August 31, 2007

Hab 3:2-19 / Job 28-30

Today as I read Habakkuk 3:2-19, the seasonal canticle for August, I was struck by the author’s rhetorical question in verse 8. God was not angry with the rivers, nor did He direct His wrath against the streams, but He did use rivers and streams as instruments of His anger and wrath towards unbelieving people. In much the same way, God uses other instruments or means to chastise and rebuke people today. Notice too, in verse 13, how God’s righteous wrath and judgment against unbelievers is just an opposite side of the same act that delivers God’s people. No wonder the author can rejoice and be joyful (v.18) despite the awful circumstances in which he and his contemporaries find themselves. Do we rejoice under such circumstances knowing our redemption is near? (You can find my previous posts on Habakkuk 3:2-19 by following this link.)

An image from KUTV and the Associated Press of rescue operations at the Crandall Canyon Mine in Huntington, UtahWhen I hear about mining these days it is usually about the Crandall Canyon mine in Huntington, Utah, where more than three weeks later I can hardly believe they are still searching for those six lost miners. (The image with this post is a KUTV and Associated Press image of earlier drilling to locate the miners; to see a larger version of the image click it, but for the largest and highest quality image see from where we got it.) Today in Job 28-30 we hear about mining, too, but it isn’t coal mining. The wisdom poem makes it clear wisdom is not to be found in the ground but in faith in God, Who loved us so much He sent His one and only Son to die on the cross and rise again to save us from our sins. You can find my previous comments on more of today’s reading here.

There are no previously posted questions and answers on these chapters, but, if you’ve got one, you are certainly welcome to ask it! Your question will be posted anonymously when it is answered.

There are no Old Testament readings from Job 28-30 in the historic 1-year lectionary we use at Grace for Sunday and festival services, and there are no hymns in The Lutheran Hymnal that are said to refer to Job 28-30.

God bless your day!

Posted by Pastor Galler at 12:00 AM

August 30, 2007

Ps 85 / Job 25-27

Someone’s behavior in the past can often be a good predictor of how he or she will behave in the future. Often, but not always. People and circumstances change. There is no changing with God, however. As we read today in Psalm 85, God’s past deliverance is reason to believe He will deliver us again and always continue to deliver us. I highlighted this aspect of the psalm in previous comments you can find by following this link, but I was reflecting on it again today as I read the psalm again, and I thought it was worth pointing out again. People can let us down and otherwise disappoint us when they do not act positively toward us as they have in the past, but God, motivated by His great love, mercy, and grace, will never disappoint those who trust Him to forgive them for the sake of Jesus Christ.

An image said to be of an iceberg in the Antarctic“That’s just the tip of the iceberg!” someone might exclaim when someone else thinks he or she has it all figured out. The iceberg expression seems to connote the idea that things appearing to be small or trivial can be much larger in fact. With thoughts of the Titanic, we may think of an iceberg’s threat that lies below the surface of the water, but the iceberg expression also can be used in a more neutral sense when we talk about things that are unknown. In that sense I’d say that what God chooses to reveal to us about Himself is, as it were, just the tip of the iceberg. (The image with this post, whose originator is not identified, is said to be of an iceberg in the Antarctic; to see a larger version of the image click it, but for the largest and highest quality image see from where we got it.) Job 25-27 speaks to the unknown or hidden aspects of God, and the reading also suggests there is some threatening aspect to what God does not reveal of Himself. I guess I would agree that knowing there are hidden aspects of God can speak words of law to us, but I prefer to concentrate on the fact that in Christ and His Word God reveals to us all that we need to know for salvation. To extend the opening analogy, I suppose even the tip of the iceberg can save someone who is trying to keep from drowning in the water. We may not understand everything God reveals, much less know everything about God, but by His Holy Spirit working through Word and Sacrament we know and understand enough. (My previous comments on the reading are here.)

The only previously posted question specifically connected to today’s reading has to do with Job 26:14 and the “whisper” of revelation. What isn’t clear to you? Please ask about it!

Job 25-27 is not tapped by the historic 1-year lectionary for any Old Testament readings, nor are any verses from Job 25-27 apparently referred to by hymns in The Lutheran Hymnal.

God bless your day!

Posted by Pastor Galler at 12:00 AM

August 29, 2007

Ps 84 / Job 22-24

We are probably all guilty at one time or another of thinking that we’d rather spend Sunday mornings somewhere other than in church. The tenth verse of Psalm 84 tells us we should be happier to serve one day in the Lord’s courts than rest a perfect and complete number of days anywhere else. The ironic(?) thing is that Sunday mornings in the Divine Service God serves us! In fact, by grace through faith in Jesus Christ we dwell in the Lord’s House now and forever. (You can find all my other comments on Psalm 84 by following this link.)

An abstract representation of Job’s three friends by contemporary New Zealand artist Cornelis MonsmaEliphaz, Bildad, and Zophar, Job’s three friends, are sometimes characterized as dealing in the supernatural, logical, and religious realms. Those may be somewhat accurate characterizations, but today’s reading of Job 22-24 certainly gives an indication that Eliphaz could deal in the religious realm, too. The image with this post is an abstract representation of Job’s three friends in keeping with those three realms (be sure to note Job at the bottom of the image; to see a larger version of the image click it, but for the largest and highest quality image see from where we got it). The image is of an original oil painting by Friesian-Dutch born contemporary artist Cornelis Monsma, who lives in New Zealand and is said to be inspired by the paintings and colors of Marc Chagall. There are more Monsma paintings on the Job theme here, and you can find my post on Job 22-24 here.

The only previously posted question specifically connected to today’s reading has to do with Job 22 and the accusations of Job’s friends. What isn’t clear to you? Please ask about it!

Job 22-24 is not tapped by the historic 1-year lectionary we use at Grace for any Old Testament readings, and nor does The Lutheran Hymnal have any hymns said to refer to Job 22-24.

God bless your day!

Posted by Pastor Galler at 12:00 AM

August 28, 2007

Ps 83 / Job 19-21

Have you been following the news about the fires in Greece? They’ve talked about the threat to the Olympic sites, but I haven’t heard anything about threats to Biblical sites, although from the looks of the maps the fires aren’t near the major cities of Paul’s activities. There are “mountains ablaze” in Psalm 83 today, and you can find my comments on that aspect of the psalm and the psalm as a whole by following this link.

Contemporary American artist Roger Loveless’s depiction of the living RedeemerI hope you enjoyed the lyrics to Michael Card’s “Job Suite” that I included in yesterday’s post; I still hope to link an audio file some time soon. Included in those lyrics is another highlight of the book, one that we read today in Job 19-21, namely 19:25-27. Those verses are associated with our celebration of the Resurrection of our Lord, in part by their content but probably more by their use in the lectionary and hymnal (see below). Thus, the image with this post is of our Lord’s resurrection appearance to Mary Magdalene in the Garden of Gethsemane (to see a larger version of the image click it, but for the largest and highest quality image see from where we got it). The lithograph, titled “My Redeemer Lives”, is by contemporary American artist Roger Loveless. You can find my post overviewing the reading here.

There are no previously posted questions and answers on these chapters, but, if you’ve got one, you are certainly welcome to ask it! Your question will be posted anonymously when it is answered.

The historic 1-year lectionary we use at Grace for Sunday and festival services appoints Job 19:25-27 as the Old Testament reading for Quasimodogeniti (the First Sunday after Easter), and three hymns in The Lutheran Hymnal are said to refer to Job 19:25-27: #200, #206, #603 (you'll have to see your hymnal for that one).

God bless your day!

Posted by Pastor Galler at 12:00 AM

August 27, 2007

Ps 82 / Job 16-18

Ok, I’ll admit it, I was a big superhero fan when I was a kid. If you say, “Hall of Justice” to me, this is what I think of, the headquarters for the Super Friends, never mind that there are real halls of justice, like this one in Riverside County, California. Psalm 82 today seems to be set in the heavenly Hall of Justice (confer Solomon’s earthly version mentioned in 1 Kings 7:7), and we will see some overlap in this setting with our reading of Job, today, too. A place where people might be accused of their sins and have to defend themselves should frighten and intimidate those who do not believe in Jesus Christ, but those who believe know that Jesus has taken the sentence for their sins and that they will stand righteous and not guilty before God by grace through faith in Jesus. (You can find my previous comments on Psalm 82 by following this link.)

An unidentified artist’s depiction of the heavenly courtroomJesus’s role as our courtroom advocate and intercessor is well-described today in Job 16-18 as Job replies to Eliphaz’s second speech (see Job 16:19-21). (The image with this post is an unidentified artist’s depiction of the heavenly courtroom; to see a larger version of the image click it, but for the largest and highest quality image see from where we got it.) What a comforting thought that Jesus pleads with the Father for us the way we would plead for a friend. Hang on to these wonderful passages from Job, as I think they are the gems that make worthwhile reading what is otherwise a somewhat-difficult book. I really like Michael Card's Job Suite, what he describes as almost an operetta in four parts. The lyrics follow, and you can download the audio file below as a single-file, or separated into the four parts for those with slower Internet connections. Just right-click on any link and select either Save Target As or Save Link As to download the file(s).

If you enjoyed Job Suite consider purchasing Michael Card's album, The Way of Wisdom which includes this song. The album and other products can be purchased from his web site.

Job Suite (Full) - 11.8 MB
Job Suite - His Story - 2.59 MB
Job Suite - His Lament - 3.37 MB
Job Suite - His God - 2.27 MB
Job Suite - His Response - 787 KB

Job's Story
Blameless and upright, a fearer of God
A man truly righteous, no pious facade
One about whom God was accustomed to boast
And so one whom Satan desired the most

One day the accuser came breathing out lies
"It's your holy handouts, his faithfulness buys"
In one desperate day his possessions were lost
His children all killed in one raw holocaust
His children all killed in one raw holocaust

And yet through it all
Through the tears and pain
He worshiped his God
Found no reason to blame

One more the deceiver denounced and decried
"It's skin for skin, and hide for hide,
Strike down his flesh and he'll surely deny
And confess that his praying has all been a lie."

