Book Review— The Promised One: Seeing Jesus in Genesis

Torah inside of the former Glockengasse synago...
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Nancy Guthrie (author of several books including Hearing Jesus Speak into Your Sorrow and Discovering Jesus in the Old Testament) has begun writing a new series of five books, study guides for seeing Jesus in the Old Testament. The first guide will be published  by Crossway this summer, titled The Promised One: Seeing Jesus in Genesis. I had the privilege of receiving an advance copy to review. Here is a very short review; once it is formally published I will write a fuller review.

Is there a need for another study guide on Genesis? In a word, yes. And this is the book. My passion is for teaching, and sadly for the Old Testament much of the material published for the average Christian is not Christ-centered, but “principle-centered” which becomes nothing more than a new version of legalism. Nancy Guthrie sets a new standard by being truly Christ-centered, starting with Jesus’ fulfillment of the entire Old Testament and maintaining that focus throughout the guide. Having read three of her previous books, and the Christ-centered nature of them, I expected the same top notch quality. I was not disappointed. The proven format of personal study, teaching chapter, and group discussion highlights Christ as the center of Genesis. Her questions are not merely “how-to” guides, but they bring a fresh perspective and point the reader continually to Christ. Do you want to study or teach Genesis? Then this book is for you. Nancy Guthrie has provided a valuable resource for the church. Well done, Nancy.

Notes on Hermeneutics

Matthew Evangelist. The text also says - Abrah...
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The main thrust of the session was to look at the building of a matrix for background understanding of a text. Since I had given the assignment for Jeremiah 31:31-34, I used that as the basis for discussion, specifically focusing on covenant (ברית).

Genesis 12:1-3, 7 Fourfold expression of God’s call and covenant with Abram (great nation, blessing, great name, land). All parts of the covenant are dependent on God (Yahweh) not Abram. Each of these will receive partial fulfillment throughout the Old Testament, but reach their fulfillment in Jesus Christ, which will be realized in all its glory at the end when Christ returns (Hebrews 9:27-28) (i.e. for the land, see Hebrews 3-4, especially 4:8-10).

Genesis 15 The reassurance given to Abram regarding the covenant promises finds expression in 15:6 (NAS95) “Then he believed in the LORD; and He reckoned it to him as righteousness.” Further, in the ceremony that follows, the one-sided covenant receives its ultimate expression when God’s essence (“smoking oven and a flaming torch”) passed between these pieces declaring that if Abram fails in any aspect, then God will die (using the treaty understanding that the lesser king passes between the pieces). Jesus’ death satisfies that requirement and fulfills the old covenant.

The connection to Jeremiah 31 becomes immediate with Jesus’s institution of the “new covenant” or better “new testament” or further “new last will and testament” which becomes effective when the person dies. Thus, the old covenant gives way to the new testament in Jesus’ death.

Exodus 24 the “blood of the covenant” half thrown on the altar, the other half thrown on the people. From then on, the blood of the covenant will either be a curse, “his blood and death be on us” (Matthew 27:25), or a blessing, “his blood shed for me” (Matthew 26:8), an unworthy recipient.

Exodus 20:24 “in every place where I cause My name to be remembered, I will come to you and bless you.” Here the promise of God’s presence is related to his name and his remembering (to act for the deliverance of his people). This connects Baptism (Matthew 28:18-20, “baptizing in the name of …”), the Lord’s Supper (“do this in remembrance of Me”), absolution (Matthew 18:20 “for where two or three are gathered together in My name”), and the forgiveness of sins and salvation which comes through these means.

At several points I emphasized how critical translations become so that we can better understand the original language text and be able to communicate effectively when preaching and/or teaching.

Easter completion

Easter is the central feast for the Christian. Every Sunday is a refreshing of the truth that death no longer holds Jesus. He is victorious over sin, death, and the devil. And he did it all for humans, sinful humans.

The four day period comes to its surprising conclusion this morning. From Maundy Thursday through Easter morning, there is only one benediction, that following the Easter service. Why? Because Maundy Thursday, Good Friday, and the vigil of Saturday are all of one piece with Easter. Each plays a significant but connected role in the salvation which Jesus achieved.

