Moses and the Burning Bush by R.C. Sproul. Reformation Trust Publishing. 96 pages. 2018
This short book by the late Dr. R.C. Sproul is based on one of his last teaching series of the same title. He writes that the burning bush has been a significant symbol throughout the history of the church, and for good reason. The account of the burning bush is a story about the holiness of God. He tells us that God Himself appeared, through the manifestation of His Presence in the bush and that what Moses experienced at the burning bush is what God’s people experience today: a holy, transcendent, all-consuming God who comes down to dwell with His people. He knows us.
This book considers the significance of the burning bush event, looking at Moses’ life leading up to that encounter and focusing on the knowledge of God that is revealed in that particular incident. In this book Dr. Sproul looks to answer the question of why the bush was burning and yet not being consumed.
Moses was the mediator of the old covenant. That office made Moses one of the most important people in the entire Old Testament. As a mediator, he stood between God and the people of Israel. Moses foreshadowed the greater Mediator who would come later—the Mediator of the new covenant, Christ Himself.
The author tells us that there are occasions in redemptive history where the invisible God makes Himself visible by some kind of manifestation. That is called a theophany, and it’s what we see with the burning bush. What Moses saw in this fire was a supernatural, visible manifestation of the glory of God. He had a momentary encounter with the Holy, and the closer he got, the more afraid he became.
The author tells us that he believes that the greatest weakness in our day is the virtual eclipse of the character of God, even within our churches.
The first thing that God reveals about Himself in that name is that He is personal.
The author addresses such topics as God’s self-existence, His transcendence and His aseity. Self-existence means that He depends on nothing and no one for His existence. Only God has the concept of self-existence. The author tells us that if God is self-existent, eternal, and pure, then He is, by definition, transcendent. When we consider the transcendence and aseity of our God, we will respond in worship and awe—just as Moses did at the burning bush.
The author tells us that the second most important act of redemption ever accomplished in history, and the second most difficult mission ever given by God to a human being, was the mission God gave to Moses.
The author tells us that in the burning bush we see the revelation of the person of God, of the power of God, and of the eternality of God. We see the revelation of the compassion of God, the redemption of God, and now, finally, the truth of God.
The author was known for his teaching on the holiness of God. This book is another wonderful look at that attribute of God.
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BOOK CLUB ~ How the Nations Rage: Rethinking Faith and Politics in a Divided Age by Jonathan Leeman
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The Prayer of the Lord by R.C. Sproul. Reformation Trust Publishing. 144 pages. 2018
In this new edition of his 2009 book, Dr. Sproul writes that the disciples were looking to Jesus for instructions on how to pray. Jesus gave them what we now refer to as the “Lord’s Prayer”, not because it was a prayer He Himself prayed, but because it was the prayer He provided for His followers. Each chapter of the book looks at a single line from what we know as “The Lord’s Prayer”.
Jesus warned the disciples against praying publicly in a hypocritical fashion and also encouraged private prayer. He also condemned pagan prayer.
The author tells us that Jesus did not give the Lord’s Prayer with the intention that it would be repeated mindlessly. When we pray the Lord’s Prayer, we need to pray it thoughtfully, giving attention in our minds to its content. It is not a mantra to be repeated without the engagement of the mind or heart. It is an example of godly prayer.
He addresses the questions, ‘does prayer change things?’ and ‘how we are to come into God’s presence?’ He tells us that in the initial phrases of the Lord’s Prayer, Jesus fixes our gaze not on ourselves but on God.
Below are a few passages I highlighted from each petition:
Our Father in Heaven
- When Jesus referred to God as His Father, His contemporaries—the Pharisees, for example—would become enraged. They understood that, in calling God His Father, He was making Himself equal with God (John 5:18).
- When Jesus gave the Lord’s Prayer, with its use of “Our Father” as the form of address, He gave us the unspeakable privilege of addressing God in the same terms of filial familiarity that Jesus Himself used.
Hallowed Be Your Name
- This line of the Lord’s Prayer is not simply an assertion that God’s name is holy. Rather, it’s a petition.
