Archive for July, 2011

The following is some extra background material, relevant scripture passages, and applicable quotes from our recent study in Exodus on the law of the firstborn and the consecrated life.


Hebrew: qadash “to consecrate, to set apart, to sanctify, to make holy” 

Exodus 13:1-16. After an introductory statement about the Israelites’ firstborn (vv. 1-2), who were to be dedicated for the service of the Lord (since they were spared the 10th plague)… Moses addressed the people again about the Passover and the Unleavened Bread feasts (vv. 3-10), and then returned to the subject of the firstborn (vv. 11-16).

“Once in the land of promise (Ex. 13:11), the firstborn sons and male animals were to be dedicated to the Lord (cf. v. 2; Numb. 18:15). Animals were included because they too benefited from the redemption which God provided in the 10th plague (Davis, Moses and the Gods of Egypt, p. 154). Since donkeys were considered ceremonially unclean animals (Lev. 11:2-4) they could not be sacrificed, but they could be redeemed (Heb. padah, “to buy back for a price“) by lambs sacrificed in their place. Of course, since human sacrifice was unacceptable the Hebrews’ sons were also to be ‘redeemed.’ This too would have teaching value in the home (cf. Ex. 12:26-27; 13:8). The Egyptian firstborn were slain, in judgment, and the Israelite ‘firstborn’ were either slain (the animals) in substitutionary sacrifice or redeemed (the sons). Like the Feast of Unleavened Bread (vv. 7-9) the consecration of the firstborn was a sign and symbol, a reminder of God’s powerful deliverance (v. 16). both were reminders of God’s gracious deliverance from the land of bondage”  (Walvoord and Zuck – The Bible Knowledge Commentary p. 130)

“Closely linked with the account of Israel’s release from Egypt and the Passover was the consecration of all the firstborn in Israel. The connection of v. 1 with the preceding events is secured by comparing the repeated reference to ‘that very day’ (12:41, 51) with ‘this day’ (13:3) and ‘today, in the month of abib, you are leaving’ (vs. 4). Therefore, the sanctification of all firstborn was commanded by God probably at Succoth, the first stopping place after the Exodus (12:37); and it fell within the seven days set aside for the Feast of Unleavened Bread (12:15).”

“The general principle is set forth in v. 2: every ‘firstborn’ (Heb. bekor0 male of both man and beast (as explained in vv. 12-13), i.e., the first ‘offspring’ (that which opens the womb) belongs to the Lord and is therefore ‘to be set apart’ (qadash) from common usage for holy purposes. Thus God set aside the seventh day, the tabernacle, the tribe of Levi – and here all firstborn. The basis for God’s claim was not connected here with his lordship over all creation (Ps. 24;1 et al.); but as KD point out (2:33) from Numbers 3:13 and 8:17, it was based on the fact that God had already set apart to himself the firstborn in Israel on the day he smote all the firstborn of Egypt. Their sanctification did not rest on their deliverance from the tenth plague, but rather on God’s adoption of Israel as his “firstborn” led to his delivering them. From that time onward, that spared nation would dedicate the firstborn of its men and beasts in the way detailed in vv.12-16 in commemoration of God’s acts of love and his deeds that night.

(11-16) “As Israel ‘passed over’ the Red Seas and the destroyer ‘passed over’ their firstborn, so now they were ‘to cause to pass over’ or ‘give over’ to the Lord a;; their firstborn when they entered the land (v. 12). (Notice the connection between the ‘Passover’ and the ‘Passing Over’ of the death angel in the comment on 12:13). Only two slight modifications (v. 13) were made to this principle: (1) all firstborn male humans (firstborn females were exempted) were to be redeemed (padah) or ‘bought back at a price’ … (2) donkeys were to be ‘bought back’ or ‘ransomed’ (padah) by a lamb or kid since donkeys were ‘unclean’ animals and therefore unfit for sacrifice … to prevent any refusal to follow this command to ransom their animals, the Israelites were to kill them by breaking their necks.”

