Archive for August, 2011

Βαβυλών

Thursday, August 25th, 2011

Cush was the father of Nimrod, who became a mighty warrior on the earth. He was a mighty hunter before the LORD; that is why it is said, “Like Nimrod, a mighty hunter before the LORD.” The first centers of his kingdom were Babylon, Uruk, Akkad and Kalneh, in Shinar. From that land he went to Assyria, where he built Nineveh, Rehoboth Ir, Calah and Resen, which is between Nineveh and Calah—which is the great city.
Genesis 10:8-12

Putting the pieces of Nimrod together, we see a better picture:

  • Nimrod Bar-Cush (נִמְרוֹד). His name is taken from the Hebrew verb form for “let us revolt” – marad. Others interpret the name as “The Rebel”, because an “n” is added before the “m” in marad, making it an infinitive construct. This paints him as a type/representative/system of rebellion against God. Although we cannot say that it is exactly where his name was derived from, it cannot be ignored. Names have a particular significance in the Bible. His actions show a particular slant against God’s word. While God’s command was to scatter people and populate the world (Genesis 1:28, 9:1), Nimrod was gathering people in one place to build his kingdom (Genesis 11:4).
  • What was particularly interesting is in the way the Bible handles his introduction. Nimrod was not described as a person who was, but a person who became or began to be (Genesis 10:8; 1 Chronicles 1:10). This adds to the theory that Nimrod is a person representative of a unified and systematic rebellion against God.
  • Although he is described as a “mighty warrior”, the implication of the Hebrew word is a powerful tyrant. It could be said that Nimrod was exceptionally powerful/mighty; The Hebrew word for “mighty one” is used 4 times in the Old Testament to describe men with exceptional strength/ability (Genesis 6:4, I Samuel 17:5, I Chronicles 11:26-47). Some also say that he was a hunter not of animals but of men, but there is no evidence of such a claim. The Hebrew word for hunter is also used to describe Esau (Genesis 25:27-28) – a hunter of animals. It is not difficult to see how he acquired that title when we consider that he conquered a multitude of cities and built a number of other cities; he was the creator of the world’s first empire and was the first ever human king.
  • Babylon, the city which he founded was the first account of a concerted and unified effort from men to defy God. God recognised this unified effort in saying “Behold, they are one people” (Genesis 11:6). The goal for building the Tower of Babel is simple and purely God defying – to “make a name for ourselves” (Genesis 11:4). God’s response was to scatter them (Genesis 11:8-9). Such a difference from the story of Moses (Genesis 12:2).

Babylon was started as a kingdom built with man in the center. It’s prize building, the Tower of Babel, was built to be a trophy of the kingdom’s exploits. It was a celebration of the power of man apart from God. Hundreds of years later, we see that it hasn’t changed a single bit (Daniel 4:29-30). The king as a representative and head of the kingdom articulated exactly what the people of Babel might have said if the tower was ever completed.

“Is not this the great Babylon I have built as the royal residence, by my mighty power and for the glory of my majesty?”
King Nebuchadnezzar

Nimrod was talented and strong, but chose to build his own kingdom. In the end, his trophy tower was stripped and his kingdom was scattered (Genesis 11:5-9). Nebuchadnezzar was successful, but chose to attribute all the success to himself. He had to be taken from his kingdom and humbled (Daniel 4:31-37). Many of us are talented as Nimrod and successful as Nebuchadnezzar was.

Now, whose kingdom are we building with all our talent? And who do we attribute our success to?

More reading (with a pinch of salt):
http://www.buzzardhut.net/index/htm/Babylon/Nimrod.htm
http://www.christiananswers.net/dictionary/nimrod.html

דָּנִיֵּאל

Friday, August 12th, 2011

Today I was told that 2 other collegues complained about my communication skills to my supervisor. I was told that I do not listen to problems well and therefore misunderstand problems and that I skip too quickly to the hows of things and jump over the whys, which is important. My supervisor is extremely tactful and gave the criticism a soft landing. I am a little disheartened, but at the same time, I recognize that it is a learning opportunity. Although the complains have come from certain fault-finders, there is some element of truth behind it. I will learn and grow.

This prompted me to think: it is not difficult for anyone to find fault in anyone else. Such is life. This is true at home, in our vocations and in churches. In our workplaces, we know our bosses faults inside and out. There is a quote from William Collins that says “Always mistrust a subordinate who never finds fault with his superior.” In the church, leaders often have their faults publicised through the great vine. We might have learnt to accept it or work around it, but we all acknowledge it. Absolutely no one is without fault.

