some word-smithing

Creation and New Creation: “. . . the time is coming and has now come”

For a printable file with the formatting and biblical languages copied correctly: Creation and New Creation . . the time is coming and has now come by S.Hague

Creation and New Creation: “. . . the time is coming and has now come”
(FTS chapel presentation by Stephen Hague)

  • We so often begin the gospel with God as judge – since we start with sin – yet the scripture begins the gospel with creation –

Gen 1:1- In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth

  • The gospel is the good news that God the Creator is restoring his people and his creation through his Son, our Redeemer.
  • The good news is also that “the time is coming and has now come” — He is now making all things new . . .

Jn 4:23 . . . a time is coming and has now come when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for they are the kind of worshipers the Father seeks.

Jn 5:25 I tell you the truth, a time is coming and has now come when the dead will hear the voice of the Son of God and those who hear will live.

Jn 16:32 “But a time is coming, and has come, when you will be scattered, each to his own home. You will leave me all alone. Yet I am not alone, for my Father is with me.

The new creation

The redemption of God’s people includes the restoration of the creation:

Isa 65:17 “Behold, I will create new heavens and a new earth. The former things will not be remembered, nor will they come to mind.

Isa 66:22 “As the new heavens and the new earth that I make will endure before me,” declares the LORD, “so will your name and descendants endure.

Ezek 11:19 I will give them an undivided heart and put a new spirit in them; I will remove from them their heart of stone and give them a heart of flesh.

Ezek 36:23-26 I will show the holiness of my great name, which has been profaned among the nations, the name you have profaned among them. Then the nations will know that I am the Lord, declares the Sovereign Lord, when I show myself holy through you before their eyes. 24 “ ‘For I will take you out of the nations; I will gather you from all the countries and bring you back into your own land. 25 I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you will be clean; I will cleanse you from all your impurities and from all your idols. 26 I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh. Psalm 104:30  When you send your Spirit, they are created,  and you renew the face of the earth.

Rom 8:19-21 The creation waits in eager expectation for the sons of God to be revealed. 20 For the creation was subjected to frustration, not by its own choice, but by the will of the one who subjected it, in hope 21 thata the creation itself will be liberated from its bondage to decay and brought into the glorious freedom of the children of God.

Eph 2:10 For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.

Eph 4:22-24 You were taught, with regard to your former way of life, to put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires; 23 to be made new in the attitude of your minds;24 and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness.

Col 1:15-20 He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. 16 For by him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things were created by him and for him. 17 He is before all things, and in him all things hold together. 18 And he is the head of the body, the church; he is the beginning and the firstborn from among the dead, so that in everything he might have the supremacy. 19 For God was pleased to have all his fullness dwell in him, 20 and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether things on earth or things in heaven, by making peace through his blood, shed on the cross.

Col 3:10  and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge in the image of its Creator.

2 Cor 4:16  Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day.

2 Cor 5:17  Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!

James 1:17 Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows. 18 He chose to give us birth through the word of truth, that we might be a kind of firstfruits of all he created.

2 Pet 3:13 But in keeping with his promise we are looking forward to a new heaven and a new earth, the home of righteousness.

Rev 21:1 ¶ Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and there was no longer any sea.

Mat 19:28 Jesus said to them, “I tell you the truth, at the renewal of all things, when the Son of Man sits on his glorious throne, you who have followed me will also sit on twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel.

The wondrous thing about the gospel is that WE are now a new creation:

  • As God’s new people: we are the first fruits of the new creation, his workmanship in Christ, who will dwell together in his renewed earth forever.
  • As a new creation in Christ we have now been given a new heart by Christ.
  • As a new creation in Christ , we are promised a new body. The resurrection of Christ is the objective assurance that our bodies will be resurrected incorruptible.
  • As a new creation in Christ, we now serve the renewed kingdom of God presently through Christ’s life, death, and resurrection. He has accomplished Adam’s entire calling necessary to establish and extend God’s kingdom in the world.
  • As a new creation in Christ, we long and wait for the restoration of the creation in the new heavens and new earth when Christ returns
  • As a new creation in Christ, we presently enjoy renewed, restored relations (marriage, church, etc) that prefigure and prepare us for our eternally restored relations, since we are presently the new community of the people of God bearing witness to the world of the wonders of God in Christ. .
  • As a new creation in Christ, we are all one people of God, regenerated by the one Spirit of God, Jews and Gentiles equal in the faith and salvation: Gal 6:15 Neither circumcision nor uncircumcision means anything; what counts is a new creation.
  • As a new creation in Christ, we will see the new order and enjoy the renewal of all things when Christ returns:

 Mat 19:28 Jesus said to them, “I tell you the truth, at the renewal of all things, when the Son of Man sits on his glorious throne, you who have followed me will also sit on twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel.