"Very well, take him," the Holy One sighed
"But you must spare his life, my son shall not die"
So Job was afflicted with terrible sores
Sat down in the ashes to wait for the Lord
Sat down in the ashes to wait for the Lord

And yet through it all
Through the tears and the pain
He worshiped his God
Found no reason to blame


Job's Lament
(Interlude)
A throne of ashes
A crown of pain
A sovereign of sorrow
A mournful reign

May the day of my birth be remembered no more
May darkness and shadow come and claim it once more
Why did I not perish on that dreadful day
And sleep now where the kings and counselors lay

What I dreaded most has not come upon me
Why is light given those in misery?
I loathe my own life, my tears fall like rain
As I find that there is no peace in my pain

Oh, Lord, send a Comforter now to my door
So that this terror will frighten no more
A Counselor between us, to come hear my oath
Someone who could lay a hand on us both

These friends of mine they are no comfort to me
So deafly they listen, so blindly they see
Their words and their doctrine, they all sound so true
The problem is Lord, they're all wrong about you!

I know my Advocate waits upon high
My Witness in heaven sees the tears that I cry
A true intercessor who will condescend
To plead with God as a man pleads for his friend

If I've been untrue, if I've robbed the poor
If I'm without guilt, what am I suffering for?
God would not crush me for some secret sin
And though He slay me still I'll trust in Him

I know now that my Redeemer's alive
He'll stand on this earth on the day He arrives
And though my own body by then is no more
Yet in my flesh I know, I'll see the Lord
I'll see the Lord, I'll see the Lord


Job's God
Who is it that darkens my counsel?
Who speaks empty words without knowledge?
Brace yourself up like a man
And answer me now, if you can

Can you put on glory and splendor?
What's the way to the home of the light?
Does your voice sound like the thunder?
Are you not afraid?
Where were you when earth's foundations were laid?

Who gave the heart its wisdom?
The mind its desire to know?
Can you bind the stars?
Raise your voice to the clouds?
Did you make the eagle proud?

Will the ox spend the night by your manger?
Did you let the wild donkey go free?
Can you take leviathan home as a pet?
If you merely touched him, you'd never forget

Who is it that darkens my counsel?
Who speaks empty words without knowledge?
Brace yourself up like a man
And answer me now, if you can


Job's Response
I am unworthy, how can I reply?
There's nothing that you cannot do
You are the storm that calmed my soul
I place my hand over my mouth
I place my hand over my mouth

You can find my previous post overviewing all of today’s reading here.

There are no previously posted questions and answers on these chapters, but, if you’ve got one, you are certainly welcome to ask it! Your question will be posted anonymously when it is answered.

The historic 1-year lectionary we use at Grace for Sunday and festival services does not appoint Job 16-18 for any Old Testament readings, nor does The Lutheran Hymnal contain any hymns said to refer to Job 16-18.

God bless your day!

Posted by Pastor Galler at 12:00 AM

August 26, 2007

Ps 81 / Job 13-15

Are God’s promises “with strings attached” law or Gospel? For example, today in Psalm 81, particularly in verses 13-16, the promised defeat of Israel’s enemies and blessings on the people appear to be contingent on the people of Israel listening to God and following His ways. In general, promises or gifts of God are Gospel, and statements of Holy Scripture that command something on our part or speak of what we earn are law. In Psalm 81:13-16, however, I don’t think the matter is quite that simple. Part of the difficulty probably lies in our tendency to try to divide Scripture into law and Gospel atomistically, forgetting both that the Holy Spirit can apply the same passage to a person as either law or Gospel and that the same passage can be heard both by the same person’s fallen nature as law and by the same person’s redeemed nature as Gospel. We know from elsewhere in Holy Scripture that our listening to God and following His ways are not what merit the defeat of our enemies or blessings on us. Rather, all God does to give us the victory that Jesus Christ has won over sin, death, and the power of the devil is the purest of Gospel, as is God’s forgiving our sins and giving us life and salvation through faith in Jesus Christ. Maybe the answer to the question I posed at the beginning is both that our fallen human natures hear promises with strings attached as law because we know we do not pull the strings and that our redeemed spiritual natures hear promises with strings attached as Gospel because we recognize that what God gives us is pure Gospel. (You can find my other posts on Psalm 81 by following this link.)

The first of contemporary Czech artist Oldrich Kulhánek’s depictions of JobAs soon as people do things to us that we perceive as bad or harmful in any way, we are less likely to trust them. The key, of course, is in our perception. Someone may say or do something that on the surface seems harmful but really is for our good. Once we understand that, we probably trust the person even more, knowing they care for us that much. Today in our reading of Job 13-15 we have one of the “quotable quotes” from the book, namely 13:15, “Though He slay me, yet will I hope in Him” (NIV). Job knows that God is in control and says that he will trust God even if he dies. We might even say that Job knows his death is for his own good, just as our deaths are for our good. Our sinful human natures must be put to death in Baptism and our daily return to our Baptisms, in order for the redeemed natures to arise and live before God. Likewise, some day, unless Jesus returns first, our physical bodies will die, in order for our redeemed and glorified bodies to rise at the last day. The image with this post is one of contemporary Czech artist Oldrich Kulhánek’s depictions of Job (to see a larger version of the image click it, but for the largest and highest quality image see from where we got it). If somewhat explicit male nudity doesn’t bother you too much, you can find several other depictions of Job by Oldrich Kulhánek here. You can find my previous comments on Job 13-15 here.

There are no previously posted questions and answers on these chapters, but, if you’ve got one, you are certainly welcome to ask it! Your question will be posted anonymously when it is answered.

No Old Testament readings in the historic 1-year lectionary we use at Grace for Sunday and festival services come from Job 13-15, and no hymns in The Lutheran Hymnal are said to refer to any verses from Job 13-15.

God bless your day, and may you let Him make it holy for you by using His Word and Sacraments!

Posted by Pastor Galler at 12:00 AM

August 25, 2007

Ps 80 / Job 10-12 / Folo

As my parents and I drove from St. Louis to Branson a week ago, I was surprised to go through so much wine country. Vineyards seem to be everywhere! We find reference to one today in Psalm 80 too, one that was threatened by wild boars, which apparently had tusks that could cut vines. The figure of speech in verse 13 refers to the enemies of Israel, perhaps specifically Edom. The figure of speech was used by Pope Leo X when he condemned Martin Luther in his papal bull Exsurge domine (“Rise up, O Lord”), which was issued June 15, 1520. I’ve heard the figure of speech used since then, and we might use it to refer to threats against Christ’s Church even today. With the psalmist, we call upon the Lord to watch over His vine, protecting it and keeping us from turning away from Him, from Whom we receive grace and forgiveness only through faith in His Son, Jesus Christ. (You can find my previous comments on Psalm 80 by following this link.)

Gustave Doré’s depiction of Job and his three friendsIn Job 10-12 today Job’s friend Zophar speaks for the first time. He’s pictured in the image with this post, Gustave Doré’s depiction of Job’s three friends (to see a larger version of the image click it, but for the largest and highest quality image see from where we got it), although it isn’t immediately clear which one of the figures is supposed to be Zophar, and the artist’s emphasis certainly seems to be on Job, who also speaks in today’s reading. You can find my previous comments on the reading itself here.

There are no previously posted questions and answers on these chapters, but, if you’ve got one, you are certainly welcome to ask it! Your question will be posted anonymously when it is answered.

The historic 1-year lectionary we use at Grace for Sunday and festival services does not use Job 10-12 for any Old Testament readings, and no hymns in The Lutheran Hymnal are said to refer to Job 10-12.

Today's Biblog folo is just a quick note after a new Q&A posted yesterday; a reader emailed that the CEV follows The Living Bible in its rendering of Genesis 6:2's "sons of God" with "beings from the spirit world". I think the reader astutely pointed out that the "CEV is sometimes an interesting restatement of the text, but I would not want to use it alone."

There is a new general reading prayer here. God bless your day, and may you let Him make tomorrow holy for you by using His Word and Sacraments!

Posted by Pastor Galler at 12:00 AM

August 24, 2007

Ps 79 / Job 7-9 / Folos

How earnestly the psalmist in Psalm 79 pleads for God’s action on behalf of His Holy Temple, city, and people. The psalmist knows the consequences of sin were deserved but asks God to help the people and avenge the reproach against God, Whose city and Temple were reduced to rubble and defiled. God did ultimately act against the Babylonians, and, as we just read in Ezra and Nehemiah, restore His people to a rebuilt city and reconsecrated Temple. As we consider contemporary trouble in and with our own congregations, church body, and fellow believers, we might also earnestly plead for God’s action, remembering that some of the consequences might be deserved but also that God will ultimately act in His way and time. In the meantime, we continue to trust in Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of our sins. (You can find my previous posts on Psalm 79 by following this link.)

An unidentified artist’s work that is said to depict Job’s friend BildadA recent study from the University of Texas at Austin found Major League Baseball umpires are not as impartial as I think everyone would hope. Today in our reading of Job 7-9 we hear Job call for an “umpire”, or “arbitrator” or “mediator”. That call comes more or less in response to Bildad’s first speech. The image with this post is an unidentified artist’s work that is said to depict Bildad (to see a larger version of the image click it, but for the largest and highest quality image see from where we got it). You can find my previous post that overviews today’s reading here. Today as I read the chapters, Job 7:17 and the verses immediately following jumped out at me and made me think of Psalm 8:4 and its citation in Hebrews 2:6. Thinking that God is only interested in people as if to unmercifully scrutinize their slightest fault, Job seems to make fun of God’s real interest in humanity that He created in His image and gave dominion over the world. We thank God for His merciful interest in us and for His love of us, love that was great enough to send His only Son to save us by forgiving our sins through faith in Him.

The only previously posted question specifically connected to today’s reading has to do with Job 9:13 and Leviathan and Rahab. What isn’t clear to you? Please ask about it!

The historic 1-year lectionary we use at Grace for Sunday and festival services does not appoint Job 7-9 for any Old Testament readings, but hymn #588 in The Lutheran Hymnal is said to refer to Job 7:16.

Being out of town last weekend and a little under the weather this week has meant a few Biblog folos have accumulated again in my inbox. First, in my comments on Ezra 6-10 I referred to the mingling of blood in mixed marriages that threatened the Messianic line, and a reader emailed to comment on how the Messianic line survived the “irregularities” (my word) of Tamar, Ruth, Bathsheba, and David’s many wives. Although we know Ruth was a Moabitess (Ruth 1:4), the Bible does not tell us with certainty the nationality of Tamar (Genesis 38) or Bathsheba (2 Samuel 11:3), and Bathsheba is the only wife of David that pertains to the Messianic line. While any one non-Jewish royal wife was against God’s command and did impact the line, the dilution (pollution?) of Jewish blood with non-Jewish wives for the people as a whole impacted the line in a different way and also was against God’s command. The bottom line for us, of course, is that we all sin in any number of ways and need to live our lives with repentance and faith in Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of our sins.

