Thursday, February 27, 2014

Nostalgic?

I was asked today whether I was feeling nostalgic. For a moment I did not understand the question but I realized that he meant that since I was leaving TTC soon, I must be feeling nostalgic. It is anything but nostalgic as far as I am concerned. I remembered preaching a sermon when I was just appointed pastor in 2003 that I would ready to go anywhere in 2 weeks. I have lived a life without encumbrances or ties that will hinder one from moving forward or moving from one place to another as the Lord leads. I have few possessions, things I could easily dispose of in a fortnight.

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Targums of Isaiah 59:21 "The Words of my Prophecy"

Only in the Targums of Isaiah we find the expression "the words of my prophecy" coupled with the Spirit which is promised to the restored people of Israel: Isaiah 59:21 (MT) "As for me, this is my covenant with them," says the LORD. "My Spirit, who is on you, and my words [Targums: words of my prophecy] that I have put in your mouth will not depart from your mouth, or from the mouths of your children, or from the mouths of their descendants from this time on and forever," says the LORD.

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

3 Days before 40-Day Wait

I told a pastor friend on the 19th January that I would wait and pray for 40 days before doing anything about my future. This 40-day period is up in 3 days and by the 28th Feb, I think I will be a bit more pro-active in seeking for ministry openings. Not that I am in a hurry and if it is at all possible I don't mind taking 6 months off work or even one year long sabbatical. I have many reasons to take an extended time off, physically I feel tired about preaching and teaching for 6 years without much of a rest. In the past 5 months I have preached 30 times and in the next 2 weeks I shall be conducting a day-long seminar on Revelation in Singapore and then in Kuala Lumpur. Who is adequate for all these?

Monday, February 24, 2014

The Targums of Isaiah

Having spent the last couple of months on the Septuagint (LXX), I am now turning to the Targums, which are a translation of the Hebrew Scriptures into Aramaic, a local dialect that has been used widely since the post-exilic times in Yehud and certainly the majority tongue of most Israelites in Jesus' time. The targums are dated 50 years or 100 years before Christ, probably just slightly later than the Qumran scrolls of the mid 2nd century BCE. That the targums could have been influential in the writings of the New Testament are without doubt seeing that most Jewish authors of the New Testament knew Aramaic better than Hebrew with the exception of Paul the former pharisee turned apostle and Matthew who was probably a scribe (Matt 13) cum tax collector who later left his tax booth to follow Jesus.

The Future Jerusalem Temple in the New Testament

I still hear and read that the temple of God in Jerusalem plays no more role in the New Testament since its destruction in 70 CE. But the biblical text of the New Testament from three sources tells otherwise - from three major authors of the New Testament, all apostles, namely, Matthew, Paul and John as follows:

Saturday, February 22, 2014

Crowded Buses & Crowded Libraries

It is good that I won't be preaching tomorrow. So today I have some quality time of my own, doing what I like doing which is reading in the Central public library. But getting there from Upper Bukit Timah was a trial. I had to take 2 buses and the 960 bus was jammed pack with shoulder to shoulder standing space. I didn't mind standing the whole 45 minutes' journey as I really looked forward to getting my hands on a book which I saw online. I quickly proceeded to Level 8 of the Research section and got myself  day pass (free, to think of it TTC library day pass costs 5 sing dollars).

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

LXX Psalm 95:5 (MT 96:5)

Have you ever wondered why Paul the apostle equate worshipping idols or eating foods sacrificed to idols as worshipping demons in 1 Cor 10:19-21? What am I saying then? That an idol is anything, or what is offered to idols is anything? 20 Rather, that the things which the Gentiles sacrifice they sacrifice to demons and not to God, and I do not want you to have fellowship with demons. 21 You cannot drink the cup of the Lord and the cup of demons; you cannot partake of the Lord's table and of the table of demons. Knowing both the MT and LXX of Psalm 96:5 (LXX 95:5) may provide a clue to Paul's argument. The MT of Psalm 96:5 reads, "all the gods of the nations are idols" while in the OG or LXX translation the reading is "all the gods of the nations are demons".

