I’m back & I’m here!

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I titled this blog Cross2Pentecost because I am passionate about understanding the things that only Jesus himself is able to explain. Jesus first explained these things to “disciples” between the time when he was murdered on the cross and the time of Pentecost when the Holy Spirit descended on the people in a miraculous way. This blog is my confession that though I am studying the scriptures intensely, I understand that even Jesus’ own disciples who were with him everyday physically for 3 years were not even able to fully understand the scriptures until he explained them after his resurrection. Today, I am in the very city where Jesus was murdered—Jerusalem!

This city is so alive today and full of life and yet the tension is also apparent. Yesterday, my wife and I walked through the وادي الجوز‎ (Wadi-al Joz) part of town. This part of Jerusalem, 100 years ago, was where wealthy Arabs vacationed in the summers. During our walk, we received innumerable stern looks along with being honked at numerous times. While the Jewish parts of the town seem lively and festive, clean and prosperous, this Arab part of town, today is filled with trash in the streets and Arabs who did not look happy to see us. A Palestinian friend of mine told me that the people in Jerusalem in general are hateful and he has never understood them.

On a more positive note, I made a new Jewish friend yesterday who is a professor in Haifa and we discussed his views on adopting the West Bank as part of the modern Israeli state. I’m no politician and hold no conclusive views on this subject, but I do believe that the Jews were meant to be safe in Palestine/Israel and to be a blessing to all peoples on the earth.

These experiences so far make me eager for my studies in both Arabic and Hebrew these next few years and the opportunities I will have to learn of the conditions that surround God’s authorship of the Bible as well as the conditions that have led to the current state of affairs in Israel.

Please pray for Breanna and I as we connect with Christians here and seek to participate in what God is doing in Israel today!

Don’t say, “(s)he was just made that way”

I listened to a rant the other day by people promoting a certain lifestyle that is not promoted in the Bible and I thought to myself: why is this lifestyle being promoted?

Their motive for this rant seemed pure. In their speech, I could hear compassion for the oppressed and mistreated. I thought to myself: I admire their passionate intercession for these often mistreated and poorly spoken of people; they have recognized that no-one should be disrespected for any reason.

 

 

 

 

Then I realized that instead of simply encouraging the ones who were oppressed, and instead of rebuking the insults and cruel behaviors of their oppressors, these people were going to the opposite extreme of the oppressors: they were promoting the lifestyle rather than defending the person alone; they were taking up the cause of the lifestyle rather than taking up the cause of the person’s very existence. God created all, so His cause for our life should be taken up, not the various lifestyles that people indulge in.

As an example, when I was a little boy (all the way until I was 16), I found it very natural to steal whatever my heart desired. I thought I did it in a way that was ethical since I only stole from organizations that were millions of dollars rich. I felt justified in a lifestyle that is not and never will be promoted by God. Praise God that I had people to defend me when my life spiraled out of control at the age of 16. These people did not defend my lifestyle but only me for me. They instructed me to fight against my natural urge to steal and to learn how to love others in a way that is beneficial for all—in such a way as to edify both God and man.

It should be this same way with any who are oppressed: they should be defended but not their lifestyle; only God’s lifestyle should be promoted. The Bible contains God’s Word in a pure form that can lead us to the most satisfying lifestyle: the fountain of life who is Jesus.

None of us are perfectly in alignment with God’s plan for us. It is not natural, with a sin nature, to choose to live in accordance with God’s plan for us; and yet, still, we are able to align ourselves ever more with God. Let us not settle for living as is natural to us, but let us constantly be exercising our will—drawing it evermore into a place that agrees with God’s Word. Stick up for the oppressed, but don’t promote the lifestyle of any human being because there is none found worthy except Jesus.

In brotherly love,
Nate Rottinghaus

Set apart for the LORD

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Nearly 3,200 years ago, our Father began to put his Word into writing for all to see. The language that he first spoke in the revelation of his Word, who is Jesus, was very different than the English that we speak today. The oldest manuscripts that reveal the Word of our Father are preserved in the Hebrew language. The image below is a replica of the Priestly Blessing from Numbers 6:24–26 as contained in a scroll that dates back 2,600 years (300 years before the Dead Sea Scrolls).

priestly blessing

I believe that our Father loves the Hebrew language like he loves Israel. It’s unexplainable, but somehow this language is special to him: like the people of Israel, like the land of Israel, the language of Israel has been consecrated as a priestly language, a language that he has preserved for thousands of years.

