"GIVE ME THE BIBLE" Why I Study The Old Testament INTRODUCTION 1. What benefit is the Old Testament (OT) to the Christian today...? a. Is the Christian under the OT as a system of justification? b. Is the OT authoritative regarding the work, worship, and organization of the church? -- If not, why even bother with reading and studying the OT? 2. It is true Christians are not under the OT... a. Gentile Christians were never under the OT (or Old Covenant) 1) The Old Covenant was made with the Israelites at Mt. Horeb (Sinai) - Deut 5:1-2 2) Not even Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, etc., were under the Old Covenant - Deut 5:3 3) Thus Gentile Christians were not required to be circumcised or keep the Law - Ac 15:1-29 b. Jewish Christians have been delivered from the OT law 1) Through the body of Christ - Ro 7:1-6 2) By His death on the cross, Jesus brought the OT covenant to an end - Ep 2:14-16 3) It served to lead the Jews to Christ, a purpose fulfilled - Ga 3:23-25 3. Unfortunately, some conclude from this that we need not read the OT... a. I have known Christians who had never read through the OT once b. I have heard some who will not attend services if a study or sermon series is based on the OT -- "Why bother, if we are not under the OT?", is the reasoning of some 4. Is that the proper attitude of Christians toward the OT? This attitude... a. Is wrong, contrary to the teaching of the NT itself! b. Deprives the Christian of a wonderful source of peace and comfort c. Prevents the Christian from gaining wisdom and understanding concerning the life that now is, and that which is to come! [To help us to appreciate the value of the Old Testament, let's begin by asking...] I. WHY STUDY THE OLD TESTAMENT? A. WRITTEN FOR OUR LEARNING... 1. Note carefully what Paul wrote in Ro 15:4 a. Things "written before" (i.e., the OT) were "written for our learning" b. The OT was written and preserved especially for the Christians' benefit! c. The OT provides "patience and comfort", that we "might have hope"! 2. The OT provides a record of God's faithfulness, how He kept His promises: a. To Abraham and the nation of Israel b. To judge the wicked and avenge the righteous c. To forgive the penitent, and protect the humble -- The history of the OT is intended to give us hope that God will keep His promises to us! B. WRITTEN FOR OUR ADMONITION... 1. Paul reminded the Christians at Corinth of Israel's fall in the wilderness - 1Co 10:1-10 2. Note carefully what he says in 1Co 10:11 a. The events described may have happened to Israel b. But "they were written for our admonition..." c. Again, the OT was written and preserved especially for the benefit of Christians! 3. Other NT writers often appealed to the OT in admonishing Christians a. The writer of Hebrews, in exhorting Christians to remain steadfast - He 3:12-19 b. James, in encouraging Christians to be patient in their suffering - Jm 5:7-11 c. Peter, in warning of false teachers and scoffers - 2Pe 2-3 -- The history of the OT is intended to serve as a warning to Christians! C. MAKES ONE WISE REGARDING SALVATION IN CHRIST... 1. Paul noted that Timothy had known the "Holy Scriptures" since childhood - 2Ti 3:14 a. When Timothy was a child, the only scriptures available was the OT b. So Paul clearly had the OT in view 2. He said the OT is "able to make you wise for salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus" - 2Ti 3:15 3. How is this possible? The OT provides: a. The fall of man and the rise of sin b. The background and development of God's scheme of redemption c. Hundreds of Messianic prophecies which describe what to expect when He comes 4. One cannot hope to fully understand such books of the New Testament like: a. Hebrews, without an understanding of the Levitical priesthood b. Revelation, without an understanding of OT prophecy and apocalyptic literature -- If one is to be wise concerning salvation in Christ, studying the OT is imperative! D. PROFITABLE TO MAKE ONE COMPLETE... 1. Paul writes of the benefit of "All Scripture", which includes the OT - 2Ti 3:16-17 2. Therefore the OT is profitable for: a. Doctrine - such as the nature of God, man, and sin b. Reproof and correction - the need for repentance c. Instruction in righteousness - how to live godly lives 3. The apostles often appealed to the OT concerning Christians'conduct: a. E.g., Ro 12:19-21; 2Co 6:16-7:1; 9:7-10 b. E.g., Jm 2:20-26 c. E.g., 1Pe 3:8-12 -- There is much we can learn from the OT about truth and righteousness! [Should the Christian study the Old Testament? Of course! Along with the NT, it was written "that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work." (2Ti 3:17) To not read and study the OT is to deprive one of much admonition, learning, wisdom, and instruction that God intended for His children! In encouraging others to study the OT, let me offer...] II. SUGGESTIONS FOR STUDYING THE OLD TESTAMENT A. INCLUDE IN YOUR BIBLE READING PROGRAM... 1. Do not limit your daily Bible reading to just the New Testament 2. I encourage one to read the whole Bible through each year, both OT and NT a. One might start with Genesis and end with Revelation b. Others prefer both OT and NT concurrently throughout the year -- The important thing is make the OT a part of your regular study of the Bible B. USE A MODERN TRANSLATION... 1. I grew up on the KJV, had no problem with the NT, but found the OT extremely difficult 2. In high school, I began reading the NASB, and the OT came alive for me! -- I personally recommend either the NKJV, ESV, NASB C. TAKE ADVANTAGE OF STUDY BIBLES, SPECIAL CLASSES... 