11/20/19

"THE BOOK OF PROVERBS" Wisdom Regarding Family by Mark Copeland


"THE BOOK OF PROVERBS"

Wisdom Regarding Family

INTRODUCTION

1. As we continue our study of the Proverbs, we should keep in mind two
   things:
   a. Life is short
   b. Our eternal existence is greatly influenced by how we live during
      this short life

2. It is imperative, then, that we not waste our time through rash and
   foolish decisions...
   a. Which not only jeopardize our eternal destiny
   b. But can also make this life miserable

3. The value of wisdom is especially seen in family relationships...
   a. "He who troubles his own house will inherit the wind..." - Pro 11:29
   b. Life is too short and families grow too fast for us to raise a
      family through "trial and error"

4. We must seek advice in this all-important task...
   a. But where shall we go?
   b. To so-called "experts" who authoritatively give advice, but then
      all too often change their views later on after the damage has
      been done?  (e.g., Dr. Spock and his earlier views on child-raising)

[Fortunately, in His grace God has preserved in His all-sufficient book
the wisdom needed to provide for and raise a family.  Much of this
wisdom in found in The Book Of Proverbs!  To illustrate, let's first
consider some wisdom in...]

I. PROVIDING FOR A FAMILY

   A. WHAT MANY THINK IS MOST IMPORTANT...
      1. Many would say it is the "necessities" of life
         a. Such as food and clothing
         b. And a place of shelter
      2. Most would feel that other things are also necessary...
         a. Such as the "finer things" (luxuries) for the children,
            which parents never had as children
         b. A good "education" for the children, so they too can be affluent

   [While there is some merit in these things, inspired wisdom from The
   Book Of Proverbs teaches us not to place emphasis upon such material
   things...]

   B. WHERE THE EMPHASIS SHOULD BE...
      1. Instilling a fear of the Lord - Pr 15:16
         a. More important than riches is providing for your family
            through your own example a deep and abiding respect for the Lord
         b. For the fear of the Lord provides:
            a. The beginning of knowledge - Pr 1:7
            b. A means to prolong life - Pr 10:27
            c. The key to avoiding sin - Pr 16:6
            d. The key to true wealth - Pr 22:4
         c. The fear of the Lord, then, is perhaps the most important
            "provision" that one can give to his or her family
      2. Giving them love - Pr 15:17
         a. Providing an environment where love reigns is more important
            than providing material abundance
         b. Troubled children come from homes where "love" is lacking,
            not money!
      3. Providing a peaceful family life - Pr 17:1
         a. Where there is peace and tranquility in a family, material
            affluence matters little
         b. But what value is there in wealth, if we are always fighting
            over the things it provides?
      4. A wise father (or mother) realizes that spiritual provisions
         are more important than material ones
         a. They will see that the family receives what is truly important
         b. Even it means cutting back on less important things

   [But when God's wisdom is truly followed, it won't be necessary to go
   without material necessities!  To see why, consider what can be done...]

   C. TO ENSURE ADEQUATE MATERIAL PROVISIONS...
      1. Be righteous - Pr 20:7
         a. Today that means putting the kingdom of God first in your
            life - Mt 6:33
         b. Then God will watch out for you and providentially see that
            your needs are adequately met!
         c. Children of righteous parents are truly blessed!
         d. But parents who fail to put God first go through life
            without God's providential help, and their children may
            suffer as a result!
      2. Concentrate on acquiring wisdom and knowledge, not wealth 
          - Pro 24:3-4
         a. This would involve a careful study and application of God's
            Word, especially a book like Proverbs
         b. But it also involves living a dedicated life as a disciple
            (learner) of Jesus Christ, in whom are hidden the treasures
            of wisdom and knowledge - cf. Col 2:2-3

[From the Proverbs, then, we learn that the best and wisest thing
parents can do for their family is to provide themselves as obedient
servants of God, and to instill such faith in their children.  If this
is done, God will see that their material needs are met!  But what about
the matter of raising children...?]