Knowing this language cannot make us any more righteous in God’s eyes, we need Jesus to fulfill our Father’s call to righteousness. On the other hand, although a father speaks like a child to his children when they are young, he calls them to maturity and to be his friends by speaking his language. Speaking the language of our Father is not the only way we draw near to him; in fact, our Father can be delighted by the heart of his children even in the ways that we never mature. Perhaps the greatest joy for a father is to see a child learning to share his blessings with others.

I believe that the Father desires companionship with us in an intimate way that is just as important to him as prayer, good works, and loving his only begotten son, our LORD and firstborn in the faith, Jesus. I believe that God longs to speak to us in the Hebrew language. I believe that he crafted Hebrew especially for a people consecrated to him: a favored language for a favored people.

In brotherly love,
Nate

Tense

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When my wife kisses me, I often feel warm inside and well-loved. These feelings sometimes last for hours and are re-aroused days, months or years later when I recall her kissing me.

If, I speak of my experience when Bre, “…kissed me…,” I can experience it in three different tense-related ways:

  1. I can view the kiss as a completed action in the past, the effect of which I no longer feel: “she kissed me and I felt full of an overwhelming sense of contentment and joy ” (notice that the focus here is on what I felt: contentment and joy; the kiss is viewed as a background event in the past).
  2. I can also view the kiss in such a way as to re-arouse the feelings as I speak about the glorious event: “after she has kissed me, I feel full of an overwhelming sense of contentment and joy” (notice that the focus here is turned to the experience of feeling; the experience is being re-experienced as I tell it, both how I feel and the cause of my feelings are background information in comparison to my experience of actually feeling something).
  3. One final time-related way that I can view the kiss is as an experience that awaits me in the future: “and then, after she has kissed me, I will be full of an overwhelming sense of contentment and joy” (notice that the focus in this wording is on my faith and hope in what I believe will be the result of kissing my beautiful wife).

In one Roman translation of the God’s Word, written around 400AD, Genesis 1:1 uses the word “create” in a form which is the present-tense of the perfective aspect: in normal English, this means that this historical event is being told with a present tense sense (see the above kissing example to understand the value of the present tense sense). It seems to me that such wording is utilized to encourage the reader to experience the event as it is being told.

It is fun and fulfilling to ponder the time-related ways in which we can experience a one-time event depicted in God’s Word. There is a-whole-nother world contained in God’s Word. A world much different than the one we perceive with the eyes of our flesh. Consider how your experience of the scriptures might be different if you allow yourself to be a part of God’s story as you read or listen to it without merely viewing it as a past event.

Try experiencing every aspect of God as if the events communicated by his Word are felt as having just happened while simultaneously being recognized as factual details and being the promise of things to come. This is what God’s Word empowers us to do, and as Christians, equipped with the armor of God, we can wield this powerful sword, God’s Word, in such a way as to ward off the attacks of the spiritual enemy of God.

God bless,
Nate

Aspect

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In English, it seems that the aspect of the word “could” is understood differently depending on the context. If I say, “people could not understand Jesus’ parable,” the aspect of “could” changes depending on how I frame it. If I say, “the people were listening to Jesus and were trying to understand him, but some people could not understand Jesus’ parable,” I am speaking of could in a sort of imperfect sense: it can be understood to say, “some people were not being able to understand Jesus’ parable.” If, however, I frame this scenario by saying, “some people could not understand Jesus’ parable and so they voiced opposition to his teaching,” then the word “could” is understood in a perfect sense that paints “could” as a completed action with the effect that such people opposed Jesus.

This difference is referred to by English speaking linguists as “aspect.” A simplified way to view the imperfective aspect (e.g. “some people were not being able to understand”) is to view the imperfective aspect as a scene in a movie: you can see it happening, even if you understand it to be something from the past or in the future, and you aren’t quite sure what will happen next. Likewise, a simplified way to view the perfective aspect (e.g. “some people were not able to understand”) is to view the perfective aspect as a photograph of an action that has been completed: you have a sense of the action being done, but all you see is a still shot of it with a clear picture of what happened (or happens or will happen) as a result of the action; CSI-type murder mystery shows often show these sort of snapshot scenes that depict a sort of perfective aspect of an action.