1. Study Bibles provide historical background, maps, drawings, etc. (e.g., ESV) 2. If your congregation offers classes or sermons in the OT, take them! -- Don't be like some who won't attend when the subject is from the OT D. GIVE FOCUS TO PSALMS, PROVERBS, AND THE PROPHETS... 1. Certainly all of God's word is of great value 2. But one might appreciate the value of the OT more quickly, by giving attention to: a. The Psalms - as a great source of comfort, peace, and drawing near to God, especially in troubling times b. The Proverbs - as a great source of practical wisdom for everyday living c. The Prophets - as a great source for learning about the righteousness, justice, mercy and love of God -- This is not to suggest that we neglect the other parts of the OT CONCLUSION 1. Should we only study Scriptures pertaining to the covenant under which we live...? a. Should Israel have discarded Genesis, and the first nineteen chapters of Exodus? No! b. Should we discard the gospels, since Jesus lived and died under the Old Covenant? No! 2. Neither should we ignore the OT, for it provides... a. The background and setting of the NT b. Much in the way of learning, admonition, comfort, hope, even wisdom concerning salvation! Be careful not to neglect that which was written and preserved for OUR benefit... "For whatever things were written before were written for OUR learning, that we through the patience and comfort of the Scriptures might have hope." -Ro 15:4 "Now all these things happened to them as examples, and they were written for OUR admonition, upon whom the ends of the ages have come." - 1Co 10:11 And remember that... "ALL Scripture is inspired of God, and is profitable..." 2Ti 3:16
Origins and the "Created Kind" Concept
|by||Trevor Major, M.Sc., M.A.|
Q.The Bible speaks of things reproducing “after their kind.” What does the biblical word “kind” indicate?
Today, most creationists take the view that variation and speciation can occur only within created kinds. These kinds appeared for the first time in the creation week, and have since colonized the Earth. For land-dwelling animals, modern representatives would have to be the descendants of the kinds carried on the ark (Genesis 6:17; 8:17-19).
However, there is no consensus on the biological definition of kind, or the criteria for grouping animals within a kind. Some creationists equate the term with a particular taxonomic level higher than species, such as genus or family. Most, however, avoid such comparisons altogether. Byron Nelson wrote:
The “kinds” of Genesis refer not to the “systematic” species identified by men, but to those natural species of which the world is full, which have power to vary within themselves in such a way that the members of the species are not all exactly alike, but which, nevertheless, cannot go out of the bounds that the creator set (1967, p. 4).In 1941, Frank Marsh coined the term “baramin”—a compound of the Hebrew words bara (“created”) and min (“kind”). He suggested that the nearest equivalent to the created kind would vary, depending on the greatest taxonomic level at which two organisms could interbreed (1976, p. 34). For example, while there are several species of cattle and bison, they probably belong to the same kind because they all can interbreed (Marsh, 1976, p. 31).
The differences of opinion, and the apparent flexibility in the idea, have given anticreationists cause for criticism. Joel Cracraft complained:
The “created kind” is the unit of creation event just as the species is the unit of evolutionary change. Consequently, if the concept of “created kind” cannot be defined so that it can be used to interpret and investigate nature, then it is of little or no importance for the growth of knowledge (1983, p. 169).However, the same sort of criticisms leveled at kinds also can be turned on the species concept, which is neither well defined nor objective. First, the widely held biological species concept “holds that a species is a population of organisms that can at least potentially breed with one another but that do not breed with other populations” (Rennie, 1991). Unfortunately, two populations may not breed because they are isolated geographically. This may lead to taxonomic splitting, by which taxonomists give two different names to populations that could interbreed if given the chance. Practically speaking, very few species undergo extensive cross-breeding experiments before classification to test their reproductive isolation. Hybridization is another problem. Two seemingly distinct plant species may cross to produce fertile hybrids.
The potential for taxonomic splitting is especially acute in the fossil record, where it is impossible to apply the biological species concept. Instead, paleontologists tend to define species on their morphology alone. However, the soft parts of an organism rarely are preserved, and the identification must rest almost entirely on hard parts (e.g., bones, teeth, etc.). Any evolutionary relationships drawn from such studies are necessarily limited (Major, 1991).
Second, the species idea often takes on a definite evolutionary connotation. As we have already seen, Cracraft claims that the species is “the unit of evolutionary change” (1983, p. 169). He wants to replace the biological species concept with his own phylogenetic species concept, mainly because he is not satisfied with any definition that ignores alleged evolutionary relationships. Cracraft’s concept defines a species as “the smallest recognizable cluster of individuals that share a common pattern of ancestry” (Rennie, 1991).
