Genesis Rebooted

April 29, 2015 — 3 Comments


A perennial interest for me over the past several years has been understanding the early chapters of Genesis. This reached its height while I was in my last couple of years at Dallas and I was able to take Hebrew III and IV, as well as a Ph.D seminar on ancient Near East literature. Couple all this my reading of John Walton, and you get this blog series:

For reasons I don’t quite remember (probably busyness), I obviously didn’t finish Genesis 2. Other concerns came to the forefront as I wrapped up at Dallas, but you can tell by this string of reviews, it was still a subject of interest:

Now, as you can see from the stack of books pictured above, I’ve got quite a few books on the topic to work through. The top 2 are for actual reviews and the bottom three are books I picked up at TGC because they were good deals.

I’m not particularly sure what this series, if it even becomes that, will look like. Needless to say I’ll probably be posting thoughts on my reading over the summer. But beyond that, I’m not sure if it will all take systematic shape. I’d like to pick back up with Genesis 2, but I might need to go back and reshape my thoughts on the first chapter in the process. My views, to pardon the pun, haven’t evolved drastically since I wrote the Genesis series and then taught high school biology for a year. But, there are many questions I still have and am working through so I thought it’d be best to do that on here. If there’s something particular you’d like to see me wrestle through, let me know!

BlueStarIn my daily Bible reading plan, I just started Numbers over the weekend. I’ve been following the M’Cheyne plan and working through D. A. Carson’s For the Love of God (you can do so as well at this blog). Numbers is not usually high on anyone’s list of anticipated devotional reading. I can generally sympathize with this, but I think Numbers gets a bad rap for at least a couple of reasons.

First, most people encounter it after committing to read the Bible in a year, and they’ve gotten to Numbers after all the rules and regulations in Leviticus. The excitement of the Exodus is long gone, and the story seems stalled. If this is the only Bible reading you’re doing every morning, it can seem tedious and boring.

Second, the book starts off with the type of Scripture we seem to cherish the least: lists of names. Most people don’t relish reading genealogies and organizational flow charts, but the early chapters of Numbers seem to be very much that. Censuses and camp layouts are not exactly something I feel like I can apply to my life today.

But, as you continue reading, Numbers has actually has some pretty interesting and important stories. While everyone’s familiar with John 3:16, not everyone may realize the story involving Moses in John 3:14-15 comes from Numbers. In chapter 21, because of their continual grumbling, the Israelites are dealing with very deadly snakes on the plain. In order to be saved they must look to a bronze serpent that Moses has been instructed to lift up on a stick. Those who look to the serpent will be healed from their bites. The name for this serpent on a stick is the Nehushtan, and it may be an underlying source or inspiration for the Rod of Asclepius, which you might recognize from being on the emergency services star of life (among other places). If that’s the case, the symbol of healing in our medical services is also the symbol John said represents true healing found in Christ.

Further, consider what Paul says in 1 Corinthians 10:

For I do not want you to be unaware, brothers, that our fathers were all under the cloud, and all passed through the sea, and all were baptized into Moses in the cloud and in the sea, and all ate the same spiritual food, and all drank the same spiritual drink. For they drank from the spiritual Rock that followed them, and the Rock was Christ. Nevertheless, with most of them God was not pleased, for they were overthrown in the wilderness.

Now these things took place as examples for us, that we might not desire evil as they did. Do not be idolaters as some of them were; as it is written, “The people sat down to eat and drink and rose up to play.” We must not indulge in sexual immorality as some of them did, and twenty-three thousand fell in a single day. We must not put Christ to the test, as some of them did and were destroyed by serpents, nor grumble, as some of them did and were destroyed by the Destroyer. Now these things happened to them as an example, but they were written down for our instruction, on whom the end of the ages has come. Therefore let anyone who thinks that he stands take heed lest he fall. No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it. (1 Corinthians 10:1-13, ESV)

While most people might be familiar with the last verse, the stories that Paul alludes to mostly take place in Numbers. He says in verse 6 that these stories took place as examples for us. The “us” in the original was Paul and the Corinthians, but it also applies to “us” today. Especially considering how often we draw correlations between the Corinthian climate and our American culture, it seems like what Paul thought was applicable for them is easily applicable for us. As Gordon Wenham comments,

For the writers of the New Testament the book of Numbers stands as a great warning. Despite the miraculous deliverance from Egypt, and the daily evidences of God’s provision for their needs, Israel refused to believe and rebelled against their Saviour. Numbers records a trail of spectacular judgments that ought to provoke caution in every believer.