Sadly, in English, even my explanation of this may seem muddy because there is no way, other than context, for me to distinguish between which way I want you to look at the scenario described. Perhaps this is why Americans have a well-funded movie industry today: movies allow us to place still-shot perfective aspect views of an action in sequence with active imperfective aspect views of an action, all without the need for a single word. Many early biblical languages were well-equipped to use words to express the aspect of the action being described. Early Hebrew, Greek, and Latin spelled verbs differently depending on how the reader was supposed to view them. I believe some modern languages such as Russian & German also do this.

When reading the Bible, try considering how different views of events are portrayed by what you are reading. This does not lead to salvation, but it’s entertaining and it may help you to develop a clearer & more meaningful understanding of what God is revealing to you about Jesus through his Word. If you’re feeling really ambitious, begin studying a biblical language today. As mentioned above, Hebrew, Greek, and Latin are the most accessible languages because they have been used for thousands of years now to preserve the most comprehensive & original translations of the Bible.

For those of you interested in studying Latin, I would recommend Wheelock’s resources (just google it); this is the grammar used, for instance, in the University of Iowa’s classical languages program. For those of you interested in studying biblical Greek, I would recommend William D. Mounce’s Basics of Biblical Greek; this is the grammar used in many introductory courses in seminaries & undergraduate biblical studies. For those of you interested in learning biblical Hebrew, I would recommend buying a copy of JoAnne Hackett’s biblical Hebrew grammar; she is a leading scholar in Akkadian (another very early biblical language) & both her & her husband are biblical Hebrew professors who taught for many years at Harvard.

A word to the weary, don’t waste your time studying biblical languages if it will interfere with your devotional time with Jesus. God desires our heartfelt & selfless love more than our sacrifice.

For those of you who have found rest in the LORD & who are looking for a way to draw your gaze ever deeper into God’s Word, try studying a biblical language starting today.

In brotherly love,
Nate

From the Cross to Pentecost

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Somewhere close to 3,200 years ago, our Father began to reveal his Word in writing to the descendants of one God-honoring man named Abraham. Over the years, people grew increasingly ignorant of God’s love for them and chose death-causing sin in place of our Father’s unfailing love. This infuriated God. He hated seeing his creation stray from the perfect plans he had for them.

About 2,000 years ago, God’s compassion for creation was manifest in his being born by his Holy Spirit through a virgin who we call Mary. He became an incarnate God, fully manifest in one man’s body. In the English speaking world, we know this incarnate God by the name Jesus. He maintained an unglorified appearance in this body so that others might believe in him on account of his goodness and not because of their own lust for glory.

A little over 30 years after his birth as a human, God satisfied his wrath against sin by using sinners to murder his incarnate body in the most brutal way known at that time: he was beaten beyond recognition, mocked and cursed, and then nailed to the infamous cross to suffer for 6 hours before deciding that his wrath against sin had been satisfied.

On the 3rd day after being murdered, God restored his incarnate body and went to those who truly loved him (aka those who knew that this man Jesus was the incarnate Word of God). God then spent some time explaining to these lovers of God how the Bible reveals Jesus to us.

After explaining these things, God ascended into heaven promising to return to them in the form of the Holy Spirit and to dwell in all who will accept the revelation of Jesus and live by his Word (this requires knowing and doing his will).

A week after his ascension into heaven, 7 weeks after his crucifixion, God fulfilled his promise and descended on his people in the form of the Holy Spirit.

This is where this blog comes in (about 2,000 years later). I have commmitted myself to journeying through God’s confirmed Word (the 66 books of the Christian Bible) once every 7 weeks in English (I like the TNIV because it is worded in very modern and yet fairly grammatically accurate language).

My hope is that each time I go through the Bible in this way, I will gain a new revelation of Jesus. My hope is that I will begin to understand what Jesus’ disciples experienced between the time of Jesus’ crucifixion and between the time when the Holy Spirit descended on them after his ascension to heaven. My hope is that I will see the power of God break loose in our generation in a way that I have never before even imagined.

-Nate