5/25/17

"THE EPISTLE TO THE ROMANS" Called To Be Saints (1:7) by Mark Copeland

                      "THE EPISTLE TO THE ROMANS"

                       Called To Be Saints (1:7)

INTRODUCTION

1. In his epistle to the Romans, Paul said he was "called to be an
   apostle" - Ro 1:1
   a. I.e., he was summoned to be an apostle, one sent by Jesus for a
      special purpose
   b. That purpose involved the gospel, which Paul was sent to proclaim
      to the nations - Ro 1:1,5

2. All Christians likewise have their "calling"...
   a. We are the "called of Jesus Christ" - Ro 1:6
   b. We are "called to be saints" - Ro 1:7

3. The term "saint" is frequently misunderstood and misapplied...
   a. One might get the wrong impression of what Paul is saying
   b. A proper understanding is important, serving as motivation for
      proper conduct

[So let us ask our first question:  What is a "saint"...?]

I. THE DEFINITION OF A SAINT

   A. ONE SET APART, CONSECRATED, HOLY ONE...
      1. "The word mean set apart, consecrated, sacred...In the NT the
         word hagios, when used as a noun, usually refers to members of
         the...church.  All believers are called 'saints,' even when
         their character is dubiously holy." - Zondervan Pictorial Encyclopedia
      2. "A NT believer, belonging exclusively to God.  The saints are
         the church, people called out of the world to be God's own
         people." - Zondervan Topical Bible
      3. "Set apart for God, to be, as it were, exclusively His...this
         appellation is very often in the NT transferred to Christians,
         as those whom God has selected out of the world" - Thayer
      4. "It is used of men and things in so far as they are devoted to
         God.  These are called hagoi, saints, i.e., 'sanctified' or
         'holy ones.'  This sainthood is not an attainment, it is a
         state into which God in grace calls men" - Vine

   B. APPLIED TO ALL CHRISTIANS...
      1. Summarizing what these sources say, a "saint" is:
         a. A Christian, a member of the body of Christ
         b. As such, Christians are considered by God to be...
            1) Set apart, holy
            2) Consecrated for His purpose
      2. A quick survey of the NT confirms this definition and use of the term "saint"
         a. Addressing those in various congregations 
             - Ro 1:7; 1Co 1:2; 2Co 1:1; Ep 1:1; Php 1:1; Col 1:2
         b. Describing the subjects of brotherly love - Ep 1:15; Col 1:4; Phm 4-7
      3. A "saint" is not some super-spiritual Christian...
         a. Now dead and having lived a long time ago
         b. Who is canonized and venerated as an object of worship
      -- Indeed, every Christian is a saint!

[However, we find both now and then that not all Christians behave like
saints.  This raises the question: How should saints live...?]

II. THE LIFE OF A SAINT

   A. AS DESCRIBED IN EPHESIANS...
      1. Saints should live in a manner worthy of their calling - Ep 4:1
         a. Walking in unity - cf. Ep 4:1-16
         b. Walking in truth - cf. Ep 4:17-32
         c. Walking in love - cf. Ep 5:1-7
         d. Walking in light - cf. Ep 5:8-14
         e. Walking in wisdom - cf. Ep 5:15-17
      2. Saints should avoid things not befitting their calling - Ep 5: 3-4
         a. Fornication, uncleanness, covetousness
         b. Filthiness, foolish talking, coarse jesting
      -- Saints strive to live this way; they do not always live up to their calling

   B. AS DESCRIBED IN COLOSSIANS...
      1. Saints should be filled with the knowledge of God's will - Co 1:9
         a. Involves a good knowledge of the Bible
         b. Accompanied by wisdom and understanding (via prayer - Ja 1:5)
      2. Saints are to walk worthy of the Lord - Col 1:10
         a. We are called to be Christians as well as saints - cf. Ac 11:26
         b. Our behavior should properly reflect the One whose name we wear!
      3. Saints are to fully please Him - Col 1:10
         a. By being fruitful in every good work
         b. By increasing in the knowledge of God
      4. Saints are to be strengthened with all might - Col 1:11
         a. According to God's glorious power - cf. Ep 3:16,20; 6:10,13
         b. For all patience and longsuffering with joy
      5. Saints are to give thanks to the Father - Col 1:12-14
         a. He has qualified us to be partakers of the inheritance of saints
         b. He has delivered us from the power of darkness
         c. He has conveyed us into the kingdom of the Son of His love
         d. He has provided redemption and forgiveness of sins, through
            His Son's blood
      -- The epistles were written to saints; from them we learn how
         saints ought to live!

[We noted that one reason saints are to be thankful is because God has
qualified us to partakers of "the inheritance of the saints".  This
raises a third question:  What is the hope of saints...?]

III. THE HOPE OF A SAINT

   A. RICH AND GLORIOUS...
      1. Which Paul wanted the saints at Ephesus to know - Ep 1:18
      2. Which involves the exceeding riches of God's grace - Ep 2:7
      3. Which is presently reserved in heaven for us - 1Pe 1:4
      -- Paul and Peter describe our inheritance in general terms

   B. NEW HEAVENS AND A NEW EARTH...
      1. Promised by God, anticipated by Peter - 2Pe 3:13-14
         a. A future realm in which righteousness dwells
         b. Motivating us to live now in peace, without spot and blameless
      2. Revealed by Jesus, described by John - Re 21:1-7
         a. Replacing the present earth and universe
         b. Involving the holy city, New Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven
         c. In which God will dwell with men, providing wonderful blessings
      -- Peter and John describe our inheritance in figurative terms

[Questions may remain as to the ultimate nature of the saints'
inheritance, but enough is revealed to motivate us to become saints and
live in a manner worthy of our calling.  This leads to our fourth and
final question:  How do we become saints...?]

IV. THE BEGINNING OF A SAINT

   A. CALLED BY THE GOSPEL...
      1. We become saints by being "called" - cf. Ro 1:7
         a. The idea of being "called" is one of being "summoned"
         b. But we are not called or summoned by a small still voice, or
            bolt of lightning
      2. We are "called" by the gospel - 2Th 2:14
         a. God calls people by the gospel
         b. For the obtaining of the glory of our Lord

   B. PRODUCED BY THE GOSPEL...
      1. The gospel reveals God's plan for saving man from his sins
         a. With facts to believe - e.g., 1Co 15:1-3
         b. With commands to obey - e.g., Mk 16:16; Ro 10:9,10
         c. With promises to receive - e.g., Ac 2:38-39; Ro 6:23
      2. When people respond, they become saints
         a. Saved and called by the grace of God - 1Ti 1:9
         b. Even though sinners, as were the saints in Corinth - 1Co 1:2; 6:9-11
      3. Every time the gospel is preached, God is calling people to become saints
         a. Those who hear are exhorted to obey
         b. Those who obey are washed, sanctified, justified
         c. Those who are sanctified are set apart, consecrated for
            God's purpose; i.e., saints

CONCLUSION

1. By the wonderful grace of God...
   a. We can be His saints, His holy ones, set apart for His purpose!
   b. We can look forward to the wonderful inheritance reserved in
      heaven for us!

2. Yet as saints, we must walk in a manner worthy of our calling...
   a. We must make our "calling and election sure" - 2Pe 1:10-11
   b. Even Paul, called both as an "apostle" and a "saint", realized the
      risk of his being rejected after preaching to others - 1Co 9:27

Are you a saint?  You are if you have responded to the call of God
through obedience to the gospel!  Are you living as a saint should?  May
the hope of saints motivate you to walk worthy of your calling!
 
Executable Outlines, Copyright © Mark A. Copeland, 2016

Armchair Archaeology and the New Atheism by Dewayne Bryant, M.A.


http://apologeticspress.org/APContent.aspx?category=13&article=3823

Armchair Archaeology and the New Atheism

by  Dewayne Bryant, M.A.

[EDITOR’S NOTE: Dewayne Bryant holds two Masters degrees, and is completing Masters study in Ancient Near Eastern Archaeology and Languages at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School, while pursuing doctoral studies at Amridge University. He has participated in an archaeological dig at Tell El-Borg in Egypt and holds professional membership in the American Schools of Oriental Research, the Society of Biblical Literature, and the Archaeological Institute of America.]
Archaeology has an air of mystery about it. Whenever the subject is brought up, many people instinctively think of the iconic Indiana Jones and his adventures on the silver screen. Others think of buried treasure or exotic locations. In the early days of archaeology, European travelers could be seen out in the field in Victorian garb, sitting under lace umbrellas and sipping tea from fine china. The wealthy traveled with all the fineries of home, surveying the scene while native workers toiled under the hot Middle Eastern Sun. There was much less of the scientific rigor of modern archaeology. It was sometimes little more than glorified treasure hunting. Today there is much more to the discipline than romantic visions of danger, intrigue, and golden fortunes.
Archaeology is a scientific discipline requiring dozens of specializations. Despite its complexity, it has the unenviable distinction of being a field in which anyone with sufficient interest and a modicum of experience can claim to be a specialist. Popular examples include self-proclaimed experts who claim to have found chariot wheels at the bottom of the Red Sea, the real location of Mt. Sinai, and the long-lost treasures of Solomon in a hidden cave beneath the Temple Mount in Jerusalem. These claims are difficult, if not impossible, to verify, and are often accompanied by dubious proof and doctored evidence. Archaeology is a field subject to severe abuse by those with too little training and too much imagination.
The mistreatment of archaeological evidence is not the sole property of poorly trained apologists. It is also found in the writings of the new atheists. “New atheism” is much like atheism in general, except that it is exceptionally militant and intolerant of everything remotely religious in nature. The term appears to have been coined by Gary Wolf in a November 2006 article in Wired Magazine titled, “The Church of the New Believer.” In the article, Wolf says that the new atheist will “not let us [unbelievers] off the hook simply because we are not doctrinaire believers. They condemn not just belief in God but respect for belief in God” (2006). The new atheist is not merely an unbeliever, but one who promotes disbelief and has no tolerance for anyone who respects religion, whether theist, agnostic, or atheist. For new atheists, it is all or nothing. Incidentally, Wolf—though an atheist himself—ultimately disagrees with the severity of the new atheists’ approach.
The most noticeable of the current leaders in this new and virulent strain of militant atheism include Englishmen Richard Dawkins (biologist) and Christopher Hitchens (polemicist and political journalist), and American Sam Harris (neuroscientist). Their diatribes against religion are both malicious and well publicized. Virtually anything they write is going to secure a place near the top of the New York Times bestseller list. This is not surprising, since their devotees are anxious for any new criticism of Christianity, and believers want to read them to understand the new arguments facing the faithful.
The new atheists frequently appeal to subject areas outside their specialties for proof to support their claims. Such might not otherwise discredit their views, but their level of proficiency in these areas is decidedly inferior, as borne out by the numerous mistakes, misunderstandings, and logical errors that pepper their works. One of the blatant areas of abuse concerns their appeals to archaeology.
While Dawkins, Hitchens, and Harris are gifted with formidable intellects and considerable literary prowess, archaeology lies outside their realm of competency. They would do well to remember that expertise in one area does not immediately transfer into any other area of one’s choosing. Dawkins may be a highly respected biologist among evolutionists, but he is a rather poor student of the religion he so fiercely opposes. In some cases it appears almost as if he reaches for any argument, no matter how poor, to justify his extreme dislike for Christianity. Hitchens is an insightful journalist, but his impeccable prose inadequately conceals a lamentable ignorance of Christianity and the wealth of evidence supporting its claims. Harris is an up-and-coming scientist, but his skills in logic and argumentation are virtually nonexistent and have drawn heavy criticism from nearly all quarters. All three men may be gifted in their areas of specialization, but outside those areas they are like fish out of water. They seem to have gained only enough familiarity with Christianity to generate criticism that will tickle the ears of their adherents. Their attacks on the Christian faith are little more than public proofs of their inadequacy as critics.

