10/5/15

From Mark Copeland... "GOSPEL PREACHING IN THE FIRST CENTURY" Paul At The Areopagus In Athens


                "GOSPEL PREACHING IN THE FIRST CENTURY"

                    Paul At The Areopagus In Athens

INTRODUCTION

1. We have looked at six examples of gospel preaching in the first
   century...
   a. Three by the apostle Peter
   b. Two by the evangelist Philip
   c. One by the apostle Paul

2. We now consider a sermon remarkable in that it was preached...
   a. Not to Jews or even Gentile God-fearers (like Cornelius)
   b. But to pagan philosophers and polytheists

[It was during Paul’s second missionary journey, in the city of Athens, Greece...]

I. THE SETTING

   A. PAUL HAD JUST ARRIVED IN ATHENS...
      1. Known as a center of learning and artistry, but also for its idols
      2. Petronius said  that it was easier to find a god than a man in Athens
      3. Provoked by the idolatry,  Paul began preaching at every opportunity - Ac 17:16-17
         a. Reasoning in the synagogues with the Jews and Gentile worshipers
         b. Reasoning daily with any who happened to be in marketplace

   B. HE ATTRACTED ATTENTION OF PHILOSOPHERS...
      1. In particular, Epicurean and Stoic philosophers - Ac 17:18
         a. Some of whom viewed him as a proclaimer of foreign gods
         b. Because Paul was preaching of Jesus and the resurrection
      2. They brought him to the Areopagus (Mar’s Hill) and invited him
         to speak - Ac 17:19-21
         a. A rocky hill about 370 feet high, not far from the Acropolis
            and the Agora (marketplace) in Athens - Holman Bible Dictionary
         b. A place where Athenians and visitors spent their time discussing new ideas
         c. Not having heard of the doctrine of Christ, they wanted to know more

[With such an invitation, you can imagine Paul’s delight to accommodate them...]

II. THE SERMON

   A. THEME:  THE GOD THEY DID NOT KNOW...
      1. Acknowledging their devotion, he makes mention of one altar in particular - Ac 17:22-23
         a. An altar with the inscription:  "To The Unknown God"
         b. So devout, they sought to worship a god they did not know
      2. He uses the opportunity to preach concerning the True God they
         did not know! - Ac 17:23

   B. MAIN POINTS...
      1. God is the creator of the universe - Ac 17:24
         a. He made the world, He is Lord of heaven and earth
         b. As such, He does not dwell in temples made with hands - cf. 1Ki 8:22-30
      2. God is the sustainer of life - Ac 17:25
         a. He gives to all life their breath and what they need - cf. Jm 1:17
         b. Therefore God is not worshipped as though He needs it
      3. God is the ruler of all the nations - Ac 17:26-27
         a. He has created every nation and determined their rise and fall - Dan 2:20-21; 4:17
         b. Everything is designed to prompt men to seek God, who is not
            far from any of us
      4. God is the Father of mankind - Ac 17:28-29
         a. From God we come; and in Him we live, move, and have our very being
         b. Therefore we should not think that God is like any idol of gold, silver or stone
      5. God is the Judge of the world - Ac 17:30-31
         a. What ignorance He may have overlooked in the past, such is no longer the case
         b. He now commands all men everywhere to repent
         c. Why?  Because of the coming Judgment, in which...
            a. God will judge the world in righteousness
            b. God will judge the world through Jesus Christ - Jn 5:22,26-27; 12:48
         d. As proof such will occur, God has raised Jesus from the dead
      -- These five points are from "The Spirit, The Church, And The World", by John Stott

   C. RESPONSE...
      1. Mentioning the resurrection provoked a response - Ac 17:32
         a. Some mocked (to many at that time, the idea of a bodily
            resurrection was foolishness)
         b. Others were more cordial, offering to listen again at another time
      2. As Paul left, some joined him and believed - Ac 17:33-34
         a. Specifically mentioned are Dionysius the Areopagite, and Damaris, a woman
         b. Others also joined Paul and believed

[Having considered the setting and the sermon, allow me to make some...]

III. OBSERVATIONS

   A. REGARDING THE SERMON...
      1. Paul used tact - Ac 17:22-23
         a. He acknowledges their spirituality, though misdirected
         b. We should not hesitate to acknowledge the devotion one might
            have; if in error, our task is to explain "the way of God
            more accurately" - e.g., Ac 18:24-26
      2. Paul began with the present spiritual condition of his audience
         - Ac 17:23-27
         a. They believed in supreme beings, but didn’t know the True God
         b. With the Jews he began with the Law, with the Gentiles he
            began with the nature of God; we too should take into
            consideration where one is spiritually
      3. Paul made use of an accepted authority - Ac 17:28-29
         a. He quotes from one of their own prophets to make his point
         b. When appropriate, we can appeal to an uninspired authority
            accepted by others
      4. Paul led his audience to the main themes of the gospel - Ac 17:30-31
         a. Such as the need to repent, the coming Judgment - cf. Ac 2:38; 3:19
         b. So our ultimate goal in preaching should be the gospel
            message
      5. Paul used the resurrection of Jesus as the ultimate proof - Ac 17:31
         a. God has given assurance of the coming Judgment by raising Jesus
         b. Indeed, if Jesus truly did rise from the dead, it is proof of:
            1) The existence of God
            2) The truthfulness of all of Jesus’ claims
            3) The reality of sin, judgment, and the need to repent
         c. This is why we need to develop a strong apologetic for the resurrection of Jesus

