Monday, July 31, 2017

Zechariah 3 sermon prep - part 1

Is there a clearer spiritual viewpoint anywhere else in the Old Testament than in Zechariah Chapter 3?  

Zechariah is a work of art.  It contains many literary devices.  It is a book of visions.  There are eight visions in total and the visions have a pattern of:

a b b c c b b a

The first and last vision [a] have similarities and the fourth and fifth visions [c] are similar.  The fourth vision is the richest theologically and Christologically.  It is the fourth vision that drew me to Zechariah.

The fourth vision is of the High Priest of Zechariah's day on the Day of Atonement.  The High Priest; Joshua, is viewed in the spiritual realm in God's Holy court.  The court is presided over by an angel:

Then he showed me Joshua the high priest standing 
before the angel of the Lord, 
and Satan standing at his right side to accuse him. 

And Satan is there beside Joshua ready to lay accusations.  Joshua is not attending in his own right; Joshua attends on behalf the people of Israel.  So, Satan is ready to accuse the people.  Joshua in preparing to go before God's court would have already made the blood sacrifice - Satan would be unsettled that the blood of an innocent had already been poured out for the guilty.

Reading Zechariah Chapter 3 as a whole, one learns that the vision into the spiritual realm has ordinary and extraordinary components:

i) It is ordinary as it is illustrating that which occurs in the spiritual realm every Day of Atonement since that Day was constituted under Aaron, and,  

ii) It is extraordinary in that it leads to an understanding that Joshua is in Messianic line to the ultimate High Priest Jesus Christ, and, 

iii) It is extraordinary in that it makes clear to the nation of Israel that in their return from exile God wants them to restore all spiritual practices. God wants this of his people as God has plans for them. 

The fourth vision is extraordinary in that it thematically builds on other material in Zechariah to allow an understanding of the Messianic trajectory of the line of kings and line of High Priests.  That is, all of Israel's kings, and all the prophets come together under Christ.   

More to come!


Note: all links good as at 31 July 2017
Note: Joshua and Jesus are from the same root Hebrew word.

Saturday, July 29, 2017

Over zealous Peter

Pastor John Macarthur, in a series of talks that are available online, discusses each of the Apostles in turn.  Peter features prominently in the four Gospels and Macarthur has much to say of Peter.  Probably, the most remarkable thing that Macarthur draws out is a fact that had previously past my attention - Peter over zealously takes to his role as head of the church!

We pick up the story in the Gospel of Matthew at Chapter 16 verse 13.  Jesus asks the Apostles to tell him who he is.  It is quite an appropriate time for Jesus to ask this as it precedes an event that will most likely leave the Apostles with no doubt as to who Jesus is - the Transfiguration in Matthew 17.

Peter's answer is recorded in verse 16:

You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.

Jesus then rewards Peter for his answer.  On the basis of the answer Christ tells of how he will build his church.  He then explains that he will give Peter the keys of the kingdom of heaven (verses 17 to 19).

Jesus replied, “Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah, for this was not revealed to you by flesh and blood, but by my Father in heaven. And I tell you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not overcome it. I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven; whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven.”

Then Jesus explains that he must suffer many things.  Jesus is plain as to his plight: that he will be killed and that on the third day he will rise to life. (verses 21).

It as at this point that Peter jumps to action - this is the interesting bit - Peter took Jesus aside (verse 22).  Wow! Like Peter man-handled Jesus and sought to have a discussion out-of-sight behind a rock or  a clump of trees!  And, Peter is bold enough to rebuke Jesus for what Jesus said:

Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him.
“Never, Lord!” he said. “This shall never happen to you!”

Peter seems to have taken a CEO role of the church immediately.  It seems that the first task was to ensure the spin-doctoring of the brand asset is sorted out.  It's almost as if Jesus has, in Peter's eyes, taken some subordinate role - Mission Director perhaps - that Peter may rebuke Christ! Peter seems to have taken on all matters of church strategy and the church business plan.  Peter seems over zealous and well beyond his mark.

To which Jesus communicates to Peter that Peter best run the church to God's order rather than any order of his own desire:

Jesus turned and said to Peter, “Get behind me, Satan! You are a stumbling block to me; you do not have in mind the concerns of God, but merely human concerns.”

Now, this lends well towards an application point.  Mankind, like Peter, are all too likely to take into account things of men.  Conscious and deliberate effort is needed in a church to ensure that the things of God are in mind.  Church leaders will fail if they apply practices to the church that are of the world - the practices must instead be holy and righteous.  In relation to the abuse within the church it is then very sad to recognise that many victims are first physically harmed, suffer from a breach of trust and then also suffer for want of the church's application of holy and righteous procedures.


