"MINISTERING SPIRITS" The Cherubim And Seraphim INTRODUCTION 1. The Old Testament certainly has much to say about angels... a. Their service to God and to His people b. Carrying out God's will as messengers and in other ways 2. Also serving God are two other classes of spiritual beings... a. Cherubim (singular, cherub or cherubim) - a word whose etymology is uncertain b. Seraphim - a word meaning "fiery ones" 3. What were these spiritual beings...? a. They certainly fall into the category of 'ministering spirits' b. Are they angels, perhaps of a higher order or class? [We may not know the answer this side of eternity, but let's see what the Bible reveals...] I. THE CHERUBIM A. AS GUARDIANS OF PARADISE... 1. Placed by God after Adam and Eve were expelled from the Garden - Gen 3:24 2. "In their function as guardians of Paradise the cherubim bear an analogy to the winged bulls and lions of Babylonia and Assyria, colossal figures with human faces standing guard at the entrance of temples (and palaces), just as in Egypt the approaches to the sanctuaries are guarded by sphinxes." - ISBE 3. No description is given, but note the mention of "flaming sword" B. AS BEARERS OF THE THRONE... 1. As attendants of God, they bear the throne upon which He descends from His high abode - Ps 18:9-10a 2. Through the use of synonymous parallelism they are described as "the wings of the wind" - Ps 18:10b; cf. Ps 104:3 3. Thus God is described as "enthroned above the cherubim" - Psa 80:1; 99:1; 1Sa 4:4 C. AS WINGED CREATURES OF FIRE... 1. "...the function of the cherubim as bearers and movers of the Divine throne is brought out most clearly in the vision of Ezekiel" - ISBE a. In chapter 1 the prophet designates them as 'living creatures' - Eze 1:4-5 b. He later perceives that the living creatures were 'cherubim' - Eze 10:15,20 c. The chariot or throne, from which the glory of God went up, is spoken of as a cherub - Eze 9:3 2. The cherubim as seen by Ezekiel were four living creatures, each having... a. Four faces: man, lion, ox (replaced in the parallel chapter by cherub) and eagle - Eze 1:10; 10:14 b. The figure and hands of men - Eze 1:5,8 c. Straight legs, with the soles of their feet like that of calves, sparkling like burnished bronze - Eze 1:7 d. Four wings 1) Two stretched upward, meeting above and sustaining the 'firmament', the bottom of the Divine throne- Eze 1:11, 22; 10:1 2) Two stretched downward, covering their bodies - Eze 1:11, 23 3) Having the noise of many waters, like the voice of the Almighty, the tumult of an army - Eze 1:24 3. The cherubim as seen by Ezekiel in appearance were... a. Surrounded by coals of fire - cf. Eze 10:2,6 b. Like burning torches, the fire flashing up and down among the creatures, out of which went lightning - Eze 1:13 4. The cherubim as seen by Ezekiel... a. Run back and forth in appearance like a flash of lightning - Eze 1:14 b. Do not turn as they changed direction, but always go straight forward - Eze 1:9,17; 10:11 c. Each had beside them a wheel - Eze 1:15-21 1) Like the color of beryl (sea green or gold colored) - Eze 1:16 2) Like a wheel within a wheel - Eze 1:16 3) That did not turn aside as they went in the four directions - Eze 1:17 4) With rims high and awesome, full of eyes - Eze 1:18 5) Which followed the cherubim wherever they went - Eze 1:19 6) The spirit of the cherubim provided the direction of the wheels - Eze 1:19-21; 10:16,17 5. Above the cherubim (living creatures) was... a. A firmament like the color of an awesome crystal - Eze 1: 22-23 b. A voice from above the firmament - Eze 1:25 c. A throne like a sapphire stone, on which sat one with a likeness of a man - Eze 1:26 1) His waist upward was the color of amber, like fire all around - Eze 1:27 2) His waist downward like fire with brightness all around - Eze 1:27 d. The brightness like the rainbow all around - Eze 1:28 -- Which Ezekiel described as the likeness of the glory of the Lord - Eze 1:28; cf. Re 4:2-6 D. AS ORNAMENTS IN THE TABERNACLE AND TEMPLE... 1. In the tabernacle a. On the mercy-seat covering the ark were two cherubim of solid gold 1) Facing each other, with wings outstretched above - Exo 25:18-20; 37:7-9 2) On which the glory of the Lord appeared, and from which He spoke - Exo 25:22; Num 7:89; cf. 1Sa 4:4; 2Sa 6:2; He 9:5 b. On the curtains were woven artistic designs of cherubim - Exo 26:1; 36:8 c. On the veil of the tabernacle also - Exo 26:31; 36:35 2. In the temple of Solomon a. In the inner sanctuary, the Most Holy Place - 1Ki 6:23-29; 2Ch 3:10-13 1) Placed over the ark of the covenant - 1Ki 8:6-7; 2 Chr 5:7-8 2) Where God's presence was manifested - 2Ki 19:15; Psa 80:1; 99:1 b. On the veil - 2Ch 3:14 c. On the walls and door - 1Ki 6:29-35; 2Ch 3:7 d. On the ten carts and ten lavers - 1Ki 7:29,36 3. In the temple of Ezekiel a. That is, the temple seen by Ezekiel in a vision - Ezek 41-43 b. The inner walls of the temple were carved with alternating palm trees and cherubim, each with two faces, a lion on one side, a man on the other - Eze 41:18-20 c. The doors of the sanctuary were carved with cherubim - Eze 41:23-25 4. In the temple of Herod a. "There were no cherubim in the temple of Herod, but the walls were painted with figures of them (see Talmud)." - ISBE b. "In the times of Josephus no one knew what the Scriptural cherubim looked like (Ant., VIII, iii, 3)." - ISBE [Unlike the cherubim, there is only one specific mention of the seraphim in the Bible...] II. THE SERAPHIM A. AS SEEN IN ISAIAH'S VISION... 