In this passage Paul describes the experiences of Israel in the wilderness in such a way as to make clear the parallels with the situation at Corinth. Most of the sins of Corinth are thus prefigured in Numbers, and if Israel was punished so severely, what can the church of the new covenant expect?(Numbers, 56-57)

In their Introduction to The Old Testament, Longman and Dillard suggest “Each generation of Christians should place themselves in the position of the new generation of the book of Numbers. God has acted redemptively in our midst, and by so doing, he has given our lives meaning and hope. Just like the Numbers generation, we are called upon to respond to God’s grace with obedience” (100). Reading Numbers in that light, genealogies included, can surely prove profitable to the Christian life. At the end of the day, the struggle may simply be that reading Numbers well requires thought beyond the time it takes to read the chapters in order to see Christ more clearly and understand how this part of Scripture can be profitable for teaching, reproof, correction and ultimately training in righteousness. I’m hoping to see that in the coming days and weeks and will have some more to share as I move along.

Between The Buried and Me isn’t for everyone, but I really appreciate their music. Ever since Alaska, I’ve been using their albums for night driving and working out (and occasionally studying). Looks like they have a new album coming out in July, which I’ll probably go ahead and pre-order now.

Baudrillard makes a good point, though it can obviously be taken to extremes. There is no such thing as a no-spin zone, but that doesn’t mean news can’t be reported in some respects in a fair and balanced way. There is no such thing as un-biased reporting, but there is objective reporting. That is to say, no one can present anything in a completely neutral fashion, but they can make their presuppositions apparent and seek to present the information in a way that is open to public verification.


Once again, I had the pleasure of reading a volume in the IVP Academic’s New Studies in Biblical Theology series and telling you about it. This time, it’s Oren Martin’s lightly revised doctoral dissertation from SBTS, Bound For The Promised Land: The Land Promise in God’s Redemptive Plan. As someone who went to three different dispensational schools, this is a subject I’m still working my way through. I found Wellum and Gentry’s approach in Kingdom Through Covenant interesting, but wanted to do some more reading on the subject. Thankfully, Martin’s work arrived a few weeks back and I dug right in.

The book is a quick read, I enjoyed the bulk of it during a long Saturday by the pool at the beginning of spring break. Martin begins in the Promised Land, because it “occupies a special place for God’s people after the fall and exile from Eden, because it is the place where they will once again live under his lordship and experience his blessed presence” (17). In his study, Martin aims “to demonstrate that the land promised to Abraham advances the place of the kingdom that was lost in Eden and serves as a type throughout Israel’s history that anticipates the even greater land – prepared for all of God’s people through history – that will come as a result of the person and work of Christ.” To do this, Martin traces the land promise as it unfolds through Scripture.

The initial chapter continues by sketching out the current scholarship on the subject Martin is addressing. The need clearly emerges for a more comprehensive biblical theology of the Promised Land (20). Martin plans to offer that, proceeding on the assumption of continuity between the various parts of Scripture (21) and that the land is part an important part of the connection between biblical covenants (21). Additionally, Martin sees the importance of typology for his study (25-27), such that “the development of the land promise across the canon provides hermeneutical warrant to see its ultimate fulfilment in the new creation won by Christ” (27).

With these methodological foundations laid, Martin’s next chapter gives further grounding in the land and kingdom, specifically in reference to their appearance in the beginning (Gen 1-2) and end (Rev. 21-22). Then in chapters 3-6, Martin traces the land promise through Genesis, Exodus-Deuteronomy, Joshua-Kings, and finally the prophets. There is an interlude summarizing the Old Testament findings before Martin does the same tracing in Gospels (chapter 7), the Epistles (chapter 8), and finally Revelation (chapter 9). After another interlude concluding the New Testament findings, Martin closes with a chapter on his theological reflections.

He begins noting,

The land promised to Abraham advances the place of the kingdom that was lost in Eden and serves as a type throughout Israel’s history that anticipates an even greater land – prepared for God’s people that will come as a result of the person and work of Jesus Christ. In other words, the land and its blessings (type) find their fulfillment in the new heaven and new earth (antitype) won by Christ (161).

What follows in this chapter “aims to apply the interpretative findings of the previous chapters to eschatology” (162). Martin begins by relating his conclusions to dispensational thought. Martin differs from dispensational thought by arguing that “the unconditional nature of the Abrahamic covenant does not prove that the promise of land must be exclusively fulfilled to the nation of Israel in the future” (164). Further, he says “There are exegetical grounds both in the immediate context of the Abrahamic covenant and across the entire Old Testament to argue that God’s original intention for the land was not merely to be limited to the specific geographical boundaries of Canaan” (166). This runs contra the charge normally leveled against non-dispensational thought by making the argument by developing the Old Testament line of thought rather than simply arguing that the New Testament fulfillment in Christ cancels out the Old Covenant promises (or something roughly similar to that).

