What is Faith

January 20, 2009

Hebrews says that Faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen. But, I’d like to offer another definition. Faith is obedience in action. Hebrews tells us that Abraham believed God and it was accounted unto him as righteousness. Yes, Abraham believed God. But, the important thing is thae he believed God enough to act on it. Abraham actually got up and moved to another place. If Abraham had simply said, “Yeah, I believe you”, but had not followed up with action, would that have been faith?

God calls us to do absurd, rididuclous things. When God sent Moses to Pharoah, he already gave Moses several signs. There was the burning bush, the rod that became a serpent, and Moses’ hand that changed. But Moses still wanted a sign. God told him to go and tell Pharoah, “Let my people go” and when Pharoah refuses, that will be a sign. It’s like God saying go tell the bank to loan you a million dollars because your new idea is going to be the biggest thing ever. But, when they laugh at you and escort you out to the sidewalk, THAT will be a sign unto you that yyou will succeed.
Think of the shepherds who were met by angels and told to go to Bethlehem and find a babe lying in a manger. As if the angels weren’t enough! So what if there was a child lying in a manger of stable outside an inn in an overcrowded city full of people travelling to take a census. That really isn’t any more out of the ordinary than today finding a child left in a dumpster. But, to believe that that child is going to be a King is something altogether awesome.

Advertisements

Table of Nations

January 7, 2009

The Table of Nations is one of the most overlooked passages in the Bible. Most people look over it without really looking at what it says or its implications. The Bible says that God has made from one blood, all nations of man. Also, I can remember a National Geographic article several years ago that discussed the evolution of race.

But, the genealogy of man is not the only reason to study the Table. Some of what’s discussed in Genesis 10 comes back later as prophecy.

8 Cush was the father of Nimrod, who grew to be a mighty warrior on the earth. 9 He was a mighty hunter before the LORD; that is why it is said, “Like Nimrod, a mighty hunter before the LORD.” 10.

Nimrod being a “mighty hunter” is discussed in another of my articles. This mighty hunter was a hunter of men. He captured men by beguiling them. “before the LORD” means “in the face of the LORD” or “in opposition to”. Incidentally, Nimrod, is said to come from the Hebrew Ni murud which means “the fool” or “the rebel”. Nimrod is thought be an insulting nickname for Gilgamesh, the first king of Babylon.

The Table can also reveal to us who the Magog are as they play an important role in prophecy. See Ezekiel 38-39 and Revelation 20:8. Also, the Table will help us know about the relationships between the various nations and how they related to Israel.
Noah
Japheth Ham Shem
Gomer
Magog-(modern Russia)
Madai,
Javan,
Tubal
Meshech
Tiras
Cush—(Ethiopians or Africans)
Mizraim
Put (Egypt) and Canaan Elam Asshure Arphaxad Lud Aram
Sons of Gomer
Ashkenaz
Riphath
Togarmah Sons of Cush
Nimrod
Seba
Havilah
Sabtah
Raamah
Sabteca Sons of Aram
Uz, Hul, Gether, and Meshech

Sons of Javan
Elishah
Tarshish
Kittim
Rodanim Sons of Mizraim
Ludites
Anamites
Lehabites
Napthuhites
Pathrusites
Casluhites(from where the Philistines came)
Caphtorites Sons of Arphaxad
Shelah
Shelah was the father of Eber from which we get the name “Hebrew”

Eber had two sons, Peleg and Joktan
Sons of Canaan
Sidon
The Hittites
Jebusites
Amorites
Girgashites
Hivites
Arkites
Sinites
Arvadites
Zemarites
Hamathites Sons of Joktan
Almodad, Sheleph
Hazarmaveth, Jerah ,Hadoram,
Uzal, Diklah, Obal, Abimael, Sheba, Ophir, Havilah
Jobab

 

 

Genesis 6 the story of Noah

November 28, 2008

Genesis six is filled with all kinds of goodies that I could go into about Nephilim, etc. and some of the common beliefs about who or what they were.  But, I’d rather look at something a little more substantial.  This is for me, the BBQ, The Big Burning Question.  Look at Gen 6:5 and at 6:9.

5 The LORD saw how great man’s wickedness on the earth had become, and that every inclination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil all the time. (emphasis added).NIV

Every inclination of our thoughts is only evil all the time.  Whoa!  Wow!  I don’t know about any of you, but as a Christian, I still struggle with sin and doubt, and I look at this and say, “if every inclination of my heart is only evil all the time, then what chance do I have?”  The answer is “of my own doing–none”.

Now look at this next passage.

