the problem; it offers a solution: The Lord saw it, and it displeased him, that there was no justice. He saw that there was no man, and wondered that there was no one to intercede; then his own arm brought him salvation, and his righteousness upheld him”... And a Redeemer will come to Zion, to those in Jacob who turn from transgression,” declares the Lord.” (Isa 59:15–16, 20–21 esv)

The prophet was likely speaking about someone who would bring peace to Israel in his era, but his words also point to a future peacemaker: God’s “own arm brought him salvation” and God’s “righteousness upheld him.” Christ fits this description. As God’s son, Christ’s sacrifice on the cross and resurrection were the way that God’s “own arm” could bring salvation and eternal peace. Jesus is thus the ultimate peacemaker. Everlasting peace is only possible through Christ. As Paul remarks, “Since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ” (Rom 5:1 esv). As I enter into this season of Lent, Good Friday and Resurrection Sunday, this is the question I keep wrestling with: How can I embody and impart the presence of the greatest peacemaker into every situation I will face? How can I be a peacemaker today? Will you join me in seeking to become a peacemaker?

Christy Tennant is on staff with the International Arts Movement in New York City. She is a writer, musician and conference speaker, as well as a columnist for Bible Study Magazine. Her blog, “Ferry Dust,” is featured on ConversantLife.com.

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Photo courtesy of TheResurgence.com


tim newcomb

Matt Chandler on

with Bible Study “Where the Word of God goes out, there’s always a response,” says Matt Chandler, Lead Pastor of The Village Church in Highland Village, Texas. “There’s an immediate response to the Word of God and then there’s a continuing response. The Scriptures are primary, but you’ve got to build on them in expectation of (and accountability for) their application.” For Chandler, 35, Scripture must be balanced with practical application because a church’s emotive response is driven by its theological framework.

Matt Chandler preaches a reliance on God’s Word with passion because he wants his congregation to believe it. After arriving at First Baptist Church of Highland Village in 2002—renamed The Village Church—Chandler was surprised by the congregation’s lack of interest in the Bible. So, he focused his efforts on raising people’s affection for the Bible. Since spotlighting Bible study in 2002, the congregation has grown from around 200 attendees to about 6,000 across its three campuses. Village Church’s growth is rooted in Matt’s, and subsequently the church’s, priorities. Whenever Chandler is asked, “What books do you recommend for pastors?” He responds, “The Bible. I understand the need for books on leadership, theology and history. My hope is that you would feast on the Scriptures, feel the angst and awe and be overwhelmed by the gospel of our great God and King. This book is life-changing and sufficient.” His priorities are clear. And they begin with his personal Bible study.

Scripting Bible Study Chandler’s personal time in the Bible is scripted. “Every morning I get up and follow a guide,” he says. “I read through the Scriptures—just the text, no devotionals. I found my Bible reading plan online, downloaded it, and put it into an Excel program. I just check off each reading when I’ve done it.” This plan keeps Chandler focused on the overall theology of the Bible and doesn’t give him the wiggle room to follow his own whims, which could steer him off course. “You aren’t reading through the whole Bible in a year, but you’re getting a very detailed overview of it.” Chandler suggests each person find a reading plan that fills in the gaps of their own study weaknesses. His default is focusing on specific passages in a biblical book, and not the meta-narrative (or grand story). “I don’t naturally think of the meta-narrative,” he says. “But in my reading plan, I am getting big chunks out of every book.” Focusing on larger sections of the Bible changes his focus to God’s grand story: “I need a little help on that,” he admits. Renew Now!

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“Educating the laity is our only real shot at beating indifference,” says Chandler. “You can’t pursue God well without the Scriptures.” Bible Study First; Sermon Prep Second To prepare for weekend services, Chandler clears his schedule on Tuesdays and Thursdays. His Tuesday is filled with biblical interpretation. He tackles the Greek; he wrestles the Hebrew. “I’m trying to figure out context,” he says. “On Tuesdays, I’m just kind of prayerfully working through a biblical text. I tend to preach through books in my Bible study and then every once in a while, when I’ve got to get to the bottom of a topic, I’ll deliver extra topical sermons. But I primarily study and preach through a book.” Thursdays are spent turning theological knowledge into real-life application: He tosses in illustrations, transitions and often the exact words he will use in a sermon. Chandler says that this style can fit anyone: “Pure textual study mixed with real-life meaning is the perfect blend of theology and application.” This mixture provides Chandler with the “vision” his congregation needs. Instead of relying on himself to come up with that vision, he just follows the lead of the Bible. “The reason I enjoy studying books of the Bible is because I don’t have to ask, ‘How do I creatively communicate this?’ ” He explains, “I just work on what follows next and that focuses me on things that I wouldn’t naturally think to address, or would naturally want to address.” Chandler also suggests this method for private study, acknowledging that at any moment a topic or idea can be further explored, but that the biblical text needs to be our primary focus and guide. In this vein, Chandler regularly challenges people to make sure they are reading both the Old and New Testament. “You need them both,” he says. “You better understand each testament by understanding them together. By not covering the entirety of the Scriptures, you can’t even begin to fathom the entirety of God.”

Bible Study in the Pulpit and in the Family Room Chandler does not just deliver a sermon; he studies the Bible in front of a live congregation. Because Chandler primarily goes through the Bible one book at a time, his congregation knows where he is going. They each read the text. Later, in small groups in their family rooms, they have an opportunity to offer their thoughts and ask questions. The groups discuss the weekend’s sermon and are given a Bible reading list for further study.

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The Village Church creates what Chandler calls “communal beauty” via digital methods as well. By posting “Fridays with Matt” on his church blog, Chandler does not just prepare for a Sunday; he encourages his congregation to prepare. He suggests they read the text and be searching for God’s grand narrative. The church has a sermon podcast and has created dvds for its small group curriculum. The first dvd they produced was a six-hour practical teaching through the book of Philippians. “It’s just exegetically walking through the text in twelve, 30-minute sections,” Chandler says. “People can do that at home by themselves.” Chandler wants to get useful Bible study tips into the hands of his churchgoers. “They’re hearing me say, ‘You better be in the Word. You’ve got to be in the Scriptures.’ ” He backs that up with available tools. The Village Church Web site (TheVillageChurch.net) also includes Chandler’s curriculum “Bible Study 101” and “Bible Study 201.” “Bible Study 101” is about how to read the Scriptures every day. “Bible Study 201” is the next step: how to interpret the Scriptures.

Unapologetic Bible Study Eight years into Chandler’s ministry at The Village Church, Bible study is the focus. “We’re going to unapologetically believe the Bible,” says Chandler. “And we’re going to unapologetically preach it and proclaim it.” Chandler wants the Bible to be at the center of his church and the family rooms of his church members. He insists it be in their genes. “At the end of the day, we don’t want to pool ignorance,” says Chandler. “We want to guide people through what passages we get into. And then (after detailed study of the Bible in small groups), we do heavy application. The last question of our small group meetings is always the same: ‘What needs to change about your life in light of these truths and how can the group hold you accountable for that?’ Everyone has to answer that question leaving group every week; every time they meet.” For Chandler, Bible study then becomes what he calls a “beautiful circle of people learning the Word, working to apply it, and use it.” This is what enables application. It “raises the affections of people toward the Bible” with the goal of personal growth. “Educating the laity is our only real shot at beating indifference,” says Chandler. “You can’t pursue God well without the Scriptures.”


Bible Study 201 Chandler says that “digging into specific books of the Bible is a great way to tackle the Scriptures.” “Bible Study 201” is all about that. Here are the highlights:

Bible Study 101 Chandler’s main piece of Bible study advice: “Don’t read the Bible like another book.” To keep you from doing so, here are the highlights from Chandler’s “Bible Study 101”: • Develop a consistent time and place to study the Bible. • Find a reading plan that works for you: a plan that will give you a clear direction and purpose. “Reading plans force the issue,” Chandler says. “They make you read things you wouldn’t usually read.” • Have a journal handy when studying. “The Bible is our way of submitting our lives to the Lord,” remarks Chandler. “Journaling reinforces areas of your life that you are working to improve.” • Before you start your study, pray that God will reveal things to you. Chandler says that during Bible study, texts often “jump off the page” to him after he has prayed. • Have a highlighter and pen handy to keep track of what is being revealed to you.

• Use a 20-20-20 plan: 20 minutes reading Scripture, 20 minutes journaling, and then 20 minutes praying or sharing about those thoughts. • Pick a key verse out of the day’s reading to spend more time studying. • Don’t make your applications general. They need to be accompanied by specific and direct steps that you can put into practice today—to be obedient to the revelation of Christ. • Try doing your reading plan with a spouse or roommate. Instead of spending the last 20 minutes praying, spend it discussing. Marvel at the differences the two of you find in the same texts and the way discussing it strengthens your marriage or relationship.

• Understand the book culturally from the Bible’s point of view. Start by searching the rest of the Bible for any other mention of the place or person you are about to study. If you're studying Philippians (like Chandler did with his church), Acts is a good reference point: Acts discusses Lydia, the jailer mentioned, and the girl who is demon-possessed. • Use tools, like commentaries. Commentaries and Bible dictionaries help you understand the cultural context based on other historical sources they consult. • Outline the book chapter by chapter. • Read the biblical book looking for major themes and points that the author emphasizes. Searching for repetition is a good way to discover emphasis. • Conduct word studies. Word studies become “very important” to understanding context and culture, Chandler says. “You really get to a place where you can say, ‘Oh, this is what he’s talking about.’ ” • Come back to context. “It is very important to look at the context (again), lest you look foolish,” Chandler says. Context also allows you to effectively pick the proper passages of Scripture when ministering to others. • Application. Although Bible study is not synonymous with application, it must be the final thing we do, and the item for which we are accountable.

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“Don’t you dare use me as an excuse to live in fear. God does not send us anything He does not provide strength for.” Bible Study after Brain Surgery

Tim Newcomb lives in Western Washington with his wife and three daughters. He is an editor for a weekly newspaper and a freelance writer for various magazines and newsletters.

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Radical life circumstances have strengthened Chandler’s reliance on God’s Word. While at home on Thanksgiving morning 2009, Chandler suffered a seizure. He hit his head while falling and was taken by ambulance to a nearby hospital.

Chandler and his family have cried their share of tears, as he is careful to note, but it is the family’s strong foundation in Jesus that helps them understand that “none of these things are better than Him.”

Soon thereafter, Chandler, his wife Lauren, and their three children learned that he had a 2-inch tumor on the right frontal lobe of his brain that required immediate surgery. The Chandler family took to embracing the love and support of their church body and was strengthened by Scripture.

“And I’m saying that right now,” Chandler says. “Not as the guy who has everything, but as the guy who could lose everything in an instant. I’m not afraid. Don’t you dare use me as an excuse to live in fear. God does not send us anything He does not provide strength for.”

In a video shown to the church before the early December brain surgery, Chandler says he trusts the Lord with everything. He also mentions that a recent passage he had been preaching when traveling—Hebrews 11—struck a new chord with him.

Chandler’s seven-hour surgery revealed that his tumor is malignant—too large to remove and not encapsulated.

In verses 33–38, Hebrews 11 talks of men who shut the mouths of lions and some putting foreign armies to flight and more—all good things that happen to the people of God. “Right in the middle, it just turns and says that some were tortured and some were sawn in two and some destitute, but all walked in faith,” Chandler says. “All (God) has ever given me is nothing but good. I’ve always felt that when I taught my message there was a hitch in that some don’t get (the trials). I have had victory after victory after victory. There is this part of me that is grateful that the Lord counted me worthy for this. Now, in an area that is not a big win, I get to show He is enough. I get to praise Him and exalt Him in this.”

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Two weeks after the brain surgery and still with uncertainty surrounding him, Chandler again spoke via video to the church, saying, “The verse that has constantly been in my head is the one from Ecclesiastes (7:2), where it says it is better to go into a house of mourning (than feasting).” When the veil of mortality is lifted, lives that are seduced by frivolousness can be changed, explains Chandler. Starting in late December 2009, Chandler began chemo and radiation treatments. “The peace we feel—the joy we get to walk in—is absolutely woven into how many of you are praying for us and asking God to give us that peace and confidence in Him,” he says. Even in the most difficult times, Chandler encourages those around him to follow his lead and dwell in God. The way he signed a late December blog post reveals his view of Scripture—and life for that matter: “Christ is all, Matt Chandler.”