What Jesus has accomplished towards the new creation (adapted from G.Beal, The Temple)

  • Jesus is the end-time Adam, the True son of God .
  • Jesus passes all the tests and temptations of Adam/Israel.
  • Jesus defeats the Devil (analogously to Adam who failed to do so). Who resists all temptations, casts out Satan, as Adam should have done.
  • Jesus defeats the forces of unbelieving paganism of the Canaanites (whom Israel failed to defeat).
  • Luke identifies Jesus as the last Adam. (p. 172)
  • Jesus fulfills the promise of Israel’s restoration. Mtt 4:12-16
  • Jesus heals the spiritual and physical results of the curse, thus restoration of the creation begins. In the new temple, Jesus heals (also in the physical temple). Jesus is mocked about the temple (Mtt 27:40). The new temple replaces the old, fulfilling Zech 6:12-13)[1]
  • Jesus rises from the dead, new creation is assured.
  • Jesus begins the destruction of the earthly temple and creation of the new temple and the restoration of the Presence through atonement. Jesus’ death – temple is destroyed in part and the curtain is torn, and earthquake foreshadows complete destruction of the earthly temple.
  • Jesus’ procures forgiveness of sins at the new temple which is now localized in Jesus – the new temple of God’s Glorious Presence on earth.
  • Jesus provides the promised eschatological rest for God’s people (Mtt 11:28-30), for all who are weary and need rest.
  • Jesus is both Son of God (Israel) and Son on man (Adam) who accomplishes what Adam as son failed to accomplish, and what Israel as son failed to accomplish.
  • Jesus links heaven and earth: John 1:51

He then added, “I tell youb the truth, youc shall see heaven open, and the angels of God ascending and descending on the Son of Man.” and Gen 28:12 He had a dream in which he saw a stairwaya resting on the earth, with its top reaching to heaven, and the angels of God were ascending and descending on it. 13 There above itb stood the Lord, and he said: “I am the Lord, the God of your father Abraham and the God of Isaac. I will give you and your descendants the land on which you are lying. 14 Your descendants will be like the dust of the earth, and you  will spread out to the west and to the east, to the north and to the south. All peoples on earth will be blessed through you and your offspring.

  • Jesus breathed into his disciples (echoes Gen 2:7), incorporating them into the new creation and new temple. They become the vehicle for life-giving forgiveness that comes only from Christ. John 20:22 21 Again Jesus said, “Peace be with you! As the Father has sent me, I am sending you.” 22 And with that he breathed on them and said, “Receive the Holy Spirit. 23 If you forgive anyone his sins, they are forgiven; if you do not forgive them, they are not forgiven.”
  • Pentecost (may have been in the temple) fulfills Jesus’ prophecies of the new temple. The new temple is Jesus himself, the locus of forgiveness. Tongues of fire represent the theophany of the heavenly temple and they correspond to Babel (linking with Gen 10-11). The reversal of the judgment at Babel – “God causes representatives from the same scattered nations to unite in Jerusalem in order that they might receive the blessing of understanding different languages as if all these languages were one.”[2]  Pentecost signals the destruction of the old creation and the beginning of the new creation in Christ. Christ is the Cornerstone of the new creation!

Outline of new creation theology of Scripture
Creation-Covenant: kingship, priestly, and prophetic dominion

Creation-kingdom is established in the Garden of Eden

  • Access to the tree of life in the garden of God
  • Prohibition on the tree of the knowledge of good and evil
  • Cycles of creation/rest established

Rebellion fall into alienation, disarray, anarchy, and spiritual battle

Redemption-Covenant initiated ~ new covenant

Kingdom promised & chosen:  The king prepares for the King of Kings

  • Human king              Law/Prophets/Wisdom
  • Progeny                     Land/nation
  • Presence                   Sanctuary

King of Kings, Priest of priests, Prophet of prophets is promised/awaited

  • Davidic kingdom ends in exile & temple destroyed
  • Return from exile
  • Reversal of the curse  expands

Redeemer-King of kings comes

  • Redemption accomplished
  • Evil one is vanquished
  • Church proclaims, & demonstrates, the gospel of redemption and the return of the King
  • Curse removed in Christ

Redemption complete

  • Redeemer-King of kings returns
  • new creation & tree of life

The covenant-sign of circumcision in the church has been continued by baptism as the sign of God’s covenant-promise to restore his people  through the Messianic line of the see of Adam and Eve.

“John is shown (and shows us in turn) that salvation is the restoration of God’s creation on a new earth. In this restored world, the redeemed of God will live in resurrected bodies within a renewed creation, from which sin and its effects have been expunged. This is the kingdom that Christ’s followers have already begun to foretaste.”  Bartholomew, The Drama, 211

“This restoration of the creation will be comprehensive: the whole of human life in the context of the whole creation will be restored.” Bartholomew, The Drama, p. 212

“This comprehensive scope of God’s redemptive work means, for example, that the nonhuman creation forming the context for human life will be restored to what God has intended for it all along.” Bartholomew, The Drama, p. 212

Continuity and discontinuity: in the new creation, there will be total transformation of the things we already know: the environment (ecology), human relations (social), the body (resurrection), aesthetics (beauty, order), philosophy (true knowledge of God and creation), work (pain-free vocation), love, worship, etc., etc….

