"THE BOOK OF DANIEL" Introduction To Daniel INTRODUCTION 1. One of the more fascinating books of the Bible is the book of Daniel... a. The first six chapters contain accounts of faith that inspire both young and old b. The last six chapters are filled with apocalyptic visions that challenge even the most advanced Bible students and scholars 2. It is a book that has often been attacked and abused... a. Attacked by liberals who deny its inspiration b. Abused by many who have taken its visions out of context to support all kinds of wild theories concerning the second coming of Christ 3. But when properly read and understood, the book of Daniel can... a. Inspire us to greater faithfulness in our service to God b. Strengthen our faith in the inspiration of the Bible [In this lesson, we shall introduce the book and look at it as whole, beginning with what we know of ...] I. DANIEL AND HIS TIMES A. THE MAN... 1. The name "Daniel" means "God is my judge" 2. He was a person of deep and abiding faith a. As a youth, he purposed not to defile himself - Dan 1:8 b. When old, he persisted in serving God despite threats against his life - Dan 6:10 3. God blessed Daniel because of his faith a. He rose to great heights in the kingdoms of Babylon and Persia - Dan 2:48; 6:1-3 b. He served as a statesman, a counselor to kings, and a prophet of God 4. Daniel was contemporary with Jeremiah and Ezekiel a. Jeremiah prophesied in Jerusalem before and during the Babylonian exile (626-528 B.C.) b. Ezekiel prophesied in Babylon among the exiles (592-570 B.C.) c. Daniel prophesied in the capital of Babylon (605-586 B.C.) 5. Nothing is known of his personal life outside of the book a. He descended from one of Judah's prominent families, if not from royal blood - Dan 1:3 b. At an early age (12-18) he was taken from his family to be trained in the courts of Babylon - Dan 1:3-4 c. Whether he ever married is uncertain B. THE TIME IN WHICH HE LIVED... 1. Some key dates to remember a. 612 B.C. - Fall of Nineveh, capital of Assyria 1) Assyria had ruled the world since the days of Tiglath- Pileser (845 B.C.) 2) Nabopolassar came to the throne in Babylon and rebelled against the Assyrians in 625 B.C. 3) Nebuchadnezzar, son of Nabopolassar, was the general who led the Babylonian army against Nineveh, defeating it in 612 B.C. b. 605 B.C. - Battle of Carchemish, establishing Babylonian domination 1) Pharaoh-Necho of Egypt came to fight the Babylonians at Carchemish 2) Nebuchadnezzar defeated the Egyptians, chasing them south through Judah 3) At Jerusalem, Nebuchadnezzar heard of his father's death; he returned to assume the throne in Babylon 4) The first group of Jewish captives were taken, along with Daniel and his friends - Dan 1:1-4 c. 597 B.C. - A second remnant taken to Babylon 1) Jehoiachin (Jeconiah, Coniah) followed the reign of his father, Jehoiakim 2) He lasted just three months, when Nebuchadnezzar took him and 10,000 Jews to Babylon - 2Ki 24:8-16 3) This second group of captives included Ezekiel - Eze1:1-3 d. 586 B.C. - Fall of Jerusalem and the temple destroyed 1) Zedekiah was installed as king in Jerusalem, but was weak and vacillating 2) Eleven years later, Jerusalem was totally devastated by Babylonian forces - 2Ki 25:1-10 3) A third group was taken into Babylonian captivity, but Jeremiah was among those who stayed behind - 2Ki 25: 11-12,22; Jer 39:11-14; 40:1-6 e. 536 B.C. - The first remnant returns to Jerusalem 1) Babylon falls in 539 B.C. 2) Cyrus, king of Persia, sends the first remnant back under the leadership of Zerubbabel - Ezra 1:1-5; 2:1-2 3) The foundation of the temple was soon started, but the temple was not completed until 516 B.C. - Ezra 3:8-13; 6:14-16 f. 457 B.C. - A second remnant returns to Jerusalem 1) Ezra the priest returns with this group - Ezra 7:1-8:36 2) He leads a much-needed revival - Ezra 9:1-10:44 g. 444 B.C. - A third remnant returns to Jerusalem 1) This group is led by Nehemiah - Neh 1:1-2:20 2) Under his leadership, the walls of Jerusalem are rebuilt - Neh 3:1-7:73 3) Together with Ezra, they restore much of the religion - Neh 8:1-13:31 2. Daniel lived through much of these times (605-534 B.C.) a. He was among the first group of captives taken to Babylon - Dan 1:1-4 b. He continued there over the entire 70 years of captivity - Dan 1:21; 10:1; cf. Dan 9:1-2; Jer 25:11; 29:10 [Daniel was certainly a remarkable man. His greatness was recognized by his contemporary, Ezekiel (Ezek 14:14,20; 28:3). Now let's take a brief look at...] II. THE BOOK OF DANIEL A. THE THEME... 1. "God Rules In The Kingdoms Of Men" - cf. Dan 2:21; 4:17,25,32, 34-35; 5:21 2. In this book, we see the rule of God is... a. Manifested in the days of Nebuchadnezzar, Belshazzar, Darius, and Cyrus, kings of the Babylonians, Medes, and Persians b. Foretold to occur in the days of the Persians, Greeks, and Romans 3. In this book, we learn the rule of God would be especially manifested... a. With the establishment of God's kingdom - Dan 2:44 b. With the vindication of the cause of His saints - Dan 7:27 B. A BRIEF OUTLINE... 1. God's Providence In History - 1:1-6:28 a. Daniel and his determination to be pure - 1:1-21 b. Nebuchadnezzar's dream and Daniel's promotion - 2:1-49 c. Faith in the face of fire by Daniel's friends - 3:1-30 d. Nebuchadnezzar's second dream and temporary insanity - 4: 1-37 e. The writing on the wall and fall of Belshazzar - 5:1-31 f. Darius and his den of lions - 6:1-28 2. God's Purpose In History - 7:1-12:13 a. Daniel's dream of the four beasts - 7:1-28 b. Daniel's dream of the ram and the goat - 8:1-27 c. Daniel's prayer, and the vision of the seventy weeks - 9: 1-27 d. Daniel's vision of the time of the end - 10:1-12:13 CONCLUSION 1. As with all of Scripture, the book of Daniel is profitable for our study - 2Ti 3:16-17 a. From Daniel and his three friends, we will learn the power of faith and commitment b. By studying this book, we can better understand our Lord's references to it - cf. Mk 1:14-15; Mt 24:15-16 2. Despite some of its more difficult and challenging passages, we can benefit from them as well, as long as we interpret them... a. In the context of the book itself b. Consistent with all else the Bible may say on the subject c. With the humility and openness that is incumbent upon all who would study and teach God' word - cf. 2Ti 2:24-25 In our next study, then, we will begin by taking a look at "The Faith Of A Fifteen-Year-Old"...
Does Human Fallibility Imply a Fallible Bible?
|by||Brad Bromling, D.Min.|
Humanity is broken. Few would deny the biblical affirmation: “all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23). All people stand in need of redemption and are incapable of currying God's favor by their own imperfect efforts (Ephesians 2:3-9; Galatians 3:22). Even for those who “walk in the light” (1 John 1:7) personal sin remains a reality (1 John 1:10-2:1). The question, “Are Christians sinners who are forgiven or saints who sin?,” bespeaks the perplexity that saved people feel in the face of their daily struggles with the evil one (Saucy, 1995). This realization has driven some people to wonder whether it is even possible for the Bible to be infallible, since fallible humans were employed in its production.
WHO WROTE THE BIBLE?
