Some items from church, followed by a book write-up.
A. On Wednesday, my church had its last session on Max Lucado’s Anxious for Nothing. We talked about the story of Mary and Martha in Luke 10:38-42. People in the group were rejecting the idea that Jesus’s main lesson in the story is “Don’t be a Martha.” There was nothing wrong with Martha serving. The problem was her focus. Instead of rejoicing that she had the honor to serve Jesus and to bring happiness to her guests, she focused on the immensity and stress of her tasks, and she resented that her sister, Mary, was sitting listening to Jesus rather than helping her out. Jesus sought to reorient Martha’s focus to what is valuable: him.
B. At the service this morning, teens were talking about their favorite Bible verses and what they mean to them. They had just gone through confirmation. One person shared that Matthew 5:16 was her favorite verse: let your light shine before men. She talked about Jesus’s death and how his disciples wondered if Jesus’s teachings would continue or if they died with Jesus. But Jesus rose again and empowered his disciples with the Holy Spirit, so Jesus’s message went on. She testified that she has helped people with their problems, sharing her faith with them, and that helps her, perhaps more than it helps the people. The reason that I liked this testimony was that it offered a practical reason for Matthew 5:16: we let our light shine because that brings Jesus’s teachings to the world around us. What Jesus started in the first century did not die with him but lives on in him and in us.
C. L. Michael Morales. Exodus Old and New: A Biblical Theology of Redemption. IVP Academic, 2020. See here to purchase the book.
L. Michael Morales teaches biblical studies at Greenville Presbyterian Theological Seminary. This book offers a Christian interpretation of the biblical exodus, focusing in the last section on the Gospel of John.
A lot of what Morales says would not be new to Christians. Either they have heard it, or they would not be surprised to hear it. Morales talks about how the exodus is about deliverance from God’s wrath through the blood of a lamb, the slaying of sinful chaos, reconciliation with God, and deliverance from an oppressive ruler. All of these themes are taken up in the Christian Gospel, which is about forgiveness through the blood of the Lamb (Christ), Christ’s ultimate defeat of sin and death, and Christ’s deliverance of people from this sinful world system. Morales documents that the Old Testament prophetic writings predict a second exodus, and he maintains that this finds its fulfillment in Christ.
Where I struggle with this book is that the Old Testament’s prophetic writings discuss the second exodus in terms of God’s actions on behalf of the nation of Israel. It includes Israel’s return to her land, the reestablishment of her political and religious institutions, and her physical prosperity as a nation. What does Morales do with these themes? The logical answer would be that he treats them as symbolic of spiritual realities, but, as far as I recall, he fails to engage them or to discuss his hermeneutic with respect to them.
The first two parts of the book were rather plodding, with an interesting detail here and there. One such detail is about how Reuben’s sleeping with his father’s concubine in Genesis 35 was an attempt on his part to gain authority over his brothers then and there. According to Morales, Reuben appreciated but misapplied his responsibility as the firstborn.
The third part of the book is riveting. Morales interprets pieces of John’s Gospel in reference to Old Testament themes, such as Eden. Maybe there is something to his interpretation, and maybe in some cases he is reaching, but the picture is fascinating. Morales also pulls together the themes of his book.
I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher. My review is honest.