Second, in the wrap-ups for Ezra and Nehemiah, I indicated that Ezra and Nehemiah’s work was vital to Judaism surviving the influence of the Persians, Greeks, and Maccabees. A reader who recognized that the Persians and Greeks were foreigners but the Maccabees Jewish emailed asking about their negative influence. In following Horace Hummel’s The Word Becoming Flesh I could have been clearer by specifying, as he did, to the “persecutions of the Maccabean era”. Those persecutions came as the Jews under the leadership of the Maccabees rebelled against the Seleucids, the Greek rulers of the land at that time. Similarly, the same email brought a question about “the distortion of the Old Testament that we know in the New Testament” to which I referred in those same wrap-ups. Again I could have been more specific by mentioning the oral tradition said to be from Moses and collected in the Talmud that interpreted and in some ways replaced the Old Testament. In the New Testament we hear Jesus constantly correct the false understanding of the Old Testament expressed by the Pharisees and other Jewish leaders, even as He correctly interprets the Old Testament in its pointing to Him.

Thanks to another email, there’s a new Q&A on Job 1:6 posted here. God bless your day!

Posted by Pastor Galler at 12:00 AM

August 23, 2007

Ps 78 / Job 4-6

I suppose we all waver in commitments of one form or another. We might turn back or look back at decisions we have made and at least wonder “what if”, even if we don’t actually reverse ourselves. Reading Psalm 78 today I was reflecting on this matter, as the psalmist says in verse 9 that the men of Ephraim armed with bows turned back on the day of battle. (You can find my previous comments on more of the psalm by following this link.) One commentator says neither Ephraim nor the northern kingdom it came to represent were known for cowardice, so the commentator suggests the verse is a figure of speech for Israel’s betraying God’s covenant, as mentioned in verse 10, and the commentator also points to the figure of the “faulty bow” in verse 57. In connection with turning back, I also thought of Lot’s wife as narrated in Genesis 19:26 and of Jesus’s statement in Luke 9:62. Of course, there is a “turning back” that is good—the turning away from sin in sorrow and contrition and trusting in the merits of Jesus’s death and resurrection to save us from our sins.

An unidentified artist’s depiction of Eliphaz speaking to JobEliphaz is the first of Job’s friends to speak, as we hear today in Job 4-6, which also gives us the beginning of Job’s speech that follows. My previous post on these chapters overviews them and gives some detailed comments on the reading’s particulars, and there is a Biblog folo to that post’s comment regarding our predispositions here. The image with this post by an unidentified artist is said to depict Eliphaz (to see a larger version of the image click it, but for the largest and highest quality image see from where we got it), and note that Eliphaz was from Teman, a town of Edom that was known for its wisdom (see Jeremiah 49:7). Remember that fallen human wisdom does not save us, only the Wisdom from above that is Jesus Christ can and does save us.

The only previously posted question specifically connected to today’s reading has to do with Job 5:1 and an Old Testament invocation of the saints? What isn’t clear to you? Please ask about it!

There are no uses of Job 4-6 either by the historic 1-year lectionary for any Old Testament readings or as hymn references by the hymns in The Lutheran Hymnal.

God bless your day!

Posted by Pastor Galler at 12:00 AM

August 22, 2007

Ps 77 / Job 1-3 / Esther wrap-up

As I read Psalm 77 today, I noted in the NIV two uses of the verb “muse”, translating the Hebrew word siyach in verses 3 and 6 (the KJV and ASV use “complain” and “commune”, respectively, the NASB “sigh” and “meditate”). The idea behind the word is either inward or outward meditation or contemplation. The word is said to be the “key word” in Psalm 77, as “the Psalmist transfers his complaint (v.3) based on a contemplation (v.6) of God’s absence in contrast to his past deeds precisely by meditating or talking of God’s deeds.” The answer, as you can tell from my previous comments on Psalm 77, is that God’s past deeds assured the psalmist, as they assure us, that God will not fail to show grace for the sake of Jesus Christ to His faithful people.

One of English artist William Blake’s illustrations for the Book of JobPeople sometimes like the Book of Job for what it tells us about Satan and his role as the “Accuser” before God in His heavenly courtroom or throne room. Reading Job 1-3 today we hear much of what Job tells us about Satan’s role and how God keeps him in check and uses him for His own purposes. The image with this post is an engraving by English artist William Blake (1757-1827) used to illustrate the Book of Job (to see a larger version of the image click it, but for the largest and highest quality image see from where we got it). You can read my comments introducing the book in general and overviewing today’s reading in particular by following this link.

The only previously posted question specifically connected to today’s reading has to do with Job 1:6 and 2:1 and identifying the characters. What isn’t clear to you? Please ask about it!

Job 1-3 is not used by the historic 1-year lectionary for any Old Testament readings, and The Lutheran Hymnal does not contain any hymns that are said to refer to Job 1-3.

Today I have an Esther wrap-up. Such a summary of a recently completed book was requested in our survey at the end of Year 1 of our Daily Lectionary reading.

Who was the author? The book of Esther does not name its author, although some attribute it to Mordecai. We can infer from the book that the anonymous author was probably a Jew living in Persia, and that author may have used Mordecai’s writings and royal records for sources.
What is the book? The book narrates God’s working through Queen Esther to deliver His people from a threat by an official named Haman during the reign of Xerxes.
Where was it written? The Persian Jew who wrote the book is thought to have written it in a Persian city.
When was it written? The events of the book likely occurred around 460 B.C., and the book could have been written shortly thereafter, although more likely some time later but probably before the Greeks defeated the Persians in 331 B.C.
Why? Apparently the book was written chiefly to give the account both of God’s delivering the Jews from Haman’s threat and of the institution of the festival of Purim that commemorates that deliverance, although more important to us is how that deliverance and feasting points us to our deliverance through Jesus Christ and the table fellowship we have with Him.
How? The author accents Israel’s conflict with the Amalekites, God’s promise of rest for the people, His preserving a remnant of His chosen people, and deliverance in the context of feasting.

If you are interested in further reading on the book of Esther, you may make use of the following:
  • Keil, C.F. and F. Delitzsch. Biblical Commentary on the Old Testament, Volume III: I & II Kings, I & II Chronicles, Ezra, Nehemiah, Esther, translated by Sophia Taylor and published as two volumes in one. Grand Rapids, Michigan: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, reprinted August 1985. (This volume has 80 pages specifically on Esther.)
  • Kretzmann, Paul E. Popular Commentary of the Bible: The Old Testament, Volume I, The Historical Books of the Old Testament: Genesis to Esther. St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1923. (This volume, one that is in our Grace library, has 14 pages on Esther.)

Our webmaster is making the short summaries like this one a part of the Daily Lectionary - Biblical Index page for each book, which you can find linked here.

God bless your day!

Posted by Pastor Galler at 12:00 AM

August 21, 2007

Est 7-10

Psalm 76 is appointed to be read today, and my previous posts on Psalm 76 might help your understanding and meditation.

An image of a German silvered-pewter Purim plate that dates to 1771 and is engraved with scenes from the Book of EstherYou may recall from the introductory comments to Esther that one of the reasons we think it was preserved at least initially by the Jews was its giving the story behind Purim. That connection between the events of the book and the feast of Purim becomes most-clear with our reading today of Esther 7-10. The image with this post, of a German silvered-pewter Purim plate that dates to 1771, also makes the connection with its engraved scenes from the Book of Esther (to see a larger version of the image click it, but for the largest and highest quality image see from where we got it). At one time some Bible scholars thought the feast of John 5:1 was Purim, but that identification is not likely accurate. Christians do not observe Purim; to be sure there are more important feasts and festivals that better point to Christ, Who by grace through faith in Him effects our deliverance from sin, death, and the power of the devil. (You can find my previous post on Esther 7-10 here.)

There are no previously posted questions and answers on these chapters, but, if you’ve got one, you are certainly welcome to ask it! Your question will be posted anonymously when it is answered.

You won’t find any use of Esther 7-10 by the historic 1-year lectionary we use at Grace for Sunday and festival services, nor will you find any hymns in The Lutheran Hymnal that refer to Esther 7-10.

God bless your day!

Posted by Pastor Galler at 12:00 AM

August 20, 2007

Est 4-6

As you read Psalm 75 today, following this link to my previous posts on Psalm 75 may be helpful.

A depiction of Esther’s banquet in oil on copper by Belgian artist Frans Francken IIPeople plan meals for all sorts of purposes, from simply satisfying appetite to entertaining friends even to asking favors and exposing motives, as was the case with Esther as we begin to hear today in our reading of Esther 4-6 and as depicted in the image with this post (to see a larger version of the image click it, but for the largest and highest quality image see from where we got it). The table fellowship and its breaking remind us of the Lord’s Supper in which Jesus gives us the forgiveness of sins in bread that is His body and wine that is His blood. Jesus continues that table fellowship with those who faithfully believe in Him, while He and His faithful followers break table fellowship with those who depart from the truth handed down to us, as that truth is confessed in teaching and practice. (You can read my previous post on Esther 4-6 here.)

The only previously posted question specifically connected to today’s reading has to do with Esther 4:11 and other time periods in the book. What isn’t clear to you? Please ask about it!

The historic 1-year lectionary we use at Grace for Sunday and festival services does not appoint Esther 4-6 for any Old Testament readings, nor does The Lutheran Hymnal have any hymns that refer to Esther 4-6.

God bless your day!

Posted by Pastor Galler at 12:00 AM

August 19, 2007

Est 1-3 / Nehemiah wrap-up

For comments on Psalm 74 that we read today, follow this link.

A depiction of Xerxes’s banquet by Italian painter Jacopo del Sellaio (1441-1493)I always think it is interesting to hear how people think women are depicted in the Bible. Some people think women are not treated well or shown the respect they deserve. Others think women are treated better in the Bible than in other historical treatments of the time and that women are given respect in keeping with God’s order of creation. Of course, not every treatment of a woman in the Bible is condoned by the Bible. Esther 1-3 is arguably a case in point, where Queen Vashti is treated poorly by her husband, Xerxes. Ultimately God works good through the poor treatment of Vashti by using Esther, who is elevated in Vashti’s place, to deliver God’s people from a great danger, pointing, of course to God’s greater deliverance of us from our sins by grace through faith in Jesus Christ. The first of three banquets in Esther is the banquet of Xerxes, as depicted by the image with today’s post, by the Italian painter Jacopo del Sellaio (1441-1493) in a 1490 tempera on panel (to see a larger version of the image click it, but for the largest and highest quality image see from where we got it). You can read more here about the book in general and the chapters we read today.

