Showing posts from December, 2006

Three Holy Youths

Within Orthodoxy these three friends of Daniel have become an integral part of hymnology and theology. You may know them as Shadrach, Meschach, and Abednego. Yet these were their Babylonian names. Their Hebrew names were Hananiah, Mishael, & Azariah.

We first find them in the beginning of Daniel refusing the kings food for more simple vegetables. They did this out of obedience to God to avoid those things sacrificed to idols. Rather than making them weaker, their diet made them stronger than their Babylonian counterparts. This was a testimony to the power of God in their lives. Within Orthodoxy, this retelling is found in the hymnology leading up to Lent. We are about to give up meat for a period of time as we prepare our hearts for the Passion of Christ.

The next story of the three youths is used constantly in the Church. This is the account of the fiery furnace. These young men refuse to bow down to Nebuchadnezzar’s idol and are then thrown into the fiery furnance. It…

Daniel and the coming Christ

This Sunday (Dec. 17, 2006) we had finished our journey through Philippians, so rather than starting Ephesians I took a side trip.

Throughout the Nativity season multiple OT prophets are commemorated. This is no accident because they all point in some way to the coming Christ.

This particular Sunday, Daniel and his three friends are commemorated. The discussion centered around how they pointed to Christ and what role they played in Orthodox theology.

Rather than summarizing the story of Daniel here. I want to point out three major prophecies of Daniel that point to Christ in a dramatic way.

Daniel 2:34-35: "Thou sawest till that a stone was cut out without hands, which smote the image upon his feet that were made of iron and clay and broke them into pieces…and the stone that smote the image became a great mountain and filled the whole earth" (Daniel 2:34-35). This prophecy comes straight from Nebuchadnezzar’s dream. In summary, it is a dream about a statue made of four majo…

Philippians 4:4-23 Rejoice! Redux.

Phil 4:4-23 Rejoice! Redux.

4. Paul again returns to the theme of rejoice or to have joy in the Lord. He even repeats it twice. Then it seems that he begins a list of things that are intended to help support our ability to rejoice in the Lord.

5. “Let your reasonableness be known to all men” Reasonableness or forbearance- (always ready to yield, gentle, mild, reasonable, it is the opposite of returning evil for evil). It is the ability to bend and not break. This is greatly important for the Philippians because they were experiencing both persecution and betrayal in their midst. In order to secure joy in their lives, they had to lean on Christ and not necessarily take matters into their own hands.
The second half of the verse states that the “Lord is near” not necessarily that the Lord is coming soon but that He is closely present with us. We can afford to be gracious to everyone because Christ is with us (Farley).

6. “Stop being anxious” but with prayer and entreaty with gi…

Are You Saved?

As a former Evangelical Protestant this was a hugely important question for me. Almost all my religious services were directed at leading a person to a decision about their salvation.

Upon becoming Orthodox, I found that salvation is viewed much differently and that this question is rarely asked. For one thing, salvation is viewed as a process rather than a point in time. I heard recently of an Orthodox seminarian being asked this question by another man. He did not know how to answer and finally answered: "I have been saved, I am being saved, and hope to one day be saved." I am sure this created as much puzzlement with well-meaning evangelist.

For me, wrapping my head around the Orthodox concept of salvation has been a challenging part of my journey. Mostly, because of the difference of vocabulary and definitions. I found that a lot of former Evangelicals have the same difficulty. Then once they "get it", translating it back for the benefit of their Evange…

Philippians 3:17-4:3 Pitfalls on the Journey

Phil 3:17-4:3 Pitfalls of the Journey

17. Paul begins this section asking the Philippians to follow his example.
What is his example? Farley suggests that it is to “conform to apostolic pattern; the pattern is the apostolic teaching and example (Rom 6:17)”. Paul readily admits in previous verses that he has not arrived, yet he presses on. His example then is not so much every aspect of who he is but to follow him on his journey. It is the way which is the example--the journey toward Christ. This is what he is confident about. This path is sure and true and will lead to communion with God.
Paul also says to look at others who walk this way and follow their example. Who are those who we can follow their example? Today there are many faithful Christians who are on the path, but the church upholds the Saints for this reason. Here are men and women who have gone before us and have attained the prize. Their life is worthy of modeling. This should encourage us to read the…

Philippians 3:1-16 A Call to Rejoice

Philippians 3:1-16A Call to RejoiceHere is a brief summary of Phil 3:1-16.I will update it with more detail.Paul issues another call to rejoice almost as if he is ending the book.Then he becomes concerned about those who would steal the joy of these Christians, by establishing a standard other than Christ.Paul is reacting against a group of people within the church known as the Judaizers.The whole epistle to the Galatians is a defense against them.Judaizers were Jews who embraced Christianity, but felt the need to enforce the Mosaic regulations upon all who were Gentiles.The Gentiles were to be Jews first before they could become Christians.Paul reaction is that to enforce Judaism is to diminish what Christ has done.He begins his argument here by stating that if anyone could uphold themselves before God through a strict standard of Judaism it was himself.Paul was from the right tribe, studied in the right Jewish schools, and performed all the actions of a zealot.Yet he counted all thi…