- He is teaching us to ask that God’s name would be regarded as sacred, that it would be treated with reverence, and that it would be seen as holy.
- I don’t think that anything reveals the state of a person’s soul more clearly than the words that come out of his mouth.
- However, I’ve noticed that even though some words and phrases are still forbidden on television, but when it comes to the name of God, anything goes. We will not allow explicit erotic language on television, but we will allow blasphemy with regard to the name of God.
- By placing this as the first petition of the Lord’s Prayer, Jesus was giving it a place of priority.
Your Kingdom Come
- When Jesus told His followers to pray, “Your kingdom come,” He was making them participants in His own mission to spread the reign of God on this planet so that it might reflect the way God’s reign is established in heaven to this day.
- At the heart of this theme is the idea of God’s messianic kingdom. It is a kingdom that will be ruled by God’s appointed Messiah, who will be not just the Redeemer of His people, but their King.
- The only way the kingdom of God is going to be manifest in this world before Christ comes is if we manifest it by the way we live as citizens of heaven and subjects of the King.
Your Will Be Done
- If there’s any concept about which there’s confusion among believers today, it is the will of God.
- The sovereign, efficacious will of God is the will that brings to pass whatsoever He decrees.
- The preceptive will of God can be violated and is violated every day.
- The Bible speaks of the will of God in terms of His basic disposition or inclination. In this sense, God’s will has to do with what is pleasing or displeasing to Him.
- The real prayer of faith is the prayer that trusts God no matter whether the answer is yes or no.
Give Us This Day Our Daily Bread
- This petition of the Lord’s Prayer, then, teaches us to come to God in a spirit of humble dependence, asking Him to provide what we need and to sustain us from day to day.
Forgive Us Our Debts
- Jesus attaches a condition to this petition. He doesn’t simply tell us to pray, “Forgive us our debts.” Rather, we are to ask God to forgive us “as we forgive our debtors.” In my opinion, that’s one of the most frightening lines in the Lord’s Prayer.
- The point is that I should be as gracious toward others as God has been to me, so that if someone does sin against me and then he acknowledges his guilt, repents, and apologizes, I am duty bound to forgive.
- This petition, then, reminds us of the depth of our sinfulness, our need for daily confession, and our need for forgiveness, but also of our Christian duty in our interpersonal relationships on the human level.
Do Not Lead Us into Temptation
- Jesus is saying that we should pray that the Father will never cause us to undergo a severe test of our faith or of our obedience.
- When Jesus teaches us to pray, “Do not lead us into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one,” He not only is teaching us to pray for deliverance from testing but is teaching us to seek divine protection from the wiles of Satan.
Yours Is the Kingdom
- There is a widespread belief among scholars that this ending was not in the original prayer but was added very soon afterward because it was customary among the Jews to conclude their prayers with a doxology.
- One of the most beautiful aspects of this concluding line of the Lord’s Prayer, in my opinion, is that it returns the focus to God.
- We acknowledge that we have no glory in us, that God is glorious beyond our ability to express, and that He is never required to share His glory with men.
The book concludes with a chapter in which the author touches briefly on various issues surrounding the practice of prayer, and the Lord’s Prayer specifically. In addition, a helpful appendix “If God Is Sovereign, Why Pray?” is included.
- Free Audiobook from Christianaudio. The August free audiobook from Christianaudio is a good one. It is the classic “The Religious Affections” by Jonathan Edwards.
- Albert Mohler’s Summer Reading List. I always look forward to Albert Mohler’s summer reading list.
- Book Review: The Gospel Comes with a House Key, by Rosaria Butterfield. Aaron Menikoff reviews Rosaria Butterfield’s new book The Gospel Comes with a House Key. He writes “I’ve been helped by other books on hospitality including The Art of Neighboring and The Simplest Way to Change the World. Both are good, but neither is as gritty as The Gospel Comes with a House Key. Together, these books make a welcome plea for Christians to bring the gospel home.”
- A Book to Help You Not Ruin Your Life. Gaye Clark reviews Eric Geiger’s new book How to Ruin Your Life. She writes “How to Ruin Your Life—and Starting Over When You Dois a helpful read for anyone seeking to avoid ruin. Seasoned Christians and new believers alike will benefit from his gospel-drenched remedy for recovery from tragic decisions.”
