What I Read in 2020

Four of my favorite books from 2020, plus I'm giving one of them away!

Darren Richardson

Whatever else you can say about 2020, time spent sequestered at home afforded the opportunity to read more than usual. And, although I conclude just about every year wishing I had spent more time reading, I navigated my way through some good books these past twelve months. Here's what I read.  

Deus intra Machina: The Incredible Story of When God Subjected Himself to His Own Creation

A preview of December's email-only article.


Jill Sauve


Did you know I write a monthly article just for email subscribers? It's true!

This month we're discussing the incredible story of Immanuel--God with us--and what that means for you and me this Christmas season.

Here's how it starts:

 

As the creator of our universe, it is no big deal for God to restore the material. For the Israelites in the wilderness he supplied bread out of thin air in the form of manna. He provided water from a rock so they could drink. He restored Job's fortune and health at the conclusion of the man's trials. And God even restored the life of Lazarus though he was dead for four days.

Nevertheless for God to restore humanity from the curse of their sins, something radical had to occur. You see sin, no matter how innocent it may seem, must have a consequence. The most extreme of these consequences, as God warned the first couple, is death.

This isn't some kind of power play or overreaction to eating a piece of fruit, although such a result is certainly the right of an omnipotent, omniscient, God. Instead, death is a natural consequence of sin. All sin results in death.

 

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See you next month!


Did Isaiah Really Predict a Virgin Birth? Some Interesting Backstory to the Bible's Most Famous Prophecy (Part II)

Have you ever heard objections to the virgin birth prophecy found in Isaiah 7?

Some say virgin in Isaiah is a mistranslation of the Hebrew 'almah. They say using virgin doesn't make sense in context either; the word should really be translated young woman.

As Christians we should not shy away from biblical scrutiny, but instead embrace it. If the Bible really is the word of God, can it not hold up to criticism?

Last month we examined some popular questions and objections to Matthew's use of virgin when quoting from Isaiah 7:14.

We learned that the Gospel writer did not translate anything (as some have suggested) but instead quoted an existing Greek translation of the Hebrew known as the Septuagint.


Photo by Gareth Harper


We also examined claims that the Septuagint is a corrupt version of the Scriptures because it does not align with the more popular Masoretic Text.

If you have not yet read part one, I suggest you do so first because we set some foundations which will be useful to you as we tackle more questions surrounding the use of the word virgin in Isaiah 7. You can read that article here.

With that preamble out of the way, let's pick up where we left off.

Perhaps One Reason God's People Couldn't Eat Pork

  Part III of a series on the Old Testament.



Bethany Laird



Did you know I write a monthly article just for email subscribers? It's true!

This month we're discussing how we Christians should apply the Old Testament to our lives. And yes, this includes a discussion about pork.

Here's how it starts:

 

If you, dear reader, have been with me from the beginning then you know I'm passionate about the Old Testament and the ways in which the New Covenant believer should apply it to his or her life. My first book, Do No Work, revolved around the Sabbath and the 4th commandment, but the subtext protruding from every page was this very issue of how a Christian should apply the Jewish Scriptures. Must we rest on the Sabbath? Must we observe the Sabbath on the seventh day?

Is it okay if we get tattoos? (Lev. 19:28)
Is it kosher to wear clothing made from mixed materials? (Deut. 20:11)
Would it be all right if I trimmed my beard? (Lev. 19:27) It's getting kind of scraggly.

You get the point.

The Ten Commandments, originating in the Old Testament, elicit little controversy among Christians, and yet pretty much every Jesus freak I know trims his beard and eats bacon too. So why is it okay to eat pork but not to covet my neighbor's house (i.e. the 10th commandment)? Are we just picking and choosing which OT dictates to follow? Or is there some sort of rhyme or reason to Christianity's application of the Old Testament?

 

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Did Isaiah Really Predict a Virgin Birth? Some Interesting Backstory to the Bible’s Most Famous Prophecy

As I seem to be doing more and more these days, I have taken on an utterly too ambitious topic for this article.

Maybe you could chalk it up to the inner masochist in me, but I don’t think such an explanation tells the (entire) story. Truth is, this subject has been in the back of mind for over three years, rattling around in there and surfacing every once in a while to see if I was ready for the task of tackling the issue of the virgin birth prophecy.


Mick Haupt


After learning that the word virgin in Isaiah 7:14 does not strictly mean virgin, I began wondering if skeptics' claims that early followers of Jesus mistranslated or misconstrued the Scriptures to suit their purposes are legitimate.

In truth, although I have done quite a bit of homework on this, I am in no way an authority on the subject. Furthermore, the web article format simply cannot do the issue the justice it merits. To say this issue could fill an entire book is no exaggeration as many authors have already undertaken and fulfilled the task.

Nevertheless, I think the issue is worth addressing and revisiting because it is important we know of deficiencies (or perceptions thereof) regarding the Bible.

Should Christians Read the Old Testament?

 Part II of a series on the Old Testament.


Siora Photography


Did you know I write a monthly article just for email subscribers? It's true!

This month we're discussing the merits of the Old Testament for the modern day Jesus-follower. Should we even read the OT?

Here's a snippet:

 

If it seems like I'm playing both sides of the argument it's only because this debate is much more complex and nuanced than extremists on either side would like you to believe.

I think the best approach is first to answer the question, Why Read the Old Testament? And then proceed on to, How Can We Apply it to Our Lives? Or, to put it another way, first we will establish the value of the OT on its own merit, and then talk about how we can use and understand it.

As I see it there are three reasons why Christians should read the Old Testament:

 

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Is This Why Jesus Wrote in the Dirt?

 The Word of God stands forever, but your sins don't have to.

The Creation of Adam, detail, Michelangelo

If you've never had your vehicle impounded after getting pulled over by a police trooper, let me say I wouldn't recommend it.

One summer in the not too distant past I was driving home on the interstate when a police car approached my vehicle from behind. Needing to exit soon anyway, I slid over to the right lane to let the cruiser pass. He seemed eager to get on with his business.

To my dismay he followed suit and changed lanes along with me, still riding my bumper. We drove along for another mile or so playing this fun game of Get the Heck Away from Me/I Don't Have to I'm a Cop when at last he illuminated his emergency lights, flagging me to pull off the road and onto the shoulder.

There's no good way to answer "No" to the inevitable question the patrolman asks. He always thinks you're lying. But I wasn't going to conjure up a vehicular sin just to make myself appear more honest.

"Do you know why I pulled you over?"

I had no idea.