   B. REGARDING THE RESPONSE...
      1. People responded in three different ways - Ac 17:32-34
         a. Rejection - "some mocked"
         b. Reluctance - "others said, 'we will hear you again on this matter'"
         c. Reception - "some men joined him and believed"
      2. Of those who responded favorably, it is only said that they "believed" - Ac 17:34
         a. Are we to conclude from this that was all they did?
         b. Did they not also "repent", as commanded in Ac 17:30?
         c. The term "believed" encompassed more than simply an
            acceptance of the facts that had been proclaimed
            1) It involved a complete reception of the message preached
            2) It included an obedience to whatever conditions had been
               proclaimed by the apostles (such as repentance, baptism)
         d. Just as faith was not explicitly mentioned in Acts 2, or
            repentance in Acts 16, but is fairly inferred from what we
            know in other passages, so also with baptism here
            1) "There is, indeed, much to be said for the contention,
               independently advocated by theologians of varied schools,
               that in the New Testament faith and baptism are viewed as
               inseparables whenever the subject of Christian initiation
               is under discussion, so that if one is referred to, the
               other is presupposed, even if not mentioned." - G. R.
               Beasley-Murray, Baptism In The New Testament, p. 272
            2) "Baptism and faith are but the outside and inside of the
               same thing" - James Denny (as quoted by Beasley-Murray, ibid.)
            3) "Where baptism is spoken of faith is presumed, and where
               faith is spoken of baptism is included in the thought"
               - N. J. Engelsen (as quoted by Beasley-Murray, ibid.)

CONCLUSION

1. Whether Jew or Gentile, philosopher or simpleton, the gospel of Christ is for all...
   a. Where we begin may vary with the spiritual condition of our audience
   b. Where we end must always be the same:  Jesus is the only way to salvation!

2. When one becomes convicted of their sinful condition and their need
   for Jesus, the proper response should also be the same no matter who we are...
   a. Faith in Jesus as the Son of God, who died for our sins and was raised from the dead
   b. Repentance from sin
   c. Baptism into Christ for the forgiveness of sins through His blood

One’s reaction to the gospel will always be one of three ways:
rejection, reluctance, or reception.  In Athens, people such as
Dionysius and Damaris exemplified the proper response.  

Are you willing to imitate their example...?


Executable Outlines, Copyright © Mark A. Copeland, 2011

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The Conquest of Canaan: How and When? by Garry K. Brantley, M.A., M.Div.


http://apologeticspress.org/APContent.aspx?category=13&article=593

The Conquest of Canaan: How and When?

by Garry K. Brantley, M.A., M.Div.

The biblical description of the conquest of Canaan has been shrouded in a cloud of doubt for many years. How and when this monumental event occurred are questions that continue to seize scholastic attention and create controversy. If we accept as factual the biblical description of the conquest, these questions are not difficult to answer. In some instances, the conquest was not complete (Judges 1:27-36), which led to an uneasy cohabitation with the indigenous population. However, the Bible is clear that an impressive military campaign achieved forceful penetration into Canaan (Joshua 11:15-23).
Additionally, the Bible offers some chronological insights into when the conquest occurred. According to 1 Kings 6:1, 480 years transpired between the Exodus and the fourth year of Solomon’s reign—the year in which he began to build the temple. We can date Solomon’s reign with reasonable confidence at 971-931 B.C., which places his fourth regnal year at 967 B.C. These figures, therefore, suggest that the Exodus occurred about 1447 B.C. Allowing for the 40-year wandering prior to the Israelites’ invasion of Canaan, the initial stages of the conquest occurred around 1407 B.C. Also, Judges 11:26 provides another chronological marker. This text indicates that the Israelites had occupied Canaan for 300 years before the time of Jephthah, who is commonly dated at 1100 B.C. Once again, using these figures, the conquest would have occurred around 1400 B.C. (see Bimson and Livingston, 1987, 13[5]:42).

CHALLENGES TO THE BIBLICAL RECORD

It would seem, given the above information, that the question of the conquest is a simple matter, with little room for controversy. Not so! There are primarily two areas of disagreement between the biblical text and mainstream scholastic models of the conquest.

Time of the Conquest

At the turn of the century, the biblically consistent date of 1400 B.C. was the generally accepted date for the conquest. As a rule, scholars considered the Bible as the standard for historical truth, though the historical-critical school, which questioned the integrity of the Scriptures, was making its scholastic mark (see Brantley, 1994). This began to change in the 1930s when John Garstang and William F. Albright excavated at Jericho and Beitin, respectively.
Initially, both Garstang and Albright held to the earlier date of the conquest (1400 B.C.). However, during excavations at Beitin, which he assumed was biblical Bethel, Albright faltered and finally moved to a later date for the conquest (c. 1250 B.C.; Albright, 1957, p. 13). He made this reversal because he attributed a thick destruction level at Beitin, which he dated at about 1250 B.C., to the invading Israelites (though the Bible does not mention Bethel among the cities Israel destroyed; see Livingston, 1988, 1[3]:14). Due to this evidence and similar finds at other sites, coupled with Albright’s pervasive influence, the date of 1220-1230 B.C. for the conquest has prevailed since the 1950s (cf. Hester, 1962, p. 139; Stiebing, 1985, 11[4]:58-69).
Kathleen Kenyon’s meticulous and prolonged excavations at Jericho (1952-1958) further blurred these once-clear chronological lines. John Garstang found biblically consistent evidence in the ruins of Jericho that there was a violent conflagration at that location around 1400 B.C., which he attributed to the Israelites. Kenyon’s conclusions, however, sharply contradicted Garstang’s interpretations. She dated this destruction level at 1550 B.C., and contended that there was no city with protective walls for the Israelites to destroy in 1400 B.C. (Kenyon, 1957, p. 259). Additionally, and in agreement with Garstang, she found no evidence of occupational activity on that site in the 13th centuryB.C.—the period in which most current scholars believe the conquest actually occurred. Hence, Kenyon’s conclusions supported neither the early (1400 B.C.) nor the late date of a military conquest (1230-1220 B.C.).

