God remembered

I was recently going through a sermon series on Genesis when I noticed two separate references to God ‘remembering’. That prompted me to go on a search in the Old Testament narratives for other similar wording.

But first, does God ‘remembering’ something or someone imply that He forgot? Short answer: no. Long answer: this and many other descriptions used of God in the Bible are anthropomorphisms, which I briefly mentioned in this post. Simply put, God is described in human terms so that we can understand. God is all-knowing, and if He forgot something that would mean that a human would know something He doesn’t, which destroys His omniscience. (No, I didn’t come up with that on my own 🙂

So what does the Bible say He remembers?

  • He remembers men (and animals)
    • But God remembered Noah and all the wild animals and the livestock that were with him in the ark, and he sent a wind over the earth, and the waters receded. —Genesis 8:1
    • So when God destroyed the cities of the plain, he remembered Abraham, and he brought Lot out of the catastrophe that overthrew the cities where Lot had lived. —Genesis 19:29
  • He remembers women
    • Then God remembered Rachel; he listened to her and opened her womb.  —Genesis 30:22
    • Early the next morning they arose and worshiped before the LORD and then went back to their home at Ramah. Elkanah lay with Hannah his wife, and the LORD remembered her. So in the course of time Hannah conceived and gave birth to a son. She named him Samuel, saying, “Because I asked the LORD for him.” —1 Samuel 1:19-20
  • He remembers His covenant
    • I will remember my covenant between me and you and all living creatures of every kind. Never again will the waters become a flood to destroy all life. Whenever the rainbow appears in the clouds, I will see it and remember the everlasting covenant between God and all living creatures of every kind on the earth.” —Genesis 9:15-16
    • God heard their groaning and he remembered his covenant with Abraham, with Isaac and with Jacob. —Exodus 2:24
    • Moreover, I have heard the groaning of the Israelites, whom the Egyptians are enslaving, and I have remembered my covenant. —Exodus 6:5
    • I will remember my covenant with Jacob and my covenant with Isaac and my covenant with Abraham, and I will remember the land. … But for their sake I will remember the covenant with their ancestors whom I brought out of Egypt in the sight of the nations to be their God. I am the LORD. —Leviticus 26:42, 45

Yay!

Reflections on Acts

I’m reading through the Bible in a year, and every month I (try to) post about what I’ve read. Other posts this month are on  Judges, Ruth, Jeremiah, Lamentations and  Romans. You may also read what I’ve blogged on Acts.

I’m gaining a greater appreciation for how the NT writers put their books together. One thing I’d never noticed is how Luke repeats the points he wants to emphasise:

  • There’s the coming of the Holy Spirit: for the Jews—chapter 2, for the Samaritans—chapter 8, for the God-fearing Gentiles—chapter 10 and for the Gentiles proper—chapter 18. The same Holy Spirit comes on all these disparate people, uniting them in Christ.
  • Saul’s conversion appears in three places: chapters 9, 22 and 26. The first account is the most familiar. The second recounting of his conversion takes place when Paul was speaking to the crowd in Jerusalem shortly after his arrest. The third time, Paul is speaking before Agrippa and Festus.
  • The incident with Cornelius also appears thrice: chapters 10, 11 and 15. First Luke narrates the events, then Peter retells them and finally Peter summarises them at the Jerusalem council.
  • The contents of the letter resulting from the deliberations of the Jerusalem council also appear thrice: 15:20, 15:29 and 21:25.

About Ananias and Sapphira: Continue reading

An overview of Acts

What was Luke’s purpose in writing the book of Acts? One possible answer is that he wanted to explain how Christianity went from being a predominantly Jewish phenomenon to a predominantly Gentile one. Or rather, to explain the geographic spread of the Gospel.

With this view in mind we can outline the book as follows: Jerusalem (chapters 1-7), Judea and Samaria (8-10), the ends of the (then-known) earth (11-28). This view is supported by Luke’s summary statements dispersed throughout the book (6:7, 9:31, 12:24, 16:4-5, 19:20).That said, it has to be noted that he focuses on only one trajectory: Jerusalem to Rome. We don’t know how the gospel spread to Crete (Titus 1:5), Illyricum (Romans 15:19), or Pontus, Cappadocia and Bithynia (1 Peter 1:1).

The summary statements mentioned in the previous paragraph could be considered as closing formulas, thus leading us to divide the book into 6 sections. Continue reading

Reflections on Ruth

I’m reading through the Bible in a year, and every month I (try to) post about what I’ve read. Other posts this month are on Judges, Acts, Jeremiah, Lamentations and Romans.