The Responsible Use of Archaeology

Archaeology is an exciting field that brings a great deal of information to bear on the study of the Bible. At the same time, archaeologists must exercise caution in evaluating ancient evidence for several reasons. First, the ancient evidence is usually very fragmentary. Not all the evidence from antiquity made it into the ground in the first place, and if it did, the march of time frequently takes its toll on ancient artifacts. This is not surprising since artifacts deteriorate even in climate-controlled environments in state-of-the-art museums. Second, with every season new discoveries are brought to light, adding to the body of information we possess about the ancient world. The next year could well produce evidence that contradicts this year’s conclusions. Finally, the surviving evidence is piecemeal in nature, requiring archaeologists to fill in the gaps with educated guesswork where conclusiveness may be lacking.  This is not to say that archaeology cannot reach definite conclusions, but only to say that those conclusions may frequently be tentative in nature. Unlike responsible scholars, the Bible’s critics frequently make grandiose appeals to evidence without the caution employed by those who understand how to evaluate the evidence.
Archaeology has been misused by those wishing to foster a skeptical attitude toward the factual reliability of the Bible. A prime example is an article published in Harper’s Magazine titled, “False Testament: Archaeology Refutes the Bible’s Claim to History.” Author Daniel Lazare writes,
Not long ago, archaeologists could agree that the Old Testament, for all its embellishments and contradictions, contained a kernel of truth…. That is no longer the case. In the last quarter century or so, archaeologists have seen one settled assumption after another concerning who the ancient Israelites were and where they came from proved false (2002, p. 39).
Lazare, a journalist with no archaeological credentials, does little more than survey the extreme left concerning the intersection of archaeology and the Bible. Yigal Levin, professor in the department of philosophy and religion at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga, wrote a stinging response to the article in Harper’s. He states: “From his essay, I learned only that Lazare is capable of summarizing The Bible Unearthed, written by my former teacher Israel Finkelstein and his colleague Neil Asher Silverman. Like their book, Lazare’s essay is one-sided and overly dramatic” (Levin, 2002, p. 4).
The book to which Levin refers in his article is The Bible Unearthed: Archaeology’s New Vision of Ancient Israel and the Origin of Its Sacred Texts (Finkelstein and Silberman, 2001). Finkelstein’s work has drawn substantial criticism from other scholars—even those who doubt the Bible’s veracity. Virtually no archaeologists have adopted his somewhat radical conclusions, which generally deny a great deal of historicity to the Old Testament narratives. It should be noted that Finkelstein, who once held a relatively positive position on the relationship between the Bible and ancient history, now holds a minority view that finds little acceptance among even mainstream archaeologists. His work has been heavily and publicly criticized by American archaeologist William Dever, who called the book “an archaeological manifesto, not judicious and well-balanced scholarship,” adding, “it will do little to educate the public” (2001, 322:74). It is significant that Dever, one of the most widely respected archaeologists in America, states explicitly that he is “not a theist” (2005, p. xi).

A Classic Double Standard Used Against the Bible

The double standard employed against the Bible is both obvious and pervasive. One such example concerns the conquest of Canaan, which is frequently filed under the categories of fiction and myth. Joshua’s campaign is usually assumed to be fictitious, but there is a parallel example from Egypt that mirrors Joshua’s account. In 1275 B.C., the forces of Egypt under Ramesses the Great, and the Hittite Empire under general Muwatallis II, met at the Battle of Kadesh. Egyptian forces were separated into three units as they traveled northward through Canaan. Two divisions traveled farther inland, while a third made its route close to the Mediterranean coastline. The Hittites, lying in wait near the city of Kadesh, ambushed the Egyptian troops. The Hittite forces overran the first division and shattered it. The quick-thinking Ramesses hastily organized his troops and was able to fend off the Hittite offensive long enough for the third division to arrive. The reinforced troops eventually pushed back their Hittite opponents. In the end, Ramesses won a military victory, but suffered a political defeat since the Hittite Empire either retained or reclaimed lost territory in the area.
In typical Near Eastern fashion, Ramesses returned to Egypt and proclaimed a great victory. Indeed, the famous colossi at Abu Simbel were part of a monument erected near the border of Ethiopia to convince Egypt’s neighbors that Ramesses had won a decisive victory—just in case they heard otherwise. A relief depicting the battle shows Ramesses gunning down fleeing Hittite soldiers with his bow and rolling over others like speed bumps in his oversized chariot. In the written account of the battle, he credits both divine intervention and his own leadership as the main causes for the Egyptian triumph over his enemies (Kitchen, 2000, 2:37). According to the poetic version of the account, Ramesses leaps into battle while the uraeus, the serpent-shaped symbol of protection worn on the forehead of the king, blasts fire at his enemies and consumes the Hittite forces like an ancient flame-thrower.
In inscription we see several parallels between the Battle of Kadesh and the military operations carried out under Joshua as recorded in the Old Testament: (1) both leaders are dynamic military figures, (2) each is said to rely upon divine aid to defeat his foes, and (3) each credits his deity with the victory. While no scholar denies the Battle of Kadesh took place, a majority dismisses the conquest of Canaan out of hand. For Ramesses, scholars simply excise any references to the divine and accept the rest as reliable narrative. For Joshua’s account, the references to Yahweh immediately place the story in the realm of myth. No details are accepted as genuine. While there are other factors at work in this particular case (such as the debate over the available information that bears on the conquest of Canaan), it should be noted that for many people, including scholars, Scripture is virtually the only ancient literature where any mention of the supernatural immediately disqualifies any claim to historical reliability. Other ancient works are filled with magic and divine intervention, yet this fact does not stop scholars from searching them for a core historical truth. Quite the opposite is true in the case of the Bible.

Pseudo-Scholarship in the Popular Press

The popular press has been very active in its attempt to diminish the intellectual respectability of biblical faith, and the new atheists are one of the best examples. Their academic arrogance is nothing short of astounding, and only further highlighted by their lack of understanding of biblical studies. One of the most egregious examples of religious ignorance is found in David Mills’ book Atheist Universe:
It’s fairly easy to demonstrably prove that the Genesis accounts of Adam and Eve, and Noah’s worldwide deluge, are fables. It’s easier to prove these stories false because, unlike the notion of God, the Creation account and Noah’s flood are scientifically testable. Science may explore human origins and the geologic history of Earth. In this regard, science has incontrovertibly proven that the Book of Genesis is utter mythology (2006, p. 28).
Mills provides a priceless example of just how badly militant atheists misunderstand ancient literature. Within a mere paragraph, Mills uses the terms “fable,” “mythology,” and (false) “story” interchangeably. None of these terms are synonyms. A fable is a whimsical tale, usually containing a moral or teaching point, in which talking animals frequently play primary roles. Aesop’s Fables immediately comes to mind. This is quite different from the term “mythology,” which centers on stories of the gods and often has a religious or cultic function. These stories also have varying degrees of contradiction with other myths within the same corpus in which the deities are represented. Incidentally, this is also different from a “legend,” which is an embellished story about a human figure containing at least a kernel of historical truth.
Unlike myths, fables, and fictive stories, the Old and New Testaments are concerned with reporting factual details. The historical books frequently reference other sources such as the Book of Jashar (Joshua 10:13; 2 Samuel 1:18), the Book of the Wars of the Lord (Numbers 21:14), and the Book of the Kings of Israel and Judah (2 Chronicles 27:7). It appears that the divinely-guided Hebrew writers worked with sources in similar fashion to modern historians. The writers often used source material and on occasion point the reader to those sources where additional information could be found at the original time of writing (e.g., 1 Kings 14:19). Luke makes it clear that he conducted an extensive investigation of the sources in the composition of his gospel account (Luke 1:1-4). His attention to geographical detail, long recognized by scholars for its accuracy and thoroughness, is quite out of keeping with ancient myths, which had no concern for this type of information.  Finally, Paul (1 Corinthians 15:5-8), Peter (2 Peter 1:16), and John (1 John 1:1-2) all offer eyewitness testimonials, presupposing their readers had the ability to verify their claims.
It is important to note that the ancients rarely believed their myths actually happened in real time and space. Actual history is of very little concern in mythology, which may come as a surprise to many moderns. It seems to be just as surprising to the critics of the Bible, who invariably equate myth with fiction. The new atheists assume that Jesus is a mythological creation of the early church, missing the point that the early Christians actually believed that He walked the Earth, performed miracles, and rose from the dead. Unlike the pagan populace of Greece and Rome, early Christians were willing to die for their convictions. This attitude made them a target for the Greek satirist Lucian of Samosata, who mocked their belief in eternal life. He wrote in “The Death of Peregrine”:
The Christians, you know, worship a man to this day—the distinguished personage who introduced their novel rites, and was crucified on that account…. You see, these misguided creatures start with the general conviction that they are immortal for all time, which explains the contempt of death and voluntary self-devotion which are so common among them… (n.d., 4:82-83).
Since martyrdom was virtually unknown in the Greco-Roman world, why did it become so common in the Christian community? Simply put, no one else believed in the exclusivity of religion. The ancients were polytheistic and inclusive. Not only were other gods recognized, but initiation in one of the mystery religions did not exclude membership in other cults. As long as one had enough money for the expensive initiation rites, he or she could be a member of any number of the secretive mystery cults in the Greek world.
In his book God is Not Great: How Religion Poisons Everything, Christopher Hitchens spends a few pages alluding to Jesus as merely one of many virgin-born, crucified messiahs (2007, pp. 22-23). Many critics have argued Jesus is nothing more than a plagiarized myth from other world religions, adapted for use by the earliest Christians. Allegedly, the virgin birth is found in Mithras worship, and other gods such as Attis and Osiris were crucified and resurrected. Critics do not appear to realize that in the mystery cult of Mithras, the god was born from a rock, and that the earliest stories come from over a century after the time of Christ (cf. Butt and Lyons, 2006). Further, Attis and Osiris were never crucified. Attis killed himself and Seth drowned his brother Osiris in the Nile River. Further, the two never truly resurrected. Attis remained in a comatose state where his hair still grew and his little finger twitched. Osiris is said to have been brought back to life but did not rejoin the land of the living. He instead remained in the underworld as the lord of the dead (the story also explains mummification, which is decidedly different from the Christian view of resurrection). One would be hard-pressed to find a true resurrection outside the Bible. All of this information is readily available in popular translations of the ancient myths that seem to have escaped the attention of Christianity’s most popular critics. In their haste to relegate the Bible to the realm of myth, the new atheists have failed to realize that the Bible records actual persons, places, and events that can be located in the archaeological record.