The Method of the Conquest

These chronological disagreements about the conquest spawned methodological disputes concerning this event. Exactly how did Israel emerge in Canaan? As noted, the Bible indicates that there was a large-scale military incursion into Palestine. This biblical scenario, however, has been discarded by a growing number of archaeologists who contend that such an Israelite invasion of Canaan is inconsistent with the archaeological record (see Silberman, 1992). In fact, some scholars argue that there is no factuality at all to the biblically described conquest. To them, the stories of conquered cities (like Jericho) were embellishments of pre-Israelite traditions, which provided a mythological explanation of Israel’s origin in, and right to, the land (Cross, 1992, 8[5]:24).
Consistent with this view, William Dever, addressing a prestigious academic gathering, argued that the central events in Israel’s history—the Exodus, wilderness wandering, military conquest, God’s miraculous deliverance of fortified Canaanite cities, and the gift of the land—did not happen that way at all. Dever concluded that the Bible’s account in this regard is simply groundless and wrong (Shanks, 1987, 13[2]:54-55).
Among such scholars who hold a low view of the historical reliability of the Bible, there are two popular theories explaining the emergence of Israel in Canaan. The first is the “peaceful infiltration” model, which is associated with the German scholars Albrecht Alt and Martin Noth. Appealing to ancient Egyptian records (e.g., the Tell el-Amarna letters), they concluded that the Israelite settlement of Canaan was due to a gradual immigration into the land, not a military offensive. Alt and Noth further theorized that the Israelites must have been pastoral nomads who slowly filtered into the settled land from the desert, seeking pastures for their sheep. After a long period of uneasy coexistence with the indigenous population, the Israelites eventually overran, and destroyed, the Canaanite city states (Silberman, 1992, 2:25; see Zertal, 1991). This “peaceful infiltration” theory has gained in popularity and influence through the years, but clearly is at odds with the Joshua record.
Second, the combined efforts of George Mendenhall and Norman Gottwald introduced and popularized the “peasant revolt” theory that actually redefines the ethnic origin of the Israelite nation. This model suggests that there was no external conquest of Canaan; it was an indigenous liberation movement among depressed Canaanite peasants living in the countryside. These peasants, who formed the lowest level of their culture’s highly stratified social order, engaged in an egalitarian rebellion, overthrew their urban overlords, and became “Israelites.” This theory, which repudiates the biblical scenario, has its outspoken defenders who argue that it is most compatible with archaeological data (see Shanks, 1987, 13[2]:55).

Problems With Theories

Though these anti-biblical theories have gained popularity in certain circles, and their advocates speak with an authoritarian voice, they have some significant difficulties. First, these theories must explain the biblical tradition to the contrary. Adherents to these views argue that the archaeological data—not textual information—must be primary. Accordingly, archaeological interpretations take precedence over, and stand in judgment of, the biblical text. However, the fact remains that, even if one rejects its divine inspiration, the Bible is an ancient historical witness. By virtue of that fact, it should be taken as seriously as any other document of antiquity. To brush aside the biblical account as a “pious fraud” simply will not do.
Second, there are reputable archaeologists who feel that these theories are inconsistent with the evidence. Abraham Malamat, for example, argued that the archaeological evidence demonstrates that a number of Canaanite cities were destroyed, and subsequently settled, by the Israelites (1982, 8[2]:24-35). Additionally, Yigael Yadin, the late distinguished archaeologist, suggested that the picture painted by archaeological finds is consistent with the biblical portrait: fortified Canaanite cities were destroyed and replaced by a new culture (1982, 8[2]:19). Though these archaeologists were/are committed to a late date of the conquest, and allowed for some errors in biblical details, their interpretations of the physical evidence support the general outline of the biblical presentation of the conquest. Thus, the archaeological evidence in support of the “peaceful infiltration” or “peasant revolt” theories is not as conclusive as some would suggest. In fact, Max Miller of Emory University opined that the wide variety of views regarding Israelite origins in Palestine, with each view appealing to archaeological support, illustrates that “...the archaeological evidence is ambiguous, or essentially neutral, on the subject” (1987, 50:60). In short, the limited nature of archaeological inquiry forbids a dogmatic rejection of the biblical record of the conquest.

EVIDENCES FOR BIBLICAL HISTORICITY

In light of the foregoing, we must ask: Is there any support that the conquest happened when and how the Bible says it occurred? Keeping in mind the limited nature of archaeological evidence, there is a large body of data that supports the biblical account. Archaeologists generally recognize the heavy importance of ancient inscriptions, as evinced by the excitement over an inscribed stone fragment recently found at Dan (see Shanks, 1994; Wood, 1993). Artifactual data (e.g., potsherds, war implements, architecture, etc.) typically are inconclusive on historical matters, and are subject to a wide variety of interpretations (Miller, 1987). There is, however, an impressive body of ancient literature that lends support to the biblical picture of the conquest, which includes the following.

Ancient Egyptian Maps

The Bible provides specific information regarding the locations at which the Israelites camped along the final stage of the exodus route just prior to their entering Canaan. Numbers 33 describes in detail the northward, Transjordanian route the Israelites took as they traveled to the location at which they miraculously forded the Jordan river. Several places are mentioned on their journey from the desolate region south of the Dead Sea to the plains of Moab: (1) Iyyim; (2) Dibon Gad; (3) Almon Diblathaim; (4) region of Mt. Nebo; (5) Abel Acacia Grove; and (6) the Jordan River. The extraordinary specificity and precision of this text has made it vulnerable to criticism.
Some critical historians suggest that this list demonstrates the historical inaccuracy of biblical writers, since there is no archaeological indication that these cities existed at that period. For example, excavation efforts at Tell Dhiban (the Dibon Gad mentioned in Numbers 33:45b-46a), indicate that there was no city at that site in the Late Bronze Age II (c. 1400-1200 B.C.). Though some remains dating to around 1200-1100 B.C. were discovered on the summit of the mound, there is no evidence that a city existed there before the ninth century B.C. This has led some to conclude that the “...Biblical writers knew nothing about events in Palestine before the tenth century B.C.E.” [Before Common Era (B.C.E.) is a religiously neutral way of referring to history before Christ (B.C.), currently employed by many scholars—GKB] (Gosta Ahlstrom, as quoted in Krahmalkov, 1993, 20[5]:55-62,79).
Though no physical evidence has yet been found to verify this location, there is an impressive literary witness of its presence in this period. During the Late Bronze Age (c. 1560-1200 B.C.), Egypt ruled Palestine. In the course of its 300-year jurisdiction over this region, Egypt exhaustively mapped the area, including the main roads of Palestine. Among the ancient maps is an important, continuously used route through Transjordan, linking the Arabah and the Plains of Moab. Three partial maps describing this road have been preserved. Though no individual map is complete, each provides supplementary information, which provides a reasonably complete description of this road. Interestingly, these maps mention four stations from south to north: Iyyim-Dibon-Abel-Jordan—the exact order in which these names appear in the Bible (Krahmalkov, 1994, 20[5]:57). These ancient Egyptian documents corroborate the biblical description.