II. RAISING CHILDREN

   A. THE PROPER USE OF CORPOREAL PUNISHMENT...
      1. Used properly, it is a demonstration of true love - Pr 13:24
      2. Proper discipline has proper objectives...
         a. To remove foolishness from the child - Pr 22:15
         b. To save the soul of the child - Pr 23:13-14
         c. To impart wisdom and to avoid shame - Pr 29:15
      3. Proper discipline has its rewards - Pr 29:17
         a. Such as "rest" and "delight"
         b. A child who will love you and live in such a way as to bring
            you delight
      4. Of course, there must be the proper application of corporeal
         punishment - Pr 19:18
         a. To be applied before the situation gets of out hand ("while
            there is hope")
         b. To be applied under controlled circumstances ("do not set
            your heart on his destruction")
            1) I.e., do not put it off until you strike in anger
            2) There is a difference between proper "spanking" and "child abuse"!
         c. Corporeal punishment should never be a vent for letting off steam...
            1) Rather, a controlled use of one method to discourage bad behavior
            2) To be accompanied with love! - cf. Ep 6:4 (as implied by
               the word "nurture")

   B. MORE WISDOM FROM A FAMILIAR VERSE - Pr 22:6
      1. As commonly translated:  "train up a child in the way he should go"
         a. This allows for the common interpretation in which a child's
            outcome is virtually dependent upon his training, especially
            in spiritual matters
            1) I.e., if the child is brought up right by godly parents,
               the child must turn out all right
            2) So if a child is not a faithful Christian, it must always
               be a failing of the parents
         b. But this view suggests "environmental predestination", or
            "behavioral determinism" (shades of B. F. Skinner, cf. his
            book "Walden II")
      2. Literally, the verse can be translated:  "train up a child
         according to his way"
         a. That is, train up a child according to his or her inclinations
         b. For example, don't try to force a child who is mechanically
            inclined to be a doctor or a lawyer
         c. Rather, bring up a child according to his or her aptitude,
            and they will likely continue what they start out in life
            doing (i.e., no "mid-life" crisis or career changes)
         d. Therefore, this verse, like so many in Proverbs, is simply
            giving us practical advice in raising our children (without
            necessarily any spiritual implications)
      3. However, I might add that trying to force a child to go against
         their "aptitude" may encourage a child to rebel in all areas of
         parental influence (including spiritual)

CONCLUSION

1. My purpose has not been to provide an exhaustive treatment of this
   subject covered in Proverbs

2. Rather, to illustrate its value to Christians in all areas of our lives...
   a. That it does speak to such matters as providing for a family,
      raising children
   b. So that we will study and meditate on it more often

Since so much of our happiness or lack of it is affected by our family
life, we should want to take advantage of the wisdom offered in this
area by the book of Proverbs...!


Executable Outlines, Copyright © Mark A. Copeland, 2016

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Questions and Answers: Did Shakespeare Slip His Name in Psalm 46? by Kyle Butt, M.Div.





Questions and Answers: Did Shakespeare Slip His Name in Psalm 46?

by Kyle Butt, M.Div.

Q.

Did Shakespeare slip his name in Psalm 46?

A.