Embarrassment in the New Atheism

The new atheists are quite skilled at parroting critical scholars in the popular media, but give little evidence of having done any real research into the archaeological concerns surrounding the Bible. Their mistakes are so elementary that, if one did not know that they were ranked among the world’s intellectual elite, one would simply consider them part of the lunatic fringe. The dogmatic conclusions reached by Dawkins and company are unjustified for several reasons. First, none is well-acquainted with the material he cites. Their specialties lie in unrelated fields, and their conclusions are frequently unsupported or even contradicted by the archaeological artifacts. Second, none possesses a basic, reasonable knowledge of Christianity. They often make basic mistakes that could have been easily prevented by spending time doing minimal research into basic biblical teachings. Finally, they make very few attempts at formulating arguments, and those they make are peppered with logical errors and fallacious reasoning.
Apologists for disbelief have noted the criticism of their leading spokesmen and have rushed to their defense. In a blog called the “Black Sun Journal,” editor Sean Prophet writes:
The flimsiest of all the rhetorical devices used by religious writers is the accusation that atheists lack scholarship on religion. That they supposedly “don’t even understand what they have rejected.” This dismissive attitude is repeated ad nauseam in the popular media. While it’s true that few atheists have doctor-of-divinity degrees, it’s completely false that they therefore can’t understand theology (Prophet, 2008, italics in orig.).
Prophet argues that it is false that atheists cannot understand theology. Yet, he misses the fact that critics such as Dawkins and P.Z. Meyers defend their refusal to engage Christian thought, sometimes crudely, as in the case of a Meyers’s piece titled, “The Courtier’s Reply” (2006). Georgetown professor John Haught critiques them, saying, “Given all their bluster about the evils of theology, why do they wade only ankle deep in the shallows of religious illiteracy? A well-thought-out military strategy sooner or later has to confront the enemy at its strongest point, but [Dawkins, Harris, and Hitchens have—DB] avoided any such confrontation. Unlike the great leaders in war, these generals have decided to aim their assaults exclusively at the softest points in the wide world of faith” (2008, p. 63, bracketed item added). While he criticizes the supposed myth of ignorance surrounding the militant, atheist movement, Prophet appears to have as little understanding of religion as those whom he defends. Indeed, his assertion that “[r]ank-and-file atheists are far more facile with scripture than rank-and-file Christians” is so laughable and outrageous as to be absurd. A cursory survey of militant, atheist literature from those who are considered its greatest scholars quickly reveals a host of misunderstandings readily apparent to any unbiased observer.
One example of Dawkins’ many academic sins concerns the Gnostic gospels. In The God Delusion, he argues that Thomas Jefferson advised his young nephew to read the other accounts of Jesus’ life, which Dawkins claims are the Gnostic writings such as the “Gospels of Thomas, Peter, Nicodemus, Philip, Bartholomew, and Mary Magdalen” (2006, p. 95). It would be quite impossible for Jefferson to have recommended the Gnostic gospels to his nephew since they were unknown in his day. So it is with the apocryphal gospels. Those of Thomas and Philip were among the cache of documents discovered in 1945 in Nag Hammadi, Egypt. The gospels of Peter and Mary were both found in the late 1800’s. The gospel of Bartholomew has yet to be positively identified. In every case, these non-canonical writings date much later than the time of Christ and provide no evidence of offering genuine accounts of Christ’s life.
Christopher Hitchens follows in Dawkins footsteps when he misunderstands the nature of the Gnostic writings. He says that the gospels “were of the same period and provenance as many of the subsequently canonical and ‘authorized’ Gospels” (2007, p. 112). Yet, Gnostic beliefs arose shortly after Christianity, and the documents produced by Gnostics date from the second century to the fifth century and later. As a marriage between Christianity and Neo-Platonic philosophy, Gnosticism reached its height in the second and third centuries, but its incipient form is implicitly condemned in several New Testament passages (Colossians 2:9; 1 John 1:1; cf. 1 Peter 2:24).
Dawkins, Hitchens, and Harris appear to draw their notions about the supposed legendary nature of the gospel accounts from Bart Ehrman’s Misquoting Jesus: The Story Behind Who Changed the Bible and Why. All three heartily recommend Ehrman’s book and give him high praise for his journey into unbelief, which he never seems to tire of describing (2005, pp. 1-15; 2008, pp. 1-19; 2009, pp. ix-xii). The new atheists are apparently unaware that Ehrman’s work has drawn heavy criticism because of its tendency to sensationalize, overplay the evidence, and present ideas that few of his academic peers affirm, regardless of their religious orientation or lack thereof. That the trio—as non-specialists who know relatively little about Christianity—would lean so heavily on a scholar like Ehrman is, perhaps, understandable, but remains inexcusable.
Hitchens claims that the existence of Jesus is “highly questionable” and there is a “huge amount of fabrication” in the details presented in the gospel records (2007, p. 114). The only genre into which the gospel accounts could possibly be forced would be legend, but even then, there was insufficient time for Jesus to reach legendary status. As the acclaimed classical scholar A.N. Sherwin-White pointed out, it takes time for legends to accumulate about a historical person (1963, pp. 188-191). The gospel records are clearly non-mythological and give no evidence of being legendary.
The biblical ignorance of the new atheists is on full display when David Mills begs for Christians to defend why they believe in mythical creatures such as unicorns (Job 39:9-10; Psalm 22:21), cockatrices (Isaiah 11:8), and satyrs (Isaiah 13:21). He embarrasses himself when he writes:
I also find it revealing that, in the newer, modern-language translations of the Bible, these ridiculous passages of Scripture have been dishonestly excised, rewritten or edited beyond their original translation in the King James. So not only are the Great Pretenders forsaking long-honored and long-held Christian beliefs, but the Bible itself, under their supervision, appears to be experiencing a quiet, behind-the-scenes, Hollywood makeover as well (2006, p. 150).
The words rendered “unicorn” (re’em, “ox”), “cockatrice” (tsepha`, a type of serpent), and “satyr” (sa`ir, “goat”) have nothing to do with mythological creatures. In fact, these creatures did not even exist in ancient Near Eastern mythology. The last 400 years has seen an explosion in the knowledge of the biblical languages. Scholars now have the benefit of the numerous manuscripts and inscription discoveries that have greatly expanded our knowledge of the languages. The work at the ancient city of Ugarit alone has provided a wealth of information on the Hebrew language through the study of the closely related language of Ugaritic. Mills’ objection evaporates when we understand that the change in English translation is not due to a dishonest makeover, but to a better and truer understanding of how the original text should be translated. To his discredit, he mistakes dishonesty for  intellectual progress, which only further underscores his unfamiliarity with the Bible and its ancient context—and his extreme prejudice.
Christopher Hitchens says the material from the Exodus to the Conquest of Canaan “was all, quite simply and very ineptly, made up at a much later date…. Much of the evidence is the other way” (2007, p. 102). Elsewhere, he says the Pentateuch is an “ill-carpentered fiction, bolted into place well after the nonevents that it fails to describe convincingly or even plausibly” (p. 104). Here Hitchens alludes to the Documentary Hypothesis which claims the books of Moses were compiled from different sources much later than the time of the Exodus. Again, Hitchens does not seem to know that recent discoveries have presented the Documentary Hypothesis with significant challenges that have yet to find plausible answers (cf. Garrett, 2000; Kaiser, 2001). While much of modern scholarship believes in the hypothesis, it must be noted that professors essentially pass on the theory to their students as a body of dogmatic teaching and rarely require them to actually question the theory (cf. evolution). Moreover, archaeology has consistently produced evidence that implies the writing of the Pentateuch is genuinely ancient.
Just when things could not get any worse, Hitchens further destroys his own credibility by claiming urban myth as fact. He states: “the Pentateuch contains two discrepant accounts of the Creation, two different genealogies of the seed of Adam, and two narratives of the Flood” (2007, p. 106). The two creation accounts are intentionally written for two different purposes and are complimentary, not contradictory. This is similar to the way in which a person might take a photograph of an object from two different angles in order more fully to explore the subject in view. Critics seem fixated on digging this old chestnut out of the wastebasket where it rightly belongs (cf. Jackson, 1991). Also, genealogies in the Bible are selective by nature, so differences in genealogical lists are inconsequential (cf. Miller, 2003). The alleged two narratives of the Flood in Genesis 6-9 refers to the artificial separation of the story into two constituent parts, which falls under the purview of the Documentary Hypothesis. This allegation, too, has been shown to be fraught with problems.

The Plausibility of the Biblical Record

Archaeology demonstrates solid connections between the biblical record and ancient history, in contrast to Christopher Hitchens’ assertion that it is an implausible record. Consider the following:

The Patriarchs

Critics often malign the patriarchs without just cause. They insist that camels were not domesticated during the patriarchal age, thus constituting an anachronism in the biblical text. Yet evidence of camel domestication appears as early as 2000 B.C. in several places in Mesopotamia, concurrent with Abraham—if not slightly preceding him (Kitchen, 2003, p. 339). Another point of confidence is the names of the patriarchs. While God selected Jacob’s name, they all highlight the Mesopotamian roots of Abraham since the names of Isaac, Jacob, Ishmael, and Joseph are all of Amorite origin (pp. 341-342). These names were at the height of their popularity when the patriarchs lived in the early second millennium and quickly fell into disuse in subsequent centuries.
A vital piece of evidence is the structure of covenants in the Bible. Covenants made in antiquity evolved over time, and each period has a distinct structure for the covenants made at various times and particular locations. Kenneth Kitchen has surveyed a wide range of covenants used from the third millennium through the first millennium B.C. (Kitchen, 2003, pp. 283-289). He found the Abrahamic covenant made in Genesis 15-17 fits securely in the early second millennium, while the covenants in Exodus, Deuteronomy, and Joshua 24 fit only in a late second millennium context.

