Matt Postiff's Blog
Back on March 18, 2016, Dr. Kyle Dunham presented on the matter of holy war in the Rice Lecture series at Detroit Baptist Theological Seminary. This article is not a review but rather a summary of of things that I learned or noted while I listened to Dr. Dunham. Consider it a after-the-fact live blog of the event! These are listed in the order I wrote them down, not in any other order.
- Motivating factors for God were compassion and deliverance of His people. The deliverance through holy war was a blessing to them.
- Holy war starts in Exodus.
- God is active or passive/permissive in holy war, not always the former.
- God sometimes had holy war against Israel!
- Justice is another key motivation behind holy war. See Deut. 16.
- Holy war was used to establish Israel (against Egypt) and to preserve it from bondage or peril.
- Dr. Dunham takes a dispensational approach to holy war.
- We can see echoes of holy war in the book of Revelation, including trumpets in both.
- We have to maintain a connection between holy war and hte land and its consecration.
- Holy war is a fulfillment of Abrahamic curses on the enemies and blessings on the nation of Israel. Unless, of course, the people of Israel departed from God, and then he turned the instrument of holy war against them!
- Holiness is another motivating factor behind holy war, and teh resultant moral protection of God's people.
- The gift of the land to Israel is another motivation behind holy war.
- The idea of gradual displacement.
- Key resources include Von Rad 1951, Copan and Flannagan, Qureshi's Answering Jihad.
- Not about Haman the Agagite. Perhaps he was an Amalekite and maybe he hated Israel for the reason that the Israelites had victory over the Amalekites years earlier.
- Holy war consisted in judgment against groups that threatened Israel's existence or that were sinful, committing sins such as infanticide. These require a proportional response.
- Kev difficult texts include Deut 7 and 20:16-17.
- Genocide charges must be limited to the issue of herem, the so-called ban or devotion to total destruction.
- Dunham gave a careful definition of herem. He linked idolatry (which is demonic worship) into the idea, with Lev. 27:21. God has a claim on the land.
- Herem is a purging followed by a reconstruction or re-populating of the land.
- Herem is 1. capital punishment of many people; 2. conflagration; 3. repopulation; 4. connection to the temple. It is about the land and the nation, it is not racially motivated. We could say that it is religiously motivated in a sense./li>
- Herem prevented "exchange" from happening between cultures and was a way to implement separation from idolatry.
- Herem echoes the genesis flood in terms of purification and the mass killing of many sinful people. I noted this seems to echo more the holiness of God than Herem per se.
- The Canannite people are connected to the curse on Canaan due to sexual perversion (Genesis 9:20-27).
- Gave a definition of Jihad, and showed a progression of violence, and the distinction with Yahweh War in the Old Testament.
- Sacred geography in Yahweh wars are for one nation; focused on false gods, not on unbelievers. I believe this would be a slim distinction lost on the world.
- Yahweh War includes proportional violence, versus no limit in Jihad. God's war is an act of justice proportionate to the crime committed.
- Islam propagates through Jihad; Holy War protects the people of Israel.
- Christian Bible preserves life; Islam dose not, and extols the martyr.
- Just war principles (Grotius and others). Mentioned 7 facts about war. Mentioned O'donovan and Just war theory with parallels to God's War.
- Israel is preserved for Messiah, and (this is a key addition) God loves Israel so he preserves them until the eschaton too.
- Dunham diagrams Yahweh Wars with first the infinite transcendence of God, second His holiness, justice, and righteousness, third His truth, faithfulness and veracity, and fourth with His love and compassion. The entries under "second" are motivations, as well as compassion in "fourth." God says that the Canaanites were sinners. As sinners today look more like Canannites, they see those "victims of Yahweh war" as more and more innocent.
- Yahweh war is tied to Israel, so we don't have to find out how to fit it into the New Testament or the church.
- I had a question: So is "NT" Yahweh War against the believer's sin our "greater jihad" as in Galatians 5 whereas in the OT is the "lesser jihad"?
- We take a defensive posture in NT spiritual war (standing our ground against the wiles of the devil, etc.)
- Resource from David Cook on Jihad.
- Holy War comes back as Israel comes back into focus in Gods' program in the eschaton. As they receive focus, holy war themes come into more focus, as in during the Tribulation.
First, be reading your Bible very regularly. Second, consider some resources that remind you what to look for. I have written a fairly detailed and, frankly, blunt, guide to finding what I would consider a good church. I call it the A Regular Person's Guide on How to Find a Good Church.