The great giant-fighter, David, is credited with the authorship of much of the Psalter. As the sweet psalmist of Israel, his songs have inspired millions to rely on God when everyone else proves unreliable. Countless saints have been laid to rest under the comforting lyrics of Psalm 23. And yet, the shepherd-king had bloodstained hands. He fell prey to lust, deceit, and even murder. Could such a man compose poetic verses for an infallible volume?
The all-too-carnal actions of God’s prophets, priests, and kings embarrassingly remind us of humankind’s hopeless condition. Even apostles were unable to rise above the charge of sin and the threat of condemnation (Galatians 2:11). Is it reasonable to believe that sinners such as these—with the same penchant for error as the rest of us—collectively produced a volume that can be trusted?
One might even wonder how a book could at the same time be both of human and divine origin. Mechanical dictation (the view that the Bible’s human authors were totally passive and acted like a computer that converts voice input into typed words) has long been rejected as unsatisfactory (see Paché, 1969, pp. 66-70). The obvious stylistic differences between biblical writers have been the major objection to this view. In principle, the dictation view would be unable to alleviate the possibility of fallibility anyway, since it still requires some human involvement; if human involvement is inherently problematic, then anything short of God’s actually writing Scripture and handing it to humanity as a finished product would be suspect. The biblical writers do not shy away from ascribing human authorship to the Scriptures, which they viewed as of divine origin (Luke 24:27; Acts 4:25; 2 Peter 3:15). For them, human participation did not diminish Scripture’s divine authority (Acts 1:16; 2 Timothy 3:16; Mark 12:36; Matthew 19:4-5). Would their confidence have been so strong had they believed the Scriptures were fallible?
MUST HUMANS ERR?
Until recently all human beings were conceived within their mother’s body. With the advent of in vitro fertilization, we now know that being conceived within our mother’s body is a common property but not an essential one (1995, p. 269).
While sin certainly is a “common property,” it is not essential to humanity. In their original state, Adam and Eve were sinless. Yet, they were nonetheless fully human. Sin amounts to a departure from the ideal humanity God intended for us. Since sin is not inherent in the definition of “human,” human involvement in the writing of Scripture does not demand that it is fallible.
AN ANALOGY FROM THE LIVING WORD
Geisler, Norman and Ron Brooks, (1990), When Skeptics Ask (Wheaton, IL: Victor).
Harrison, R.K. (1969), Introduction to the Old Testament (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans).
O'Collins, Gerald, (1995), Christology (New York, NY: Oxford University Press).
Paché, René (1969), The Inspiration and Authority of Scripture (Chicago, IL: Moody).
Saucy, Robert L. (1995), “ ‘Sinners’ Who Are Forgiven or ‘Saints’ Who Sin?,” Bibliotheca Sacra, 152:400-412, October-December.
Dawkins Is An Atheist Because He Wants To Be
|by||Kyle Butt, M.Div.|
Richard Dawkins has become internationally famous for his caustic criticism of religion. He is an atheist, and he wishes everyone else would join his “enlightened” cadre of fellow non-believers. In The God Delusion, Dawkins declared the purpose of his book: “I am attacking God, all gods, anything and everything supernatural, wherever and whenever they have been or will be invented” (2006, p. 36).
Dawkins attempts to make atheism appealing by claiming that atheists are devoted to the truth, wherever it may lead. He stated: “We believe in evolution because the evidence supports it, and we would abandon it overnight if new evidence arose to disprove it. No real fundamentalist would ever say anything like that” (2006, p. 282). [NOTE: His statement is patently false, because the alleged evidence in support of evolution has been definitively disproved by many (Jackson, et al., 2007; Thompson, 2004.] Notice Dawkins’ rhetorical tactic, implying that atheists are unbiased, completely objective observers of facts.
In dealing with religious people, he suggests that their beliefs are tainted by what they desire to think or feel, and not by objective reasoning and observation. In his chapter titled “The Roots of Religion,” Dawkins attempted to discover the reason why people believe in an afterlife. He stated: “The idea of immortality itself survives and spreads because it caters to wishful thinking. And wishful thinking counts, because human psychology has a near-universal tendency to let belief be coloured by desire (‘Thy wish was father, Harry, to that thought’, as Henry IV Part II said to his son)” (2006, p. 190, emp. added).
A critical look at Dawkins’ reasoning reveals the pitfall into which he has plunged himself. Dawkins discounts belief in the afterlife because he claims that it is only held because people want to believe it. So why does Dawkins hold the belief that there is no god? Could it be the near-universal tendency to let his belief be colored by his desire? One can think of a host of reasons why an atheist would not want to believe in God. With God out of the picture, a person can behave how he wants, without feeling that he will ultimately be accountable for his actions. Without God, no regulations on sexual activity hinder a person’s unbridled lust. Furthermore, Dawkins’ atheistic writings and teachings have made him a very rich man. If there really is a God, and Dawkins wrote about His reality, what would separate Dawkins from so many other religious writers? Make no mistake, the concept of atheism is a very appealing, lucrative belief for Dawkins.
In some sense, Dawkins is right: most people let what they want to be true dictate what they believe. Many people hold false religious views because they desire to think or act in a certain way. But in at least one aspect of his thinking, Dawkins is tragically wrong. His atheistic belief is certainly not immune from this “near-universal” tendency. In fact, the Bible warned that atheism would survive only because of false belief based on a desire for godlessness. The apostle Peter wrote about scoffers who would deny God’s existence. Concerning these atheistic thinkers, Peter wrote: “For this they willfully forget: that by the word of God the heavens were of old” (2 Peter 3:5, emp. added).
Dawkins is an atheist—but not because he adheres to a dogged determination to follow the evidence where it leads. Dawkins is an atheist because he wants atheism to be true. His desire for godlessness has produced his “willful” ignorance of the evidence of God’s existence.
It should be the goal of every individual to jettison personal desires and strive for absolute truth. If a person truly does that, he or she will arrive at the inevitable conclusion that there is a God. The realization of and obedient adherence to this fact is the only thing that can truly make a person free (John 8:32).
Jackson, Wayne, Eric Lyons and Kyle Butt (2007), Surveying the Evidence (Montgomery, AL: Apologetics Press).
Thompson, Bert (2004), The Scientific Case for Creation (Montgomery, AL: Apologetics Press), [On-line], URL: http://www.apologeticspress.org/pdfs/e-books_pdf/scfc.pdf.
Could There Have Been Any Death Before the Fall?
|by||Jeff Miller, Ph.D.|
If the Bible is from God (and it is1), then we can know that it is accurate when discussing historical science. In order to interpret properly the natural evidence, then, one must know what the Bible teaches about the history of the Earth. There certainly are differing views about some of the particulars of the biblical Creation model, based on how one interprets certain passages. Some Scriptures are not explicit about precisely what happened at various times in Earth history (e.g., during the Creation week or during and immediately after the Flood). But the Creation scientist understands the importance of not contradicting Scripture when attempting to develop a comprehensive scientific model or framework within which all scientific disciplines must fit.That said, the question of when death on the Earth began can have implications that affect our understanding of various questions in Creation science. It is clear, biblically, that humans would not have died had they not sinned (Genesis 3:22), but what of the rest of the Creation? If animal death could occur before the Fall (i.e., before Adam and Eve’s first sin), for example, then we would have to assume that death was a design feature of the planet from the beginning, rather than being a part of the Curse placed upon the Earth as a result of the Fall (Genesis 3:17-19). This concept could affect creationists’ attempts to understand cases of so called “natural evil,” where, for example, various living things seem to have been designed to kill (e.g., parasitoids, pathogens, and phages). If all death was solely a result of the Fall, then we would assume that such cases of “natural evil” were not part of God’s original design, but were part of the Curse. If death could, in fact, occur prior to the Fall, then a different response to some forms of “natural evil” might be more relevant (e.g., microevolution and/or diversification, displacement from intended habitat, or degeneration), although some forms of “natural evil” still might have been directly due to the Curse.