The Life of Joseph

In the very section of the Bible that Hitchens questions is found some of the most compelling evidence for the historicity of Scripture. As Egyptologist James K. Hoffmeier demonstrates, the story for Joseph rings true with numerous details (Hoffmeier, 1996, pp. 77-98). The 20-shekel price paid for Joseph (Genesis 37:28) is consistent with the price of a slave c. 1700 B.C. Egyptian mummification took about 70 days once the period for mourning was included, which matches the time given for the mummification of Jacob (Genesis 50:3). Examples of non-Egyptians becoming viziers is known from Egyptian sources. Further, it appears that the story of Joseph was put down in writing during the 18th-19th Dynasties in Egypt, the very period during which Moses lived. This idea is borne out by the fact that the Pentateuch uses the name “Pharaoh” (Hebrew phar’oh, Egyptian per-`3) when referring to the king of Egypt. During this time, the term was a generic one referring to the king, similar to referring to the U.S. President as “the White House,” or to the British monarch as “the Crown.” Prior to this time, the name of the king was used, and afterward sources mention the monarch as “Pharaoh X” or “X, king of Egypt”—as in the case of pharaohs Shishak (1 Kings 11:40; 2 Chronicles 12:2) and Neco (2 Kings 23:29).

The United Monarchy

David’s existence has been questioned frequently. Examples of petty monarchs ruling miniscule kingdoms in the Near East find rare mention in ancient sources, yet generally their historicity is taken at face value with minimal skepticism. Even Gilgamesh, the hero of the Epic of Gilgamesh, is thought to have been a historical figure ruling in Mesopotamia between 2600-2700 B.C. based on a reference in the famous Sumerian king list. Yet, David’s historicity is viewed with extreme suspicion, even though there are references to David found in the Tel Dan Inscription and the Moabite Stone, as well as numerous references in the Hebrew Bible. Indeed, Gilgamesh is thought to have been a real person despite being the semi-divine hero in a mythical composition, which also includes such fantastic details as a beast-man named Enkidu, a divinely sent creature of destruction called the Bull of Heaven, and a plant that can grant the person who eats it eternal life. David is frequently labeled a myth despite the solid evidence in favor of his existence.

The Divided Monarchy

Archaeology has vindicated the Bible’s mention of several figures that were once thought to have been fictional. The existence of Sargon (Isaiah 20:1) was questioned until a relief bearing his image was found in the throne room of his capital city of Dur-Sharrukin (“Fort Sargon”). Belshazzar (Daniel 5:1) was likewise questioned because Babylonian documents listed Nabonidus as the last king of the Babylonian empire. Scholars uncovered ancient evidence showing that Belshazzar co-ruled with his father Nabonidus, ruling from the city while Nabonidus sat for 10 years in self-imposed exile. Balaam (Numbers 22-24) has been located in an extrabiblical source called the Deir ‘Alla Inscription written during this period (Mazar, 1990, p. 330).

The Life of Christ

Archaeology does not always mention any one individual, and in the case of Christ, more substantial evidence comes from history rather than archaeology. One significant find is the 1990 discovery of the ossuary (bone box) of Joseph Caiaphas, high priest at the time of Jesus’ trial and crucifixion (John 11:49-53). Jesus is mentioned by the Roman writers Suetonius and Tacitus, the Roman governor Pliny the Younger, and is indirectly referenced by the Greek satirist Lucian of Samosata. He is also noted in a Jewish composition from the fifth century called the Toledoth Jesu, which gives an alternate explanation for the empty tomb from a hostile source. Jesus is far from the “myth” critics claim Him to be.

The Early Church

Inscriptions have revealed the names of numerous individuals mentioned in the New Testament. Gallio, proconsul of Achaia (Acts 18:12-17), is mentioned in an inscription found at the city of Delphi. Paul’s friend Erastus (Acts 19:22) is likely mentioned in an inscription found at Corinth. Sergius Paulus, mentioned as the first convert on the island of Cyprus, was proconsul (a Roman governor) when the apostle Paul visited the island (Acts 13:7). He is mentioned in an inscription found near Paphos (Reed, 2007, p. 13).
After the evidence is surveyed, it is apparent that much of the criticism of the Bible arises—not from intense scrutiny of the evidence—but from ignorance of it. The overwhelming weight of the archaeological and historical evidence firmly places the Bible in the sphere of reality rather than myth.

Knowing Should Lead to Knowing How Much One Does Not Know

Part of the problem with secular science is that it focuses on empirical data, but has little to no interest in epistemology: the study of how human beings know what we know. This great divorce has become clearer over the past couple of centuries, and is on full display in books like The God Delusion, where Richard Dawkins commits dozens of logical errors. Many of his arguments fail because he is not conversant with religion. They also suffer from his lack of understanding how evidence outside his specialty is to be interpreted and applied.
Journalist David Klinghoffer points out: “A favorite strategy of such groups has long been to attack cartoon versions of older rival religions” (2007). He cites as evidence Dawkins’ now-infamous phrase about the God of the Hebrew Bible being “arguably the most unpleasant character in fiction: jealous and proud of it; a petty, unjust, unforgiving control-freak; a vindictive, bloodthirsty ethnic cleanser; a misogynistic, homophobic, racist, infanticidal, genocidal, filicidal, pestilential, megalomaniacal, sadomasochistic, capriciously malevolent bully” (Dawkins, 2006, p. 31). No believer in the Judeo-Christian tradition would ever agree to this assessment, nor would anyone familiar with the Bible defend it. While Prophet argues that contrarians like Dawkins should not be labeled as ignorant of religion (2008), the evidence argues powerfully against him.
The unmitigated vitriol that pervades the works of Dawkins, Hitchens, and Harris is a clear indicator that their intolerance of Christianity is not motivated by objective reason. These men give every appearance of being desperate to artificially maintain a hatred of God. They fail to demonstrate sufficient familiarity with the Bible and fail to understand the ancient evidence supporting it.
Christians everywhere should be reminded that grandiose assertions, unsupported by adequate evidence, can be dismissed safely. This is the case with much of the material produced by the new militant breed of atheism—which makes many bold claims and offers remarkably little proof. Such is certainly the case with the facts concerning the reliability and historicity of Scripture. Boisterous claims do nothing to bolster their case when Dawkins, Hitchens, and Harris find themselves contradicted by the evidence. If these three are the best that militant atheism has to offer, Christians have nothing to fear.

REFERENCES

Butt, Kyle and Eric Lyons (2006), Behold! The Lamb of God (Montgomery, AL: Apologetics Press).
Dawkins, Richard (2006), The God Delusion (Boston, MA: Houghton Mifflin).
Dever, William (2001), “Excavating the Hebrew Bible or Burying It Again?” Bulletin of the American Schools of Oriental Research, 322: 67-77, May.
Dever, William (2005), Did God Have a Wife? (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans).
Ehrman, Bart (2005), Misquoting Jesus: The Story Behind Who Changed the Bible and Why (New York: HarperSanFrancisco).
Ehrman, Bart (2008), God’s Problem: How the Bible Fails to Answer Our Most Important Question—Why We Suffer(New York: HarperOne).
Ehrman, Bart (2009), Jesus Interrupted: Revealing the Hidden Contradictions in the Bible (and Why We Don’t Know About Them) (New York: HarperOne).
Finkelstein, Israel and Neil Asher Silberman (2001), The Bible Unearthed: Archaeology’s New Vision of Ancient Israel and the Origin of Its Sacred Texts (New York: Free Press).
Garrett, Duane (2000), Rethinking Genesis: The Sources and Authorship of the First Book of the Pentateuch(Geanies House, Fern: Christian Focus Publications).
Haught, John F. (2008), God and the New Atheism: A Critical Response to Dawkins, Harris, and Hitchens(Louisville, KY: Westminster John Knox).
Hitchens, Christopher (2007), God is Not Great: How Religion Poisons Everything(New York: Hachette).
Hoffmeier, James K. (1996), Israel in Egypt: The Evidence for the Authenticity of the Exodus Tradition(Oxford: Oxford University Press).
Jackson, Wayne (1991), “Are There Two Creation Accounts in Genesis?” http://www.apologeticspress.org/articles/2194.
Kaiser, Walt C. Jr. (2001), The Old Testament Documents: Are They Reliable and Relevant? (Downers Grove, IL: IVP).
Kitchen, Kenneth A., trans. (2000), “The Battle of Kadesh—The Poem, or Literary Record,” The Context of Scripture, Volume Two: Monumental Inscriptions Form the Biblical World(Leiden: Brill).
Kitchen, Kenneth A. (2003), On the Reliability of the Old Testament(Grand Rapids: Eerdmans).
Klinghoffer, David (2007), “Prophets of the New Atheism,” http://seattletimes.nwsource.com/html/opinion/2003653502_klinghoffer06.html.
Lazare, Daniel (2002), “False Testament: Archaeology Refutes the Bible’s Claim to History,” Harper’s Magazine, 304/1822:39-47, March.
Levin, Yigal (2002), “Let There Be Light,” Harper’s Magazine, 304[1825]:4, June.
Lucian of Samosata (no date), “The Death of Peregrine,” in H.W. Fowler and F.G. Fowler (1905), The Works of Lucian of Samosata (Oxford: Clarendon Press).
Mazar, Amihai (1990), Archaeology of the Land of the Bible, 10,000-586 B.C.E.(New York: Doubleday).
Meyers, P.Z. (2006), “The Courtier’s Reply,” http://scienceblogs.com/pharyngula/2006/12/the_courtiers_reply.php.
Miller, Dave (2003), “The Genealogies of Matthew and Luke,” http://www.apologeticspress.org/articles/1834.
Mills, David (2006), Atheist Universe: The Thinking Person’s Answer to Christian Fundamentalism(Berkley, CA: Ulysses Press).
Prophet, Sean (2008), “Pastor Acknowledges Arguments of New Atheism,” http://www.blacksunjournal.com/atheism/1397_pastor-acknowledges-arguments-of-new-atheism_2008.html.
Reed, Jonathan (2007), The HarperCollins Visual Guide to the New Testament: What Archaeology Reveals about the First Christians (New York: HarperOne).
Sherwin-White, Adrian Nicholas (1963), Roman Society and Roman Law in the New Testament(Oxford: Clarendon).
Wolf, Gary (2006), “Church of the Non-Believers,” http://www.wired.com/wired/archive/14.11/atheism.html.


Why Doesn't God Appear to Us to Prove that He Exists? by Eric Lyons, M.Min.

http://apologeticspress.org/APContent.aspx?category=12&article=5323

Why Doesn't God Appear to Us to Prove that He Exists?

by  Eric Lyons, M.Min.