Getting the Most Out of Your Bible Reading Written out of the conviction that there are right ways and wrong ways to understand Scripture, Dig Deeper presents sixteen tools for reading the Bible and understanding it correctly. The book’s easy-to-read format makes it a helpful resource for Christians who want to dig deeper and discover all that God’s Word has for them.

DIG DEEPER Tools for Understanding God’s Word Nigel Beynon and Andrew Sach

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tim newcomb

howard hendricks’

Bible Study Steps

When people are taught how to study the Bible, they “get the excitement of actually discovering stuff,” says Dr. Howard Hendricks. “That is what is lacking today. We give people all the answers. If you don’t have the basics, you are not going to get that much out of Bible study. Once people are taught how to do something, they can see the value of it.” Hendricks has trained thousands of Bible students at Dallas Theological Seminary, including Chuck Swindoll and David Jeremiah. For a period, he was even the chaplain for the Dallas Cowboys. For much of his life he’s been a traveling evangelist for Bible study—ministering in over 80 countries. Now 85, Hendricks serves as Distinguished Professor and Chair of the seminary’s Center for Christian Leadership. Author of over 15 books—including Living by the Book, a handbook on how to study the Bible effectively— Hendricks is finally scaling back for health reasons. He now teaches two courses: “Bible Study” and “Advanced Bible Study.” “All of my courses are built on the basic pattern of observation, interpretation, application and correlation (or communication),” says Hendricks. “I have been teaching that for 60 years. I love it. It opens up the Bible for me.”

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Howard Hendricks in 1954.

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Hendricks says he begins teaching people about how to study the Bible by showing the power of the Bible. However, he has observed an unfortunate trend: “Christians are less and less knowledgeable about Scripture and decreasingly motivated to be so. Understanding the Word’s power is no longer a given. Only after someone believes the value of the Bible can they really start to study.” People who grasp the meaning behind what they study, says Hendricks, are the ones clamoring to talk about it with professors, other students and everyone they meet. “The Bible is changing their life and changing the way they interact with the people around them. People want to spend time with people like that.” Hendricks’ Bible study method will hopefully create more people who clamor to talk about the Bible.

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Observation “So many people are trying to interpret the Bible, but they don’t study it,” says Hendricks. “They don’t answer the question of ‘What do you see going on in the text?’ All of this wasted time is spent trying to find out what the Bible means without a basic understanding of what it says. If you can’t understand the text, then ultimately you can’t communicate it.” According to Hendricks, our ability to observe the biblical text can be enhanced without a Bible in hand. “What were your co-workers wearing today? What was the title of the sermon on Sunday? Set up tests for yourself to encourage your mind to start observing everyday life.” Natural observation will spill into Bible study. Ask questions of the biblical text while reading it, suggests Hendricks. “Who are the people? What are their relationships? What do those terms mean? What is the importance of the place they are in? Read the passage as for the first time. Look for things that are emphasized, repeated, related, alike, unlike and true to life.” Hendricks recommends observing the text in 10 different ways: »» Thoughtfully. Be a detective. »» Repeatedly. Read entire books at a time. »» Patiently. Spend quality time in each book you study. »» Selectively. Decipher the who, what, where, when and how in the text. »» Prayerfully. Don’t copy others; ask God to reveal things to you. »» Imaginatively. Think about how you might write the verse. »» Meditatively. Reflect on the words. »» Purposefully. Understand that the author used structure to send a message. »» Acquisitively. Attempt to retain the text. »» Telescopically. Understand the significance of the text in light of the entire Bible.


Interpretation Under Hendricks’ rubric, once the steps of observation are completed, interpretation can begin: “Grasp how the context fits with literary genres, history and culture. Also, what does the context say about the writer’s relationship with God, or even about the natural world?” “Work to compare words, themes, phrases and styles of the text with other biblical texts,” says Hendricks. Then examine “the cultural setting of the book.” This will tell you if your observations fit the culture. Hendricks warns, “Don’t lose sight of the value of consultation in the process—using other resources to ensure your interpretation is accurate.”

Application Application is about what the text means to you. Before we can be certain our application is correct, Hendricks says that each person “needs to know the text, relate it to life, meditate on its meaning, and then practice it.” Hendricks has created nine application questions to consider: »» Is there an example for me to follow? »» Is there a sin to avoid? »» Is there a promise to claim? »» Is there a prayer to repeat? »» Is there a command to obey? »» Is there a condition to meet? »» Is there a verse to memorize? »» Is there an error to mark? »» Is there a challenge to face?

Communication The correlation and communication step is simple. As a Bible teacher, it is about understanding and reading the audience you are speaking to.

Getting Started If you haven't practiced Hendricks’ method, it may seem stilted or philosophical. To fix this problem, Hendricks starts new students in the book of Mark because it is simple. But if the length of Mark is overwhelming, he suggests a shorter book: “Take a book like Jonah, for example, that has only four chapters. Take a good amount of time with it. Get so deeply involved with it that you can hardly wait for the next chapter.”1

For small group Bible study, Hendricks suggests studying “individual books according to the group and its needs. If they ‘take off’ with it, even having never done it, their motivation keeps them going. I get them into something easier to handle and prove to them that they can study the Bible. Generally speaking, I find people at varied levels are not convinced they can do it. But in our classes at Dallas Theological Seminary, people who have never done this in their life come out with A-level grades.” For veterans of Bible study, Hendricks recommends they learn to use the biblical languages. “Get Greek and Hebrew resource tools that tell you what a word means.2 For some people it is not important, but if you can weave that into your understanding, you can increase the value of your study. You can’t lose with that.”3

Anyone Can Understand the Bible Understanding the Bible like Howard Hendricks might seem like an impossible feat. But like everyone else, Hendricks’ biblical understanding started with simple hard work and dedication. In Hendricks’ second year of seminary he pledged to study the Bible for an hour every day. He has. Using the pattern he teaches his students, Hendricks works through one Bible book per month, hitting all 66 over a six-year span. While the hourly study is for his own spiritual walk, he says that what he learns often emerges when he speaks, writes and teaches. During his time at Wheaton College, Hendricks met Professor Merrill Tenney. When most students couldn’t handle more than one course a semester with the challenging professor, Hendricks took three. “He changed the course of my life,” Hendricks says. “I learned how to study the Scriptures. He motivated me right out of my socks.” Hard work pays off at all levels, says Hendricks. He beams when he tells the story of an 80-year-old who came to Dallas Theological Seminary wanting to learn Greek. “I said ‘Are you sure?’ And he said, ‘I am just fascinated by this stuff.’ ” After four years, the man was so accomplished in Greek that Hendricks hired him to teach freshmen. He became one of the seminary’s most-loved professors until his retirement at the age of 93. It was this man’s excitement, fascination and love of learning that got him studying the Bible in a new way. Hendricks says every Christian should have that same hunger for the Word.

Get Merrill Tenney's Illustrated Manners and Customs of the Bible at Logos.com/ MannersAndCustoms

Get into Jonah with Eli Evans’ “Wordplay in Jonah” on pgs. 46–47 of this issue of bsm.

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Work through a Hebrew word study with Jacob Massine’s “Hebrew Word Study without Hebrew” on pgs. 31–33 of this issue of bsm. 2

3 Learn to use Biblical Greek and Hebrew with Logos Bible Software via a video series by bsm’s Academic Editor, Michael Heiser and bsm’s columnist Johnny Cisneros. Go to Logos.com/LearnGreek

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howard hendricks’

Bible Study Steps OBSERVE Acquisitively. Attempt to retain the text.

Prayerfully. Don’t copy others; ask God to reveal things to you. Imaginatively. Think about how you might write the verse.

Thoughtfully. Be a detective.

Purposefully. Understand that the author used structure to send a message.

Telescopically. Understand the significance in light of the entire Bible.

Is there a prayer to repeat?

Is there a challenge to face?

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Is there an example for me to follow?

Is there a verse to memorize? Is there a sin to avoid?

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Consult other resources to ensure your interpretation is accurate.

Compare words, themes, phrases and styles of the text with other biblical texts.

Is there a promise to claim?

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Patiently. Spend quality time in each book you study.

Grasp how the context fits with the literary genre, history, relationships and location.

A P P LY Is there a condition to meet?

Meditatively. Reflect on the words.

Repeatedly. Read entire books at a time.

INTERPRET Examine the cultural setting of the book.

Selectively. Decipher the who, what, where, when and how in the text.

Is there an error to mark?

Is there a command to obey?


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N O T YO U R AV E R A G E B I B L E S T U DY

FacingToday

JOHN. D. BARRY

8 WEEKS IN THE FINAL CHAPTER OF HEBREWS We all like a message of hope and grace, but when offering it to others our commitment is usually fleeting. This is obvious when great tragedy hits. There is an outpouring of compassion and aid for a few days, weeks or months, but then the people who are still hurting are forgotten. The author of Hebrews calls us to do more: Much of Christianity is about living graciously and being hopeful every day. After explaining the history of God’s redemptive plan leading up to Christ, the author of Hebrews concludes with some commands and a little more theology. Not exactly what we all want to hear, but it’s what

WEEK 1

we need to hear. In this 8-week study, we will explore what it means to love one another as Christ loves us.

Entertaining Angels Pray that God would show you more ways that you can be hospitable and help the hurting.

Read Hebrews 13:1–25 aloud in one sitting.

Reread Hebrews 13:1–3. When interpreting the Bible, it’s easy to displace its ancient context with our modern feelings. There are several examples of “brotherly love” that I would not want to represent. You know, the Cain and Abel type (Gen 4). We can’t let our feelings about our brothers, or relationships, interfere with what God is trying to tell us. The “brotherly love” (φιλαδελφία, philadelphía) in Heb 13:1 is about sharing a common spiritual life (Rom 12:10; 1 Thess 4:9; 1 Pet 1:22; 2 Pet 1:7)—bearing each other’s burdens as Christ bore ours. How can you better bear the burdens of your fellow believers? When was the last time you showed hospitality to a stranger? If you have to think about the answer, then you need to make a change. How can you find more opportunities to be hospitable to strangers? Christ didn’t wait for opportunities to arise; He went to people (John 4).

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Read Genesis 18:1–19:29. What light does this passage shed on what it means to “entertain angels unawares” (Heb 13:2)? In what way does God ask us to “remember those who are in prison” (13:3)? How does this represent “brotherly love”? How can you bear the burdens of those in prison? Hebrews 13:3 is likely referring to Christians who are in prison because of their belief in Christ. Nonetheless, shouldn’t we extend “brotherly love” to all who are hurting or imprisoned? Christ’s love knew no bounds, and neither should ours. How can you show His love in your life? Think beyond just how you can show love in your current contexts to how you can find more opportunities to demonstrate it. Continue to reflect and pray through these questions throughout your week.


Hebrews 13:1–25 (esv)

Remember those who are in prison, as though in prison with them, and

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those who are mistreated, since you also are in the body. Let marriage be 4

held in honor among all, and let the marriage bed be undefiled, for God will judge the sexually immoral and adulterous. 5Keep your life free from love of money, and be content with what you have, for he has said, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.” 6So we can confidently say, “The Lord is my helper; I will not fear; what can man do to me?” 7Remember your leaders, those who spoke to you the word of God. Consider the outcome of their way of life, and imitate their faith. Jesus Christ is the same yesterday 8

and today and forever. 9Do not be led away by diverse and strange teachings, for it is good for the heart to be strengthened by grace, not by foods, which have not benefited those devoted to them. We have an altar 10

from which those who serve the tent have no right to eat. 11For the bodies of those animals whose blood is brought into the holy places by the high priest as a sacrifice for sin are burned outside the camp. 12So Jesus also suffered outside the gate in order to sanctify the people through his own blood. 13Therefore let us go to him outside the camp and bear the reproach he endured. 14For here we have no lasting city, but we seek the city that is to come. 15Through him then let us continually offer up a sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of lips that acknowledge his name. 16Do not neglect to do good and to share what you have, for such sacrifices are pleasing to God. Obey your leaders and submit to them, for they are keeping watch over

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your souls, as those who will have to give an account. Let them do this with joy and not with groaning, for that would be of no advantage to you. Pray for us, for we are sure that we have a clear conscience, desiring to

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act honorably in all things. 19I urge you the more earnestly to do this in order that I may be restored to you the sooner. Now may the God of peace who brought again from the dead our

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Lord Jesus, the great shepherd of the sheep, by the blood of the eternal covenant, 21equip you with everything good that you may do his will, working in us that which is pleasing in his sight, through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory forever and ever. Amen. I appeal to you, brothers, bear with my word of exhortation, for I have

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written to you briefly. 23You should know that our brother Timothy has

Never Left or Forsaken Pray that the Holy Spirit would work in you to make you content.