Merneptah Stela

The famed Egyptologist, William F. Petrie, discovered the “Israel” Stela of King Merneptah at Thebes in 1896. This stela (an inscribed stone monument), which dates from c. 1210 B.C., contains the only extant extrabiblical reference to Israel in the pre-Monarchic period. The stela contains a poetic eulogy that praises Merneptah’s military exploits (see Pritchard, 1958, p. 231). Of special interest is the context in which “Israel” is mentioned. The inscription bears two major groupings of locations whose destruction is attributed to Merneptah. The first is a group of four city-states: The Canaan (Egyptian name for Gaza), Ashkelon, Gezer, and Yeno’am. The second group, which appears before and after these isolated city-states, lists the names of national entities such as Tehenu (Libya), Hatti (Hittites), and Kharu (a general designation for Syria-Palestine; Wood, 1989).
It is in this second group that the name Israel appears, suggesting that it was considered a national entity on par with the powerful Hittites. Accordingly, by about 1210 B.C. this Egyptian monument gave Israel a measure of international standing. The importance of this implication cannot be overstated. The generally accepted date for the conquest is about 1230-1220 B.C. Yet, the Merneptah Stela implies that in 1210 B.C. Israel was well established in Canaan and a formidable force with which to reckon. Some objectors point out that the Merneptah Stela’s sole purpose was to aggrandize the military campaign of this king and should not be considered as historically accurate. While this was the purpose of the inscription, it is still the case that Israel was perceived to be a formidable force in Canaan. Surely, Merneptah would have gained little in prestige by boasting about conquering an insignificant, disunited band of pastoral nomads! The Merneptah Stela is a powerful witness that the conquest occurred when the Bible said it did (cf. Archer, 1974, p. 181; Wood, 1991, 4:110).

Tell el-Amarna Letters

In 1887, an Egyptian peasant fortuitously discovered a large cache of clay tablets at Tell el-Amarna. Dating from 1400-1370 B.C., these tablets were written in Akkadian cuneiform (wedge-shaped writing)—the then-accepted language for international correspondence. The tablets were urgent letters sent from Canaanite kings to the Egyptian king, requesting immediate military assistance in dealing with fierce invaders. These letters also reflect an anxious disunity among the various Canaanite kings, and an eager tendency for them to forsake their Egyptian alliance and become politically affiliated with the invading Habiru or ‘Apiru (see Pritchard, 1958, p. 276). Many scholars associate the Habiru with the biblical Hebrews (cf. Archer, 1974, pp. 271-279; Harrison, 1969, 318-322).
Thus, an analysis of these documents suggests that they reflected a Canaanite perspective of the Israelite conquest. There are some significant parallels between the general information in these letters and the biblical narrative. A communication from Megiddo mentioned that several towns located in the region of Arad in the south had already fallen to the invaders. According to Numbers 21:1-3, the Israelites destroyed many cities in this southern region. Also, there were no letters found from the first cities destroyed during the Israelite incursion (e.g., Jericho, Gibeon, et al.).
If the Habiru mentioned in the Tell el-Amarna letters actually were the invading Hebrews (and there are good reasons to believe they were), then these documents provide secular confirmation of the biblical description of conquest, both chronologically and methodologically. Since these letters date from 1400 B.C., they suggest that the initial stages of the conquest occurred in the 15th, not the 13th, century B.C. Additionally, they corroborate the view of a concentrated military penetration into Canaan. In both instances, they support the biblical record of the conquest.

CONCLUSION

No doubt the interpretations of archaeological data and the biblical text will continue to clash on occasion, primarily because the new generation of biblical archaeologists places more importance on discoveries than on the text. Accordingly, in the estimation of some, archaeology will serve to critique, illuminate, and correct the Bible, but the question of biblical confirmation is no longer a general concern (Davis, 1993). The above evidence, however, demonstrates that archaeology has provided solid evidence supporting the historical reliability of the Bible.
Yet, we must always keep in mind the limitations of archaeological inquiry and the oftentimes inconclusive nature of its evidence. Such data can be ambiguous, and subject to a variety of interpretations. Therefore, we should listen with cautious skepticism when archaeologists’ interpretations disagree with biblical information (see Brantley, 1993). Also, though in many instances the Bible’s historical reliability has been confirmed by the archaeologist’s spade, the lack of such evidence does not prove the Bible wrong. More importantly, we must recognize that, though the Bible offers valuable and historically accurate information, its primary purpose is to proclaim the sovereignty of God, Who is Lord of history. It is a volume affirming divine activity in human history, the truth of which archaeology is inadequate to judge. By faith, we acknowledge that the same God Who brought the Israelites out of Egypt, and gave them the promised land, is still the sovereign Lord of our own history—even in these anxious times.