The obligation of the firstborn to serve the LORD in some nonpriestly work around the sanctuary was later transferred to the Levites who became God’s authorized substitutes for each firstborn boy or man (Num 3). When the number of Levites was exhausted, additional males could be ransomed or redeemed at a price of five shekels apiece. Verses 15-16 again reiterate the explanation: the firstborn were owned by the LORD; for he dramatically spared them in the tenth plague, and he had previously called them to be his firstborn in 4:22″ (Walter Kaiser, Jr. Expositors Bible Commentary; Frank E. Gaebelein Gen. Ed. pp. 382-383) 

FIRSTBORN: First son born to a couple and required to be specially dedicated to God. The firstborn son of newly married people was believed to represent the prime of human vigor (Gen. 49:3; Ps. 78:51). In memory of the death of Egypt’s firstborn and the preservation of the firstborn of Israel, all the firstborn of Israel, both of man and beast, belonged to Yahweh (Ex. 13:2,15; compare 12:12-16). This mean that the people of Israel attached unusual value to the eldest sons and assigned special privileges and responsibilities to him. He was presented to the Lord when he was a month old. Since he belonged to the Lord, it was necessary for the father to buy back the child from the priest at a redemption price not to exceed five shekels (Num. 18:16)…

The firstborn of a clean animal was brought into the sanctuary on the eighth day after birth (Ex. 22:30). If it were without blemish, it was sacrificed (Deut. 15:19; Num. 18:17). If it had a blemish, the priest to whom it was given could eat it as common food outside Jerusalem (Deut. 15:21-23), or it could be eaten at home by its owner, Apparently the firstborn of clean animals were not to be used for any work since they belonged to the Lord (Deut. 15:19). The firstborn of an unclean animal had to be redeemed by an estimation of the priest, with the addition of one-fifth (Lev. 27:27; Num 18:15). According to Exodus 13:13; 34:20, the firstborn of an ass was either ransomed by a sheep or lamb, or its neck had to be broken. Figuratively, Israel was God’s ‘firstborn’ (Ex. 4:22; Jer. 31:9) and enjoyed priority status. God compared His relationship to Israel with the relationship of a father and his firstborn son. Within Israel, the tribe of Levi represented the firstborn of the nation in its worship ceremony (Num. 3:40-41; 8:18). Christ is the ‘firstborn’ of the Father (Heb. 1:6 NIV) by having preeminent position over others in relation to Him. He is also described as firstborn among many brethren‘ (Rom. 8:29) and ‘firstborn of all creation’ (Col. 1:15 NAS). Paul (Col. 1:18) and John (Rev. 1:5) refer to Christ as ‘firstborn from the dead’ – the first to rise bodily from the grave and not die again. Hebrews 12:23 refers to the ‘church of the firstborn, which are written in heaven.’ Christian believers united with and as joint heirs of Christ, enjoy the status of ‘firstborn’ in God’s household” (Walker – from Holman Bible Dictionary – p.493)

 Some more relevant N.T. passages on the theme of the “consecrated” life:

I Peter 2:4-5 “Coming to Him as to a living stone rejected by men, but chosen by God and precious” (5) “You also, as living stones, are being built up a spiritual house, a holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ”

Romans 12:1-2 “I beseech you, therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service” (2) “And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God”

I Cor. 6:19-20 “Or do you not know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and you are not your own?”  (20) “For you were bought at a price; therefore glorify God in your body and in your spirit, which are God’s”   

Colossians 3:1-5 “if then you were raised with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ is sitting at the right hand of God” (2) “Set your mind on things above not on things on the earth” (3) “For you died and your life is hidden with Christ in God” … (5) “Therefore put to death your members which are on the earth: fornication, uncleanness, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry”

