Ecclesiastes: a meaningless book?

How do you take a book that tells you everything is meaningless?

How would you respond if a mature-aged person told you that everything is meaningless? You might conclude, “Well, I guess the poor cynic is right about himself.”

So, is the book of Ecclesiastes meaningless? Or is it a sharp tool to carve away the meaningless layers and sculpt something of significance from our existence? Continue reading “Ecclesiastes: a meaningless book?”

God’s commitment to rule (Genesis 17:4-8)

The covenant with Abraham is all about God’s reign.

The ruler is establishing his covenant with his nation, as yet unborn. He reveals his name: God Shaddai. He gives his servant a new name, a new identity: he is now Abraham: Continue reading “God’s commitment to rule (Genesis 17:4-8)”

Revealing the ruler: God Shaddai (Genesis 17:1-3)

God revealed himself to Abraham as El Shaddai (Genesis 17:1-3). What does this mean?

Abram has already passed through a covenant ceremony that installed him as the earthly servant of the heavenly sovereign (Genesis 15). Abram and Sarai then tried to establish the family through human means, but ended up oppressing Hagar—as human power tends to do (Genesis 16). Following that diversion, the sovereign resumes the business of establishing his covenant with Abram. Continue reading “Revealing the ruler: God Shaddai (Genesis 17:1-3)”

What about those who’ve never heard the name? (Genesis 16:13-16)

What happens to those who’ve never heard of the Saviour?

YHWH planned to restore the blessing of his reign to the nations by creating his own nation through Abram and Sarai. But Hagar did not see God in their household: what she saw was the abuse of power that is so typical of humanity in rebellion. How will the nations ever see God when his people are so unloving? Continue reading “What about those who’ve never heard the name? (Genesis 16:13-16)”

When God’s people don’t love (Genesis 16:4-12)

We saw that Abram and Sarai were culturally blind to issues like polygamy and slavery. They were still hurt by these issues.

Whenever humans have power over other humans, we end up abusing that power. Watch the power struggles that develop in this story: Continue reading “When God’s people don’t love (Genesis 16:4-12)”

Divine control? (Genesis 16:2)

It’s been a decade, but Abram and Sarai still have no child. In their culture, this was a source of great shame: without an heir, their name would die out. They had no future, so God must have been displeased with them. That’s how they (and others in their time) interpreted their childlessness. When someone had a child, God had given them a child; when someone could not have a child, God had thwarted them. Either way, it was understood as an act of God. That’s how Sarai described her situation: “YHWH has kept me from having children” (16:2).

What are we to make of Sarai’s statement?

Continue reading “Divine control? (Genesis 16:2)”