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How sharp the edge?

Amazing message from Mark Driscoll. One of the best things I’ve listened to in a long time. In this message given at the Desiring God conference this year, he speaks about what is his greatest strength and his greatest weakness at the same time. A absolute must-hear!

Wenham on Rituals

In my studies for the Book of Numbers-Bible Study for the youth group (www.generationacts.de) on Tuesday nights, I am currently reading the Tyndale Commentary on Numbers, written by Gordon J. Wenham. The things he writes on the meaning and importance of rituals in the Bible (and in general, really) in the introduction were very helpful. That’s why I decided to post some of it here:

„In the preface I alluded to the great gulf that separates the mentality of our age from that of Numbers, a gulf that makes it very hard for us to appreciate much of the book. We are moved by the tragedy of the spies and Moses‘ exclusion from the promised land, and we can enjoy the comedy of the Balaam story, but these narratives comprise a relatively small proportion of the whole book. Most of it concerns various rituals and organizational details that are dull to read, hard to understand, and apparently quite irrelevant to the church in the twentieth century. Of course, these problems are not confined to Numbers: the situation is similar in Exodus and Deutoronomy, and even less narrative is to be found in Leviticus.

Yet the sheer bulk of ritual law in the Pentateuch indicates its importance to the biblical writers. This judgment is confirmed by modern anthropologists; for them the key to understanding a society’s fundamental values is its ritual system.

Rituals reveal values at their deepest level…men express in ritual what moves them most, and since the form of expression is conventionalized and obligatory, it is the values of the group that are revealed. I see in the study of rituals the key to an understanding of the essential constitution of human societies.

In short, if we do not understand the ritual system of a people, we do not understand what makes their society tick. It is not without purpose, then, that more than half of the Pentateuch, alsways considered the most authoritative section of the Old Testament, consists or ritual regulations, instructions about building the tabernacle, laws on sacrifice and festivals and so on. If we can understand these arrangements we shall be near to grasping the very heart of ancient Israel’s religion and its values, at least according to cultural anthropologists.

But it does not come easily to us. Moderns have a built-in antipathy to ritual and symbolic gestures. We prefer to do without it, and when others use ritual, to ignore it. Victor Turner, who has probably done most in recent times to open up the interpretation of ritual symbolism, candidly admits that when he first studied the Ndembu tribe in Zambia he ignored their rituals. But

Eventually, I was forced to recognise that if I wanted to know what even a segment of Ndembu culture was really about, I would have to overcome my prejudie against ritual and start to investigate it.

Most Old Testament scholars share a similar aversion to studying ritual. (…) This gives a clue as to why we find ritual as such, and the Old Testament law in particular, so dull and uncongenial. Not only do we not realize its significance, but we minimize the importance of form and organization in both our religious and secular callings. (…) Yet ultimately we cannot get away from both ritual and organization. If hand-shaking is on the decline, kissing is on the increase. (…) House groups claiming to dispense with formal liturgy and professional ministers soon establish their own idiosyncratic way of conducting worship and a recognized leadership, for without organization they withe away. Thus, however much ritual and organization are anathema to modern man, they re-emerge despite the most strenous attempts to eliminate or minimize them.

It is no good, then, ignoring rituals as if they were of no consequence. Every society has them, though the outsider is always more aware of them than the native. (…) What then is the essence of religious ritual in the Bible? It is a means of communication between God and man, a drama on a stage watched by human and divine spectators. Old Testament rituals express religious truths as opposed to verbally. They are the ancient equivalent of television; the ancient equivalent of radio was prophecy and prayer. These were the recognized modes of communication between the human and divine worlds in Bible times. Like words, rituals are a two-way channel of communication. On the one hand they are dramatized prayers, expressing men’s deepest hopes and fears; on the other hand they are dramatized divine promises and warnings, declaring God’s attitude towards man.“

Criticism

Man….the first one I have to criticize is MYSELF. It has been so long since I wrote the last thing. Sorry for anyone (if you exist) who checked regularly.

Actually I can just blame it on Brian McLaren. Normally I wanted to read his book „Everything must change“ and then write my comments on it. A task which was a little bit too much work for me. First I was surprised by alot of what I read – positively so. To make it short: there was alot I really had to think through in order to be able to remain honest with myself.

Of course I was a little bit afraid. After all I am a Calvary Chapel youth leader – and I like some of the stuff Brian McLaren writes? Am I in trouble? Will I be excommunicated? Aaaahhh! So I decided to ask one of the people I am blessed to know personally: David Guzik (www.enduringword.com). I asked him to read the book and to tell me what he thinks. And he actually did. Not only that: he wrote a little critique on it while he was reading!

So I will ask for his permission and then put it up here on my blog.