Amazing! Incredible! Unbelievable! William Shakespeare left his mark on the King James Version of the Bible. At least that is the rumor going around. According to a host of Websites and books, William Shakespeare was called upon to add his artistic touch to the English translation of the Bible done at the behest of King James, which was finished in 1611. As proof for this idea, proponents point to Psalm 46 and allege that Shakespeare slipped his name into the text. Here is how the story goes. Since Shakespeare was born in the year 1564, then he would have been 46 years old during 1610 when the finishing touches were being put on the King James Bible (KJV). In the KJV, if you count down 46 words from the top (not counting the title) you read the word “shake,” then, if you omit the word “selah” and count 46 words from the bottom you find the word “spear.” VoilĂ ! Shakespeare must have tinkered with the text and subtly added his signature.
To refute this “urban legend,” it first should be noted that, although Shakespeare did live at the same time the King James Version was being translated, there is no evidence that he had anything to do with the translation. The events and dates in the life of Shakespeare are fairly well known, and in all of the known facts about his life, not a single piece of paper or document puts him anywhere near the translation process of the KJV.
Second, in order to get the “perfect” 46s out of Psalm 46, the word “selah” must be omitted from the text. Since the word “selah” seems to be a type punctuation, then the proponents of the rumor think it would be acceptable to omit it. However, the word is in the original text of the Psalm.
Third, Shakespeare could not have subjectively inserted the words into the text in order to get his name in, since the Hebrew words for “shake” and “spear” had been there for thousands of years prior to 1611. Also, the word “shake” is a commonly used word in the KJV (as is the word “spear”). Finding the two words together in one psalm is unremarkable.
Finally, numbers like these 46s, and coincidences of this kind, are a dime a dozen. A person can pull numerical shenanigans all day long. My wife’s name is Bethany, and at this writing, she is 26 years old. In the New King James Version in the twenty-sixth chapter of Matthew in verse 6, the name Bethany appears. It happens to be the sixth word from the beginning of the verse, which is the exact age my wife would have been for the majority of the year 1982, which was the year the New King James Version hit the market. That must mean that she helped translate that particular section of scripture. Or maybe it just means that numbers can be made to say just about anything.
Let’s stop trying to discover “secret” codes and names in the Bible, and instead start reading it to see what God really says to us. When we do, we will not find secret codes and mysterious names; rather, we will see God’s straightforward plan for righteous living.

Psalm 137:9—Dashing Babies’ Heads Against a Stone by Kyle Butt, M.Div.





Psalm 137:9—Dashing Babies’ Heads Against a Stone

by Kyle Butt, M.Div.