REFERENCES

Albright, W.F. (1957), From the Stone Age to Christianity (Garden City, NY: Doubleday).
Archer, Gleason (1974), A Survey of Old Testament Introduction (Chicago, IL: Moody).
Bimson, John and David Livingston (1987), “Redating the Exodus,” Biblical Archaeology Review, 13[5]:40-68, September/October.
Brantley, Garry (1993), “Dating in Archaeology: Challenges to Biblical Credibility,” Reason and Revelation, 13:81-85, November.
Brantley, Garry (1994), “Biblical Miracles: Fact or Fiction?,” Reason and Revelation, 14:33-38, May.
Cross, Frank Moore (1992), “The Development of Israelite Religion,” Bible Review, 8[5]:18-50, October.
Davis, Thomas (1993), “Faith and Archaeology, A Brief History to the Present,” Biblical Archaeology Review, 19[2]:54-59, March/April.
Harrison, R.K. (1969), Introduction to the Old Testament (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans).
Hester, H.I. (1962), The Heart of Hebrew History: A Study of the Old Testament (Nashville, TN: Broadman Press).
Kenyon, Kathleen (1957), Digging Up Jericho (New York: Praeger).
Krahmalkov, Charles (1994), “Exodus Itinerary Confirmed by Egyptian Evidence,” Biblical Archaeology Review, 20[5]:55-62,79, September/October.
Livingston, David (1988), “Exodus and Conquest,” Archaeology and Biblical Research, 1[3]:12-17, Summer.
Malamat, Abraham (1982), “How Inferior Israelite Forces Conquered Fortified Canaanite Cities,”Biblical Archaeology Review, 8[2]:24-35, March/April.
Miller, Max (1987), “Old Testament History and Archaeology,” Biblical Archaeologist, 50:55-63.
Pritchard, James (1958), The Ancient Near East: An Anthology of Texts and Pictures (London: Oxford University Press).
Shanks, Hershel (1987), “Dever’s Sermon on the Mound,” Biblical Archaeology Review, 13[2]:54-57, March/April.
Shanks, Hershel (1994), “ ‘David’ Found at Dan,” Biblical Archaeology Review, 20[2]:26-39, March/April.
Silberman, Neil (1992), “Who Were the Israelites?,” Archaeology, 45:22-30, March/April.
Stiebing, William H., Jr. (1985), “Should the Exodus and the Israelite Settlement be Redated?,”Biblical Archaeology Review, 11[4]:58-69, July/August.
Wood, Bryant G. (1989), “Merneptah and the Israelites,” Archaeology and Biblical Research, 2:82, Summer.
Wood, Bryant G. (1991), “Recent Discoveries and Research on the Conquest,” Archaeology and Biblical Research, 4:104-110, Autumn.
Wood, Bryant G. (1993), “New Inscription Mentions House of David,” Bible and Spade, 6:119-121, Autumn.
Yadin, Yigael (1982), “Is the Biblical Account of the Israelite Conquest of Canaan Historically Reliable?,” Biblical Archaeology Review, 8[2]:16-23, March/April.
Zertal, Adam (1991), “Israel Enters Canaan,” Biblical Archaeology Review, 17[5]:28-47, September/October.

Nature Sticks to Design by Kyle Butt, M.A.


http://apologeticspress.org/APContent.aspx?category=12&article=2190

Nature Sticks to Design

by Kyle Butt, M.A.

Kimm Groshong, a science writer in California, penned an article titled “Unbreakable” for the June 15, 2007 edition of New Scientist. She filled much of the article examining and extolling the amazing capabilities of certain well-designed structural components. The components she analyzed possess an intriguing adhesive, referred to in the article as “self-healing glue.” This amazing glue has the ability to allow less important bonds to be broken, so that crucial structures can flex without breaking, and then re-bond the broken bonds when stress and pressure are relaxed. Groshong noted that knowledge of the technology involved in the self-healing adhesive “could lead to new high-performance equipment, vehicles and even radical space hardware ranging from inflatable moon habitats to space-elevator cables” (194[2607]:43-45).
What company is responsible for this astounding material? What brilliant minds converged to produce such advanced technology? What genius devised the intricate workings of self-healing adhesives that have capabilities which surpass the designs and inventions of thousands of brilliant scientists for the last several years? No human company and no human scientists made this technology a reality. The self-healing adhesive is a property and capability of human bones, as well as other natural structures such as shells, spider silk, and micro-algae.
Even with brilliant men and women applying thousands of hours and tens of thousands of dollars in research costs to study nature’s self-healing glues, researchers such as Paul Hansma recognize that there is still a long way to go. He said: “It will require a lot of further research for people to be able to translate our discovery, together with a lot of other discoveries, into the materials of the future” (as quoted in Groshong, 194[2607]:45).
To summarize the situation, then, nature maintains engineered properties that are so advanced that our current knowledge of them must be supplemented by many more finds and discoveries in order for humans to properly use them to construct synthetic, useful structures. Nature, however, currently employs these engineering marvels to construct things like bones, shells, and spider silk. How are we told that nature has this phenomenal ability? Somehow, we are supposed to believe that nature “miraculously” evolved these engineering marvels over multiplied millions of years by random processes. Interestingly, this explanation remains extremely difficult to maintain when presented by scientists who imply intelligence when describing nature’s non-intelligent origin. Grosshong explains that “lessons are emerging” from nature. One wonders what intelligent teacher is responsible for teaching these lessons. In truth, the rational, logical explanation of such natural marvels is that they were designed by an Engineer with capabilities and knowledge far superior to those possessed by humans. The God who created and designed the natural world is using nature to teach humans that they can observe the material Universe and know for a fact that He exists (Romans 1:20).

REFERENCE

Groshong, Kimm (2007), “Unbreakable,” New Scientist, 194[2607]:43-45, June 15.

Did the Trees of the Garden of Eden Have Rings? by Jeff Miller, Ph.D.


http://apologeticspress.org/APContent.aspx?category=9&article=4138

Did the Trees of the Garden of Eden Have Rings?

by Jeff Miller, Ph.D.

Q.

Did the trees of the Garden of Eden have rings?

A.