After Judges, reading Ruth is such a relief. No crazy appalling stuff going on, plus, a happy ending!

Elimelech (‘my God is king’) moves his family to Moab because of a famine in Judah. After some time, Elimelech dies, and so do his sons Mahlon (‘sickly’/ ‘invalid’) and Kilion (‘pining’/ ‘wasting away’). Twice the narrator tells us Naomi (‘the pleasant one’) was left (1:3, 1:5). On hearing that the famine was over, she decides to pack up and go home. A seemingly inconsequential act that had very far-reaching effects. Continue reading

What we can learn from Judges (2)

Continued from yesterday.

Jephthah

When we first meet him, we learn that Jephthah is the son of a prostitute and the leader of a band of outlaws. Yet Yahweh chooses him. He is best remembered for the vow he makes. A vow he probably shouldn’t have made, and one he certainly shouldn’t have kept.

Samson

At the beginning of chapter 13, there is no record of the Israelites crying out to God. And even though they need deliverance now, He takes His time growing a baby in the womb and on to adulthood.

The angel of the Lord appears first to Mrs Manoah, and then on Manoah’s request, returns and appears to both of them. Manoah asks the angel’s name, and the reply was, “It is wonderful.” In the next verse, the Lord did a wonderful thing as Manoah and his wife watched. Easy to miss that play on words! Continue reading

What we can learn from Judges (1)

This is a companion post to yesterday’s, in which I largely gave my ramblings on Judges. Here I’ll share what I’ve learnt from others, though I may also include my own observations. Starting from chapter 3, where I left off…

Othniel

His story in 3:7-11 reveals more about God than about him. The Lord, in His anger against their rebellion and idolatry,  sold the Israelites into the hands of Cushan Rishathaim (C.R.). When His people cried out, His Spirit empowered Othniel and He gave C.R. into Othniel’s hands (emphasis mine).

Ehud

Ehud is a left-handed man from the tribe of Benjamin, a name that means ‘son of my right hand’. The account of his encounter with Eglon (3:15-25) is funny, especially for members of the male gender (we ladies find it gross). But, hey, that’s how God chose to liberate His people.

Deborah, Barak, Jael

What are we to make of Barak’s statement in verse 8? The usual conclusion is that he is a coward. Maybe, maybe not. It could also be that he wanted assurance of God’s sanction, and Deborah’s presence would serve that purpose. Another possibility is that no one would have followed him into battle, but with Deborah at his side they would. Whatever the case, she consents without belittling him.

Verse 11 is a parenthetical statement whose significance soon becomes clear.  Isn’t it interesting that God works in trivial matters such as changes of residence? Continue reading

Reflections on Judges

I’m reading through the Bible in a year, and every month I (try to) post about what I’ve read. Other posts for this month are on Ruth, Acts, Jeremiah, Lamentations and Romans.

A few months back, I said that reading Numbers was discouraging. Well, reading Judges was almost depressing. I say almost because, however low the Israelites sank, Yahweh never abandoned them. And He is what keeps the story from being a cause for utter despair.

The book can be outlined as follows: 2 prologues (chapter 1 & 2), main body (chapters 3-16), two epilogues (chapters 17-18, 19-21). The arrangement is more thematic than chronological, because the epilogues deal with events earlier in the history of the nation. The main section, however, is chronological.

In chapter 1, the refrain is that the Israelites failed to drive out all the Canaanites living in the land. This sets us up for the rest of the book, since all their troubles derive from this failure. In chapter 2, the narrator summarises  chapters 3-16 in verses 16-19. The Israelites fell under foreign oppression, they cried out to the Lord, He sent a judge and all was well, the judge dies and they fall back into idolatry and eventually oppression. Rinse and repeat. There is no indication of true repentance in Judges, which makes God’s forbearance even more marvellous. Continue reading

I write like these authors

According to the site I Write Like, I write like:

Of all those, the only comparison that flatters me is the one to Jane Austen, who also happens to be the only author above whose work I’ve read.

The lesson I take away from this is that I should write more about cats if I want to be famous a couple of centuries from now!

Oh, and just for fun, I ran this post through the analyser. Result: (drumroll)…

I write like
Vladimir Nabokov

I Write Like by Mémoires, Mac journal software. Analyze your writing!

Extra: Read how the algorithm works.