The following verses and topics are addressed in previously posted questions and answers, the links for which may be repeated in this space from day to day, as the answers may also refer to preceding or following verses:

You are most certainly welcome to ask a question of your own this way.

Esther 1-3 is neither tapped by the historic 1-year lectionary we use at Grace for any Old Testament readings, nor are there references to Esther 1-3 by any hymns in The Lutheran Hymnal.

Today I have a Nehemiah wrap-up. Such a summary of a recently completed book was requested in our survey at the end of Year 1 of our Daily Lectionary reading. Due to the close relationship between Ezra and Nehemiah there is obviously some overlap in the summary.

Who was the author? Most scholars are said to think that the Divinely-inspired author of Ezra and Nehemiah was the same person as the author of Chronicles, who tradition says was Ezra. Nehemiah may have finished what Ezra started, and yet another later editor might have put finishing touches on the work of both. The book of Ezra and Nehemiah may have been written separately, but they were already merged in early Hebrew manuscripts and remained merged in Greek translations, apparently being separated possibly as soon as the late second or early third century.
What is the book? The book continues (or, the books continue) the narrative of the people of Judah returning from exile, in this case primarily rebuilding and dedicating Jerusalem’s wall. The book was (or, the books were) presumably written for the returned exiles but pretty much gives us all we know of the community of Judah at the time. The end of Nehemiah brings to a close the historical narrative of the Old Testament.
Where was it written? If Ezra was the author, the book, like Chronicles, was most likely written back in Jerusalem or Judah.
When was it written? The writing of Nehemiah may be dated to 430 B.C., but a definitive date is probably impossible to fix.
Why? Apparently much like Chronicles, Ezra and Nehemiah were written to show the post-exile community that God was still with the community and would fulfill His promises of the Messiah through them and how they were to live faithful to Him.
How? God’s work through Ezra and Nehemiah together is said to have been vital to Judaism’s surviving the influence of the Persians, Greeks, and Maccabees. Nehemiah is said to be one of the great “laymen” of the Bible whose faith served as a great example of faith in the face of great adversity. Notable also are how closely together the figures of Ezra and Nehemiah worked, and to the extent God gave success to their efforts each was in part dependent on the other.

If you are interested in further reading on the book of Ezra, you may make use of the following:
  • Keil, C.F. and F. Delitzsch. Biblical Commentary on the Old Testament, Volume III: I & II Kings, I & II Chronicles, Ezra, Nehemiah, Esther, translated by Sophia Taylor and published as two volumes in one. Grand Rapids, Michigan: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, reprinted August 1985. (This volume has 160 pages specifically on Nehemiah.)
  • Kretzmann, Paul E. Popular Commentary of the Bible: The Old Testament, Volume I, The Historical Books of the Old Testament: Genesis to Esther. St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1923. (This volume, one that is in our Grace library, has 23 pages on Nehemiah.)

Our webmaster is making the short summaries like this one a part of the Daily Lectionary - Biblical Index page for each book, which you can find linked here.

God bless your day, and may you let Him make it holy for you by using His Word and Sacraments!

Posted by Pastor Galler at 12:00 AM

August 18, 2007

Ne 10-13

As you read Psalm 73 today, you can find my previous posts by following this link.

A depiction by an unidentified artist of the dedication of the Jerusalem wallWith our reading of Nehemiah 10-13 today we essentially come to the end of the historical narrative of the Old Testament, and we do so on a bit of a high note! Nehemiah ends with the dedication of the new wall around Jerusalem, as depicted in the image with this post by an unidentified artist (to see a larger version of the image click it, but for the largest and highest quality image see from where we got it). The wall was important to the security of the city, and, of course, God is our fortress and our strength. We have our security by faith in Jesus Christ Who died and rose again for us. My previous post on today’s reading also previews the remaining reading we have in the Old Testament, which takes us through the middle of November.

The only previously posted question specifically connected to today’s reading has to do with Nehemiah 11:1-2 and the returnees and their mandates. What isn’t clear to you? Please ask about it!

The historic 1-year lectionary we use at Grace for Sunday and festival services does not appoint Nehemiah 10-13 for any Old Testament readings, but hymn #515 in The Lutheran Hymnal is said to refer to Nehemiah 13:31.

God bless your day, and may you let Him make tomorrow holy for you by using His Word and Sacraments!

Posted by Pastor Galler at 12:00 AM

August 17, 2007

Ne 7-9

Be sure to read Psalm 72, for which you can find comments by following this link.

A depiction of Nehemiah in a late 14th-century window from the Marienkirche in Frankfurt on the OderSometimes I find images that I want to use with the Biblog that raise more questions than they answer. Usually I just choose another image, but this time I didn’t. With the reading of Nehemiah 7-9 today we hear of Ezra preaching the law and the people confessing their sins, but the image is of a 14th-century window that is said to show a cure of Nehemiah that was originally from the Marienkirche in Frankfurt an der Oder but was moved to the United States after World War II (to see a larger version of the image click it, but for the largest and highest quality image see from where we got it). Although I can find references on the internet to “cures” based on Nehemiah, I’m not exactly sure what this centuries-old window is supposed to be showing. I can say that confessing sins can lead to the spiritual cure that is Holy Absolution, given for the sake of Jesus Christ, Who died that we might have eternal life. (You can find my previous post overviewing today’s reading here.)

The only previously posted question specifically connected to today’s reading has to do with Nehemiah 7:4-5 and the returnees and their mandates. What isn’t clear to you? Please ask about it!

The historic 1-year lectionary we use at Grace for Sunday and festival services does not appoint Nehemiah 7-9 for any Old Testament readings, but hymn #39 in The Lutheran Hymnal is said to refer to Nehemiah 9:6.

God bless your day!

Posted by Pastor Galler at 12:09 AM

August 16, 2007

Ps 71 / Ne 4-6

Do you have family or friends that question your faith when something that seems to be bad happens to you? (Or, maybe you yourself question your faith when something like that happens.) In Psalm 71 today we hear the psalmist say how his enemies think God has forsaken the psalmist (or at least are trying to make the psalmist think that might have happened). All too often people we know and even sometimes we ourselves work with a theology of glory that would have us think if we are faithful believers then only good things, as we measure them, are going to happen to us. When something “bad” happens the inclination is to think that either we aren’t faithful or that God is in some way malicious. Far from it! We must give up the theology of glory and cling to the theology of the cross that teaches us to recognize afflictions as blessings from God that shape our faith and help us walk in the way of our Suffering Savior, through faith in Whom we are forgiven and saved by grace. We can pray for deliverance from such suffering, but we should always be mindful that God’s good and gracious will for us might be that we continue under the particular cross for a time. May He ever help us to see as good such things that the world sees as bad. (You can find my previous posts on Psalm 71 by following this link.)

An unidentified illustrator’s depiction of the rebuilding of Jerusalem’s walls after the exile, as taken from Henry Davenport Northrop’s “Treasures of the Bible”Are you familiar with Maslow’s hierarchy of needs? I’m sure there is much we could say to commend it, but what made me think of it today is that the exiles of Judah, as we continue to hear of in our reading of Nehemiah 4-6, in some ways worked down the pyramid upon their return. (You can find my previous post overviewing today’s reading here.) Instead of trying to meet their “safety” needs before their spiritual or “self-actualization” needs. They first re-established sacrifices and rebuilt the Temple, before rebuilding the wall around Jerusalem. (The image with this post depicts that rebuilding; it is by an unknown illustrator of Henry Davenport Northrop’s 1894 Treasures of the Bible, but it appears to be based on Julius Schnorr von Carolsfeld’s work; to see a larger version of the image click it, but for the largest and highest quality image see from where we got it). By God’s guidance, the people recognized that their right relationship with God would help bring about their safety. The idea is no different than Jesus’s telling us to seek first His kingdom and His righteousness by faith in Him, and then the other things we need will be taken care of (Matthew 6:25-33; Luke 12:22-31). God grant that we can ever keep our “needs” straight!

The only previously posted question specifically connected to today’s reading has to do with Noadiah and other prophetesses. What isn’t clear to you? Please ask about it!

Nehemiah 4-6 is tapped neither by the historic 1-year lectionary we use at Grace for any Old Testament readings nor by The Lutheran Hymnal for any hymn references.

God bless your day!

Posted by Pastor Galler at 12:00 AM

August 15, 2007

Ps 70 / Ne 1-3 / Ezra wrap-up

People who are too attached to this life have a hard time praying for Jesus to return quickly, as we pray in the Lord’s Prayer with one of the senses of the petition “Thy kingdom come”. Similar is the church’s prayer of Revelation 22:20, “Amen. Come, Lord Jesus!” The prayer that is Psalm 70 has a great degree of urgency to it, as I’ve noted in a previous post (you can find both of them by following this link). Of course, the request for God’s salvation and help in Psalm 70 does not have to be understood of the Lord’s final coming, even though we are not fully or completely delivered until He comes again in glory to judge the living and the dead (or until we die, whichever comes first, although if we die we will, like the saints of heaven in Revelation 6:9-11, still be waiting for the resurrection of the body). Even now our Lord Jesus comes to us in His Word and in His Sacraments, freely giving us the forgiveness of sins by grace through faith in Him. How appropriate that Psalm 70:1 is used as one of the opening versicles and responses in the liturgical offices of Matins and Vespers (see the King James Version, and I can’t believe I hadn’t pointed that out before!).

From a Bible of Paris dating to the late 13th century, a depiction by an associate of the Aurifaber Workshop showing Nehemiah as cupbearer for ArtaxerxesWhen I think of a cupbearer, the first one who comes to my mind is the one that served Pharaoh and whom Joseph met in the custody in the captain of the guard, as narrated in Genesis 40-41. Of course, the one relevant to today’s reading of Nehemiah 1-3 is a different cupbearer, namely, Nehemiah. The image with this post is a depiction of Nehemiah bearing Artaxerxes’s cup (to see a larger version of the image click it, but for the largest and highest quality image see from where we got it). The image is from a Paris Bible that dates to the late 13th century, and the miniature illustration was apparently done by an associate of the Aurifaber Workshop, named after the Aurifaber Bible, painted by a group of artists that apparently did a large number of manuscripts, mostly consisting of university Bibles. I’ve noticed fewer images from which to choose for our reading of Ezra and Nehemiah, but that doesn’t mean the reading is unimportant. You can see my post on the reading here.

The only previously posted question specifically connected to today’s reading has to do with Nehemiah 2 and the returnees’ mandates. What isn’t clear to you? Please ask about it!