Some object to these ideas with reference to 2 Peter 3:[3]

2 Pet 3:10 {GR} NIV 10 But the day of the Lord will come like a thief. The heavens will disappear with a roar; the elements will be destroyed by fire, and the earth and everything in it will be laid bare.

NASB10 But the day of the Lord will come like a thief, in which the heavens will pass away with a roar and the elements will be destroyed with intense heat, and the earth and its works will be burned up.

eu`reqh,setai verb indicative future passive 3rd person singular from eu`ri,skw

[GING] eu`ri,skw find, discover, come upon Mt 7:7f; Mk 14:55; Lk 6:7; 11:24; J 7:34, 36; Ac 13:6, 28; 27:6; Ro 7:21; 2 Cor 12:20; Rv 20:15. Find, obtain Lk 1:30; 2 Ti 1:18; Hb 4:16; 9:12. Pass. be found, find oneself, be Ac 8:40; Phil 3:9; 1 Pt 2:22; prove to be Ro 7:10; be judged 2 Pt 3:10. [eureka, Archimedes’ exclamation; heuristic] [pg 81]

Primarily because of more ancient text traditions that suggest eu`reqh,setai is more ancient, it is not universally agreed that the destruction of the earth is in view. Indeed, it the NIV is based on the more ancient text tradition of the word for “establish” or “find.” Metzger discusses the textual history below:  From B. Metzger, Textual Commentary, pp. 705-706.

3.10 eu`reqh,setai {D} At the close of ver. 10 the extant witnesses present a wide variety of readings, none of which seems to be original. The oldest reading, and the one which best explains the origin of the others that have been preserved, is eu`reqh,setai, which is attested by a B K P 424c 1175 1739txt 1852 syrph, hmg arm Origen. In view of the difficulty of extracting any acceptable sense from the passage, it is not strange that copyists and translators introduced a variety of modifications. Thus, several witnesses retain eu`reqh,setai but qualify it with other words: (a) the Sahidic version and one manuscript of the Harclean Syriac version insert the negative, and (b) the Bodmer Papyrus (î72) adds luo,mena (“the earth and the things in it will be found dissolved”) – an expedient, however, that overloads the context with three instances of the same verb. Other witnesses either (c) omit eu`reqh,setai and the accompanying clause (so Y vg Pelagius al), or substitute another verb that gives more or less good sense. Thus (d) C reads avfanisqh,sontai (“will disappear”), and (e) A 048 049 056 0142 33 614 Byz Lect syrh copbo eth al read katakah,setai (“will be burned up”). Because eu`reqh,setai, though the oldest of the extant readings, seems to be devoid of meaning in the context (even the expedient of punctuating as a question, “Will the earth and the things in it be found?” fails to commend itself), various conjectural emendations have been proposed: (a) after e;rga the word a;rga has fallen out (Bradshaw), “the earth and the things in it will be found useless”; (b) eu`reqh,setai is a scribal corruption of r`uh,setai or r`eu,setai (Hort),2 “the earth and the things in it will flow”; (c) surruh,setai (Naber), “… will flow together”; (d) evkpurwqh,setai (Olivier), “… will be burnt to ashes”; (e) avrqh,setai (J. B. Mayor), “… will be taken away”; (f) kriqh,setai (Eb. Nestle), “… will be judged”; (g) ivaqh,setai (or evxiaqh,setai) (Chase), “… will be healed (thoroughly)”; (h) purwqh,setai (Vansittart), “… will be burned.”

Relevant words:

bWv (shûb) (re)turn, can be used to mean restore – this word is used many times in the OT in regards to the call from God to return to him: the call to repentance and restoration of relationship.

 avpokata,stasij avpokatasta,sewj, h` (avpokaqi,sthmi, which see), restoration: tw/n pa,ntwn, the restoration not only of the true theocracy but also of that more perfect state of (even physical) things which existed before the fall, Acts 3:21; cf. Meyer at the passage (Often in Polybius, Diodorus, Plutarch, others.)

 NIV Mtt 17:11 Jesus replied, “To be sure, Elijah comes and will restore all things.

Louw and Nida: 3.65  avpokaqi,sthmi ; avpokata,stasij, ewj f ; evgei,rw: to change to a previous good state – ‘to restore, to cause again to be, restoration.’ avpokaqi,sthmi: evxe,teinen, kai. avpekatesta,qh h` cei.r auvtou/ ‘he stretched out his hand and it was restored’ or ‘… it was healed’ Mk 3.5. A rendering of avpokaqi,sthmi in Mk 3.5 as ‘was healed’ is justified on the basis that at a previous time the hand was crippled, but avpokaqi,sthmi in and of itself does not mean ‘to be healed.’ Note, however, a contrasting situation in iva,omai (13.66). avpokata,stasij: a;cri cro,nwn avpokatasta,sewj pa,ntwn w-n evla,lhsen o` qeo,j ’till the times of restoring all things of which God spoke’ or ‘until the time of making all things new of which God spoke’ Ac 3.21. evgei,rw: kai. evn trisi.n h`me,raij evgerw/ auvto,n ‘and in three days I will restore it’ (a reference to the Temple) Jn 2.19.