Also, if death could occur before the Fall, there might be implications of that fact when we examine the fossil record. Creationists generally interpret the bulk of the fossils that are found at the base of the fossil record to be a result of the Flood, since it is thought to be the first major catastrophic event in Earth history. It is thought that only local catastrophes happened in the 16 centuries up to the Flood. If death could occur prior to the Fall, however, then there may be another catastrophic event of global proportions that could be relevant when studying the fossil record as well: day three.
According to Genesis chapter one, prior to day three of the Creation week, the Earth was covered with water. On day three, God created the dry land and then created grass, seed-bearing herbs, fruit trees—the plants. Swimming and flying creatures were created on day five, and finally, land life on day six. It is easy for us to read through this simplified narrative of what God did on those four days without stopping to consider the possible geologic implications of His activity. On day three, God said, “‘Let the waters under the heavens be gathered together into one place, and let the dry land appear’; and it was so” (Genesis 1:9). This passage may be saying that God, in essence, scraped the surface of the ocean floor, piling up a massive amount of Earth to cause some of it to be exposed from the water, forming land.2 If so, it seems likely that mudslides would have occurred over the next several hours and possibly days, due to the wet material from the ocean floor being raised in elevation and water rapidly running off the continental surface. This activity could have begun the fossilization process of some of the plants and aquatic creatures created on days three and five, respectively. There are other options that would not have caused such mudslides,3 but the point is that the Creation scientist must at least consider the possibility that the earliest fossils in the record were a result of day-three activity.
So could there have been death prior to the Fall? And if so, are there theological implications? First, we know that plants were certainly able to die before the Fall, because they were to serve as food for humans and animals throughout the Earth (Genesis 1:30). Nobody seems to dispute that truth. It is argued, however, that plants are not thought to be “alive” in the same sense as animals. Unlike animals and humans, plants are never described as being “living creatures” (nephesh chayyah).4 God seemed to be making a distinction between kinds of life in Genesis 1:30 when He said, “Also, to every beast of the Earth, to every bird of the air, and to everything that creeps on the Earth, in which there is life, I have given every green herb for food” (emp. added). While that is true, it is also true that plants can die in some sense (Job 14:7-12; John 12:24),5 which tells us that not all death must necessarily be regarded in a negative light.
It is true that Adam, Eve, the flying creatures, and the land animals were told by God originally to be herbivores (Genesis 1:29-30).6 So it is clear that it was not part of God’s original design plan for there to be bloodshed by the hand of another, at least among humans, birds, creeping things, and the “beast of the Earth” (apparently the land animals created on day six, Genesis 1:24-25,29-30). But that does not mean that catastrophic activity, natural disasters, or natural death could not have still killed animals. Some argue that God’s creation could not have been “very good” (Genesis 1:31) if animals could suffer and die, since the creation was perfect.7 But this assumes (1) that animals, which are soul-less beings,8 can truly suffer in the same way humans can; and (2) that the creation could not still be “very good” and there be death. We have already seen that due to the occurrence of pre-Fall plant death, the creation could still be deemed as “very good” by God, even with death occurring simultaneously. So the question then becomes, what did God mean by calling the creation “very good,” and what kind of death, if any, would not have been considered “very good” to God? It seems logical to infer that a “very good” creation simply meant that the created order was exactly as God intended for it to be, whatever that might be—death or no death. As one Creation scientist acknowledged concerning the pre-Fall world, “Although the pre-Fall world was ‘very good’ (Gen. 1:31), it was not ‘perfect’ (i.e., it did not exhibit every meaning of ‘perfect’).”9 What kind of death was a part of that “very good” creation must be gleaned, if possible, from the text.
It is argued that “Death is ‘the last enemy’ (1 Corinthians 15:26) which Jesus Christ came and died to defeat. And this would include animal death.”10 In the context of 1 Corinthians 15, however, Paul is not including animals in referencing the defeat of death, but rather, humans—those capable of sin (vs. 17).
Isaiah 11:6 is sometimes quoted as evidence that there was no animal death prior to the Fall.11 “The wolf also shall dwell with the lamb, the leopard shall lie down with the young goat, the calf and the young lion and the fatling together; and a little child shall lead them.” The claim is that in the end, God will restore on Earth the conditions that were in effect in the Garden, where animals were not violent towards one another. Once again, however, in context we see that Isaiah 11 is a Messianic prophecy (cf. vss. 1-5), discussing the coming of Jesus and His kingdom in the first century using highly figurative, not literal, terminology. As evidence, consider that in Romans 15:12, Paul quotes from Isaiah 11 and applies Isaiah’s prophecy to the first century, noting that the prophecy had already been fulfilled at that time.12 Isaiah may have simply been referring to the peace and harmony that would exist in the coming Church. In Christianity, for instance, those once viewed as predators—ferocious wolves, leopards, and young lions—are often found dwelling peaceably with those who would have once been their prey. If we understand Isaiah 11 to refer to the coming of Christ and the Christian dispensation, therefore, we could reasonably conclude that Isaiah’s prophecy was fulfilled when the Kingdom (i.e., the Church13) was established in Acts 2.14
It is also argued that God’s Curse after the Fall included the animals according to Genesis 3, and by implication, humanity’s death curse would have applied to the animals at that point as well.15 But that assertion is an assumption—the text does not say that was the case. Second, the serpent was, indeed, “cursed more than all cattle, and more than every beast of the field” (Genesis 3:14), implying that the animals were all cursed, though not as much as the serpent. But it is also true that the plants were included in the Curse as well (vss. 17-18), and we have already seen that they were capable of death prior to the Fall.
Arguments have been made from various passages that tell us death was a result of sin (Romans 5:12-21), that shedding blood is necessary for the remission of sin, but would not have been necessary, by implication, without sin (Hebrews 9:22), and that Christ’s physical death and resurrection made it possible for physical death, initiated by Adam and Eve, to be destroyed (1 Corinthians 15:21,22,26).16 Such passages, however, contextually, are talking about mankind, not animals, which are not imputed with sin. It is argued that Romans 8:19-22 indicates that the “whole creation”—which is thought to include the animals—suffers, groans, labors, and is under a bondage of corruption (vss. 21-22) due to man’s sin, and therefore, that the whole creation would not have so suffered prior to man’s sin—i.e., animals would not have suffered death.17 In the end, however, “the creation itself will be set free from its bondage to corruption and obtain the freedom of the glory of the children of God” (vs. 21, ESV), apparently returning to a pre-Fall state. Understand that there is considerable argument over the meaning of the word “creation” in Romans 8—whether or not it is referring to all of the created order, or merely humans. To base an entire argument on such a disputed passage would be unwise, to say the least. It could be argued from the context, that “creation” is referring to humans—the only ones who can “eagerly wait for the revealing of the sons of God” (Romans 8:19). More specifically, the “whole creation” (vs. 22) could be referring to mankind in general (which “labors with birth pangs,” referring back to the punishment which female humans would have due to Eve’s sin), while “creation” (vss. 19,20,21) could be referring to Christians—i.e., the “sons of God” whom Paul has been discussing in the preceding verses. After all, “whole creation” is used in precisely that way—to mean mankind in general—elsewhere in Scripture. In Mark 16:15 (ESV), for example, Jesus tells the apostles to go preach the gospel to the “whole creation,” which is another way of saying to “all nations” (Matthew 28:19) and does not include animals. Regardless, Romans 8 cannot be used as conclusive evidence that animals did not die prior to the Fall.
