Monday, March 30, 2015

Thankful for many things

I am thankful for a good weekend in the GTA. It was great to see 60% of our children and 80% of our grandchildren, as well as our old mother and some siblings. It was a blessing to preach at Bethel Toronto and make some new friends. Bonus was that we got to go to a young lady's birthday party! Oh, the surprising joys of the ministry! The Bethel congregation was gracious, attentive, and friendly--as always.

On Saturday I was able to attend the office bearers' conference at Ebenezer Burlington where Dr. Cornelis Van Dam delivered an excellent speech on the situation of our Dutch sister churches and about how we need to be both patient and vigilant here in North America. I was glad to learn that his speech will soon be published, and I hope many will read it. His speech made me thankful for our seminary, CRTS. By the grace of God we continue to have a full complement of professors who are top drawer scholars and orthodox men who humbly bow before the Word of God, unimpeachable and trustworthy in every respect. This is not to be taken for granted.

Final Monday-morning thought is related to Classis Ontario West's overture to Regional Synod East to amend Article 14 of the Belgic Confession. One can read many opinions on the interweb about it, and I am not inclined to add my thoughts. I only want to observe that we probably do not pray enough (in our homes and churches) for our scientists. They are faced with questions that many of us seldom ask. Vocally to deny evolution theory could spell the quick demise of career. I pray that God may be with our scientists and doctors who are doing important work in teaching and research, all-the-while seeking faithfully and honestly to integrate the Reformed Christian faith and science. May God bless them!

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

A comparison of Genesis 49 with Deuteronomy 33

As we were reading through the book of Deuteronomy, we read Moses' blessings upon the tribes and I did a comparison with Jacob's blessings upon his sons. I made a little grid. I 'm not sure what I'll do with it. In 1965 Oosterbaan & Le Cointre published J.G. Meijer's two volume work, Ieder Een Eigen Zegen ("Each his own Blessing"). Perhaps Deuteronomy 33 calls for something similar. In the mean time, the two sets of blessings are interesting to compare.

Jacob, Genesis 49
Moses, Deuteronomy 33

Reuben, you are my firstborn,
    my might, and the firstfruits of my strength,
    preeminent in dignity and preeminent in power.
4 Unstable as water, you shall not have preeminence,
    because you went up to your father's bed;
    then you defiled it—he went up to my couch!

“Let Reuben live, and not die,
    but let his men be few.”

5 “Simeon and Levi are brothers;
    weapons of violence are their swords.
6 Let my soul come not into their council;
    O my glory, be not joined to their company.
For in their anger they killed men,
    and in their willfulness they hamstrung oxen.
7 Cursed be their anger, for it is fierce,
    and their wrath, for it is cruel!
I will divide them in Jacob
    and scatter them in Israel.

“Give to Levi[h] your Thummim,
    and your Urim to your godly one,
whom you tested at Massah,
    with whom you quarreled at the waters of Meribah;
who said of his father and mother,
    ‘I regard them not’;
he disowned his brothers
    and ignored his children.
For they observed your word
    and kept your covenant.
10 They shall teach Jacob your rules
    and Israel your law;
they shall put incense before you
    and whole burnt offerings on your altar.
11 Bless, O Lord, his substance,
    and accept the work of his hands;
crush the loins of his adversaries,
    of those who hate him, that they rise not again.”

(Simeon missing)

Judah, your brothers shall praise you;
    your hand shall be on the neck of your enemies;
    your father's sons shall bow down before you.
Judah is a lion's cub;
    from the prey, my son, you have gone up.
He stooped down; he crouched as a lion
    and as a lioness; who dares rouse him?
10 The scepter shall not depart from Judah,
    nor the ruler's staff from between his feet,
until tribute comes to him;[a]
    and to him shall be the obedience of the peoples.
11 Binding his foal to the vine
    and his donkey's colt to the choice vine,
he has washed his garments in wine
    and his vesture in the blood of grapes.
12 His eyes are darker than wine,
    and his teeth whiter than milk.

“Hear, O Lord, the voice of Judah,
    and bring him in to his people.
With your hands contend[g] for him,
    and be a help against his adversaries.”

13 Zebulun shall dwell at the shore of the sea;
    he shall become a haven for ships,
    and his border shall be at Sidon.

“Rejoice, Zebulun, in your going out,
    and Issachar, in your tents.
19 They shall call peoples to their mountain;
    there they offer right sacrifices;
for they draw from the abundance of the seas
    and the hidden treasures of the sand.”

14 Issachar is a strong donkey,
    crouching between the sheepfolds.[b]
15 He saw that a resting place was good,
    and that the land was pleasant,
so he bowed his shoulder to bear,
    and became a servant at forced labor.

For Issachar, see Zebulun

16 Dan shall judge his people
    as one of the tribes of Israel.
17 Dan shall be a serpent in the way,
    a viper by the path,
that bites the horse's heels
    so that his rider falls backward.
18 I wait for your salvation, O Lord.

Dan is a lion's cub
    that leaps from Bashan.”

19 “Raiders shall raid Gad,[c]
    but he shall raid at their heels.