The created kind concept can hold its own against these definitions. It proposes that a kind will consist of populations that can interbreed, while still allowing room for variation. If implemented systematically, the concept would reveal barriers or discontinuities between created kinds. “In order to make this evidence of creation available,” Kurt Wise has suggested, “there is a serious need for creation biologists to create, adopt, and employ a reproducible method of flagging identifiable phyletic discontinuities” (1990, 2:354). Creationists, like Wise, are continuing their work on kinds. In the meantime we face a taxonomic system encumbered with evolutionary presuppositions.
Major, Trevor (1991), “Problems in the Interpretation of Variation Within the Fossil Record,” Creation Research Society Quarterly, 28:52-53, September.
Marsh, Frank L. (1976), Variation and Fixity in Nature (Mountain View, CA: Pacific Press).
Nelson, Byron (1967), After Its Kind (Minneapolis, MN: Bethany Fellowship).
Rennie, John (1991), “Are Species Specious?,” Scientific American, 265:26, November.
Wise, Kurt P. (1990), “Baraminology: A Young-Earth Creation Biosystematic Method,” Proceedings of the Second International Conference on Creationism, July 30-August 4, 1990, ed. Robert E. Walsh (Pittsburgh, PA: Creation Science Fellowship), pp. 345-360.
|by||Caleb Colley, Ph.D.|
Some people picture God as akin to a miserly dictator Who is eager to find a cause to crush the vile human race He created. Is that the way the Bible portrays God? Romans 2:4 reads: “Or do you despise the riches of His goodness, forbearance, and longsuffering, not knowing that the goodness of God leads you to repentance?” Romans 15:5 emphasizes God’s patience: “Now may the God of patience and comfort grant you to be likeminded toward one another, according to Christ Jesus.” Peter wrote: “the longsuffering of our Lord is salvation” (2 Peter 3:15).
God is patient because He does not want anyone to be eternally lost. “The Lord is not slack concerning His promise, as some count slackness, but is longsuffering toward us, not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance” (2 Peter 3:9). One meaning of “patience,” according to the Illustrated Oxford Dictionary, is “the capacity for calm, self-possessed waiting.” God has promised that there will be a day when sinners will receive their final condemnation (2 Peter 2:9; 3:7), but God is waiting in order that more sinners might accept and obey the Gospel. Wayne Jackson noted biblical examples of this patience:
The Lord’s wrath is not inflicted impulsively. Rather, history repeatedly has demonstrated that God exercises “much long-suffering” toward those deserving of punishment (Romans 9:22). His patience was demonstrated to the generation of Noah’s day (Genesis 6:3). He longed to spare corrupt Sodom (Genesis 18:26ff). Jehovah revealed himself to Moses as a God who is “slow to anger” (Exodus 34:6; cf. Psalms 103:8). The Lord was even long-suffering with a wretch as vile as Ahab (1 Kings 21:29). For centuries He was tolerant with the arrogant and stiff-necked nation of Israel (Nehemiah 9:17) .We desperately need God’s patience, just as the apostle Paul did. Paul was given the opportunity to be saved, despite the fact that he was “the chief ” of sinners (1 Timothy 1:15-16; see Nicks, 1981, p. 190). Potential for salvation rests in God’s patience. Rather than instantly destroying people when they sin, He providentially gives people opportunities and encouragement that should lead to repentance (Titus 2:11). God expects us to request His continued patience as we make mistakes (1 John 1:9; Luke 11:4), and He shows His patience by continually forgiving us of our sins when we do (based on the sacrifice of Christ’s blood and our sincere obedience to His will; see 1 John 1:7).
We should emulate the patience of God. Romans 2:6-7 emphasizes the necessity of patience in the lives of Christians: “[God] will render to each one according to his deeds: eternal life to those who by patient continuance in doing good seek for glory, honor, and immortality” (emp. added). Paul instructed Christians to be patient: “Now we exhort you, brethren, warn those who are unruly, comfort the fainthearted, uphold the weak, be patient with all” (1 Thessalonians 5:14, emp. added; cf. Christ’s parable of the impatient servant in Matthew 18:23-35). People cannot be saved unless they have patience, because without patience, the Christian’s work is impossible (see Ecclesiastes 7:8; Ephesians 4:2; 2 Timothy 2:24; James 1:4). Patience also is necessary because other essential Christian virtues, including faith, hope, and joy, are dependent on it (James 1:2-4; Romans 5:3; 15:4; Colossians 1:11; see Nicks, 1981, pp. 191-192). William Barclay observed:
If God had been a man, He would have taken His hand and wiped out this world long ago; but God has that patience which bears with all our sinning and which will not cast us off. In our lives, in our attitude to and dealings with our fellow men, we must reproduce this loving, forbearing, forgiving, patient attitude of God toward ourselves (1958, p. 56).God’s patience is balanced by His perfect justice. Unforgiven sin will be punished, but God’s patience allows time for repentance (Matthew 25:41; 2 Peter 2:9; see Colley, 2004). Isaiah 30:18 makes it clear: “Therefore the Lord will wait, that He may be gracious to you; and therefore He will be exalted that He may have mercy on you. For the Lord is God of justice; blessed are those who wait for Him.” God’s generous patience should motivate us to obey Him.