 See also 2 Peter 3:13 But in keeping with his promise we are looking forward to a new heaven and a new earth, the home of righteousness

Robertson writes, “The noun apokatastaseōs, which in Acts 3:21 refers to the restoration of all things as promised by the prophets, should be compared with the verb apokathistaneis in 1:6. Because of this connection between the two verses, the restoration of all things in 3:21 may be regarded as providing an explanation for the restoration of the kingdom to Israel in 1:6. The restoration of Israel in the prophets is equivalent in its new covenant context to the renewal of the whole earth, not merely the reestablishment of the state of Israel.” [4]


NAS Matthew 19:28 And Jesus said to them, “Truly I say to you, that you who have followed Me, in the regeneration when the Son of Man will sit on His glorious throne, you also shall sit upon twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel.

NIV Matthew 19:28 Jesus said to them, “I tell you the truth, at the renewal of all things, when the Son of Man sits on his glorious throne, you who have followed me will also sit on twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel.

WHO Matthew 19:28 o` de. VIhsou/j ei=pen auvtoi/j VAmh.n le,gw u`mi/n o[ti u`mei/j oi` avkolouqh,sante,j moi evn th/| paliggenesi,a| o[tan kaqi,sh| o` ui`o.j tou/ avnqrw,pou evpi. qro,nou do,xhj auvtou/ kaqh,sesqe kai. u`mei/j evpi. dw,deka qro,nouj kri,nontej ta.j dw,deka fula.j tou/ VIsrah,l

NAS Titus 3:5 He saved us, not on the basis of deeds which we have done in righteousness, but according to His mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewing by the Holy Spirit,

NIV Titus 3:5 he saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy. He saved us through the washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit,

WHO Titus 3:5 ouvk evx e;rgwn tw/n evn dikaiosu,nh| a] evpoih,samen h`mei/j avlla. kata. to. auvtou/ e;leoj e;swsen h`ma/j dia. loutrou/ paliggenesi,aj kai. avnakainw,sewj pneu,matoj a`gi,ou

 Restoration and Renewal:

13.67 ἀνακαινίζω; ἀνακαινόωb: to cause a change to a previous, preferable state—‘to renew, to restore, to bring back.’ἀνακαινίζω: ἀδύνατον … πάλιν ἀνακαινίζειν εἰς μετάνοιαν ‘it is impossible … to bring them back to repent again’ He 6.4–6. ἀνακαινόωb: ἀλλ’ ὁ ἔσω ἡμῶν ἀνακαινοῦται ἡμέρᾳ καὶ ἡμέρᾳ ‘yet our spiritual being is renewed day after day’ 2 Cor 4.16.[5]

Acts 3:21-22 He must remain in heaven until the time comes for God to restore everything, as he promised long ago through his holy prophets.

 13.66 ἰάομαιb: (a figurative extension of meaning of ἰάομαιa ‘to heal,’ 23.136) to cause something to change to an earlier, correct, or appropriate state—‘to renew, to heal.’ καὶ ἐπιστρέψωσιν, καὶ ἰάσομαι αὐτούς ‘and they might turn to me, and I would renew them’ Mt 13.15.[6]

Job 14:14 If a man dies, will he live again?
All the days of my hard service
I will wait for my renewalf to come.
Job 33:25  then his flesh is renewed like a child’s;
it is restored as in the days of his youth.
Ps 51:10   Create in me a pure heart, O God,
and renew a steadfast spirit within me.
Ps103:5 who satisfies your desires with good things
so that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s.
Ps 104:30 When you send your Spirit,
they are created,
and you renew the face of the earth.
Isa 40:31 but those who hope in the Lord
will renew their strength.
They will soar on wings like eagles;
they will run and not grow weary,
they will walk and not be faint.
Isa 41:1 “Be silent before me, you islands!
Let the nations renew their strength!
Let them come forward and speak;
let us meet together at the place of judgment.
Isa 57:10 You were wearied by all your ways,
but you would not say, ‘It is hopeless.’
You found renewal of your strength,
and so you did not faint.
Isa 61:4 They will rebuild the ancient ruins
and restore the places long devastated;
they will renew the ruined cities
that have been devastated for generations.
Lam 5:21 Restore us to yourself, O Lord, that we may return;
renew our days as of old
Hab 3:2  Lord, I have heard of your fame;
I stand in awe of your deeds, O Lord.
Renew them in our day,
in our time make them known;
in wrath remember mercy.
Matt 19:28  Jesus said to them, “I tell you the truth, at the renewal of all things, when the Son of Man sits on his glorious throne, you who have followed me will also sit on twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel.
Rom 8  18 For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory that is to be revealed to us. 19 For the anxious longing of the creation waits eagerly for the revealing of the sons of God. 20 For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of Him who subjected it, in hope 21 that the creation itself also will be set free from its slavery to corruption into the freedom of the glory of the children of God. 22 For we know that the whole creation groans and suffers the pains of childbirth together until now. 23 And not only this, but also we ourselves, having the first fruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, waiting eagerly for our adoption as sons, the redemption of our body. 24 For in hope we have been saved, but hope that is seen is not hope; for who hopes for what he already sees? 25 But if we hope for what we do not see, with perseverance we wait eagerly for it.
Rom 12:2 Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.
2 Cor 4:16  Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day.
Col 3:10  and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge in the image of its Creator.
Titus 3:5 he saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy. He saved us through the washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit,