 9 This is the account of Noah.
      Noah was a righteous man, blameless among the people of his time, and he walked with God (NIV)

I like to study Biblical biographies.  I like to look at the characters and try to figure out what they did right and where they went wrong.  And not just people of the Bible–I like to read bios of a lot of succesful people because I believe that you can learn so much from them.  But Noah here was “righteous”, “blameless”, and he “walked with God”.  How can we do that?  Especially when you consider that Noah lived before the Commandments and the Law were handed down.

The next thing I like to do is really dig in to the study of the Word.  I have eSword which comes with a lexicon so that you can really see what the words were in Hebrew and see how they were used.  Let’s take a look.

First, I want to look at v5.  I only have eSword in the KJVand it says “that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually”.

So, what does the Bible mean by “imagination of the thoughts of his heart”?

Imagination

yêtser

yay’-tser

 

From H3335; a form; figuratively conception (that is, purpose): – frame, thing framed, imagination, mind, work.

thoughts

machăshâbâh machăshebeth

makh-ash-aw-baw’,

makh-ash-eh’-beth

From H2803; a contrivance, that is, (concretely) a texture, machine, or (abstractly) intention, plan (whether bad, a plot; or good, advice): – cunning (work), curious work, device (-sed), imagination, invented, means, purpose, thought.

 

 

heart

lêb

labe

 

A form of H3824; the heart; also used (figuratively) very widely for the feelings, the will and even the intellect; likewise for the centre of anything: – + care for, comfortably, consent, X considered, courag [-eous], friend [-ly], ([broken-], [hard-], [merry-], [stiff-], [stout-], double) heart ([-ed]), X heed, X I, kindly, midst, mind (-ed), X regard ([-ed)], X themselves, X unawares, understanding, X well, willingly, wisdom.

evil

rah,

raw-aw’

From H7489; bad or (as noun) evil (naturally or morally). This includes the second (feminine) form; as adjective or noun: – adversity, affliction, bad, calamity, + displease (-ure), distress, evil ([-favouredness], man, thing), + exceedingly, X great, grief (-vous), harm, heavy, hurt (-ful), ill (favoured), + mark, mischief, (-vous), misery, naught (-ty), noisome, + not please, sad (-ly), sore, sorrow, trouble, vex, wicked (-ly, -ness, one), worse (-st) wretchedness, wrong. [Including feminine ra’ah; as adjective or noun.]

 

So based on the definitions above, let’s say it another way.

Every purpose that man conceived in his mind was bad.  That is to say that the schemes that we cook up in our minds are self-serving and ill-contrived and will eventually cause pain for ourselves and others.

Now, let’s contrast this with Noah, who was “a just man and perfect in his generations and Noah walked with God”.

Before we delve into definitions, consider that Noah was perfect in his generations (emphasis added). I won’t post the whole definition, but in his generation refers to “a time or an age also a dwelling”.  So Noah was perfect “in his time”.

So what about just and perfect?

Just is pretty straight forward.

tsaddîyq

tsad-deek’

 

From H6663; just: – just, lawful, righteous (man).

And perfect.

tâmîym

taw-meem’

 

From H8552; entire (literally, figuratively or morally); also (as noun) integrity, truth: – without blemish, complete, full, perfect, sincerely (-ity), sound, without spot, undefiled, upright (-ly), whole.

So, Noah was lawful and unblemished.  In some ways, I know that that does not tell us a lot more than we already knew.  But, let’s look at some of the other text in the story.

11 Now the earth was corrupt in God’s sight and was full of violence.

Now let’s see what else the Bible has to say about this.

 

16 There are six things the LORD hates,
       seven that are detestable to him:

 17 haughty eyes,
       a lying tongue,
       hands that shed innocent blood,

 18 a heart that devises wicked schemes,
       feet that are quick to rush into evil,

 19 a false witness who pours out lies
       and a man who stirs up dissension among brothers.

(Proverbs 6:16-19 NIV emphasis mine).  But you can see how God feels about violence and schemes.  This should also tell us how Noah stood out among his generation. Also, let’s look at Psalm 11:5 The LORD examines the righteous,  but the wicked [a] and those who love violence his soul hates.

But the important thing is that Noah walked with God.  Without walking with God (knowing him, studying his word), it is impossible to understand His Laws and what he hates.  This story also goes to show that God could be found at a time and place before there was a scripture, before the Laws of Moses and before the Commandments.  If we seek God, we can find him anywhere.  and he wants to be found by us.

The Legacy of Cain

November 18, 2008

Now Cain said to his brother Abel, “Let’s go out to the field.”  And while they were in the field, Cain attacked his brother Abel and killed him. (Gen 4:8 NIV) www.biblegateway.com

Cain is an interesting character.  He is what is most essentially human in us all.  He is self-centered, jealous, and tempermental.  Cain has also ganrered much discussion in some religious circles that look to conspiracy theories, evil empires and government cover-ups.

