Pastors' Blog

Notre-Dame burning

We witnessed the tragic burning of Notre-Dame in Paris this week. Its construction was begun 859 years ago and took 100 years to complete.

A certain couple, wishing to keep a record of family events, spent more than a thousand dollars on a video camera and accessories. As soon as the teenage grandchildren and their friends saw the equipment, they wanted to use it. Because the camera represented a sacrifice and was precious to the grandparents, they laid down certain rules.

The Book of Deuteronomy is a series of speeches from Moses, giving final words of wisdom and warning before the Israelites entered the Promised Land, challenging the next generation to be faithful to their God.

The Book of Numbers is about a road trip gone really bad. Israel perpetually complained, sinned, and rebelled against God at every step. But their repeated rebellion was met by God’s justice and mercy.

The Book of Leviticus is a solution. God took the initiative to provide a way to reconcile his relationship with rebellious Israel. He invited them to live in his holy presence despite their sin, through a series of rituals and sacred institutions. Leviticus is all about God’s grace!

Israel’s exodus from Egypt is the event that forms them into a nation and is the model for God’s plan of redemption throughout Scripture. God invited Israel to enter into a covenant relationship with him, but their own sin and idolatry became the greatest threat to God’s covenant promises.

Genesis is composed of two main movements. Chapters 1–11 are a story about all of humanity over thousands of years. Then chapters 12–50 are a story covering a few hundred years of one man’s family. Somehow, what is happening with this single family is linked to the fate of all humanity. Genesis establishes the basic plot line and basic themes of the entire biblical story.

Torah is the Hebrew title for the first five books of the Bible—Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy. These books aren’t easy to read, and most of us wouldn’t choose to read them for leisure. But they’re important because they create the need for Jesus.

Jonah chapter 3 could have been a beautiful finish to the book. The prophet preached, God’s Word was effective, the Ninevites repented. But there is a chapter 4. And this last chapter reveals that the story was never about Jonah and the Ninevites all along. This is a story about God and his own people—about how God deals with his own angry children. God is trying to get his own people to see that they need his grace as much as anyone else.

Our study of the book of Jonah continues this week with chapter 3. Jonah went to Nineveh, the city of his enemies, and delivered a very strange, very short sermon at which the people of Nineveh have a very surprising response. The city was indeed overturned, but not Sodom-and-Gomorrah style. Chapter three explores the meaning of the biblical word ‘conversion.’

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