Sunday, October 24, 2010

God of Paradox

A poetic commentary on Isaiah 52:13-53:12

This is meant to be read as a commentary on the biblical passage simply to point out the incredible paradoxes that are apparent in the passage. Each piece below is parallel to a chunk of the scripture except for the last two lines which are added as a conclusion. I've included the passage in NASB on the end so you can look between the two but what I wrote was based on many translations and commentaries so don’t be surprised if you are a little confused about how I got where I did. 
The beauty of this passage absolutely astounds me and I hope you can see a little of what I have.

The servant acts in wisdom and he finds exaltation
by being beaten beyond recognition.

YHWH’s power is among us
In an unattractive baby

YHWH sends his servant
We shun Him like we’re better

Our sorrows,
He carried
We called Him cursed of God

We sinned,
He was crushed

His flesh torn,
Our spirits healed

We do as we please
YHWH puts our sin on Him.

The servant was beat to a pulp
Yet still he was silent
lead to execution
But still not a word
judged, condemned and put away

Which of His executioners understood?
This death they caused,
was theirs to die.

He died with common thieves
But was buried with the wealthy
because he was not guilty

YHWH worked gladly
to crush his beloved
The innocent One
In place of the guilty

YHWH saw his dead Son
And makes His life long
Giving Him His Joy, the resurrected

Through the soul’s dark night
He will find the light

The righteous One
Bears the sin
Of wicked multitudes

He will be numbered among kings
Because was counted with the criminals

He took on sin
to be a priest

Now the greatest act of judgment
is the greatest act of love.

Isaiah 52:13-53:12

13 Behold, My servant will prosper,
He will be high and lifted up and greatly exalted.
    14     Just as many were astonished at you, My people,
So His appearance was marred more than any man
And His form more than the sons of men.
    15     Thus He will sprinkle many nations,
Kings will shut their mouths on account of Him;
For what had not been told them they will see,
And what they had not heard they will understand.
Ch 53
    1     Who has believed our message?
And to whom has the arm of the Lord been revealed?
    2     For He grew up before Him like a tender shoot,
And like a root out of parched ground;
He has no stately form or majesty
That we should look upon Him,
Nor appearance that we should be attracted to Him.
    3     He was despised and forsaken of men,
A man of sorrows and acquainted with grief;
And like one from whom men hide their face
He was despised, and we did not esteem Him.
    4     Surely our griefs He Himself bore,
And our sorrows He carried;
Yet we ourselves esteemed Him stricken,
Smitten of God, and afflicted.
    5     But He was pierced through for our transgressions,
He was crushed for our iniquities;
The chastening for our well-being fell upon Him,
And by His scourging we are healed.
    6     All of us like sheep have gone astray,
Each of us has turned to his own way;
But the Lord has caused the iniquity of us all
To fall on Him.
    7     He was oppressed and He was afflicted,
Yet He did not open His mouth;
Like a lamb that is led to slaughter,
And like a sheep that is silent before its shearers,
So He did not open His mouth.
    8     By oppression and judgment He was taken away;
And as for His generation, who considered
That He was cut off out of the land of the living
For the transgression of my people, to whom the stroke was due?
    9     His grave was assigned with wicked men,
Yet He was with a rich man in His death,
Because He had done no violence,
Nor was there any deceit in His mouth.
    10     But the Lord was pleased
To crush Him, putting Him to grief;
If He would render Himself as a guilt offering,
He will see His offspring,
He will prolong His days,
And the good pleasure of the Lord will prosper in His hand.
    11     As a result of the anguish of His soul,
He will see it and be satisfied;
By His knowledge the Righteous One,
My Servant, will justify the many,
As He will bear their iniquities.
    12     Therefore, I will allot Him a portion with the great,
And He will divide the booty with the strong;
Because He poured out Himself to death,
And was numbered with the transgressors;
Yet He Himself bore the sin of many,
And interceded for the transgressors.
New American Standard Bible : 1995 Update (LaHabra, CA: The Lockman Foundation, 1995). Is 52:13-53:12.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Mr. Daddy Sir