REFERENCESBarclay, William (1958), The Daily Study Bible: Letters to Galatians and Ephesians (Philadelphia, PA: Westminster).
Colley, Caleb (2004), “God’s Mercy and Justice,” [On-line], URL: http://www.apologeticspress.org/articles/1860.
Illustrated Oxford Dictionary (2003), (New York: Oxford), revised edition.
Jackson, Wayne (2000), “The Righteousness of God Revealed,” [On-line], URL: http://www.christiancourier.com/feature/february2000.htm.
Nicks, Bill (1981), “Patience,” Continuing in the Doctrine, ed. Bill Nicks, M.H. Tucker, John Waddey (Knoxville, TN: East Tennessee School of Preaching and Missions).
Conveniently Redefining Design
|by||Eric Lyons, M.Min.|
According to the General Theory of Evolution, about 14 billion years ago “all the matter in the universe was concentrated into one very dense, very hot region that may have been much smaller than a period on this page. For some unknown reason, this region exploded” (Hurd, et al., p. 61). As a result of the alleged explosion of a period-sized ball of matter, billions of galaxies formed, and eventually planets such as Earth evolved. Supposedly, the evolution of galaxies, and every planet, moon, and star within these galaxies, all came about by non-purposeful, unintelligent accidents. Likewise, every life form that eventually appeared on Earth purportedly evolved by mindless, random chances over millions of years. Some life forms “just happened” to evolve the ability to reproduce asexually, while others “just happened” to develop the capability to reproduce sexually. Some life forms “just happened” to evolve the ability to walk along vertical ledges (e.g., the gecko), while others “just happened” to evolve the “gift” of glowing (e.g., glow worms). Some life forms “just happened” to evolve the ability to make silk (e.g., spiders), which pound for pound is stronger than steel, while others “just happened” to evolve the ability to “turn 90 degrees in under 50 milliseconds” while flying in a straight line (e.g., the blowfly; Mueller, 2008, 213:82). Allegedly, everything has come into existence by random chances over billions of years. According to the General Theory of Evolution, there was no Mind, no Intelligence, and no Designer that created the Universe and everything in it.
Ironically, though atheistic evolutionary scientists insist that the Earth and all living things on it have no grand, intelligent Designer, these same scientists consistently refer to amazing “design” in nature. Consider an example of such paradoxical language in a recent National Geographic article titled, “Biomimetics: Design by Nature” (Mueller, 2008). The word “design” (or one of its derivatives—designs, designed, etc.) appeared no less than seven times in the article in reference to “nature’s designs.” Evolutionary biologist Andrew Parker spoke of his collection of preserved animals as “a treasure-trove of brilliant design” (Mueller, 2008, p. 75, emp. added). After interviewing Parker, National Geographic writer Tom Mueller noted how the capillaries between the scales of a thorny devil lizard are “evidently designed to guide water toward the lizard’s mouth” (p. 81, emp. added). He then explained how “[i]nsects offer an embarrassment of design riches” (p. 75, emp. added). Mueller referred to nature’s “sophistication” and “clever devices” (p. 79), and praised nature for being able to turn simple materials “into structures of fantastic complexity, strength, and toughness” (p. 79). After learning of the uncanny, complicated maneuverability of a little blowfly, Mueller even confessed to feeling the need to regard the insect “on bended knee in admiration” (p. 82). Why? Because of its “mysterious” and “complicated” design. Brilliant and well-funded scientists around the world admit that living things perform many feats “too mysterious and complicated to be able to replicate.” They are “designed,” allegedly, with no “Designer.”
But how can you get design without purpose, intelligence, and deliberate planning? The first three definitions the Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary gives for “design” (noun) are as follows: “1a:a particular purpose held in view by an individual or group...b:deliberate purposive planning... 2:a mental project or scheme in which means to an end are laid down; 3a:a deliberate undercover project or scheme” (2008, emp. added). After defining “design” as a drawing, sketch, or “graphic representation of a detailed plan...,” the American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language noted that design may be defined as “[t]he purposeful or inventive arrangement of parts or details” (2000, p. 492, emp. added). A design is preceded by “deliberate purposive planning,” “a detailed plan,” or an “inventive arrangement.” A design is the effect, not of time, chance, and unintelligent, random accidents, but of the purposeful planning and deliberate actions of an inventor or designer. A designer causes a design to come into existence. Thus, by definition, design demands a designer, and one with some measure of intelligence.