Read Hebrews 13:1–16 aloud.

Reread Hebrews 13:4–6. Why do you think that marriage is emphasized next to verses about helping the hurting? What are we asked to do in our marriages (Heb 13:4)? Even if you are not married, how can you live by this commandment and help others to do so? Why must we keep our lives free from the “love of money” (13:5)? What can a “love of money” do to us? How does Heb 13:5 instruct us to break free from the hold finances have on our lives? What can we confidently say when we are content (13:6)? Hebrews 13:6 is a paraphrase of Psa 118:6, combined with a line from Psa 56:4 (or 56:11). How can you live what Heb 13:6 teaches? Continue to reflect and pray through these questions throughout your week.

WEEK 3

strangers, for thereby some have entertained angels unawares.

WEEK 2

Let brotherly love continue. 2Do not neglect to show hospitality to

Always Consider the Outcome Pray that Christ will show you the right teachers to follow.

Read Hebrews 13:1–16 aloud.

Reread Hebrews 13:7–9. What is the “outcome” of a Christ-centered leader’s way of life (Heb 13:7)? Why should we imitate our Christ-focused leaders? Does Jesus Christ change (13:8)? The natural conclusion of Christ not changing, but remaining the same, is that “strange teachings” are just that—new, strange and not true (13:9). If they were truly of Christ, they would not be absurd or odd. They would align with what is professed in the New Testament through Christ’s apostles and those who recorded His story. The “foods” referred to in 13:9 are the sacrifices that were being offered by the Jewish priesthood in the 1st century ad (13:10–11), and likely those being offered by Greek religious groups. However, it is not by the sacrifice of food that we are strengthened, but by Christ’s grace. The author’s logic here is quite simple: Look at the outcome of what someone is doing. If the religious people are not getting closer to God, what does that tell you? Grace overcomes (13:9). Sacrifices and religion enslave. How can you break out of the mold of religiosity in your life and seek Christ’s grace? Continue to reflect and pray through these questions throughout your week.

been released, with whom I shall see you if he comes soon. 24Greet all your leaders and all the saints. Those who come from Italy send you greetings. Grace be with all of you.

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Pray that God would strengthen you for when you have to bear reproach.

Read Hebrews 13:1–16 aloud.

The high priest (of the “old religion” and “Old Covenant”) would regularly offer sacrifices. Where were they eventually burned (Heb 13:11; compare Lev 4:12, 21)? Jesus was crucified at Golgotha, which is outside the city of Jerusalem, similar to how the sacrifices that were made in the tabernacle (when the Hebrews lived in the desert) were taken outside the camp (Heb 13:12). Just as the sacrifices made in the tabernacle sanctified (purified the people before God), Jesus’ blood spilt at Golgotha purified all of us (13:13). To whom are we called to go, and who is our model for suffering when we are persecuted for our beliefs (13:13)? Why should we do this (13:14)? What lasting thing are we seeking (13:14)?

WEEK 5

Continue to reflect and pray through these questions throughout your week.

Modern Sacrifices Pray that God would help you identify what He desires for you to sacrifice.

Read Hebrews 13:1–16 aloud.

Reread Hebrews 13:15–17. What are we asked to do “through” Christ (Heb 13:15)? Why should we do this? What type of sacrifice does God require (13:15; compare Mic 6:6–8)? What should we never neglect (Heb 13:16)? Adversity can be overcome with thanksgiving (Eph 5:15–21; Col 3:12–17). There is always something to be thankful for, even when it feels like there is not. The author of Hebrews was likely enduring pain for Christ (13:18–19), and we know for certain that the audience of the book was (10:32–34). But, for the author, that was no excuse to back down from what Christ had asked. Our eternal gift, salvation through Christ, can never be taken away from us. Why then are Christians so afraid? How can you stare down fear in your life and better embrace Christ’s calling? Continue to reflect and pray through these questions throughout your week.

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WEEK 6

Reread Hebrews 13:10–14.

Hebrews 13:9 tells us to not be led away by the food (or sacrifices) of other religions. By comparison, think of the modern religions (Christian and non-Christian) that offer legalism instead of grace. The author of Hebrews goes on to directly condemn the Jewish leaders of his day (13:10). Why do the Jewish leaders—still serving the old religion based in legalism, instead of Christ who perfected grace—have no right to be at the altar Christ was offered upon (13:10; compare 1 Cor 10:14–22; Isa 53:10)?

Keeping Watch over Souls Pray that the Holy Spirit would show you ways you can better serve your leaders.

Read Hebrews 13:17–21 aloud. Reread Hebrews 13:17.

In many churches I have attended or joined, there hasn’t been enough respect for pastors, elders and deacons. In most circumstances, our misgivings about these people seem justified. But even when they are justified, respect can go a long way. Whether these individuals were appointed by God, or they ended up in authority through cause and effect, the church will be better off if we love, help and support them. As long as a leader is not steering people away from Christ or being abusive, we should do what Heb 13:17 recommends. But why should we do so? Who holds our leaders accountable (13:17)? What are the leaders required to do (13:17)? How can you better support the leaders in your community? How can you show them “brotherly love” (13:1)? Continue to reflect and pray through these questions throughout your week.

WEEK 7

WEEK 4

As Jesus Suffered, So Shall We

Pray Earnestly Pray that Christ would reveal to you who you should pray for regularly.

Read Hebrews 13:17–21 aloud. Reread Hebrews 13:18–19.

For what type of prayer does the author of Hebrews ask (13:18)? Why does the author ask for prayer (13:19)? Who do you know that needs prayer? Take the rest of the time you would usually devote to studying Hebrews and reflect upon how you can pray for leaders in your church, community, nation and world. Then, pray. When praying, be sure to take time to be silent and listen; prayer is a conversation. Continue to reflect and pray through these questions throughout your week.

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WEEK 8

Equipped by the Blood of the Eternal Covenant Pray that God would help you, via His Holy Spirit, to do His will.

Study Notes:

Read Hebrews 13:1–25 aloud in one sitting. Reread Hebrews 13:20–25.

Read 1 Peter 1:1–4. What does it mean for us to have a “God of peace” (Heb 13:20)? Read John 17. How is Christ’s resurrection tied to God’s ability to give us peace? Read John 10:1–18. Compare Ezek 34:1–10. What does it mean for Christ to be our great shepherd (Heb 13:21)? What does it mean that Christ gave us His blood as an eternal covenant (contract) between us and God (Heb 13:21)? (Weeks 4 and 5 reveal this. Also read Hebrews 8.) What will Christ continue to do for us (Heb 13:20)? No matter what trials come our way, no matter what pain we endure, we can be sure that Christ is with us via His Holy Spirit and our brothers and sisters in Christ. To whom does “glory” belong? How long will “glory” last (13:21)? The book of Hebrews has two endings: One that ends with an “Amen” (13:21) and one after the epilogue (13:22–25). This suggests that everything leading up to 13:21 is a sermon. The author confirms this by calling Heb 1:1–13:21 a “word of exhortation”—the 1st century ad phrase for a sermon (13:22). Hebrews is meant to be preached. So let’s preach it by living it. May grace be with you in doing so (13:25). Continue to reflect and pray through these questions throughout your week. And be sure to read the entire book of Hebrews aloud in one setting again.

After working through Hebrews for 14 months in Bible Study Magazine, I have a long mental list of ways this book is connected to everything we do. I now hear the words of this book in my head during my daily interactions with other people. But instead of offering my list, or my own hopes and prayers for you, I offer the author of Hebrews’ closing words: “Now may the God of peace who brought again from the dead our Lord Jesus, the great shepherd of the sheep, by the blood of the eternal covenant, equip you with everything good that you may do his will, working in us that which is pleasing in his sight, through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory forever and ever. Amen. … Grace be with all of you.”

Want more out of your study of the book of Hebrews? Find the resources you need at Logos.com/Hebrews

John D. Barry is the Editor-in-Chief of Bible Study Magazine, a minister, and the author of The Resurrected Servant in Isaiah (forthcoming with Paternoster, 2010). Read his blog “The Infinite in Everything” at ConversantLife.com/JohnBarry

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Looking for the Messiah? The coming of the Messiah satisfied centuries of Jewish longings. Sometimes readers miss this, mistaking the title “Christ” for Jesus’ last name. In Jewish contexts, you’ll see “Messiah” used in the Holman Christian Standard Bible. Continuity, one of the reasons you’ll love reading any of the HCSB digital or print editions.

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see | hcsb.org


SPECIAL SECTION

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Isaiah is about Life in General Whenever I need to be reminded of God’s grace, I turn to the book of Isaiah. In Isaiah we find exile and restoration— the stuff that makes up life. God’s battle for humanity is full of grace and tough love. We see this in His fight for Israel’s affection. He chose prophets like Isaiah (Isa 1:1), and gave them divine visions (Isa 6:1–6), so that they could win His people back. But they, like many of us today, didn’t listen (Isa 39; compare 2 Kgs 24:10–17). In return, they were exiled—taken captive to Babylon (2 Kgs 25). God didn’t rise to the people’s defense because they needed to learn the cost of disobedience. But He also didn’t forget them. A generation went by before God responded: “I, I am he who comforts you; who are you that you are afraid of man who dies … He who is bowed

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down shall speedily be released; he shall not die and go down to the pit, neither shall his bread be lacking” (Isa 51:12, 14 esv). The royal ruler of the universe (Isa 6:1–6) recognizes that fear drove the people’s foolish and hateful actions (Isa 30:1–17), just like it drives ours. Yet He promises comfort, restoration and grace (Isa 30:18–33). There is no greater grace than this: even though “all we like sheep have gone astray … the Lord laid on [His suffering servant] the iniquity of us all” (Isa 53:6). Like the exiles, all of us have committed wrongs against God and each other. But God allowed for His servant to endure our pain and “be numbered with the transgressors” (Isa 53:12). That’s us; and He offered His servant for us (Isa 53:10).

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God’s offering brought a new command: “Sing, O barren one, who did not bear; break forth into singing and cry aloud, you who have not been in labor!” (Isa 54:1 esv). We are to sing with joy because we have been restored. Through the resurrection of God’s servant (Isa 53:10–11)—which is ultimately His Son (Luke 23:26–24:12)—we too can be resurrected (Isa 66:14–24; 1 Cor 15:12–49; Rev 20:5). In Christ, our very minds, bodies and souls are resurrected—both in the future and the now. In return, He asks for our affections towards Him and other people (Matt 22:37–40). As you read through Isaiah, the focus of this issue of bsm, may you comprehend God’s redemptive plan for humanity—how He calls us out of despair and turmoil into everlasting life.

CONTENTS 26 | Before You Read Isaiah, Read This 29 | Standing in God’s Council 31 | Repainting Seraphim in the Sistine: A Hebrew Word Study without Hebrew 35 | Immanuel’s Mother : Virgin or Not?