Before I go to bed, I will bless you, dearest reader, with a quote from Forsyth’s book „The person and the place of Jesus Christ“, a book which, I think, is a very timely answer to the Emergent approach, even though it was partly a reaction to the early liberal movement in Germany. The book first was published in 1909.

„Criticism is our friend and not our enemy in its place. It is a good servant but a deadly master. It becomes our enemy only when it aspires from being an organ of Evangelical faith to be its controller.“ That is exactly where liberalism went off-track…

3 Tage und 3 Nächte

Schonmal gefragt, wie es möglich ist, dass Jesus am Freitag starb, am Sonntag auferstand, und dabei 3 Tage und 3 Nächte tot gewesen sein soll? Hier ist die Antwort: er starb nicht am Freitag…

Jesu Leiden, Tod und Auferstehung fielen in die Zeit des Passahfestes. Dieses bestand aus dem eigentlichen, eintägigen Passah und dem direkt darauffolgenden, 7-tägigen Fest der ungesäuerten Brote, wobei der erste dieser 7 Tage ebenfalls als ein „Sabbat“ galt (3. Mose 23,6-8). Dieser Sabbat fiel in diesem Jahr auf einen Donnerstag (der große Sabbattag aus Johannes 19,31).

Die Neues Leben Übersetzung gibt hier korrekt wieder: „Die führenden Männer des jüdischen Volkes wollten die Gekreuzigten nicht bis zum nächsten Tag, einem Sabbat – der wegen des Passahfestes noch dazu ein besonderer Sabbat war, am Kreuz hängen lassen.“ (Weil der nächste Tag ein Sabbat war, denken die Meisten, dass es sich demnach bei Jesu Todestag um einen Freitag gehandelt haben muss.)

Was man wissen muss, ist dass das Passahfest oft einfach zum Fest der ungesäuerten Brote dazu gerechnet wurde (was von der inhaltlichen Bedeutung her auch Sinn macht). Man sieht das in Markus 14,12: „Am ersten Tag des Fests der ungesäuerten Brote, dem Tag, an dem die Passahlämmer geopfert wurden, fragten die Jünger Jesus: Wo sollen wir hingehen und das Passahmahl vorbereiten?“

Jüdische Feste beginnen am Abend des Vortages und enden am darauf folgenden Sonnenuntergang. Demnach feierte Jesus das Passah mit seinen Jüngern an einem Dienstag Abend, wurde in der Nacht auf Mittwoch überliefert, Mittwoch Mittags gekreuzigt, und Abends ins Grab gelegt, bevor der Sabbat (also der erste Tag des Festes der ungesäuerten Brote) begann. Dann war sein Leib drei Tage und drei Nächte im Grab, und er auferstand Samstag Abends. Als die Frauen Sonntags Morgens zum Grab kamen, war dieses bereits leer.

 Leider hat die Kirchentradition auch in diesem Fall den Eindruck hinterlassen, dass man nur bibelgläubiger Christ sein kann, wenn man nicht bis drei zählen kann/darf.

Jesus lächelt.

So, hier isser endlich – mein erster deutscher Eintrag. Ein Auszug aus meinen Predigtnotizen für den Jugendgottesdienst gleich.

Jesus teilte als Gottes Sohn die Herrlichkeit des Vaters. Als er auf die Erde kam, kam er, um die Herrlichkeit Gottes auszustrahlen. In Johannes 1,14 schreibt Johannes über Jesus: „Und das Wort wurde Fleisch und wohnte unter uns, und wir haben seine Herrlichkeit angeschaut, eine Herrlichkeit als eines Eingeborenen vom Vater, voller Gnade und Wahrheit.“ Johannes sagt hier, worin er ganz besonders die Herrlichkeit Gottes gesehen hat: darin, dass Jesus voller Gnade und Wahrheit war.

Es gab sicherlich besondere Momente, in denen Gottes Herrlichkeit auf übernatürliche Weise sichtbar wurde. Zum Beispiel auf dem Berg der Verklärung. Da wurde Jesus vor den Augen von Petrus, Johannes und Jakobus verwandelt. Sein Angesicht leuchtete wie die Sonne und seine Kleider wurden weiß wie das Licht.

Aber ich glaube, dass es Jesu Charakter, sein Leben und sein Dienst an den Menschen waren, die Gottes Herrlichkeit genauso zeigten. In 2. Korinther 4,6 schreibt Paulus: „Denn Gott, der gesagt hat: Aus Finsternis wird Licht leuchten! Er ist es, der in unseren Herzen aufgeleuchtet ist zum Lichtglanz der Erkenntnis der Herrlichkeit Gottes im Angesicht Jesu Christi.“ Wo findet man Gnade und Wahrheit? Wo sieht man Gottes Herrlichkeit? In Jesu Gesicht. In seinen Augen. In seinem Lächeln. In seinen Worten.