The historic 1-year lectionary we use at Grace for Sunday and festival services does not appoint any Old Testament readings from Nehemiah 1-3, nor does The Lutheran Hymnal contain any hymns said to refer to Nehemiah 1-3.

Today I have an Ezra wrap-up. Such a summary of a recently completed book was requested in our survey at the end of Year 1 of our Daily Lectionary reading.

Who was the author? Most scholars are said to think that the Divinely-inspired author of Ezra and Nehemiah was the same person as the author of Chronicles, who tradition says was Ezra. Nehemiah may have finished what Ezra started, and yet another later editor might have put finishing touches on the work of both. The book of Ezra and Nehemiah may have been written separately, but they were already merged in early Hebrew manuscripts and remained merged in Greek translations, apparently being separated possibly as soon as the late second or early third century.
What is the book? The book continues (or, the books continue) the narrative of the people of Judah returning from exile, restoring sacrificial worship, and rebuilding the Temple. The book was presumably written for the returned exiles, but it pretty much gives us all we know of the community of Judah at the time.
Where was it written? If Ezra was the author, the book, like Chronicles, was most likely written back in Jerusalem or Judah.
When was it written? The writing of Ezra may be dated to 440 B.C., but a definitive date is probably impossible to fix.
Why? Apparently much like Chronicles, Ezra and Nehemiah were written to show the post-exile community that God was still with the community and would fulfill His promises of the Messiah through them and how they were to live faithful to Him.
How? God’s work through Ezra and Nehemiah together is said to have been vital to Judaism’s surviving the influence of the Persians, Greeks, and Maccabees. Ezra’s ministry worked to restore the community to God’s “law”, His torah, and thus Ezra stood within the Old Testament tradition even as he is said to have set the stage for the developments that will lead to the distortion of the Old Testament that we know in the New Testament. Ezra might be said to be the first major “scribe”, as we think of scribes in the New Testament as Biblical scholars and interpreters. Ezra and his work also point us the time in which we live and our interim waiting for Christ’s final return, faithful in worship and giving glory to God.

If you are interested in further reading on the book of Ezra, you may make use of the following:
  • Keil, C.F. and F. Delitzsch. Biblical Commentary on the Old Testament, Volume III: I & II Kings, I & II Chronicles, Ezra, Nehemiah, Esther, translated by Sophia Taylor and published as two volumes in one. Grand Rapids, Michigan: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, reprinted August 1985. (This volume has 136 pages specifically on Ezra.)
  • Kretzmann, Paul E. Popular Commentary of the Bible: The Old Testament, Volume I, The Historical Books of the Old Testament: Genesis to Esther. St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1923. (This volume, one that is in our Grace library, has 16 pages on Ezra.)

Our webmaster is making the short summaries like this one a part of the Daily Lectionary - Biblical Index page for each book, which you can find linked here.

God bless your day!

Posted by Pastor Galler at 12:00 AM

August 14, 2007

Ps 69 / Ezr 6-10

We’ve often noted how the psalmist claims to be “innocent” of things that might justify the wrath of his enemies upon him. At such times I usually also have tried to point out that the psalmist is not claiming to be completely innocent. Today in Psalm 69 we see good evidence of these two situations. (You can find my previous posts on other aspects of Psalm 69 by following this link.) In verse 4 the psalmist claims that he has not wronged those pitted against him, but in verse 5 he nevertheless confesses his guilt to God. We do well to use this psalm to follow suit! When we confess our sin, we can be confident that God forgives our sin for Jesus’s sake. We can be confident that God answers us and our prayers with His salvation (v.13), that He comes near to us, rescues, us, and redeems us (v.18).

An unidentified French artist’s miniature, dating to the turn of the 14th century, that depicts the dedication of the Temple after the exileDo you know what an “anachronism” is? The term refers to something misplaced, such as a literary character, scene, or action that is out of time. The classic example is Mark Twain’s 1889 novel A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court, said to be one of the first time travel stories ever written. The image I’ve included with this post as we read Ezra 6-10 today has a bit of an anachronism of its own, but no time travel is intended, I don’t think. (The image is by an unidentified French artist illustrating a Paris Bible around the turn of the 14th century; to see a larger version of the image click it, but for the largest and highest quality image see from where we got it.) Rather, I think the illustrator has taken artistic license in depicting Ezra involved in the dedication of the Temple when, in fact, he did not arrive in Jerusalem until after the Temple was dedicated. Of course, because our book that bears Ezra’s name tells of the Temple’s dedication we might associate Ezra with the dedication for other reasons, too. As important as the dedication of the Temple and the resumption of sacrifices were for the people of that day, we view these past events as they point forward to the God-man Jesus’s being the Temple of God and His once-for-all sacrifice on the cross to save us from our sins. (You can find my previous post overviewing the whole reading here.)

The following verses and topics are addressed in previously posted questions and answers, the links for which may be repeated in this space from day to day, as the answers may also refer to preceding or following verses:

You are most certainly welcome to ask a question of your own this way.

The historic 1-year lectionary we use at Grace for Sunday and festival services does not appoint any Old Testament readings from Ezra 6-10, but hymn #318 in The Lutheran Hymnal is said to refer to Ezra 9:6, 15.

God bless your day!

Posted by Pastor Galler at 12:00 AM

August 13, 2007

Ps 68 / Ezr 1-5 / 2 Chronicles wrap-up

At church yesterday morning I was vividly reminded of how God blesses those of us who are single with opportunities to get our family fix. That experience was timely for me, as I read Psalm 68 today. In previous posts on Psalm 68 I’ve made passing comments on verse 6 (you can find them by following this link, but I thought this time through I would elaborate a little. You can see in the context of the psalm how the primary reference is to God’s providing fathers for those who have none and defending the widows without husbands. Specific examples my study Bible refers to are in Exodus 1:21; Ruth 4:14-17; and 1 Samuel 2:5. Some of those people had not lost their “real” families but were apart from them. Whether or not we have “lost” our real families, we similarly can think of our own examples of extra mothers, fathers, brothers, and sisters with whom God has blessed us. At least one commentator terms “new kinship ties” these relationships between brothers and sisters with common faith in Jesus Christ (for example, Luke 8:19-21), where the “blood” that binds is Christ’s blood shed on the cross for the forgiveness of our sins.

From Petrus Comestor’s “Bible Historiale” (1372), a depiction by an unidentified illustrator of Cyrus giving the edict for the exiles from Judah to returnGod’s use of the Assyrians against the northern kingdom of Israel, His use of the Babylonians against the Assyrians and the southern kingdom of Judah, and His use of the Persians against the Babylonians are classic examples of His working through non-believers for the good of His people and His Church. Today as we read Ezra 1-5 we hear God sending the people of Judah home from exile through Cyrus, the king of Persia. The image with this post is an unidentified illustrator’s depiction of Cyrus giving the order, the depiction taken from Petrus Comestor’s Bible Historiale dated around 1372 (to see a larger version of the image click it, but for the largest and highest quality image see from where we got it). You can read my previous post on Ezra 1-5 here, and I encourage you to reflect on how if God used such seemingly great evils as those exiles to bring about good then He can use lesser evils in our lives to also bring about good. Of course, the greatest “evil” of all was the innocent death of Jesus Christ, and, of course, God used that for the great good of the forgiveness of our sins by faith in Christ.

The following verses and topics are addressed in previously posted questions and answers, the links for which may be repeated in this space from day to day, as the answers may also refer to preceding or following verses:

You are most certainly welcome to ask a question of your own this way.

You won’t find the historic 1-year lectionary we use at Grace for Sunday and festival services using Ezra 1-5 for any Old Testament readings, nor will you find any hymns in The Lutheran Hymnal that are said to refer to Ezra 1-5.

Today I have an 2 Chronicles wrap-up. Such a summary of a recently completed book was requested in our survey at the end of Year 1 of our Daily Lectionary reading.

Who was the author? The so-called “chronicler” does not identify himself, but tradition holds that Ezra authored the book.
What is the book? 2 Chronicles is the second half of what was originally one book that is a sermon of sorts about the past for the people who returned from exile in Babylon.
Where was it written? If Ezra is indeed the author, the account was most likely written back in Jerusalem or Judah.
When was it written? A usual date for Chronicles is 430 B.C., right at the end of the period covered by the Old Testament.
Why? The chronicler appears to be interpreting Israel's history to show the restored community that despite differences between their lives before the exile and their lives after the exile that there is continuity with the past.
How? In Chronicles as a whole, the chronicler shows how the Temple signifies continuity with the past, how God’s gracious election further shows His gracious purposes, how the law and the prophets are a major focus of covenant life, how there has been immediate retribution for unfaithfulness, how there was still hope for the Messiah, how God was concerned with all Israel (not just Judah), how God has always been interested in His people, and how statements by past leaders reinforce those points. Specifically in 2 Chronicles, those emphases are made in the events from Solomon’s reign through Judah’s exile in Babylon and the people’s return.

If you are interested in further reading on the book of 2 Chronicles, you may make use of the following:
  • Keil, C.F. and F. Delitzsch. Biblical Commentary on the Old Testament, Volume III: I & II Kings, I & II Chronicles, Ezra, Nehemiah, Esther, translated by James Martin and published as two volumes in one. Grand Rapids, Michigan: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, reprinted August 1985. (This volume has 213 pages specifically on 2 Chronicles.)
  • Kretzmann, Paul E. Popular Commentary of the Bible: The Old Testament, Volume I, The Historical Books of the Old Testament: Genesis to Esther. St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1923. (This volume, one that is in our Grace library, has 54 pages on 2 Chronicles.)

Our webmaster is making the short summaries like this one a part of the Daily Lectionary - Biblical Index page for each book, which you can find linked here.

God bless your day!

Posted by Pastor Galler at 12:00 AM

August 12, 2007

Ps 67 / 2 Ch 34-36

Sometimes in reading the Bible it is hard to distinguish what are called purposes clauses from what are called result clauses. There is certainly a degree of overlap between the two, but there can also be other results from an action in addition to its primary purpose. Consider Psalm 67 that we read today. (You can find my previous posts on the psalm by following this link.) Verse 1 prays for God to bless us, His people, and verse 2 gives a result of God’s answering that prayer--that all the other people of the world would know the Way of His salvation. Now, God does not primarily bless us for the purpose of others knowing Him or for the purpose of increasing His glory, but those are other results that come from His primary purpose of saving us by grace through faith in Jesus Christ. One commentator puts it this way, “The more graciously God attests Himself to the church, the more widely and successfully does the knowledge of this God spread itself forth from the church over the whole earth.” Too bad that not everyone who “knows” also confesses.