37 | A Resurrected Servant 500 Years before Jesus 40 | Exile to Exodus (In That Order) 42 | Jesus Misquotes Isaiah 61? A diy Bible Study 43 | The Dead Will Rise : Church Father Tertullian on Isaiah 66

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BIBLE BACKDROPS

C hristopher R . S mith

Before You Read Isaiah,

ReadThis

If you want to understand the book of Isaiah, don’t read straight through it. You’ll get lost. The book isn’t arranged sequentially. It’s made up of eight major sections that oscillate back and forth between two distinct time periods. The first chronological period is the Assyrian crisis in Judah, under the reigns of Ahaz and Hezekiah. The expanding Assyrian empire is encroaching on the land of Israel. Ahaz attempts to appease the Assyrians, and compromises the nation’s devotion to God. His son Hezekiah then attempts to be faithful to God and resist the Assyrians as he faces the threat of annihilation. The second period centers on the return of God’s people from Babylonian exile about 150 years later. Judah escaped the Assyrians, but was later conquered by the Babylonians. During the second period, Babylon is facing a threat from another rising power, the Medes and Persians. When they conquer Babylon, they’ll allow all the exiles to return to their lands. Some of the passages that speak to this second period come from just before the return, while others come after it. Still others take this time as their point of departure and look ahead into future events.

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The fact that one book speaks to two periods so far apart in time naturally raises the question of whether more than one person wrote it. Biblical scholars of all theological persuasions have various opinions on this question. Some believe that the book had just one author, Isaiah the son of Amoz, and a later editor that adapted some of his material for later contexts. Others hold that Isaiah wrote chapters 1–39, while an anonymous later prophet and poet wrote chapters 40–66, in a style like Isaiah’s. And still others argue that there were actually three contributors: Isaiah; a later author who wrote chapters 40–55 towards the end of the exile; and another who wrote chapters 56–66 after the return. Whether the book was the work of one, two, or three authors, it’s now a literary unit. The interweaving of writings from different periods makes the book difficult to understand when read straight through. However, it also enables us to appreciate the coherent story about God’s relationship with His people.

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Major sections in Isaiah i

isaiah 1–12

Poetic oracles and historical narratives about the earlier time period in the late 8th century bc— the Assyrian crisis during the reigns of Ahaz and Hezekiah (Isa 1–12).

ii isaiah 13–23

Poetic oracles addressed to surrounding nations at various time periods (Isa 13–23). These oracles cover both time periods. The first oracle, against Babylon, speaks to the situation that comes last. But this placement pull the themes developed later in the book forward into the beginning of the book.

v isaiah 34–35

A second brief collection of oracles in which the later historical situation is once again addressed (Isa 34–35). Cosmic judgments are described and the restoration of God’s people is promised.

vi isaiah 36–39

Historical narratives of Jerusalem’s deliverance from the Assyrian invasion, and of King Hezekiah’s recovery from a deadly illness, in the earlier period (Isa 36–39). The second narrative includes a description of how some Babylonian emissaries visited Hezekiah. This narrative is out of sequence chronologically within this section. It should really come first. But because it’s been placed last, it creates continuity with the section that immediately follows, by a common reference to Babylon.

iii isaiah 24–27

A short collection of oracles with a worldwide perspective. The judgment prophesied is cosmic. These oracles are spoken from the vantage point of the later time period, in the mid-6th century bc (Isa 24–27).

vii isaiah 40–55

Lyric promises to the exiles in Babylon of their imminent return to Judaea, the southern part of Israel (Isa 40–55). God’s suffering servant plays a crucial part in this return. This is the later period.

iv isaiah 28–33

Six long oracles, spoken in the earlier time period. Each pronounces a “woe” on the leaders of Judah for their reliance on Egypt for protection against Assyria (Isa 28–33).

viii isaiah 56–66

722 bc Assyrian destruction of Samaria and Israel

isaiah 1–12 isaiah 13–23 isaiah 24–27 isaiah 28–33 isaiah 34–35 isaiah 36–39 isaiah 40–55 isaiah 56–66

The final section (Isa 56–66), also set in this later period, challenges the returned exiles to maintain justice. The section promises that from the rebuilt Jerusalem God’s glory will spread throughout the world. 587 bc Babylonian Destruction of Jerusalem in Judah

End of Babylonian Exile Mid 6th Century bc

Shading indicates time period addressed. Babylonian Exile (587 bc–539 bc) 700 bc

Once we’ve identified these eight sections, we can see how the book of Isaiah alternates back and forth between events within the prophet’s lifetime and events that took place about 150 years later. The materials are woven together skillfully. Through strategic arrangement, the book of Isaiah presents a unified vision of God’s past, present and future interactions with His people. So how should you read the book of Isaiah? The most important thing is to recognize the separate sections and time references. Then create your own reading plan that will allow you to understand the book. If knowing the time references helps you read the book meaningfully in its current sequence, great. But there’s no reason not to take other approaches.

600 bc

500 bc

For example, you might want to read sections 1, 4 and 6 together first, to understand the challenges Judah faced during the Assyrian crisis and to see how that crisis was resolved. You could then read sections 7 and 8 together, to see how the people were freed from exile and how they discovered God’s plan for them after their return. Then try reading sections 3 and 5 together and compare them with other future-focused prophecies in the Bible. Once you’ve read all these sections, you’ll see how the oracles against the nations in section 2 provide the historical and theological backdrop to each section. You don’t have to read straight through a Bible book; take whatever creative approach is best for you. That’s never against the rules.

Christopher R. Smith is an ordained minister and holds a Ph.D. in Theology. He's the author of The Beauty Behind the Mask: Rediscovering the Books of The Bible and was an editor for The Books of the  Bible.

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I D A R E YO U N O T T O B O R E ME WITH THE BIBLE

Most people think a prophet is someone empowered by God to foretell the future. No doubt, prophets announced God’s intentions, but forecasting future events wasn’t their primary job description. A prophet’s chief task was to serve as God’s mouthpiece to His covenant people Israel and to her enemies. So how did someone become a prophet? Was there some sort of heavenly qualification? In fact, there was.

michael s . heiser

The pattern began with the first man, Adam, as Job 15:7–8 indicates: “Are you the first man who was born? Or were you brought forth before the hills? Have you listened in the council (sôd, ‫ )סוד‬of God? Have you restricted wisdom to yourself?” Eden was the abode of God and his heavenly host. If Job could say he had such access, then he could speak with authority about his innocence.

Standing in the Council You might think the standard for a prophet was whether their words came to pass exactly as uttered (Deut 18:15–22). But that’s actually a bi-product of the real litmus test, which we read about in Jeremiah: For who among them has stood in the council (sôd, ‫)סוד‬ of the Lord to see and to hear his word, or who has paid attention to his word and listened? [The Lord says] … “If they had stood in my council (sôd, ‫)סוד‬, then they would have proclaimed my words to my people.” (Jer 23:18, 22 esv) What does it mean to “stand in the council”? Jeremiah elaborates: “to see and to hear his word … to pay attention to his word and listen.” The one essential test of a prophet—that preceded their ability to deliver a divine message—was that the prophet had to see and hear God in His council.

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BibleStudyMagazine.com/Renew Michael S. Heiser has a PhD in Hebrew Bible and Semitic Languages. He is the Academic Editor of Logos Bible Software and Bible Study Magazine. Read more by Michael at MichaelSHeiser.com. Get more out of your study of Isaiah with the resources at Logos.com/Isaiah

In the Bible, God and His heavenly host were thought to live and conduct business in the divine throne room. This assembly, with God as its ceo, is called “a divine council” (Psa 82:1; 89:5–7).1 God chose prophets and commissioned them directly for ministry. When a prophet “stood in the council,” they had a direct encounter with God in His throne room. This motif of “standing in the council” is a repeated pattern in the Bible. In the case of Isaiah, the prophet was transported to the throne room of Yahweh (Isa 6:1–6) to receive his call to service (Isa 6:8–9). For Ezekiel, the circumstances were reversed, with the throne of the Lord coming to him (Ezek 1:1–14, 26–28). Jeremiah was also commissioned via a direct encounter with God. At the beginning of his ministry the “word of the Lord” came to him (Jer 1:4) and appointed him a prophet. The “word” is identified as Yahweh (Jer 1:6–7) who has come in human form. He reaches out His hand to touch Jeremiah’s mouth (Jer 1:9). It was this encounter that distinguished Jeremiah from false prophets.

Proceeding from Adam, Enoch and Noah “walked with God” (Gen 5:22, 24; 6:9). The former “prophesied” (Jude 14–15), while the latter is called a “herald of righteousness” (2 Pet 2:5). God appeared visibly to Abraham (Gen 12:1–3; 15:1–6; compare Acts 7:2–4), Isaac (Gen 26:1–5) and Jacob (Gen 28:10–22; 31:11–13; 32:22–32; compare Hosea 12:3–4). Moses was commissioned at the burning bush (Exod 3:1–15). The elders of Israel under Moses were commissioned directly by Yahweh (Num 11:24–25), as was Joshua (Deut 31:14–23; Josh 5:13–15). The book of Judges records dramatic appearances to Gideon (Judg 6) and the “word” of the Lord “appearing” to Samuel, the last of Israel’s judges, when he was a boy: It “stood” (1 Sam 3:10) before Samuel to inform him of Eli’s fate. Many New Testament figures also began their ministries with a direct divine commissioning. For example, the Father and the Spirit were present at Jesus’ baptism (Matt 3:16–17), an event that told astute observers that Jesus was in the prophetic line. Paul’s famous encounter with the risen Christ on the road to Damascus was crucial to proving his status as an apostle in the prophetic tradition (Acts 9:1–9; 1 Cor 9:1; 15:8). And it is no accident that the commissioning of the disciples at Pentecost was accompanied by divine fire (Acts 2:1–4), since fire is a frequent element of divine throne room commissioning scenes in the Old Testament (Exod 3:1–3; 24:17; Isa 6:6–7; 66:15; Ezek 1:4, 13, 27; Dan 7:9–11).2 Amazingly, the New Testament applies this commissioning to every believer. Every Christian is united to Christ and is commissioned to not only spread the gospel (Matt 28:18–20), but also to be Jesus to the world (2 Cor 3:18; 4:11; 2 Tim 1:9; 1 Pet 2:21; 2 Pet 1:4). Every believer is Christ’s ambassador (2 Cor 5:20), having met Christ through the gospel. As the prophets before us, we are now God’s mouthpieces.

1 For more on the divine council, see Heiser’s article in the Dictionary of the Old Testament: Wisdom, Poetry, and Writings (Downers Grove: InterVarsity, 2008), pgs. 112–116, or visit TheDivineCouncil.com

See Andrew B. Perrin, “A Fire Breathing God in Psalm 18:8” (bsm Sept–Oct 2009): pgs. 42–43 at BibleStudyMagazine.com/Fire

2

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H E B R E W W O R D S T U DY WITHOUT HEBREW

J acob P . M assine

R epaint

the

Sistine Chapel A n g e l s

a r e

B e c o m i n g

S n a k e s

Egypt was a terrifying empire during Isaiah’s lifetime (ca. 750–700 bc). Yet they seemed like a viable ally for Israel—a nation surrounded by hostile countries. But God said, “Therefore shall the protection of Pharaoh turn to your shame, and the shelter in the shadow of Egypt to your humiliation” (Isa 30:3 esv). He declares reliance on Egypt to be futile. Hence the unsettling scenery a few lines later: “An oracle concerning the animals of the Negeb. Through a land of trouble and distress, of lioness and roaring lion, of viper and flying serpent” (Isa 30:6 esv). Wait a minute. Flying snakes? Using the esv Hebrew-English Reverse Interlinear of the Old Testament, we learn that the term underlying the translation “flying serpent” is ‫( ׂשרף מעופף‬saraph me’owpheph). Saraph also occurs in Isaiah’s vision of God’s throne: “Above[the Lord of hosts] stood the seraphim (‫;ׂשרפים‬ the plural of saraph [‫)]ׂשרף‬. Each had six wings: with two he covered his face, and with two he covered his feet, and with two he flew” (Isa 6:2 esv). Since the term occurs in both passages, why is the word transliterated in Isa 6:2 (spelled out in English based on the Hebrew), but translated in Isa 30:6? Why do we have seraphim in one passage and flying snakes in another? And aren’t seraphim angels anyway? How do we unravel all this?

ddd opened to “Seraphim,” cos’ translation of the Gebel Barkal Stela of Thutmose III, and the esv Hebrew-English Reverse Interlinear at Isa 30:6 in Logos Bible Software 4. Logos.com/4

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Ancient translators were also perplexed. The Septuagint, the ancient Greek translation of the Hebrew Bible (3rd – 1st centuries bc), transliterates the Hebrew ‫( ׂשרפים‬saraphim) in Isa 6:2 as its Greek equivalent σεραφιν (seraphin). However, like modern translations, the Septuagint uses the term for snake (ασπις, aspis) in Isa 30:6. The Latin translation, the Vulgate (late 4th–early 5th centuries ad), does the same thing. Isaiah 6:2’s ‫( ׂשרפים‬saraphim) is ported over as seraphin and Isa 30:2’s ‫( ׂשרף‬saraph) is translated regulus volans (royal flying one). The ancient translations are no help. It appears the seraphim are fighting identify theft. So for this word study, we have to go beyond the word level to the cultural level. Although theologians, translators and artists have considered the seraphim of Isa 6 to be angels, they are never called that in the Bible. Time to repaint the Sistine Chapel.