a  Or subjected it in hope. For

[1] 12 Tell him this is what the Lord Almighty says: ‘Here is the man whose name is the Branch, and he will branch out from his place and build the temple of the Lord. 13 It is he who will build the temple of the Lord, and he will be clothed with majesty and will sit and rule on his throne. And he will be a priest on his throne. And there will be harmony between the two.’

b The Greek is plural.

c The Greek is plural.

a Or ladder

b Or There beside him

[2] Beal, The Temple, p. 202.

[3] C.Wright says on this, “I prefer the textual reading that the earth ‘will be found’ to the emendation reflected in several English translations ‘will be burned up.’ I also find Bauckham’s interpretation of this convincing; namely, that the earth will be ‘found out’: i.e. be exposed and laid bare (cf. NIV) before God’s judgment so that the wicked and all their works will no longer be able to hide or find any protection (Bauckham, Jude, 2 Peter, pp. 316-322. The purpose of the conflagration described  in these verses is not the destruction of the cosmos per se, but rather its purging and new creation” (OT Ethics, p 141, f.n. 55).

[4] Robertson, Christ of the the Prophets, p. 64, fn. 19. See Robertson, Israel of God, pp. 141-42.

[5]Johannes P. Louw and Eugene Albert Nida, Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament : Based on Semantic Domains, electronic ed. of the 2nd edition. (New York: United Bible societies, 1996, c1989), 1:156.

[6]Johannes P. Louw and Eugene Albert Nida, Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament : Based on Semantic Domains, electronic ed. of the 2nd edition. (New York: United Bible societies, 1996, c1989), 1:156.

f  Or release


The Logic of Modern Medical Ethics, or the Morality of Killing Children and Their Grandparents

The Logic of Modern Medical Ethics, or the Morality of Killing Children and Their Grandparents

Forgive me for this brief hiatus from posting pictures of our cute kittens, but in case you had not noticed, this is our world:

  • 431 people were killed by being euthanized against their will in 2015 in the Netherlands.
  • 59,115,9995 people were killed by abortion against their will before their birth since 1973 in the United States. Yes, that is millions.
  • So why are we surprised when articles in The Journal of Medical Ethics[1] propose “after-birth abortions” to “terminate” one’s children with birth defects, or that pose the evil threat of becoming an “undue burden”? The authors claim that it is morally permissible “to kill newborns in all circumstances where abortion would be.” (I wonder what they would say about teenagers who are an undue burden on our food budget?)
  • The authors did get one thing correct: there is no moral difference between an unborn child and a born child. Thus, they are forced to conclude that neither are yet “persons,” properly speaking. As they say, “Merely being human is not in itself a reason for ascribing someone a right to life.” Even though they are both fully “human beings” they are not yet “persons,” therefore only we have the right to determine whether they will become “persons.” That’s logic, says Alice.
  • Mao-Zedong, Pol-Pol, Stalin, Hitler, and friends would be proud.

[1] Alberto Giubilini and Francesca Minerva, Journal of Medical Ethics, May 2013, 39 (5) 261-263; DOI: 10.1136.

And the Desert Will Be Glad


If mountains worship God by being mountains and stars worship God by being stars, how do humans worship God? By being human, in the full glory of what that means.”
R. Middleton

And the Desert Will Be Glad

Awash with the sweetest
scent of magnolia
magnificent aroma
as the blueberry and strawberry crepes
sizzle on the griddle,
that antique iron one
your grandmother left to me
to remember the many times
of chess and Life
and checkers before the fire-place,
the one which set ablaze the chimney
a number of Christmas mornings
to which the firemen said
we must get a sweep.
The cat and dog sit to wonder why
but why is not their question.

We tried every summer
to strain the soil to grow our salad,
soil that had been used to cover the town dump,
shoes and bottles every season sprouting
with the lettuce and potatoes.

The sons of Zebedee
wanted their glory early,
before the cross, but learned
his cup was their cup also.
The earth hums.

All day long it was
one of those days
of expecting someone,
but none came,
expectant and hoping
content to wait, anticipating.

This week the pastor’s sermon
touched my son’s heart,
on having the ambition of the kingdom,
not to power and prestige.
These words
are hard ones
kind of words.