According to the Creation model, based on biblical chronologies, the Universe can be known to be roughly 6,000 years old. However, the question is sometimes asked, “But why does the Earth have the appearance of age?” [NOTE: In actuality, the Earth has a “young” appearance in some ways as well, but it is true that there are some visual characteristics of the Earth that would seem to indicate an old age for the Earth.] Among other things, the creationist’s response to such characteristics typically includes a discussion of the concept of a mature creation (i.e., God created the Universe fully functional for its intended purposes from the beginning). Man was walking, talking, working, and even able to procreate from the first day he was created (Genesis 2:15-25). Even though he was less than a day old, a passerby would have mistaken Adam as a man of several years strictly by observing his physical appearance. Even though light from stars billions of light years away from the Earth would take billions of light years to reach it on its own, God made the stars with their light already visible to living beings on Earth in order to fulfill the design He had for them (Genesis 1:14-19). [NOTE: SeeLyons, 2011 for more discussion of the “appearance” of age in the Universe.] But what about the plants? Did they have an appearance of age? Did trees already have “rings” in them starting on day three? We cannot know for certain, but reason and revelation can shed some light on the subject.
In order for Adam and Eve to have the nourishment necessary to sustain their lives (apparently, they were not authorized to eat animals until after the Flood—cf. Genesis 1:29-30; 9:3-4), and in order to make sense of God’s command to eat the fruit from certain trees in the garden (Genesis 2:16), it stands to reason that those trees would have already been mature on day six—fully grown, bearing fruit, and even potentially containing rings—in the same way that light from far away stars was already on the Earth. Moses’ general description of God’s workings with the plant life in the garden is documented in Genesis 2:9 as simply that He “made every tree grow.” Clearly, that was a fast process during the Creation week.
But this raises a potential concern. Dendrochronology is the study of tree rings to determine the age of a tree. Dendrochronology tells us that each tree ring found in the trunk of a tree represents approximately one year of age for that tree. A tree with ten rings should be roughly ten years old. The oldest tree as measured by tree ring dating is from California’s White Mountains and is dated to be over 4,000 years old (Owen, 2008). Now, if the purpose of tree rings is to tell the age of a tree, would it not have been deceptive for God to create trees with rings when they were not old enough to have them? What would be the point of His creating trees with rings, if not to give a false appearance of age?
A quick internet search of the phrase, “purpose of tree rings,” brings up many articles, most of which are on the subject of dendrochronology. It is common knowledge that the primary purpose of tree rings today is to tell the age of the tree. Most of the study being done by scientists on tree rings is in dendrochronology, dendroclimatology, dendroecology, and dendropyrochronology. And that is where the confusion lies. How humans are using the information from tree rings today is very different from their purpose and function for the tree itself as designed by God.
A closer look at the tree ring reveals that it is formed as a result of the climate changes that occur during the seasons. The dark ring that we typically think of as the “tree ring” is known as “late wood” and is formed during the summer and autumn seasons. This area of wood is more dense and helps provide strength to the tree (Wimmer, 2011; Premyslovska, et al., 2007, p. 118). As the tree grows larger, year by year, more rings are added to the tree, providing it with more late wood and thus, more strength to stand. Thus, if God created a fully mature, large tree, one would expect Him to create it with rings to give it strength—not as a deception to make Adam think that the Earth is actually older than it appears. [NOTE: Years or geographical areas in which seasonal changes are subtle result in little to no distinction between the commencement of new tree rings (and subsequently add potential error into the tree ring dating equation). If the Earth’s climate was closer to a tropical environment year round in the past, as some have theorized, tree rings may not have been clearly visible to the human eye. The whole core of the tree would be composed of a denser, stronger wood without clear distinctions between rings. Regardless, it is clear that the creation of tree rings in the trees of the garden would have been reasonable and useful, not deceptive.]

REFERENCES

Lyons, Eric (2011), “Common Sense, Miracles, and the Apparent Age of the Earth,” Reason & Revelation (Montgomery, AL: Apologetics Press), 31[8]:77-80, August,http://www.apologeticspress.org/apPubPage.aspx?pub=1&issue=997&article=1670.
Owen, James (2008), “Oldest Living Tree Found in Sweden,” National Geographic News, April 14, http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2008/04/080414-oldest-tree.html.
Premyslovska, E., Slezingerova, J., and L. Gandelova (2007), “Tree Ring Width and Basic Density of Wood in Different Forest Types,” Proceedings of the DENDROSYMPOSIUM, May 3-6, Riga, Latvia, pp. 118-122.
Wimmer, R. (2011), “Wood Quality: Causes, Methods, Control,” The University of Natural Resources and Life Sciences, Vienna, http://www.boku.ac.at/botanik/wood/woodquality/Chapter2.pdf.

John Quincy Adams on Islam by Dave Miller, Ph.D.


http://apologeticspress.org/APContent.aspx?category=7&article=1142

John Quincy Adams on Islam

by Dave Miller, Ph.D.

