Death as home; Death as gift | Esther 8.1

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On that day King Ahasuerus gave to Queen Esther the house of Haman, the enemy of the Jews; and Mordecai came before the king, for Esther had told what he was to her.
Esther 8:1

Continuing the theme from an earlier note which compared Haman, the enemy of the Jews, to our enemy, sin and death. Here, we see that after the King has conquered our enemy, we’re then given the house of the enemy. In our case, the house of sin and evil is death itself. But because of the Resurrection and God’s victory over death, death is now given to us as a gift. A place of rest, and the doorway to help.

See other Marginalia here. Read more about the series here.

Responding to the Covenant | Genesis 35.9-13

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God appeared to Jacob again when he came from Paddan-aram, and he blessed him. God said to him, “Your name is Jacob; no longer shall you be called Jacob, but Israel shall be your name.” So he was called Israel. God said to him, “I am God Almighty: be fruitful and multiply; a nation and a company of nations shall come from you, and kings shall spring from you. The land that I gave to Abraham and Isaac I will give to you, and I will give the land to your offspring after you.” Then God went up from him at the place where he had spoken with him.
Genesis 35.9-13

Here is God renewing the Abraham covenant with Jacob. Notice that this is not a new covenant, but a passing of the mantle of stewardship on to Jacob. This is the same covenant we are under, except this mantle of stewardship has gone to, and stayed with, Jesus himself.

See other Marginalia here. Read more about the series here.

The Worship of Job; the Blame of God | Job 1.20-22

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Then Job arose, tore his robe, shaved his head, and fell on the ground and worshiped. He said, “Naked I came from my mother’s womb, and naked shall I return there; the Lord gave, and theLord has taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord.”

In all this Job did not sin or charge God with wrongdoing.

Job 1.20-22

I mentioned this verse earlier in my post on a theology of angels. It’s one of the most concentrated, powerful, packed lines of Scripture in the Bible. Job suffers and he worships. He ascribes to God the actions of Satan and the text explicitly says he does not sin in doing so. He fully inhabits his mourning and it is sincere and it is real. And yet, just as sincere as is his mourning, his worship is as well.

See other Marginalia here. Read more about the series here.

How to read Esther Christianly | Esther 7:4–10

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For we have been sold, I and my people, to be destroyed, to be killed, and to be annihilated. If we had been sold merely as slaves, men and women, I would have held my peace; but no enemy can compensate for this damage to the king.” Then King Ahasuerus said to Queen Esther, “Who is he, and where is he, who has presumed to do this?” Esther said, “A foe and enemy, this wicked Haman!” Then Haman was terrified before the king and the queen. The king rose from the feast in wrath and went into the palace garden, but Haman stayed to beg his life from Queen Esther, for he saw that the king had determined to destroy him. When the king returned from the palace garden to the banquet hall, Haman had thrown himself on the couch where Esther was reclining; and the king said, “Will he even assault the queen in my presence, in my own house?” As the words left the mouth of the king, they covered Haman’s face. Then Harbona, one of the eunuchs in attendance on the king, said, “Look, the very gallows that Haman has prepared for Mordecai, whose word saved the king, stands at Haman’s house, fifty cubits high.” And the king said, “Hang him on that.” So they hanged Haman on the gallows that he had prepared for Mordecai. Then the anger of the king abated.
Esther 7.4-10

This book is so weird. Again, Esther is no paragon of virtue or model woman. She sleeps with the King to get ahead, is completely self-interested (has to be convinced to say her people because she might get caught up in the slaughter!), and she refuses to give mercy. This particular story of Haman’s condemnation, in both structure and language, seems to mirror David’s condemnation by Nathan. And yet, David gets mercy. Haman does not.

So what are some Christian take-aways from the book? A couple of things off the top of my head: life for God’s people only comes through a substitute, putting Death to Death, and something becoming a curse. Further, it’s the King who deals the death blow, even as the Enemy assaults us. Lastly, Salvation for God’s people is found when the King’s anger abates.

See other Marginalia here. Read more about the series here.