Transliteration from Hebrew in Isaiah 6:2 ‫( ׂשרפים‬saraphim; plural)

Like Isaiah’s flying seraphim, uraeus serpents have wings in Egyptian art. They are portrayed this way for two reasons: (1) the cobra’s broad hood, which expands when it is ready to strike, looks like wings; and (2) Pharaoh—whom the uraeus serpents guarded— was identified with Ra, the Sun god, and Horus, the Falcon deity. The uraeus serpent of Egypt was a symbol of protection and power. By searching for “uraeus” in the Context of Scripture (cos), we learn that the Gebel Barkal Stela of Thutmose III, after likening Pharaoh to the god Horus, warns:

Translation from Hebrew in Isaiah 30:6 ‫( ׂשרף מעופף‬saraph me’owpheph; singular)

Greek Septuagint

Latin Vulgate

English (esv)

Greek Septuagint

Latin Vulgate

English (esv)

σεραφιν

seraphim

seraphim

ἀσπίδες πετομένες

regulus volans

flying fiery serpent

(seraphin; transliterated from the Hebrew)

(transliterated from the Hebrew)

(transliterated from the Hebrew)

(aspides petomenes; translated from the Hebrew: “flying serpents”)

(translated from the Hebrew: “royal flying one”)

(translated from the Hebrew)

Transliterated: spelled using the closest corresponding letters of another language

Translated: expressed using the conventional words of another language

The Dictionary of Deities and Demons in the Bible (ddd) says the word saraph occurs seven times (Num 21:6, 8; Deut 8:15; Isa 6:2, 6; 14:29; 30:6). ddd notes that the verb saraph means “to burn, incinerate, or destroy” (ddd, pgs. 742–44). At first, this definition appears to contextualize the throne room scene: “the foundations of the thresholds shook at the voice of him who called, and the house was filled with smoke” (Isa 6:4). But the smoke is probably coming from the burning coals on the altar (Isa 6:6), not the seraphim.

“It is his uraeus that overthrows them for him, his flaming serpent that subdues his enemies” (cos Vol. 2, pg. 15). In some Egyptian art, these serpent guardians are also depicted with hands and feet. This isn’t surprising since Egyptians frequently merged human and animal characteristics in their representations of divine beings.

If the seraphim are not “burning ones,” does that mean they are flying snakes, like Isa 30:3 suggests? The Hebrew word saraph could come from an Egyptian noun (srf) that means “snake.” ddd picks up on

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this, suggesting a parallel with the Egyptian uraeus serpent—the cobra mounted on the crown of deities. Egypt, parts of the Middle East, and Africa are home to cobras that spit poison at their enemies—causing intense, searing pain. This description fits the Old Testament occurrences of saraph (Num 21:6, 8).

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But would Egyptian symbolism have a place in Israel? Yes. Archaeologists have found royal seals with Israelite names that bear the images of winged, uraeus cobras.1 This archaeological material was not available to the Septuagint translators or Jerome, who translated the Vulgate—hence the confusion then and now.


The seraphim of Isa 6 are best understood as serpentine, divine throne guardians.2 The message to Israelite readers of the day: Yahweh is on the throne, ruling Egypt and every other nation, not Ra or Pharaoh. Isaiah uses these guardians of Egypt’s Pharaoh (who was hailed as a god) to demonstrate the supremacy of Israel’s God. The seraphim work for the Lord of hosts, and so appealing to Egypt is a waste of time (Isa 30:6). Anything Egypt has to offer, God already controls. Anything the powers of this world have to offer, the Lord already rules. As Jesus said to Pilate just before He was sentenced to death: “You would have no authority over me at all unless it had been given you from above” (John 19:11 esv). So don’t waste your time appealing to the powers of here and now.

The leading authority on Israelite iconography in its ancient Near Eastern context is Othmar Keel. See his book, co-authored with Christoph Uehlinger, Gods, Goddesses, and Images of God in Ancient Israel (translated by Thomas H. Trapp; Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 1998), pgs. 270–77.

1

Philippe Provençal, “Regarding the Noun ‫ ׂשרף‬in the Hebrew Bible,” Journal for the Study of the Old Testament (2005): 371–79.

2

Seal with an Israelite name and a four-winged serpent. Paleo-Hebrew inscription reads: yhmlyhw [bn] msyhw (Yahmelyahwu son of Mesyahwu). Artistic rendering based upon Keel and Uehlinger’s rendering (image 274b on pg. 275; inscription on pg. 273).1

Get the Context of Scripture at Logos.com/COS Pick up the Dictionary of Deities and Demons in the Bible at Logos.com/DDD Jacob P. Massine specializes in ancient languages and English literature. He is a columnist for Bible Study Magazine.

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WEIRD, BUT I M P O R TA N T

michael s . heiser

Virgin I mmanuel’ s M other

or Not?

The prophecy of Isaiah 7:14 is among the most wellknown passages in the book of Isaiah. It’s also one of the most controversial, for many reasons. Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign. Behold, the virgin (‫עלמה‬, almah) shall conceive and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel. (esv)

It’s difficult to get through the Christmas or Easter season without seeing one of the major news periodicals or educational television networks cast doubt about the meaning of almah (‫ )עלמה‬in Isa 7:14. A favorite argument is that the Hebrew word almah can not mean “virgin” but instead refers to a young woman of marriageable age—without respect to prior sexual activity. The more precise word for “virgin” is betulah (‫)בתולה‬, a word not used in Isa 7:14. The New Testament author Matthew, we are so often told, mistakenly assumed the term meant “virgin.” His ignorance led to the doctrine of the virgin birth of Jesus. But are these assertions correct? It’s true that betulah refers to someone who has been sexually inactive,1 but does that mean almah never means virgin? Outside of Isa 7:14, the word almah occurs only six times in the Old Testament. In all but one of those occurrences,2 the context provides no clue as to the sexual status of the young woman or women. Virginity is suggested, however, in Song of Solomon 6:8, where almah occurs in the plural (alamot, ‫)עלמות‬: There are sixty queens and eighty concubines, and virgins (alamot, ‫ )עלמות‬without number. (esv)

The distinction between queens, concubines, and alamot (‫ )עלמות‬is important. A queen was a royal wife, which obviously entails a sexual relationship with the king. A concubine was a sexual partner who held certain privileges, but not to the level of a wife. This would suggest that the third group, the alamot, had no sexual relationship with the king. An almah in this text is a candidate to become a concubine or a wife. Get more out of your study of Isaiah with the resources at Logos.com/Isaiah

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This is precisely what we see in the book of Esther. In Esther 2:3 and 2:8 we read that Esther was held in waiting for twelve months with “young virgins” (naʿarah betulah, ‫)נערה בתולה‬, under the supervision of Hegai, while the king sought a new queen. The use of naʿar and betulah indicates that a “young woman” (naʿar, ‫ )נער‬could certainly be a “virgin” (betulah, ‫)בתולה‬.

Esther was eventually taken from the “young virgins” under Hegai to the king for an evening liaison. Afterward, she was assigned to “second harem” supervised by Shaashgaz, who “was in charge of the concubines” (Esth 2:14)—indicating that Esther was no longer a virgin, but now a concubine. That Esther and the king had a sexual relationship during the night is clear from Esth 2:14—“she [Esther] would not go in to the king again unless the king delighted in her and she was summoned by name.” To “go in” to a man or woman is a common Old Testament euphemism for sexual intercourse.3 The Esther story describes the king’s harem as divided into three groups: queen, concubines and young virgins. The last of those groups is described as naʿarah betulah, “young virgins.” In parallel, Song of Songs 6:8 has the same threefold division, but uses almah (plural: alamot) to describe the third group. This indicates that naʿarah betulah and alamot are likely both descriptions of “virgins.” Nonetheless, since Esther is never called an almah, could almah still be excluded from the Old Testament vocabulary for “virgin”? For the assertion that “almah can not mean virgin” to be correct, naʿar and betulah must never overlap with almah. But they do. In Gen 24, Rebekah is referred to with all three terms (naʿar in 24:14, betulah in 24:16, and almah in 24:43), indicating that the terms could certainly be construed as synonymous. But do we even need the word study? In an ancient patriarchal culture, a “woman of marriageable age,” like Mary, was a female who had at least reached puberty, and so was capable of bearing children. Daughters in such a culture were under close supervision and restraint. Even in today’s sex-saturated culture, a significant number of girls in their teen years are virgins—how much more those in a patriarchal culture? Matthew was raised in this culture—and with the book of Esther—so it should not surprise us that he saw no incongruity in understanding almah (‫ )עלמה‬to mean “virgin.” 1

See Lev. 21:3; Judg 21:12; Deut 22:23, 28; and Exod 22:15.

2

Gen 24:43; Exod 2:8; Psa 68:25; Song 1:3; 6:8; and Prov 30:19.

3

For example, Gen 16:2; 29:21; 38:8; Deut 21:13; 25:5; and Judg 15:1.

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Maybe it’s time to change your diet. These Bible studies are designed to help Christians dig into God’s word and develop clear understandings of the important truths that change lives. Each study includes Scripture readings, daily homework, and in-depth study notes. Studies range from eight to twelve weeks. Leader’s guides are available. Order online or call 866-418-1565.

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Just Released - 1 and 2 Thessalonians

These two letters probably shouldn’t have been written. Much of the information in them was given because Paul was kicked out of Thessalonica prematurely and was not able to tell the church these things in person. Topics covered include instructions about how the believer can live in a way that is pleasing to God, and information regarding the coming of our Lord.

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CUTTING EDGE

john d . barry

500 A Resurrected Servant

Years 500

Before Jesus

A scholar friend of mine once remarked, “I must confess: if there is anything that convinces me that the Bible is inspired, and from God, it is Isaiah 53.” Isaiah 52:13–53:12 comes out of nowhere. There is no precedent for an innocent servant of God suffering and dying for the iniquities of others. It is shocking, graphic and brutal, yet profound.

Yet Yahweh was pleased to crush him; he afflicted [him] (with sickness). If she (or you) places his life a guilt offering, he will see offspring, he will prolong days and the will of Yahweh will succeed in his hand. From the trouble of his life, he will see light.1 He will be satisfied. In his knowledge, my righteous servant shall make many righteous and he will bear their iniquities. Therefore I will divide to him [a portion] among the many, and with [the] strong ones he shall divide bounty, because he exposed his life to death and was counted with transgressors, and he carried [the] sin of many and will intercede for transgressors (Isa 53:10–12).2

Who is the Servant in Isaiah? Is the servant the nation Israel or an individual? Scholars often assume it’s always Israel. At the churches where I have taught, the standard belief is the opposite: The servant is always an individual servant, namely Jesus. Both opinions are problematic. Here’s why.

1 Previous to Isaiah 49, the servant is Israel (or synonymously, Jacob). But you, Israel, my servant, Jacob, whom I have chosen, the offspring of Abraham, my friend; you whom I took from the ends of the earth, and called from its farthest corners, saying to you, “You are my servant, I have chosen you and not cast you off” (Isa 41:8–9). “You [Israel] are my witnesses (“you” is plural in the Hebrew),” declares Yahweh, “and my servant whom I have chosen, so that you may know and believe me and understand that I am he. Before me no god was formed, nor shall there be any after me” (Isa 43:10). “But now hear, O Jacob my servant, Israel whom I have chosen!” Thus says Yahweh who made you, who formed you in the womb and will help you: Fear not, O Jacob my servant, Jeshurun whom I have chosen (Isa 44:1–2). Remember these things, O Jacob, and Israel, for you are my servant; I formed you, you are to me a servant; O Israel, you will not be forgotten by me (Isa 44:21). For the sake of my servant Jacob, and Israel my chosen, I call you by your name, I name you, though you do not know me (Isa 45:4).

