Mitch Chase

The First Time We are Told to Love the Lord

Deuteronomy 6:5 is about loyalty, covenant faithfulness, allegiance. What kind of people should the Israelites be? They should be loyal to God who had redeemed them from Egypt and who (in the context of Deuteronomy) had carried them to the border of the promised land. Their love for God would take the shape of obedience—internalizing and walking according to God’s commands.

The biblical authors teach us how we should respond to the God who made us and redeemed us. For example, we should trust, obey, fear, and praise the Lord. These are not recommendations from the biblical authors. They are commands.
Christians also know from Scripture that we are to love the Lord. This, too, is a command. But do you know when the Scripture first commands us to love God? In Exodus 20:6, the Lord spoke of his steadfast love to those who love him and keep his commandments, but that isn’t framed as a command. In Leviticus 19:18, we are commanded to love our neighbor as ourselves, but that is not an explicit command about loving God.
The first command to love the Lord is in Deuteronomy 6. Moses has just reiterated the Ten Commandments to the Israelites (Deut. 5:7–21), and now he gives this instruction: “You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might” (Deut. 6:5). Here is the first time in the Bible where we are called to love the Lord.
This command in Deuteronomy 6:5 is probably familiar to you. It comes right after the opening Shema language in 6:4: “Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God, the LORD is one.”
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She will be Saved through Childbearing

Paul is saying to women: there is salvation in Christ for you. Trust Christ and continue in that faith. Persevere in godly living, and bear the fruit of holiness and love. In Christ you have been saved, you are being saved, and you will be saved. Don’t rebel against God’s design for you. Embrace life as a godly woman. In a culture that says, “Look inside yourself,” look to Christ instead. 

Peter once wrote that there are “some things” in Paul’s letters “that are hard to understand” (2 Pet. 3:16), and 1 Timothy 2:15 would surely be among “some things.” Paul’s words in 1 Timothy 2:15 comprise one of the most difficult verses in the whole New Testament.
Paul said, “Yet she will be saved through childbearing—if they continue in faith and love and holiness, with self-control” (1 Tim. 2:15).
Can we make some sense of what Paul is saying? Let’s look at the verse carefully, in parts.
She
Who is the “she”? In the previous verse, Paul said “the woman was deceived and became a transgressor” (1 Tim. 2:14), and this was his summary of what happened to Eve in Genesis 3 when the serpent tempted her. There is no independent Greek pronoun at the beginning of 1 Timothy 2:15, so the subject must be implied.
Given the content of the previous verse, the subject at the beginning of 1 Timothy 2:15 is probably “She” or “The/A woman.” But Eve alone is not in view, because later in the verse the plural “they continue” denotes women. Apparently the implied “she” (or “woman”) is representative of women, and the plurality is confirmed by the “they continue” later in the verse.
Will Be Saved
The Greek word for “saved” here can mean rescue from danger, healing from disease, or deliverance from sin. So what does “saved” mean in 1 Timothy 2:15?

One view is that a woman can be “saved” from deception. If 1 Timothy 2:14 says that Eve was deceived, maybe 2:15 is telling us that there is deliverance from deception.
Another view is that a woman will be physically safe through childbearing.
A third possibility is that Paul means spiritual salvation (from sin and judgment).

Which view should we prefer? Most of the time in his letters, Paul uses this word “saved” to mean salvation from sin and judgment. More specifically, in the Pastoral Epistles of 1–2 Timothy and Titus, Paul uses this word “saved” consistently for deliverance from sin and judgment (see 1 Tim. 2:4; 2 Tim. 1:9; 4:18; Titus 3:5).
Even in the very chapter where 1 Timothy 2:15 is found, Paul spoke of God’s desire for all people “to be saved,” and this salvation is from sin and judgment. While the first view (being “saved” from deception) is possible, the pattern of Paul’s use of “saved” is against the idea of being saved from mere deception. Regarding the second view, we know that there are women—even Christian women—who have died in the act of childbearing, so the second view is unlikely.
The language of “will be saved” denotes salvation from sin and judgment.
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Names Repeated Twice

These first four occasions of twice-repeated names are in the Old Testament, and the character responds to the Lord’s voice with, “Here I am.” The final three occurrences of twice-repeated names are in the New Testament. In the three New Testament occasions of twice-repeated names, there was no “Here I am” response from a biblical character, which was a phrase we saw in the four contexts of the Old Testament occurrences.