Note: all links good as at 29 July 2017

Adventure's with Herbie's Spices - Pumpkin and carrot roast with thyme and yellow mustard seed

"Legend has it that thyme was included in the hay used to
 make a bed for the Virgin Mary and the Christ Child",
The Spice & Herb Bible, 3rd edition, p634, Ian Hemphill

Tonight's roast included a herb mixture that really made the food tasty.  We roasted pumpkin and carrots in a herb mix.  The ingredients and recipe are here:


3 tablespoons Herbie's Spices Yellow Mustard Ground Seed from 35g net pack
4 tablespoons dried lemon thyme (Thymus citriodorus) from own drying effort (Herbie's Spices also sell lemon thyme).
700g pumpkin, peeled and seeded, chopped into finger size lengths.
4 large carrots, peeled, chopped into finger size lengths


1. Mix yellow mustard ground seed in a bowl with just enough water to form a paste.  Rest for 2 minutes.
2. Mix lemon thyme thoroughly through the wet mustard seed mix.
3. Place pumpkin and carrot in a oven dish in layers.  Spread mustard seed and thyme mix on each layer.
4. Cook with roast meat dish for approximately 45 mins (with most roast meat dishes you'll find that you put the vegetables in the oven sometime after the meat).

Serves 5.  Suits: Vegan, Vegetarian, Specific Carbohydrate Diet and Paleo Diet. 

The growing Lemon Thyme in a thick clump

The lemon thyme was found in a garden bed that is tended by students of a local school.  My daughter is at that school.  My daughter and I were on the grounds of the school to play on the school's tennis court.  The garden also includes snow peas, nasturtiums, rosemary, brussell sprouts and a number of variety of flowers.  I've tended the garden at past working bees and provided the school with a worm farm.  During the recent school holiday we watered the garden and removed some wind-blown rubbish and some weeds.
Drying the lemon thyme - each clump pegged and held apart to allow wind and sunshine to complete the drying process.  I will not win any photograph contests for green foreground on green background (idiot!),

We picked a small handful of lemon thyme two weeks ago during the school holiday.  We immediately set it to dry in full sun.  To dry it we clumped it tightly at the roots and hung it on sunny days from the clothes line.  On wet days we hung it in a breezeway under the house.  Once you start drying herbs you are best to ensure that they do not get damp.  Two weeks is ample time to dry thyme - it is a hardy plant and tends to be quite dry when picked.  Two weeks drying time in shade is probably enough.

Separating the thyme leaves from the woody branches is a pleasurable task.  It involves a wooden kitchen roller and a little bit of patience in picking out the branches.  The thyme leaves can then be stored for use over twelve months.  A handful of picked thyme is practically enough for a household's use for a whole year.
Mixing the yellow mustard ground seed with water.  The dried thyme leaves were then added to the mustard mix.

Thyme is best in soup stock, or in soups.  It can be used in casseroles and potato salad.  It also adds flavor to roast vegetables.

I've added a video here that shows how to process the dried clumped bundles of thyme:

Credits to:

- The Essential Ingredient, Rozelle for the Spices & Herb Bible, 3rd edition, 2014
- Vegetables - pumpkin and carrots - purchased from Lime Leaf Fruit Market
- Herbie's Spices Yellow Mustard Ground Seed 35g Net by online order, or through stockists on Herbie's Spices website.
- Video; Filming, editing and loading to Youtube: anon (he knows who he is).


Note: all links good as at 29 July 2017

Filling the brief – part 2

In the debrief after sermon delivery (see this link) I received feedback as to the matter of opening the sermon with a question.  The question was needed as a way of having the audience understand that which was due to be explained to them in the sermon.  The question set up the expectation of the application that would arise from the sermon.
In considering a question to pose I considered the application points.  Feedback from the audience and from the debrief solidified the first of the application points: “Unlikely agents”.  Audience members in the interactive cafĂ© that followed the sermon gave examples from their own lives where God was using them as unlikely agents to share Scripture.  It seems clear then that the sermon delivers an appropriate message; transposing an understanding from the humble act of the lepers to humble acts that everyone can perform.  So, a question at the start of the sermon could be put around the notion of how people can act for God no matter their circumstances. 
That question would look like this:
“Have you ever been in such a state that you cannot resolve yourself towards any action?,
Have you ever been so lost as to what to do that you neglect to ask of God?
Now, the lepers did resolve towards action yet they did so at a point where everything else was lost.  A previous post indicates that they commenced their activity selfishly rather than altruistically.  The question is not at odds with the action of the lepers as the story opens the audience to how unlikely agents performing a unlikely task may still find success.
To which, it is necessary that I set out to change a slide of the sermon.  A revised slide is depicted at this linked post.

2 Kings 7 sermon, slide 1 of 15 (revised)

Have you ever been in such a state that you cannot resolve yourself towards any action?,
Have you ever been so lost as to what to do that you neglect to ask of God?
Today's talk will allow you to observe how four men went from a stricken situation to restoration. 

Let's pray before we begin [pray]

For today’s talk I want to take you to Samaria in the year 550BC.  Samaria was the centre of the Northern Kingdom of Israel.  You’ll observe on this map that Samaria is a name used for both a region and a town.  The town of Samaria is in the centre of this map.  Samaria is to the north of Jerusalem.  Samaria is known to you in the New Testament in that it is where the Good Samaritan came from.  The woman Jesus met at Jacob’s well – as told in John 4 is a Samaritan woman.

Slide 2 is linked.