Why is it that we feel like we must call our God by his title and not by the name that He gave us to call Him by? I don’t remember growing up and asking my dad questions, “Hey Mr. Daddy Sir, can I go ride the snowmachine?” It just feels weird. Why then do we say things like, “dear LORD, please help us with this test.”? It’s like we are calling him Mr. without even bothering to tag a name on the end.
Well the obvious answer to this question is that is what we read in our bibles. “The LORD said to my Lord, ‘Sit at my right hand’” So then the question becomes, why does the bible translate the name of God into his title when all the other names such as Moses, Joseph, Abraham are all transliterated. (spelled out with English letters to make roughly the same sounds as the Hebrew) and God’s name is translated from the Hebrew word that sounds something like YHWH to LORD. Last I checked those don’t sound anything alike.
First of all, where did YHWH come from and why doesn’t it have any vowels? Well it was the name given in Exodus 3 when God introduced himself to his people through Moses at the burning bush. He wanted to establish a relationship with his people and so Moses asked him, “what are we supposed to call you?” (Andrew Paraphrased Version) to which God responded I AM WHO I AM. Which, in Hebrew, is written YHWH. (they didn’t believe in writing vowels but we typically pronounce it Yahweh)
Now why is it translated LORD? Well apparently, at some point, some Jews became really paranoid about taking the name of YHWH in vain so they stopped pronouncing it out loud and instead substituted Adoni (Lord in Hebrew) so they wouldn’t be hit by any smitening bolts if they accidentally messed up the pronunciation.
So the text still said YHWH but it was pronounced Adoni. Well when the translators got to work changing the Hebrew to English, they carried on the tradition of changing it from the personal name YHWH to the title, lord. Well thankfully, they gave us a way of telling when it is really YHWH that is meant by putting it in small caps “LORD”. So in reality, when you are reading the Bible, unless you are worried about smitening bolts, you can, if you like, read “LORD” as YHWH because it is the name that he gave us to use in our relationship and that the authors wrote down.
Now some might ask, “haven’t you lost all your reverence for the holy God by calling him by his first name?” to which I would respond, well yes, we here in our western evangelical Christianity may have wandered toward a little too much of a “buddy buddy Jesus” at times and forgotten just how great, immeasurable and transcendent he is. But that can be avoided if we take this seriously. Just realize that when you use the name YHWH you are really using the name that means Existing One, or I am that I am. You are addressing not just the creator of the universe, but the one who was before the universe, who is acting in and beyond the universe and who will be for all time, that same God who gave us his name to call him by because he wanted to know us. He wanted to know us so much that he was willing to descend to our level and become man, to die at our hands in our place.
That is YHWH… Blessed be his name.

Sunday, October 10, 2010


You know something like this would typically be called something like "reflections" But i'm not going to call it that for a couple reasons. One, because that's the name that Rob Reid wants to give to his first album that I was just working on a cover for, and if I took it I would likely be accused of some form of plagiarism.  Secondly, I feel like I am taking the thoughts of others and bending them slightly like refraction as opposed to completely reversing their direction as is implied by the term reflection. First of all, I would like to prepare you for a paradigm shift by allowing you to meditate on this picture for a moment.

I am hoping that this sufficiently disturbs everything you ever thought about Alcohol and church in preperation for a few thoughts on general theology. 
I recently was reading Wayne Grudem's Systematic Theology for my Prologomina, Bibliology, Theology Proper class, (interpretation: I was reading people's understanding about God who have been thinking about Him for a lot longer than I have) and came across a concept that captured my attention, 
God is Omnipresent (existing at in all places at once) to which he tagged on a little comment that this also included all points in time... minor detail... Well at that point, I quickly had a deja-vu experience in which I was swept back into my physics class at Mat-Su community college in 2005 (I know that seems like a long time ago, but in case you are wondering, No, i'm not old). We were working through the formation of formula's for trajectories and such, (figuring out how things fall in style) and I suddenly realized that we were essentially using time as a 4th dimension along with XYZ! So now my world was all of the sudden seen in XYZ and t. I didn't just exist at a specific set of points in space, but also in time. (this concept came in handy when I later learned about how GPS units use all four dimensions to solve a trilateration equation which then in turn gives you those annoying directions from the little box thingy hanging on your windshield.) So now, here I am in my Theology class, reliving this experience except realizing that my God exists at ALL points in space and time at once. 

That however was just the beginning of my realizations because shortly thereafter I posted the simple phrase "is God omnichronological" (Is God existing at all points in time) on my facebook status and got some interesting thoughts to add to it. We had talked in class about how God has chosen to exist in time in order to act in our world and pull of small tasks that have to do with us humans such as redemption, but I didn't quite agree because after all, he was the creator of time and therefore had to exist outside of it as well right? Not just at all points in time? well that implies that God would be supra-chronological. (existing above and beyond time itself), but Ian graciously pointed out that God existed before time and therefore at least at one point was achronological (outside of time altogether).  
Then I sat back and thought about all these concepts:
omnichronological? yes
supra-chronological? yes
achronological? well yeah, that too. 
Wow, God is big...
And I'm just touching the surface...