In my debate with atheist Dan Barker in 2009, Barker accused the God of the Bible of numerous egregious immoralities. One of these accusations centered on Psalm 137:9. Barker stated:
In Psalm 137:9, he [God] told us that we should be happy to take the innocent babies and dash them against the stones. That’s—even if that God did exist, I might not necessarily want to worship such a monster. I might ask him to confess his sins to me. What a guy—what if I were to treat my kids like this?1
The accusation is that Psalm 137:9 is a prescriptive verse that says that whoever dashes the heads of the babies against a stone will be “happy.” According to the skeptical interpretation of this verse, it is to be understood in the same way as the Beatitudes are understood—as a blessing that will be the result of some stated actions. Allegedly, just as Jesus said “Blessed [or “happy” as some translations say] are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth” (Matthew 5:5), so Psalm 137:9 is saying that anyone who kills these babies will be blessed with such happiness. There are several problems with the skeptic’s charge against God in this Psalm.
First, we need to look at the context of the verse. By ripping a verse out of its context, a person could force the Bible to say practically anything he wanted to make it say. Instead of misinterpreting passages out of context, it is the job of every honest person to attempt to understand all texts, including and especially those in the Bible, in the context of how the author intended them to be understood. Here is the Psalm in its entirety.
By the rivers of Babylon, there we sat down, yea, we wept when we remembered Zion. We hung our harps upon the willows in the midst of it. For there those who carried us away captive asked of us a song, and those who plundered us requested mirth, saying, “Sing us one of the songs of Zion!” How shall we sing the Lord’s song in a foreign land? If I forget you, O Jerusalem, let my right hand forget its skill! If I do not remember you, let my tongue cling to the roof of my mouth—if I do not exalt Jerusalem above my chief joy. Remember, O Lord, against the sons of Edom the day of Jerusalem, who said, “Raze it, raze it, to its very foundation!” O daughter of Babylon, who are to be destroyed, happy the one who repays you as you have served us! Happy the one who takes and dashes your little ones against the rock!
The author of this Psalm is a captive in Babylon. The Babylonians (who caused so much destruction in Israel, killed so many of the Israelites, and held the author and other survivors captive) were demanding that the Israelites perform for them and sing songs about the beauty of Zion. The author was indignant that his captors would make such a demand in light of the horrible things that the Babylonians had done to the Israelites, and the fact that the Babylonians still held them captive. The author then proceeds to explain that the Babylonians were not going to be in their elevated position as victors for long. Instead, these captors who were demanding mirth and songs from the Israelite captives were going to suffer a similar fate to the one that they dealt out. According to the author, there would be those coming who would, in essence, do to the Babylonians what the Babylonians did to Israel, except the Babylonian punishment would be on an even greater scale. The nation that would destroy the Babylonians would repay the Babylonians for the evil they had done and would go so far as to dash the heads of the Babylonian babies against the stones.
We get a glimpse of how this process works in Isaiah 10. Isaiah explains that God would use the nation of Assyria to punish the Israelites. He says, “Woe to Assyria, the rod of My anger and the staff in whose hand is My indignation. I will send him against an ungodly nation, and against the people of My wrath…. Yet he does not mean so, nor does his heart think so, but it is in his heart to destroy, and cut off not a few nations” (10:5-7). Even though God used Assyria as a tool to punish Israel, Assyria did not view its mission in light of God’s justice, and Assyria cruelly and arrogantly abused its power. What, then, did God promise to do to wicked Assyria? The text explains: “Therefore it shall come to pass, when the Lord has performed all His work on Mount Zion and on Jerusalem, that He will say, ‘I will punish the fruit of the arrogant heart of the king of Assyria, and the glory of his haughty looks’” (10:12). Assyria’s wickedness would also be punished.
This same scenario is seen in the Babylonian victory over Israel. In Jeremiah 12, the prophet asked God, “Why does the way of the wicked prosper? Why are those happy who deal so treacherously?” (12:1). Jeremiah is perplexed about how God can use a wicked nation such as Babylon to punish the Israelites for wickedness, when it seems that the Babylonians are just as wicked or more sinful than the Israelites. God then explains: “Many rulers have destroyed My vineyard [the nation of Judah—KB]…they have made it desolate…. The plunderers have come on all the desolate heights in the wilderness” (12:10-13). What does the Lord say would happen to those “plunderers” who destroyed Judah? “Thus says the Lord: ‘Against all My evil neighbors who touch the inheritance which I have caused My people Israel to inherit—behold, I will pluck them out of their land and pluck out the house of Judah” (12:14). Thus, God would take vengeance on the nations such as Babylon and Assyria because of their sinful arrogance and cruelty against Israel.
In Jeremiah chapters 50-51 we see a detailed description of what would happen to wicked Babylon. The prophecy begins by stating: “The word that the Lord spoke against Babylon and against the land of the Chaldeans” (50:1). The Israelites would repent of their sins (50:4-5) and beg the Lord to return them to Israel in a renewed covenant with God. God would then punish Babylon, as the prophet stated, “‘For behold, I will raise and cause to come up against Babylon an assembly of great nations from the north country, and they shall array themselves against her; from there she shall be captured. Their arrows shall be like those of an expert warrior; none shall return in vain. And Chaldea shall become plunder; all who plunder her shall be satisfied,’ says the Lord” (50:8-10). Jeremiah 51 continues to describe the destruction of Babylon at the hands of the Medes and Persians. The prophet explains, “The sound of a cry comes from Babylon, and great destruction from the land of the Chaldeans, because the Lord is plundering Babylon and silencing her loud voice…. For the Lord is the God of recompense, He will surely repay” (51:56). And again, “Repay her according to her work; according to all she has done, do to her; for she has been proud against the Lord, against the Holy One of Israel” (50:29).