A quick note on why everything you think about angels might be wrong | Exodus 3.2

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There the angel of the Lord appeared to him in a flame of fire out of a bush; he looked, and the bush was blazing, yet it was not consumed.
Exodus 3.2

It seems that in other parts of Scripture–both Old and New Testaments–the writers seem to think that this is God himself showing up in the bush. Heck, this account itself makes that claim. So, I’m wonder if angels aren’t so much heavenly beings with their own individual personalities, but rather incarnations (pun intended) of “parts” of God. Maybe certain attributes, perhaps? And so, maybe it is the case that all the stories about angels and heavenly hosts and battles really are more symbolic of general spiritual forces rather than individual beings with their own personalities and such. Maybe they are not “representatives” of God, but are just God in certain forms. Perhaps they are like pre-incarnations? I think we need a new vocabulary to talk about this. Either way, this text clearly says “the angel of the Lord appeared” and then the rest of the story says it’s YHWH himself.

If you want an even more provocative thought. Recall Job, when the “angel Satan” does a bunch of stuff to Job? Well, Job goes on to say that the Lord has done those things to him, and both times he does this, the text clearly says, “Job did not sin with his lips or ascribe wrong to God.” “Satan” does something, Job says God did it. The Bible says Job is right.

Lastly, as a disclaimer on these Marginalia posts.These are my stream of conscious thoughts as I read Scripture. They are not fully-formed doctrinal positions. I think it beneficial not to shield people from even the craziest left-field questions that pop up in one’s mind, btu to invite them into the thinking process.

See other Marginalia here. Read more about the series here.

God’s Camp is Our Camp | Genesis 32:1

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Jacob went on his way and the angels of God met him; and when Jacob saw them he said, “This is God’s camp!” So he called that place Mahanaim.
Genesis 32:1

Jacob experiences God here, says that this is God’s camp, and yet the name he gives it means “two camps”. I love this idea. The camps that are God’s are also ours. We have an “ownership” of sorts in God’s presence. His presence “belongs” to his people. It also speaks of devotion. Where He camps, we camp. The good news of the covenant? In Jesus, the whole world is God’s “camp”. Therefore, the whole world is our inheritance.

See other Marginalia here. Read more about the series here.

The Echoes of History & Abraham| Genesis 24.22-23

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When the camels had finished drinking, the man took a gold nose-ring weighing a half shekel, and two bracelets for her arms weighing ten gold shekels, and said, “Tell me whose daughter you are. Is there room in your father’s house for us to spend the night?”
Genesis 24.22-23

On a random historical note, though it is clear that these stories come from older narratives and traditions written down much later, it is interesting that these stories still have features that would have been accurate for the time at which the story took place, millenia before the story was written down. You can see an example here. At the Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology, you can see artifacts from this area and supposed time (where I have seen with my own eyes the type of jewelry that this would be referring to). From doing that, it really looks like things such as these bracelets and gold rings were used for currency a lot more at this particular time in history. Later on, in a story such as this you would have more references to gold, money, cattle, or more established forms of barterng.

See other Marginalia here. Read more about the series here.

Moses the Levite? | Exodus 2:12

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Now a man from the house of Levi went and married a Levite woman.
Exodus 2.12

These are Moses’ unnamed parents. It’s interesting that the text makes a point to say they are both Levitra, the priesthood branch of the family. Notice that both Aaron and Miriam, Moses is siblings, would have also come from the priesthood side of the family. I wonder if this gives Miriam a certain Priestley role in the community as well? Either way, I never noticed that Moses and Aaron are both Levites. This gives Moses a much more priestly, rather than prophetic, role in what he does, and the function he serves in the story and the community.

See other Marginalia here. Read more about the series here.

Responding to the Covenant | Genesis 17:10

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This is my covenant, which you shall keep, between me and you and your offspring after you: Every male among you shall be circumcised.
Genesis 17:10

This is the Covenant: that his people will be marked and sealed. Baptism, anyone?

See other Marginalia here. Read more about the series here.

And the story moves from Abraham to Isaac… | selections from Genesis 26

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Now there was a famine in the land, besides the former famine that had occurred in the days of Abraham. And Isaac went to Gerar, to King Abimelech of the Philistines.
Genesis 26:1

This reads like a later interpolation because of confusion between the two drought accounts.

The Lord appeared to Isaac and said, “Do not go down to Egypt; settle in the land that I shall show you.
Genesis 26:2

God’s first word to Abraham: “Go”. God’s first word to his son: “Do not go”. I love that. Not sure why, but I do.