Whereas National Geographic highlights the field of biomimetics and encourages readers to “learn from what evolution has wrought” (Mueller, 2008, 213:75, emp. added), mankind would do better to mimic the actions of a noble inventor/designer from the mid-1800s. Samuel Morse, who invented the telegraph system and Morse Code, sent the very first telegraph from Washington, D.C. to Baltimore, Maryland on May 24, 1844 (“Today...,” 2007). His message consisted of a brief quotation from Numbers 23:23: “What hath God wrought!” (emp. added). Samuel Morse unashamedly testified to what everyone should understand: design demands a designer. Morse’s code and the telegraph system were the immediate effects of a designer: Samuel Morse. But, the Grand Designer, Who created Morse and every material thing that Morse used to invent his telegraph system, is God. Morse recognized this marvelous, self-evident truth.
National Geographic purports that nature “blindly cobbles together myriad random experiments over thousands of generations” in order to produce complex, living organisms that the world’s “top scientists have yet to comprehend” (Mueller, 2008, 213:90). We, on the other hand, choose to believe that, just as a painting demands a painter, and a poem a poet, the world’s amazing designs, which continually stump the most intelligent scientists on Earth, demand an intelligent Designer.
Hurd, Dean, George Mathias, and Susan Johnson, eds. (1992), General Science: A Voyage of Discovery (Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice Hall).
Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary (2008), [On-line], URL: http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary.
Mueller, Tom (2008), “Biomimetics: Design by Nature,” National Geographic, 213:68-91, April.
“Today in History: May 24” (2007), The Library of Congress, [On-line], URL: http://memory.loc.gov/ammem/today/may24.html.
Gay Man Sues Bible Publishers Over “Homosexual” Reference
|by||Kyle Butt, M.A.|
In 1 Corinthians 6:9-11, the New King James text reads:
Do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived. Neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor homosexuals, nor sodomites, nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners will inherit the kingdom of God. And such were some of you. But you were washed, but you were sanctified, but you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus and by the Spirit of our God (emp. added).Bradley Fowler, a homosexual from Michigan, claims that the Zondervan Publishing Company and Thomas Nelson Publishing have violated his rights by distributing Bibles that use the word “homosexuals” in 1 Corinthians 6:9. In fact, he insists that he and other homosexuals have suffered “verbal abuse, discrimination, episodes of hate, and physical violence…including murder” because of this particular translation (Pedraza, 2008). Since he believes that his constitutional rights have been violated, he is suing the two companies for a combined total of 70 million dollars.
Several issues about this situation need to be addressed. First, any legitimate translation of the Bible is an attempt to render the original Greek text into the closest modern English terms available. The New King James Version (in which the word “homosexuals” appears) is not a haphazardly thrown together fly-by-night translation. It is the result of countless hours of scholarly work done by credible Bible researchers. No less than 21 textual scholars converged to combine their efforts to produce the version. Those scholars held respected positions at such institutions as the University of Auckland in New Zealand, Grace Theological Seminary, Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, Concordia Seminary, Biola College, Asbury Theological Seminary, and Cincinnati Seminary (“New King…,” n.d.). These revisers brought to the table several centuries of combined scholarly and academic experience specifically in the study of the Greek language and manuscripts of the biblical text. To sue the publishers of the NKJV based on an alleged mistake by Greek scholars of such inestimable repute as those involved in the NKJV translation is unprecedented. In Zondervan’s publicly issued statement, the company declared: “We rely on scholarly judgment of the highly respected and credible translation committees behind each translation and never alter the text of the translations we are licensed to publish…. We only publish credible translations produced by credible Biblical scholars” (Pedraza, 2008).
Second, we must simply ask whether or not the Bible does, in fact, condemn homosexuality. The answer to that is a resounding “Yes.” We have previously documented copious biblical evidence establishing the fact that homosexuality is viewed by the Bible writers as a sin that, if unrepented of, will result in the homosexual forfeiting the Kingdom of God, exactly as stated in 1 Corinthians 6 (see Miller and Harrub, 2004).
The fact that Fowler’s outlandish lawsuit has been viewed as credible enough to reach the media is troubling. Suppose that Fowler wins. Who will be next to sue Bible publishers? Will drunkards have a right to seek grievances for the many times their actions are condemned in the New Testament (Ephesians 5:18, 1 Peter 4:3, etc.)? Will liars be able to seek restitution from the courts, since their practice is repeatedly condemned (Revelation 21:8, Ephesians 4:25, etc)? Will the door be opened for murderers to seek financial redress for the many years of “abuse” they have suffered because the Bible condemns their actions?
