Let’s talk about love today. This passage from Romans 5 is about a lot of things, and if I had to say it’s about one single thing, I’m not sure what I’d say. Is it all about reconciliation? Rejoicing in tribulation? Jesus Christ? Yes, it’s about all those things, and probably others besides. But it’s also all about love.
It’s another day: a fresh start and a fresh look at Romans 5:1-11. Yesterday I got all the predestination and free will thoughts out of my brain system, and I’m a clean slate ready for new perspectives. Today I want to ask a much better question: what is happening to us? Because it’s clear from this passage that whatever our role, whether active participants or wholly passive recipients, in what is happening to us, something is happening to us.
Let’s just rip off the band-aid: I know at least one of you has no interest in seeing the topic of predestination and free will considered here on Chocolate Book. (I know because this person has told me.) But every weekday I open up the Bible, read the passage, and write up my thoughts on it, and right now I can’t read this passage without thinking about the Verboten Subject. We’ve got to spend all week in these eleven verses for the Triad study, and as much as I wish I could write something else about them, I’m squeezing my brain and this is what’s coming out. Better to get over the predestination-and-free-will hump sooner rather than later, so that hopefully tomorrow I will find myself able to think other things about the passage. Sorry, friend.
Wait, what’s that strange book on the table? Why is the scripture passage a printout from a spiral-bound workbook instead of Jackson’s dad’s well-worn, possibly leather-bound Bible with handwritten notes in the margins? You would be forgiven for having forgotten it, but that’s right, folks: the Triad study is back! Just as a refresher, the Triad study is a program put together by Hope Church, in which three dudes or three ladies go through a curriculum and meet weekly to grow in the Christian faith and be discipled by Jesus together. When they complete the Triad study, the idea is that they each can start a new Triad with two new people, thereby multiplying disciples. And after an intermission of roughly half a stinkin’ year, we are returning to the study to get back on that horse.
The psalms repeat themselves. Psalms 118 and 136 begin with the same couplet, word-for-word: “Give thanks to the Lord, for He is good, for His lovingkindness is everlasting” (118:1, 136:1). I could cite more psalms that feature the same line throughout themselves like a chorus or that borrow lines from other psalms like remixes, but I’d be repeating myself. And while Psalm 136 repeats its hook “For His lovingkindness is everlasting” in every single verse, the point of the psalm isn’t repetition. It’s gratitude.
There’s one last thing I want to talk about concerning the minor prophets, and that’s that they came to an end. The prophets both major and minor preached their messages roughly from the 9th to the 5th century BC, but with Malachi’s prophecy somewhere around 420 BC (scholars for various reasons find it difficult to pin a date on Malachi), they stopped. If you relied solely on the Bible for your history lessons, you wouldn’t know anything from the books of Ezra, Nehemiah, and Malachi up until the birth of John the Baptist in Luke. As the Old Testament as we know it today drew to a close, Jews were living in Jerusalem again, and the temple had been rebuilt, but the spirit of prophecy simply stopped manifesting.
We said some things about the Minor Prophets as a whole, but we didn’t say enough things about them, so today we’re going to say more things. By the end of the post, will we have said enough things? There’s only one way to find out. Let’s begin by seeing what Things to Say we can find in the Theodicy Can.
Congratulations to us: we’ve made our way through the corpus of the Minor Prophets in its entirety. One of my patrons on Patreon requested that I take some time to review the study and share some of my personal highlights from it. And as I’m all about servicing the customer, I’m going to dish out my big-picture reflections right now. Pledge to my Patreon and you can be a serviceable customer too!
Here’s another psalm that uses the word “thanks” a lot, at least compared to other psalms, which tend to only use it once or not at all. In the NASB’s translation, it’s 460 words long, and “thanks” appears five times. That’s just slightly more than 1% of the words, but gratitude is central to Psalm 118, to the point that the NASB summarizes it with the header “Thanksgiving for the Lord’s Saving Goodness.” I expect we could learn something about our topic of choice here, so let’s dig into the text and find out what thanks is all about.
It’s another Gratitude Day around here. I chose Psalm 107 for today’s passage because, while most of the psalms that contain some version of the word “thanks” contain it only once, Psalm 107 contains it six: in verses 1, 8, 15, 21, 22, and 31. Let’s type some words about that word and the words around it.