Sometimes our unbelieving friends wonder why God doesn’t just appear to everyone on Earth and prove in person that He exists? Why doesn’t He show Himself to each generation of humanity so that everyone on Earth can see and hear Him and know beyond a shadow of a doubt that He is real? After all, according to the Bible, the Lord appeared “to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob, as God Almighty” (Exodus 6:3), and He “spoke to Moses face to face, as a man speaks to his friend” (Exodus 33:11). So why doesn’t He do the same for everyone else?
Christians freely admit that there are many specific things that we do not know about the infinite, eternal, omnipotent, omniscient Creator of the Universe, including why He does or does not do certain things. “‘For My thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are your ways My ways,’ says the Lord. ‘For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways, and My thoughts than your thoughts’” (Isaiah 55:8-9). There is no way to know the mind of God unless He chooses to reveal some of His ways to us. Moses wrote: “The secret things belong to the Lord our God, but those things which are revealed belong to us and to our children forever, that we may do all the words of this law” (Deuteronomy 29:29, emp. added). So has God specifically revealed why He has not appeared to every human being in the history of the world to prove His existence to them? The fact is, God does not expressly address this question in the Bible; but He does reveal enough to us about Himself and His creation to draw the following conclusions.
First, even if God directly appeared to and spoke with every person on Earth, not everyone would believe in Him. After all, God revealed Himself to mankind in the first-century (John 1:1,14), speaking like “no man ever spoke” (John 7:46) and working all manner of miracles, including walking on water, healing the blind, reattaching severed body parts with the touch of His hand, and raising the dead. Yes, even though, for example, Jesus raised Lazarus from the dead, and came back from the dead Himself, many still did not believe in Him (John 11:45-53; 12:9-11)—they rejected Him despite the fact that He (God) appeared to them face to face.
In 2012, renowned atheist Richard Dawkins was questioned about his unbelief in God. Specifically, he was asked, “What proof, by the way, would change your mind?” He quickly responded by saying, “That is a very difficult and interesting question because, I mean, I used to think that if somehow, you know, great, big, giant 900-foot-high Jesus with a voice like Paul Robeson suddenly strode in and said, ‘I exist and here I am,’ but even that, I actually sometimes wonder if that would….”1 Though Dr. Dawkins was interrupted, he clearly left the impression that even if God appeared to him, taking the form of a “giant 900-foot-high Jesus” with a mighty voice, even that encounter would probably not convince him.
Sadly, not only would many continue in their unbelief if God actually did appear to them, many more would reject His authority over them, even if they acknowledged His existence. Judas was among the closest friends and disciples of Jesus. He was the treasurer of the group. Yet, he was a thief who eventually betrayed the Lord. One might argue that Judas never believed (cf. John 6:60-71), which would only further validate our first point. But if he truly believed in Jesus as the Son of God, then he ultimately chose money over the Master; he chose sin over the Savior. He was not, and will not be, the last to make such choices. In fact, before any human being ever came to know God and subsequently reject His will, there were a number of angelic beings who did. They are created heavenly beings (Colossians 1:16) who knew (and know) God, but willingly chose to reject His will for them (2 Peter 2:4; Jude 6). So wicked and rebellious to the God of heaven did Satan become that he even tried to tempt God to sin (Matthew 4:1-11). Make no mistake about it, in no way does acknowledging God’s existence directly translate into loving Him and submitting to His will (Matthew 7:21-23). In fact, atheist Dan Barker demonstrated such rebelliousness in the Butt/Barker debate when he stated that, though he believes God “doesn’t exist,” “[i]f there is a hell and if the atheists get to the end of their life and discover, ‘Yep, I was wrong, there is a God….’ Then I would say to that God…‘you go to hell…. You do not have my respect.’”2
Third, God has already given every accountable person on Earth an adequate amount of evidence to come to a knowledge of His existence. The very reality of a material Universe (which could not have sprung into existence from nothing; nor is it eternal),3 testifies to the existence of a Creator. “For every house is built by someone, but He who built all things is God” (Hebrews 3:4). In fact, “[s]ince the creation of the world His invisible attributes are clearly seen being understood by the things that are made, even His eternal power and Godhead, so that they are without excuse” (Romans 1:20). Since the time of Adam and Eve, mankind has been given the opportunity to see how “the things that are made” testify quite “clearly” on behalf of a powerful, invisible Creator. As the psalmist proclaimed, “The heavens declare the glory of God; and the firmament shows His handiwork. Day unto day utters speech, and night unto night reveals knowledge. There is no speech nor language where their voice is not heard. Their line has gone out through all the earth, and their words to the end of the world” (19:1-4).
So why doesn’t God appear to every person on Earth to prove that He exists? The short answer is: “Because He, as the sovereign Ruler of the Universe, chooses not to.” We may not know all of God’s reasons for why He chooses not to appear personally to every person on the Earth throughout every generation, but in no way does such a decision on His part prove (1) that He doesn’t exist, or (2) that He is unkind and unfair. The fact is, God has always given man adequate evidence for His existence—so much so that any person who refuses to acknowledge His existence is “without excuse” (Romans 1:20).

Endnotes

1  “Q&A: Religion and Atheism” (2012), ABC Australia, April 9, http;//www.abc.net.au/tv/qanda/txt/s3469101.htm, emp. added.
2  Kyle Butt and Dan Barker (2009), Butt/Barker Debate: Does the God of the Bible Exist? (Montgomery, AL: Apologetics Press), emp. added.
3  Jeff Miller (2013), “Evolution and the Laws of Science: The Laws of Thermodynamics,” Apologetics Press, http://www.apologeticspress.org/apcontent.aspx?category=9&article=2786.

Proving Your Faith by Wayne Jackson, M.A.


http://apologeticspress.org/APContent.aspx?category=11&article=1361

Proving Your Faith

by  Wayne Jackson, M.A.

How do we know that Jesus Christ is truly the Son of God? Is our faith based merely upon tradition? Is faith the result of religious fanaticism? No, genuine faith stands firmly upon evidence.
After the conversion of Saul of Tarsus, the newly appointed apostle entered the Jewish synagogues and “proclaimed Jesus, that he is the son of God” (Acts 9:20). His message continually amazed those who heard it. It seemed incredible that one who had so opposed the Christian Way could now be one of its most zealous advocates. The historian Luke informed his readers that Saul increased in strength, and he “confounded the Jews that lived in Damascus, proving that this is the Christ” (Acts 9:22).
Of interest in this passage is the term “proving.” It is a translation of the Greek word sumbibazon. It is a present tense participle form, which suggests that Paul's preaching was characterized consistently by a demonstrative line of argumentation. The original term, from an etymological viewpoint means “to bring together,” as when, for example, parts of the body are brought together (i.e., tied together) by sinew, ligament, etc. (see Ephesians 4:16).
In the context of Acts 9:22, the word connotes bringing together pieces of information from which a logical conclusion is drawn. In “proving” to the Jews that Jesus is the “Christ” (i.e., the promised Old Testament Messiah), Paul would have: (1) introduced specific Old Testament prophecies concerning the coming Messiah; (2) compared those predictions with factual data that pertained to Jesus of Nazareth; and, (3) from the preceding, he would have drawn irresistible conclusions that no rational and honest person could deny.
The critic who alleges that Christianity is merely emotional, and not intellectual, simply does not know the facts.

Was Jesus Ignorant? by Eric Lyons, M.Min.


http://apologeticspress.org/APContent.aspx?category=10&article=818

Was Jesus Ignorant?

by  Eric Lyons, M.Min.

Some claim the Bible reveals that Jesus did not possess superior knowledge. As “proof,” these skeptics refer to such passages as Mark 5:25-34 and Matthew 26:39. In Mark 5, it is recorded that after Jesus’ garment had been touched, He asked the crowd, “Who touched my garments?” (5:30). In Matthew 26, Jesus, praying to the Father, said, “If it is possible, let this cup pass from me” (26:39). Do such statements reveal ignorance on the part of Jesus? Was His knowledge no greater than yours and mine? What is the truth of the matter?
First, for critics to make such a claim about Mark 5:30, they must assume that all questions are asked solely for the purpose of obtaining information. However, common sense should tell us that questions often are asked for other reasons. Jesus did not ask this question to acquire information. Rather, He asked it so that the woman with the issue of blood would “step forward” and confess to having been healed. In so doing, her deep faith and the greatness of the miracle would be manifested to glorify God. It is outlandish to take this question and claim that Jesus did not know who touched Him. Are we to assume that God was ignorant of Adam’s whereabouts when he asked him, “Where are you?” (Genesis 3:9). In the beginning of God’s first speech to Job, God asked the patriarch, “Where were you when I laid the foundations of the earth?” (38:4). Are we to believe that God did not know where Job was when He created the world? Certainly not! What father, having seen his son break a windowpane, has not asked him, “Who did that?” Obviously, the father did not ask the question to obtain information, but to see if the son would admit to something the father knew all along. On occasion, Jesus used questions for the same purpose. In no way is this some indication of His being less than divine.
Critics also jump to conclusions when they claim that the “ignorance of Jesus is very important, because without ignorance He could not sincerely pray in the Garden of Gethsemane that the cup of suffering pass from Him” (cf. Matthew 26:39). They fail to recognize that Jesus is not only 100% divine (John 1:1-5,14;10:30), but also was 100% human while upon the Earth (Philippians 2:7-8). Oftentimes we get the idea that the suffering Jesus endured was not all that painful because He was God—but Jesus also was a man. When praying in the garden, He knew that within a few short hours He would be mocked, spit upon, struck with the palms of hands, scourged, crowned with thorns, and nailed to a cross. However, this knowledge did not make his suffering any easier. Jesus could (and did) sincerely pray, “My Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass away from me.” This statement intimates no more than that Jesus was really and truly a man, and as a man He could not but be averse to pain and suffering. The law of self-preservation exists in the innocent nature of man, and no doubt existed in Christ. He did not desire a violent death at the hands of angry Jews, but He was willing to endure it to save mankind from the depths of hell. To lift such passages as Matthew 26:39 and Mark 5:30 from the Bible and claim that Jesus did not possess superior knowledge is a gross misuse of Scripture. Such allegations are false to the core, yet, sadly, they are typical of the kind of devices skeptics use to try and strip Jesus of His deity.

In the News: World’s “First” Animals? by Eric Lyons, M.Min.


http://apologeticspress.org/APContent.aspx?category=9&article=1607

In the News: World’s “First” Animals?

by  Eric Lyons, M.Min.