1. The Lord is on a throne in the temple, high and lifted up - Isa 6:1 2. The seraphim are above the throne - Isa 6:2a 3. They had six wings - Isa 6:2 a. Two covered the face b. Two covered the feet c. With two they flew 4. One cried to one another: "Holy, holy, holy is the LORD of hosts, the whole earth is full of His glory!" - Isa 6:3 5. One flew to Isaiah - Isa 6:6-7 a. With a live coal in his hand taken with tongs from the altar b. Touching Isaiah's mouth with it, saying: "Behold, this has touched your lips; your iniquity is taken away, and your sins purged." B. AS DESCRIBED IN VARIOUS SOURCES... 1. "This word means fiery ones, in allusion, as is supposed, to their burning love. They are represented as 'standing' above the King as he sat upon his throne, ready at once to minister unto him. Their form appears to have been human, with the addition of wings." - Easton's Dictionary 2. "Nowhere else applied to God's attendant angels; but to the fiery flying (not winged, but rapidly moving) serpents, which bit the Israelites (Num 21:6), called so from the poisonous inflammation caused by their bites. Seraph is to burn; implying the burning zeal, dazzling brightness (2Ki 2:11; 2Ki 6:17; Eze 1:13; Mt 28:3) and serpent-like rapidity of the seraphim in God's service. Perhaps Satan's form as a serpent (nachash) in his appearance to man has some connection with his original form as a seraph of light. The head of the serpent was the symbol of wisdom in Egypt (compare Num 21:8; 2Ki 18:4). The seraphim, with six wings and one face, can hardly be identified with the cherubim, which had four wings (in the temple only two) and four faces (Eze 1:5-12). (But compare Rev 4:8). The 'face' and 'feet' imply a human form; something of a serpentine form (perhaps a basilisk's head, as in the temples of Thebes) may have been mixed with it: so the cherub was compounded of various animal forms. However, seraph may come from a root meaning 'princely,' applied in Dan 10:13 to Michael [MAURER]; just as cherub comes from a root (changing m into b), meaning 'noble.'" - JFB 3. "The most that can be said with certainty about the seraphim is that they were a separate group of attendants who praised God at His throne." - ISBE (revised) CONCLUSION 1. Whether seraphim or cherubim can rightly be called angels may be uncertain... a. Perhaps they are a higher class or order of angels - cf. He 1:7 b. If they are akin to the 'living creatures' in the book of Revelation, they seem to be distinguished from angels - cf. Re 4: 6-8; 5:11 2. In either case, they were certainly 'ministering spirits' whose service reminds us... a. Of the glory and majesty of Him who sits on the throne b. Of the mercy and forgiveness of the God Whom they praise Do we like the cherubim over the mercy-seat long to behold the mercy God extends to His people? Do we like seraphim find the holiness of God worthy to be praised? We should... "But you [are] a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, His own special people, that you may proclaim the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light; who once [were] not a people but [are] now the people of God, who had not obtained mercy but now have obtained mercy." (1Pe 2:9-10) Have you accepted the gospel call that qualifies you to live a life of praise and service to such a wonderful God...? - cf. 2Th 2:14; Col 1: 12-13
Was Job a Real Person?
|by||Eric Lyons, M.Min.|
In a single day, the patriarch Job lost all ten of his children, all of his livestock, and many of his servants. In chapter 1 of the book of Job, we learn that as one of Job’s servants was telling him about a group of raiders (the Sabeans) that had stolen all of his oxen and donkeys and killed all the servants tending to the animals (save him), another servant arrived even as the first “was still speaking.” This second servant told Job that a fire fell down from heaven and consumed his sheep and servants. Again, while this servant was talking, a third servant came and related to Job that another group of invaders (the Chaldeans) had stolen all of his camels and had killed all of the servants except him. Finally, while this third servant was talking, a fourth servant came and bore even worse news—Job’s ten children had all perished when a great wind struck the house and caused it to crush them. His seven thousand sheep, three thousand camels, five hundred yoke of oxen, five hundred female donkeys, very large household, and ten children were all gone “in the blink of an eye.” And as if being stripped of his worldly possessions and children were not enough, Job’s body then became diseased from head to toe, his wife urged him to “curse God and die,” and the comforting counsel of his “friends” quickly gave way to judgmental accusations.