Let’s look at some other things about Cain.

Do not be like Cain, who belonged to the evil one and murdered his brother. And why did he murder him? (1 John 3:12 emphasis added).  Some have use “belonged to the evil one” as saying that Cain was  the son of Satan.

15 But the LORD said to him, “Not so [e] ; if anyone kills Cain, he will suffer vengeance seven times over.” Then the LORD put a mark on Cain so that no one who found him would kill him. 16 So Cain went out from the LORD’s presence and lived in the land of Nod, [f] east of Eden.

 17 Cain lay with his wife, and she became pregnant and gave birth to Enoch. Cain was then building a city, and he named it after his son Enoch. 18 To Enoch was born Irad, and Irad was the father of Mehujael, and Mehujael was the father of Methushael, and Methushael was the father of Lamech.

The interesting thing is that Cain went out into the land of Nod (which means wondering) and he built a city.  First one wonders exactly who taught Cain how to build a city.  And building a city is much more than just bricks and mortar.  A city is a place with an infrastructure.  It is also a place where men rule over other men.  The city of Babylon is an example where “Nimrod was a mighty hunter before the LRD”.  That “before the LRD” means “in the face of the LRD” as in getting up in one’s face and being the defiant (Note: Nimrod is Hebrew for “the fool” or  “the rebel”)

Any way, this not to say that I am certain of these things but I find it interesting that Cain was of the devil, and he went out building cities.  God did not create government–men did!  Cain lived to be 800 years old at a time before the continental divide.  Many have associated Cain with building the pyramids of Giza to the ziggurats in South America.

http://www.ancientdays.net/nimrod.htm

http://www.mazzaroth.com/ChapterThree/TowerOfBabel.htm

http://www.lewrockwell.com/orig6/case1.html

http://www.biblestudy.org/beginner/definition-of-christian-terms/satan-seed.html

http://www.ichthys.com/mail-Cain.htm

When one considers the fall of man and the whole eating the apple story; it is hard not to get caught up in the curse of Eve. (“Your desire will be for your husband and he will rule over you” Gen 3:16b).  Yes this verse has caught the ire of feminists everywhere and been source of every Biblical offense against women.  But, as I have noted in my other posts, the Bible does not condone misogyny.

However, we also cannot blame God for every offense committed in his name or how twisted men use scripture to justify twisted deeds.  I want to use this post to talk a little about true submission.  But first let’s look at something else, shall we.  We all know that Eve took the apple first and brought it to her husband right?  But check this out.  Scripture says: “For just as through the disobedience of one man, many were made sinners, so also through the obedience of the  one man, the many will be made righteous”.  (Romans 5:19)  Did you cath that the disobedience of one man.  But who took of the fruit first?  So why then is it through the man that sin comes into the world?  What was Adam’s sin?  It was this.  He failed to look after what was given to him.  When God gave Adam dominion over the garden, it wasn’t to kick back and prop his feet up.  No, God made man to work in the garden (Gen 2:5).  But that’s not all.  When God gave Adam dominion,  He was saying “I’m holding you responsible for whatever happens in here”.  And I believe he still says that to men today.

Adam didn’t have to take the fruit.  He could have chased the serpent out of the garden.  He could have told Eve not to do it (And yes, she still could have).  He could have called on the name of the God who walked with him in the cool of the day.  But he chose to do none of this and therein lays Adam’s sin. 

So, what does all of this have to do with submission?  Because when we are in charge, sometimes we have to do the hard thing and to put the good of others ahead of our own desires.  But moreover I wanted to touch on some other scripture teaching on submission. 

First I believe that submission is a unique little word with not one but two opposites.  On one end is subjugation. (don’t bother looking this up in a dictionary) The Bible may say wives submit to your husbands.  But no where does it say husbands subjugate your wives.  If you try to subjugate someone else to your will, you will only succeed in making them and eventually yourself miserable. 

The other opposite of submission is selfishness.  Christ gave himself to us in perfect submission not only to the Father’s will but also to our good.  He could have refused to go to Calvary (and who would blame him).  But he sought our good first.  Which is the heart of submission.

So let’s look at Godly submission

Mark 10:42-43

Jesus called them together and said, “You know that those who are regarded as rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their high officials exercise authority over them.  Not so with you.  Instead, whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant”.

Look at Phillippians 2:3-4

Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility, consider others better than yourselves.  Each of you should look not only to your own interests but also to the interests of others.

And also 1 Peter 5:2-3

“. . . serving as overseers–not because you must, but because you are willing, as God wants you to be; not greedy for money, but eager to serve; not lording it over those entrusted to you, but being examples to the flock”.

