Archive for September, 2011

Valley of Vision in Scripture

Lord, high and holy, meek and lowly, Thou hast brought me to the valley of vision, where I live in the depths but see Thee in the heights; hemmed in by mountains of sin I behold Thy glory. Let me learn by paradox that the way down is the way up, that to be low is to be high, that the broken heart is the healed heart, that the contrite spirit is the rejoicing spirit, that the repenting soul is the victorious soul, that to have nothing is to possess all, that to bear the cross is to wear the crown, that to give is to receive, that the valley is the place of vision. Lord, in the daytime stars can be seen from deepest wells, and the deeper the wells the brighter Thy stars shine; let me find Thy light in my darkness, Thy life in my death, Thy joy in my sorrow, Thy grace in my sin, Thy riches in my poverty, Thy glory in my valley.

Valley of Vision – Puritan Prayer

A wonderful prayer, and quite famous as well, but let us see this “Valley of Vision” in Scripture…


In the sixth year, in the sixth month, on the fifth day of the month, as I sat in my house, with the elders of Judah sitting before me, the hand of the Lord God fell upon me there. Then I looked, and behold, a form that had the appearance of a man.Below what appeared to be his waist was fire, and above his waist was something like the appearance of brightness, like gleaming metal. He put out the form of a hand and took me by a lock of my head, and the Spirit lifted me up between earth and heaven and brought me in visions of God to Jerusalem, to the entrance of the gateway of the inner court that faces north, where was the seat of the image of jealousy, which provokes to jealousy. And behold, the glory of the God of Israel was there, like the vision that I saw in the valley.

-Ezekiel 8:1-4 (ESV)

The oracle concerning the valley of vision:… For the Lord God of hosts has a day of tumult and trampling and confusion in the valley of vision… In that day, the Lord God of hosts called for weeping and mourning for baldness and wearing of sackcloth; and behold joy and gladness, killing oxen and slaughtering sheep, eating flesh and drinking wine. “Let us eat and drink for tomorrow we die.”… In that day I will call my servant Eliakim the son of Hilkiah, and I will clothe him with your robe, and will bind your sash on him, and will commit your authority to his hand. And he shall be a father to the inhabitants of Jerusalem and to the house of Judah. And I will place on his shoulder the key of the house of David. He shall open, and none shall shut; and he shall shut, and none shall open. And I will fasten him like a peg in a secure place, and he will become a throne of honor to his father’s house. And they will hang on him the whole honor of his father’s house, the offspring and issue, every small vessel, from the cups to all the flagons. In that day, declares the Lord of hosts,the peg that was fastened in a secure place will give way, and it will be cut down and fall, and the load that was on it will be cut off, for the Lord has spoken.”

-Isaiah 22:1a, 5a, 12-13, 20-25 (ESV)

Pretty cool stuff! Seeing God in the valley of vision, both a sarcastic name for Jerusalem (Mount Zion, full of people who don’t see impending judgment), and a reality in the midst of our suffering, as the Puritans most definitely saw. Amazing use of Scripture on their part. Ezekiel is a little less clear in a way, but the Isaiah picture is so sharp and the Puritans didn’t miss a thing, by the grace of God!


Show me deare Christ, thy spouse, so bright and clear – John Donne (Metaphysical Poems #75)


Show me deare Christ, thy spouse, so bright and clear.
What! is it She, which on the other shore
goes richly painted? or which rob’d and tore
laments and mournes in Germany and here?
sleeps she a thousand, then peepes up one yeare?
is she selfe truth and errs? now new, now outwore?
doth she, and did she, and shall she evermore
on one, on seaven, or on no hill appeare?
dwells she with us, or like adventuring knights
first travaile we to seeke and then make Love?
Betray kind husband thy spouse to our sights
and let myne amorous soule court thy mild Dove,
Who is most trew, and pleasing to thee, then
when she’is embrac’d and open to most men.

Johnny Donney! 

The Blood of Jezreel

The ESV Study Bible aptly points out, in its notes on Hosea 1, that the “blood of Jezreel” for which the Kingdom of Israel/Jehu is to be judged is probably not the blood of the house of Ahab, which Jehu was lauded by God for bringing about, but rather, the blood of Naboth, whom Ahab/Jezebel had slain in order to gain his vineyard. The “blood of Jezreel” is probably, according to the Study Bible, the accumulated problem of idolatry after Baal which is signified by the seized vineyard and blood of the wicked Ahab and Jezebel. The Study Bible also gets going good when it points out that “the house of Jehu” is probably just a way of saying “the house of Israel” because Jehu starts a dynasty after usurping from Ahab (by God’s anointing!) the seat of the Kingdom.

All of this to say that the “reason” that God comes into judgment with Israel’s house can be boiled down to what went down with Naboth’s vineyard (as a picture of the bigger problem). Catching vineyard imagery in chapter 2 of Hosea? Moreover, take a closer look at 1 Kings 21 and tell me if you don’t see any connection with Hosea 6:7 and the account of the fall of Adam it refers to? I have a feeling that there is something in understanding Hosea which will put the prophecies in the right context and these sections are absolutely essential. I have some ideas, but I would love to bounce them off some of you guys… Thanks in advance!

The Problem of Nirvana

The following is adapted from the “College Preparation in Apologetics” lecture series by Greg Bahnsen, which, incidentally, I would highly recommend.

Person A: “Once you have realized that all distinctions are illusions, you can enter a state of Nirvana. You must learn to stop making distinctions.”

Person B: “So you’re saying that there is something I need to do (namely, stop making distinctions) in order to change from my present state to a state of Nirvana. Is that right?”

A: “Yes, that’s correct.”

B: “So I’m not yet in a state of Nirvana, but I could be if I would only stop making distinctions.”

A: “Yes.”

B: “But don’t you see that you’ve made a distinction between people who are in a state of Nirvana and people who aren’t? If all distinctions are illusions, then I am already in a state of Nirvana, because you can’t make the distinction between people who are and are not in a state of Nirvana. You can’t claim that all distinctions are illusions if your system then requires you to make distinctions.”

A bit cheeky, sure, but I think it adequately points out the self-referential incoherence of a fundamentally monistic philosophy.