Based upon the extent of the physical destruction and mental suffering mentioned above, and upon the limited time frame in which it all occurred, some critics tend to doubt that Job was a real person. Rather, they think he simply was fabricated to teach a lesson about human suffering. Perhaps, they say, he is to be valued like such parabolic figures as the good Samaritan (Luke 10:30-37), the prodigal son (Luke 15:11-32), or the rich fool (Luke 12:16-21), but not like those who actually lived and died upon the Earth.
If Job were not mentioned anywhere else in the Bible apart from for the book that bears his name, those who claim he was not a real person might be able to argue their position more confidently. But the fact is, Job is mentioned in three different verses in Scripture (outside the book of Job), and in all three passages he is considered a real, historical figure.
The first two places his name is found (aside from the book of Job) is in Ezekiel 14, verses 14 and 20. In verse 14, the prophet stated: “Even if these three men, Noah, Daniel, and Job, were in it, they would deliver only themselves by their righteousness, says the Lord God.” Verse 20 is worded nearly the same way: “[E]ven though Noah, Daniel, and Job were in it, as I live, says the Lord God, they would deliver neither son nor daughter; they would deliver only themselves by their righteousness.” Ezekiel’s point in both verses was that the ungodly conditions in the land were such that even if Noah, Daniel, and Job lived in that city, no one else would be saved. Ezekiel spoke of all three of these men as being real, historical people, not legendary characters. If one recognizes Noah and Daniel as being real people of history, then there is no reason to think otherwise about Job.
The last place the suffering patriarch is mentioned in Scripture (and the only time he is mentioned in the New Testament) is found in the latter part of the book of James. In 5:10-11 we read: “My brethren, take the prophets, who spoke in the name of the Lord, as an example of suffering and patience. Indeed we count them blessed who endure. You have heard of the perseverance of Job and seen the end intended by the Lord—that the Lord is very compassionate and merciful.” Obviously, James was not writing through inspiration about an imaginary person. Rather, he considered Job as real as Elijah, Isaiah, and Jeremiah, and as genuine as the Lord Himself.
Finally, that Job was a real person is stated explicitly by God within the book of Job itself. In his second “speech” to Job, God declared that the mighty behemoth was “made along with you” (40:15, emp. added). If Job were just a fairy tale-like character, God certainly would not have spoken as having “made” him.
Although admittedly much about Job remains a mystery (his race, exactly when he lived, who wrote the book that bears his name, where the Land of Uz was located, etc.), we can know that he was a real person who suffered in every way like you and me, and yet remained faithful to his God. Knowing that Job persevered through all his trials and tribulations gives us hope that we can do the same when similar trials come our way (James 1:2-4; 5:10-11).
|by||Dave Miller, Ph.D.|
Perhaps many Americans are unaware of the extent to which atheism and agnosticism have blanketed the country. Virtually every department in our state universities has been infiltrated by godless, humanistic presuppositions. Study and research are conducted from an evolutionary, relativistic framework that either jettisons the notion of God altogether, or dilutes it sufficiently to effectively nullify the biblical representation of deity. The psalmist anticipated all such behavior centuries ago when he wrote: “The fool has said in his heart, ‘There is no God’ ” (Psalm 14:1; 53:1).
Because of their inability to discern spiritual things (1 Corinthians 2:14), the Soviet cosmonauts looked out of their spacecraft in the 1960s and, in ridicule, asked, “Where is God?,” echoing again the words of the psalmist: “Why should the nations say, ‘Where now is their God?’ But our God is in heaven; He does whatever He pleases” (Psalm 115:2-3). Pride is a deadly pitfall that blinds one to the truth: “The wicked in his proud countenance does not seek God; all his thoughts are, ‘There is no God’ ” (Psalm 10:4).
But the Universe “declares” the plain work of the Creator (Psalm 19:1). Would we not consider a person a “fool” were he to pick up a watch and proclaim, “There is no watchmaker”? Though he had never empirically encountered the creator and designer of the watch, the mere existence of the watchproves the existence of a watchmaker. It takes very little investigation to see that a watch is a crude, simplistic instrument compared to the glorious, complex chronometers of the Universe. Those who see “the things that are made” and deny the very One Who made it all are “without excuse” (Romans 1:20).
Recognition of the existence of the Creator should lead a person to pursue His will. One may express verbal belief in the existence of God while being a practical atheist. Such a person professes, “There is no God” by his or her actions. By failing to be devoted to God, even while considering oneself to be a Christian, he or she is denying the Lord (1 Timothy 5:8; 2 Timothy 3:5; Titus 1:16). One can deny His great act of love, mercy, and grace (Titus 2:11-12; Hebrews 2:3). One can forget and ignore the great dissolution to come (2 Peter 3:10-12).
Who desires to be a fool? Who really wants to live a foolish existence? The wise, insightful, noble person is the one who examines the evidence and draws the warranted conclusion (Acts 17:11; 1 Thessalonians 5:21). Only a fool would affirm: “There is no God.”
