In connection with my reading of Genesis, I’ve also been reading James Jordan’s Primeval Saints. Here’s a quotation relating to the Tower of Babel:
Ever since this time sinful human beings have tended to view people who speak other languages as inferior, or even as only talking animals. The word “barbarian” comes from the way other languages sound in our ears: “bar bar,” almost like the barking of dogs. European conquerors treated Africans and Asians as barbarians, seldom bothering to learn their very rich and complex languages, despising the inescapable manifestation of the image of God in these cultures.The Christian knows that God has established Christianity to create a true unity of confession … among all nations and peoples, but this unity will not destroy the diversity of languages. Instead, each nation and language will praise Him in its own tongue (Rev. 7:9). Enlightened Christians seek to recognize and appreciate the beauty of every language God has put into the human race. Good missionaries do not seek to destroy everything in pagan societies, but rather they bring the Bible to such cultures and let the Bible transform them into true cultures.
At Pentecost (Acts 2), God sent out the gospel in all languages. While the Bible is the original and pure form of God’s Word in Hebrew, Aramaic, and Greek, the fullness of His revelation will not come until every language comes to express biblical truth in its own unique way. Every language has a particular set of perspectives on the Word of God, and thus every language is fitted to reveal God and praise Him in a special way. Throughout eternity the saints will delight to learn language after language, learning to praise God in new ways, age after age, forever and ever.
I’ve been reading through Genesis for the last few days, and on Saturday I noticed something in Genesis 9 that I hadn’t spotted before.
We tend to think that God placed the rainbow in the cloud primarily to remind us that God won’t destroy the world with a flood — and, of course, that’s part of the function of the rainbow, which is why God tells Noah about the rainbow. But the rainbow has that man-comforting function because God says that He will look on the rainbow and remember the covenant (Gen. 9:16). The rainbow functions primarily, then, as a memorial for God so that when He sees it He will remember His promises and His people. In fact, that’s the purpose of many of the memorials in Scripture: they are God-appointed reminders to God of His covenant.
All of that was familiar to me already. But what I hadn’t noticed before was that, right after speaking about how He will see the rainbow and remember His covenant, God then says that the rainbow is “the sign of the covenant” (Gen. 9:17).
In our Reformed sacramental theology, we speak of baptism and the Lord’s Supper as “signs” (and “seals”), language we have learned from Scripture. But as we think about the sacraments as “signs,” we ought to take into account what Scripture means when it speaks of something as a “sign of the covenant.” And here in Genesis 9, the “sign of the covenant,” while it does have a man-ward function, serves primarily to remind God of His faithfulness to His covenant.
In this connection, we might think also of the signs God places on men’s foreheads in Ezekiel and Revelation. They are put there so that God will remember these people in grace and so that the people will not be destroyed in God’s judgment.
So too, then, with the sacraments. Baptism and the Lord’s Supper, as “signs” of the covenant, identify us to God as His people so that He maintains His covenant faithfulness to us. That isn’t their only function, of course, but it does appear to be one of their primary functions.
Perhaps this is old news to you (especially if your name is Mark Horne), but I can’t recall seeing much discussion along these lines — okay, I can’t remember any — in standard Reformed treatments of the sacraments.
This morning, I sifted through my “Blogs I Read” list and shook a few of them into another category: “Fellow Church Members.” All the bloggers in this category are members of Covenant Reformed Church here in Grande Prairie. Now if we could just get a church website up with some pictures….
On Friday night, my new landlords and I watched Changing Lanes. I’d seen it once before and enjoyed it, but I had thought some elements were implausible. This time, however, some of the things that had appeared to me (and, I gather, to some reviewers) to be weaknesses didn’t look as weak as I had thought.
I recall hearing that Gattaca got some bad reviews because the reviewers thought the characters (indeed, all the people) seemed a bit stiff and stand-offish. But that, of course, was the point. In the future as portrayed by Gattaca people would be that way.
So, too, with Changing Lanes: What some people saw as weaknesses were there for a reason. Here’s the first and perhaps biggest implausibility to come to mind: All the events in the movie take place on one day. The two characters meet and carry out their vendetta against each other and the whole thing is over by suppertime.
But it seems to me that the implausibility is designed to make a point and the point has to do with which day it is. We hear it fairly early in the movie: “It’s Friday. Good Friday,” we’re told (to which the Ben Affleck character responds, “What’s so good about it?”). Later, in a crucial scene in the movie, we’re shown a Good Friday celebration in a Roman Catholic church (“The wood of the cross on which was slain the Saviour of the world”). Watch for an icon hanging in a closet in one scene, not to mention other times when the camera lingers on a cross.
The movie is, quite simply, about reconciliation, the kind which comes about only when one lays down one’s rights, accepts suffering without retaliation, and repays evil with good — all of which has everything to do with Good Friday. On first viewing, I was moved by the ending and intrigued by the pervasive Christianity but also disturbed by a few elements. On this second viewing, while I still see some flaws in the ending, I understand it better and my appreciation for the whole has grown.
As Jessie pointed out to me recently, I haven’t blogged since my installation. That Friday night was pretty rough, but the flu seemed to abate by the next Saturday, only to recur again Monday night. It seems to be gone now. Thanks for your prayers and encouragement!
I felt pretty good on Sunday. I preached my inaugural sermon in the morning: Philippians 1:1-2, which is not only a reminder of the role of ministers (“slaves of Christ Jesus”) and the status of all the members of the church (“saints in Christ”) but also the kick-off to a series on Philippians.
The Bishop preached in the afternoon. His sermon on Joshua 4 was entitled “My Trip to the Holy Land.” All kinds of people travel to Israel to be baptized in the Jordan. But we have been baptized in the Jordan. Just as Israel did, we too have left Egypt through the Red Sea and entered the Promised Land by passing through the Jordan because Jesus was baptized in the Jordan and we have been baptized into Him.
For now, I’m still living in the basement of the deacon’s house. On Monday they should start laying the carpet in my new house (upstairs and down, I hope). So it’s possible that I’ll be in there in a couple of weeks … or so.