I want to share a little with all of you about some of my upcoming writing projects. I have been a writing fool for the past few months, working on some freelance assignments and write-for-hire as well as my own book, The World to Come.
First, let me tell you about Feast. I was contacted by a new department of LifeWay, the mega-publisher associated with the Southern Baptists. LifeWay has many departments, including Broadman and Holman, who produce Bible and Christian books.
They have a new department called Threads, which you can see at threadsmedia.com. This is a media-savvy group publishing material for small group studies and especially aimed at 20’s.
Threads asked me to do a six-part study on the Feasts. Through the teaching of people like Rob Bell, a young pastor in Grand Rapids Michigan whose popularity is just slightly less than that of Messiah himself, many emerging Christians have developed a respect for and passion to know about Judaism and how faith in Jesus grew out of it.
Here is a very short excerpt from Feast. It will be available in March of 2008:
In another place, many centuries ago, the place of worship was outdoors. On a small mountain, Mount Zion, the temple sat. The stones shone like gold in the late afternoon sun. In fact there was gold on some parts of the temple.
In front of the building was a courtyard with a large altar. A fire was always burning. Parts of animals were always going up in smoke.
Hundreds of thousands are gathered. There are no pews. There are no chairs. There is no ceiling or windows or chandeliers or projection screens. There are Levitical choirs of hundreds and also hundreds of musicians. There are priests leading prayers and psalms as well as attending to sacrificial duties. This is the worship of Israel at the temple, the central sanctuary of Israel.
To be sure, there is a building. But no one is inside. The building is God’s temple. It has two rooms. Only the priests go inside and they can only go into the first room.
At the back of the temple, though only the priests have even seen the veil that covers it, there is another room. It is the Holy of Holies. God is in there. God is hidden, separate.
The people just try to get close. Close to a temple where God is hidden in the back room. The building is not the place of worship. It houses the object of their worship: the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.
Does the worship of the Israelites seem better, inferior, or simply different from our way of worship? Explain.
Some might say, “Our worship is better. Our worship is in spirit and theirs was not. Their worship was primitive. Ours is advanced.”
If an Israelite could visit your church, what would he or she say? “Where is the glory of God hidden in your sanctuary? Why is the crowd so small? Where is the reverence? Why aren’t people chanting Psalms?”
The Israelite in temple times did not see God, hidden in the Holy of Holies in the back of the temple. But neither do we. God is hidden to us as well.
Next, let me tell you about The World to Come. It is due out in March also, by Lederer, also known as Messianic Jewish Resources (www.messianicjewish.net).
I wanted to write a book about coming events in God’s plan and, more so, the nature of the Messianic Age and the New Earth that are coming. I am a major fan of C.S. Lewis’s The Great Divorce and I appreciated Randy Alcorn’s book, Heaven. Add to this the beautiful descriptions of the prophets (“every man a vine and fig tree”) and the rabbis (“there will not be a grape which will not yield thirty measures of wine in the world to come”).
Here is a very short excerpt from The World to Come:
The Bible does not tell us everything about the World To Come. Yet it tells us enough to know more than what it says. From the Bible we determine that there is another text, one that lies alongside the Bible and prefigures the World To Come.
The desires of the heart point the way. The unsatisfied desire will at last be satisfied. Joy will be real.
A man climbs a peak to find a trout pond in the clear mountain air. It is a sign. A woman enjoys a story of love found at last. It is a sign. A child looks longingly at a picture in a storybook. It is a sign.
We can experience signs every day, though we easily overlook them. We can be reminded a thousand times what the World To Come may be like. It is there in beauty. We look at the face of our mate and we see a hint of heaven. Our toes curl in green grass and we know paradise is real. We hear a child’s innocent laughter and we can imagine. We forget ourselves and fall into the joy of friends and conversation, and we can imagine true companionship.
Joy in this world is a text alongside the Bible, clueing us in to the World to Come.
I also have a six-session study on themes from Job coming out before March. And in 2008, Lederer has asked me to write another book on Yeshua, which I’m hoping will be titled In Yeshua’s Sandals, and another book on Paul. These last two will be expansions of and updates on my earlier books, Jesus Didn’t Have Blue Eyes and Paul Didn’t Eat Pork.
In short, I have a lot of writing coming out in the next year or so. I hope to be able to share more about them with you.
I think that a solid understanding of Judaism brings much that is missing in thought about Messiah and the life of faith in Yeshua. I am trying to give a fuller, richer view of this life.