I read this morning:
And now I ask you...that we love one another. And this is love, that we walk according to his commandments...For many deceivers have gone out into the world, those who do not confess the coming of Jesus Christ in the flesh. (2 John 5-7, ESV)
The juxtaposition of three ideas caught my attention: loving one another, keeping His commandments, and "because" many deceivers are out there not acknowledging the coming of Christ. Not only is the presence of deceivers a motivation to emphasize love in the Christian community, but also such deception is far from the kind of obedient love that John says characterizes the true believer.
Love and deception don't go together; love and deception on the doctrine of Christ really don't go together.
I've been reflecting on raising my sons and some practical wisdom a middle age man who came to faith in Christ later in life might be able to share with next generation of young Christian men. Some of these are from mistakes I've made and learned the hard way. Some are from watching others do the same. But all of them can be gleaned directly or indirectly from Scripture. I pray you find them helpful. Feel free to share.
1. Truly commit and surrender your life to God. Put every decision and direction in His hands. You won't go wrong.
2. Get knowledge. Get wisdom. Get direction. First and foremost in God and then in your relationship with God to seek your calling – a calling that you are passionate about and to which God is leading. It may be secular or it may be sacred or it may be both. It may take 5, 10, 20 years and it may change in 5, 10, 20 years. But make sure God is leading it.
3. Pride kills. You aren't all that. You don’t know what you don't know. Walk wisely. Ask questions. Think before you speak. If you are angry, think longer and pray. If you are still angry, keep thinking and pray harder. True humility will honor God and benefit you much more than any level of pride.
4. Be content. In Christ your hope and future is secure. Trust in and learn from what God is doing in and through you now. You may not have everything you want, but I'll bet you have everything you need. Is it enough? The truthful answer is yes.
5. Don't go into debt. Period. It’s hard to be flexible to where and when God calls you when you have debt looming over you. "The borrower is servant to the lender" is true. Don't do it. Don't.
6. Give First to God. Spend wisely. Don’t accumulate. There is very little you really need. I understand the pull of "stuff." But you will end up throwing away or Craigslisting the majority of the "stuff" and the money spent will not have aided anyone. And if you have it, you have to maintain it. And that costs as well. It's hard to be flexible to God's call when you have all this "stuff" to deal with and maintain.
7. Travel light. This goes with don't accumulate. This is especially true as you remain single. What you truly need can probably fit in a good backpack. God may call you in an instant to be out the door and moving for His purposes. Be ready.
8. Don't waste your time. You lose valuable time and opportunity when you spend hours playing video games, watching movies, TV, etc. A little diversion from time to time is good. Obsessing is bad. PS – once you invest in the big TV and/or the gaming system, you're sunk. Don't do it. Don't.
9. Let God lead your love life. Honor God. Honor your prospective wife. Honor her parents. Honor your parents. Don't enter into a relationship without the view to marriage. Don’t enter into a relationship without the prospective spouse sharing your faith, values and direction in life.
10. Live close to your church. Live close to where you work. It's hard to be involved in your church and your community and to invite those from work and the community to church when you are a long distance from either. An ideal distance? You can ride a bicycle to church and to work if you needed (or wanted) too.
11. Stay fit physically. Stay fit mentally. Eat good things in moderation. Exercise. Take down time. Yes you can get in shape pretty quickly now, but in 20 years, it's a battle. And...you may need to ride a bike to church. Watch what you put into your mind or let society put into your mind. In addition to your Bible, read good books. Choose your entertainment wisely; once it gets in your mind, it's impossible to get out.
12. Build relationships. Not on Facebook, not on Twitter. Sit down with people. Get to know, care for and love them. Invest in people – especially those in your church – you are part of that body. Get to know those in your community. Get to know those in your place of work. Jesus had compassion on the masses when He saw them; get out from behind the screens and go see them.
Under the heading of how Christian values interact with technology, I thought I would illustrate how Microsoft is pushing its Windows 10 operating system with some underhanded techniques.
I have come to the conclusion that I do not want Windows 10. I like Windows 7 just fine, and I don't have time to introduce more bugs into my desktop or laptop because I am too busy using them for other productive purposes. I don't need to mess up my work tools with more interface experimentation by Microsoft. So, I have edited the appropriate registry keys to turn off the Windows 10 upgrade; I have removed the KB3035583 update that hawks the update; and I hid that update when it reappeared. Yet Microsoft is still pushing the update.
Here's how they do it. After I did everything above, in Windows update, it shows this update:
Update for Windows 7 for x64-based Systems (KB3035583)
Despite the fact that earlier I hid that update, it has put a check mark beside it and wants to automatically install it. It classes the update is an "Important" update. Strike one.