The average American’s lack of awareness of the past has left our nation in an extremely vulnerable position. The multi-culturalism, pluralism, “diversity,” and political correctness that now blanket American culture mean that many are oblivious to and unconcerned about the threat that Islam poses to the American (and Christian) way of life. The Founders of the American Republic were not so dispossessed. They were well-studied in the ebb and flow of human history, and the international circumstances that could potentially impact America adversely. They, in fact, spoke openly and pointedly about the anti-American, anti-Christian nature of the religion of Islam.
Consider, for example, the writings of an early President of the United States, John Quincy Adams. Not only did Adams live during the founding era (born in 1767),not only was his father a primary, quintessential Founder, but John Quincy was literally nurtured by his father in the vicissitudes and intricacies of the founding of the Republic. John Adams involved his son at an early age in his own activities and travels on behalf of the fledgling nation. John Quincy accompanied his father to France in 1778, became Secretary to the American Minister to Russia, was the Secretary to his father during peace negotiations that ended the American Revolution in 1783, served as U.S. foreign ambassador, both to the Netherlands and later to Portugal, under George Washington, to Prussia under his father’s presidency, and then to Russia and later to England under President James Madison. He served as a U.S. Senator, Secretary of State under President James Monroe, and then as the nation’s sixth President (1825-1829), and finally as a member of the U.S. House of Representatives, where he was a staunch and fervent opponent of slavery.
After his presidency, but before his election to Congress in 1830, John Quincy penned several essays dealing with one of the many Russo-Turkish Wars. In these essays, we see a cogent, informed portrait of the threat that Islam has posed throughout world history:
In the seventh century of the Christian era, a wandering Arab of the lineage of Hagar, the Egyptian, combining the powers of transcendent genius, with the preternatural energy of a fanatic, and the fraudulent spirit of an impostor, proclaimed himself as a messenger from Heaven, and spread desolation and delusion over an extensive portion of the earth. Adopting from the sublime conception of the Mosaic law, the doctrine of one omnipotent God; he connected indissolubly with it, the audacious falsehood, that he was himself his prophet and apostle. Adopting from the new Revelation of Jesus, the faith and hope of immortal life, and of future retribution, he humbled it to the dust, by adapting all the rewards and sanctions of his religion to the gratification of the sexual passion. He poisoned the sources of human felicity at the fountain, by degrading the condition of the female sex, and the allowance of polygamy; and he declared undistinguishing and exterminating war, as a part of his religion, against all the rest of mankind. THE ESSENCE OF HIS DOCTRINE WAS VIOLENCE AND LUST: TO EXALT THE BRUTAL OVER THE SPIRITUAL PART OF HUMAN NATURE.
Between these two religions, thus contrasted in their characters, a war of twelve hundred years has already raged. That war is yet flagrant; nor can it cease but by the extinction of that imposture, which has been permitted by Providence to prolong the degeneracy of man. While the merciless and dissolute dogmas of the false prophet shall furnish motives to human action, there can never be peace upon earth, and good will towards men. The hand of Ishmael will be against every man, and every man’s hand against him. It is, indeed, amongst the mysterious dealings of God, that this delusion should have been suffered for so many ages, and during so many generations of human kind, to prevail over the doctrines of the meek and peaceful and benevolent Jesus (Blunt, 1830, 29:269, capitals in orig.).
Observe that Adams not only documents the violent nature of Islam, in contrast with the peaceful and benevolent thrust of Christianity, he further exposes the mistreatment of women inherent in Islamic doctrine, including the degrading practice of polygamy.
A few pages later, Adams again spotlights the coercive, violent nature of Islam, as well as the Muslim’s right to lie and deceive to advance Islam:
The precept of the koran is, perpetual war against all who deny, that Mahomet is the prophet of God. The vanquished may purchase their lives, by the payment of tribute; the victorious may be appeased by a false and delusive promise of peace; and the faithful follower of the prophet, may submit to the imperious necessities of defeat: but the command to propagate the Moslem creed by the sword is always obligatory, when it can be made effective. The commands of the prophet may be performed alike, by fraud, or by force (Blunt, 29:274).
No Christian would deny that many Christians in history have violated the precepts of Christ by mistreating others and even committing atrocities in the name of Christ. However, Adams rightly observes that one must go against Christian doctrine to do so. Not so with Islam—since violence is sanctioned:
The fundamental doctrine of the Christian religion, is the extirpation of hatred from the human heart. It forbids the exercise of it, even towards enemies. There is no denomination of Christians, which denies or misunderstands this doctrine. All understand it alike—all acknowledge its obligations; and however imperfectly, in the purposes of Divine Providence, its efficacy has been shown in the practice of Christians, it has not been wholly inoperative upon them. Its effect has been upon the manners of nations. It has mitigated the horrors of war—it has softened the features of slavery—it has humanized the intercourse of social life. The unqualified acknowledgement of a duty does not, indeed, suffice to insure its performance. Hatred is yet a passion, but too powerful upon the hearts of Christians. Yet they cannot indulge it, except by the sacrifice of their principles, and the conscious violation of their duties. No state paper from a Christian hand, could, without trampling the precepts of its Lord and Master, have commenced by an open proclamation of hatred to any portion of the human race. The Ottoman lays it down as the foundation of his discourse (Blunt, 29:300, emp. added).
The Founders were forthright in their assessment of the nature and teachings of Islam and the Quran. Americans and their political leaders would do well to take a sober look at history. To fail to do so will be catastrophic.

REFERENCES

Blunt, Joseph (1830), The American Annual Register for the Years 1827-8-9 (New York: E. & G.W. Blunt), 29:267-402, [On-line], URL: http://www.archive.org/stream/p1americanannual29blunuoft.