In December 2011, Discovery News published an on-line article titled, “Earliest Animals Looked Like Baseballs.” In the article, Jennifer Viegas referred to a study in the Proceedings of the Royal Society: Biological Sciences that claimed “microscopic 570-million-year-old fossils from China may represent the earliest evidence for animal life on Earth.” (Notice the difference in this statement and the aforementioned article title. Whereas the announcement in the title is made with certainty, the statement within the article is toned down considerably.) Fast forward only two months. The same Web site (Discovery News) published a story titled “World’s First Animals Were Namibian Sponges” (2012). What’s more, these dust-speck-sized sponges were said to be found in Africa “in rocks between 760 and 550 million years old…. That means animals, previously thought to have emerged 600 million to 650 million years ago, actually appeared 100 million to 150 million years before that” (“World’s First Animals…,” 2012).
So, within only a two-month period, the popular evolutionary Web site Discovery News, has gone from suggesting that microscopic, baseball-like creatures in China may be the “earliest animals” on Earth, to reporting that the “world’s first animals” were sponges from southern Africa. What’s more, they went from alleging the first animal evolved 570 million years ago to saying the first animal evolved as early as 760 million years ago.
Is there any wonder why so many people around the world still reject the so-called “science” that evolutionists espouse? Time and again, what we are told today (often as “fact”) is debunked tomorrow (cf. Butt, 2006; Lyons, 2007), yet the theory is “never wrong”—it just “evolves.” Need a few more years? Need a million more years? How about 100,000,000 more years? No big deal, right? Just trust the assumption-based, often-contradictory, faulty dating methods in which evolutionists continually put so much confidence.
What made this latest story even more appalling was the certainty with which Tony Prave (geologist from the University of St. Andrews in Scotland) spoke concerning the Namibian sponges. These “hollow globs…were our ancestors,” he said (emp. added). “[T]his would be our great-great-great-great-great-great-great grandmother” (“World’s First Animals…”). Doesn’t that just make your day? Doesn’t that make you feel good? To “know” that we evolved from a hollow, dust-speck-sized glob of sponge?
Call me crazy, but I choose to believe exactly what Almighty God revealed in His inspired, never-changing, ever-enduring Word (1 Peter 1:24-25), and what has always been and always will be consistent with true, testable science: He created animals and humans separately—and not hundreds of millions of years ago (cf. Romans 1:20; Mark 10:6; Luke 11:49-51).
The search for the “first animal” is futile. But, of course, government (i.e., tax-payer) sponsored evolutionary scientists have to find some way to justify their continued support and search for fossils of, among other things, dust-sized, hollow, glob-like sponges.

REFERENCES

Butt, Kyle (2006), “One Little Beaver Demolishes 100 Million Years,” Apologetics Press, http://www.apologeticspress.org/apcontent.aspx?category=9&article=1787.
Lyons, Eric (2007), “Yesterday’s ‘New Reality of Evolution’ Debunked Again,” Apologetics Press, http://www.apologeticspress.org/APContent.aspx?category=9&article=2236.
Viegas, Jennifer (2011), “Earliest Animals Looked Like Baseballs,” December 6, DiscoveryNews, http://news.discovery.com/animals/fossils-early-life-111206.html.
“World’s First Animals were Namibian Sponges” (2012), February 7, DiscoveryNews, http://news.discovery.com/animals/namibia-sponge-fossils-worlds-first-animals-study-120207.html.

U.S. Presidents on Islam by Dave Miller, Ph.D.


http://apologeticspress.org/APContent.aspx?category=7&article=5341

U.S. Presidents on Islam

by  Dave Miller, Ph.D.

George Washington

“You do well to wish to learn our arts and ways of life, and above all, the religion of Jesus Christ. These will make you a greater and happier people than you are. Congress will do everything they can to assist you in this wise intention.”1
“While we are zealously performing the duties of good Citizens and soldiers we certainly ought not to be inattentive to the higher duties of Religion. To the distinguished Character of Patriot, it should be our highest Glory to add the more distinguished Character of Christian.”2

Thomas Jefferson and John Adams

“We took the liberty to make some inquiries concerning the grounds of their pretentions to make war upon nations who had done them no injury, and observed that we considered all mankind as our Friends who had done us no wrong, nor had given us any provocation. The Ambassador answered us that it was founded on the laws of their Prophet, that it was written in their Koran that all nations who should not have acknowledged their authority were sinners, that it was their right and duty to make war upon them wherever they could be found, and to make slaves of all they could take as prisoners; and that every Musselman who should be slain in battle was sure to go to Paradise.”3

John Quincy Adams

“In the seventh century of the Christian era, a wandering Arab of the lineage of Hagar, the Egyptian, combining the powers of transcendent genius, with the preternatural energy of a fanatic, and the fraudulent spirit of an impostor, proclaimed himself as a messenger from Heaven, and spread desolation and delusion over an extensive portion of the earth. Adopting from the sublime conception of the Mosaic law, the doctrine of one omnipotent God; he connected indissolubly with it, the audacious falsehood, that he was himself his prophet and apostle…. [H]e declared undistinguishing and exterminating war, as a part of his religion, against all the rest of mankind…. The precept of the koran is, perpetual war against all who deny, that Mahomet is the prophet of God.”4

Barack Obama

“Islam is not part of the problem in combating violent extremism—it is an important part of promoting peace.”5

EndNotES

1 George Washington (1779), “Speech to the Delaware Chiefs,” in The Writings of George Washington from the Original Manuscript Sources 1745-1799, ed. John C. Fitzpatrick, 15:55, emp. added, http://preview.tinyurl.com/Washington-G-1779. The author assumes that Washington’s belief in the priority of the Christian religion would apply to the Muslim as well as the Native American.
2 George Washington (1778), “General Orders, May 2, 1778,” George Washington Papers at the Library of Congress, emp. added, http://memory.loc.gov/cgi-bin/ampage?collId=mgw3&fileName=mgw3g/gwpage003.db&recNum=181. Again, it is assumed that, if Washington considered being a Christian a person’s highest glory, being a Muslim would not be so considered.
3 “American Peace Commissioners to John Jay” (1786), The Thomas Jefferson Papers Series 1. General Correspondence. 1651-1827, Library of Congress, March 28, http://hdl.loc.gov/loc.mss/mtj.mtjbib001849. The letter refers to Jefferson and Adam's meeting with the Ambassador from the Muslim country of Tripoli.
4 Joseph Blunt (1830), The American Annual Register for the Years 1827-8-9 (New York: E. & G.W. Blunt), 29:269, emp. added, http://www.archive.org/stream/p1americanannual29blunuoft.
5 Barack Obama (2009), “Remarks by the President on a New Beginning,” The White House, Office of the Press Secretary, Cairo University, Cairo, Egypt, June 4, http://www.whitehouse.gov/the-press-office/remarks-president-cairo-university-6-04-09.

Did All of Saul’s House Die Together? by Eric Lyons, M.Min.


http://apologeticspress.org/AllegedDiscrepancies.aspx?article=5082&b=2%20Samuel

Did All of Saul’s House Die Together?

by Eric Lyons, M.Min.

Q:

According to 1 Chronicles 10:1,6, when “the Philistines fought against Israel…. Saul and his three sons died, and all his house died together.” Second Samuel 2:8-10, however, indicates that Saul’s son Ishbosheth was still alive after Saul’s death, and, in fact, reigned over Israel for the two years following the death of his father. How are these accounts not contradictory?

A:

The reason that some contend these passages are incompatible (e.g., Wells, 2014) is because they assume that the phrase “all his house” (Hebrew kaal beeytow) must include every one of Saul’s sons. However, such an assumption cannot be proven anymore than it can be proven that “all his house” included Saul’s daughters, Michal and Merab. (Most people understand that his daughters would not have been fighting the Philistines on the battlefield and would not have been included in “all” of Saul’s house.)
The parallel passage to 1 Chronicles 10:6 is 1 Samuel 31:6, which states: “So Saul, his three sons, his armorbearer, and all his men died together that same day” (emp. added). Saul actually had four sons (including Ishbosheth—2 Samuel 2:8), but the phrase “his three sons” is stated to specify the ones who were actually in the battle with their father against the Philistines. (We are not informed why Ishbosheth was not there.) Similarly, the phrase “all his men” obviously did not mean every servant of Saul’s in the Kingdom of Israel, but all of those servants who were with him in the battle at that time and place.
As is used “all the time” in 21st-century America, the Bible writers often used hyperbole. For example, Luke wrote that prior to the birth of Christ “a decree went out from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be registered…. So all went to be registered, everyone to his own city” (Luke 2:1,3, emp. added). It should be obvious that Luke did not literally mean that every single person in every country on Earth was expected to be registered, but that most people in the Roman Empire (with surely at least some exceptions) were registered.
If I told someone that “all” of the Apologetics Press employees and their families came to a fish fry this past summer, would anyone accuse me of lying if the “all” did not include one of our employees who works from an office three hours away from Montgomery? Most likely, “everyone” would understand and accept the truthfulness and sincere intention of such a statement. One wonders, then, why 2 Chronicles 10:6 is so difficult for some to accept as a truthful declaration.
Finally, even if it could be proven that the chronicler literally meant that every single person who lived in Saul’s physical house died on the same day Saul perished, such an interpretation still could not be proven to contradict the fact that Ishbosheth remained alive. Why? Because it could very well be that Ishbosheth, who was 40 years old at the time (2 Samuel 2:10), no longer lived in Saul’s “house.” If David’s sons Amnon and Absalom had their own “houses” during David’s reign as king (2 Samuel 13:7-8,20), could Ishbosheth not have had his own house during his father’s reign? To ask is to answer.
Once again, an alleged Bible contradiction is demonstrated to be merely an unproven, unfair accusation. Why not be as fair with what the Bible writers penned as we are with what people write and communicate in the 21st century? One cannot legitimately charge the Bible with error when there are perfectly reasonable explanations for the alleged contradictions.

REFERENCE

Wells, Steve (2014), “Did All of Saul’s Family Die with Him?” The Skeptic’s Annotated Bible, http://www.skepticsannotatedbible.com/contra/saul_fam.html.