Then, it describes the update this way: "Install this update to resolve issues in Windows. For a complete listing of the issues that are included in this update, see the associated Microsoft Knowledge Base article for more information." But if you visit the Knowledge Base article, it says, "This update installs the Get Windows 10 app that helps users understand their Windows 10 upgrade options and device readiness." That doesn't sound like something that "resolves issues in Windows." Maybe it would be correct if it advertised the update as "Install this update to create issues in Windows." This is deceitful "bait and switch" advertising. Strike two.
Then, it adds in the optional update section another update that has to do with Windows 10:
Basically, I want Microsoft to keep its hands off my computer! It doesn't belong to them. More than that, don't deceive when you publish updates. Just tell what they are up front, and don't try to sneak your way into my system. Deceit is not a good way to operate.
Microsoft's entire experiment starting with Windows 8 trying to integrate desktop with touch and make small and large devices operate just the same has been a failure. Take a cue from Apple and have two operating systems: one for small devices and one for large ones. Distinguish them. And don't ruin a good thing with Windows 7. Or perhaps if you are truly interested in upgrading the "under the hood" stuff, give me the option to have a user experience that I like, say with a Windows 7 desktop on top of a Windows 10 base OS. That should be easy enough to provide.
I can hear some of my zealous friends out there saying, "Hey, just dump Microsoft and get a Mac!" That is a temptation... However, I'm more likely to go all Linux.
If you are interested in learning some Hebrew vocabulary, listen in to these audio recordings. The first lesson contains words that occur 1000 or more times in the Hebrew Bible; each successive lesson covers words by groups in decreasing order of frequency of occurrence.
- Lesson 1: 1000+
- Lesson 2: 500-999
- Lesson 3: 400-500
- Lesson 4: 310-399
- Lesson 5: 270-309
- Lesson 6: 220-269
- Lesson 7: 200-219
- Lesson 8: 175-199
- Lesson 9: 160-174
- Lesson 10: 144-159
- Lesson 11: 134-143
- Lesson 12: 121-133
- Lesson 13: 112-120
- Lesson 14: 112-120
Credit for this list is due to Dr. R. Bruce Compton of Detroit Baptist Theological Seminary, but its origin before his time I do not know.
With this post, I am publishing the annual set of Bible reading schedules that I have prepared for the past six (now seven) years.
- Read the New Testament once
- Read the New Testament twice
- Read the New Testament four times
- Read the Old Testament once
- Key chapters for young readers
- Read the book of Acts and New Testament letters in just four and a half months, in chronological order
If you would like another schedule that takes you through the entire Bible in the year, and with some chronological ordering in it, check out this schedule from bibleclassmaterial.com.
This time from the archive: 10 pages of typewritten notes for a pastors seminar in Bucksport Maine, May 10-12, 1976. The topic was premillennialism, post-tribulationism, and pre-tribulationism. This is also available as a Word document that is searchable.
Tri-Lakes Baptist Church in Brighton is offering a marriage retreat for couples. It is September 11-12, Friday and Saturday. Friday the retreat starts at 6:30pm and Saturday it starts again at 9:00am. The speaker will be Jim Newcomer.
Christians often reflect on what they have been saved FROM. We need to also carefully consider what we have been saved TO. The privileges that we obtain, by God's grace through salvation, are amazing. They surpass some of the blessings that saints of old experienced. Those who don't share what we have ought to be jealous because of what we have! Here are three:1. Friendship with God
Abraham was called the friend of God (James 2:23). "So the LORD spoke to Moses face to face, as a man speaks to his friend" (Exodus 33:11).
Jesus said, "You are My friends, if you do whatever I command you" (John 15:14).2. Favored Status before God
To Mary, it was said, "Rejoice, highly favored one, the Lord is with you; blessed are you among women!" (Luke 1:28).
Of all believers, the Bible says that God has "predestined us to adoption as sons by Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the good pleasure of His will, to the praise of the glory of His grace, by which He has made us highly favored in the Beloved" (Ephesians 1:5-6, slightly adapted from NKJV to reflect that the same verb is used here as in Luke 1:28).3. Access to the King and Privilege to Make Petitions
"We have access by faith into this grace in which we stand" (Romans 5:2). "In Him we have boldness and access with confidence through faith in Him" (Ephesians 3:12). "And whatever we ask we receive from Him, because we keep His commandments (1 John 3:22). "Now this is the confidence that we have in Him, that if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us. And if we know that He hears us, whatever we ask, we know that we have the petitions that we have asked of Him" (1 John 5:14-15).