So, submission is not just a “woman thing” or the “wife’s job”.  As Christians we are called to submit to one another and to minister unto one another.  If we did this I believe that our marriages would be blissful, our neighbors would hold us in high esteem and the church houses would be packed to overflowing from Sunday to Sunday.

One of the things I often tell people is to read the Bible like you’re reading it for the very first time.  Often, we subconsciously read stuff into stories from our subconscious because that’s the way we think its supposed to go  or that’s what it’s supposed to say.  For example, Genesis says that “the serpent is more wiley than any of the wild animals”.  People get hung up on the idea of a literal serpent losing his legs and having to crawl on his belly.  But notice that the Bible doesn’t say that the serpent was more wiley than any of the OTHER wild animals.  So, he’s not counted as a “wild animal”.

The Bible Part I

June 26, 2008

My original intent in creating this blog was to discuss the Bible. Over the years, I’ve gotten a lot of questions and seen (and heard) a lot of criticism pointed at the Bible. Probably no more so than just a few years ago when Dan Brown’s Da Vinci Code was all the rage. People would ask me if there was any possibility that Brown’s premise might be right. Some even got mad when I shot them down. One co-worker made the comment that the Dead Sea Scrolls had been intentionally omitted from the Bible as part of some Catholic conspiracy to cover up “the truth”.

Well, as part of my first discussion on the Bible itself, I wanted to discuss the Bible, its origins and how we got it in its present form. I am speaking of the Protestant Bible without the Apocrypha, because I know next to nothing about the Apocrypha.

The Bible is composed of sixty-six books written by more than forty men spanning three continents over a period of about sixteen hundred years.

The Bible is of course comprised of the Old and New Testament. Much of the Old Testament comes from the Hebrew Tanak, which is an acronym representing the three parts of the Hebrew Bible. These are the Torah (teachings), Nevi’im (prophets), and the Ketuvim (writings)1.

The Torah is the first five books of the OT. These are traditionally thought to have been penned by the hand of Moses himself. But, these original writings called the autograph no longer survive.

After the Torah, there are a number of other writings, some not included in the Kevitum. These writings make up the history of Israel. Then there are the poetic books, which are Psalms, Proverbs, Job, and Song of Solomon. These are followed by the prophets.

Understanding why some ofthe above mentioned books would be listed in the Bible is easy. These were for the most part official history and legal documents that have been preserved for centuries. Also, in about 300 BC, much of what makes up the Old Testament was organized into what’s called the Septuagint. These books were converted into the Greek language of the time by seventy rabbis.2

One of the things I want to touch on here is around a comment a friend made to me one time. He said that certain parts of the Bible became confusing because they kept retelling the same stories over and over. He couldn’t remember which “parts” he was referring to, but I’m making an educated guess here to say that he was probably referring to Kings and Chronicles. These four books repeat a lot of the same stories with different viewpoints and different details.

Throughout the historical timeline presented above, many other books were written. I’m talking about the prophets; guys like Isaiah, Jeremiah, Daniel, and Ezekiel. The prophets covered periods from before, during and after the Babylonian Exile. Much of what the OT prophets wrote became popular, and was distributed and read among the Israelites.

Now, the creation of the New Testament was a little different. Techincally speaking, you could basically break down all of the NT into two categories: History and Letters. (I am referring to the Gospels through Acts as History). Everything from Romans to Revelations is a letter written by someone to some person or group of people. Now it is commonly accepted that none of the Gospels were actually penned pior to about 60 AD, thirty years after Jesus’ death and resurrection. But many of the letters of Paul were written before that.

The letters of Paul, Peter, and others were distributed to churches and copied. The original letters, called autographs are lost to the ages. But, the copies were distributed and preserved by the early churches.

The New Testament was finally canonized until the fourth century, but it was mostly settled as early as 130 AD, and it’s basic form was recognizable by 150. A fellow named Marcion started a controversy because he only accepted Luke and the Pauline epistles as scriptural. Marcion had many followers and churches began to set down a canon. Every canon included the four gospels, the letters of Paul, the Book of Acts, James, Jude, 1 Peter and John’s three epistles. Several works continued to be dsiputed into the third and fourth centuries. Moreover, the early church worked hard at historical criticism. Nothing in the modern canon was written after 130 AD and most works are much older than that. Many books claimed to be old, but the early church was able to distinguish them from the true accounts of the 1st 100 years after Jesus.3

Sources Cited

1 http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bible

2 http://www.septuagint.net/

3 http://everything2.com/node/727167

Other Links

http://www.juliantrubin.com/biblefacts.html

http://bibleresources.bible.com/afacts.php