Looking at Psalm 137 in context, then, we see the psalmist foreshadowing the destruction of Babylon by the Medes and Persians. Since that is the case, we can now understand some things about the statement made in 137:9. The first thing we can see is that it is not a command given by God for anyone today to dash babies’ heads against stones. It certainly is not saying that Christians should dash babies heads against stones to be happy. It can be interpreted as a descriptive statement made about the army that would destroy Babylon and cannot be assumed to be a prescriptive statement that gives a command from God.
Let us consider the difference, then, between a prescriptive statement and a descriptive one. A prescriptive statement prescribes what God says should be done in order to obtain a certain result. For instance, Ephesians 6:2 says, “‘Honor your father and mother,’ which is the first commandment with promise: ‘that it may be well with you and you may live long on the earth.’” Notice that “honor your father and mother” is a commandment from God of what should be done, and the result would be “that it may be well with you.” A descriptive verse or idea, however, is one that describes a situation—not that God has commanded or ordained—but one that simply relates what is the case if something happens. For instance, in 1 Kings 21, we read about King Ahab attempting to buy a vineyard from Naboth. Naboth refused to sell the king the vineyard, and 1 Kings 21:4 says, “So Ahab went into his house sullen and displeased.” This text is describing what Ahab felt, not what he should have felt or what was the necessary result of the situation. In truth, if he were doing what God wanted, he should have commended Naboth for not selling his family land, and he should have been pleased with Naboth’s obedience to God. Instead, the Bible describes his sullenness, but does not condone it in any way.
When we apply this idea of descriptive talk to Psalm 137:9, we can understand that there is no way the skeptic can prove that dashing babies’ heads against a stone was a commandment that God gave anyone, not even the Medes and Persians. The text is easily understood as one that simply describes what was going to take place. Furthermore, the text cannot be shown to be stating that those who do such things “should” be happy because of these actions. As further evidence of this distinction between descriptive and prescriptive writing, consider the fact that, even though God allowed the Babylonians to destroy Judah (and the Assyrians to destroy northern Israel), those two wicked nations had performed their deeds in a cruel, arrogant way that God did not approve or condone. Their wicked treatment of Israel brought about punishment from God. We can see that God allowed Babylon to destroy Judah, but then punished the nation for the evil way the Babylonians went about it. In the same way, it would be wrong to assume that the Lord condoned the future actions of the Medes and Persians when they would dash the heads of the Babylonian babies against the stones. 
Second, if it would be wrong to assume that God condoned the actions of the Medes and Persians, why does the text state, “Happy shall he be who repays you as you have served us! Happy shall he be who takes and dashes your little ones against the rock” (Psalm 137:9)? Another primary reason this text is often misused is due to a misunderstanding of the way the word “happy” is used. It is assumed that happiness is an ultimate good that all people are trying to attain. In this context, however, that is not how the word is used. Instead, it is used in a way that describes a fleeting feeling that has no lasting effects and is of no ultimate spiritual value. A parallel passage that sheds light on this word is found in Jeremiah 12:1, which we noticed earlier. Notice how Jeremiah used the word “happy.” He asked God “Why does the way of the wicked prosper? Why are those happy who deal so treacherously?” Jeremiah recognizes that the “happy” people in this passage are wicked, treacherous, and unrighteous. He is wondering how such wicked people can be “happy.” God then explains to the prophet that what he views as happiness is not ultimately a spiritual good, but only a temporary situation. In fact, God explains to Jeremiah that He will punish all those wicked treacherous people, but offer them a chance to repent. If they repent, “then they shall be established in the midst of my people” (12:16), thus offering them an opportunity at legitimate spiritual well-being. If they refused to repent, however, God declared, “I will utterly pluck up and destroy the nation” (12:17).
When we look at the way the Babylonian destruction of Israel is described, we see similar statements to Psalm 137:9. In Jeremiah 50, the prophet tells the Babylonians they would be destroyed, “Because you were glad, because you rejoiced, you destroyers of My heritage” (50:11). They were not glad in a righteous sense, or one that had to do with any ultimate spiritual good, but in a sinful, fleeting sense. Again, their “rejoicing” was not brought about because they followed a commandment from God, but the very opposite. They cruelly and arrogantly destroyed God’s people. This made them “glad” and they “rejoiced” in a way that had nothing to do with commendation from God, or with doing what God has said do in the way He said do it. In such a context, the Bible is not saying that wickedness leads to any type of ultimate good. On the contrary, such statements describe a fleeting feeling of emotional pleasure that can be felt by any person, whether righteous or wicked, but which is not based on the rightness or wrongness of an action.
To illustrate, consider the bank robber who is “happy” that he was able to get away from the policeman without getting caught. Or think of the murderer who was “happy” he successfully buried his victim’s body without being discovered. Or think of the college student who was “happy” it was Friday so he could get drunk with his friends. These scenarios show us that, even today, we often use the word “happy” in the same way that the Bible writers did. The New Testament gives us another clear use of such language in James 4:9. There the writer tells the sinful rich people to “Lament and mourn and weep! Let your laughter be turned to sorrow and your joy to gloom.” The word “joy” is used in other places to describe real, spiritual contentment and happiness (James 1:2). It is used in James 4:9, however, to describe a fleeting feeling that the sinful rich experienced as a result of the misuse of their money. James demanded that they reverse their wrong emotional state to a more accurate one of sorrow and gloom due to their sinful condition.

