Encountering the Merciful Love of God :: Fra Angelico, “The Annunciation”

Fra Angelico - Annunciation
Fra Angelico, The Annunciation; tempera on wood; between 1433 and 1434.

“My soul glorifies the Lord and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior,
for he has been mindful of the humble state of his servant.
From now on all generations will call me blessed.” (Luke 1:46-48)

“Love is blind.” At least, that’s how the saying goes. The phrase means that when love is at work, a person is prone to overlook, or just plain fail to see, the problems within the person being loved.  There is some truth to that. But the kind of love we all deeply desire is not a blind love, but a love that truthfully sees everything about us and still loves us. Love that is blind—that turns away from reality—is false love, while love that sees—that leans into reality—is real love. John 3:16 is such a revered passage of Scripture because it describes God’s love not as blind but as real love:

For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. (John 3:16-17)

When the Angel Gabriel appeared to Mary, announcing God’s plan to bring the Messiah to birth through her, Mary was astounded. Her question, “How will this be?”, was both a question about the manner of the Messianic birth since she was a virgin and simultaneously a question about the possibility that something like this could occur in human history. When Gabriel emphasized God’s decisive plan to intervene through Jesus as Messiah, such knowledge eventually leads Mary to erupt with praise:

My soul glorifies the Lord and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior…His mercy extends to those who fear him, from generation to generation. (Luke 1:46-47, 50)

That little word ‘mercy’ (Greek: ἔλεος) is an echo of the Hebrew word hesed, which refers to God’s uniquely steady and faithful love. Mary grasps, and shares with us today, that God sees what is really there in the world and still chooses to love humanity from generation to generation throughout the earth. Mary becomes a picture not only of humble obedience to God’s call, but also boisterous praise of God’s real, eyes-open love for humanity and all creation.

Micah, part 2 [God in the Ruins]

God in the Ruins Series GFX_App Square

One of the most famous passages in the minor prophets comes from the book of Micah.

He has shown you, O mortal, what is good. And what does the Lord require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God. (Micah 6:8)

As we continued our series on the minor prophets, “God in the Ruins,” This past weekend at Eastbrook, we explored the significance of this passage within the final two chapters of the book of Micah.

Micah was an 8th century prophet to both the northern kingdom of Israel and southern kingdom of Judah. He witnessed the fall of Samaria and the northern kingdom to the overwhelming might of the Assyrian armies in 722 BC. Micah also spoke about the coming exile for the southern kingdom of Judah, which occurs after the time of his ministry.

You can watch my message from this past weekend and follow along with the message outline below. You can also engage with the entire series on the minor prophets here or download the Eastbrook mobile app for even more opportunities to connect.

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Hosea, part 2 [God in the Ruins]

God in the Ruins Series GFX_App SquareThis past weekend at Eastbrook, we continued our series, “God in the Ruins: The Message of the Minor Prophets,” by looking at the second part of Hosea, chapters 4-14. The challenge of preaching a message on eleven chapters is that you really have to choose which way to go and what to focus on.

Based on the message I delivered the previous week with my wife, Kelly, I focused in on themes of hesed in Hosea. Hesed is a difficult word, appearing five times in Hosea, and is a major theme throughout the Hebrew Bible. Notoriously difficult to translate with precision, hesed has a range of meaning including steadfast love, covenant faithfulness, and mercy based on the context.

You can watch my message from this past weekend and follow along with the message outline below. You can also engage with the entire series on the minor prophets here or download the Eastbrook mobile app for even more opportunities to connect.

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Hesed Prayer: inspired by the prophet Hosea

Almighty God,
You have loved us first
with an everlasting love,
showing us what love truly is.
You have shown us great mercy,
preeminently in the gift of Your Son, Jesus Christ,
who lived among us, died on the Cross, rose again,
and now eternally intercedes on our behalf at Your right hand.
You have invited us into loving relationship with You,
both in our daily lives now
and unto eternity as Your bride.
Because of Your hesed
Your steadfast love, mercy, and faithfulness –
make us people of hesed,
living in love and loving others,
receiving Your mercy and showing mercy,
held in Your faithfulness and living faithfully,
until the day we see You face to face.

All this we pray, through Jesus Christ your Son our Lord
to whom, with You and the Holy Spirit
be honor and glory, now and forever.
Amen.

Hosea, part 1 [God in the Ruins]

This past weekend at Eastbrook, we continued our series, “God in the Ruins: The Message of the Minor Prophets.” My wife, Kelly, and I co-preached a message on the first three chapters of the prophet Hosea.

Hosea is an interesting book of the Bible, and one of the longest of these shorter prophetic books. Hosea spoke during the time of the divided kingdom, primarily addressing the northern kingdom of Israel from about 750-724 BC.

You can watch our message from this past weekend and follow along with the message outline below. You can also engage with the entire series here or download the Eastbrook mobile app for even more opportunities to connect.

I’m also including below a chart that I pulled together related to the kings of Israel that overlap with the ministry of Hosea.

King Dates bc References
Jeroboam II 786-746 2 Kings 14:23-29
Zechariah 746-745 2 Kings 15:8-12
Shallum 745 2 Kings 15:13-16
Menahem 752-738 2 Kings 15:17-22
Pekahiah 738-737 2 Kings 15:23-26
Pekah
(may have co-ruled Gilead since 752)
737-732 2 Kings 15:27-31
Hoshea 732-724 2 Kings 17:1-6
Fall of Samaria 722 2 Kings 17:7-23

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