“Mighty God”


For to us a child is born,
    to us a son is given,
    and the government will be on his shoulders.
And he will be called
    Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God,
    Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. (Is. 9:6)

This phrase in the Hebrew has the idea of a warrior.  The “Mighty Men of David” were those who rallied to his cause and were battle tested.  And so the babe of Bethlehem grew up to do battle.  How are his enemies?

  • Sin
  • Death
  • The Devil

Here are the results of a discussion on our Adult Class:

Mighty God – Adult Class 12/6/15

The three enemies of humanity are Sin, Death and the Devil. IN class we assigned scriptures to enemies. Note that some verses speak to all three enemies.

  1. Against Sin
  • Romans 3:23-24
  • Romans 8:38-39
  • Galatians 1:4
  • Colossians 1:13
  • Colossians 2:15
  • Colossians 3:5-6
  • Hebrews 2:14-15
  • I John 1:7-9
  • I John 2:2
  • I John 3:1
  1. Against Death
  • Isaiah 25:8
  • Romans 8:38-39
  • I Corinthians 15:25-26
  • I Corinthians 15:57
  • 2 Timothy 1:10
  • Hebrews 2:14-15
  • I Thessalonians 3:13
  • Revelation 1:18
  • Revelation 20:14
  • Revelation 21:14

3. Against the Devil

  • Matthew 12:28
  • John 12:31
  • Acts 10:38
  • Romans 8:38-39
  • Colossians 1:13
  • Colossians 2:15
  • Hebrews 2:14-15
  • I John 2:13-14
  • I John 3:13
  • Revelation 20:1-3
  • Revelation 20:4


Isaiah 25:8; Matthew 12:28; John 12:31; Acts 10:38; Romans 1:1, Romans 3:23; Romans 8:38-39; I Corinthians 15:25-26; I Corinthians 15:57; Galatians 1:4; Colossians 1:13, Colossians 2:15; Colossians 3:5-6;  2 Timothy 1:10, Hebrews 2:1`4-15; I John 1:7-9,I John 2:13-14; I John 3:13; Revelation 1:18; Revelation 20:1-3; Revelation 20:14; Revelation 21:4


We are studying the names in Isaiah 9:6

  • Wonderful Counselor
  • Mighty God
  • Everlasting Father
  • Prince of Peace

This Sunday, “Mighty God” is the English translation of the Hebrew

אֵ֣ל גִּבּ֔וֹר

And we are in a Lao and English service. The Lao is


The task of the preacher in general is to being the world of the Bible accurately to the people of the present. the extra challenge is to do that with more than one language.


Two Days in Isaiah 58


As I read the complaint against the people, i see that there are two kinds of days.

The first day seems to be problematic.  See highlights in v. 1-5

“Cry aloud; do not hold back;
    lift up your voice like a trumpet;
declare to my people their transgression,
    to the house of Jacob their sins.
Yet they seek me daily
    and delight to know my ways,
as if they were a nation that did righteousness
    and did not forsake the judgment of their God;
they ask of me righteous judgments;
    they delight to draw near to God.
‘Why have we fasted, and you see it not?
    Why have we humbled ourselves, and you take no knowledge of it?’
Behold, in the day of your fast you seek your own pleasure,
    and oppress all your workers.
Behold, you fast only to quarrel and to fight
    and to hit with a wicked fist.
Fasting like yours this day
    will not make your voice to be heard on high.
Is such the fast that I choose,
    a day for a person to humble himself?
Is it to bow down his head like a reed,
    and to spread sackcloth and ashes under him?
Will you call this a fast,
    and a day acceptable to the Lord?

The issue here is tokenism.  By the standards of faith as checking off the boxes of obligation, they seem to be doing well.  They seek God and fast, or so it would seem. But this kind of day, dedicated to fasting or prayer or procession makes no change in the participants and it makes no change in the community.  The poor are still poor and the workers are still not paid well.

The last verses talk about another day – the Sabbath.  It is a good day:

13 “If you turn back your foot from the Sabbath,
    from doing your pleasure on my holy day,
and call the Sabbath a delight
    and the holy day of the Lord honorable;
if you honor it, not going your own ways,
    or seeking your own pleasure, or talking idly;
14 then you shall take delight in the Lord,
    and I will make you ride on the heights of the earth;
I will feed you with the heritage of Jacob your father,
    for the mouth of the Lord has spoken.”