CONCLUSION

In Psalm 137:9, it cannot be assumed that the inspired writer was saying that God commanded anyone to dash the heads of children against a stone. The idea that the text merely describes what the Medes and the Persians would do in the future fits the context perfectly. The way the word “happy” is used throughout the Bible allows for the author to be using it in Psalm 137:9 in a way that can describe a fleeting feeling that can be the result of evil actions. This feeling has nothing to do with a blessing or commendation from God. The way the skeptic pulls this passage from its context and misinterprets it says more about the skeptic’s dishonesty when dealing with the biblical text than it does about God’s morality.2

ENDNOTES

1 Butt, Kyle (2010), A Christian’s Guide to Refuting Modern Atheism: An Expanded Study of the Butt/Barker Debate, Apologetics Press, http://apologeticspress.org/user_file/A%20Christians%20Guide%20to%20Modern%20Atheism-w.pdf.
2 For further discussion on the skeptic’s accusation that God kills innocent children, see pages 203-214 of the above mentioned book. For a discussion of psalms that contain statements about God’s vengeance, see Dave Miller (2013), “The Imprecatory Psalms,” http://www.apologeticspress.org/APContent.aspx?category=13&article=4707&topic=82.

Prophecies--True and False by Wayne Jackson, M.A.





Prophecies--True and False

by Wayne Jackson, M.A.


There is some controversy among Bible scholars relative to the etymology of the term “prophet,” as that word is employed in the Scriptures. Perhaps the best way to determine the meaning of this expression is to observe the contextual usage that is reflected in the biblical record. A good example is found in the case of Aaron, the brother of Moses. Aaron was appointed by God to be a “prophet” for Moses (Exodus 7:1). Elsewhere, Aaron’s role is described as that of a “spokesman” (Exodus 4:16). A prophet is thus one who speaks for another.
One aspect of prophecy is that of “prediction,” i.e., the ability to speak precisely beforehand of events that later are to be realized factually. Predictive prophecy, therefore, has great evidential value in establishing the divine authenticity of the biblical documents (see Jackson, 1988). Consider the following factors.
First, only God knows the future. He is able to “call the things that are not, as though they were” (Romans 4:17). He declares “the end from the beginning, and from ancient times things that are not yet done” (Isaiah 46:10; cf. Acts 15:18). In fact, the prophets of biblical history challenged their pagan contemporaries to demonstrate their predictive prowess so as to establish their spiritual credibility. Isaiah charged the heathen seers of his day: “Declare the things that are to come hereafter, that we may know that ye are gods” (41:23).
Second, if one can demonstrate the ability to declare future things that find exact fulfillment, it would follow logically that such a person, in possession of this gift, would be speaking on behalf of God. His message, therefore, would be valid. On the other hand, if one attempts to foretell the future, and his prophecy fails, the error provides clear evidence that the “prophet” is false. “[W]hen a prophet speaks in the name of Jehovah, if the thing follows not, nor comes to pass, that is the thing which Jehovah has not spoken: the prophet has spoken it presumptuously, you shall not be afraid of him” (Deuteronomy 18:22).

