I’m taking a summer break from blogging. Be back shortly. Read more

This exhortation was delivered to the graduates of the 2017-18 Theopolis Junior Fellows Program on May 17, 2018. “Freely you received; freely give.” Jesus has been teaching, healing, casting out demons, raising the dead, cleansing lepers. Now He empowers His disciples to carry on the same work. Jesus authorizes His disciples as apostles, then sends them out to the twelve tribes. Their work won’t be easy. Jesus tells them to take nothing, but to depend on the hospitality of those… Read more

At a recent Theopolis intensive course, Pastor John Barach pointed out that Judges begins with the death of Joshua. Unlike the death of Moses, Joshua doesn’t leave behind a recognized successor. Joshua has no Joshua of his own. That may seem a crisis, but Barach suggested that it was a case of “it’s good that I go away.” Joshua’s death spreads out responsibility for Israel’s possession of the land. Israel won’t rely on a single leader; many leaders and judges… Read more

The structural center of the second half of Joshua is Joshua 18:1-7. It seems a pause in the distribution of the land, as Joshua gives instructions to the seven remaining tribes about how they’ll receive their inheritance. The reference to Yahweh’s tent of meeting in verse 1 is so light that we may miss it. But it’s crucial not only to Joshua 18 but to the whole of the book. The tabernacle is mentioned only a handful of times in… Read more

God appeared frequently to saints of the Old Testament. He came as a smoking oven and flaming torch to Abram (Genesis 15:17), and later as three men before Abraham’s tent by the oaks of Mamre (Genesis 18). He showed Himself to Moses at the burning bush (Exodus 3:2), and to Israel in a fiery cloud (Exodus 16:10). When He appeared to Korah, the earth opened and swallowed the rebels, and He appeared to Manoah’s wife with the good news about… Read more

Many Christians today are squeamish about the book of Joshua, not least about things like Rahab’s confession that “I know that the Lord has given you the land, and that the terror of you has fallen on us, and that all the inhabitants of the land have melted away before you” (Joshua 2:8). Or the narrator’s claim that “when all the kings of the Amorites who were beyond the Jordan to the west, and all the kings of the Canaanites who were by the sea, heard how the Lord had dried up… Read more

What has Pentecost to do with public life? As Paul would say, much in every way. The Bible does not permit us to confine the work of the Spirit to the inner man or to private experience. Through Isaiah (44:3), the Lord promised to pour out water on the land of Israel and his Spirit upon Israel’s seed. When the Spirit is poured out like water, he turns desolate places to fruitfulness, transforms the dry land into a grove, transfigures… Read more

It’s the season of the Spirit, a time to muse on the politics of Pentecost. When Israel’s prophets predict the future coming of the Spirit, their next thought is almost always about the renewal of creation. According to Joel, the Spirit’s coming will turn Israel into Big Rock Candy Mountain”wine tricklin’ down the mountains, a restoration of a land of milk and honey (Joel 3:18“21). When the Spirit comes, Isaiah writes, “the wilderness becomes a fertile field, and the fertile… Read more

In Discourses on Livy, Machiavelli exposes the ruse of Roman law. Numa, the true founder of Rome, “mistrusted his own authority, lest it should prove insufficient to enable him to introduce new and unaccustomed ordinances in Rome.” And so he claimed that the law came from the gods. All law, Machiavelli argues, arises from a similar mystification. In One and Only Law, a study of Walter Benjamin, James Martel explains that Machiavelli’s unmasking of the origins of law raises questions about… Read more

Pamela Tamarkin Reis (“Seeing Moses Plain,” VT 55 [2005] 207-31) thinks that Moses’ response to Yahweh in Numbers 11 is a model prayer. First, Moses refers to Israel as “this people,” which is “a disdainful, arms-length usage employed frequently in the Bible to distance oneself from and to denigrate the subject of the demonstrative pronoun.” It’s not a gesture of contempt for the people but a way of taking Yahweh’s side against their grumbling: “God is angry at the people, and… Read more

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