The hallmark passage that seems to be used to try to sustain the idea that death did not occur prior to Adam and Eve is Romans 5:12-19:
Therefore, just as through one man sin entered the world, and death through sin, and thus death spread to all men, because all sinned—(For until the law sin was in the world, but sin is not imputed when there is no law. Nevertheless death reigned from Adam to Moses…). Therefore, as through one man’s offense judgment came to all men, resulting in condemnation, even so through one Man’s righteous act the free gift came to all men, resulting in justification of life. For as by one man’s disobedience many were made sinners, so also by one Man’s obedience many will be made righteous (emp. added).Notice that, contextually, while this passage does discuss death as being a result of sin, it is clearly referring to humans and the effect of sin with regard to mankind, not animals. It was humans, not animals, that were made in the image of God (Genesis 1:27), giving them the capacity to sin.
A passage that provides weight to the viewpoint that animals could die prior to the Fall is Genesis 3:22-24. After Adam and Eve sinned and God confronted them, pronouncing their punishments and making modest clothes for them, the text says:
Then the Lord God said, “Behold, the man has become like one of Us, to know good and evil. And now, lest he put out his hand and take also of the Tree of Life, and eat, and live forever”—therefore the Lord God sent him out of the garden of Eden…and He placed cherubim at the east of the garden of Eden, and a flaming sword which turned every way, to guard the way to the Tree of Life (emp. added).Notice from this text that man’s ability to live forever was not a direct miraculous act by God, or something inherent in the physical body of mankind (i.e., part of God’s original design of the human body), but rather, was coupled with his eating from the Tree of Life, which apparently possessed miraculous healing qualities (cf. Revelation 22:2). The implication is that Adam and Eve could have still lived forever, even after sinning, if they were able to access the Tree of Life and eat from it. That is the very reason why God used cherubim and a flaming sword to guard Eden and the tree. A further implication is that physical death was always possible from the beginning for anyone (and apparently, anything) that did not eat of the Tree of Life —i.e., entropy or the Second Law of Thermodynamics was in place from the beginning, governing the Earth. Adam and Eve were able to eat from the anti-entropy tree and not be subject to the effects of the Second Law; but without it, the effects of God’s natural laws would have taken their course.
With that understanding in mind, what are the implications for the rest of the living beings on the planet? A straightforward reading of the text in Genesis 2:9 and 3:22,24 leads us to believe that God made and placed in the Garden a single fruit tree that, unlike the other fruit trees throughout the Garden that humans and living creatures could eat from, had physical life-giving qualities tied to it. Any living being that did not eat from that Tree would apparently eventually suffer physical death—hence, the name given to it: “the Tree of Life.”18 If so, could the animals which were created throughout the Earth, which could not reach the Tree of Life to eat it, live forever? Could the swimming creatures that God had created on day five eat from the tree? If not, then how could they live forever? What about all of the animals that God created, surely spread out over the Earth, playing the crucial roles for the Earth for which God designed them? Were they able to access the Tree of Life and live forever? Surely not. If we suppose that perhaps animals could live forever apart from the Tree of Life prior to the Fall, we would be going beyond the clear message of the text regarding the nature of the Tree. God seemed to want to emphasize in Scripture the fact that He tied eternal life to the Tree of Life.19 One would need more biblical evidence before arguing that the animals received eternal life apart from the Tree. If humans needed the Tree to live forever and were denied access to it after the Fall, it seems logical to conclude that the animals were affected in the same way.
The implication of the text seems clear on the matter: animals throughout the Earth, not made in the image of God, were never intended to live forever. They always had the ability to die, from the beginning. They were designed to die. Like plants, they were not made in the image of God. Their deaths are not in the same category of importance as that of humans. No wonder God, Himself, killed animals in order to clothe Adam and Eve properly (Genesis 3:21), even though there is no indication that those animals did anything to deserve death. It seems that animal death, like the “death” of a plant, is not a moral evil, but rather is part of God’s plan for animals. Notice God’s words to Noah and his sons after the Flood. After sanctioning the killing of animals as food for humans, God highlighted an important distinction: “Whoever sheds man’s blood, by man his blood shall be shed; for [i.e., because] in the image of God He made man” (Genesis 9:6, emp. added). Human death is said to be significant, because we, unlike animals, are like God.With this understanding about life and death in place, it becomes important to consider the possibility that some of the fossils in the record could have been from day-three activity. We can also see that some cases of “natural evil” among the animals may have been in place from the beginning. Calling such cases “natural evil” is, therefore, not appropriate. It cannot be said to be “evil” at all, if it was part of God’s design for those creatures all along.
The world was designed to serve as a “vale of soul-making”20 for humans. It was intended to prepare them for the afterlife, giving them an opportunity to make their choice about where they will spend eternity. A fundamental component of that design for the Universe is life and death. As part of our studies on Earth, while preparing for the afterlife, God seems to want us to understand life and death and their ramifications. We simply cannot escape death. Everywhere we look, whether by the naked eye or when studying bacteria under a microscope, we are reminded of mortality. It is clearly important to God for humans to acknowledge the reality of death. It appears that even before their first sin, Adam and Eve were capable of observing the evidence around them that death was a real thing—that God knew what He was talking about. They could know, by His mercy, they were not being subjected to death. They could understand the concept about which God was warning them: “in the day that you eat of it, you [also—JM] shall surely die” (Genesis 2:17). When they sat on an ant, it could die. When a sauropod dinosaur stepped on a snake, the snake was not protected from death by a force field. Rather, the dinosaur’s weight would most certainly crush it, in harmony with God’s natural laws.
A wise man certainly “regards the life of his animal” (Proverbs 12:10), but he also understands that humans are different from animals. According to Jesus, we are “of more value” than them (Matthew 6:26; 10:31; 12:12; Luke 12:24). Those who submit to the will of God in faith will be able to live forever, spiritually (John 3:16); but not the animals. They were never intended to live forever. They serve as a reminder that we should seek life (John 10:10).
Endnotes1 Kyle Butt (2007), Behold! The Word of God (Montgomery, AL: Apologetics Press).
2 NOTE: This is, no doubt, an oversimplification of what could have actually occurred on day three if God created land from sea floor material. God could have used basaltic rock from the base of the ocean to form the granitic rock that comprises much of the land continents today. Granitic rock is less dense, causing it to float higher in the mantle (exposing land), while the basaltic rock of the ocean floor tends to float lower in the mantle, lowering the sea level.
3 It is possible that the Earth was completely made of water to this point, and God created the infrastructure of the Earth on day three, including the core, mantle, and crust, from that water (2 Peter 3:5), rather than raising material from the sea floor. There would likely be no mudslides if He chose to create land in this way.
4 Ken Ham (2014), “Was There Death Before Adam Sinned?” Answers in Genesis On-line, April 25, https://answersingenesis.org/death-before-sin/was-there-death-before-adam-sinned/.
5 Jeff Miller (2012), “Did Jesus Contradict the Law of Biogenesis in John 12:24?” Apologetics Press, http://www.apologeticspress.org/APContent.aspx?category=106&article=1590.
6 Kenneth Ham (1991), “Adam and Ants,” Acts & Facts, 20.
7 Avery Foley (2015), “Did Adam Step on an Ant Before the Fall?” Answers in Genesis On-line, December 4, https://answersingenesis.org/death-before-sin/did-adam-step-on-an-ant-before-fall/.