I am inclined to agree with Martin’s conclusions here when it comes to the land promises, but I’d be interested to see dispensational responses to his argument. When it comes to comparing his conclusions to covenantal thought, Martin says, “covenant theology tends to move from the Old Testament to the New too quickly before comprehensively developing the land theme across the Old Testament, both in its historical and epochal horizons. When this process is accomplished, the New Testament demonstrates both when and how the Old Testament is brought to fulfillment in Christ, though in a way that does not reinterpret, spiritualize or contravene the earlier texts” (168). Here again I would tend to agree, but I wonder if some more well-develop covenantal biblical theologies do just that. I’m currently reading Beale’s New Testament Biblical Theology and Martin even cites him approvingly contra Bruce Waltke (167), though both are covenantal. Beale may perhaps be more of a mediating figure than Waltke, standing with Martin over against more spiritualized readings of the Old Testament, but also contra martin in terms of his understanding of the covenant.

On the whole, there is much to benefit from in this volume. The land promise is central to the unfolding of God’s covenants with his people and is vital to explaining and understanding biblical theology. Martin’s volume is very readable and capable of guiding readers through just how the promised land is viewed in the Old and New Testaments. I would have preferred more than a final chapter with theological implications, but in order to devote the space needed to go through the testaments I can see how it would end up the way it did. Perhaps Martin will expand on this in the future in journal articles or another monograph. In the meantime, as you’re working through your understanding of the covenants, this is good volume to keep in mind, especially if you are of a strongly dispensational  or covenantal background.


Oren R. Martin, Bound For The Promised Land: The Land Promise in God’s Redemptive Plan (NSBT). Downers Grove, IL: IVP Academic, February 2015. Paperback, 208 pp. $25.00.

Buy itAmazon | Westminster

Visit the publisher’s page

Thanks to IVP Academic for the review copy!


This past week, I was a volunteer in the bookstore at The Gospel Coalition national conference. You might have picked that up already from Twitter, but just in case, now you know. You might have also seen the partial book review post that I hadn’t quite finished before its scheduled post date arrived. That review will post in full tomorrow.

This was my second TGC national conference and third April in a row at something like this. Because of online connections, and connections made in previous years, most of what I was looking forward to was hanging out with people. Being an introvert, this is always kind of weird. But, it was a great time and I’m glad that testing week coincided with the conference so I could go without taking a day off school.

I was in and out of the actual sessions, mainly because I knew I could listen to them online later. I went to one of the several workshops that were offered and stayed around past my bed time to go to the late night panel with Christ and Pop Culture. I was also grateful to be able to go to lunch with several other writers earlier in the day. I was able to meet up with several other friends and catch up and even made some new connections. I was also told I should be a manager at Lifeway because of my bookstore prowess.

One of the by-products of a conference like this is motivation. For me at least, being able to talk to other people about writing, ministry, and life in general helps to give me the encouragement to push on with some things and let others fall to the side. I came away from the conference more motivated to pursue writing projects, keep the Ph.D plan a live option, and really start pushing to raise support for SHIFT. You can sign up for our newsletter here to read our current support letter. If you have any advice on this kind of thing, I’d love to hear it!

The motivation that came from TGC was timely, especially in light of some reading I’ve been doing. I’ll put together a more complete post on that at some point, but the gist of it is that I need to focus on what is essential, rather than being spread so thin. Also, as I become more focused, especially in the area of teaching and ministry, it helps to trim down my library. It also helps focus on how much of a chunk of time book reviews are worth and what kind of writing might be better instead (or in addition to).

So hopefully the upcoming late spring and summer will turn into a season of focusing and growing in discipline with my time, talents, and treasure. I like having a lot on my plate, but it helps if it is mostly on one plate rather than several. Probably can’t get it down to just one, but I can group them together as much as possible and try to eliminate things in my schedule that don’t fit.

You might recognize the opening example’s similarity to the Aqedah of Abraham (Gen. 22). My thesis adviser liked to say that William James, and pragmatism in particular, was just Nietzsche with a smiling face.