Peeling the potatoes
the texture and sound
of scraping its rough dirt-like skin
to the pulp, moist with white starch,
as the cool-sharp-blade
slices the core and bangs
against the cutting- board
with a thud.

It is a sweaty-hot day
of heavy, slow clouds
hazy-large on our horizon,
barely a bird is singing
and the day is long
but it is so sweet
with the ordinary,
in which God delights the most,
and when the rocks of the hills
and the rivers
break into singing,
and the grasses with their
fragrance of creation
clap their hands
for his good pleasure.

For it was the Father’s good pleasure for all the fullness to dwell in Him, and through Him to reconcile all things to Himself, having made peace through the blood of His cross; through Him, I say, whether things on earth or things in heaven. Col 1.19-20

The wilderness and the desert will be glad,
and the Arabah will rejoice and blossom;
Like the rose.
Isaiah 35:1
יְשֻׂשׂ֥וּם מִדְבָּ֖ר וְצִיָּ֑ה וְתָגֵ֧ל עֲרָבָ֛ה וְתִפְרַ֖ח כַּחֲבַצָּֽלֶת׃

The Wise Fool in Shakespeare and in Life and in Scripture

Historically, plays and entertainment in various cultures have had the figure of a jester, clown, or fool. William Shakespeare’s plays sometimes redesigned this character where he made the fool a central figure of the story, and not just a jester. Influenced by the Bible, Shakespeare played on the biblical notions of the wise man; his fools are often “the wise” who have prophetic revelations for the main characters of the plays that are often themselves shown to be the true proper fools. His fool is often the only one who is not afraid to speak the truth, providing commentary on both the story and the other characters. One of the most fascinating examples is found in King Lear, a play that explores with the ideas of reality, folly, magisterial delusions of kings, and what is wise and what is foolish. He can see through the duplicities and falsehoods before everyone else, and he also stays by Lear’s side and does not abandon him to his madness.
Shakespeare’s fools take some getting used to by the audience, since at first glance they posture as a clown or buffoon, but with closer examination their lines convey some of the wittiest and most logical reasoning in the plays. Besides often giving comic relief in light of tragic circumstances or tragic character flaws in the main characters, the fool often gives us wisdom, playing on the biblical theme of “the wisdom of God is folly/foolishness to the world.
Not all of Shakespeare’s fool follow the same pattern, since some are simpler, and even some darker, than others and give less insight.[1]

One of my favorite fool-dialogues and descriptions is from the Twelfth Night where Viola gives us her definition of the fool, and also the longer selection below where they dialogue wittily and very humorously:


This fellow is wise enough to play the fool;
And to do that well craves a kind of wit:
He must observe their mood on whom he jests,
The quality of persons, and the time,
And, like the haggard, cheque at every feather
That comes before his eye. This is a practise
As full of labour as a wise man’s art
For folly that he wisely shows is fit;
But wise men, folly-fall’n, quite taint their wit.

A dialogue from the Twelfth Night below gives us a good example:


Wit, an’t be thy will, put me into good fooling!
Those wits, that think they have thee, do very oft
prove fools; and I, that am sure I lack thee, may
pass for a wise man: for what says Quinapalus?[a made-up philosopher][2]
‘Better a witty fool, than a foolish wit.’

The original fuller text alongside a modern rendition from “no-fear shakespeare”[1]  
Original Text 



Take the fool away.

Modern Text



Get that fool out of here.


Do you not hear, fellows? Take away the lady.


Didn’t you hear her, guys? Get the lady out of here.


Go to, you’re a dry fool. I’ll no more of you. Besides, you grow dishonest.


Oh, go away, you’re a boring fool. I don’t want to have anything to do with you anymore. Besides, you’ve gotten unreliable.


Two faults, madonna, that drink and good counsel will amend. For give the dry fool drink, then is the fool not dry. Bid the dishonest man mend himself. If he mend, he is no longer dishonest. If he cannot, let the botcher mend him. Anything that’s mended is but patched. Virtue that transgresses is but patched with sin, and sin that amends is but patched with virtue. If that this simple syllogism will serve, so. If it will not, what remedy? As there is no true cuckold but calamity, so beauty’s a flower. The lady bade take away the fool. Therefore, I say again, take her away.


Madam, those are two character flaws that a little booze and some common sense can fix. If you hand a drink to a sober fool, he won’t be thirsty anymore. If you tell a bad man to mend his wicked ways, and he does, he won’t be bad anymore. If he cannot, let the tailor mend him. Anything that’s mended is only patched up. A good person who does something wrong is only patched up with sin. And a sinner who does something good is only patched up with goodness. If this logic works, that’s great. If not, what can you do about it? Since the only real betrayed husband in the world is the one deserted by Lady Luck—because we’re all married to her—beauty is a flower. The lady gave orders to take away the fool, so I’m telling you again, take her away.


Sir, I bade them take away you.


I told them to take you away.


Misprision in the highest degree! Lady, Cucullus non facit monachum—that’s as much to say as I wear not motley in my brain. Good madonna, give me leave to prove you a fool.