A photo of Babylon’s Ishtar Gate as reconstructed in BerlinDespite the odd faithful king, the kingdom of Judah was and had been unfaithful for some time. God was justified in carrying them off to exile in Babylon, as we read again today in 2 Chronicles 34-36. It’s hard to read about Babylon and not think of modern-day Iraq, especially as our country continues its military activities there. The image with this post is of Babylon’s Ishtar Gate reconstructed in Berlin, but here you can read more about it, including details of a reconstruction in Iraq itself that reportedly was damaged during the more-recent military operations (to see a larger version of the image click it; I’m sorry that a data loss prevents me from telling you where we found the image and from linking you to it). The Ishtar Gate may well have been built during the time of the people of Judah being in exile in Babylon. My previous post on 2 Chronicles 34-36 is here, and note that that post also includes a folo on Passover celebrations, which folo refers to 2 Chronicles 35:6.

Today I was intrigued by the statements in 2 Chronicles 35:21-22 about the Egyptian Pharaoh Neco’s acting at God’s command and the faithful King of Judah Josiah’s essentially going against God’s command to Neco. A generally reliable commentator points out that Neco need not have received a special revelation from God but merely have claimed God’s support, which the chronicler after the fact would be able to say with certainty. Josiah may not have been fighting on Babylon’s behalf, but he may have recognized he could not remain neutral and just have been trying to protect his kingdom. The chronicler does not address Josiah’s motivation but sees the matter from a religious point of view that suggests Josiah acted against God’s command since he died as a result. Of course, God had promised that Josiah would not see the destruction God was going to bring on Judah and Jerusalem, and God can be seen as working providentially through Neco’s attack to bring about Josiah’s deliverance, although admittedly the divinely-inspired chronicler does not see the matter this way.

There are no previously posted questions and answers on these chapters, but, if you’ve got one, you are certainly welcome to ask it! Your question will be posted anonymously when it is answered.

The historic 1-year lectionary we use at Grace for Sunday and festival services does not appoint any Old Testament readings from 2 Chronicles 34-36, nor does The Lutheran Hymnal apparently have any hymns that refer to verses from 2 Chronicles 34-36.

God bless your day, and may you let Him make it holy for you by using His Word and Sacraments!

Posted by Pastor Galler at 12:00 AM

August 11, 2007

Ps 66 / 2 Ch 31-33

Do you praise God for the suffering that He causes or allows you to experience? The psalmist does. Psalm 66 today rightly sees the afflictions we face as God testing our faith and refining it (v.10). The psalmist knows that the suffering was for good and that the afflictions were only for a period of time, until God brought His people to a better place (v.12). As we repent of our sin and trust in Him for forgiveness for the sake of Jesus Christ, such ultimate delivery is also ours, and so we join the psalmist in praising God even for our afflictions (vv.16-20)! You can find my previous posts on Psalm 66 by following this link.

An early depiction of Sennacherib’s death on account of his defeat at the Lord’s handsThe Assyrians had taken the northern kingdom of Israel into captivity, and we hear again in 2 Chronicles 31-33 how the Assyrians moved on to Judah and tried unsuccessfully to capture Jerusalem. King Hezekiah and the prophet Isaiah prayed for deliverance, and the Lord sent an angel to destroy the Assyrian officers. Later, although the way the chronicler tells it there seems to be a cause and effect relationship, the sons of Sennacherib, the leader of the Assyrians, killed him on account of the defeat at the Lord’s hands. That relationship is depicted in the very old image with this post (to see a larger version of the image, click it; I’m sorry that a data loss prevents me from telling you where we found the image and from linking you to it). In some ways Sennacherib’s defeat at the hands of the angel and Jerusalem’s deliverance are like the devil’s defeat at Jesus’s hands and our deliverance. They come from God’s great love, mercy, and grace and in response to prayer! You can find my previous post overviewing today’s reading here.

There are no previously posted questions and answers on these chapters, but, if you’ve got one, you are certainly welcome to ask it! Your question will be posted anonymously when it is answered.

You won’t find any uses of 2 Chronicles 31-33 in the historic 1-year lectionary we use at Grace for Sunday and festival services, nor will you find any hymns in The Lutheran Hymnal that are said to refer to 2 Chronicles 31-33.

God bless your day, and may you let Him make tomorrow holy for you by using His Word and Sacraments!

Posted by Pastor Galler at 12:00 AM

August 10, 2007

Ps 65 / 2 Ch 28-30

The topic of God’s electing people to salvation is almost always a controversial one, although it need not be that way. Somewhat in passing our reading today of Psalm 65 mentions God’s “choosing” people (verse 4), and I’ve commented on that aspect of the psalm before. I was reflecting on the topic again today after reading the psalm because the New Testament class I taught had a lot of questions about the topic. There is only so much one can say about the topic, since God does not fully reveal everything pertaining to His election. We can properly distinguish between God’s foreknowledge, His knowing all things before they happen, which extends over good and evil people, and God’s predestination or election, which extends only to the children of God and is in fact the cause of their salvation. To investigate predestination, we must limit ourselves to God’s Word, which tells us that we are chosen in Christ, that Christ calls all sinners and earnestly desires all to come to Him. To the extent people are not saved, they have rejected the means by which God wants to save them.

A depiction of Hezekiah ordering the removal of “Nehushtan”How does one reform teaching and practice? How does one restore Word and Sacrament to their proper content and forms? Today in 2 Chronicles 28-30 we hear how Hezekiah did it, by physically cleaning the Temple and its confines, and by restoring proper worship and the sacred meal. The image with this post is of an example of Hezekiah’s physically cleaning the Temple and its confines (to see a larger version of the image click it; I’m sorry that a data loss prevents me from telling you where we found the image and from linking you to it), by removing the snake on the pole that prefigured the lifting up of the Son of Man on the cross (John 3:14), because people had started worshipping it (2 Kings 18:4). There was no doubt also an element of correcting the teaching or doctrine that accompanied the corrections in practice. (I am reminded of Jehoshaphat’s program of teaching of which we read Monday in 2 Chronicles 17:7-9.). One thing I also noticed is that the reforming kings like Jehoshaphat and Hezekiah did not call for theological meetings all over the country to find middle ground and compromise on the issues that divided the people. God’s Word declares the law that shows us our sin and the Gospel that shows us our Savior from sin, Jesus Christ. We compromise on that and we lose our salvation. (You can read my previous post overviewing today’s reading here, and there is a folo on 2 Chronicles 30:17 and the Passover celebration under Hezekiah here.)

There are no previously posted questions and answers on these chapters, but, if you’ve got one, you are certainly welcome to ask it! Your question will be posted anonymously when it is answered.

The historic 1-year lectionary we use at Grace for Sunday and festival services appoints 2 Chronicles 29:12-19 for the Old Testament reading at the Festival of the Reformation, but The Lutheran Hymnal does not contain any hymns said to refer to 2 Chronicles 28-30.

God bless your day!

Posted by Pastor Galler at 12:00 AM

August 09, 2007

Ps 64 / 2 Ch 25-27 / Folos

Nobody likes a complainer, they say. And yet, today in verse 1 of Psalm 64 the psalmist calls for God to hear his “complaint” (ASV, NIV, NASB; “prayer” KJV). But, apparently we should not think of the kind of “complaint” of which we might first think. In addition to the two translations given, the Hebrew word siyach can also mean “meditation”, “communication”, “talking”, and “babbling”. In at least one use of the word there seems to be some acknowledgment that there is cause for complaint, and that understanding seems to fit well with Psalm 64:1. I would be hesitant to say we should complain as the divinely-inspired psalmist does, remembering that his words are most at home on Jesus’s lips. Instead, I think we can learn from St. Paul to try to be content in all circumstances (Philippians 4:11). My previous posts on this psalm can be found by following this link.

A depiction of King Uzziah being struck with leprosy while inappropriately making an offering of incense to the Lord “Pride goeth before destruction, and a haughty spirit before a fall”, so says Proverbs 16:18 that is on our schedule to read next month, but there almost seems to be a deliberate reference to it today in 2 Chronicles 25-27 (see 26:16 in the NIV). King Uzziah was a good king, at least at first, until the power went to his head and he tried to make himself the high priest of his kingdom like the kings of Egypt and other nations. The faithful priests warned Uzziah but to no avail, and the Lord struck him with leprosy. The image with this post depicts that scene (to see a larger version of the image click it; I’m sorry that a data loss prevents me from telling you where we found the image and from linking you to it). Perhaps we all do well to be reminded of the God-given limits to our own authority and to respect the authority of those to whom God has given spiritual authority. (You can find my previous post overviewing 2 Chronicles 25-27 here, and there is a folo to that post regarding 2 Chronicles 25:10 here.)

There are no previously posted questions and answers on these chapters, but, if you’ve got one, you are certainly welcome to ask it! Your question will be posted anonymously when it is answered.

2 Chronicles 25-27 is neither tapped by the historic 1-year lectionary we use at Grace for any Old Testament readings nor by The Lutheran Hymnal for reference by any hymns.

Being out of town for a few days last weekend and coming back to the end of the New Testament course at Concordia caused a few Biblog folos to pile up. (Thank you, by the way, to our webmaster for publishing my pre-written posts while I was away.) First, in Saturday’s post I tried to delicately handle what some speculate may be Rehoboam’s reference to his father Solomon’s genitals. A reader wondered if “thigh” wasn’t meant instead of “waist”, and the reader sent the Contemporary English Version which says, “Compared to me, my father was weak”. I think “waist” is probably the best translation, although I suppose the paraphrase of the CEV has some merit. Another email brought reference to Genesis 35:11 (especially the KJV) and the Oxford English Dictionary definition of “loins” as “the part of the body that should be covered by clothing”. We’re talking about men, but women have parts that should be covered by clothing, too, and a man’s seed doesn’t do any good without some place to “plant it”. And, we could look at Mary and say that there’s at least one case where the man’s “seed” isn’t the one that mattered.

A second folo has to do with Judah’s scepter as discussed in Psalm 60 and Sunday’s post. A reader emailed that the “scepter” was easy to miss because the KJV had “lawgiver” and the CEV “symbol of my royal power”. In fact, the Hebrew word chaqaq used in Psalm 60:7 is the same root as the word in Genesis 49:10, where the kingship is promised to Judah. Another synonym for the ruler’s staff as a symbol of ruling is shebet. The reader also mentioned a recent magazine article with a picture of Queen Elizabeth with orb and scepter in her hands, which represented, the reader recalled, her positions as head of church and head of state. That understanding is right as far as I know. You can read more about the orb here and the scepter here.