“Holiness does not consist in mystic speculations, enthusiastic fervours, or uncommanded austerities; it consists of thinking as God thinks, and willing as God wills” (Scottish theologian John Brown as quoted from “The Pursuit of Holiness” by Jerry Bridges p. 46-47)

“Whenever we seriously contemplate the holiness of God, our natural reaction is to say with Isaiah, ‘Woe is me, for I am ruined! Because I am a man of unclean lips, and I live among a people of unclean lips, and my eyes have seen the King, the Lord Almighty” (Is. 6:5). A Serious view of the holiness of God – His own moral perfection and infinite hatred of sin – will leave us, as it did Isaiah, seeing with utter dismay our own lack of holiness. His moral purity serves to magnify our impurity” … “You, too, if you diligently pursue holiness, must often flee to the Rock of your salvation. You flee there, not to be saved again but to confirm in your heart that you are saved through His righteousness alone” (Jerry Bridges from The Pursuit of Holiness pp 43, 45) 


To Peggy Curtis and all those involved in the 2011 Benjamin Smiles Toy Run – great job! I’m certain many kids at Blank Children’s Hospital experienced the love of God. Here are some photo moments:

This Sunday, July 10 2011 the 10:15am service @ Cornerstone Community Church in Chariton, Iowa will take place in connection with the 9th Annual Benjamin Smiles Toy Run. This annual ride began in 2002 to honor the memory of Benjamin (“Smiles”) Mollett, a brave little boy who died at the age of 6 after a lengthy battle with cancer. Toys, pillows, and other items will be donated and delivered to children at Blank Children’s Hospital in Des Moines. The donations are accepted at C & C Cycle. To purchase a T-shirt, contact Peggy Curtis at C & C (641) 774-7494. The schedule that afternoon will be: Pizza @ 12 noon; Bike Blessing@12:30; Ride leaves@1:00pm. The Facebook page can be found by going right here. (Pray for no rain this year, and return to this site location for some pictures of the run to be added later!)

2010's Benjamin Smiles Toy Run

From left to right - Robert Thatcher, Nathaniel Thatcher, Ian Richardson, John Thatcher

Including paying homage to our freedoms as a nation, on Sunday morning July 3 at Cornerstone Community Church in Chariton – local Iowa band Sondogs honored the one who gives us our ultimate freedoms. The concert started with some opening upbeat praise songs featuring the combined talents of the Cornerstone Praise singers and the back-up of Sondogs’ instrumentalists (concerning which Nathaniel Thatcher more than proved he’s capable of filling the “Dogs” drummer position).

Sondogs Nathaniel Thatcher cooks with Cornerstone Praise band

As the Sondogs set started, singer Robert Thatcher voiced homage to the One from whom all of our ultimate freedoms come. This offering of spoken praise came between stirring renditions of the songs “It is You” and “Grace Like Rain.” At that point, the “Dogs” showed their versatility by performing edgy versions of classic hymns “When I survey” and “Jesus Paid it All.” The capstone of this section of the concert was a progressively swelling offering of David Crowder’s “Oh How He Loves,” with the climax of the song resulting in attendees rising to their feet in worship.

Singer Robert Thatcher prompts worship


Charlie Hale (guitar) and Steve Thatcher (bass)


At this juncture in the set, the band had a humorous moment by describing it as the “love” themed segment of the concert – but putting jokes aside, their original songs “True Love” and “Love Me” next to “No Greater Love” were among the most poignant musical expressions of the entire day. Along with the spiritual intimacy reflected in the lyrics, I couldn’t help but think that the combination of Robert and John Thatcher singing together was something akin to Christianized versions of Michael Stipe (Robert) and Joe Cocker (John). Also, the vocals were being countered by Charlie Hale’s guitar interludes, where the riffs reverberating off his stratocaster copy bore shades of Mark Knopfler’s playing from the Gospel rock album “Slow Train Coming.