Following the Toucan’s Nose to a Designer
|by||Kyle Butt, M.Div.|
The writers and editors of National Geographic are notoriously guilty of saturating their articles with evolution. That is why it is almost humorous to read articles in the periodical that seem to slip by the editors—articles that, if read in a straightforward manner, defy evolution. For instance, in the December, 2006 issue, the editors included a tiny, one-page article titled “Power Beak.” This article discusses the beak of the toucan. John Eliot, the author of the article, interviewed Marc André Meyers, “a materials scientist at the University of California, San Diego.” Meyers believes the unique design of the toucan beak could be used to produce strong, lightweight materials used in vehicles.
Meyers describes the toucan beak as a beautiful structure. He then goes into some engineering detail:
The surface is made of keratin, the same material in fingernails and hair. But the outer layer isn’t a solid structure. It’s actually many layers of tiny hexagonal plates, overlapping like shingles on a roof. The interior is different from the shell, made of bone. It consists of a light yet rigid foam made of little beams and membranes. And some areas of the beak are hollow (Eliot, 2006, p. 30).
On the same page, to the right of Meyers’ comments, the reader can see two pictures from a microscope—one of the hard foam inside the beak and the other of the “shingle” layers of keratin. To the left of the comments there is a toucan head and beak, in which the layers are shown in a cross-section-like diagram. The combined pictures look like they are straight out of an engineer’s portfolio.
What is Eliot’s assessment of the toucan’s beak? In a simple, yet oh-so-telling, sentence, Eliot said: “[T]he toucan’s beak is ingeniously designed to be both strong and light weight.” Look closely at the wording. He says the beak is “ingeniously designed.” The American Heritage Dictionary defines the word “ingenious” as: “Marked by inventive skill and imagination. 2. Having or arising from aninventive or cunning mind; clever” (2000, p. 900, emp. added). Notice that the word “ingenious” implies an inventive or cunning mind. What inventive or cunning mind engineered the beautiful design of the toucan beak? It could not have been the evolutionary process, since evolutionists themselves admit that the process has no ultimate goals and no creative mind powering the system. The only logical answer is the supernatural mind of God. If the editors of National Geographic would only follow the nose of the toucan, they would find the ingenious Designer—and they would stop writing false, evolutionary propaganda.
American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language (2000), (Boston, MA: Houghton Mifflin), fourth edition.
Eliot, John L. (2006), “Power Beak,” National Geographic, 210, December 12.
Preposterous Pro-Abortion Positions
|by||Eric Lyons, M.Min.|
Aristotle once wrote: “[T]he same attribute cannot at the same time belong and not belong to the same subject and in the same respect…. [I]t is impossible for the same man at the same time to believe the same thing to be and not to be” (Aristotle, 4:4). It is impossible, for example, for a single door to be completely shut and completely open at the same time. Likewise, it is contradictory for a man to say, “Yesterday I never left my house to go to the store,” if indeed he did leave his house yesterday to go to the store. The fact is, nothing can both be and not be for the same person, place, or thing, at the same time, and in the same sense (cf. Jevons, 1928, p. 117). For a person to say otherwise, he is either a liar or delusional.
Consider the nature of a contradiction in light of the pro-abortion movement and related laws in America. How is it that the same unborn child can be a human being and not a human being at the same time? For example, if a mother and her six-month-old unborn baby boy are brutally murdered while walking into a hospital, the perpetrator may likely be charged with “double murder” (cf. Ertelt, 2009). Why double murder? Because both the mother and her unborn child are human beings. However, if that same mother walks into a medical facility to have someone remove the (alleged) non-human “appendage” from her body, the mother and her accomplice are protected by the law (in many states, even when the unborn child is nine months old). These positions are so blatantly contradictory that even Heather Boonstra, senior public policy associate at the pro-abortion Alan Guttmacher Institute, stated: “The law cannot hold both that a pregnant woman is two persons and at the same time allow her to have an abortion” (as quoted in Simon, 2001).
It is no secret that President Barack Obama strongly supports the pro-abortion platform. He has been a consistent advocate of pro-abortion policies for many years. It is also no secret that Washington, D.C. has some of the least restrictive abortion laws in the United States (“State Policies…,” 2013), allowing for abortion for any reason at any point during the mother’s pregnancy. Astonishingly, as Dave Boyer reported in the Washington Times in 2012, “[t]he pro-choice Obama White House requires pregnant visitors to count their unborn child as a person for tours of the executive mansion” (2012, emp. added). So, in our nation’s capitol, a pregnant woman can visit the President’s home, only if she first fills out paper work in which she counts her unborn child as a human being. Yet, that same mother is free to leave the White House, enter a D.C. abortion clinic, and have her unborn child murdered, under protection of a blatantly contradictory law that our President endorses.
The fact is, at best, the pro-abortion movement in America is absurd—leaving behind reality at every turn. At worst, it is a repugnant, blight on society—so evil that the horrific shedding of innocent blood is actually considered proper. “Woe to those who call evil good, and good evil; who put darkness for light, and light for darkness; who put bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter! Woe to those who are wise in their own eyes, and prudent in their own sight!” (Isaiah 5:20-21).
Aristotle, Metaphysics, trans. W.D. Ross, http://classics.mit.edu/Aristotle/metaphysics.4.iv.html.
