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Archive for December, 2016

Honoring God’s Name

December 31st, 2016 No comments

In the book of Malachi (Malachi 3:16) we read that “a scroll of remembrance was written to record the names of those who feared him and always thought about the honor of his name.”

What is the honor of God’s name? What does it mean to think about it?

I suspect that many of us have our own ideas about what would honor God’s name in different circumstances.

The first thing I noticed is that this is a continual rethinking: you can’t simply act as if you always know what brings glory to God’s name, as if it never changed in different circumstances.

The second thing is that our ideas are suspect, because we are the fallen people. The only trustworthy way to think about God’s name and what brings it honor, is by study of the Scriptures, and especially the example of Christ.

For example, we can honor God’s name by thinking what the name is. In the Hebrew Scriptures the name of God is YHWH, the Tetragrammaton. It means the living God: the God who is not a dead idol, but who acts.

In the New Testament the name is Jesus. Joseph is told to name the child Jesus … why? Because he will save his people from their sins. His name is the name of salvation. It is in his name that we are taught to pray—not our own name and our own merit, but his. It is his name that we are to gather in. It is his name that we are to baptize in. It is his name at which every knee shall bow, and which every tongue will confess. It is his name that is superior to the names of the angels.

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Habakkuk – a Good Question

December 19th, 2016 No comments

In verses 12–13 of the first chapter of Habakkuk, the prophet affirms that God is sovereign. Israel’s troubles are not because God is unfaithful or weak. Rather, the Babylonians are tool God is using to punish Israel:

O Lord, you have ordained them as a judgment,
and you, O Rock, have established them for reproof.

The prophet poses this question:

Your eyes are too pure to look on evil;
you are unable to look at disaster.
Why would you look at the treacherous
or keep silent when the wicked swallows one who is more righteous?

There’s an unstated assumption at the end, that Israel’s sin is less than Babylon’s. This is shaky ground. Who can say whether one sin is more offensive to God than another? Is religious pride and idolatry less offensive to God than violence and cruelty?

If we can find a way resolve that matter, however, there is a great question here: does the end justify the means? Is it right for God to use an evil tool to achieve a good result? That’s a great question even for us frail mortals, who work in a world where everything is tainted with evil. How much better a question is it for God? On the one hand, God can see everything clearly, and will not be overcome by the tools he uses. But for him not to stand off and watch, but to engage evil directly in order to use it: how can he do that?

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