As a Christian, you might have noticed that there are a lot of Christian ministries, churches, and individuals who are associating themselves with the name Zion. You might also have noticed that a lot of modern day Christians are referring to Yahweh as the Light of Zion or the God of Zion or the something else of Zion. So what’s with all the talk about Zion? What exactly is Zion anyway? Most importantly, is God a fan of our ongoing obsession with this term? Or is this just one more misguided Christian tradition that we need to move past? The purpose of this post is to help you get Zion in proper perspective. Continue reading
The apostle Paul was an ethnic Jew. In his day, ethnic Jews—especially Jewish men—were taught from the cradle to believe that they were far superior to everyone else. Jews referred to non-Jews as Gentiles, and being called a Gentile was not a compliment. Jews liked to refer to Gentiles as uncircumcised dogs which, in their cultural context, was like a white man calling a black man a nigger today. It’s critical that you appreciate how deeply racist the Jews in Bible times were. You need to understand that these folks had completely blown off Yahweh’s command to “love your neighbor as yourself.” Continue reading
David was some grubby little shepherd boy and God made him the king over a prosperous kingdom. Now there’s a nice “rags to riches” story. No wonder we like the story of David…well, parts of it, anyhow. What we actually know about it…which really isn’t much. We know he wrote Psalm 23. We know he killed Goliath [gō-LĪ-ŭth]. Some of us have a vague idea that David’s transition to king was a bit rocky, but most of us fluff that off and focus on the fact that David did finally make it to glory in the end. After David was king, there was the whole Bathsheba [băth-SHĒ-bŭh] mess—but that got cleared up. So David had a pretty sweet life on earth, right? It must be nice to be one of God’s favorites. This is what many Christians think about David, and the rumors of David’s overall cheery life persist today because we are taught to avoid reading the Old Testament for ourselves. Once we’re not reading for ourselves, we have no way of knowing how consistently our preachers and teachers are avoiding certain passages—passages which would totally shatter the many happy rumors which surround Christendom’s favorite heroes. Continue reading
The book of Psalms is a collection of 150 different songs which don’t come anywhere close to being in chronological order. Instead, as we read through the book, we find ourselves leaping forward and back by centuries between various psalms. The collection begins with entries by David. But when we reach Psalm 90, we find that it was written by Moses who lived and died long before David was even born. But between David and Moses, we have Psalm 74—a psalm that was penned after the fall of Jerusalem, which occurred many centuries after David’s lifetime. So when you’re in the book of Psalms, you need to stay sharp and be on the lookout for clues as to when the specific psalm you are reading was written.
As we’re going to learn in this post, historical context plays a huge role in determining whether a psalm writer was honoring God with his sentiments, or being a mouthy little twerp. Today the Church teaches you that the entire book of Psalms is Divinely inspired. In doing this, she is encouraging you to embrace soul attitudes which God says He hates and celebrate those attitudes as God-honoring. But wait—aren’t we being a bit extreme? Do the psalms really go so far as to model attitudes which God hates? Yes, they certainly do, and that’s not something we should be fluffing off as no big deal. Continue reading
“Why do bad things happen to good people?” This is a very important question, and how you personally answer it will greatly affect how you respond to the hardships in your life. There are right and wrong ways to respond to trials. The right ways will help you mature and grow closer to God. The wrong ways will cause you to stagnate and regress. So it becomes very important to respond the right ways, but to do that, you first need to understand what is the right answer to that famous question. Continue reading
When you think of the psalms of the Bible, think “Jewish song lyrics,” because that is what they are. The psalms were meant to be sung out loud, which is why you’ll find the occasional bit of musical instruction thrown in. The ancient Jews were a very theatrical people who valued the public sharing of personal emotions. So while you might have a hard time picturing why a guy like David would want to broadcast his personal cry for Yahweh to give him a clean heart after his rebellious stint with Bathsheba, realize that Psalm 51 wouldn’t be in the Bible today unless David chose to share that private prayer with his royal staff. Continue reading
Psalm 109 was written by David when David was in a very angry, very hateful mood. This is the carnal ranting of a hypocritical grudge holder. As is typical for those wallowing in a victim mentality, David considers himself to be morally superior to the fellow who has stuck it to him. Not only does he expect Yahweh to take his side in this matter, but he has already decided how God should handle this situation. In this psalm, David is basically throwing a bratty tantrum and peppering Yahweh with a long list of demands. David isn’t content to just see his enemy suffer—he is so consumed with hate that he wants to see the man’s relatives and descendants suffer as well. Psalm 109 is a fabulous example of carnality run amuck, and to call such garbage “God breathed” is utterly absurd. David was certainly not passing on the words of God when he wrote this hatefest. Instead, he is grossly exaggerating his own importance by talking as if anyone who opposes him is deserving of unending suffering. Well, no, the universe really doesn’t revolve around David, and David is totally out of line to boss Yahweh around like this. Let’s now go through this psalm line by line and see what positive lessons we can learn from David’s terrible example. Continue reading