Thankfully, the court seems to be keeping its head in this case. “U.S. District Judge Julian Abele Cook Jr., who will hear Fowler’s case against Thomas Nelson, says the court ‘has some very genuine concerns about the nature and efficacy of [Fowler’s] claims’” (as quoted in Pedraza). In truth, Fowler’s tactic is nothing more than an attempt to “elevate” homosexuality to a sacrosanct lifestyle that cannot be criticized without negative ramifications. Unfortunately, other countries, under the guise of hate speech laws, have already severely restricted what can legally be said against homosexuality (Butt, 2004). Pray that the day never comes in the United States of America when a person cannot stand in an assembly and read a scholarly translation of the Greek New Testament that condemns homosexuality.
Miller, Dave and Brad Harrub (2004), “An Investigation of the Biblical Evidence Against Homosexuality,” [On-line], URL: http://www.apologeticspress.org/articles/2577.
Pedraza, Rick (2008), “Bible Publishers Sued for Anti-Gay References,” Newsmax, [On-line], URL: http://www.newsmax.com/insidecover/man_sues_bible_publishers/2008/07/ 10/111626.html?s=al&promo_code=65BF-1.
“New King James Version” (no date), [On-line], URL: http://www.bible-researcher.com/nkjv.html#translators.
The Powerful and the PoorWith Amos and the other prophets, exploiting the poor was not simply a matter of social injustice it was a violation of the torah and a sin. It was a religious crime as well as an economic one. The Proverb warns against hurting the poor because God is their maker (14:31; 17:5) but it is not only saying we are all brothers and sisters (22:2). It is reminding the oppressor of God's creation purposes. Those who have been given power have been given power over the creation goods that God means for all to enjoy because he continues to make the sunshine and the rain fall on even the evil and thankless (see Matthew 5:45 and Luke 6:35; Acts 14:16-17 and 17:25). When Psalm 72 profiles the ideal king he turns out to be a defender of the poor and the needy.
Despite our tendency to hoard and be selfish none of us would say food, clean air and water, shelter and health were meant for us alone. We may act that way at times but in our bones we know better so our answer would be that the basic blessings of life are meant for us all. But blessings don't fall down out of the sky ready-made for consumption. They come to us via a complex chain of events--from the ground to the table via work and a host of inter-related agencies. The trouble is that millions aren't able to make it to the table or the workplace or anywhere else where the goods become available. It's tough enough to get to the blessings if no one is hindering you but what if (as it was in Amos' Israel) the people with the power were building fences around the goods? And worse, what if they knew they were doing it and didn't care that they were doing it? What if they "drink wine in bowls, and anoint themselves with the finest oils, but are not grieved over the ruin of Joseph." (6:6)?
And what if because they were rich they could "buy" judges and get "justice" while the poor and needy went to the wall (5:7, 12; 6:12)? What if through shrewd land-deals the barons owned so many servants that they could sell one for an extra pair of shoes (2:6 and 8:6)? What if power and possessions so corrupted the "haves" that poor families were wiped off the face of the land and disappearing from tribal listings (8:4)? ("What ever happened to the Currys?" "Oh, that family line was wiped out a couple of years ago. Sad story. Got in debt, mortgaged their land, lost it to a loan shark and sank like a stone.")
I notice for the most part that while Amos isn't silent about other sins his attack was mainly against oppression, greed and injustice and that the poor were the burden of his burden. It's a spooky message. I notice also that when Ezekiel tells us why Sodom went down (16:49) under God's blazing fury that their sexual crimes aren't the main indictment. "Now this was the sin of your sister Sodom: She and her daughters were arrogant, overfed and unconcerned; they did not help the poor and needy. They were haughty and did detestable things before me." God gave Nebuchadnezzar dominion over the earth (compare Daniel 2:37 with Genesis 1:26) and when he threatened to bring him down it was because of his arrogance and the fact that he didn't take care of the poor and needy (4:27-28). God gives people power that they might take care of the poor and woe betide those who don't do it.
The very existence of want and deprivation is the outcome of human sin, which triggers the holy discipline of God.
But since the poor and the needy are feeling the burden of it above all others they are bearing the lion's share of the curse, which really belongs to the whole human family. To add to their burden compounds the crime under which humanity labours. The existence of poverty in Israel could only be due to sin (one way or another). Either there was drought and famine (redemptive chastisement from God in response to sin) or there was the exploitation of the ignorant and naïve (this was sin). Provisions had been made in he torah for the poor. The poor get it in the neck from transgressors in the best of times so when famine comes it is those who've been enjoying God's blessings who feel it most. It's true that the poor feel it as well but they were feeling severe deprivation because the powerful sinners were depriving them even during times of plenty. For all these reasons God has a special place in his heart for the poor. We had better take them seriously.
©2004 Jim McGuiggan. All materials are free to be copied and used as long as money is not being made.
The World English Bible
Psa 7:1 Yahweh, my God, I take refuge in you. Save me from all those who pursue me, and deliver me,
Psa 7:2 lest they tear apart my soul like a lion, ripping it in pieces, while there is none to deliver.