From Gary... Bible Reading October 5


Bible Reading  

October 5

The World English Bible

Oct. 5
Psalms 135-137

Psa 135:1 Praise Yah! Praise the name of Yahweh! Praise him, you servants of Yahweh,
Psa 135:2 you who stand in the house of Yahweh, in the courts of our God's house.
Psa 135:3 Praise Yah, for Yahweh is good. Sing praises to his name, for that is pleasant.
Psa 135:4 For Yah has chosen Jacob for himself; Israel for his own possession.
Psa 135:5 For I know that Yahweh is great, that our Lord is above all gods.
Psa 135:6 Whatever Yahweh pleased, that he has done, in heaven and in earth, in the seas and in all deeps;
Psa 135:7 who causes the clouds to rise from the ends of the earth; who makes lightnings with the rain; who brings forth the wind out of his treasuries;
Psa 135:8 Who struck the firstborn of Egypt, both of man and animal;
Psa 135:9 Who sent signs and wonders into the midst of you, Egypt, on Pharaoh, and on all his servants;
Psa 135:10 who struck many nations, and killed mighty kings,
Psa 135:11 Sihon king of the Amorites, Og king of Bashan, and all the kingdoms of Canaan,
Psa 135:12 and gave their land for a heritage, a heritage to Israel, his people.
Psa 135:13 Your name, Yahweh, endures forever; your renown, Yahweh, throughout all generations.
Psa 135:14 For Yahweh will judge his people, and have compassion on his servants.
Psa 135:15 The idols of the nations are silver and gold, the work of men's hands.
Psa 135:16 They have mouths, but they can't speak. They have eyes, but they can't see.
Psa 135:17 They have ears, but they can't hear; neither is there any breath in their mouths.
Psa 135:18 Those who make them will be like them; yes, everyone who trusts in them.
Psa 135:19 House of Israel, praise Yahweh! House of Aaron, praise Yahweh!
Psa 135:20 House of Levi, praise Yahweh! You who fear Yahweh, praise Yahweh!
Psa 135:21 Blessed be Yahweh from Zion, Who dwells at Jerusalem. Praise Yah!
Psa 136:1 Give thanks to Yahweh, for he is good; for his loving kindness endures forever.
Psa 136:2 Give thanks to the God of gods; for his loving kindness endures forever.
Psa 136:3 Give thanks to the Lord of lords; for his loving kindness endures forever:
Psa 136:4 To him who alone does great wonders; for his loving kindness endures forever:
Psa 136:5 To him who by understanding made the heavens; for his loving kindness endures forever:
Psa 136:6 To him who spread out the earth above the waters; for his loving kindness endures forever:
Psa 136:7 To him who made the great lights; for his loving kindness endures forever:
Psa 136:8 The sun to rule by day; for his loving kindness endures forever;
Psa 136:9 The moon and stars to rule by night; for his loving kindness endures forever:
Psa 136:10 To him who struck down the Egyptian firstborn; for his loving kindness endures forever;
Psa 136:11 And brought out Israel from among them; for his loving kindness endures forever;
Psa 136:12 With a strong hand, and with an outstretched arm; for his loving kindness endures forever:
Psa 136:13 To him who divided the Red Sea apart; for his loving kindness endures forever;
Psa 136:14 And made Israel to pass through its midst; for his loving kindness endures forever;
Psa 136:15 But overthrew Pharaoh and his army in the Red Sea; for his loving kindness endures forever:
Psa 136:16 To him who led his people through the wilderness; for his loving kindness endures forever:
Psa 136:17 To him who struck great kings; for his loving kindness endures forever;
Psa 136:18 And killed mighty kings; for his loving kindness endures forever:
Psa 136:19 Sihon king of the Amorites; for his loving kindness endures forever;
Psa 136:20 Og king of Bashan; for his loving kindness endures forever;
Psa 136:21 And gave their land as an inheritance; for his loving kindness endures forever;
Psa 136:22 Even a heritage to Israel his servant; for his loving kindness endures forever:
Psa 136:23 Who remembered us in our low estate; for his loving kindness endures forever;
Psa 136:24 And has delivered us from our adversaries; for his loving kindness endures forever:
Psa 136:25 Who gives food to every creature; for his loving kindness endures forever.
Psa 136:26 Oh give thanks to the God of heaven; for his loving kindness endures forever.
Psa 137:1 By the rivers of Babylon, there we sat down. Yes, we wept, when we remembered Zion.
Psa 137:2 On the willows in its midst, we hung up our harps.
Psa 137:3 For there, those who led us captive asked us for songs. Those who tormented us demanded songs of joy: "Sing us one of the songs of Zion!"
Psa 137:4 How can we sing Yahweh's song in a foreign land?
Psa 137:5 If I forget you, Jerusalem, let my right hand forget its skill.
Psa 137:6 Let my tongue stick to the roof of my mouth if I don't remember you; if I don't prefer Jerusalem above my chief joy.
Psa 137:7 Remember, Yahweh, against the children of Edom, the day of Jerusalem; who said, "Raze it! Raze it even to its foundation!"
Psa 137:8 Daughter of Babylon, doomed to destruction, he will be happy who rewards you, as you have served us.

Psa 137:9 Happy shall he be, who takes and dashes your little ones against the rock.

Oct. 5
Galatians 2

Gal 2:1 Then after a period of fourteen years I went up again to Jerusalem with Barnabas, taking Titus also with me.
Gal 2:2 I went up by revelation, and I laid before them the Good News which I preach among the Gentiles, but privately before those who were respected, for fear that I might be running, or had run, in vain.
Gal 2:3 But not even Titus, who was with me, being a Greek, was compelled to be circumcised.
Gal 2:4 This was because of the false brothers secretly brought in, who stole in to spy out our liberty which we have in Christ Jesus, that they might bring us into bondage;
Gal 2:5 to whom we gave no place in the way of subjection, not for an hour, that the truth of the Good News might continue with you.
Gal 2:6 But from those who were reputed to be important (whatever they were, it makes no difference to me; God doesn't show partiality to man)--they, I say, who were respected imparted nothing to me,
Gal 2:7 but to the contrary, when they saw that I had been entrusted with the Good News for the uncircumcision, even as Peter with the Good News for the circumcision
Gal 2:8 (for he who appointed Peter to the apostleship of the circumcision appointed me also to the Gentiles);
Gal 2:9 and when they perceived the grace that was given to me, James and Cephas and John, they who were reputed to be pillars, gave to me and Barnabas the right hand of fellowship, that we should go to the Gentiles, and they to the circumcision.
Gal 2:10 They only asked us to remember the poor--which very thing I was also zealous to do.
Gal 2:11 But when Peter came to Antioch, I resisted him to his face, because he stood condemned.
Gal 2:12 For before some people came from James, he ate with the Gentiles. But when they came, he drew back and separated himself, fearing those who were of the circumcision.
Gal 2:13 And the rest of the Jews joined him in his hypocrisy; so that even Barnabas was carried away with their hypocrisy.
Gal 2:14 But when I saw that they didn't walk uprightly according to the truth of the Good News, I said to Peter before them all, "If you, being a Jew, live as the Gentiles do, and not as the Jews do, why do you compel the Gentiles to live as the Jews do?
Gal 2:15 "We, being Jews by nature, and not Gentile sinners,
Gal 2:16 yet knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the law but through faith in Jesus Christ, even we believed in Christ Jesus, that we might be justified by faith in Christ, and not by the works of the law, because no flesh will be justified by the works of the law.
Gal 2:17 But if, while we sought to be justified in Christ, we ourselves also were found sinners, is Christ a servant of sin? Certainly not!
Gal 2:18 For if I build up again those things which I destroyed, I prove myself a law-breaker.
Gal 2:19 For I, through the law, died to the law, that I might live to God.
Gal 2:20 I have been crucified with Christ, and it is no longer I that live, but Christ living in me. That life which I now live in the flesh, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself up for me.
Gal 2:21 I don't make void the grace of God. For if righteousness is through the law, then Christ died for nothing!"