Boyer, Dave (2012), “Security at Pro-Choice White House Counts Unborn Children,” Washington Times, May 8, http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2012/may/8/security-white-house-counts-unborn-children/?page=all.
Ertelt, Steven (2009), “California Man Convicted Killing Both Pregnant Girlfriend and Unborn Child,”http://www.lifenews.com/state4210.html.
Jevons, W. Stanley (1928), Elementary Lessons in Logic (London: Macmillan).
Simon, Stephanie (2001), “Debate Grows on Whether Fetuses Should Have Special Legal Status,”Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, 6A, June 17, http://news.google.com/newspapers?nid=1683&dat=20010617&id=G8AaAAAAIBAJ&sjid=XjAEAAAAIBAJ&pg=6739,6695111.
“State Policies in Brief: An Overview of Abortion Laws” (2013), Guttmacher Institute, June 1,http://www.guttmacher.org/statecenter/spibs/spib_OAL.pdf.
"Before Any King Reigned in Israel"by Eric Lyons, M.Min.
For most people, the 36th chapter of Genesis is “unfamiliar territory.” It is known more for being the chapter after Genesis 35 (in which details are given about Jacob’s name being changed to Israel) and before chapter 37 (where one can read about Joseph’s brothers selling him into slavery). Nowhere does Genesis 36 record the names of such patriarchs as Abraham, Isaac, or Joseph (and Jacob is mentioned only once). Nor are there any memorable stories from this portion of Genesis—of the kind that we learned in our youth. Truly, the least-studied chapter in the first book of the Bible seems to be Genesis 36—the genealogy of Esau.
Surprisingly, to some, this often-overlooked chapter contains one of the more controversial phrases in the book. Genesis 36:31 states: “Now these were the kings who reigned in the land of Edom before any king reigned over the children of Israel” (emp. added). According to skeptics and liberal theologians, the notation “before any king reigned over the children of Israel” points to the days of the monarchs. Dennis McKinsey declared in his book, Biblical Errancy: “This passage could only have been written after the first king began to reign…. It had to have been written after Saul became king, while Moses, the alleged author, lived long before Saul” (2000, p. 521). Paul Tobin also indicated that this portion of the Bible “must therefore have been written, at the very earliest, after the first Jewish King, Saul, began to rule over the Israelites which was around three centuries after the death of Moses” (2000). Tobin went on to ask (what he feels certain cannot be answered): “ Now how could Moses have known that there would be kings that reigned over the Israelites?”
There actually are two logical reasons why Moses could mention future Israelite kingship. First, Moses knew about the express promises God had made both to Abraham and Jacob concerning the future kings of Israel. On one occasion, God informed Abraham and Sarah that many kings would be among their posterity. He promised Abraham saying, “I will bless her [Sarah—EL] and also give you a son by her; then I will bless her, and she shall be a mother of nations; kings of peoples shall be from her ” (Genesis 17:16, emp. added). Years later (and just one chapter before the verse in question), when God appeared to Jacob at Bethel and changed his name to Israel, He said: “I am God Almighty. Be fruitful and multiply; a nation and a company of nations shall proceed from you, and kings shall come from your body” (Genesis 35:11, emp. added). The fact that Genesis 36:31 reads, “Now these were the kings who reigned in the land of Edom before any king reigned over the children of Israel” (emp. added), does not mean this account must have been written by someone who lived after the monarchy was introduced in Israel. Rather, this statement was written with the promise in mind that kings would come out of the loins of Abraham and Jacob, and merely conveys the notion that Edom became a kingdom at an earlier time than Israel. Keil and Delitzsch remarked: “Such a thought was by no means inappropriate to the Mosaic age. For the idea, that Israel was destined to grow into a kingdom with monarchs of his own family, was a hope handed down to the age of Moses, which the long residence in Egypt was well adapted to foster” (1996). Furthermore, the placement of this parenthetical clause (“before any king reigned over the children of Israel”) in 36:31
was exceedingly natural on the part of the sacred historian, who, having but a few verses before (Gen 35:11) put on record the divine promise to Jacob that “kings should come out of his loins,” was led to remark the national prosperity and regal establishment of the Edomites long before the organization of a similar order of things in Israel. He could not help indulging such a reflection, when he contrasted the posterity of Esau with those of Jacob from the standpoint of the promise (Gen 25:23) [Jamieson, et al., 1997].
A second reason Moses is justified in having knowledge of Israelite kingship before it was known experientially is because Moses was inspired (John 5:46; Mark 12:26; cf. Exodus 20:1; 2 Timothy 3:16-17; 2 Peter 1:20-21). For someone to say that the author of Genesis could not have been Moses, because the author spoke generally of Israelite kings prior to their existence, totally ignores the fact that Moses received special revelation from Heaven. Nowhere is this seen more clearly than in Deuteronomy 17:14-15. Here Moses prophetically stated:
When you come to the land which the Lord your God is giving you, and possess it and dwell in it, and say, “I will set a king over me like all the nations that are around me,” you shall surely set a king over you whom the Lord your God chooses; one from among your brethren you shall set as king over you; you may not set a foreigner over you, who is not your brother (emp. added).