8 Bert Thompson (2001), The Origin, Nature, & Destiny of the Soul (Montgomery, AL: Apologetics Press), http://www.apologeticspress.org/pdfs/e-books_pdf/onds.pdf.
9 K.P. Wise (2014), “Spectra of Perfection: A Case for Biological Imperfection before the Fall,” Journal of Creation Theology and Science Series B: Life Sciences, 4:28, emp. added.
12 Bible scholar Homer Hailey highlighted that Isaiah 1l:10 is quoted by Paul “and applied to the present time under Christ in which the Gentiles hope in Him (Rom. 15:12). If the prophecy is not now fulfilled, the Gentiles have no hope. But they abound in hope at this present time (Rom. 15:13); therefore, the passage is now fulfilled.” (2006), Prayer and Providence (Las Vegas, NV: Nevada Publications), pp. 177-178.
13 Matthew 16:18-19; Daniel 2:31-44.14 Mark 9:1; Colossians 1:13; Revelation 1:9; Matthew 3:2; 4:17; 10:7.
16 Ibid.; Ham (1991).
18 Why would God give it that name if its purpose was not to sustain life? Further, if living beings could live forever without the Tree of Life, what would be the point of the Tree?
19 Genesis 2:9; 3:22,24; Revelation 2:7; 22:2,14.
20 John Keats (1895), The Letters of John Keats, ed. H. Buxton Forman (London: Reeves & Turner), p. 326.
The Messiah--Person or Ideal?
|by||Wayne Jackson, M.A.|
Harold Kushner is one of the most prominent Jewish voices in America today. Almost invariably, whenever the Hebrew point of view is desired, the news media solicit his opinions and publicize them widely. This Jewish leader has attracted considerable attention over the past couple of decades as a result of several controversial books he has authored.
In 1971 Kushner produced a book titled, When Children Ask About God. In this volume the famous “rabbi” offered advice to parents about how to cope with their children’s “fears, fantasies, and religious needs.” It is difficult to imagine a literary production that contains more error per square inch of space. As one surveys the pages of this work, he is reminded of the admonition of another Hebrew writer—one almost twenty centuries ago. A divine penman suggested that there are some, who by reason of time ought to be teachers, but who have need that someone teach them their ABCs all over again (Hebrews 5:12).
Consider, for example, Kushner’s observation regarding the term “Messiah.” He has written: “Today, few people still look for a person, called the Messiah, to appear and change the world.” He goes on to assert that the idea of “Messiah” arose in ancient times because people grew tired of unjust rulers, and so they longed for an ideal ruler to come and deliver them. He concluded by suggesting that the term “Messiah” merely embodies an “age” when “all the people will agree on what the world needs.”
Kushner’s view has no basis whatsoever in fact. There is not the slightest evidence in the Old Testament that his opinion regarding the Messiah is valid. Rather, this prominent scholar’s view is the result of his own skeptical inclinations regarding the Hebrew Scriptures. In fact, Kushner even goes so far as to deny that God is a person.
But what of Kushner’s idea concerning the Messiah? Let us reflect upon this momentarily. The notion that the Messiah is but an “ideal” is negated thoroughly by a consideration of the test of the Old Testament Scriptures. No better refutation can be found than that which is detailed in the book of Isaiah, chapter 53. This marvelous section of divine literature is a galaxy of prophetic testimony regarding the nature of the Messiah, Who, incidentally, is identified specifically in the New Testament as Jesus Christ (see John 4:25-26). Consider these crucial points in this regard.
First, there is ample historical evidence that the early Jews, both before and after the birth of Jesus, believed that Isaiah 53 was Messianic in its import. It was only after the early Christians began to use it as an apologetic for their claim that Jesus of Nazareth was this Messiah that novel (i.e., nonpersonal) views of the passage became vogue.
Second, anyone who is able to read this chapter with reasonable skill can see clearly that a person is the object of the prophet’s oracle. Verse 2, for example, reads: “For he [the Messiah] grew up before him [God] as a tender plant.” Again: “He was despised, and rejected of men.” Count the personal pronouns referring to the Messiah that are employed within this chapter. Aside from rationalistic bias, there is no compelling reason whatsoever for denying that a real person is being described here.
In the New Testament, Paul spoke of certain Jews who refused to believe in Jesus as the Christ because of the “veil” that shrouded their hearts (2 Corinthians 3:15). Mr. Kushner is of that sort. There is ample evidence that the Messianic hope is fulfilled gloriously in Jesus Christ, the Son of God.
Ancient Nitwits or Knowledgeable Ancestors?
|by||Eric Lyons, M.Min.|
Were our forefathers the ignorant, unlearned nitwits that many evolutionists today make them out to be? Did they resemble the brutish, club-carrying cavemen that Hollywood movies show—savages who communicated by using grunts and groans rather than real language? Absolutely not!
Research shows that many of our ancestors were very intelligent. Take, for instance, the ancient Egyptians. More than 4,000 years ago, they built great pyramid-shaped “tombs” in which to bury their dead kings. One of these tombs, known as the Great Pyramid, stood nearly 500 feet high (almost as tall as the Washington Monument—the tallest stone structure in the world!) The Great Pyramid was made of over two million blocks of stone that had to be cut, transported, and assembled to create the almost six-million-ton structure. To this day, modern man still does not know exactly how the Egyptians built these great pyramids.
The ancient Mayans are another example of our “finely tuned” forefathers. More than one thousand years before astronomers found that the length of a year was precisely 365.2422 days, the Mayans (without computers or modern measuring devices) calculated it to be 365.2420 days long. They also figured the orbit of Venus to be 584 days, when current science shows it at 583.92 days. Without question, the Mayans were an intelligent people.
As you would expect, the Bible verifies these types of historical facts. By reading just the first six chapters of Genesis, we learn that: (1) Adam was created with the ability to speak a language (naming all of the animals God brought to him the very day of his creation—2:19); (2) Jubal, one of Cain’s descendents, “was the father of all those who play the harp and flute” (4:21); (3) Tubal-Cain, Jubal’s half-brother, formed tools out of bronze and iron (4:22); and (4) Noah built an ark bigger than many modern-day cruise ships. Furthermore, Job chapter 28 indicates that our early forefathers were capable of tunneling through rock, and mining precious metals from deep within the Earth. All of these things were accomplished without modern-day power tools or lightening-fast computers.
Truth be told, our ancestors were no dummies; man has been intelligent since the beginning of time. God made us that way. He created us in His own image (Genesis 1:26-27), and crowned us with glory and honor (Psalm 8:5).
California’s Continual War Against Biblical Values
|by||Eric Lyons, M.Min.|
In October 2009, California passed a law that designated every May 22 as gay day, which public schools (K-12) are expected to celebrate. [The day is officially called “Harvey Milk Day” in honor of Mr. Milk, a 1970s homosexual activist (Tran, 2009).] On July 14, 2011, California Governor Jerry Brown signed a bill into law that “require[s] public schools in the state [of California—EL] to teach students about the contributions of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender Americans” (“California Governor…,” 2011, emp. added). What else do California lawmakers have in store for their state?