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But is the servant always the people of Israel? No.

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500 A Resurrected Servant

2 The servant is sometimes an individual, but there is a shift in Isa 49:1–3. Note the first person language for the servant: Listen to me coastlands, pay attention peoples from afar. Yahweh called me before I was born, while I was in my mother’s womb he named me. He made my mouth like a sharp sword, in the shadow of his hand he hid me and he made me a polished arrow, in his quiver he concealed me away. And he said to me, “You are my servant, Israel, in whom I will be glorified.” But I said, “I have labored in vain, I have spent my strength for nothing and vanity; yet surely my judgment is with Yahweh, and my wage with my God.”

At first glance, the line “You are my servant, Israel” seems to confirm that Israel is Yahweh’s servant. But, one line later in Isa 49:5, there is a distinction between Israel and the servant: And now Yahweh says, who formed me in the womb to be his servant, to bring Jacob back to him, and that Israel might be gathered to him, for I am honored in the sight of Yahweh, and my God has become my refuge.”

Here the servant that Yahweh formed from the womb is bringing “Jacob back to him” and gathering “Israel.” Isaiah 49:6 continues this direction: He [Yahweh] says, “It is too light a thing that you should be my servant to raise up the tribes of Jacob and to restore the survivors of Israel; I will give you as a light to the nations, that my salvation may reach to the end of the earth.” Pre-Order John D. Barry’s The Resurrected Servant in Isaiah. For the print version go to BiblicaDirect.com/ ResurrectedServant For the Logos Bible Software version visit Logos.com/ ResurrectedServant

Isaiah 49:5–6 tells us that Jacob and Israel will be gathered, raised up, and restored by the servant. The juxtaposition of Israel against the servant suggests that we should understand Isa 49:3’s line, “You are Israel my servant,” as an annunciation of a new servant who will fulfill all or part of Israel’s role (compare Luke 3:22). While Israel is the servant in Isa 40–48, Isa 49 identifies an individual servant.

Character(s) Referred to as “my servant(s)” Isaiah Isa 20:3 Eliakim, son of Hilkiah Isa 22:20 Israel Isa 41:8–9; 42:1, 19; 43:10; 44:1–2, 21; 45:4; (compare Jer 30:10; 46:27–28; Ezek 28:25; 37:25) An Individual Servant3 Isa 49:3; Isa 52:13; 53:12 Israel (Plural—“my servants”) Isa 65:8–9, 13–14

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500Years

Before Jesus

Part of the failure in their interpretation of Isa 53:10–12 is that their focus was only on the servant; not the other characters. The individual in Isa 52:13–53:12 has taken up Israel’s role as God’s chosen and called servant. It is his duty to reconcile the relationship between God and His people. But how will the servant do this? And how do the results of our interpretation align with biblical scholarship?

Where Our Logic Got Fouled Up For the last 30 years, biblical scholarship has generally followed the leads of Harry M. Orlinsky and R. N. Whybray when interpreting Isa 53:10–12.4 Although these two scholars had a lot right, they failed to detect the individual servant and his resurrection. Part of the failure in their interpretation of Isa 53:10–12 is that their focus was only on the servant; not the other characters. They didn’t ask the basic questions: “Who causes the servant’s suffering? Who kills him?” Here’s how we find those answers. When we identify who the pronouns (e.g., she, he, you) refer to, the major players emerge: “the prophet” speaking, “Zion or Jerusalem” acting (Isa 51:3–23; 52:7), the servant, and Yahweh.5 The result is that Isa 53:10–12 reads: [The prophet says,] “Yet Yahweh was pleased to crush [the servant]; he afflicted [the servant] (with sickness). If [Zion/Jerusalem] places [the servant’s] life a guilt offering, [the servant] will see offspring, [the servant] will prolong days. And the will of Yahweh is in [the servant’s] hand, it will succeed. Out of trouble of his life [the servant] will see light; [the servant] will be satisfied by his knowledge.” [Yahweh says,] “My righteous servant will bring justice to many and he will bear their iniquities. Therefore I [Yahweh] will divide to [the servant] a portion among the many, and with [the] strong ones [the servant] shall divide bounty, because he exposed his life to death and was counted with transgressors, and he carried the sin of the many and will intercede for transgressors.


God is the ultimate cause behind the servant’s suffering (53:12)—it was in His will (Isa 53:10)—but Zion or Jerusalem (who symbolize God’s people) make the servant a “guilt offering.” In ancient Israel, a “guilt offering” was made by someone who had deceived, robbed, defrauded, lied, or swore falsely. In addition to making things right with other people, the Israelites needed to make things right with Yahweh; hence the offering (Lev 5:20–26). Guilt offerings of bulls (or goats) died when offered. So the servant, as the “guilt offering” for God’s people, dies in Isa 53:10. But something miraculous happens: The servant “sees offspring” and “prolongs days.” Both of these things happen in life (e.g., Gen 48:11; Isa 61:9; and Exod 20:12; Deut 4:40; 5:16; 17:20; 25:15; Josh 24:31; All Dead Sea Scrolls manuscripts and the Septuagint (the Greek translation of the Old Testament) contain the word“light.”

1

All translations in this article are my own or adapted from the nrsv.

2

Judg 2:7; Prov 3:1–2). The servant is alive—he is resurrected. Everything in Isa 53:11 also points to resurrection: “he will see light” (compare Isa 9:6; Psa 36:10; 49:20; Job 3:16; 33:28), and “he will be satisfied in his knowledge.” “Because the servant exposed his life to death,” and was resurrected, he was able to “carry the sin of many and intercede for transgressors” (Isa 53:12). It is because of the servant’s death and resurrection that God’s relationship with Israel, and with all of us, is reconciled. Now what man does that sound like? Who was killed in Zion by the Jerusalem priesthood? More than 500 years before Jesus, this was prophesied (Acts 2:14–39).

The servant in Isa 49 may be the second-generation of Israelites living in Babylon. For a discussion of this, see my book The Resurrected Servant in Isaiah (forthcoming, Paternoster Press, 2010).

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Orlinsky, The So-Called “Servant of the Lord” and “Suffering Servant” in Second Isaiah (Vetus Testamentum Sup 14, Leiden: Brill, 1977) and Whybray, Thanksgiving for a Liberated Prophet: An Interpretation of Isaiah Chapter 53 (Journal for the Study of the Old Testament Sup 4, Sheffield: Sheffield, 1978).

4

5 For the full analysis of Isa 49 forward and an identification of all the characters involved, see The Resurrected Servant in Isaiah.

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W H AT T H E Y D O N ' T T E L L YO U I N C H U R C H

E Exodus x i l e

from

to

J ohnny C isneros

You may be thinking that I got the title backwards: Didn’t the exodus from Egypt come before the exile? It did, but not in Isaiah.

The Context of Isaiah 40:1–11

The book of Isaiah can be divided into two parts: 1–39 and 40–66. In 1–35, the Holy One of Israel is appalled by the idolatry and social injustice of His people, and sends them into exile. As a result, they lose their land and nationhood (compare Gen 12:1–2). Though the message in Isa 1–35 is one of judgment, it is followed by one of promise—there is a remnant (Isa 37:31). Then, after a brief narrative about the conflict between Israel and Assyria (Isa 36–39), comes a message of consolation and confrontation. Isaiah 40:1–11 marks a major division in the book and functions as a prologue for the next section, Isa 40–66.

The Content of Isaiah 40:1–11 Isaiah 40:1–11 moves from exile to a new exodus. Isaiah 40:1–11 (hcsb) “Comfort, comfort My people,” says your God. 2Speak tenderly to Jerusalem, and announce to her that her time of servitude is over, her iniquity has been pardoned, and she has received from the Lord’s hand double for all her sins. 3 A voice of one crying out: Prepare the way of the Lord in the wilderness; make a straight highway for our God in the desert. 4 Every valley will be lifted up, and every mountain and hill will be leveled; the uneven ground will become smooth, and the rough places a plain. 5And the glory of the Lord will appear, and all humanity will see it together, for the mouth of the Lord has spoken.

A voice was saying, “Cry out!” Another said, “What should I cry out?” “All humanity is grass, and all its goodness is like the flower of the field. 7The grass withers, the flowers fade when the breath of the Lord blows on them; indeed, the people are grass. 8The grass withers, the flowers fade, but the word of our God remains forever.” 6

Zion, herald of good news, go up on a high mountain. Jerusalem, herald of good news, raise your voice loudly. Raise it, do not be afraid! Say to the cities of Judah, “Here is your God!” 10See, the Lord God comes with strength, and His power establishes His rule. His reward is with Him, and His gifts accompany Him. 11He protects His flock like a shepherd; He gathers the lambs in His arms and carries them in the fold of His garment. He gently leads those that are nursing. 9

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Isaiah 40 begins with God’s people in exile, but that season of punishment has come to an end. The double portion of comfort (Isa 40:1) matches the double portion of punishment which Jerusalem, personified as a woman, has paid in exile (Isa 40:2). For the people of Israel, the exodus from Egypt defined salvation. It meant deliverance from enslavement (Deut 5:6), a new identity (Deut 26:18), possession of an inheritance (Num 33:53), and restoration of relationship with God and neighbor (Deut 6:4; Lev 19:18). All this was on account of God’s mercy, not human merit (Deut 9:4). Isaiah 40:1–11 hearkens back to the exodus from Egypt to provide hope for the exiles. Isaiah 40:3–5 announces the new exodus. God led His people through the wilderness before (Exod 13:18), and now in the wilderness, preparations must be made for the way of the Lord (Exod 13:21–22; 23:20; Isa 40:3; 43:16–19). Creation will be transformed so that God’s people may travel (Isa 40:4)—like they did before (Exod 14:21–22). The glory of the Lord will be revealed (Isa 40:5). The glory is God’s presence, manifested. It is the same glory that filled the tabernacle, overwhelming Moses (Exod 40:34–35; compare Isa 63:10–11). In the glory of the Lord, the frailty of humanity is exposed (Isa 40:6–8), just like when the Israelites met God at Sinai (Exod 20:19). As this section of Isaiah began, it ends: with the message of good news to God’s people (Isa 40:1, 9–10). The Holy One of Israel will care for His people as a shepherd cares for his flock (Isa 40:11). He will lead Israel back to their land, like He led them out of Egypt (Isa 63:11).

Repurposing Isaiah 40:1–11 Even after the return from exile, some communities in Israel questioned whether the prophecies of Isaiah had been fulfilled. Had the exile come to an end?


Had the way of the Lord been prepared? Had the glory of the Lord been revealed? In order to fulfill what Isaiah had written, a Jewish sect called the Essenes moved into the desert at Qumran (250 bc–68 ad), near the Dead Sea, to prepare the way of the Lord. One of their writings, called the Rule of the Community, reads:

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“And when these have become a community in Israel in compliance with these arrangements they are to be segregated from within the dwelling of the men of sin to walk to the desert in order to open there His path. As it is written: ‘In the desert, prepare the way of [Yahweh], straighten in the steppe a roadway for our God’ ” (Rule of the Community, column 8, lines 12–14). Florentino García Martínez and Eibert J. C. Tigchelaar, The Dead Sea Scrolls Study Edition (Transcriptions) (New York: Brill, 1997–98). Logos.com/DssStudyEdition

Another writer ironically saw the fulfillment of what Isaiah had written in a Roman ruler’s entrance into Jerusalem. Israel historically looked for deliverance from foreign rulership, but here the Jewish leaders are welcoming the Roman Pompey (106–48 bc): The non-biblical writing, Psalms of Solomon, records that the Jewish leaders “made the rough ways even, before his [Pompey’s] entering” into Jerusalem (Psalms of Solomon, 8:17). R.H. Charles, Pseudepigrapha of the Old Testament (Bellingham: Logos Bible Software, 2004). Logos.com/OTPseudepigrapha

In the Gospel of John, John the Baptist identifies himself as the voice crying in the wilderness (Isa 40:3; John 1:23)—the one that announced the new exodus. Once John baptizes Jesus, Jesus takes on Israel’s role, passing through the waters, traveling through the desert, and embarking on a conquest of the land. He delivers people from bondage (Luke 13:16; Rom 6:18), gives them a new identity (Matt 16:18; Gal 4:7), an inheritance (Matt 25:34; Heb 9:15), and restores them to right relationship with God (Col 1:21–22) and each other (Eph 2:14–16). Through such a great salvation the glory of God is revealed (Exod 40:31; Isa 40:5; John 1:14). God takes all who believe from exile to exodus, in an ultimate fulfillment of what was written in the prophet Isaiah.