Under normal circumstances, such foreknowledge would be impossible. One must keep in mind, however, that “with God all things are possible” (Matthew 19:26)—and God was with Moses (cf. Exodus 3:12; 6:2; 25:22).
Were a Christian to claim that Moses wrote Genesis without being inspired or without having knowledge of the earlier promises made to Abraham and Jacob about the future kingship of Israel, the critic might be correct in concluding that Genesis 36:31 is anachronistic. But, the truth is, a Christian’s faith is based on the fact the Bible writers possessed supernatural revelation. Thus, Moses’ superior knowledge is not a problem. Rather, it is to be expected.
Jamieson, Robert, et al. (1997), Jamieson, Fausset, Brown Bible Commentary (Electronic Database: Biblesoft).
Keil, C.F. and F. Delitzsch (1996), Keil and Delitzsch Commentary on the Old Testament (Electronic Database: Biblesoft), new updated edition.
McKinsey, C. Dennis (2000), Biblical Errancy (Amherst, NY: Prometheus).
Tobin, Paul N. (2000), “Mythological Element in the Story of Abraham and the Patriarchal Narratives,” The Refection of Pascal’s Wager [On-line], URL: http://www.geocities.com/paulntobin/abraham.html.
BIG, PLAIN, RICH TRUTHS
What is “sunrise”? It’s when the sun first appears over the horizon as the result of the earth spinning on its axis. This is true and we’re glad. But that isn’t “sunrise”! GK Chesterton would say: Sunrise is when God says to the sun, ‘Get up!’ GKC liked dictionaries but he knew they had real limits. They reduce everything to bare definitions but we’re not to criticize them for that—they’re doing the best they can.
There’s a habit of thinking that reduces so much. We can be carried away with information, explanation, definition and cognitive, rational instruction. We need information, don’t you know, but it’s too bad when we allow information to limit our vision to the dictionary or a grammar or even a pursuit of correctness.
Ask Jesus about that field of flowers and he’d say, “Beautiful isn’t it! Solomon in all his grandeur never looked that good. My Father clothed that field.” He goes onto say that before you know it the flowers will wither and be burned and yet the Father never tires of pouring out such glory. How gloriously generous He is in his giving.
Jesus would look at sparrows and speak of his Father’s generous and faithful provision. He’d pass a woman adding yeast to her dough and he’d think of his Father’s kingdom and say something like, “Remind me to look at this on our way back.” He’d see tired oxen with ill-fitting yokes that rubbed their necks raw, dragging a plough up and down, up and down, up and down a field and donkeys, heads down and burdens up to the sky on their backs. He sees them and thinks of the burdens of people and how he had come to deliver them and wishes they'd come to him. He looks up into the limitless heavens and sees them as his Holy Father’s “theater of glory”. Everything he saw, even the sadness and hurt of the world, made him think and speak of and act for his Father and his Father’s eternal purpose.
I’m for exegesis; I’m for the use of grammars, lexicons, literary models, sociological insights, hermeneutical approaches—or anything else within my reach and competence—that help us to grasp the meaning of a text, section or book. Of course! But all the Bible study, however rich in technique and however successful in getting at “authorial intent”—if it doesn’t lead us to the massive subtext that lies beneath all the verses and all the books, if it doesn’t open out eyes to life and all there is and help us to see as Jesus saw, it’s worse than wasted time [note John 5:39]. I don’t say I know very well how to gain such insight much less that I have gained it to a marked degree. But I know as sure as I live that I know the kind of writing or speaking that doesn’t carry us there.
I’ve seen more than one lovely young person carried away by scholarship, seduced by literary and philosophical conundrums; left close to speechlessness. Well, at least, left not knowing what to do with the biblical witness to feed the people of God. Every text and even the Bible itself, becomes problematic; every biblical claim has to be rigidly scrutinized in the heady realm of academia before the scholar can make use of it for Church-feeding—especially in the presence of his scholarly peers. And while they talk to each other the People of God starve [or are left to the ceaseless and banal moralizing that passes for Church-feeding or to the rigidly religious with their exhaustive blueprints, slide-rules and books on logic placed in the church pews for the listeners to become acquainted with].
One of the leading gurus of a generation or two ago, one who specialized in the biblical Wisdom literature, ended up believing in virtually nothing distinctively Hebrew/Christian though his understanding of OT biblical texts is still highly regarded. Sigh! We can end up “correct” or seriously seeking to be and end up clinically depressed or without convictions or hope—ceaselessly on the probe for intellectual consistency and "integrity"; worshiping at the shrine of the godess, Knowing All.
We all begin with some “givens”; with convictions we take as the foundation of whatever we’re going to build on them. Everyone does! There's no getting to a place where we can prove beyond debate and with “geometrical certainty” what we believe. The ceaseless search for indisputable truth is a losing game. God hasn't left us in the dark or short of truth and there's something sinister about our insatiable hunger to make our claims academically respectable.
Look for, ask people to help you find, ask God to provide the help you need to find the big, plain, rich truths the Bible offers and makes much of. Find those, purposing to throw in the stubborn ounces of your weight into God’s glorious and loving purpose toward humanity and cheerfully march on under the banner of Jesus Christ.