BIBLICAL PROPHECY

As suggested above, prophecy affords a powerful base of evidence that corroborates the Scriptures’ claim of divine origin. Scholars suggest that there are about 1,000 prophecies altogether in the Bible—some 800 in the Old Testament, and about 200 in the New Testament. Consider the following broad categories of prophetic data.
  1. National Prophecies. There are prophecies that detail, centuries in advance, the fortunes and fates of nations. When the Babylonian empire was at its zenith, with utterly no military/political weakness apparent, Daniel foretold its demise, along with the subsequent rise of the Medo-Persians, Greeks, and Romans (see Daniel 2, 7). No one could have dreamed that these international events would occur. And yet they did, as every student of history knows. The prophecies are so astounding that radical critics have felt compelled to re-date the book of Daniel (placing it in the second century B.C.), so as to suggest “history” instead of “prophecy.”
  2. Personal Prophecies. Some Old Testament prophecies deal specifically with individual persons. The role of Josiah (cf. 1 Kings 13, 2 Kings 23) was prophesied three centuries before the king’s birth. The mission of Cyrus, King of Persia (to deliver Judah from Babylonian Captivity), also was described 150 years before the illustrious ruler came to the throne (Isaiah 44:28; 45:1-7).
  3. Messianic Prophecies. The Old Testament contains more than 300 prophecies that focus upon the life and ministry of Jesus of Nazareth (Collett, n.d., p. 84). He was to be the woman’s seed (Genesis 3:15), from the lineage of Abraham (Genesis 22:17-18), born in Bethlehem (Micah 5:2), to the virgin (Isaiah 7:14), etc. Mathematician Peter Stoner estimated that the odds of one person accidentally fulfilling just eight of the many Old Testament prophecies regarding the Messiah is on the order of 1 in 1017—a figure far beyond circumstantial possibility (1963, p. 107).
Prophecy, therefore, is a powerful packet of evidence that supports the case for Bible inspiration. However, it must be noted carefully that the gift of prophecy—clearly operative during those bygone ages when the biblical documents were being prepared—was terminated near the end of the first century A.D. The inspired Paul made it quite clear that supernatural “gifts,” including that of prophecy, were to cease “when that which is perfect is come” (see 1 Corinthians 13:8-10). The term “perfect” translates the Greek expression to teleion—literally, “the complete thing.” It stands in contrast to “the in-part things,” i.e., the prophetic gifts (as vehicles of revelation), mentioned within the context. W.E. Vine noted: “With the completion of Apostolic testimony and the completion of the Scriptures of truth (‘the faith once for all delivered to the saints,’ Jude 3, R.V.), ‘that which is perfect’ had come, and the temporary gifts were done away” (1951, p. 184).

FALSE PROPHECY

Since predictive prophecy is such a compelling line of argumentation, it comes as no great surprise that unscrupulous religionists, both ancient and modern, have sought to capitalize upon this phenomenon. In the history of Israel, both Zedekiah (1 Kings 22) and Hananiah (Jeremiah 28) were false prophets. Jesus Christ personally warned: “Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly are ravening wolves” (Matthew 7:15).
In the balance of this discussion, I will call attention to some of the people, in relatively modern times who have attracted attention to themselves by their claim of being able to predict the future either by exercising the gift of prophecy, or by purporting to have special insight into the Bible so as to foretell such matters as “the end of time,” etc. The glaring relief between these pretenders, and the great prophets of the Bible, will be shocking.