“The fault-finder will find faults even in paradise. ”
Henry David Thoreau

Just a few days ago, I was reading the book of Daniel on the plane.  I was impressed by the account of his life. We know of him as a person of noble descent. He was amongst the men who were taken to serve in Nebuchadnezzar’s palace who were exceptionally talented (Daniel 1:4) But not only was he royal and talented, he was also righteous. Even as an exile in a foreign land, he was determined to live right and eat right (Daniel 1:8). Ezekiel, who lived in the time of Daniel and was his contemporary spoke of him as “righteous” and “wise” (Ezekiel 14:14,20; 28:3).

Now Daniel so distinguished himself among the administrators and the satraps by his exceptional qualities that the king planned to set him over the whole kingdom. At this, the administrators and the satraps tried to find grounds for charges against Daniel in his conduct of government affairs, but they were unable to do so. They could find no corruption in him, because he was trustworthy and neither corrupt nor negligent.
Daniel 6:3-4

What struck me most about Daniel is that under scrutiny, he was found faultless. This isn’t the same as being blameless/sinless morally, the context here is “in his conduct of government affairs”. In 21st century language, Daniel was a manager who never accidentally brought an office pen home, never used the office printer for personal stuff, never checked his personal email and never made a personal call at work. He always replied emails and calls, met all the deadlines, put in 100% quality work and related to his subordinates, supervisors and collegues with dignity, politeness and respect. In the annual 360 degree performance appraisal, he came out right on top. He didn’t sweep his mistakes/corruption under the carpet either, if not, it would have been discovered by his opponents. What a testimony!

When we listen to Daniel’s prayer for Israel, we get a glimpse of his heart:

Lord, listen! Lord, forgive! Lord, hear and act! For your sake, my God, do not delay, because your city and your people bear your Name.”
Daniel 9:19

I believe that Daniel fully understood what it meant to bear the name of God. He refused to attribute any glory to himself but instead gave it all to God (Daniel 2:27-28, 6:22). He affirmed the rule of God over the kingdom he served (Daniel 4:24, 5:18). I believe that he understood that Israel’s role was to bear God’s holy name (Isaiah 43:10, 44:8). When God punishes Israel, it is for His name’s sake and when He saves them, it is also for His name’s sake (Ezekiel 20:14, 36:20-23). He took upon himself the responsibility to carry and glorify God’s name. Daniel examplified that godliness can exist in the most ungodly environments.

In fact, from the beginning of creation, we were created to bring glory to the name of God (Isaiah 43:7). In case we fool ourselves to think that this is an Old Testament example and it is not relevant in the New Testament, have a look at Matthew 5:16, 1 Corinthians 10:31 and 2 Corinthians 5:20. As Christians, we are the physical representation of God to the people around us. We are the only gospel that many will ever read.

Finally these men said, “We will never find any basis for charges against this man Daniel unless it has something to do with the law of his God.”
Daniel 6:5

As faultless as Daniel was, he had one weakness – God. Imagine that the only thing they could use to trip him was his obedience to God. Daniel was a man who was totally defined by God.

This is my prayer, that my only weakness is Christ.

Know me

Friday, August 5th, 2011

No good tree bears bad fruit, nor does a bad tree bear good fruit. Each tree is recognized by its own fruit. People do not pick figs from thornbushes, or grapes from briers.
Luke 6:43-44

Flights always bring up a sense of dread in me. I know I probably wouldn’t die. I’m not aerophobic. But I have a deep respect that at 30,000 ft in the air, I am very much subject to the law of gravity. But it isn’t the law of gravity that makes it scary, death is but a passage. In the end, I am at the mercy of God both in life and in death.

Before every flight, my mental preparation is simple. I look to God with confidence, knowing that He loves and accepts me as His son. Then I ask myself “What is my legacy? What will I be remembered by? Where is my fruit? ”

Remain in me, as I also remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me.
“I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.
John 15:4-5

If I was to be known by anything, I would like to be known for God’s fruit in me. That I love God. I love my wife. And I love everyone around me.

Like a rush-ian

Thursday, August 4th, 2011

Past few weeks have been a whirlwind of change. Everything is moving at an accelerated pace. I have been struggling to juggle everything in my 24 hour day – husbandly duties, travel plans, house maintenance, studies, work and friends. Often something gets left behind, in this case, my studies and bible study. I am reminded of how limited I am and how big my God is. While I spend 6 to 8 hours a day absolutely immobile, asleep to the world and totally helpless. Our God needs no sleep (Psalm 121:3-4). While I have to put in effort to get anything done with only 2 hands (or 4 if you include my wife), God does everything with ease (Jeremiah 32:17). While I have to keep organised, juggle my time and energy to ensure that everything is kept in place, He holds everything in place just by being Him (Colossians 1:17; Hebrews 1:3).

It is incredibly easy to lose sight of God when I get too busy, but God never allows it. My busyness only shows my need for more dependence on Him.