©2004 Jim McGuiggan. All materials are free to be copied and used as long as money is not being made.
God speaks to man
Although I do not claim to be an authority, I will make some observations on this subject. I cannot but have questions when I hear of the variety of strange messages men are claiming that they receive from God. Pilgrimages, mass suicides, polygamous marriages, “holy” wars, etc. have been proclaimed to be responses to divine messages.
We are forced to the conclusion that men often make plans, decide what they want to or think they should do, and then manage to convince themselves and announce that such was revealed to them as God’s will. The same process has, I fear, even been true regarding doctrines that relate to salvation, worship and Christian living.
There is a difference between being open and receptive to God’s communications and looking for and expecting his support for preconceived plans, ideas and concepts. Whatever the manner of communication, it is important that the message not be “wrested” to fit our agendas. When someone tells you that God spoke to them, that they heard his actual words, do you wonder why you never had such an experience?
Through the history of his dealings with humans, God has communicated in a variety of ways. Certainly, “what has been made” speaks to us of “his eternal power and divine nature” (Rom.1:20). He had a conversational relationship with Adam, Enoch and others. He spoke to and through patriarchs (fathers of families), prophets and chosen people. He communicated in visions, dreams and demonstrations. In considering this the writer of Hebrews began the letter, “In the past God spoke to our forefathers through the prophets at many times and in various ways,” (Heb.1:1). However, these former processes are contrasted with, “but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son,” (v.2a).
Since Jesus is not physically with us today, it appears that he has made provision for us to hear his message from others whom he chose for the purpose rather than in some mystical way, perhaps “better felt than told”. The inspired writer proceeds to point to the “binding” nature of the messages received “by angels” and uses this to warn us of the grave consequences of ignoring “such a great salvation,” (Heb.2:2,3), the message by his Son.
The message of God regarding our great salvation was spoken by Jesus himself, refreshed in the memories of his apostles by the Holy Spirit (Heb.2:3,4) and confirmed for us (its source established) by means of miracles. The New Testament scriptures have long been recognized as the end result of this process, written by those that heard Jesus and saw his great works and later were enabled to do similar works to establish what they spoke and wrote. This body of teaching, “the faith”, is described as “once for all entrusted to the saints” (Jude 3). Hence, it appears that we should not expect any new or different message from modern day theologians, scholars or “prophets”.
There are those who are seriously asking whether God is speaking to churches today through “theological voices” as he did through Paul and the other New Testament writers. Today’s scholars cannot be God’s messengers in the same way that the apostles were. They have not seen or heard Jesus nor has he promised them a Comforter to put his message in their minds.
On the individual, personal level, communication from God via the scriptures may seem too general and to God by prayer, too one-way. Because of this some claim that God actually responds verbally or, perhaps, in some still small voice. Others, having no direct message, feel that they do not experience God in an intimate way. Current literature on “Experiencing God” appears to be an attempt to respond to these feelings.
Some are urging us to practise “listening prayer”. Certainly, we should, while praying, let God know that we are open to his message and really do seek his response whether it is through scripture, circumstances or our brothers and sisters. It is not uncommon to hear, in a prayer, the request that God “guard, guide and direct us”. Yes, we need protection. Yes, we fumble around and are lost without his guidance and direction. God has taken care of much of this through the scriptures and our relationship with one another in his family.
God’s message is provided to and for the seeker. (John 7:17, Matt.7:7,8). Cornelius’ prayer resulted, not in God telling him what to do to be saved, but in his coming to this knowledge through God’s chosen agent (Acts 10). God’s medium today is the New Testament scriptures and not individual direct messages and not some modern day prophet speaking differently then those scriptures, either more or less.
We must tune in, - study with open minds and receptive hearts. Let us, first of all, be willing to receive and submit to the clear and obvious rather than look for less likely messages delivered in some other way.
God speaks to us today through Jesus and those he appointed. Let us tune in, be receptive and humbly obey.
Eugene C. Perry
The World English Bible
Gen 4:1 The man knew Eve his wife. She conceived, and gave birth to Cain, and said, "I have gotten a man with Yahweh's help."
Gen 4:2 Again she gave birth, to Cain's brother Abel. Abel was a keeper of sheep, but Cain was a tiller of the ground.
Gen 4:3 As time passed, it happened that Cain brought an offering to Yahweh from the fruit of the ground.
Gen 4:4 Abel also brought some of the firstborn of his flock and of its fat. Yahweh respected Abel and his offering,
Gen 4:5 but he didn't respect Cain and his offering. Cain was very angry, and the expression on his face fell.
Gen 4:6 Yahweh said to Cain, "Why are you angry? Why has the expression of your face fallen?
Gen 4:7 If you do well, will it not be lifted up? If you don't do well, sin crouches at the door. Its desire is for you, but you are to rule over it."
Gen 4:8 Cain said to Abel, his brother, "Let's go into the field." It happened when they were in the field, that Cain rose up against Abel, his brother, and killed him.
Gen 4:9 Yahweh said to Cain, "Where is Abel, your brother?" He said, "I don't know. Am I my brother's keeper?"