Psa 7:3 Yahweh, my God, if I have done this, if there is iniquity in my hands,
Psa 7:4 if I have rewarded evil to him who was at peace with me (yes, if I have delivered him who without cause was my adversary),
Psa 7:5 let the enemy pursue my soul, and overtake it; yes, let him tread my life down to the earth, and lay my glory in the dust. Selah.
Psa 7:6 Arise, Yahweh, in your anger. Lift up yourself against the rage of my adversaries. Awake for me. You have commanded judgment.
Psa 7:7 Let the congregation of the peoples surround you. Rule over them on high.
Psa 7:8 Yahweh administers judgment to the peoples. Judge me, Yahweh, according to my righteousness, and to my integrity that is in me.
Psa 7:9 Oh let the wickedness of the wicked come to an end, but establish the righteous; their minds and hearts are searched by the righteous God.
Psa 7:10 My shield is with God, who saves the upright in heart.
Psa 7:11 God is a righteous judge, yes, a God who has indignation every day.
Psa 7:12 If a man doesn't relent, he will sharpen his sword; he has bent and strung his bow.
Psa 7:13 He has also prepared for himself the instruments of death. He makes ready his flaming arrows.
Psa 7:14 Behold, he travails with iniquity. Yes, he has conceived mischief, and brought forth falsehood.
Psa 7:15 He has dug a hole, and has fallen into the pit which he made.
Psa 7:16 The trouble he causes shall return to his own head. His violence shall come down on the crown of his own head.
Psa 7:17 I will give thanks to Yahweh according to his righteousness, and will sing praise to the name of Yahweh Most High.
Psa 8:1 Yahweh, our Lord, how majestic is your name in all the earth, who has set your glory above the heavens!
Psa 8:2 From the lips of babes and infants you have established strength, because of your adversaries, that you might silence the enemy and the avenger.
Psa 8:3 When I consider your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars, which you have ordained;
Psa 8:4 what is man, that you think of him? What is the son of man, that you care for him?
Psa 8:5 For you have made him a little lower than God, and crowned him with glory and honor.
Psa 8:6 You make him ruler over the works of your hands. You have put all things under his feet:
Psa 8:7 All sheep and cattle, yes, and the animals of the field,
Psa 8:8 The birds of the sky, the fish of the sea, and whatever passes through the paths of the seas.
Psa 8:9 Yahweh, our Lord, how majestic is your name in all the earth!
Psa 9:1 I will give thanks to Yahweh with my whole heart. I will tell of all your marvelous works.
Psa 9:2 I will be glad and rejoice in you. I will sing praise to your name, O Most High.
Psa 9:3 When my enemies turn back, they stumble and perish in your presence.
Psa 9:4 For you have maintained my just cause. You sit on the throne judging righteously.
Psa 9:5 You have rebuked the nations. You have destroyed the wicked. You have blotted out their name forever and ever.
Psa 9:6 The enemy is overtaken by endless ruin. The very memory of the cities which you have overthrown has perished.
Psa 9:7 But Yahweh reigns forever. He has prepared his throne for judgment.
Psa 9:8 He will judge the world in righteousness. He will administer judgment to the peoples in uprightness.
Psa 9:9 Yahweh will also be a high tower for the oppressed; a high tower in times of trouble.
Psa 9:10 Those who know your name will put their trust in you, for you, Yahweh, have not forsaken those who seek you.
Psa 9:11 Sing praises to Yahweh, who dwells in Zion, and declare among the people what he has done.
Psa 9:12 For he who avenges blood remembers them. He doesn't forget the cry of the afflicted.
Psa 9:13 Have mercy on me, Yahweh. See my affliction by those who hate me, and lift me up from the gates of death;
Psa 9:14 that I may show forth all your praise. In the gates of the daughter of Zion, I will rejoice in your salvation.
Psa 9:15 The nations have sunk down in the pit that they made. In the net which they hid, their own foot is taken.
Psa 9:16 Yahweh has made himself known. He has executed judgment. The wicked is snared by the work of his own hands. Meditation. Selah.
Psa 9:17 The wicked shall be turned back to Sheol, even all the nations that forget God.
Psa 9:18 For the needy shall not always be forgotten, nor the hope of the poor perish forever.
Psa 9:19 Arise, Yahweh! Don't let man prevail. Let the nations be judged in your sight.
Psa 9:20 Put them in fear, Yahweh. Let the nations know that they are only men. Selah.
Psa 10:1 Why do you stand far off, Yahweh? Why do you hide yourself in times of trouble?
Psa 10:2 In arrogance, the wicked hunt down the weak. They are caught in the schemes that they devise.
Psa 10:3 For the wicked boasts of his heart's cravings. He blesses the greedy, and condemns Yahweh.
Psa 10:4 The wicked, in the pride of his face, has no room in his thoughts for God.
Psa 10:5 His ways are prosperous at all times. He is haughty, and your laws are far from his sight. As for all his adversaries, he sneers at them.
Psa 10:6 He says in his heart, "I shall not be shaken. For generations I shall have no trouble."