Resources Used G.K. Beale and D.A. Carson (eds.), Commentary on the New Testament Use of the Old Testament (Grand Rapids: Baker, 2007). Logos.com/ NTUseOfOT Gleason L. Archer, A Survey of Old Testament Introduction (3rd. ed.; Chicago: Moody, 1998). Logos.com/OTSurveyIntro

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D . I . Y. B I B L E S T U DY

The New Testament

michael s . heiser

Misquotes

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the old

Sometimes when a New Testament writer quotes the Old Testament, the two passages do not match precisely. Is the New Testament writer misquoting the Old Testament? Or is there another explanation? Luke records that when Jesus began His ministry, He went to the synagogue in Nazareth on the Sabbath day. When He stood up to read the Scriptures, “The scroll of the prophet Isaiah was given to him” (Luke 4:17 esv). Jesus read the description of a climactic arrival of the anointed one from Isa 61:1–2, excluding the last half of verse two. That omission is understandable, but if you look at Luke 4:18–19 and Isa 61:1–2 side-by-side, several dissimilarities in what Jesus read are readily apparent. Luke 4:18–19 esv 18 The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim liberty to the captives and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty those who are oppressed, 19 to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.

Isaiah 61:1–2 esv The Spirit of the Lord God is upon me, because the Lord has anointed me to bring good news to the poor; he has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to those who are bound; 2 to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor. 1

important divergences: Red likely stylistic divergences: Green, Blue, Purple, Orange, Pink

In the original Old Testament passage, there is no reference to making the blind see. Conversely, Isaiah speaks of “binding up the brokenhearted,” a phrase absent in Luke. Since Luke is clear that Jesus was reading from a scroll, the divergence is not due to Luke (or Jesus) quoting from memory and messing up the passage! What’s going on here? Most of the time when a divergence occurs between a New Testament quotation and the Old Testament, the answer is the Septuagint, the ancient Greek translation of the Hebrew Bible. It often does not match the Hebrew text from which most Old Testaments were translated. Jesus apparently either read from a Hebrew text that reflected the Septuagint, or Luke fills in the quoted passage with the Septuagint. (And since Luke was not Jewish and spoke Greek, the Septuagint would have been his Bible). Luke 4:18–19 esv

Isaiah 61:1–2 nets Translated from the Greek Translation of the Old Testament, The Septuagint

Isaiah 61:1–2 esv Translated from the Most Commonly Used Hebrew Text

The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim liberty to the captives and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty those who are oppressed, 19to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.

The spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me; he has sent me to bring good news to the poor, to heal the brokenhearted, to proclaim release to the captives, and recovery of sight to the blind, 2 to summon the acceptable year of the Lord.

The Spirit of the Lord God is upon me, because the Lord has anointed me to bring good news to the poor; he has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to those who are bound; 2to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.

18

1

1

Jesus (or Luke) gets the “recovery of sight to the blind” line from the Septuagint. The Septuagint also contains a line from the traditional Old Testament that isn’t in Luke’s record! This example shows that it’s worth our time to check cross references, especially in quotations. Do it yourself by comparing New Testament quotations both to translations of the traditional Hebrew text, like the nasb or esv, and an up-to-date English translation of the Septuagint (New English Translation of the Septuagint; Oxford, 2008).1 We often don’t realize that even biblical writers depended on translations that they considered the Word of God. In the same manner, we can consider our own translations the Word of God. 42 |

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This translation is available at http://ccat.sas.upenn.edu/nets/edition

1


THOUGHTS FROM THE C H U R C H FAT H E R S

The Dead Will Rise

J ohn D . B arry

Tertullian on Isaiah 66

Dead folks walking around—new life in carcasses. This is not B-level, Zombie movie material. This is the Bible: Old (Isa 66:14–24; Ezek 37:1–14) and New Testaments (Matt 22:29–32; 1 Cor 15:12–49; Rev 20:5). These passages are seldom preached, but they are at the heart of what early Christians believed: Jesus rose, and we will rise with Him. The church father Tertullian was a defender of these truths. Because he was a small child, he is found “in their midst,” not teaching them but “asking questions” And again, (Isaiah says): “Your heart shall rejoice, and your bones shall spring up like the grass,” (Isa 66:14) ... In a word, if it is contended that the figure of the rising bones refers properly to the state of Israel, why is the same hope announced to all nations, instead of being limited to Israel only? … For the language is universal: “The dead shall arise, and come forth from their graves; for the dew which comes from Thee is medicine to their bones” (Isa 26:19). In another passage it is written: “All flesh shall come to worship before me, says the Lord” (Isa 66:23). When? When the fashion of this world shall begin to pass away. For He said before: “As the new heaven and the new earth, which I make, remain before me, says the Lord, so shall your seed remain” (Isa 66:22). Then also shall be fulfilled what is written afterwards: “And they shall go forth” (from their graves), “and shall see the carcasses of those who have transgressed: for their worm shall never die, nor shall their fire be quenched; and they shall be a spectacle to all flesh” (Isa 66:24). … Being raised again from the dead and brought out from the grave, (they) shall adore the Lord for this great grace.1 1 Tertullian, On the Resurrection of the Flesh, chapter 31 (ca. 207 ad; translated by Holmes). Adapted from A. Roberts, J. Donaldson and A. C. Coxe (eds.), The Ante-Nicene Fathers Vol. 3: Translations of the Writings of the Fathers Down to ad 325 (Oak Harbor: Logos Bible Software, 1997), pg. 567. Pick up resources on church history at Logos.com/ChurchHistory

Tertullian (ca. 160–225 ad) was converted to Christianity around age 37. He is often called the founder of Latin Christianity. He was a prolific writer in Latin and Greek. In opposition to the heretical, divisive leader Marcion, Tertullian argued that the God of the Old Testament was also the New-Testament God—loving and just. He also wrote against the Gnostics who viewed this world as completely separate from (and lesser than) the heavenly world. Although he was a polarizing figure, Tertullian’s influence in Africa and the wider church was tremendous.

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J ohnny C isneros

-to-

bible study guide 3 steps: 1 When reading biblical prophecy, consider: historical setting, fit, theme, imagery, characters and its use in the New Testament. 2 Consult the Bible, a theology book, an Old Testament survey, Bible dictionaries and commentaries. 3 Summarize the passage in light of what you’ve learned.

f o r t h e pa r a b l es fit question: Where does this passage fit in the book? answer: The book of Isaiah can be divided into four parts: The first part ... [deals with] the immediate present and impending judgment on Israel (Isa 1–12) ... followed by an extended series of oracles focusing on judgment against foreign nations” (An Introduction to the Old Testament, pg. 281).

setting question: What is the historical setting of the book? answer: “Uzziah is generally supposed to have died in 739. This is a

critical juncture in history. In 740–738 Assyrian king Tiglath-Pileser iii made his first campaign into the west. This is the beginning of a serious military threat that will eventually bring about the downfall of the northern kingdom, Israel, the destruction of the capital city of Samaria (along with many other cities of Israel and Judah) and the deportation of large segments of the population” (ivp Bible Background Commentary: Old Testament, pg. 591).

imagery question: What imagery is used in this passage?

Resources Used T. Desmond Alexander and Simon Gathercole (eds.), Heaven on Earth: The Temple in Biblical Theology (England: Paternoster Press, 2004), pg. 196. Logos.com/HeavenOnEarth Gleason L. Archer, A Survey of Old Testament Introduction (3rd ed.; Chicago: Moody Press, 1998), pg. 361. Logos.com/ArcherSurvey Mark W. Chavalas, Victor H. Matthews and John H. Walton, The ivp Bible Background Commentary: Old Testament (Downers Grove: InterVarsity Press, 2000), pg. 591.

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Raymond B. Dillard and Tremper Longman III, An Introduction to the Old Testament (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1994), pg. 281. Philippe Provençal, “Regarding the Noun ‫ ׂשרף‬in the Hebrew Bible,” Journal for the Study of the Old Testament (2005): 371–79. The net Bible (Biblical Studies Press, 2005), Translator’s Note at Isaiah 6:2. Logos.com/NET

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answer: Throne (6:1), temple (6:1), robe (6:1), smoke (6:4), coal (6:7–8), terebinth and oak (6:13).

“The significance of Isaiah’s vision of the luminescent smoke filling the Temple (6:4) is explained by the seraphim to mean that the whole world manifests Yahweh’s … heavenly glory … [The second part of Isa 6:3] could well be rendered ‘The fullness of the whole earth is his glory’ ... that is, the entire world reflects God’s glory in the Temple” (Heaven on Earth: The Temple in Biblical Theology, pg. 196).

Johnny Cisneros equips and develops leaders at a church plant. He holds a Master of Christian Studies in Biblical Languages from Regent College. Visit his site at ScrollAndLyre.com


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theme question: What is the major theme of the book? answer: The “basic theme of Isaiah’s message is that salvation is bestowed

Isaiah 6:1–13 (nrsv) In the year that King Uzziah died, I saw the Lord sitting on a throne, high and lofty; and the hem of his robe filled the temple. 2 Seraphs were in attendance above him; each had six wings: with two they covered their faces, and with two they covered their feet, and with two they flew. 3 And one called to another and said: “Holy, holy, holy is the Lord of hosts; the whole earth is full of his glory.” The pivots on the thresholds shook at the voices of those who called, and the house filled with smoke. 5 And I said: “Woe is me! I am lost, for I am a man of unclean lips, and I live among a people of unclean lips; yet my eyes have seen the King, the Lord of hosts!”

4

Then one of the seraphs flew to me, holding a live coal that had been taken from the altar with a pair of tongs. 7 The seraph touched my mouth with it and said: “Now that this has touched your lips, your guilt has departed and your sin is blotted out.” 8 Then I heard the voice of the Lord saying, “Whom shall I send, and who will go for us?” And I said, “Here am I; send me!” 9 And he said, “Go and say to this people: ‘Keep listening, but do not comprehend; keep looking, but do not understand.’ 10 Make the mind of this people dull, and stop their ears, and shut their eyes, so that they may not look with their eyes, and listen with their ears, and comprehend with their minds, and turn and be healed.” 6

11 Then I said, “How long, O Lord?” And he said: “Until cities lie waste without inhabitant, and houses without people, and the land is utterly desolate; 12 until the Lord sends everyone far away, and vast is the emptiness in the midst of the land. 13 Even if a tenth part remain in it, it will be burned again, like a terebinth or an oak whose stump remains standing when it is felled.” The holy seed is its stump.

only by grace, by the power of God, the Redeemer, rather than by the strength of man or the good works of the flesh. The holy God will not permit unholiness in His covenant people, and will therefore deal with them in such a way as to chasten and purge them and make them fit to participate in His program of redemption” (A Survey of Old Testament Introduction, pg. 361).

characters question: Who are the characters involved or mentioned? In prophecy, this may include locations and nations. answer: King Uzziah (6:1), Isaiah the prophet (6:1) the Lord (6:1, 5, 8, 11), seraphim (6:2–7), and the people, Israel (6:9–10).