Gen 4:10 Yahweh said, "What have you done? The voice of your brother's blood cries to me from the ground.
Gen 4:11 Now you are cursed because of the ground, which has opened its mouth to receive your brother's blood from your hand.
Gen 4:12 From now on, when you till the ground, it won't yield its strength to you. You shall be a fugitive and a wanderer in the earth."
Gen 4:13 Cain said to Yahweh, "My punishment is greater than I can bear.
Gen 4:14 Behold, you have driven me out this day from the surface of the ground. I will be hidden from your face, and I will be a fugitive and a wanderer in the earth. It will happen that whoever finds me will kill me."
Gen 4:15 Yahweh said to him, "Therefore whoever slays Cain, vengeance will be taken on him sevenfold." Yahweh appointed a sign for Cain, lest any finding him should strike him.
Gen 4:16 Cain went out from Yahweh's presence, and lived in the land of Nod, east of Eden.
Gen 4:17 Cain knew his wife. She conceived, and gave birth to Enoch. He built a city, and called the name of the city, after the name of his son, Enoch.
Gen 4:18 To Enoch was born Irad. Irad became the father of Mehujael. Mehujael became the father of Methushael. Methushael became the father of Lamech.
Gen 4:19 Lamech took two wives: the name of the one was Adah, and the name of the other Zillah.
Gen 4:20 Adah gave birth to Jabal, who was the father of those who dwell in tents and have livestock.
Gen 4:21 His brother's name was Jubal, who was the father of all who handle the harp and pipe.
Gen 4:22 Zillah also gave birth to Tubal Cain, the forger of every cutting instrument of brass and iron. Tubal Cain's sister was Naamah.
Gen 4:23 Lamech said to his wives, "Adah and Zillah, hear my voice. You wives of Lamech, listen to my speech, for I have slain a man for wounding me, a young man for bruising me.
Gen 4:24 If Cain will be avenged seven times, truly Lamech seventy-seven times."
Gen 4:25 Adam knew his wife again. She gave birth to a son, and named him Seth, "for God has appointed me another child instead of Abel, for Cain killed him."
Gen 4:26 There was also born a son to Seth, and he named him Enosh. Then men began to call on Yahweh's name.
Mat 2:1 Now when Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea in the days of Herod the king, behold, wise men from the east came to Jerusalem, saying,
Mat 2:2 "Where is he who is born King of the Jews? For we saw his star in the east, and have come to worship him."
Mat 2:3 When Herod the king heard it, he was troubled, and all Jerusalem with him.
Mat 2:4 Gathering together all the chief priests and scribes of the people, he asked them where the Christ would be born.
Mat 2:5 They said to him, "In Bethlehem of Judea, for thus it is written through the prophet,
Mat 2:6 'You Bethlehem, land of Judah, are in no way least among the princes of Judah: for out of you shall come forth a governor, who shall shepherd my people, Israel.' "
Mat 2:7 Then Herod secretly called the wise men, and learned from them exactly what time the star appeared.
Mat 2:8 He sent them to Bethlehem, and said, "Go and search diligently for the young child. When you have found him, bring me word, so that I also may come and worship him."
Mat 2:9 They, having heard the king, went their way; and behold, the star, which they saw in the east, went before them, until it came and stood over where the young child was.
Mat 2:10 When they saw the star, they rejoiced with exceedingly great joy.
Mat 2:11 They came into the house and saw the young child with Mary, his mother, and they fell down and worshiped him. Opening their treasures, they offered to him gifts: gold, frankincense, and myrrh.
Mat 2:12 Being warned in a dream that they shouldn't return to Herod, they went back to their own country another way.
Mat 2:13 Now when they had departed, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream, saying, "Arise and take the young child and his mother, and flee into Egypt, and stay there until I tell you, for Herod will seek the young child to destroy him."
Mat 2:14 He arose and took the young child and his mother by night, and departed into Egypt,
Mat 2:15 and was there until the death of Herod; that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the Lord through the prophet, saying, "Out of Egypt I called my son."
Mat 2:16 Then Herod, when he saw that he was mocked by the wise men, was exceedingly angry, and sent out, and killed all the male children who were in Bethlehem and in all the surrounding countryside, from two years old and under, according to the exact time which he had learned from the wise men.
Mat 2:17 Then that which was spoken by Jeremiah the prophet was fulfilled, saying,
Mat 2:18 "A voice was heard in Ramah, lamentation, weeping and great mourning, Rachel weeping for her children; she wouldn't be comforted, because they are no more."
Mat 2:19 But when Herod was dead, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared in a dream to Joseph in Egypt, saying,
Mat 2:20 "Arise and take the young child and his mother, and go into the land of Israel, for those who sought the young child's life are dead."
Mat 2:21 He arose and took the young child and his mother, and came into the land of Israel.
Mat 2:22 But when he heard that Archelaus was reigning over Judea in the place of his father, Herod, he was afraid to go there. Being warned in a dream, he withdrew into the region of Galilee,
Mat 2:23 and came and lived in a city called Nazareth; that it might be fulfilled which was spoken through the prophets: "He will be called a Nazarene."