Earlier this year (2012), California State Senator Ted Lieu authored a bill (SB 1172) that would ban “gay cure” therapy. According to Examiner.com, “The California State Legislature appears to be on the brink of sending Governor Jerry Brown a bill which would impose sanctions for providing professional help intent upon redirecting children’s behavior with regards to sexuality” (Wimer, 2012). This would be “a first-of-its-kind state law that would restrict parents from trying to ‘cure’ their minor children’s same-sex attractions” by taking them to Christian therapists (Crogan, 2012). According to Senator Lieu, “We (the government) intervene all the time to restrict the rights of individuals and parents regarding health issues” (e.g., laws prohibiting minors from purchasing tobacco products and alcohol), so why not step in to stop something that he and others deem unnecessary and damaging (Crogan)?
The bill to ban homosexual therapy in California is simply the latest example of how far the homosexual community (and those who represent them) will go to silence the opposition. One cannot help but wonder what the next step will be? If a Christian therapist in California can no longer counsel a teenager about the sinfulness of homosexual actions and ways to overcome homosexual feelings (cf. 1 Corinthians 6:9-11), how much longer will preachers be able to preach on the sinfulness of it without being prosecuted? How long will it be before DHS knocks on the door of a Christian family and threatens to take away the children if the parents do not discontinue spreading so-called “hate speech” in their home? Where will the intrusion on Christian families who believe in the all-authoritative Word of God end (cf. Romans 1:26-27)?
If SB 1172 is signed into law in California, one also wonders if parents will legally be able to get professional help from Christian counselors regarding the sinfulness of pornography, fornication, pedophilia, bestiality, or some other sexual sin. Again, where will the slippery slope end?
Senator Lieu stated that at least part of his motivation for sponsoring the bill was because he “wanted parents to understand that this therapy is,” according to him, “crazy” (Wimer, 2012). In actuality, what is “crazy” (spiritually speaking) is rejecting God’s will about the sinfulness of all sexual relationships outside of a scriptural marriage between one man and one woman (Matthew 19:1-10). What is foolish is calling “vile,” “shameful…lust” (Romans 1:26-27; cf. Miller and Harrub, 2004) normal and incapable of being controlled.
Two thousand years ago, Peter and John were commanded by Jewish officials “not to speak at all nor teach in the name of Jesus” (Acts 4:18). Their response needs to be echoed from roof tops across America as various governing bodies continue to encroach on our religious freedoms. “Whether it is right in the sight of God to listen to you more than to God, you judge. For we cannot but speak the things which we have seen and heard” (Acts 4:20, emp. added).
Do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived. Neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor homosexuals, nor sodomites…will inherit the kingdom of God. And such were some of you. But you were washed, but you were sanctified, but you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus and by the Spirit of our God (1 Corinthians 6:9-11).
REFERENCES“California Governor Signs Bill Requiring Schools to Teach Gay History” (2011), CNN, http://articles.cnn.com/2011-07-14/us/california.LGBT.education_1_california-governor-signs-bill-gay-history-state-textbooks?_s=PM:US.
Crogan, Jim (2012), “California Law Barring Parents from ‘Curing’ Gay Children Moves Through Legislature,” Fox News, August 18, http://www.foxnews.com/politics/2012/08/18/california-law-barring-parents-from-curing-gay-children-moves-through/.
Miller, Dave and Brad Harrub (2004), “An Investigation of the Biblical Evidence Against Homosexuality,” Apologetics Press, http://www.apologeticspress.org/apPubPage.aspx?pub=1&issue=557.
Tran, Mark (2009), “Arnold Schwarzenegger Signs Law Establishing Harvey Milk Day,” October 13, http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2009/oct/13/schwarzenneger-law-harvey-milk-day.
Wimer, Keith (2012), “California Senate Bill 1172 Outlaws Counseling for Homosexual Minors,” August 19, http://www.examiner.com/article/california-senate-bill-1172-outlaws-counseling-for-homosexual-minors.
"No One has Ascended to Heaven"by Eric Lyons, M.Min.
When Jesus spoke to Nicodemus regarding the need to be “born again” (John 3:1-8), He also sought to impress upon the mind of this ruler of the Jews that His words were from above. Jesus spoke of spiritual things that no man knew (Matthew 13:35; cf. 7:28-29; Luke 2:47). One of the reasons Jesus gave for being able to expound on such spiritual truths is found in John 3:13. Here, the apostle John recorded Jesus as having said to Nicodemus, “No one has ascended to heaven but He who came down from heaven, that is, the Son of Man” (John 3:13). According to the skeptic, this statement by Jesus is severely flawed. Since the Old Testament reveals that Elijah escaped physical death and “went up by a whirlwind into heaven” (2 Kings 2:11; cf. Genesis 5:24; Hebrews 11:5), allegedly Jesus could not truthfully tell Nicodemus, “No one has ascended to heaven.” Is the skeptic right?
For Jesus’ statement to contradict what the Bible says about Elijah, one first must presuppose that Jesus was referring to the exact same place to which Elijah ascended. For a contradiction to exist between two Bible passages, one must prove that the one doing the speaking (or writing) is referring to the same person, place, or thing (see Jevons, 1928, p. 118). Can the skeptic be certain that the “heaven” to which Jesus referred, is the same one into which the body of Elijah ascended? The words “heaven” or “heavens” appear in our English Bibles about 700 times. And yet, in many of the passages where “heaven(s)” is found, the inspired writers were not discussing the spiritual heaven with which we most often associate the word. For example, in Genesis 1 and 2, the Hebrew word for heaven appears 15 times in 14 verses. Yet in every instance, the word is referring to something besides the spiritual heaven where God dwells. The word “heaven” (Hebrew shamayim, Greek ouranos) is used by Bible writers in basically three different ways. It is used to refer to the atmospheric heavens in which the airplanes fly, the birds soar, and the clouds gather (Genesis 1:20; Jeremiah 4:25; Matthew 6:26, ASV). “Heaven(s)” also is used in the Bible when referring to the firmament where we find the Sun, Moon, and stars—the sidereal heavens, or outer space (Genesis 1:14-15; Psalm 19:4,6; Isaiah 13:10). The third “heaven” frequently mentioned in Scripture is the spiritual heaven in which Jehovah dwells (Psalm 2:4; Hebrews 9:24), and where, one day, the faithful will live forevermore (Revelation 21:18-23; John 14:1-3; cf. 2 Corinthians 12:2-3). [NOTE: The word “firmament” (meaning expanse) is used in the same three ways “heaven” is used. Thus, what is said about heaven also can be said of the firmament (cf. Genesis 1:20; Genesis 1:17; Psalm 150:1).] The context of John 3 clearly indicates that Jesus is referring to the spiritual heavens wherein God dwells (cf. John 3:27). 2 Kings 2:11, however, is not as clear. The writer of 2 Kings easily could have meant that the body of Elijah miraculously ascended up high into the air never to been seen by anyone on Earth again. Nowhere does the text indicate that he left Earth at that moment to dwell in God’s presence. He definitely went somewhere, but we have no evidence that he was transferred to the actual throne room of God Almighty.