“Hebrew ‫( ׂשרף‬saraf, “seraph”) … refers to poisonous snakes (Num 21:6; Deut 8:15; Isa 14:29; 30:6). … It is possible that the seraphs seen by Isaiah were at least partially serpentine in appearance. Though it might seem strange for a snake-like creature to have wings, two of the texts where ‘seraphs’ are snakes describe them as ‘flying’ (Isa 14:29; 30:6), perhaps referring to their darting movements” (The net Bible, note at Isa 6:2). Philippe Provençal notes—based on Egyptian iconography and etymology associated with the passage—that the “wings” are likely a reference to a cobra’s hood (Journal for the Study of the Old Testament [2005]: 371–79).

use in nt question: Is any part of this passage quoted in the New Testament? answer: Isaiah 6:9–10 is quoted by Jesus (Matt 13:14–15) and Paul

(Acts 28:26–27). Each passage is a response to the Kingdom of God (God’s reign as King). In Matthew 13, Jesus tells several parables concerning the nature of the Kingdom and the appropriate response to it. In Acts 28, Paul also teaches about the Kingdom of God (v. 23), yet some refuse to believe. The Kingdom–of–God framework fits with the imagery of the royal throne room in Isa 6:9–10 (e.g., the temple, the throne, the attendants, the train of a robe, and a divine commission).

summary question: How would you summarize the message of this passage? answer: God’s holy presence is not threatened by human sinfulness.

Isaiah’s uncleanness, though undesired by the Lord, could not overtake the glory of God’s presence. Instead, God’s holiness overtakes Isaiah, purifying him and preparing him for a prophetic ministry to the people of Israel. God’s message exposes the hardness of His people’s hearts (compare Isa 1; 5). Success in ministry is not defined by how people respond to our message, but by how faithfully we respond to God’s call.

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BIBLICAL HUMOR

How do stories work?

What techniques do authors use to get their point across?

Wordplay E li T. E vans

And how can we recognize them?

Eli T. Evans is a husband, father,  software designer and writer. He blogs at StrangerPilgrim.com

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in Jonah

In the last three issues, we have looked at the use of: 1 irony, 2 hyperbole and 3 reversal. In this fourth installment of our four-part series, we look at 4 wordplay. What is a “bank”? Is it the land beside a river? The act of tilting a vehicle or roadway to the side as it turns? A financial institution? Yes, depending. It’s ambiguous until you know the context. Now, if I say I wanted to make some money from my riverboat so I drove it into the bank, I have exploited the ambiguity in meaning to make a (lame) joke. In a similar (but more sophisticated) way, the author of Jonah plays with words for effect. There is a lot of going up/going down, standing up/ sitting down, picking up/casting down in the first half of Jonah. The wickedness of the Ninevites has “risen” up to God, so Jonah is told to “get up” and go there (1:2). Instead, he “goes down” to Joppa, then further down into the ship (1:3), and further still into the ship’s hold (1:5). Each time, the author uses the verb ‫( ירד‬yarad) to connect the three actions into a single act. Even the word used for Jonah’s deep sleep in 1:5 (‫וירדם‬, vayeradam), though derived from a completely different word, sounds like yarad. It connects Jonah’s slumber to his overall descent into disobedience. Later, he’s cast into the depths of the sea. The point is: Things ascend toward God and descend away from Him.

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Two sides of the word ‫( ירא‬yare’), meaning “fear,” are considered in chapter 1: The sailors are at first terrified of the storm (1:5). When they ask Jonah which God he worships, he replies that he “fears” Yahweh, the God of Israel (1:9), whom he is running from. Hearing this, the sailors become very terrified (1:10). After tossing Jonah overboard, they “fear” Yahweh in a whole different sense: They make vows and sacrifices. It’s all the same word, with two closely related meanings: terror that accompanies the threat of destruction, and reverence that accompanies worship. The Hebrew word ‫( רעה‬ra‘ah) occurs ten times in Jonah, in several connotations: wickedness (1:2; 3:8, 10); destruction (3:10; 4:2); calamity (of the storm, 1:7, 8); and distress/discomfort (Jonah’s, 4:1, 6). In 3:10, there is a play on both senses of wickedness and destruction: “When God saw what they did, how they turned from their evil (ra‘ah) way, God relented of the disaster (ra‘ah) that he had said he would do to them” (esv). They stopped their ra‘ah, so God stopped His. Finally, the ra‘ah that Jonah experiences (4:1, 6) has a double meaning. Jonah finds God’s mercy to be upsetting (literally, “it was evil to Jonah, a great evil”), which itself is wicked.


In 3:7, there is a pun: “By the decree (‫מטעם‬, mita‘am) of the king and his nobles: Let neither man nor beast, herd nor flock, taste (‫יטעמו‬, yit‘amu) anything” (esv). The word ‫( טעם‬ta‘am) has two unrelated meanings: The first, more common, meaning is “to taste” (as a verb) or “flavor” (as a noun). For example, Jonathan tasted (ta‘am) a little honey with the tip of his staff (1 Sam 14:43). This is the meaning used in the phrase “Let neither man nor beast … taste anything” (esv). The second meaning is “decree,” which is borrowed from either Assyrian (which would make sense!) or Aramaic. This rarer meaning occurs only in Jonah 3:7 and in Dan 3:10. The author of Jonah turns this into a witticism: What comes out of the king’s mouth (the decree, ta‘am) keeps the people from putting anything into theirs (tasting food, ta‘am). Another word that is explored by the narrative is ‫אלהים‬ (’elohim). When the God of Israel is referred to by name (Yahweh, “the Lord”), there is no ambiguity. But the word ’elohim can refer to either Yahweh or some other divine being. With the exception of 3:10, the narrator of Jonah always refers to the God of Israel as Yahweh, “the Lord.” The sailors first pray to their individual (unnamed) gods (’elohim), but once the storm is calmed, they call out specifically to Yahweh by name. This is a central issue in the book: The pagans have gods they worship, but they don’t have a relationship with Yahweh, the one true God.

Jonah 1:6 and 3:9–10 are the only places in the book where ’elohim is used with a definite article (“the”), ha-’elohim. Elsewhere in the Hebrew Scriptures, this means the God, par excellence. The words ha-’elohim occur twice in the phrase “perhaps this god (the God of Jonah) will relent,” spoken by both the captain of the sailors and the Ninevite king. At this critical moment, each leader switches from saying “your god,” or just “god,” to saying “the God.” The change in language is subtle (less so in Hebrew), but it suggests a change of attitude: “Unlike our other gods, perhaps this god (of Jonah’s) is decent enough to spare us if we repent.” In 3:10, the narrator echoes the king: “When ‘this god’ (ha-’elohim) saw what they did, how they turned from their evil way, ‘this god’ (ha-’elohim) relented.” By breaking from his regular habit and echoing the words of the king, the narrator tacitly approves of the king’s conclusion. The story of Jonah is, on the one hand, a very simple one. The plot is not difficult to follow, the characters are engaging, and the issues are clear. The author did not indulge himself by using complex grammar or showy turns of phrase. But, a close look at the text reveals the hand of a subtle artist who knew how to use words for maximum effect.

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Revolve 2010: The Complete New Testament Thomas Nelson, 2009 Teen magazines usually highlight fashion tips, advice on guys, and celebrity interviews. The birth of Jesus, the Lord’s Prayer, and the Golden Rule don’t usually make the feature list. But in the teengirl-style-magazine Revolve 2010: The Complete New Testament, they do. This New Century Version of the Bible presents the biblical text to teen girls in a language they’ll understand. It looks and feels like the latest issue of their favorite magazine. It’s designed to help teens become better acquainted with women of the New Testament, like the Virgin Mary, and Claudia, the wife of Pontius Pilate. The magazine also features Christian celebrities, like music artists Jordin Sparks and Blanca Reyes. Teen authors write about opportunities to share and practice their faith. Sections like “Words to Live By,” “Chart Toppers” and “Truth or Dare” feature memory verses and suggested life applications of the biblical text. Revolve is made with three people in mind: the new-Christian teen, the merely curious girl, and the junior-high youth who needs motivation to read the Bible. When read from front to back, a teen girl will get through the entire New Testament and understand what it means in her life. Reviewed by Heather M. Brooks

Old Testament Theology ivp Academic, 2008 As a collection of books written over a 1,000 years plus—in varying styles, by numerous authors, in different locations—the Old Testament can be a frustrating read. We need all the help we can get. This is where Robin Routledge’s Old Testament Theology is a valuable resource. Rather than examining the Old Testament book-by-book, Routledge looks at the big-picture issues: election, covenant, kingship and worship. Unlike many Old Testament theologies, Routledge’s chapter on creation is not an impasse between creationism and evolutionism, with the Bible caught in between. Instead, Routledge focuses on one fact: God created. Routledge asks us what it means to affirm a God who has created all things that are seen and unseen. Old Testament Theology contains extensive and detailed footnotes. These keep the reader from getting bogged down in divergent, scholastic opinions. Yet, they provide the necessary information that any detailed examination of the Old Testament requires. Reviewed by Kyle Anderson

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shelf

SHELF LIFE

Moving Beyond the Bible to Theology (Counterpoints Series, Exploring Theology) Zondervan, 2009

Going “beyond the Bible” sounds a little wrong at first. Shouldn’t the Bible be our focus? But in Gary T. Meador’s edited volume Four Views on Moving Beyond the Bible to Theology, he explains that the volume is about how to draw conclusions based on what the Bible implies, but does not say. This book offers four models for developing a theology based on Scripture: • The principlizing model of Walter C. Kaiser seeks to emphasize the principles of each individual biblical passage—first by reading for the passage’s main idea and then determining its emphasis. • Daniel M. Doriani’s redemptive-historical model holds that God’s plan of redemption is Scripture’s unifying theme. Thus, every word of the Old Testament points to Christ’s birth, ministry, death and resurrection. • Kevin J. Vanhoozer espouses a drama-of-redemption model, suggesting that the Bible is a holy script that its readers are to act out—by applying it to their lives. This approach is also called “theodrama.” • William J. Webb’s redemptive-movement model claims that although the commands of Scripture operated within cultural parameters, the progress of biblical culture from sin to grace is evident throughout. At the end of each essay by these four scholars, the other writers respond— affirming or disputing each other’s arguments. Theologians Mark L. Strauss, Al Wolters and Christopher J. H. Wright then provide commentary on all four views. This book would make an ideal seminary text, or general introduction to various models of biblical interpretation, as it reflects differing understandings of the Bible. Reviewed by Heather M. Brooks

The Bible in Rhyme Minor Planet Press, 2009 Author Kyle Holt acknowledges that the Bible is long and difficult to understand. That’s why many people who believe it have never read it, and why some who do not believe it have read it cover to cover with bewilderment. With this in mind, Holt wrote The Bible in Rhyme: an introduction to the Scriptures that is accessible. The Bible in Rhyme is exactly what its title professes: a rhymed, English version of the Bible. The biblical text is structured with an a-a, b-b rhyme scheme, everywhere except the psalms. The psalms are each arranged according to a different rhyme scheme. Holt differentiates between his volume and “the real Bible”—suggesting that readers use his volume alongside a traditional translation of Scripture, to clarify any confusing passages. He invites readers to comment on any misinterpretation on his web site: KyleHolt.com. Holt provides tips on how to use The Bible in Rhyme, including suggestions to read it aloud and skip from book to book. Parents are cautioned within the work that parts of the text might be too graphic for young children. The Bible in Rhyme is an entirely new approach to reading the Bible. Reviewed by Heather M. Brooks


Accuracy. Insight. Clarity. “Chuck doesn’t have a boring bone in his body.” —Philip Yancey Combining rich, rock-solid scholarship with a storyteller’s imagery and passion, Chuck Swindoll has a gift for sweeping people into the immediacy of the Scriptures. The Swindoll’s New Testament series is the legacy of a master teacher and communicator to the church of Jesus Christ. God’s Word will come alive for you, filled with drama, power, and truth, as you journey with Chuck chapter by chapter through the New Testament. The first volume, Insights on Romans, is available now.

www.SwindollInsights.com

Photo copyright of Catalyst Conferences 2009

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Is God using your small group to grow your faith? Relationships with others are just one way God grows our faith. Learn about the other four things in Andy Stanley’s newest small group study.

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Also available: Faith Hope and Luck and Twisting the Truth Sample videos, and downloads for all Andy Stanley resources at www.zondervan.com/ministry.


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