“Blessed be he who enlarges Gad!
    Gad crouches like a lion;
    he tears off arm and scalp.
21 He chose the best of the land for himself,
    for there a commander's portion was reserved;
and he came with the heads of the people,
    with Israel he executed the justice of the Lord,
    and his judgments for Israel.”

20 Asher's food shall be rich,
    and he shall yield royal delicacies.

“Most blessed of sons be Asher;
    let him be the favorite of his brothers,
    and let him dip his foot in oil.
25 Your bars shall be iron and bronze,
    and as your days, so shall your strength be.

21 Naphtali is a doe let loose
    that bears beautiful fawns.

“O Naphtali, sated with favor,
    and full of the blessing of the Lord,
    possess the lake[l] and the south.”

22 Joseph is a fruitful bough,
    a fruitful bough by a spring;
    his branches run over the wall.[e]
23 The archers bitterly attacked him,
    shot at him, and harassed him severely,
24 yet his bow remained unmoved;
    his arms[f] were made agile
by the hands of the Mighty One of Jacob
    (from there is the Shepherd,[g] the Stone of Israel),
25 by the God of your father who will help you,
    by the Almighty[h] who will bless you
    with blessings of heaven above,
blessings of the deep that crouches beneath,
    blessings of the breasts and of the womb.
26 The blessings of your father
    are mighty beyond the blessings of my parents,
    up to the bounties of the everlasting hills.[i]
May they be on the head of Joseph,
    and on the brow of him who was set apart from his brothers.

 “Blessed by the Lord be his [Joseph’s] land,
    with the choicest gifts of heaven above,[j]
    and of the deep that crouches beneath,
14 with the choicest fruits of the sun
    and the rich yield of the months,
15 with the finest produce of the ancient mountains
    and the abundance of the everlasting hills,
16 with the best gifts of the earth and its fullness
    and the favor of him who dwells in the bush.
May these rest on the head of Joseph,
    on the pate of him who is prince among his brothers.
17 A firstborn bull[k]—he has majesty,
    and his horns are the horns of a wild ox;
with them he shall gore the peoples,
    all of them, to the ends of the earth;
they are the ten thousands of Ephraim,
    and they are the thousands of Manasseh.”

27 Benjamin is a ravenous wolf,
    in the morning devouring the prey
    and at evening dividing the spoil.”

The beloved of the Lord [Benjamin] dwells in safety.
The High God[i] surrounds him all day long,
    and dwells between his shoulders.”

Monday, March 23, 2015

The Obedient Servant (lent poem)

The Obedient Servant
1. The Sovereign Lord has given me
a tongue by which I give instruction
to know the word of consolation,
the timely word for those who sigh.
Each morning he calls me to listen
for I must do as I am bidden.

2. My ears are open to the Lord
and I have never been rebellious.
I have obeyed with utmost calmness.
I will not disregard his word
but will accept what he commands me
and do whatever he demands me.

3. I gave my back to cruel beasts,
to those who flogged me without mercy.
My cheeks I gave to those who shamed me.
They pulled my beard out by the roots.
I did not hide my face from mocking
and from their filthy hateful spitting.

4. Because the Sovereign Lord gives aid,
before him I am not embarrassed.
I will trust him though things look bleakest.
And so my face like flint I’ve made.
He will defend my reputation
so that I am by shame not smitten.

5. My Vindicator is so near.
Who then will bring a charge against me?
I challenge them to try confront me.
I don’t think anyone will dare.
I’m ready to face my accuser.
None can condemn me – God’s my helper.

6. His troubled servant God will bless:
He will avenge me for my suffering.
His eyes were open to my writhing.
He saved me from all my distress.
My mockers will wear out like garments
and moths will eat up all the fragments.

George van Popta
Based on  Isaiah 50:4-9
Metre 899D

Friday, March 20, 2015

The Commissioned Servant (a lent poem)

The Commissioned Servant

1. O listen to me, distant nations;
hear this you islands far away:
Before my birth the Lord called me.
He knew my name before creation
of earth and heaven.

2. The Lord called me to preach the gospel.
He made my mouth a sharpened sword
so that I could proclaim his word.
He called me to be ever faithful
and speak what’s truthful.

3. I am God’s arrow, sharp and gleaming.
Inside his quiver I’m concealed.
But then at his time he will wield
me as his weapon – always aiming
for man’s repenting.

4. God said to me, “You are my servant.
You are my herald, Israel.
You must to all my glory tell.
In you I’ll show my splendour brilliant
to near and distant.”

5. But then I said, “They have abhorred me.
My efforts have all been in vain.
My work has met with their disdain.
But, I know God will yet reward me,
with love award me.”

6. And then the Lord gave me a mission –
the One who called me from my birth.
He said, “Go out to all the earth,
beyond the bounds of Israel’s nation
with my salvation.

7. “You will do more than call back Israel –
the tribes of Jacob I have kept.
The nations I also accept.
You will be light for all the Gentiles;
they’ll hear the gospel.”

George van Popta
Based on Isaiah 49:1-6
Metre: 9 8 8 9 5