- Friends You Need Are Buried in the Past: Q&A on Reading Christian Biographies. Watch this conversation between John Piper and Justin Taylor about reading Christian biographies.
- A Bored Generation. Derek Thomas writes “Here’s an idea guaranteed to revolutionize our assessment of the worth of entertainment: start reading books again! Never was there a time when the best of books were more available than the present. A few hours a day reading good literature would repay us handsomely.”
BOOK CLUB – Won’t you read along with us?
How the Nations Rage: Rethinking Faith and Politics in a Divided Age by Jonathan Leeman. Thomas Nelson, 272 pages. 2018
We are going to be reading through an important and timely new book from Jonathan Leeman, editorial director at the ministry 9Marks, which helps Christians discover the most effective path forward amid battling worldviews: living as citizens of another kingdom and offering the world a totally new kind of politics.
This week we look at Chapter 2: PUBLIC SQUARE- NOT NEUTRAL, BUT A BATTLEGROUND OF GODS
- Governments serve gods. This is true of every government in every place ever since God gave governments to the world.
- Our gods are whatever we cannot imagine living without, whatever we most love, whatever we most trust, rely on, and believe in, and whatever is our final refuge.
- Our hearts are battlegrounds of gods.
- Step one for understanding my claim that governments serve gods is seeing that our religion is bigger than what happens at church. Step two is seeing that our politics are bigger than what happens in the public square. In fact, our politics involve everything we do.
- The story of politics is the story of how you and I arrange our days, arrange our relationships, and arrange our neighborhoods and nations to get what we most want—to get what we worship.
- Politics serves worship. Governments serve gods.
- Just as our hearts are battlegrounds of gods, so the public square is a battleground of gods, the turf of our religious wars.
- Most Christians think of themselves not as hard separationists, but as soft separationists. They believe that politics and religion should overlap in a few places but mostly remain separate.
- The American Experiment is the idea that people of many religions can join together and establish a government based on certain shared universal principles. Think of it as a contract with at least five principles. Principle one of this contract is that governments derive “their just powers from the consent of the governed,” says the Declaration of Independence. Principle two is religious freedom. Three is other forms of freedom and equality. Four is the idea of justice as rights. And five is the separation of church and state.
- The first result of pretending we can separate politics and religion is that we ideologically tilt the public square floor against our Christian moral heritage and organized religion generally. The second result is that it makes some elements of Christian speech—especially related to the family, sexuality, and religion—sound irrational and therefore unjust.
- In the public square, people fear the irrational and become angry toward injustice. Irrationality and injustice are linked because the first often leads to the second.
- The only moral vocabulary that is permitted in the public square today is the language of rights, equality, and freedom.
- That brings us to a second paradox for this chapter. The first, you may recall, is that the logic of “religious freedom,” if not the language itself, will be used against God’s people in an unvirtuous society. The second is this: nearly every American today affirms the separation of church and state, but that institutional distinction is a Christian one, and it applies uniquely to Christians
- Biblically understood, the separation of church and state isn’t about who gets to decide what morals will bind a nation. It’s about the fact that God has given the state one kind of authority and churches another kind.
- Public schools, as agents of the state, participate in the religious indoctrination of their students. Through the classroom, the legislator, and the courtroom, today’s secular progressive is only too happy to use the state to enforce his moral and religious codes.
- There is no doubt about it: Americans today remain as religious as ever. I don’t mean they identify as Methodists, Mormons, or Muslims. I mean they worship something. And that worship shows up in their politics.
- Our entire lives are fundamentally political because our entire lives are measured in relation to King Jesus and his claim on our whole person. This is true for Christians and non-Christians. We live in either submission or rebellion. The mechanisms of the state are merely one tool we use in this larger political contest.
- Becoming a Christian, however, means we change our worship and our politics. We submit to King Jesus in all things. We acknowledge that he is praiseworthy and worthy to rule all things. Our politics and worship unite around him.