Plenty of Old and New Testament passages have dialogue where a character’s name is mentioned. But there are occasions—and you can hold them in two hands—when the Lord calls someone’s name twice in a row.
Counting the names that are repeated twice in the Old and New Testaments, we find seven.
The first time was in Genesis 22:11. In Genesis 22, Abraham was preparing to offer his son Isaac on the altar, in accordance with the Lord’s instructions. When he reached out his hand with the knife to kill Isaac, the angel of Yahweh called from heaven, “Abraham, Abraham!” (Gen. 22:11). And Abraham replied, “Here I am.”
The second time was in Genesis 46:2. In Genesis 46, Jacob had recently learned that his son Joseph was alive after many years of believing Joseph was dead. Jacob began his journey toward Egypt, where he would reunite with Joseph. When Jacob came to Beersheba and offered sacrifices to the Lord, the Lord spoke to him and said, “Jacob, Jacob” (Gen. 46:2). And Jacob replied, “Here I am.”
The third time was in Exodus 3:4. Moses had been keeping the flock of his father-in-law Jethro, and an angel of Yahweh appeared to Moses in the flame of fire from a bush (Exod. 3:1–2). Moses turned aside to see what was happening, and God called to him, “Moses, Moses!” (3:4). And Moses replied, “Here I am.”
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To Lead Quiet and Peaceful Lives

We should pray that governing authorities, both local and federal, would not seek to thwart or suppress our faithful and public Christian witness. Opposing the witness of Christ’s church is foolish because opposing Christ’s church is opposing Christ himself (Acts 9:1–5). And that won’t end well.

In 1 Timothy 2:1–2, Paul wants believers to pray all kinds of prayers for all kinds of people. This practice is good and pleasing to God (1 Tim. 2:3). But what are the kinds of things we should pray for?
Paul says to pray for “kings and all who are in high positions, that we may lead a peaceful and quiet life, godly and dignified in every way” (1 Tim. 2:2).
When Paul wrote those words to Timothy, the emperor in power was Nero (from AD 54–68), and Nero was an emperor who opposed Christians. Paul was eventually martyred sometime in the mid-60s, during Nero’s reign. Apparently Paul’s prayers for rulers weren’t contingent on their goodness or wisdom. In fact, Nero’s hostility and spiritual rebellion were reasons why Christians should pray!
Paul’s hope for the saints is that they could “lead a peaceful and quiet life” (1 Tim. 2:2). He’s talking here about a political and social climate that allows Christianity to thrive and not be suppressed. A “peaceful and quiet life” is the opposite of hostile or persecutorial conditions.
The biblical authors never tell us to pray for persecution. In fact, when Paul does tell believers what to pray for, he says to pray for those in high positions that we might live peaceful and quiet lives. That doesn’t necessarily mean the leaders will be Christians, though praying for leaders to be saved is an important part of the prayers we offer on their behalf.
People in positions of authority can make things harder for Christians to live as Christians and to spread the gospel. Paul calls believers to pray that leaders would govern in such a way that Christians could live peaceably. This kind of life means a convictional, faithful, public life, a life without the worldly powers seeking to suppress and thwart Christian devotion.
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This Is Where It All Begins

As we survey life under the sun, we may wonder what basis there is for the human pursuit of meaning. How do we know there is purpose in life and to life? How do we know we matter? We know we matter because of Genesis 1:1. We know there is meaning because Genesis 1:1 grounds all meaning. The truth of this verse is the reason for humanity’s search for purpose in life. If Genesis 1:1 isn’t true, there is no ultimate purpose to life in this world. If Genesis 1:1 isn’t true, your sense of what matters and why is no more reliable than anyone else’s sense of what matters and why.