So, in a few hours, we rise to celebrate and shout, “He is risen!” and we respond with, “He is risen, indeed!” The uncertainty of Thursday, the anguish of Friday, the dark night of the vigil now gives way to the life of the resurrection.

May God richly bless each of us in our worship.

Liturgy — We confess (the creeds)

The Apostles' Creed
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Depending on the order of service followed, the creed can come before the sermon or after. I have arbitrarily put it before the sermon for this blogging exercise.

A creed is a statement of faith that a person, group, or larger community makes. Credo (Latin) is translated “I believe.” There are three ecumenical creeds, generally recognized by the Church catholic: Apostles Creed, Nicene Creed, and Athanasian Creed. The creeds function as public statements of faith which the congregation and the individual affirm and believe. Thus, they positively state doctrine for building up the common faith, and they negatively reject any false teachings related to the covered topics. By speaking the creeds each week, we not only join most Christians everywhere who confess the faith, but we also join the church throughout the ages in that same confession of faith.

Historically, the Apostles Creed was used for baptismal services, and the creed was either in the form of questions and answers (“Do you believe…?” followed by “Yes, I believe…”), or now the more common statement of belief (“I believe in God the Father…”). Thus, often the Apostles Creed is associated with the non-communion services. The Apostles Creed is spoken in the first person singular (“I believe…”).

The Nicene Creed (actually Nicene-Constantinopolitan creed, combining the Nicene Council of 325 and refined and the third article was expanded by the Council of Constantinople in 381) focuses on the second person of the Trinity, the Son, in opposition to the Arian heresy. Not surprisingly, the Nicene Creed has been associated with the Lord’s Supper, and so used on communion Sundays. This creed was also written in the first person plural form (“We believe…”), but was changed in the late middle ages to first person singular (“I believe…”) for liturgical purposes, which is also reflected in the German translation and some English translations. TLH, LW, and LSB (hymnals of the LCMS) use the singular form, whereas LBW and ELW (hymnals of the ELCA) use the plural form.

The Athanasian Creed (not written by Athanasius) is a much longer statement of faith, and typically only used on Trinity Sunday (this year, June 19). Most recently this creed the view is that the creed comes from the Gallic church in the late fifth century. It begins with the words, “Whoever wants to be saved must, above all, hold the catholic faith…” The largest portion of the creed centers on the second person of the Trinity.

Sometimes we become immune to the creed statements. But I encourage all of us to examine the texts, then joyfully state them as summaries of public Christian doctrine and of personal faith.

Rest and Relaxation

We are traveling throughout the southeast, and dodging the storms. We have been visiting our son, DIL, and five grandkids. Tomorrow the second oldest celebrates her 15th birthday. So we will stay through tomorrow, then head home. What a great trip this has been. We needed the time away. And how much better can it get than for seeing loved ones!

I should do this more often!

Liturgy — The Word (Spoken) 2

Folio 27r from the Lindisfarne Gospels contain...
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As we move in worship to the Gospel reading, we adjust our position, from sitting to standing. We stand as a sign of respect because here, now, we listen to the Words of Scripture, specifically telling us about who Jesus is and what he has done. Not only that but in the more traditional liturgies the congregation sings in anticipation of this great news. For example, in Lutheran Service Book, Divine Services One and Two the Alleluia and Verse in anticipation of the Gospel follows either:

Common: “Alleluia. Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life. Alleluia, Alleluia.” (John 6:68)

Lent: “Return to the Lord, your God, for He is gracious and merciful, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love, and abounding in steadfast love.” (Joel 2:13)

While the Old Testament reading outlines the preparation and the epistle reading surveys the results, the Gospel reading is central. The culmination of creation and history and the full revelation of God’s plan of salvation meet in this person who is true God and true Man.

The three year lectionaries follow each of the Synoptic Gospels through each year: Matthew (Series A), Mark (Series B), and Luke (Series C). John is used occasionally in each, most often in Series B because Mark is the shortest of the Synoptics.

As noted in an earlier post, the readings follow the liturgical year. Thus, the focus from the first Sunday of Advent to Pentecost is on the life and ministry of Jesus, namely from the announcement of his birth to his pouring out the Holy Spirit after his resurrection and ascension to heaven. The other half of the year still include Gospel readings(!) all about Jesus, but the selections emphasize his teaching ministry as a means for the church to grow.