They Are Without Excuse by Roy Davison


http://www.oldpaths.com/Archive/Davison/Roy/Allen/1940/excuses.html


They Are Without Excuse
We all tend to make excuses.
Adam blamed Eve, and Eve blamed the serpent. But God had given them clear instructions. When He reveals His will to us, we have no excuse for disobeying. Jesus said: "If I had not come and spoken to them, they would have no sin, but now they have no excuse for their sin" (John 15:22).
Ignorance is no excuse.
The eternal power and deity of God are observed by all. "For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who suppress the truth in unrighteousness, because what may be known of God is manifest in them, for God has shown it to them. For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even His eternal power and Godhead, so that they are without excuse, because, although they knew God, they did not glorify Him as God, nor were thankful, but became futile in their thoughts, and their foolish hearts were darkened" (Romans 1:18-21).
Even those who do not know the Scriptures are without excuse because, all around them, they can see ample evidence of the eternal power and deity of God. This should cause them to seek God. Israel was told that even in captivity they could find God if they diligently sought Him: "But from there you will seek the Lord your God, and you will find Him if you seek Him with all your heart and with all your soul" (Deuteronomy 4:29). God has promised: "I love those who love me, and those who seek me diligently will find me" (Proverbs 8:17). "And you will seek Me and find Me, when you search for Me with all your heart" (Jeremiah 29:13). Jesus said: "Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it will be opened" (Matthew 7:7,8).
Ignorance is no excuse. The evidence of God's existence is overwhelming, and God has promised that those who truly seek Him will find Him.
Preoccupation is no excuse.
Many people who believe in God are so occupied with their daily activities that they neglect to serve Him.
"A certain man gave a great supper and invited many, and sent his servant at supper time to say to those who were invited, 'Come, for all things are now ready.' But they all with one accord began to make excuses. The first said to him, 'I have bought a piece of ground, and I must go and see it. I ask you to have me excused.' And another said, 'I have bought five yoke of oxen, and I am going to test them. I ask you to have me excused.' Still another said, 'I have married a wife, and therefore I cannot come.' So that servant came and reported these things to his master. Then the master of the house, being angry, said to his servant, 'Go out quickly into the streets and lanes of the city, and bring in here the poor and the maimed and the lame and the blind.' And the servant said, 'Master, it is done as you commanded, and still there is room.' Then the master said to the servant, 'Go out into the highways and hedges, and compel them to come in, that my house may be filled. For I say to you that none of those men who were invited shall taste my supper''' (Luke 14:16-24).
The man who gave the great supper represents God. The supper represents the spiritual blessings God has prepared for us. It is an honor when someone invites us to a banquet. What a great honor to be invited to the supper of the Lord.
God gave advance invitations to the people of Israel through the Old Testament prophets and Scriptures. When all was ready, He sent His Son to call His people to the feast. But the religious leaders and scholars of Israel were so preoccupied with worldly pursuits that they did not value spiritual manna. To such people Jesus said: "Assuredly, I say to you that tax collectors and harlots enter the kingdom of God before you. For John came to you in the way of righteousness, and you did not believe him; but tax collectors and harlots believed him; and when you saw it, you did not afterward relent and believe him" (Matthew 21:31,32).
Although the guests had been invited beforehand, when the time came, they all began to make excuses! What an insult to the one who had invited them!
Three examples are given of excuses offered. They all indicate preoccupation, self-centeredness and indifference to the invitation.
"The first said to him, 'I have bought a piece of ground, and I must go and see it. I ask you to have me excused.'"
When someone makes an important purchase, he is excited about it and wants to examine and admire it. Everything else tends to be neglected for a while.
It is interesting that different verbs are used in the three examples. In this case he says "I must go and see it." In his mind this was absolutely essential even though it prevented him from attending the great feast to which he had been invited. He was self-centered. He just had to go see that new piece of land he had purchased.
This represents people who give priority to their possessions and are so occupied with them that they neglect to serve God. This reminds us of the parable of the sower: "Now he who received seed among the thorns is he who hears the word, and the cares of this world and the deceitfulness of riches choke the word, and he becomes unfruitful" (Matthew 13:22).
"And another said, 'I have bought five yoke of oxen, and I am going to test them. I ask you to have me excused.'"
The first man was a proud property owner. This man is a busy businessman. He does not say "I must go," he says, "I am going"! He was already on his way. The first man was preoccupied with his property; this man is preoccupied with his business.
Obviously, both the viewing of the property and the testing of the oxen could have waited until the next day. The great feast simply was not important to these men. Their own affairs were more important than the affairs of God. Material possessions were more important than the blessings of God.
This is also true of many today. "But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you" (Matthew 6:33).
"Still another said, 'I have married a wife, and therefore I cannot come.'"
The first man said, "I must go" do something else. The second man said, "I am going" to do something else. This man says, "I cannot come"! It was simply impossible for him to come, because he had just been married. Once again, it was just an excuse, given because he did not value the invitation.
This represents people who let preoccupation with family prevent them from serving God. Jesus warned: "He who loves father or mother more than Me is not worthy of Me. And he who loves son or daughter more than Me is not worthy of Me" (Matthew 10:37). He also promised: "Everyone who has left houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or wife or children or lands, for My name's sake, shall receive a hundredfold, and inherit everlasting life" (Matthew 19:29).
None of those who had been invited were coming! The master of the house was furious. God will be angry with us if we undervalue the spiritual blessings He offers, if we are preoccupied with worldly affairs, and neglect to come to His feast.
The prior invitation had been given to a select few, the people of Israel. Now the invitation is for all.
Going out "into the streets and lanes of the city" and bringing in "the poor and the maimed and the lame and the blind" represents the gospel being preached to the unlearned among the Jews. Jesus prayed, "I thank You, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because You have hidden these things from the wise and prudent and have revealed them to babes" (Matthew 11:25).
Going "out into the highways and hedges" represents the gospel call to the Gentiles. When all believers among the people of Israel have accepted Christ, there is still room in the banquet hall of God. The Gentiles are also invited to the feast of God.
Jesus told the Jewish leaders who rejected Him: "Therefore I say to you, the kingdom of God will be taken from you and given to a nation bearing the fruits of it" (Matthew 21:43). After commending the faith of a Roman centurion, Jesus said: "And I say to you that many will come from east and west, and sit down with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob in the kingdom of heaven. But the sons of the kingdom will be cast out into outer darkness. There will be weeping and gnashing of teeth'' (Matthew 8:11,12).
Paul wrote: "For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ, for it is the power of God to salvation for everyone who believes, for the Jew first and also for the Greek" (Romans 1:16). As Paul went from city to city preaching the gospel, he first gave the Jews an opportunity to hear, then he preached to the Gentiles: "When Silas and Timothy had come from Macedonia, Paul was constrained by the Spirit, and testified to the Jews that Jesus is the Christ. But when they opposed him and blasphemed, he shook his garments and said to them, 'Your blood be upon your own heads; I am clean. From now on I will go to the Gentiles'" (Acts 18:5,6). "Then Paul and Barnabas grew bold and said, 'It was necessary that the word of God should be spoken to you first; but since you reject it, and judge yourselves unworthy of everlasting life, behold, we turn to the Gentiles'" (Acts 13:46).
We have no excuse.
The invitation to the great spiritual feast prepared by God has gone forth to all men. It echos down through the ages and comes to us. "And the Spirit and the bride say, 'Come!' And let him who hears say, 'Come!' And let him who thirsts come. And whoever desires, let him take the water of life freely" (Revelation 22:17).
Let us not make excuses, preoccupied with the affairs of this world. Let us accept the invitation, and attend the spiritual feast prepared for us by God.
Roy Davison


The Scripture quotations in this article are from
The New King James Version. ©1979,1980,1982, Thomas Nelson Inc., Publishers.
Permission for reference use has been granted.

Published in The Old Paths Archive
(http://www.oldpaths.com)

Bible Reading May 25 by Gary Rose

Bible Reading May 25 (World English Bible)


May 25
Judges 7, 8

Jdg 7:1 Then Jerubbaal, who is Gideon, and all the people who were with him, rose up early, and encamped beside the spring of Harod: and the camp of Midian was on the north side of them, by the hill of Moreh, in the valley.
Jdg 7:2 Yahweh said to Gideon, The people who are with you are too many for me to give the Midianites into their hand, lest Israel vaunt themselves against me, saying, My own hand has saved me.
Jdg 7:3 Now therefore proclaim in the ears of the people, saying, Whoever is fearful and trembling, let him return and depart from Mount Gilead. There returned of the people twenty-two thousand; and there remained ten thousand.
Jdg 7:4 Yahweh said to Gideon, The people are yet too many; bring them down to the water, and I will try them for you there: and it shall be, that of whom I tell you, This shall go with you, the same shall go with you; and of whoever I tell you, This shall not go with you, the same shall not go.
Jdg 7:5 So he brought down the people to the water: and Yahweh said to Gideon, Everyone who laps of the water with his tongue, as a dog laps, you shall set him by himself; likewise everyone who bows down on his knees to drink.
Jdg 7:6 The number of those who lapped, putting their hand to their mouth, was three hundred men: but all the rest of the people bowed down on their knees to drink water.
Jdg 7:7 Yahweh said to Gideon, By the three hundred men who lapped will I save you, and deliver the Midianites into your hand; and let all the people go every man to his place.
Jdg 7:8 So the people took food in their hand, and their trumpets; and he sent all the men of Israel every man to his tent, but retained the three hundred men: and the camp of Midian was beneath him in the valley.
Jdg 7:9 It happened the same night, that Yahweh said to him, Arise, go down into the camp; for I have delivered it into your hand.
Jdg 7:10 But if you fear to go down, go with Purah your servant down to the camp:
Jdg 7:11 and you shall hear what they say; and afterward your will hands be strengthened to go down into the camp. Then went he down with Purah his servant to the outermost part of the armed men who were in the camp.
Jdg 7:12 The Midianites and the Amalekites and all the children of the east lay along in the valley like locusts for multitude; and their camels were without number, as the sand which is on the seashore for multitude.
Jdg 7:13 When Gideon had come, behold, there was a man telling a dream to his fellow; and he said, Behold, I dreamed a dream; and behold, a cake of barley bread tumbled into the camp of Midian, and came to the tent, and struck it so that it fell, and turned it upside down, so that the tent lay flat.
Jdg 7:14 His fellow answered, This is nothing else save the sword of Gideon the son of Joash, a man of Israel: into his hand God has delivered Midian, and all the army.
Jdg 7:15 It was so, when Gideon heard the telling of the dream, and its interpretation, that he worshiped; and he returned into the camp of Israel, and said, Arise; for Yahweh has delivered into your hand the army of Midian.
Jdg 7:16 He divided the three hundred men into three companies, and he put into the hands of all of them trumpets, and empty pitchers, with torches within the pitchers.
Jdg 7:17 He said to them, Look on me, and do likewise: and behold, when I come to the outermost part of the camp, it shall be that, as I do, so you shall do.
Jdg 7:18 When I blow the trumpet, I and all who are with me, then blow the trumpets also on every side of all the camp, and say, For Yahweh and for Gideon.
Jdg 7:19 So Gideon, and the hundred men who were with him, came to the outermost part of the camp in the beginning of the middle watch, when they had but newly set the watch: and they blew the trumpets, and broke in pieces the pitchers that were in their hands.
Jdg 7:20 The three companies blew the trumpets, and broke the pitchers, and held the torches in their left hands, and the trumpets in their right hands with which to blow; and they cried, The sword of Yahweh and of Gideon.
Jdg 7:21 They stood every man in his place around the camp; and all the army ran; and they shouted, and put them to flight.
Jdg 7:22 They blew the three hundred trumpets, and Yahweh set every man's sword against his fellow, and against all the army; and the army fled as far as Beth Shittah toward Zererah, as far as the border of Abel Meholah, by Tabbath.
Jdg 7:23 The men of Israel were gathered together out of Naphtali, and out of Asher, and out of all Manasseh, and pursued after Midian.
Jdg 7:24 Gideon sent messengers throughout all the hill country of Ephraim, saying, Come down against Midian, and take before them the waters, as far as Beth Barah, even the Jordan. So all the men of Ephraim were gathered together, and took the waters as far as Beth Barah, even the Jordan.
Jdg 7:25 They took the two princes of Midian, Oreb and Zeeb; and they killed Oreb at the rock of Oreb, and Zeeb they killed at the winepress of Zeeb, and pursued Midian: and they brought the heads of Oreb and Zeeb to Gideon beyond the Jordan.