Darin wie er Sünder anschaut: „Als er aber die Volksmengen sah, wurde er innerlich bewegt über sie, weil sie erschöpft und verschmachtet waren wie Schafe, die keinen Hirten haben.“ (Matthäus 9,36) „Und als er ausstieg, sah er eine große Volksmenge, und er wurde innerlich bewegt über sie und heilte ihre Kranken.“ (14,14)

In der Bibel steht nirgendwo, dass Jesus lächelte oder lachte. Aber:

Die Bibel sagt, dass Jesus Gott ist. Und Gott tut beides. Im Segen Aarons, mit dem sie das Volk segnen sollten, heißt es: „Der HERR segne dich und behüte dich! Der HERR lasse sein Angesicht über dir leuchten und sei dir gnädig! Der HERR erhebe sein Angesicht auf dich und gebe dir Frieden!“ (4. Mose 6,24-26) Das ‚leuchtende Angesicht‘ ist nichts anderes, als ein strahlendes Gesicht – ein freudiges Lächeln. Wenn Jesus Gott perfekt wiedergespiegelt hat, dann hat er gelächelt und gestrahlt.

Außerdem sagt die Bibel, dass Jesus vollkommen Mensch ist. Ein Mensch, der nicht lächelt oder lacht ist kein Mensch. Er ist ein Unmensch. Oder ein Roboter…

Jesus weint. Jesus lächelt. Jesus spricht. Jesus lebt. Jesus ist Gott. In diesem Sinne: Frohe Ostern! (Das Wort ‚Ostern‘ kommt übrigens nicht von irgendeiner heidnischen Göttin ‚Ostera‘, sondern von ‚eos’/’eostere‘, was ‚Sonnenaufgang‘ bedeutet. Deswegen heißt der Osten auch Osten, weil da die Sonne aufgeht. Die Christen erinnern sich an die Frauen, die bei Sonnenaufgang zum leeren Grab kamen.) Er ist auferstanden….

Übrigens…

…ihr könnt natürlich auch gerne auf Deutsch comments schreiben! Die ersten deutschen Beiträge kommen bestimmt! Einen gesegneten Karfreitag! (Karfreitag kommt übrigens von althochdeutsch „kara“, Klage, Trauer, Kummer)

A good day, a crucial day – Good Friday

This day is good. It is a day in which we remember that which was necessary to save sinners, and to change them into free, happy, God-lovers. The atonement of Jesus. His sufferings, his death on the cross. Reason enough to bless you with a couple of quotes:

„Who His own self bare our sins in His own body on the tree.“ 1 Peter 2:24

The Cross of Jesus is the revelation of God’s judgment on sin. Never tolerate the idea of martyrdom about the Cross of Jesus Christ. The Cross was a superb triumph in which the foundations of hell were shaken. There is nothing more certain in Time or Eternity than what Jesus Christ did on the Cross: He switched the whole of the human race back into a right relationship with God. He made Redemption the basis of human life, that is, He made a way for every son of man to get into communion with God.

The Cross did not happen to Jesus: He came on purpose for it. He is „the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world.“ The whole meaning of the Incarnation is the Cross. Beware of separating God manifest in the flesh from the Son becoming sin. The Incarnation was for the purpose of Redemption. God became incarnate for the purpose of putting away sin; not for the purpose of Self-realization. The Cross is the centre of Time and of Eternity, the answer to the enigmas of both.

The Cross is not the cross of a man but the Cross of God, and the Cross of God can never be realized in human experience. The Cross is the exhibition of the nature of God, the gateway whereby any individual of the human race can enter into union with God. When we get to the Cross, we do not go through it; we abide in the life to which the Cross is the gateway.

The centre of salvation is the Cross of Jesus, and the reason it is so easy to obtain salvation is because it cost God so much. The Cross is the point where God and sinful man merge with a crash and the way to life is opened – but the crash is on the heart of God.“ (Oswald Chambers; My Utmost for His Highest)

 

What was the death of Christ? „A martyrdom,“ cries modern thought. „A mischance in an unenlightened age,“ replies the reviewer. „An outcome of all such efforts to battle with evil,“ says the broad-church teacher. „A SACRIFICE!“ thunders this Book. A voluntary sacrifice! A voluntary sacrifice, by which sin has been borne and put away. Here we rest, content to abide, in a world of mystery, at the foot of one mystery more, which, despite all its mystery, answers the cry of a convicted conscience, and sheds the peace of heaven through our hearts.“ (F. B. Meyer; The Way Into the Holiest; Commentary on Hebrews)

 

Have a good friday! (This expression comes from Martin Luther, by the way: Guter Freitag)