This Sabbath day has the advantage in that it is commanded. In addition, it seems to be important in going beyond tokenism to a transformation.  How is this the case?  It must mean that the Sabbath as intended, was not a day of obligation to be checked off, but a day of rest from work so one can get to know God and his ways.  (notice v. 14)

The Day God chose was a day that was part of a lifestyle of knowing God and keeping his ways.  Not a token day of words without actions.

The Fast that the people chose was token, a show of religion, a way to justify yourself that you are doing something.  The Fast that God chooses is one that is transformational – our lives get a different focus, our goal is to change “structural evil” ( v. 6) and to personally help others (v. 7).

“Is not this the fast that I choose:
    to loose the bonds of wickedness,
    to undo the straps of the yoke,
to let the oppressed go free,
    and to break every yoke?
Is it not to share your bread with the hungry
    and bring the homeless poor into your house;
when you see the naked, to cover him,
    and not to hide yourself from your own flesh?

We don’t have this in our culture? After all, who keeps a Sabbath any longer?  We don’t. We are hurrying to a benefit concert, a walk for a cause or bringing a canned food item to the football game we rush to each Sunday.

Isaiah in 2 hours!

Isaiah.sistine.2i had the opportunity to give an overview of the Prophets and the prophet Isaiah at Madison’s Christian Life College. Egads!  That is an impossible task!  I thought it best to give the word some time to speak for itself. So along with introductory material on the book, we read some passages out loud and noted what we could.

I hoped to

  • Make a few people fall in love with the book
  • Encourage students to read Isaiah with an awareness to language and literary style.

Here are my notes. – Isaiah


  • Isaiah is massive and not easily understood in many ways. It incorporates the broadest themes of Scripture with the most elevated literary style of any biblical book.
  • Isaiah is too important to ignore or skim.
  • Be Aware of literary style – best commentary, if I only owned one would be The Prophecy of Isaiah, J. A. Motyer.

Matthew 12, Isaiah 42 and a visit to the Library

scribe.2I chased down a footnote regarding the use of Isaiah 42:1-4 in Matthew 12.  It is the longest citation in Matthew, who is usually quite economical in his quotes.  So why quote the whole section from the first Servant Song in Isaiah?

The footnote sent me to find  Jerome H. Neyrey’s article in the journal Biblica, volume 63.  The author shows that the citation has a number of contacts with the entire chapter, and is not simply related to the fact that Jesus chose to withdraw from a center of controversy, as the conflict between Jesus and the religious authorities grew.  Another author, also found at the library search, suggests that Matthew 12:15-21 serves as an interlude that speaks broadly to the nature of Jesus ministry as Messiah.  The Messiah as Servant.  (Douglas R. A. Hare, Matthew, John Knox, 1993).

Here are Neyrey’s 8 points of contact, note I have recast this for non technical readers.

1,  Servant/son {Matthew’s quote uses “pais“} – followed immediately by the question of whether Jesus is the Son of David, or a servant of Beelzebul.

2.  My Spirit – followed by the extended discussion of a house divided – 12:25-28

3. Preaching to Nations, followed by examples of Jonah, Niniveh, Solomon, The Queen of the south(v. 39-42) and who is his kinsman (v. 46-50)

4. Not Quarreling – refusing to give a sign in 12:38-39

5.  Not Listening – 10:16-19, 12:38-42, 13:13-15

6.  Healing {bruised reed and smoldering wick} 12:9-13 {and chapters 8-9}

7.  Judgment/Justice {“krisis”}- followed by warnings of future judgment for Blasphemy against the Spirit (12:30-33), Good Words (12:33-37) and Sign seekers (v. 39-42)

8.  Name –  with numerous names for Jesus – 12:8{Son of Man}, 23{Son of David}, 31-32, 40 and throughout Matthew.

For my preaching purposes I have created a summary sentence.  Yep, it looks like a 6 point sermon this week.

Jesus is

God’s Chosen

Spirit filled


Who is a Gentle

yet Firm

Hope for all people.

Jesus, Palm Sunday and Isaiah 42



I am not to the events of Palm Sunday in Matthew, but we celebrate that day on the Church calendar.  It is fitting that the passage I landed upon is Matthew 12:15-21 which cites one of the Servant Songs found in Isaiah.

