The Foremothers of the Messiah

I recently stumbled across an old audio recording of Tim Keller’s sermon, “Hannah’s Prayer for Family,” from October 2007. At minute 31:40, he makes an astonishing observation about the role of women of the Old Testament in the anticipation of the Messiah:

If you look at the forefathers of the Messiah, the penultimate forerunners of the Messiah—the forefathers of the Messiah were Samuel and Sampson and David and Gideon—they all brought salvation by being strong and getting glory. And so they [their descendants] looked at Jesus and said, “That can’t be the Messiah. The Messiah wouldn’t be weak. The Messiah wouldn’t be disgraced.”

Do you know what their problem was? They were looking at the forefathers of the Messiah but not the foremothers; they were looking at the men who were the forerunners of Jesus but not the women.

Because over and over again God gave a foretaste of the real gospel and the work of Jesus Christ in the fact that he continually brought his salvation of the world through the barren, through the rejected, through the unwanted women.
It’s old barren Sarah not beautiful fertile Hagar through whom God brings the royal messianic saving seed of Isaac.

It’s through Leah, the girl that nobody wanted, the wife that Jacob didn’t want, not Rachel the beautiful and the wanted; it’s through Leah that God brings the royal messianic saving seed of Judah.

Sampson is born to a barren woman who shouldn’t be able to have children.
Samuel is born to a suffering, disgraced woman, but through through the suffering and disgrace of Hannah salvation comes.

If you had looked at the foremothers, you would have known that Isaiah was talking about the Messiah when he said that the one who comes to save us will suffer disgrace and be crushed for our iniquities. Jesus experienced the reversal that Hannah was talking about. . . .

The women in the Old Testament show that Jesus Christ is not just a coming King but a suffering servant.

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Oakeshott on love

Apropos of Valentine’s Day, here are some epigrams by Michael Oakeshott, drawn from his recently published notebooks. The first selection comes from pages 348–49, the second from 411–12. He comes across as a romantic and a skeptic—a rare combination. I hope to post some more excerpts in the coming weeks.

The phenomenon of love, perhaps, more than anything else, shows the secondary place of justice and morality in human life. We live suspended in an unstable solution; only for immediate purposes of practical life a certain stability is introduced—called justice and morality. The rest is favor and affection.

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Simplifying the Ten

beachAs a Christian parent, I often puzzle over how best to instruct my children about how to behave. I take the injunction in Deuteronomy 6 seriously: “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise.”

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Reading Through Grief

photo-26Shortly after my father died, a friend at work offered me a lovely gift, her reading list of books about mourning and fathers. She enclosed a photograph of a stack of books. To see them like this, their thoughtful designs and well-worn bindings, was a strange comfort at a time when words seemed unreal or elusive.

Her advice was “to find expression for your own grief through the words of others. . . . It can help to explore the emotions of grief and sorrow by reading other travelers who have been thrust into that same strange land and know the lay of it. Every grief is still unique, just as every love is, but these words from further up and further in can bring strength and comfort—and certainly catharsis.”

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Remembering My Father

Photos of Ron-4My father died on January 8, from complications of Parkinson’s disease. He was 76. The following eulogy was delivered on January 13, 2014 . . .

It seems fitting to begin simply by acknowledging what we all know: We have lost a remarkable man. Ron was a faithful husband, a dutiful father, a loyal friend, a successful business man, and — who could forget? — an avid lover of college football, ocean fishing, and classic cars. Isn’t it true that those loves provided the context or the platform for nearly all of his relationships? Continue reading “Remembering My Father”