We don't have the same face-to-face access to God that say Moses had, but later on that will change: "And there shall be no more curse, but the throne of God and of the Lamb shall be in it, and His servants shall serve Him. They shall see His face, and His name shall be on their foreheads" (Revelation 22:3-4).
There are more such blessings. I hope to add to this list soon.
I have written an outline of the book of Acts. Hopefully it will be a help to you. I like the six major sections, but the symmetry of the headings could be improved so that all six focus on the church instead of #4 focusing on Herod and #6 on Paul. It is a work in progress, but it is getting close!
I was glad to see that more DBSJ articles are now available online at the Seminary website. The articles include many from the journal from 1996 through 2013. Subscription information can be found there as well if you are interested in receiving the most recent articles and book reviews. The DBSJ articles are also available at the Galaxie Software site.
I had tracked the journal electronically up through volume 15 using Galaxie Software's Theological Journal Library CD, but lost track of it after TJLCD volume 12. Then the TJL transitioned over to Logos and I have not managed to get up-to-date on the journals in Logos 6 because it is not clear to me how to go from where I am to the updated collection.
A new Bible book outline is available on the Book of Leviticus.
Moses penned words of this book at God's direct instruction. It covers the law of offerings, the induction of Aaron and his sons into priestly ministry, various regulations for the priests and the people, annual feasts, redemption of property and people sold in various circumstances, and a strong chapter covering the blessings for obedience to the Law and the curses for disobedience.
Other Bible book outlines are available here.
From Voice of the Martyrs, I share this:
- Pray that persecuted believers will sense God's presence (Heb. 13:5).
- Pray that they will feel connected to the greater Body of Christ (1 Cor. 12:20, 26).
- Pray that they will experience God's comfort when their family members are killed, injured or imprisoned for their witness (2 Cor. 1:3-5).
- Pray that they will have more opportunities to share the gospel (Col. 4:3).
- Pray for their boldness to make Christ known (Phil. 1:14).
- Pray that they will forgive and love their persecutors (Matt. 5:44).
- Pray that their ministry activities will remain undetected by authorities or others who wish to silence them (Acts 9:25).
- Pray that they will rejoice in suffering (Acts 5:41).
- Pray that they will be refreshed through God's Word and grow in their faith (Eph. 6:17).
- Pray that they will be strengthened through the prayers of fellow believers (Jude 20-25).
Why do I not recommend the KJV? Archaic and strange words are a key reason.
Romans 9:25—As he saith also in Osee, I will call them my people, which were not my people; and her beloved, which was not beloved.
This is supposed to be Hosea.
Ephesians 1:19—And what is the exceeding greatness of his power to us-ward who believe, according to the working of his mighty power.
This should be toward us.
Philippians 1:22—But if I live in the flesh, this is the fruit of my labour: yet what I shall choose I wot not.
This should be I do not know.
Matthew 2:17—Then was fulfilled that which was spoken by Jeremy the prophet, saying...
Matthew 3:3—For this is he that was spoken of by the prophet Esaias...
These should be Jeremiah and Isaiah, respectively.
I often look at the KJV in my studies, and I'm not trying to "bash" it. I'm just saying that it is not helpful for the modern English reader to have to slog through such archaisms to understand the Word of God. The 1769 revision stands in serious need of an update. Actually the NKJV has provided that update and could simply be called the KJV for this era. There are several other very good translations available which provide today's English reader with a more accurate and understandable translation of the Bible.
On Wednesday evenings, we just finished studying a series on faith.
We saw unbelief, little faith, imperfect faith, great faith, repentant faith, and self-confident faith.
We learned some ways to remedy imperfect faith, such as thanking God that He has given us the gift of faith in the first place, even if it is not fully formed in us as it should be. We saw that we can seek God's help. We can cultivate a self-examining faith. We can also follow Biblical examples during our trials and obey Biblical commands that have to do with improving our faith.
We also reminded ourselves that no matter how imperfect our faith may be, regardless of our performance or strength of faith, the object of our faith—God—is perfect and great beyond description. Thanks be to God!
Finally, we looked at the case of Mary and Martha regarding the death of their brother Lazarus, recorded in John 11. They said, "If you had been with us, our brother would not have died." And, "I know that he will rise again in the resurrection at the last day." Sometimes we have great faith in the abstract. "If" in the past or "sometime in the future." But what about right now in the present? Do you have faith in the Lord? If someone gets sick, we believe in the abstract the Lord can heal them or give them grace to persevere and die well. But what about when "I" am sick "right now"? Do we trust God then? Let us ask God to grant faith in Him that grows strong and does not falter.
