Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Tuesday January 15 -- Sandy's posts

Today's passage from the Bible In a Year Reading Plan is: Genesis 29-30, Psalm 11, Matthew 11

Today's scripture focus is: Esther 9:20-10:3

When I first sat down to write this post, I sat and blinked for awhile at the scripture.
"Hmm." says I to myself, "There isn't a Veggie Tales about this part...now what?" (just kidding.  Mostly.)

I consulted the uber wise theologian that happens to live at my house, and asked him to help me.  He helped me a bit too much, and I had to ask him to dumb it down a bit, cause dude.  I don't fire on all cylinders some days.  I also confess that I am guilty of that which many Christians are guilty of.  Superficial study of the bible.  It's all too easy to skip over "boring" parts, or take certain verses at face value, without delving deeper.  Is not our God capable of many meanings?  Is not He capable of taking verses to levels of depth that aren't immediately visible? I know that's probably a point of contention amongst Christians, the interpretation of scripture can be tricky.

That being said, at first glance, these verses seemed "boring", at least to me.  I think it's really because I hadn't delved deeper, or looked further into the many faucets of what God is saying here.

So, after consulting my resident brilliant theologian, he emailed me this:

In the context of the New Testament Christ, as both fully man and fully God, condescended His own deity to dwell amongst those who would reject him and ultimately kill him, with the expressed goal of intently and purposefully suffering for sin the way those for whom salvation is affective should have suffered. Stated another way, in the Old Testament God’s own righteousness was affectively reckoned to Israel based on God’s own character and His choosing to save a certain people; in the New Testament the righteousness of the Son (the God man), which was God’s own righteousness, was reckoned to the elect based on God’s own character and His choosing to save a certain people.
In the Old Testament we see this promised and described in sort of distant terms with respect to the daily lives of the people. As I see it, the book of Esther takes a specific circumstance of persecution and the peril of one who sought to destroy God’s people and then applies God’s promise to a situation in which one living at that time would have no problem seeing themselves. It is even more interesting than this because if one considers the role of women at the time, in a Hebrew context, as well as in the immediate context of the protocol of the court of the King, it is intriguing to think that God used a woman as the means by which he upheld His promise, endowing her with the responsibility to, despite her fear, personally invest herself in the promise of God by more or less sacrificing her life. In the end her life was not literally demanded of her. But it was demanded spiritually. Esther was called in her generation to be the means by which God delivered His people, and the means by which God displayed Himself to be glorious and faithful. This (the glory and faithfulness of God) more than the focus on Esther’s personal courage, or Mordecai’s mortal trust in this woman in a culture that didn’t routinely credit such tasks as within the ability of women, is what is displayed in the book of Esther. And though the other sub-points may be true (Esther did have great courage, Mordecai had great trust in Esther, etc) they dwarf in comparison to the glory of the unchanging God who has based His activities upon His own good pleasure and nothing else.

This was in response to my asking for help with interpretation, and help with "how do I relate this to us, Christ, and make a blog post out of this passage?"
In the end - the Bible IS Jesus.  His foreshadowing, His birth, death, burial, and resurrection.  His payment for our sins.  Every passage has historical, emotional, personal, and/or contextual value; but at the bottom of it all is this: Christ.  

Have a great day!


Tomorrow's scripture focus:  1 John 1:1
Tomorrow's Bible In a Year Passage passage: Genesis 31-32, Psalm 12, Matthew 12


Curly-T said...

Ha! I thought of the VeggieTales version when I wrote my post too!!

What a great final thought- the Bible IS Jesus. Amen!
Aren't we glad there are so many great stories to see His love, compassion, mercy, faithfulness, and righteousness? To see how He saves us time and again?

Great job!

Miriam said...

Great post, Sandy, thanks! And thanks to your resident brilliant theologian as well. :)

As I was reading about Purim I wondered to myself whether the ritual of the annual feast and gift giving would become somewhat thoughtless over time - whether the events that the feast commemorates would be forgotten or seem less amazing or less important. I think there is always that risk when you have an event commemorated by "rituals". People start performing the rituals by force of habit instead of a desire to recall the events and the meaning that they had when they happened, to us in the present, and to future generations. Maybe this thought occurred to me because we just celebrated Christmas, which has in many ways become ritual, habit, and even worse, in some circles it is just self-serving and commercial. My family and I and many people I know do make a conscious effort to focus on the true meaning of Christmas, as I'm sure many people do for Purim, or Passover, or things like Remembrance Day, wedding anniversaries, and so on. I think there can be tremendous value in celebrating or commemorating things - even things like Valentine's Day - as long as we are doing so consciously keeping in mind the meaning and not just following a routine that has become a habit.

TammyIsBlessed said...

I love how everything in the Bible truly does point to Jesus. That, as He Himself said, He is the fulfillment of the entire OT. And I love it that that was Driscoll's theme for his whole Esther series.

I liked Driscoll's point that when God does something (you know, like work through His people to save an entire nation) that it should be celebrated and remembered for generations to come. Life stores are inspiring and we should inspire our children and our grandchildren with the stories of how God has worked in our lives.

It sounds like the festival of Purim started out with good intentions but has become more of a party than a God glorifying celebration. But we can redeem all celebrations to the glory of God. And, like Miriam said, we need to always remember why we celebrate and Who we celebrate, so it stays about relationship and not about ritual.

I thoroughly enjoyed our study on Esther and learned a TON of interesting things! Looking forward to 1 John tomorrow :)

LaughingLady said...

I appreciated Driscoll's differentiation between "routine" and "ritual," and I don't remember if he drew this conclusion or not, but I did ~ I think Christians should do more celebrating!! We have SO MUCH to celebrate and yet most of the time the most that ever happens is a prayer of thanksgiving ~ MAYBE together with someone else. A young boy from town who's been attending Sunday school at our church since September accepted Christ this past Sunday ~ our church should really have thrown an impromptu party! The Sunday school teacher should've interrupted the adult Sunday school class to say, "WE NEED TO CELEBRATE! A BRAND NEW SON WAS JUST BORN INTO OUR FAMILY!!" The Bible says angels rejoice when it happens; why don't we?

Why don't we, as a church, make a bigger deal of things like that? Why are we so embarrassed to publicly share "little" answers to prayer? Man, I think we are seriously down-playing some of God's greatness ~ and missing some great opportunities to show the world what it looks like to be enthusiastic about our faith.

TammyIsBlessed said...

Yes indeed, more celebrating!!

One thing from our Bible in a Year reading plan - I learned something about our Matthew passage from Ray Vanderlaan that I thought was fascinating. One of the ways the rabbis taught was to quote scripture, but to leave out a portion and that portion was the important part. In Jesus' reply to John the Baptist He quotes Isaiah prophecies that are being fulfilled - the blind see, the lame walk, the deaf hear, the dead are raise, the good news is preached to the poor - the last passage is from Isaiah 61:1 and the part He leaves out is "He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted,
to proclaim freedom for the captives
and release from darkness for the prisoners" which means John is not getting out of prison.

One thing my ESV study Bible noted about the OT reading - Jacob does not pray for Rachel to conceive as his father Isaac had done for Rebekah. I had not noticed that before. Also, there was a timeline provided and Jacob only married at 84! Why would they have waited that long to send him off to find a wife?!