Everyone you meet is living according to some story. There is some kind of meaning they’re pursuing. They have an answer to the question of why there is something rather than nothing, even if that answer is inadequate. They have thought about whether there is anything beyond death.
While everyone is living according to some story, their formulation of it might be rather haphazard. They may have no good basis for the things they’re assuming are true. They could be living according to a story that lacks any sound objective grounding for its components and claims.
Maybe their views about relationships are gleaned from Hollywood movies or best-selling fiction. Maybe their understanding about human nature has been shaped more by pop psychology than by anything else. Maybe their sense of meaning and purpose depends more on their personal intuition than on anything they could really assert and defend with confidence.
The Christian’s story is the Bible’s epic narrative. The biblical authors are calling us to reckon with the reality of God and his work in his world. They teach us why there is something rather than nothing. They teach us where meaning is found in this life and what lies ahead in the life to come. They tell us what has gone wrong in the world and what God has done about it.
The biblical authors tell us the true story of the world. How does this story begin? Starting a great story isn’t easy, but first words matter. Formulating the right opening words is key to hooking the reader.
Think of some opening lines in famous books. Moby Dick, from Melville, begins with three words: “Call me Ishmael.”
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The Word Dwelt–Like a Tabernacle

When the Old Testament Israelites traveled with the tabernacle, and when they camped around it, they could rightly say, “God is with us.” But the tabernacle was a shadow, a type, of something greater—Someone greater. Jesus is the true and greater tabernacle who came to dwell among sinners. He is Immanuel, God with us.

The opening of John’s Gospel contains some of the most epic words that have ever been written. The language in John 1:1–14 is beautiful and profound, and the main subject—the Word—concerns the one for whom and by whom all things were made.
In John 1:1–14, we learn that the Word always was, that the Word was before everything else, and that the Word came into the world like light—divine light. God’s speaking was at the same time a shining, and this light was revelation, the revelation of the incarnate Word.
When John tells us about what we call the incarnation, he says, “And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth” (John 1:14).
That whole verse is dense with wonderful things, but I only want to focus on one of them. The Word dwelt among us. Let’s think about that.
The verb dwelt is ἐσκήνωσεν, which is from the verb σκηνόω, and it means to dwell or encamp. This is why the Greek translation of the Old Testament uses the word σκηνη for tent or tabernacle. In the Old Testament, the presence of the tabernacle signaled the presence of Yahweh drawing near to the Israelites in their camp.
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Hope for a World In Ruins

When the light of Scripture searches our hearts, we’re exposed as guilty. We’ve fallen short of the glory of God. We sin because we are sinners, and we deserve to reap the judgment in the darkness we love. But, grace upon grace, light shines into the world. There is hope in the ruins because Christ has entered the ruins. And where Christ is, there is light. 

I don’t presume to know what your year has been like. But this I know: life is not easy. Every year has its hardships, its losses, its unmet expectations. In a fallen world filled with sinners, some manner of difficulty is not only reasonable, it is part of our day-to-day existence.
Don’t you see how every part of our world is in need of rescue? There’s nothing the curse of sin hasn’t touched. There’s no one unaffected by it. Broken families are everywhere. Loneliness abounds. Medical maladies seem overwhelming, and ultimately there is no medicine to stop death. Political and social tensions run hot and, especially in the United States, there’s pent-up anger that seeks outlets of every sort.
The only hope for a world in ruins is the redeemer of sinners. John tells us in the Fourth Gospel, “The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it” (John 1:5). That’s what we need—light that the darkness can’t overcome. This light is Jesus. He is the “true light, which gives light to everyone” (1:9).
What John has in mind is the incarnation of the Son of God. Jesus is the light, and the incarnation is how he came into the world.
Jesus shines in the world which was made through him (John 1:10). He was before all things, and he entered the world to redeem all things. What we need for the darkness is redeeming light, yet no one deserves this light.
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The Angel Gabriel

The most significant appearance of Gabriel in the book of Daniel was in Daniel 9, and his most significant appearance in Luke 1 was to Mary in Luke 1:26–38. In the former passage he promised that the Anointed One would come, and in the latter passage he announced that the time of fulfillment had arrived. 

The biblical authors identify the angel Gabriel by name in only two books: the book of Daniel and the Gospel of Luke. Let’s consider these appearances and whether they have any relation to each other.
The Appearances
Gabriel is mentioned twice in Daniel and twice in Luke. Here are the spots:

And I heard a man’s voice between the banks of the Ulai, and it called, “Gabriel, make this man understand the vision” (Dan. 8:16)
While I was speaking in prayer, the man Gabriel, whom I had seen in the vision at the first, came to me in swift flight at the time of the evening sacrifice (Dan. 9:21).
And the angel answered him, “I am Gabriel. I stand in the presence of God, and I was sent to speak to you and to bring you this good news” (Luke 1:19).
In the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent from God to a city of Galilee named Nazareth, to a virgin betrothed to a man whose name was Joseph, to the house of David. And the virgin’s name was Mary (Luke 1:26–27).