15 Jesus, aware of this, withdrew from there. And many followed him, and he healed them all 16 and ordered them not to make him known. 17 This was to fulfill what was spoken by the prophet Isaiah:

18 “Behold, my servant whom I have chosen,
    my beloved with whom my soul is well pleased.
I will put my Spirit upon him,
    and he will proclaim justice to the Gentiles.
19 He will not quarrel or cry aloud,
    nor will anyone hear his voice in the streets;
20 a bruised reed he will not break,
    and a smoldering wick he will not quench,
until he brings justice to victory;
21     and in his name the Gentiles will hope.”  Matthew 12:18-21 ESV

At this point in his ministry, with many who follow and a rising force in opposition, he continued his works of compassion, but asked the people to keep it quiet.  And so the one who arrives in Jerusalem, the Messiah, arrives on a donkey, not a war-horse, and is cheered with palm branches and the cries of children.

Jesus as Servant King.


So the lecture on Creativity had a line around the corner, down the stairs and back up and then around the bend.  We went for coffee instead.    This lead me to think: rather than hear a lecture, how about starting something.  So now I have, in my own mind, started the “book” on Isaiah.

Basically, how can an ordinary person, let alone a preacher, get a toe hold in Isaiah.  The Gibraltar of Scholarship is imposing, the book itself is large, literary, complex, beautiful and expansive.  The “book” would be a modest effort to get a toe hold.

so far I have 1 page of bullet points, and a new blog Category – Isaiah

I am reminded of the artist who said, “to change culture, you have to create culture.”

Igniting your own sparkler: A memory verse from Francis Schaeffer

A speaker at the L’ Abri conference in Rochester MN, said that Isaiah 50:10-11 was an imporant idea for them.  To walk in the light of God and not to ignite our own sparklers.  Here it is in the ESV

The original idea is the folly of idolatry.  We can make idols of our ideas, methods, things, pop culture (“American Idol”).  It made me think of Indiana Jones and how he always found torches in those dark snake filled caves and crevices – who put those there?   Well, that is a mystery for another time.

10 Who among you fears the Lord
and obeys the voice of his servant?
Let him who walks in darkness
and has no light
trust in the name of the Lord
and rely on his God.
11 Behold, all you who kindle a fire,
who equip yourselves with burning torches!
Walk by the light of your fire,
and by the torches that you have kindled!
This you have from my hand:
you shall lie down in torment.

If I wrote a book…

If I had the time and focus to write a book, well, I have a few ideas.

Isaiah for Preachers: how to make the massive book with its rich theology and poetry available to preachers and learners in the church.  Ok, I need to shorten the title a little.

Wisdom on the Road: how wisdom literature is another dialect that can speak to “blue state” Americans.

Reformed without the Tulip: Is it possible to grasp onto the Kuyper like approach to culture without getting hung up on the old Reformed theology debates (plenty of books on that).

Reading the Books: the book of Scripture and the book of nature, with emphasis on the right side of the brain, and a nod to the Belgic confession.


Why I detest church health/growth/technology/ books with badly borrowed social science wed to superficial exegesis.  This one will get everyone mad.

Ok, next on the to-do list:

Better titles!

December 25 – Isaiah 61:1-2

What is the mission of Jesus?

This is what he said at his first recorded message, from Isaiah 61:1-2

                                The Spirit of the Sovereign Lord is on me,

because the Lord has anointed me

to preach good news to the poor.

He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted,

to proclaim freedom for the captives

and release from darkness for the prisoners,

 to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor…

Luke 4:14-20

 Jesus returned to Galilee in the power of the Spirit, and news about him spread through the whole countryside. 15 He taught in their synagogues, and everyone praised him.

 He went to Nazareth, where he had been brought up, and on the Sabbath day he went into the synagogue, as was his custom. And he stood up to read.  The scroll of the prophet Isaiah was handed to him. Unrolling it, he found the place where it is written:

 “The Spirit of the Lord is on me,

because he has anointed me

to preach good news to the poor.

He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners

and recovery of sight for the blind,

to release the oppressed,

to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.

 Then he rolled up the scroll, gave it back to the attendant and sat down. The eyes of everyone in the synagogue were fastened on him,  and he began by saying to them, “Today this scripture is fulfilled in your hearing.”