Abimelech said, “What is this you have done to us? One of the people might easily have lain with your wife, and you would have brought guilt upon us.” So Abimelech warned all the people, saying, “Whoever touches this man or his wife shall be put to death.”
Genesis 26:10-11

Oh the mercy of God, and how he protects the vulnerable here. But how do we understand when he doesn’t act in protection like this?

See other Marginalia here. Read more about the series here.

God & Sarah: one of the most beautiful verses in the Bible | Genesis 21.1

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The Lord dealt with Sarah as he had said, and the Lord did for Sarah as he had promised.
Genesis 21:1

What a beautiful and weighty verse. So much is concentrated right here. What a picture of our God!

See other Marginalia here. Read more about the series here.

Rebekah: The Blessing is the Promise | Genesis 24.60

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And they blessed Rebekah and said to her,

“May you, our sister, become
thousands of myriads;
may your offspring gain possession
of the gates of their foes.”
Genesis 24.60

Sounds prophetic of things to come, if you ask me…. Also sounds a whole lot like Abraham and Isaac’s promise from God.

See other Marginalia here. Read more about the series here.

Jesus came from some weird stock | Genesis 19.30-38

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Now Lot went up out of Zoar and settled in the hills with his two daughters, for he was afraid to stay in Zoar; so he lived in a cave with his two daughters. And the firstborn said to the younger, “Our father is old, and there is not a man on earth to come in to us after the manner of all the world. Come, let us make our father drink wine, and we will lie with him, so that we may preserve offspring through our father.” So they made their father drink wine that night; and the firstborn went in, and lay with her father; he did not know when she lay down or when she rose. On the next day, the firstborn said to the younger, “Look, I lay last night with my father; let us make him drink wine tonight also; then you go in and lie with him, so that we may preserve offspring through our father.” So they made their father drink wine that night also; and the younger rose, and lay with him; and he did not know when she lay down or when she rose. Thus both the daughters of Lot became pregnant by their father. The firstborn bore a son, and named him Moab; he is the ancestor of the Moabites to this day. The younger also bore a son and named him Ben-ammi; he is the ancestor of the Ammonites to this day.
Genesis 19.30.38

Wow, the ancestral origins of Christ are incredibly odd.

See other Marginalia here. Read more about the series here.

The Daughters of YHWH | Genesis 12:17

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But the Lord afflicted Pharaoh and his house with great plagues because of Sarai, Abram’s wife.
Genesis 12:17

The LORD enacts vengeance for the sake of his daughters. He hates injustice against them, even when the perpetrators are oblivious that they are perpetrating it.

See other Marginalia here. Read more about the series here.

Esther & Political Advocacy by God’s People| Es4.3,8 [DOUBLE-HEADER]


esther_mordechai-arent-de-gelderUpdate (3/8): This little seemingly inconsequential post caused quite the comment thread on Facebook and represented every reason I’ve started this series. I got challenged and my view of the book of Esther got broadened more than I ever could have imagine. I’ve reproduced those comments below.

In every province, wherever the king’s command and his decree came, there was great mourning among the Jews, with fasting and weeping and lamenting, and most of them lay in sackcloth and ashes. –Esther 4.3

Notice here that when the Jews are faced with political persecution, and an actual existential threat from the political authority, their response is not activism,  nor violence, nor lobbying, it is instead to pray, weep, lament, fast, and cry out to God, their true king and political leader.

Mordecai also gave him a copy of the written decree issued in Susa for their destruction, that he might show it to Esther, explain it to her, and charge her to go to the king to make supplication to him and entreat him for her people. –Esther 4.8

Well…Okay, okay. I see that only a few versus later, Mordecai does try to appeal to Esther, the political insider, to lobby on behalf of her people. So, that sort of goes against what I just said above.

But, notice that they still did not use violence or mass political demonstrations or mobilization. They peacefully engaged those from their community who were specifically equipped to engage politically. They didn’t see themselves as primarily political creatures,  nor their problems primarily as political problems,  nor the answers primarily as political solutions. The political piece was merely one facet in the kaleidoscope of human experience through which God works his will,  and not even the main one.

My not-so-subtle point: the Evangelical obsession with political activism and using politics to accomplish (what they view as) the goals of the Kingdom are anti-biblical and find no basis in Scripture.

See other Marginalia here. Read more about the series here.

[image credit: "Esther and Mordechai write the Second Letter of Purim" by Arent de Gelder]