It is hard to imagine a more relevant subject in our culture than the issue of homosexuality. Specifically, the issue at hand is how religious liberty and gay rights relate. A more pressing issue, in my mind at least, is how the church is to understand homosexuality and relate to persons who identify as gay

In light of all that, Kevin DeYoung has written a book on the topic and Westminster Bookstore is offering a really great deal on individual and bulk orders of the book. As part of that, they offered me a chance to read an advanced reader copy. While this is something I would usually turn down, there was no expectation of a full review. With that in mind, this isn’t a full review per se, but after reading through the book earlier this week, I wanted to make sure you knew about it. There will probably be no shortage of more interactive and even critical reviews, so just consider this a kind of preview of sorts.

First off, I hope Kevin DeYoung continues to write books. I think I’ve read all of his most recent ones with Crossway, and am always struck as his clarity and readability. This is a rather emotionally charged issue (to say the least) and DeYoung handles it well in his tone and rhetoric. Also, this book is both short and to the point, yet broad in the material it actually covers.

With that in mind, second, it’s worth noting that the book is exactly what the title says it is. Unlike his last book on Scripture, there is no extended subtitle. DeYoung looks at the main passages that refer to homosexuality in Scripture, then spends the remaining chapters answering some common objections using sound theological reasoning. It’s hard to ask for a better combination.

That being said, the third point to note is that if a person doesn’t think Scripture is authoritative, this book is not written to them. If God’s Word is not the final authority for belief and practice, there is no reason to write this book, nor care about the contents. For readers that do, the evidence in Scripture that is acknowledged on both sides of the debate is that there is no positive case for homosexuality to be made from Scripture. Christians that want Scripture to be the final authority either have to inadvertently deny that in making a pro-homosexuality case from Scripture, or make arguments that amount to saying the historic understanding of the key texts is wrong for one reason or another.

With all that in mind, I found this book to be very helpful. I’ve done a fair amount of reading on the topic and I thought what DeYoung presents here is a good synthesis of the available material. His pastoral tone helps to deliver the information well, since at the end of the day this book is probably best for people on the fence on the issue. It is also a useful resource for Christians who may be morally convinced that homosexuality is wrong, but are not handling the issue particularly well in counseling and discipleship situations.

At the end of the day, if you’re involved in pastoral ministry you’ll probably want to take a Saturday afternoon and read this book. Likewise, if you’re not sure how to present a graceful argument on what the Bible teaches about homosexuality, this book offers an excellent example. I could also see it being useful for those who struggle with this particular issue to see what Scripture teaches and how to use Scripture to answer objections that our culture continually brings up. I think DeYoung is able to speak against homosexuality without bringing in a sense of condemnation. He is clear and to the point, but not without being gracious and kind in his rhetoric. For that reason, I hope it is widely read, and if you’re interested, you should take advantage of the deal Westminster is offering.

Kevin DeYoung, What Does The Bible Really Teach About Homosexuality?Wheaton: Crossway, April 2015. 160 pp. Paperback, $12.99.

Buy itAmazon | Westminster

Read an excerpt

Visit the publisher’s page

Thanks to WTS Books for the review copy!

Here are some additional videos and resources on the subject:


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We Need Your Help!

April 8, 2015 — Leave a comment


A couple of weeks ago, I explained a little bit about what we’ve been up to in ministry and how I’m joining staff with SHIFT. I’ve spent the time since then getting organized and now wanted to offer a sign up form that you can use to receive our newsletter. Just to be upfront, this is like most ministry newsletters. It is part keeping you in the loop about what we’re doing, but it is also part of an attempt to raise support so that we can more effectively focus on the teaching and discipleship opportunities that God has brought into our path here in Florida. I’ve been talking and thinking about raising support for the better part of a year and I think at the end of the day, it’s really just fear of man that has kept me from pursuing it sooner. It has become increasingly clear over the last several months that this is the direction God is leading us, but I have to actually take the initiative to ask you to help us out.

So, if you’d like to know more about what we’re doing, what we want to do, and what we are trying to raise to make it happen, you can sign up below. If for some reason you’d like to give us a one-time or monthly recurring donation, but not continue to receive e-mail updates, you can do that here. I’m assuming you’d rather know a bit more about what we’re doing, so we’d really like to connect with you through our updates. I’ll look forward to sharing more in the coming weeks and months!

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I don’t remember the exact time I first saw this video, but I remember it being at Word of Life, maybe during a missions conference (makes sense). We’ve watched it a couple of times in small group, and it’s always a joy to see these people hear and understand the gospel for the first time. Justin Taylor posted it on Easter and I thought it deserved a re-post.

As he says, you have to watch it until the end, and really need to take the 25 minutes to watch it start to finish. You won’t be disappointed!

You can also watch this to see what happened after the conversions in the above video:

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