When you look at these four places where Gabriel’s name appears, the two places in Daniel are back to back, and the two places in Luke are back to back as well. Daniel 8 and Daniel 9 are vision scenes where the future is made known to the prophet. The occurrences of Gabriel’s name in Luke are in 1:5–25 and 1:26–38, passages where the future is made known to a man named Zechariah and to a virgin named Mary.
To recap so far what we’ve noticed, Gabriel’s name appears in only two biblical books: Daniel and Luke. And in these two books, his name appears twice in them (Dan. 8:16; 9:21; Luke 1:19, 26). Furthermore, these two occurrences in each book occur in back-to-back passages (Dan. 8 and 9; Luke 1:5–25 and 1:26–38).
What Gabriel Makes Known

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Six Reasons for the Virgin Birth

Mary’s pregnancy was not a normal situation, for it did not result from natural means. It was miraculous—like salvation! And God initiated it with a promise so that he could then accomplish it by his power. The Bible is full of miraculous stories. If you’re going to isolate a biblical miracle and say, “That didn’t happen,” then how long will it be before you’re getting rid of other miracles too? As Christian readers of the Bible, we should embrace the reality of the miraculous. There is a God, and he does wonders.

God’s acts are purposeful. If the Scriptures teach that the Holy Spirit overshadowed the womb of the virgin Mary so that she conceived and bore a son, we should reflect on reasons for this virginal conception.
First, there seems to be a connection between the virginal conception of Jesus and the sinlessness of Jesus.
Exactly how that connection exists is debated. According to the angel Gabriel’s words in Luke 1:35, “the power of the Most High will overshadow you; therefore the child to be born will be called holy—the Son of God.”
The human nature of Jesus is without corruption, without sin, like Adam’s nature when God created him in Genesis 2. The sinless and uncorrupted nature of Jesus is important to the New Testament authors (see Heb. 4:15; 1 Pet. 2:22), and it’s normal to wonder about an explanation for this teaching. The doctrine of the virgin birth has explanatory power for the sinless nature of Jesus.
The language of Luke 1:35 doesn’t mean that sin is only biologically transmitted through a human father. Mary was a sinner with a sinful nature. However, the work of the Holy Spirit ensured that the human nature of Jesus in the womb of Mary was holy and without corruption.
Second, the virginal conception ensures that Jesus was not born “in Adam.”
This second point builds on the first. Because the conception in Mary’s womb was not the result of intercourse between a man and a woman, the lack of a human father seems significant. In fact, no conception in the history of humanity had occurred in the manner of Luke 1:35.
Something distinct was evident in Jesus’s birth. He was not born “in Adam” like we were. Everyone before us had descended from Adam and “in Adam.” But Jesus was not “in Adam,” spiritually speaking.
Jesus was a new Adam.
Third, the virginal conception brings together both deity and humanity.
According to the angel’s words to Mary in Luke 1:26–38, Jesus is the “Son of God” (1:35). And, at the same time, Jesus is someone who will be born—and offspring are born. The virginal conception invites us to reflect on the presence of true deity and true humanity.
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You Shall Call His Name Joshua

Hear the angel say, “You shall call his name Joshua,” for that name will most easily connect us to the Old Testament background. Jesus didn’t come merely to promise deliverance or to sustain the hope for deliverance or to point us to some other source for deliverance. He came to be our deliverance. His name means “Yahweh is salvation,” and he is the deliverance we need. 

Old Testament readers will notice that the significance of a character can commonly be found even in that character’s name. The names Adam, Eve, Noah, Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Moses, Solomon, and many others, carry with them some kind of verb or noun that connects to their origin, demeanor, or purpose.
And every once in a while, the name of a character is announced before the birth. When that happens, the reader can be especially intrigued, because announcing a person’s name ahead of time raises our expectations for what that character will be and do.
When the virgin Mary is in Nazareth, the angel Gabriel reveals to her that she will have a son and that her son will be the promised king who would rule on David’s throne (Luke 1:30–33). She will give birth to the Messiah.
Gabriel tells her, “You shall call his name Jesus” (Luke 1:31). He told Joseph the same thing: “She will bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus” (Matt. 1:21). What’s interesting in Joseph’s case is that Gabriel explained the name: “You shall call his name Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins” (1:21).
The angel not only made an announcement, he also gave an instruction.
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