Oh, what a big mistake! Madam, you can’t judge a book by its cover. I mean, I may look like a fool, but my mind’s sharp. Please let me prove you’re a fool.


Can you do it?


Can you do that?


Dexterously, good madonna.


Easily, madam.


Make your proof.


Then go ahead and prove it.


I must catechise you for it, madonna. Good my mouse of virtue, answer me.


I’ll have to ask you some questions, madam. Please answer, my good little student.


Well, sir, for want of other idleness, I’ll bide your proof.


I’m listening to you only because I’ve got nothing better to do.


Good madonna, why mournest thou?


My dear madam, why are you in mourning?


Good fool, for my brother’s death.


My dear fool, because my brother died.


I think his soul is in hell, madonna.


I think his soul’s in hell, my lady.


I know his soul is in heaven, fool.


I know his soul’s in heaven, fool.


The more fool, madonna, to mourn for your brother’s soul being in heaven. Take away the fool, gentlemen.


Then you’re a fool for being sad that your brother’s soul is in heaven. Take away this fool, gentlemen.


What think you of this fool, Malvolio? Doth he not mend?


What do you think of this fool, Malvolio? Isn’t he getting funnier?


Yes, and shall do till the pangs of death shake him. Infirmity, that decays the wise, doth ever make the better fool.


Yes, and he’ll keep getting funnier till he dies. Old age always makes people act funny—even wise people, but fools more than anybody.


God send you, sir, a speedy infirmity, for the better increasing your folly! Sir Toby will be sworn that I am no fox, but he will not pass his word for two pence that you are no fool.


I hope you go senile soon, sir, so you can become a more foolish fool! Sir Toby would bet a fortune that I’m not smart, but he wouldn’t bet two cents that you’re not a fool.


How say you to that, Malvolio?


What do you say to that, Malvolio?


I marvel your ladyship takes delight in such a barren rascal.

I saw him put down the other day with an ordinary fool that


I’m surprised you enjoy the company of this stupid troublemaker. The other day I saw him defeated in a

has no more brain than a stone. Look you now, he’s out of his guard already. Unless you laugh and minister occasion to him, he is gagged. I protest I take these wise men that crow so at these set kind of fools no better than the fools’ zanies. battle of wits by an ordinary jester with no more brains than a rock. Look at him, he’s at a loss for words already. Unless he’s got somebody laughing at him, he can’t think of anything to say. I swear, anyone smart who laughs at these courts jesters is nothing but a jester’s apprentice.  

Oh, you are sick of self-love, Malvolio, and taste with a distempered appetite. To be generous, guiltless, and of free disposition is to take those things for bird-bolts that you deem cannon-bullets. There is no slander in an allowed fool, though he do nothing but rail. Nor no railing in a known discreet man, though he do nothing but reprove.


Malvolio, your vanity is damaging your good taste. If you were generous, innocent, and good-natured, you wouldn’t get so upset by what the fool says. You’d think of his wisecracks as harmless little firecrackers, not hurtful bullets. A court jester isn’t really criticizing people, even if he does nothing but make fun of them all day long. And a wise person doesn’t make fun of people, even if all he does is criticize them.


Now Mercury endue thee with leasing, for thou speakest well of fools!


You speak so highly of fools! I hope the god of deception rewards you by making you a wonderful liar.


[1] From http://nfs.sparknotes.com/twelfthnight/page_38.html accesses 8/18/2015.

Paul wrote to the Corinthians:

1 Cor 3 18 Do not deceive yourselves. If any of you think you are wise by the standards of this age, you should become “fools” so that you may become wise. 19 For the wisdom of this world is foolishness in God’s sight. As it is written: “He catches the wise in their craftiness”; 20 and again, “The Lord knows that the thoughts of the wise are futile.” 21 So then, no more boasting about human leaders! All things are yours,”

1 Cor 1 18 For the word of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.

19 For it is written,

20 Where is the wise man? Where is the scribe? Where is the debater of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world? 21For since in the wisdom of God the world through its wisdom did not come to know God, God was well-pleased through the foolishness of the message preached to save those who believe. 22For indeed Jews ask for signs and Greeks search for wisdom; 23but we preach Christ crucified, to Jews a stumbling block and to Gentiles foolishness, 24but to those who are the called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God. 25Because the foolishness of God is wiser than men, and the weakness of God is stronger than men.  26For consider your calling, brethren, that there were not many wise according to the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble; 27but God has chosen the foolish things of the world to shame the wise, and God has chosen the weak things of the world to shame the things which are strong, 28and the base things of the world and the despised God has chosen, the things that are not, so that He may nullify the things that are, 29so that no man may boast before God. 30But by His doing you are in Christ Jesus, who became to us wisdom from God, and righteousness and sanctification, and redemption, 31so that, just as it is written, “LET HIM WHO BOASTS, BOAST IN THE LORD.”