The Bible indicates that when God’s faithful servants leave this Earth, their spirits are taken to dwell in a place referred to as paradise (or “the bosom of Abraham”—Luke 16:19-31). Recall when Jesus was fastened to the cross, and told the penitent thief, “Today, you will be with Me in Paradise” (Luke 23:43). The word paradise is of Persian derivation, and means a “garden” or “park.” Where was it that Jesus and the thief went? Neither of them went to heaven to be with God the Father on that very day, for in John 20:17 after His resurrection, Jesus reassured Mary that He had not yet ascended to the Father. So where did Jesus and the thief go after dying on the cross? Peter gave the answer to that question in his sermon in Acts 2 when he quoted Psalm 16. Acts 2:27 states that God would not abandon Christ’s soul in hades, nor allow Christ to undergo decay. So while Christ’s body was placed in a tomb for three days, Christ’s spirit went to hades. [NOTE: The word hades occurs ten times in the New Testament, and always refers to the unseen realm of the dead—the receptacle of disembodied spirits where all people who die await for the Lord’s return and judgment. One part of hades, where Jesus and the thief went, is known as paradise.] Peter argued that David, who penned Psalm 16, was not referring to himself, since David’s body was still in the tomb (Acts 2:29), and his spirit was still in the hadean realm (Acts 2:34). Acts 2 indicates that a faithful servant of God does not go directly to be with God the Father when he dies; rather, he goes to a holding place in hades known as paradise—the same place where Abraham went after he died (Luke 16), and the same place where the spirit of Elijah went after he was caught up from the Earth. In short, the Bible does not teach that Elijah left Earth to begin immediately dwelling in the presence of the Father (where Jesus was before His incarnation—John 1:1). Thus, technically he did not ascend to the “place” whence Jesus came.
For the sake of argument, consider for a moment that the skeptic is right, and that Elijah’s spirit did not go to paradise, but was taken to dwell in the very presence of God. Could Jesus still have made the statement He did, and yet not be inaccurate? I believe so. Notice again the response to Nicodemus’ question, “How can these things be?” Jesus said: “If I have told you earthly things and you do not believe, how will you believe if I tell you heavenly things? No one has ascended to heaven but He who came down from heaven, that is, the Son of Man” (John 3:12-13, emp. added). It may be that Jesus meant nothing more than that no one has ever gone up to heaven “by his own act” or “on his own terms” (see Bullinger, 1888, pp. 281-282). Elijah and Enoch had been taken by God, which is different than freely ascending up into heaven on one’s own terms. Furthermore, Jesus’ words, “No one has ascended to heaven,” also could have meant that no one has ever gone up into heaven to then return and speak firsthand about what he saw, and to spread the same saving message that Jesus preached. Jesus was emphasizing to Nicodemus how no one on Earth at that time was revealing such spiritual truths as Christ was, because no one ever had ascended to heaven to then return and talk about what he had seen and learned. Such seems to have been the main point Jesus was making in John 3:13. No one on Earth had seen what Jesus had seen, and thus could not teach what He taught.
Truly, the skeptic’s accusation that Jesus either lied or was mistaken regarding his comment to Nicodemus about no one having ascended to heaven, is unsubstantiated. Perhaps the word heaven used in 2 Kings 2:11 was not meant to convey the idea of the spiritual heavens in which God dwells. Or, considering the Bible’s teaching on departed spirits of the righteous being in a holding place known as paradise, and not in the actual presence of Almighty God, Jesus could have meant that no person has ever ascended to the throne room of God from which He came. Furthermore, it also is interesting to note that Nicodemus, being “a man of the Pharisees” (John 3:1), and thus one who would have been very well acquainted with the details of the Old Testament, did not respond to Jesus by saying, “Wait a minute Rabbi. What about Elijah and Enoch? Isn’t it written in the law and prophets that they ascended to heaven?” Surely, had Jesus contradicted something in the law and the prophets, it would have been brought to His attention, especially by a Pharisee. Yet, the apostle John never records such a statement.
Admittedly, at first glance, it might appear as if the statements, “Elijah went up by a whirlwind into heaven” (2 Kings 2:11), and, “No man has ascended to heaven” (John 3:13), are contradictory. However, when a person considers all of the possible solutions to the alleged problem, he must admit that such an interpretation is unjustified.
REFERENCESBullinger, E.W. (1898), Figures of Speech Used in the Bible (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker, 1968 reprint).
Jevons, W. Stanley (1928), Elementary Lessons in Logic (London: Macmillan).
God speaks to manWhen God speaks we should be listening. We should by all means be tuned in, on the right wave length, to receive, assimilate and translate into obedient action whatever instruction or admonition God sends our way.
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
Published in The Old Paths Archive
Bible Reading October 13 (WEB)
Pro 12:1 Whoever loves correction loves knowledge, but he who hates reproof is stupid.
Pro 12:2 A good man shall obtain favor from Yahweh, but he will condemn a man of wicked devices.
Pro 12:3 A man shall not be established by wickedness, but the root of the righteous shall not be moved.
Pro 12:4 A worthy woman is the crown of her husband, but a disgraceful wife is as rottenness in his bones.
Pro 12:5 The thoughts of the righteous are just, but the advice of the wicked is deceitful.
Pro 12:6 The words of the wicked are about lying in wait for blood, but the speech of the upright rescues them.
Pro 12:7 The wicked are overthrown, and are no more, but the house of the righteous shall stand.
Pro 12:8 A man shall be commended according to his wisdom, but he who has a warped mind shall be despised.
Pro 12:9 Better is he who is lightly esteemed, and has a servant, than he who honors himself, and lacks bread.
Pro 12:10 A righteous man regards the life of his animal, but the tender mercies of the wicked are cruel.
Pro 12:11 He who tills his land shall have plenty of bread, but he who chases fantasies is void of understanding.
Pro 12:12 The wicked desires the plunder of evil men, but the root of the righteous flourishes.
Pro 12:13 An evil man is trapped by sinfulness of lips, but the righteous shall come out of trouble.
Pro 12:14 A man shall be satisfied with good by the fruit of his mouth. The work of a man's hands shall be rewarded to him.
Pro 12:15 The way of a fool is right in his own eyes, but he who is wise listens to counsel.
Pro 12:16 A fool shows his annoyance the same day, but one who overlooks an insult is prudent.
Pro 12:17 He who is truthful testifies honestly, but a false witness lies.
Pro 12:18 There is one who speaks rashly like the piercing of a sword, but the tongue of the wise heals.
Pro 12:19 Truth's lips will be established forever, but a lying tongue is only momentary.
Pro 12:20 Deceit is in the heart of those who plot evil, but joy comes to the promoters of peace.
Pro 12:21 No mischief shall happen to the righteous, but the wicked shall be filled with evil.
Pro 12:22 Lying lips are an abomination to Yahweh, but those who do the truth are his delight.
Pro 12:23 A prudent man keeps his knowledge, but the hearts of fools proclaim foolishness.
Pro 12:24 The hands of the diligent ones shall rule, but laziness ends in slave labor.
Pro 12:25 Anxiety in a man's heart weighs it down, but a kind word makes it glad.
Pro 12:26 A righteous person is cautious in friendship, but the way of the wicked leads them astray.
Pro 12:27 The slothful man doesn't roast his game, but the possessions of diligent men are prized.
Pro 12:28 In the way of righteousness is life; in its path there is no death.
Pro 13:1 A wise son listens to his father's instruction, but a scoffer doesn't listen to rebuke.
Pro 13:2 By the fruit of his lips, a man enjoys good things; but the unfaithful crave violence.
Pro 13:3 He who guards his mouth guards his soul. One who opens wide his lips comes to ruin.
Pro 13:4 The soul of the sluggard desires, and has nothing, but the desire of the diligent shall be fully satisfied.
Pro 13:5 A righteous man hates lies, but a wicked man brings shame and disgrace.
Pro 13:6 Righteousness guards the way of integrity, but wickedness overthrows the sinner.
Pro 13:7 There are some who pretend to be rich, yet have nothing. There are some who pretend to be poor, yet have great wealth.
Pro 13:8 The ransom of a man's life is his riches, but the poor hear no threats.
Pro 13:9 The light of the righteous shines brightly, but the lamp of the wicked is snuffed out.
Pro 13:10 Pride only breeds quarrels, but with ones who take advice is wisdom.