John Thatcher sings soulfully


Charlie Hale "strato-gizes"

From there the band broke into one of their staple favorites for fans of south-central Iowa – which is their own unique, riveting cover version of the late Larry Norman song “Outlaw.” For the initiated, this is often one of the highlights of their concerts, and on this occasion there were some “converts” among the “uninitiated.” Following John’s touching speaking devotional and meditative solo worship number “Amazing Love,” the band kicked it back up again with their highly energetic rendition of Crowder’s “Undignified.” With not a person sitting and virtually nobody standing still… there ought to be rules against having this much fun.  Their “official” set concluded with a jarring interpretation of 3rd Day’s “gone,” which appropriately emphasized moving onward in step with a Divine calling.

In reaction to the encouragement from an enthusiastic crowd to play yet another song – singer Robert Thatcher invited Reborn’s Andy Rich to join them on stage, and the Sondogs backed Rich in performing the Reborn original “Who I Am” (to an elated crowd response). Much to the delight of many, this would not be the last time they would team up on this summer day.

Reborn singer Andy Rich joins Sondogs during encore

A special thanks to…
Robert Thatcher – Vocals
John Thatcher – Guitar/Vocals
Charlie Hale – Guitar
Steve Thatcher – Bass
Ian Richardson -Keyboard
Nathaniel Thatcher -Drums

…along with Andy Rich of Reborn and the Cornerstone Praise band for a great morning of music and worship.

I also noticed someone(?) placed a review of the July 3 Reborn/Sondogs concert in the Chariton town square at a link right here.

For more information about future Sondogs concerts – go here.

Was John Lennon a closet political conservative late in life?
This is apparently the testimony of one of his assistants. Here are some excerpts from the article:

He says, “John, basically, made it very clear that if he were an American he would vote for Reagan because he was really sour on (Democrat) Jimmy Carter.”

“He’d met Reagan back, I think, in the 70s at some sporting event… Reagan was the guy who had ordered the National Guard, I believe, to go after the young (peace) demonstrators in Berkeley, so I think that John maybe forgot about that… He did express support for Reagan, which shocked me.

“I also saw John embark in some really brutal arguments with my uncle, who’s an old-time communist… He enjoyed really provoking my uncle… Maybe he was being provocative… but it was pretty obvious to me he had moved away from his earlier radicalism.

“He was a very different person back in 1979 and 80 than he’d been when he wrote Imagine. By 1979 he looked back on that guy and was embarrassed by that guy’s naiveté.”

Go here for a link to the entire article.

With at least a couple of biographies noting that Lennon had a short season of embracing Christianity, I’m personally of the view that Lennon didn’t know what he truly held to and spent his life searching all the way up to the tragic end (for testimony about his “Christian” season see “Lennon in America” by Geoffrey Giuliano pp. 131-132 – note also the same book bears witness to his abusive tendencies pp. 19-21, as well as documenting his racist – including anti-semitic – rants while drunk – see pp.132-133, 143). Here are some other excerpts from the book based on the 1979 period:

“But as the days grew shorter and an autumn chill descended upon Manhattan, Lennon fell once again into a dark hole of desperation. He was shooting heroin with alarming regularity, whether to ease the pain of a sore tooth or simply ward off boredom…”

“The substance abuse, however, wasn’t limited to John, who grew concerned that Yoko was heavily indulging herself. Alarmed, John begged her to stop, but couldn’t very well preach what he himself didn’t practice…”

“‘At first I thought Yoko was ill, but then I realized she was simply strung out on smack.’ The fact that both John and Yoko had relapsed make it virtually impossible for them to kick their habits. Someone would tun up with some quality cocaine, and the pair would invariably succumb to temptation, even as an exasperated John secretly prayed for divine intervention.”

“One evening Lennon, examining a life that seemed worthless and directionless, confessed in his audio diary that he had been looking out the window and contemplating whether to leap. But even suicide, it seemed, would have required more passion than Lennon had at his disposal” (pp. 199-200)

John Lennon was a very gifted songwriter, but I find the trajectory of his life to be very sad.