[1] There have been many things written on Shakespeare’s fools: one example available for free is See Frederick B. Warde, The Fools of Shakespeare: An Interpretation of Their Wit, Wisdom and Personalities (London: McBride, Nast, and Company), 1915.

[2] Possibly means something in Latin (Opalus is Opal, Quin to negate, “without”).

Yada: The Wound of our Knowledge

Yada: The Wound of our Knowledge (in appreciation, for Steven Garber)
“If you know, you care; if you don’t care, you don’t know.” S.Garber

  1. Does theology matter,
    or do anything?
    Or mean anything
    to matter
    to anything
    or anyone?
    Do we need it
    for anyone
    to mind it
    at any time?
    Does it do anything?
  2. Since so much
    depends upon
    the nexus
    between knowledge
    and responsibility,
    knowing and doing;
    since our survival
    depends upon
    our truths being true
    to the way the world
    actually is,
    why we continue
    even when everything
    that might be done
    is still undone,
    and why when words
    become flesh
    we step in
    and begin
    to know
    and finally see
    what love
    will ask of us,
    and to find
    it is more
    than we are able
    to give.
  3. To know is to care
    to remember
    the telos of life
    to do what we know
    in love.
  4. I am not
    what I could be,
    nor will be,
    until He makes me
    as he wills and is.
  5. Our names
    are hidden
    on the inverse
    curvature of the earth’s horizon
    which disintegrates
    with each stroke of the rower’s oar
    whose name is not known.
    A Great White was tagged
    and named Mary Lee
    and was spotted near our shore today.Ever-receding
    with each [shudder] of strength and oar
    the alphabets of our names
    tumble with abandon
    seemingly random re-organizing
    across the rim of visible space
    spelling catastrophe
    of immeasurable magnitude
    when these waters covered our earth
    our home our names
    now rewritten in a cursive
    of love we do not yet know,
    names written on a stone
    hidden in the heart of the sea
    beyond the cold arc of the sun
    burning like white steel
    hot and blinding letters
    too scorching to touch or say
    we watch for when
    they will be known
    letter by letter
    pronounced with thunder and rain
    and with no more sorrow nor melancholia.
  6. I longed
    for my children
    to know the world,
    but also to care.

The Polarities of the Little Prince & the Pragmatist

For ever-curious Julian who asked, what do you think is the meaning of The Little Prince?
For Marcus who marveled with and loved The Little Prince.
For Lucas who so much lives like The Little Prince.

 1. “Unless you become as little children . . .”

Innocent as doves
Wise as serpents,
In undying friendship,
Boundless creativity
And imagination,
Open to the immensity,
The stars of the heavens,
Mysterious and mundane.
Trust, love, responsibility,
And vulnerability.
Matters of significance,
Not necessarily consequence.
What is significant
Is not necessarily
Visible to the eyes.
Wells in the wilderness
Hope in faith,
Possible beauty.
not childishness.
To see what is, as it truly is,
Not what we vainly imagine.
Wonder and awe,
The uniqueness of each person
And their loves.
To return to love,
see with the heart.
In death properly faced
There can be new life.

2. “He who tries to save his life . . .”

Will blinded be
By appearances, power-politics
And pragmatism.
And growing up
Into vanity,
No wonder
Nor trust, no love, nor
Selling the galaxies,
The Objectivist utility
Of others,
Awe-less and Serpentine,
Beauty-less and thirsting,
Machinations of consequence
And denial.
When all is said and done,
A barren wilderness of heart
And mind without purpose,
A futile business
Of practicality
And expediency,
The drought of death
In a garden of infinity,
Drowning in the sands
Of insignificance,
Without water in a desert,
Closed to its potentialities
And possible destinations.

[In reality, we are a mix of both the Prince and the Pragmatist.]

pdf: The Polarities of the Little Prince and the Pragmatist

To imagine there’s no heaven . . .

To imagine there’s no heaven
but one on earth, it isn’t hard to do . . .

Think of all the good
that you have ever known,
all the joy, peace, happiness, pleasure, delight, and beauty.

Imagine all the good times, friends, grace-filled family reunions,
banquets and feasts, and all the fabulous places, sunsets, paintings, crescent moons.

Recall the many aqua summer evenings of pure bliss
sitting out under the stars with friends around a fire of embers.

Remember all the moments of shimmering wonder at the sea
and how we marveled at God’s awe-filled universe.

Consider the times of laughter
that made us roll on the ground in fitful abandon.

Bring back to mind the incomparable joy of first knowing
that Jesus is the King of creation,

suddenly to see this world as it is
with eyes and heart open to love its glories.

In other words, picture life as you know it now
without any consequence of corruption.

Yet, even more, consider “heaven” as the eternally creative life
we have now begun in this world to its very fullest extent
before his glorious presence.

Then, it isn’t hard to imagine a brotherhood without “religion”
when the world will be as one,
with no greed nor hunger,

the peace of perfect shalom,
no death nor destruction when all the kingdoms of the earth
become the kingdom of our Lord and of his Christ.