Jdg 8:1 The men of Ephraim said to him, Why have you treated us this way, that you didn't call us, when you went to fight with Midian? They rebuked him sharply.
Jdg 8:2 He said to them, What have I now done in comparison with you? Isn't the gleaning of the grapes of Ephraim better than the vintage of Abiezer?
Jdg 8:3 God has delivered into your hand the princes of Midian, Oreb and Zeeb: and what was I able to do in comparison with you? Then their anger was abated toward him, when he had said that.
Jdg 8:4 Gideon came to the Jordan, and passed over, he, and the three hundred men who were with him, faint, yet pursuing.
Jdg 8:5 He said to the men of Succoth, Please give loaves of bread to the people who follow me; for they are faint, and I am pursuing after Zebah and Zalmunna, the kings of Midian.
Jdg 8:6 The princes of Succoth said, Are the hands of Zebah and Zalmunna now in your hand, that we should give bread to your army?
Jdg 8:7 Gideon said, Therefore when Yahweh has delivered Zebah and Zalmunna into my hand, then I will tear your flesh with the thorns of the wilderness and with briers.
Jdg 8:8 He went up there to Penuel, and spoke to them in like manner; and the men of Penuel answered him as the men of Succoth had answered.
Jdg 8:9 He spoke also to the men of Penuel, saying, When I come again in peace, I will break down this tower.
Jdg 8:10 Now Zebah and Zalmunna were in Karkor, and their armies with them, about fifteen thousand men, all who were left of all the army of the children of the east; for there fell one hundred twenty thousand men who drew sword.
Jdg 8:11 Gideon went up by the way of those who lived in tents on the east of Nobah and Jogbehah, and struck the army; for the army was secure.
Jdg 8:12 Zebah and Zalmunna fled; and he pursued after them; and he took the two kings of Midian, Zebah and Zalmunna, and confused all the army.
Jdg 8:13 Gideon the son of Joash returned from the battle from the ascent of Heres.
Jdg 8:14 He caught a young man of the men of Succoth, and inquired of him: and he described for him the princes of Succoth, and its elders, seventy-seven men.
Jdg 8:15 He came to the men of Succoth, and said, See Zebah and Zalmunna, concerning whom you taunted me, saying, Are the hands of Zebah and Zalmunna now in your hand, that we should give bread to your men who are weary?
Jdg 8:16 He took the elders of the city, and thorns of the wilderness and briers, and with them he taught the men of Succoth.
Jdg 8:17 He broke down the tower of Penuel, and killed the men of the city.
Jdg 8:18 Then said he to Zebah and Zalmunna, What kind of men were they whom you killed at Tabor? They answered, They were like you. Each one resembled the children of a king.
Jdg 8:19 He said, They were my brothers, the sons of my mother: as Yahweh lives, if you had saved them alive, I would not kill you.
Jdg 8:20 He said to Jether his firstborn, Up, and kill them. But the youth didn't draw his sword; for he feared, because he was yet a youth.
Jdg 8:21 Then Zebah and Zalmunna said, Rise and fall on us; for as the man is, so is his strength. Gideon arose, and killed Zebah and Zalmunna, and took the crescents that were on their camels' necks.
Jdg 8:22 Then the men of Israel said to Gideon, Rule over us, both you, and your son, and your son's son also; for you have saved us out of the hand of Midian.
Jdg 8:23 Gideon said to them, I will not rule over you, neither shall my son rule over you: Yahweh shall rule over you.
Jdg 8:24 Gideon said to them, I would make a request of you, that you would give me every man the earrings of his spoil. (For they had golden earrings, because they were Ishmaelites.)
Jdg 8:25 They answered, We will willingly give them. They spread a garment, and did cast therein every man the earrings of his spoil.
Jdg 8:26 The weight of the golden earrings that he requested was one thousand and seven hundred shekels of gold, besides the crescents, and the pendants, and the purple clothing that was on the kings of Midian, and besides the chains that were about their camels' necks.
Jdg 8:27 Gideon made an ephod of it, and put it in his city, even in Ophrah: and all Israel played the prostitute after it there; and it became a snare to Gideon, and to his house.
Jdg 8:28 So Midian was subdued before the children of Israel, and they lifted up their heads no more. The land had rest forty years in the days of Gideon.
Jdg 8:29 Jerubbaal the son of Joash went and lived in his own house.
Jdg 8:30 Gideon had seventy sons conceived from his body; for he had many wives.
Jdg 8:31 His concubine who was in Shechem, she also bore him a son, and he named him Abimelech.
Jdg 8:32 Gideon the son of Joash died in a good old age, and was buried in the tomb of Joash his father, in Ophrah of the Abiezrites.
Jdg 8:33 It happened, as soon as Gideon was dead, that the children of Israel turned again, and played the prostitute after the Baals, and made Baal Berith their god.
Jdg 8:34 The children of Israel didn't remember Yahweh their God, who had delivered them out of the hand of all their enemies on every side;
Jdg 8:35 neither did they show kindness to the house of Jerubbaal, who is Gideon, according to all the goodness which he had shown to Israel.


May 24, 25
John 5

Joh 5:1 After these things, there was a feast of the Jews, and Jesus went up to Jerusalem.
Joh 5:2 Now in Jerusalem by the sheep gate, there is a pool, which is called in Hebrew, "Bethesda," having five porches.
Joh 5:3 In these lay a great multitude of those who were sick, blind, lame, or paralyzed, waiting for the moving of the water;
Joh 5:4 for an angel of the Lord went down at certain times into the pool, and stirred up the water. Whoever stepped in first after the stirring of the water was made whole of whatever disease he had.
Joh 5:5 A certain man was there, who had been sick for thirty-eight years.
Joh 5:6 When Jesus saw him lying there, and knew that he had been sick for a long time, he asked him, "Do you want to be made well?"
Joh 5:7 The sick man answered him, "Sir, I have no one to put me into the pool when the water is stirred up, but while I'm coming, another steps down before me."
Joh 5:8 Jesus said to him, "Arise, take up your mat, and walk."
Joh 5:9 Immediately, the man was made well, and took up his mat and walked. Now it was the Sabbath on that day.
Joh 5:10 So the Jews said to him who was cured, "It is the Sabbath. It is not lawful for you to carry the mat."
Joh 5:11 He answered them, "He who made me well, the same said to me, 'Take up your mat, and walk.' "
Joh 5:12 Then they asked him, "Who is the man who said to you, 'Take up your mat, and walk' ?"
Joh 5:13 But he who was healed didn't know who it was, for Jesus had withdrawn, a crowd being in the place.
Joh 5:14 Afterward Jesus found him in the temple, and said to him, "Behold, you are made well. Sin no more, so that nothing worse happens to you."
Joh 5:15 The man went away, and told the Jews that it was Jesus who had made him well.
Joh 5:16 For this cause the Jews persecuted Jesus, and sought to kill him, because he did these things on the Sabbath.
Joh 5:17 But Jesus answered them, "My Father is still working, so I am working, too."
Joh 5:18 For this cause therefore the Jews sought all the more to kill him, because he not only broke the Sabbath, but also called God his own Father, making himself equal with God.
Joh 5:19 Jesus therefore answered them, "Most certainly, I tell you, the Son can do nothing of himself, but what he sees the Father doing. For whatever things he does, these the Son also does likewise.
Joh 5:20 For the Father has affection for the Son, and shows him all things that he himself does. He will show him greater works than these, that you may marvel.
Joh 5:21 For as the Father raises the dead and gives them life, even so the Son also gives life to whom he desires.
Joh 5:22 For the Father judges no one, but he has given all judgment to the Son,
Joh 5:23 that all may honor the Son, even as they honor the Father. He who doesn't honor the Son doesn't honor the Father who sent him.
Joh 5:24 "Most certainly I tell you, he who hears my word, and believes him who sent me, has eternal life, and doesn't come into judgment, but has passed out of death into life.
Joh 5:25 Most certainly, I tell you, the hour comes, and now is, when the dead will hear the Son of God's voice; and those who hear will live.
Joh 5:26 For as the Father has life in himself, even so he gave to the Son also to have life in himself.
Joh 5:27 He also gave him authority to execute judgment, because he is a son of man.
Joh 5:28 Don't marvel at this, for the hour comes, in which all that are in the tombs will hear his voice,
Joh 5:29 and will come out; those who have done good, to the resurrection of life; and those who have done evil, to the resurrection of judgment.
Joh 5:30 I can of myself do nothing. As I hear, I judge, and my judgment is righteous; because I don't seek my own will, but the will of my Father who sent me.
Joh 5:31 "If I testify about myself, my witness is not valid.
Joh 5:32 It is another who testifies about me. I know that the testimony which he testifies about me is true.
Joh 5:33 You have sent to John, and he has testified to the truth.
Joh 5:34 But the testimony which I receive is not from man. However, I say these things that you may be saved.
Joh 5:35 He was the burning and shining lamp, and you were willing to rejoice for a while in his light.
Joh 5:36 But the testimony which I have is greater than that of John, for the works which the Father gave me to accomplish, the very works that I do, testify about me, that the Father has sent me.
Joh 5:37 The Father himself, who sent me, has testified about me. You have neither heard his voice at any time, nor seen his form.
Joh 5:38 You don't have his word living in you; because you don't believe him whom he sent.
Joh 5:39 "You search the Scriptures, because you think that in them you have eternal life; and these are they which testify about me.
Joh 5:40 Yet you will not come to me, that you may have life.
Joh 5:41 I don't receive glory from men.
Joh 5:42 But I know you, that you don't have God's love in yourselves.
Joh 5:43 I have come in my Father's name, and you don't receive me. If another comes in his own name, you will receive him.
Joh 5:44 How can you believe, who receive glory from one another, and you don't seek the glory that comes from the only God?
Joh 5:45 "Don't think that I will accuse you to the Father. There is one who accuses you, even Moses, on whom you have set your hope.
Joh 5:46 For if you believed Moses, you would believe me; for he wrote about me.
Joh 5:47 But if you don't believe his writings, how will you believe my words?"