Psa 10:7 His mouth is full of cursing, deceit, and oppression. Under his tongue is mischief and iniquity.
Psa 10:8 He lies in wait near the villages. From ambushes, he murders the innocent. His eyes are secretly set against the helpless.
Psa 10:9 He lurks in secret as a lion in his ambush. He lies in wait to catch the helpless. He catches the helpless, when he draws him in his net.
Psa 10:10 The helpless are crushed. They collapse. They fall under his strength.
Psa 10:11 He says in his heart, "God has forgotten. He hides his face. He will never see it."
Psa 10:12 Arise, Yahweh! God, lift up your hand! Don't forget the helpless.
Psa 10:13 Why does the wicked person condemn God, and say in his heart, "God won't call me into account?"
Psa 10:14 But you do see trouble and grief. You consider it to take it into your hand. You help the victim and the fatherless.
Psa 10:15 Break the arm of the wicked. As for the evil man, seek out his wickedness until you find none.
Psa 10:16 Yahweh is King forever and ever! The nations will perish out of his land.
Psa 10:17 Yahweh, you have heard the desire of the humble. You will prepare their heart. You will cause your ear to hear,
Psa 10:18 to judge the fatherless and the oppressed, that man who is of the earth may terrify no more.
Rom 8:1 There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus, who don't walk according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit.
Rom 8:2 For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus made me free from the law of sin and of death.
Rom 8:3 For what the law couldn't do, in that it was weak through the flesh, God did, sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and for sin, he condemned sin in the flesh;
Rom 8:4 that the ordinance of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.
Rom 8:5 For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit, the things of the Spirit.
Rom 8:6 For the mind of the flesh is death, but the mind of the Spirit is life and peace;
Rom 8:7 because the mind of the flesh is hostile towards God; for it is not subject to God's law, neither indeed can it be.
Rom 8:8 Those who are in the flesh can't please God.
Rom 8:9 But you are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if it is so that the Spirit of God dwells in you. But if any man doesn't have the Spirit of Christ, he is not his.
Rom 8:10 If Christ is in you, the body is dead because of sin, but the spirit is alive because of righteousness.
Rom 8:11 But if the Spirit of him who raised up Jesus from the dead dwells in you, he who raised up Christ Jesus from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through his Spirit who dwells in you.
Rom 8:12 So then, brothers, we are debtors, not to the flesh, to live after the flesh.
Rom 8:13 For if you live after the flesh, you must die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live.
Rom 8:14 For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, these are children of God.
Rom 8:15 For you didn't receive the spirit of bondage again to fear, but you received the Spirit of adoption, by whom we cry, "Abba! Father!"
Rom 8:16 The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are children of God;
Rom 8:17 and if children, then heirs; heirs of God, and joint heirs with Christ; if indeed we suffer with him, that we may also be glorified with him.
Rom 8:18 For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which will be revealed toward us.
Rom 8:19 For the creation waits with eager expectation for the children of God to be revealed.
Rom 8:20 For the creation was subjected to vanity, not of its own will, but because of him who subjected it, in hope
Rom 8:21 that the creation itself also will be delivered from the bondage of decay into the liberty of the glory of the children of God.
Rom 8:22 For we know that the whole creation groans and travails in pain together until now.
Rom 8:23 Not only so, but ourselves also, who have the first fruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, waiting for adoption, the redemption of our body.
Rom 8:24 For we were saved in hope, but hope that is seen is not hope. For who hopes for that which he sees?
Rom 8:25 But if we hope for that which we don't see, we wait for it with patience.
Rom 8:26 In the same way, the Spirit also helps our weaknesses, for we don't know how to pray as we ought. But the Spirit himself makes intercession for us with groanings which can't be uttered.
Rom 8:27 He who searches the hearts knows what is on the Spirit's mind, because he makes intercession for the saints according to God.
Rom 8:28 We know that all things work together for good for those who love God, to those who are called according to his purpose.
Rom 8:29 For whom he foreknew, he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers.
Rom 8:30 Whom he predestined, those he also called. Whom he called, those he also justified. Whom he justified, those he also glorified.
Rom 8:31 What then shall we say about these things? If God is for us, who can be against us?
Rom 8:32 He who didn't spare his own Son, but delivered him up for us all, how would he not also with him freely give us all things?
Rom 8:33 Who could bring a charge against God's chosen ones? It is God who justifies.
Rom 8:34 Who is he who condemns? It is Christ who died, yes rather, who was raised from the dead, who is at the right hand of God, who also makes intercession for us.
Rom 8:35 Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Could oppression, or anguish, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword?
Rom 8:36 Even as it is written, "For your sake we are killed all day long. We were accounted as sheep for the slaughter."
Rom 8:37 No, in all these things, we are more than conquerors through him who loved us.
Rom 8:38 For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers,
Rom 8:39 nor height, nor depth, nor any other created thing, will be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.