For more, view the full set of notes.
One of those things that's been in the back of my mind for a while to do is to write a Bible reading schedule that takes you chronologically through the book of Acts and epistles of Paul. I added in James just for fun, and produced a 4-month, one-chapter-per-day reading schedule. Try it out sometime and let me know what you think.
The 2015 Bible reading schedules are available as PDF files (below) and soon will also be available on the front page of our site, in left menu bar under the Bible Guide.
Why should you regularly read the Bible? Because you are not supposed to live by bread alone, but by every word of God (Matthew 4:4, Luke 4:4, Deuteronomy 8:3).
A new Bible book outline is available on the Book of 2 Peter.
Peter's second letter reminds the readers about their Christian growth, warns them about false teachers that will come into their midst, and reminds again about coming judgment. The second chapter contains a lot of the same material in Jude, and I lean toward the view that understands Jude to have come after 2 Peter in this regard.
Besides providing an outline of the book, I expose in the aforementioned document some my process in arriving at the outline that I did. If you want to know how I arrived at the outline, this will be of some interest to you.
Recently I received this question:
I've been thinking about the verse in Psalm 66:18: "If I regard iniquity in my heart, the Lord will not hear me." I understand this to mean that if we are sinning that the Lord will not hear our prayers. It seems as though we (as humans) are sinning all of the time, whether we know it or not. Does this refer to sin we know about that we haven't confessed? If so, where does the forgiveness of our sins as born-again believers fit into this?
I sent back this reply:
Great question. That is a convicting verse, isn't it?
I have understood the verse to mean that if we we are trying to hide sin in our hearts, the Lord will not hear our prayers. In other words, it does not mean only "if we are sinning" but
- "if we are sinning and like it," or
- "if we are sinning and trying to hide it from God," or
- "if we are sinning and not confessing it to God," or
- "if we are sinning and we know about it = regard it but don't do anything about it,"
that is when the Lord will not hear us. This is because we are being hypocrites if we sin in one 'part' of our life, and then pretend there is no sin in the prayer-part of our life, as if the parts can be separated one from another.
We do sin frequently, but we can also have the blood of Jesus Christ constantly cleansing us as well, providing forgiveness as we confess sin to God.
We should also note that it is not God's auditory processing faculty that is blocked by sin, as if He had ear plugs in His ears. "Hearing" refers to acknowledging, answering, or doing something about the prayers offered. God doesn't acknowledge the prayers of those who try to hide sin in their hearts. His ears are open to the prayers of the righteous, but His face is against those who do evil (1 Peter 3:12).
The last part of the question is an even bigger matter. I think you are talking about sin being dealt with once for all versus how we have to deal with it daily. This has to do on the one hand with the legal forgiveness of sins that establishes our relationship with God, and on the other hand with the family forgiveness that maintains the close family fellowship with God. I think you will be helped if you read the article here.
In September, Thom Rainer's blog had an encouraging post on what characterizes men who have health long-term pastorates. I am a big fan of that approach, so it captured my attention.
- They pray daily for their church members and staff.
- They view their family as their first line of ministry.
- They connect with and love people in their community.
- They choose their battles carefully.
- They welcome structures that make them accountable.
- They spend time developing staff.
- They expect conflict and criticism.
- They connect with other pastors and ministries in the community.
- They affirm both theology and practical ministry.
- They ask long-term questions.
All the Psalms share the genre of Hebrew poetry. Among the 150 Psalms, there are groups or categories that share the same form and subject matter. These could be called "sub-genres," but I have elected to call them "categories." In this article, I provide a categorization of all the Psalms using a simple lettering system.
To see the entire document, please download this PDF. I provide it in the hopes that it will be helpful.
I feel that it could still use a lot of work. If anyone wants to take on the project of doing some spot checking the document, or even exhaustively checking it, be my guest. Let me know what you find!
A pastor friend sent me this list, written by Michael Hyatt. The following summarizes his points:
- They don't have enough confidence to lead at their level.
- They're arrogant, assuming they always know what's best. It takes confidence to lead. It also takes humility.
- They're disorganized.
- Their words and actions erode trust, even with their supporters.
- They over-promise and under-deliver. This one affects more than just politicians.
- They don't articulate a clear vision.
- They don't enroll others in their initiatives.
- They're not transparent. Openness encourages honesty.
- They're blind to what's happening in their own organizations.
- They don't hold people accountable—especially themselves.