Accumulated email also brought a question on 2 Chronicles 10:11 that’s now posted with an answer here, and there’s a new question and answer about Galatians 3:19 here. God bless your day!

Posted by Pastor Galler at 12:00 AM

August 08, 2007

Ps 63 / 2 Ch 22-24

I know people in the congregation are appreciating having the Daily Lectionary Daily Comments booklets that we’ve been producing from the previous Biblog posts, and I appreciate the people who help make those booklets possible, from copying the content from the Biblog to photocopying the pages and assembling the booklets. Sometimes the content goes right in, and sometimes we need to edit out dated references. In the case of one of the previous posts on Psalm 63, which you can find by following this link, I made reference to dry weather in Central Texas. Of course, this year we’ve had anything but dry weather, it seems. The dry and weary land of previous years this year at least is quenched and satisfied, like those who thirst for the Lord are quenched and satisfied when they drink from the well of His Word. (The psalmist today doesn’t continue the metaphor that way, but we do see the idea of satisfaction in verse 5.)

A depiction of Athaliah giving the order to destroy the Davidic lineQueen Athaliah, of whom we read today in 2 Chronicles 22-24, is said to be the only real break in the Davidic line’s rule over Judah. She became queen when her son Ahaziah was put death while in Samaria and when she tried to kill all the princes who could have rightfully received the throne. (The image with this post depicts her giving that order; to see a larger version of the image click it; I’m sorry that a data loss prevents me from telling you where we found the image and from linking you to it.) By God’s grace and mercy, Athaliah was not successful; Joash was delivered from her plot and eventually became king. The slaughter of Joash’s brothers for some reason made me think of the babies killed while Jesus was escaping to Egypt (Matthew 2:13-18). Yet, Joash eventually was put to death, and, to extend the comparison, so was Jesus. Joash had become so wicked that he wasn’t even buried in the tombs of the kings, but, thanks be to God, Jesus, the faithful and true King, did not stay dead and was resurrected after His burial. Because Jesus lives, we, too, will live, by grace through faith in Him. (You can find my previous post on these chapters here.)

Someone’s reading ahead and asking me a question in advance of today’s reading allows me to clarify something in the post today instead of in a subsequently linked question. According to 1 Chronicles 21:20, Jehoram was 32 when he became king and reigned for eight years, which would mean he died at the age of 40 or so. His youngest son Ahaziah, according to some manuscripts (see the KJV and ASCV, was 42 when he became king. Other versions of 2 Chronicles, in keeping with 2 Kings 8:26, give Ahaziah’s age as 22. (The difference comes down to one letter in the Hebrew.) One commentator says the following.

… [Jehoram] must have begotten [Ahaziah] in his eighteenth or nineteenth year. It is quite consistent with this that [Jehoram] had yet older sons; for in the East marriages are entered upon at a very early age and royal princes were wont to have several wives, or, besides their proper wives, concubines also.

Hopefully that clears up any confusion you might have had (about that matter, at least) as you read it. There are no previously posted questions and answers on these chapters, but, if you’ve got one, you are certainly welcome to ask it! Your question will be posted anonymously when it is answered.

The historic 1-year lectionary we use at Grace for Sunday and festival services does not appoint any Old Testament readings from 1 Chronicles 22-24, nor are those verses referred to by any hymns in The Lutheran Hymnal.

God bless your day!

Posted by Pastor Galler at 12:00 AM

August 07, 2007

Ps 62 / 2 Ch 19-21

By nature, people really want to be responsible for their own salvation. I wonder if we somehow feel more in control if it is up to us. Or, maybe taking responsibility for salvation ourselves seems easier than trusting in God. Whatever the reason, Psalm 62 makes it clear that our salvation depends on God. In my last post on this psalm I contrasted verse 12 to passages such as Ephesians 2:8-9, but we might just as easily contrast verse 12 to verse 7. Again, remember that there is no contradiction between the two verses, for God’s saving us by faith in Jesus Christ produces good works that are the evidence to the world that we believe.

A depiction of Jehoshaphat in battleDr. Luther teaches us to understand the Eighth Commandment as calling us to put the best construction on everything, or, put another way, to explain everything in the kindest possible way. We might say that we see the chronicler do that today in 2 Chronicles 19-21, as he continues to tell of Jehoshaphat. The chronicler tells many positive things about the king, but he also does not fail to teach of his shortcomings, for they were known to the people, and public errors must be condemned publicly. (The image with this post depicts Jehoshaphat in battle; to see a larger version of the image click it; I’m sorry that a data loss prevents me from telling you where we found the image or from linking you to it.) Not everyone understands how best constructions and public condemnations not only can but must coexist, even in our time. Perhaps more people need to spend time with God’s Word? By God’s grace we who do spend time with the Word recognize our failures in regards to the Eighth and all the Commandments, but we also receive forgiveness of sins by grace through faith in Jesus Christ. (You can read my previous post on more of today’s reading here.)

There are no previously posted questions and answers on these chapters, but, if you’ve got one, you are certainly welcome to ask it! Your question will be posted anonymously when it is answered.

You won’t find 2 Chronicles 19-21 used by the historic 1-year lectionary we use at Grace for any Old Testament readings, but hymn #522 in The Lutheran Hymnal is said to refer to 2 Chronicles 20:12.

God bless your day!

Posted by Pastor Galler at 12:00 AM

August 06, 2007

2 Ch 16-18

As you read Psalm 61 today, you may want to follow this link to my previous posts on the psalm.

A depiction of Jehoshaphat or one of his representatives strengthening the kingdom by teaching the people, as in 2 Chronicles 17:9Is there anyone who hears the name “Jehoshaphat”, as we do today in 2 Chronicles 16-18, and does not wonder about the moniker “Jumping Jehoshaphat”? You can find some “answers” on the internet, although I am pretty sure the one you’ll find here (scroll down) is wrong. This one seems more on target, and my check of the Oxford English Dictionary supports it, and this one is similar but gives a few more Biblical references. Bottom line is that I don’t think King Jehoshaphat would approve, at least not the one we read of in chapter 17. That Jehoshaphat then strengthened the kingdom not only physically but also spiritually, as we hear in 17:7-9 and see depicted in the image with this post (to see a larger version of the image click it; I’m sorry that a data loss prevents me from telling you where we found the image or from linking you to it). I am reminded of Paul’s strengthening the churches (Acts 14:22; 15:41; 18:23), and how the Holy Spirit works through Word and Sacrament to strengthen our faith. May we ever avail ourselves of His influence and thereby remain in the faith and receive eternal life through faith in Jesus Christ. (You can find my previous comments on these chapters here).

There are no previously posted questions and answers on these chapters, but, if you’ve got one, you are certainly welcome to ask it! Your question will be posted anonymously when it is answered.

The historic 1-year lectionary we use at Grace for Sunday and festival services does not appoint any passages from 2 Chronicles 16-18 for Old Testament readings, and The Lutheran Hymnal apparently does not have any hymns that refer to any verses from these chapters.

God bless your day!

Posted by Pastor Galler at 12:00 AM

August 05, 2007

Ps 60 / 2 Ch 13-15

As the New Testament class I have been teaching at Concordia University-Texas comes to an end with the third exam tomorrow, I have been reflecting on how one cannot expect people who have not grown up in the church to acquire four or even two decades worth of exposure to Holy Scripture in just sixteen days. The reason I mention that today, is that in reading Psalm 60 one can blow right by the reference to Judah as God’s scepter without appreciating the rich and deep background of the statement. In keeping with prophecies such as Genesis 49:10, from Judah had come for the psalmist the Lord’s chosen earthly king (1 Samuel 16:1-13 and 2 Samuel 7). Far greater, however, is the Lord’s chosen heavenly and earthly king, Jesus Christ, Who descends from that same tribal line. Let us ever submit ourselves to His kingly scepter in repentance and with faith, that we might receive the forgiveness of sins, the salvation of our souls, to live under His good and gracious rule for eternity. (You can find my previous comments on more of the psalm by following this link.)

A depiction of Asa destroying implements of false worshipI’m having trouble thinking of the expression I want: I’m not sure if it is “cat out of the bag”, “bird out of the cage”, “flown the coop”, or maybe they are equivalent in this case. The idea is that once something has changed or happened, going back is difficult if not impossible. As faithful as King Asa of whom we read today in 2 Chronicles 13-15 was, some aspects of Judah’s unfaithful worship practices remained (15:17). In some ways, there was no going all the way back. Asa took all sorts of actions against the people’s false worship, such as those depicted in the image with this post (to see a larger version of the image click it; I’m sorry that a data loss prevents me from telling you where we found the image or from linking you to it). But, as with other more-faithful kings of Judah, the damage had been done, the genie was out of the bottle (?). Reading of Judah’s situation, it is hard not to reflect on our own. Depending on which issue you consider, the LCMS is decades down the road from the change in direction, and the driver right now isn’t likely to turn around. One of my sainted professors said well that humanly speaking nothing can be done to change the direction but that with God all things were possible. While that statement is true, it begs the question whether God is going to turn it around. Jumping off the bandwagon may mean a lonely walk back, but that is better than ending up at the altogether wrong destination. (I don’t think there are quite so many figures of speech in my previous post on these chapters.)

There are no previously posted questions and answers on these chapters, but, if you’ve got one, you are certainly welcome to ask it! Your question will be posted anonymously when it is answered.

You won’t find any Old Testament readings from 2 Chronicles 13-15 in the historic 1-year lectionary we use at Grace for Sunday and festival services, nor are there any hmyns in The Lutheran Hymnal said to refer to those verses.

God bless your day, and may you let Him make it holy for you by using His Word and Sacraments!

Posted by Pastor Galler at 12:00 AM

August 04, 2007

Ps 59 / 2 Ch 10-12

So often when I reread the psalms I am struck by the same things that have struck me the previous times I have read them and commented on them, and so I don’t always immediately have something I want to address. Psalm 59 was not the case today, as I noticed two things. First, I was struck by verse 11’s request that the Lord not kill the psalmist’s enemies but let them remain as an example of warning for the psalmist’s people. I think that according to our sinful nature we are usually so vindictive that we would be hard pressed not to want our enemies destroyed. Related to letting the enemies wander about like dogs is the other thing that struck me in the psalm: the vicious dogs! The psalm is replete with dog references, and, not that I’m on a pet kick or anything after my post the other day, but why dogs? One commentator suggests that Saul was using dogs to hunt David at this time and that the psalmist’s circumstances naturally provide the ready illustration. There you have it! And, here you have a link to my previous comments on the psalm. Thank God that He does not leave us to wander about like dogs but instead graciously feeds us physically and spiritually through Jesus Christ our Lord.