Sunday, February 16, 2014

"God looks at the Heart" (1 Sam 16:7)

It was tough this morning. I am thankful that the church did not chase me for my sermon outline. I would have given them an old sermon if they did. So I waited on the Lord during the week-end. Normally I would have finished by Saturday morning and have it sent off so that the interpreter has time to go through the text. But I was tired on Friday after my exertions on 1 Corinthians on Thursday and my mind was blank until yesterday. I knew what I wanted to say but it was simply how to put the whole message across. I spoke about "Heart Matters: God looks at the Heart" based on 1 Sam 16:7.

Friday, February 14, 2014

Lecturing 1 Corinthians

I was feeling the effect of early rising yesterday when I had to lecture on 1 Corinthians to a class of 36 students, 24 men and 12 women. Invariably the question came to the problem of women's ministry. I was prepared but it was only 15 minutes explaining some of the key ideas behind Paul's teaching in ch. 11 and ch. 14. Paul uses three arguments. First, the argument based on social norms of the first century Greco-Roman world where women wore veils and even have a shawl over her head if they go out of their homes. Second, the argument based on nature whereby women have long hair and men short hair. Already nature has given long hair to the woman as a covering and cutting one's hair or going bald for a woman was a sign of a prostitute in Corinth. Thus the sign of authority which Paul asked the Corinthian women to have on their heads serve two purposes.

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

LXX Psalm 137 (MT Ps 138)

"I will sing before angels", David says in LXX Ps 137.1 rather than "I will sing before the gods" in the MT. Is this difference important? Yes it is as Paul seems to have been influenced by the LXX version when the apostle wrote to the Corinthians that women's heads should be covered because of or on account of the angels (1Cor 11.10).

Monday, February 10, 2014

LXX Amos 4:13

LXX Amos 4:13 For, behold, I am he that strengthens the thunder, and creates the wind, and proclaims to men his Christ, forming the morning and the darkness, and mounting on the high places of the earth, The Lord God Almighty is his name.

I hope in the next few weeks highlight why it is essential for New Testament studies to major in the Septuagint (LXX), the Greek translation of the Old Testament. In the above Amos 4's text, we have the reading of God announcing his anointed one (Christ) among men in the LXX text, something not found in the Hebrew MT. Is this another proto-messianic text of the OT? The LXX translated around 250 BC evidences an increasing interest in the coming Messiah as it would suggest or possibly the LXX translates from an older Hebrew tradition or vorlage than the MT.

Sunday, February 2, 2014

New Year's Sermon "New Name, White Stone & Hidden Manna"

I preached for 40 minutes today though it was meant for 30 minutes. It was a combined service so I did not feel I had to stop for the sake of stopping or keeping to tradition if the Lord wanted to continue to speak to His people. It was full house with an additional wing of the church opened and at least 500 or more people attended the first Sunday of the Lunar New Year. I preached on the passage given to me, "Rev 2:10-17", Jesus' words to the church in Pergamum but I titled the sermon, "Hidden Manna, White Stone, a New Name", the three promises given to the overcomers of the church. I felt the Lord's presence after going through the sermon or should I say that the sermon finally gelled in my mind when I was on my bed from 10pm to 12:30am tossing and turning, trying to get some sleep and rise early for the 7.30am service. I spoke about the missing sentence, "I know your works" in Pergamum's letter and explained that perhaps that city was so evil (Satan's throne and dwelling place) that the church could only hold on to the name of Jesus but could not do much work in the city. I told the church that in the world today, there are many countries where preaching the Gospel is banned and there are countries where churches are deemed illegal associations and there is no such thing as religious freedom as we enjoy in Singapore.

Saturday, February 1, 2014

A Word for Every Season: Reading the Psalms

If one reads five Psalms a day, one would finish the whole Psalter in a month. Five Psalms in meditative reading take about 20 minutes and if you read one chapter from the Old Testament and one chapter from the New Testament, at most it will take you 30-35 minutes of your time each morning to read through OT and NT with five Psalms of David. Psalms are simply amazing for each Psalm or a string of Psalms speaks a word in season.

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