Pro 13:11 Wealth gained dishonestly dwindles away, but he who gathers by hand makes it grow.
Pro 13:12 Hope deferred makes the heart sick, but when longing is fulfilled, it is a tree of life.
Pro 13:13 Whoever despises instruction will pay for it, but he who respects a command will be rewarded.
Pro 13:14 The teaching of the wise is a spring of life, to turn from the snares of death.
Pro 13:15 Good understanding wins favor; but the way of the unfaithful is hard.
Pro 13:16 Every prudent man acts from knowledge, but a fool exposes folly.
Pro 13:17 A wicked messenger falls into trouble, but a trustworthy envoy gains healing.
Pro 13:18 Poverty and shame come to him who refuses discipline, but he who heeds correction shall be honored.
Pro 13:19 Longing fulfilled is sweet to the soul, but fools detest turning from evil.
Pro 13:20 One who walks with wise men grows wise, but a companion of fools suffers harm.
Pro 13:21 Misfortune pursues sinners, but prosperity rewards the righteous.
Pro 13:22 A good man leaves an inheritance to his children's children, but the wealth of the sinner is stored for the righteous.
Pro 13:23 An abundance of food is in poor people's fields, but injustice sweeps it away.
Pro 13:24 One who spares the rod hates his son, but one who loves him is careful to discipline him.
Pro 13:25 The righteous one eats to the satisfying of his soul, but the belly of the wicked goes hungry.
Pro 14:1 Every wise woman builds her house, but the foolish one tears it down with her own hands.
Pro 14:2 He who walks in his uprightness fears Yahweh, but he who is perverse in his ways despises him.
Pro 14:3 The fool's talk brings a rod to his back, but the lips of the wise protect them.
Pro 14:4 Where no oxen are, the crib is clean, but much increase is by the strength of the ox.
Pro 14:5 A truthful witness will not lie, but a false witness pours out lies.
Pro 14:6 A scoffer seeks wisdom, and doesn't find it, but knowledge comes easily to a discerning person.
Pro 14:7 Stay away from a foolish man, for you won't find knowledge on his lips.
Pro 14:8 The wisdom of the prudent is to think about his way, but the folly of fools is deceit.
Pro 14:9 Fools mock at making atonement for sins, but among the upright there is good will.
Pro 14:10 The heart knows its own bitterness and joy; he will not share these with a stranger.
Pro 14:11 The house of the wicked will be overthrown, but the tent of the upright will flourish.
Pro 14:12 There is a way which seems right to a man, but in the end it leads to death.
Pro 14:13 Even in laughter the heart may be sorrowful, and mirth may end in heaviness.
Pro 14:14 The unfaithful will be repaid for his own ways; likewise a good man will be rewarded for his ways.
Pro 14:15 A simple man believes everything, but the prudent man carefully considers his ways.
Pro 14:16 A wise man fears, and shuns evil, but the fool is hotheaded and reckless.
Pro 14:17 He who is quick to become angry will commit folly, and a crafty man is hated.
Pro 14:18 The simple inherit folly, but the prudent are crowned with knowledge.
Pro 14:19 The evil bow down before the good, and the wicked at the gates of the righteous.
Pro 14:20 The poor person is shunned even by his own neighbor, but the rich person has many friends.
Pro 14:21 He who despises his neighbor sins, but blessed is he who has pity on the poor.
Pro 14:22 Don't they go astray who plot evil? But love and faithfulness belong to those who plan good.
Pro 14:23 In all hard work there is profit, but the talk of the lips leads only to poverty.
Pro 14:24 The crown of the wise is their riches, but the folly of fools crowns them with folly.
Pro 14:25 A truthful witness saves souls, but a false witness is deceitful.
Pro 14:26 In the fear of Yahweh is a secure fortress, and he will be a refuge for his children.
Pro 14:27 The fear of Yahweh is a fountain of life, turning people from the snares of death.
Pro 14:28 In the multitude of people is the king's glory, but in the lack of people is the destruction of the prince.
Pro 14:29 He who is slow to anger has great understanding, but he who has a quick temper displays folly.
Pro 14:30 The life of the body is a heart at peace, but envy rots the bones.
Pro 14:31 He who oppresses the poor shows contempt for his Maker, but he who is kind to the needy honors him.
Pro 14:32 The wicked is brought down in his calamity, but in death, the righteous has a refuge.
Pro 14:33 Wisdom rests in the heart of one who has understanding, and is even made known in the inward part of fools.
Pro 14:34 Righteousness exalts a nation, but sin is a disgrace to any people.
Pro 14:35 The king's favor is toward a servant who deals wisely, but his wrath is toward one who causes shame.
Eph 4:1 I therefore, the prisoner in the Lord, beg you to walk worthily of the calling with which you were called,
Eph 4:2 with all lowliness and humility, with patience, bearing with one another in love;
Eph 4:3 being eager to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.
Eph 4:4 There is one body, and one Spirit, even as you also were called in one hope of your calling;
Eph 4:5 one Lord, one faith, one baptism,
Eph 4:6 one God and Father of all, who is over all, and through all, and in us all.
Eph 4:7 But to each one of us was the grace given according to the measure of the gift of Christ.
Eph 4:8 Therefore he says, "When he ascended on high, he led captivity captive, and gave gifts to men."
Eph 4:9 Now this, "He ascended," what is it but that he also first descended into the lower parts of the earth?
Eph 4:10 He who descended is the one who also ascended far above all the heavens, that he might fill all things.
Eph 4:11 He gave some to be apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, shepherds and teachers;
Eph 4:12 for the perfecting of the saints, to the work of serving, to the building up of the body of Christ;
Eph 4:13 until we all attain to the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a full grown man, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ;
Eph 4:14 that we may no longer be children, tossed back and forth and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, in craftiness, after the wiles of error;
Eph 4:15 but speaking truth in love, we may grow up in all things into him, who is the head, Christ;
Eph 4:16 from whom all the body, being fitted and knit together through that which every joint supplies, according to the working in measure of each individual part, makes the body increase to the building up of itself in love.
Eph 4:17 This I say therefore, and testify in the Lord, that you no longer walk as the rest of the Gentiles also walk, in the futility of their mind,
Eph 4:18 being darkened in their understanding, alienated from the life of God, because of the ignorance that is in them, because of the hardening of their hearts;
Eph 4:19 who having become callous gave themselves up to lust, to work all uncleanness with greediness.
Eph 4:20 But you did not learn Christ that way;
Eph 4:21 if indeed you heard him, and were taught in him, even as truth is in Jesus:
Eph 4:22 that you put away, as concerning your former way of life, the old man, that grows corrupt after the lusts of deceit;
Eph 4:23 and that you be renewed in the spirit of your mind,
Eph 4:24 and put on the new man, who in the likeness of God has been created in righteousness and holiness of truth.
Eph 4:25 Therefore, putting away falsehood, speak truth each one with his neighbor. For we are members of one another.
Eph 4:26 "Be angry, and don't sin." Don't let the sun go down on your wrath,
Eph 4:27 neither give place to the devil.
Eph 4:28 Let him who stole steal no more; but rather let him labor, working with his hands the thing that is good, that he may have something to give to him who has need.
Eph 4:29 Let no corrupt speech proceed out of your mouth, but such as is good for building up as the need may be, that it may give grace to those who hear.
Eph 4:30 Don't grieve the Holy Spirit of God, in whom you were sealed for the day of redemption.
Eph 4:31 Let all bitterness, wrath, anger, outcry, and slander, be put away from you, with all malice.
Eph 4:32 And be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving each other, just as God also in Christ forgave you.