A depiction of Rehoboam holding up his finger as he promises to tax his subjects more than his father SolomonSome three and a half months ago, a colleague of mine who has an academic interest in things below the waist asked me to check out the Bible’s account of Rehoboam and his advisors to see if it was the basis for later, similar accounts, in which other scholars were thinking one figure was comparing his finger to someone else’s genitals. What I was able to find out was that the Hebrew at least does not support that less-delicate comparison in such passages as 1 Kings 12:10 and its parallel today in 2 Chronicles 10-12. As I recall, looking for an answer to the question was a somewhat interesting distraction from the work I had before me at that time. Perhaps more relevant and appropriate for our purposes is how Rehoboam ignored the good advice from his father’s advisors and gave a harsh and unmerciful answer to God’s people. (The image with this post depicts Rehoboam speaking the finger metaphor, although I’m not sure which one he’s holding up; to see a larger version of the image click it; I’m sorry that a data loss prevents me from telling you where we found the image or from linking you to it, although, if memory serves, it was not any larger there). God worked through Rehoboam’s harshness and his lack of mercy, even as God is able to bring good out of the bad things we say and do or that others do to us. How blessed we are by grace through faith in Jesus Christ! (You can find my previous post on these chapters here.)

The only previously posted question specifically connected to today’s reading has to do with 2 Chronicles 12:2-9 and Shishak’s raid and the Ark of the Covenant. What isn’t clear to you? Please ask about it!

2 Chronicles 10-12 is tapped neither by the historic 1-year lectionary we use at Grace for Sunday and festival services for any Old Testament readings nor by The Lutheran Hymnal for any hymns.

God bless your day, and may you let Him make tomorrow holy for you by using His Word and Sacraments!

Posted by Pastor Galler at 12:00 AM

August 03, 2007

Ps 58 / 2 Ch 7-9

In several conversations recently, people have told me that, even as they grant all people inherit original sin at the moment of conception, they don’t think newborn and young children commit actual sins. The Bible teaches differently, I think, something we might be reminded of in today’s reading of Psalm 58, although not everyone who agrees that newborn and young children commit actual sins might agree that verse 3 is stating that truth. (You can find my previous posts on Psalm 58 by following this link.) At least one commentator specifically says verse 3 refers only to the wicked as it condemns their corrupt ways that are fully in accord with their nature. Another comments that, “there are men in whom evil from childhood onwards has a truly diabolical character, i.e. a selfish character altogether incapable of love.” I do not deny that from a human perspective some people at least seem more wicked than others, but I wonder if the psalmist can’t be understood as speaking from God’s perspective about all people. Our wayward ways and lies are not really all that sporadic but come, instead, with too great of a frequency. Even if verse 3 is not making a general statement about all people, we can find such statements elsewhere (as examples, one source lists Genesis 6:5; 8:21; Job 14:4; 15:14-16; 25:4-6). Getting back to these people who told me they don’t young children commit actual sins, just because we don’t see it doesn’t mean it isn’t true. For, our salvation lives by faith and not by sight. And, we thank God for that salvation that is able to deliver all of us from our sins, no matter how many or how wicked.

A depiction of Solomon’s deathThey say a picture is worth a thousand words, and maybe that’s a good thing. The image with today’s post depicts Solomon’s death, and its thousand words are far more than we read about Solomon’s death today in 2 Chronicles 7-9 (to see a larger version of the image click it; I’m sorry that a data loss prevents me from telling you where we found the image or from linking you to it). To turn a phrase from Jesus, if God gloriously clothes the grass of the field that today is and tomorrow is cast into the oven, how much more did perish even Solomon, who in his glory was not arrayed like one of the field’s lilies. How much more do perish even we, whose glory is far less than that of Solomon. Yes, our bodies indeed do perish, but not our souls, for by grace through faith in the one Who is far greater than Solomon, our sins are forgiven, and we can await the sure and certain resurrection and glorification of our present earthly bodies. (You can find my previous post on these chapters here.)

The only previously posted question specifically connected to today’s reading has to do with 2 Chronicles 9:29 and Nathan and Gad’s books. What isn’t clear to you? Please ask about it!

The historic 1-year lectionary we use at Grace for Sunday and festival services does not appoint any Old Testament readings from 2 Chronicles 7-9, nor do any hymns in The Lutheran Hymnal refer to 2 Chronicles 7-9.

God bless your day!

Posted by Pastor Galler at 12:00 AM

August 02, 2007

Ps 57 / 2 Ch 4-6

Have you ever noticed how children like to pretend they are animals? It seems like we can all relate to at least the ones we have seen in real life and maybe those that we have seen in movies, on TV, or in books. Today as I read Psalm 57 I was struck by the images of animals in the psalm. We are threatened by lions and other ravenous beasts (v.4). We are hunted like animals (v.6). Yet, the Lord hears our prayers for deliverance and saves us (vv.2-3). Like a mother bird, He spreads the wings of His protection over us (v.1), and we praise Him in response (vv.5, 7-11). Worse than the worst animal we can imagine are sin, death, and the power of the devil. Better than the most protective bird or the best creature God could send from heaven is God’s Son, Jesus Christ our Savior. He has defeated our enemies so that even though they might hunt us we know they can never defeat us in Him. Are we praising God in response? (Follow this link for my previous comments on Psalm 57.)

A depiction of the Bronze Sea at Solomon’s TempleWhat do we think of when we hear of ceremonial washings like those made in the Bronze Sea at Solomon’s Temple? The Sea is described in today’s reading of 2 Chronicles 4-6, and it is pictured with this post (to see a larger version of the image click it; I’m sorry that a data loss prevents me from telling you where we found the image or from linking you to it). I think that it is hard for faithful New Testament believers to not think of Holy Baptism when we hear of water used in cleansing, even in the Old Testament. We won’t find the Greek word for “Baptism” in the Hebrew Old Testament, of course, but we can find a Hebrew word for dippings, ceremonial and otherwise, that is translated into Greek using the word for “baptize”, which fact helps us realize that, while the exact idea of Christian Baptism is not explicitly present in the Old Testament, ceremonial washings that point to Christian Baptism are present in the Old Testament. “The New is in the Old concealed; the Old is in the New revealed.” Thank God that He has revealed to us His saving grace through faith in Jesus Christ, made real for us in the washing of water and the Word, prefigured already more than a millennium earlier in something like a bronze basin full of simple water. (You can read my previous post on 2 Chronicles 4-6 here.)

There are no previously posted questions and answers on these chapters, but, if you’ve got one, you are certainly welcome to ask it! Your question will be posted anonymously when it is answered.

While the historic 1-year lectionary we use at Grace for Sunday and festival services does not appoint any Old Testament readings from 2 Chronicles 4-6, The Lutheran Hymnal has two hymns that are said to refer to 2 Chronicles 6:20, #632 and #635.

God bless your day!

Posted by Pastor Galler at 12:00 AM

August 01, 2007

Hab 3:2-19 / 2 Ch 1-3 / 1 Chronicles wrap-up

Today we read Habakkuk 3:2-19, the seasonal canticle for August, which is one of the Old Testament psalms found outside the book of Psalms. You can find my previous comments on the canticle by following this link. Today I want to also tell you that The Lutheran Liturgy’s one-year lectionary for readings in Sunday and festival services does not make use of Habakkuk 3:2-19 for any Old Testament readings, but The Lutheran Hymnal has two hymns, #571 and #572, that are said to be based on Habakkuk 3:17, 18.

Gustave Doré’s depiction of cedars being cut for the Temple in JerusalemThe last two days’ readings have been leading towards the building of the Temple, and two-thirds of today’s reading of 2 Chronicles 1-3 deals with it. The image with this post is Gustave Doré’s depiction of cedars being cut for the Temple (to see a larger version of the image click it; I’m sorry, but a data loss at this time prevents me from indicating from where we got it and from linking you to that version). You can find my previous post on the chapters here.

The only previously posted question specifically connected to today’s reading has to do with 2 Chronicles 3:3-4 and the size of the Temple. What isn’t clear to you? Please ask about it!

Neither the historic 1-year lectionary we use at Grace for Sunday and festival services nor the hymns in The Lutheran Hymnal make use of 2 Chronicles 1-3.

Today I have an 1 Chronicles wrap-up. Such a summary of a recently completed book was requested in our survey at the end of Year 1 of our Daily Lectionary reading.

Who was the author? The so-called “chronicler” does not identify himself, but tradition holds that Ezra authored the book.
What is the book? 1 Chronicles is the first half of what was originally one book that is a sermon of sorts about the past for the people who returned from exile in Babylon.
Where was it written? If Ezra is indeed the author, the account was most likely written back in Jerusalem or Judah.
When was it written? A usual date for Chronicles is 430 B.C., right at the end of the period covered by the Old Testament.
Why? The chronicler appears to be interpreting Israel’s history to show the restored community that despite differences between their lives before the exile and their lives after the exile that there is continuity with the past.
How? In Chronicles as a whole, the chronicler shows how the Temple signifies continuity with the past, how God’s gracious election further shows His gracious purposes, how the law and the prophets are a major focus of covenant life, how there has been immediate retribution for unfaithfulness, how there was still hope for the Messiah, how God was concerned with all Israel (not just Judah), how God has always been interested in His people, and how statements by past leaders reinforce those points. Specifically in 1 Chronicles, those emphases are made in the events from creation through David’s reign.

If you are interested in further reading on the book of 1 Chronicles, you may make use of the following:
  • Keil, C.F. and F. Delitzsch. Biblical Commentary on the Old Testament, Volume III: I & II Kings, I & II Chronicles, Ezra, Nehemiah, Esther, translated by James Martin and published as two volumes in one. Grand Rapids, Michigan: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, reprinted August 1985. (This volume has 255 pages specifically on 1 Chronicles.)
  • Kretzmann, Paul E. Popular Commentary of the Bible: The Old Testament, Volume I, The Historical Books of the Old Testament: Genesis to Esther. St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1923. (This volume, one that is in our Grace library, has 42 pages on 1 Chronicles.)

Our webmaster is making the short summaries like this one a part of the Daily Lectionary - Biblical Index page for each book, which you can find linked here.

God bless your day!

Posted by Pastor Galler at 12:00 AM