Nostradamus

“Nostradamus” was the pseudonym of Michel de Notredame, a French physician/astrologer of the sixteenth century A.D. In 1555, he published a book of rhymed prophecies, which secured for him a considerable reputation in an age of gross superstition. Though his utterances were woefully obscure, and the interpretations hotly debated by his most devoted followers, some have alleged that his prophetic declarations were as impressive as those of the biblical prophets. Dan Barker, a Pentecostal-turned-atheist, states that if Ezekiel was a prophet, so was Nostradamus (1992, p. 192).
The claim is ludicrous. But see for yourself. Here is one of the prophecies of Nostradamus:
To maintain the great troubled cloak
The reds march to clear it.
A family almost ruined by death,
The red reds strike down the red one.
To what does this cryptic riddle allude? Barker suggests that it foretells “the fate of the Kennedys” (1992, p. 185). With such a fertile imagination, it hardly is a mystery that Barker defected to unbelief.
The most famous oracle of Nostradamus—supposedly the best evidence for his “gift”—reads as follows:
The young lion will overcome the old one,
On the field of war in single combat:
He will burst his eyes in a cage of gold,
Two fleets one, then to die, a cruel death.
Allegedly, this passage has reference to the death of France’s king, Henry II, who was wounded in a jousting contest in 1557, and died ten days later. But here are the actual facts of history: (a) Only six years separated the ages of Henry and his opponent in the tournament; it hardly was a contest between the young and the old (Henry was only forty). (b) The accident occurred during a friendly sporting event, not on a battlefield. (c) There is no evidence that Henry was wearing a gilded visor (cage) of gold. Moreover, the king’s eyes were not damaged; a splinter from the lance pierced his skull and entered the brain. (d) The reference to “two fleets” is meaningless. (e) In addition to these significant factors, only two years before this tragic accident, Nostradamus wrote a letter to King Henry in which he described the monarch as “most invincible” (Randi, 1990, p. 173). He hardly was invincible!

Edgar Cayce

Edgar Cayce (1877-1945) has been applauded as one of the most impressive prophets of modern times. At the age of six or seven he was seeing “visions.” Cayce claimed that by sleeping with his head on his school books, he could absorb knowledge, which enabled him to advance rapidly in his education. He claimed psychic healing powers (three almonds a day is a cure for cancer!), taught the doctrine of reincarnation, and advocated a number of bizarre theological doctrines (e.g., Jesus and Adam were the same person), and said that he (Cayce) wrote the Gospel of Luke in a previous life. As a prophet, Cayce was a catastrophic failure. For instance, he prophesied that during the early portion of a forty-year span (1958-98) a tilting of the Earth’s axis would produce drastic physical alterations of our planet. “The earth will be broken up in the western portion of America. The greater portion of Japan must go into the sea,” etc. (Stern, 1967, p. 37). Cayce’s apologists claim that he predicted World War II. And yet, Jess Stern, who did more to popularize Cayce than any other writer, wrote: “Edgar Cayce was as stunned as anybody else when the bombs dropped on Pearl Harbor” (1967, p. 16).

Jeane Dixon

Jeane Dixon, a Roman Catholic matron who claims to be inspired with the gift of prophecy, says that she began peering into the future when she was about five years of age. She has thousands of followers throughout the country who believe her claims. But what do the following Dixon prophecies have in common? Russia would be the first nation to land a man on the Moon. World War III was to break out in October 1958. Walter Reuther would be a Democratic candidate for President in 1964. There would be no significant legislation passed by Congress in 1965 (the year of the Medicare and Civil Rights Bills). The common thread in all these prophecies is that they all proved false! These are but a fraction of the failed oracles that Dixon viewed in her $8,000 crystal ball (Davidson, 1965, p. 139). On one occasion she predicted that John F. Kennedy would be elected President in 1960. She apparently forgot about that prophecy though, because in 1960 she declared that Nixon would be the election victor. Moreover, Ms. Dixon once prophesied that Nixon had “excellent vibrations for the good of America” and would “serve [his] country well” (Time, 1965, p. 59). How curious that her crystal ball never previewed the disgrace that would befall the 37th President (the only one ever to resign). But “the most significant and soul-stirring” vision she ever received asserts that: “A child, born somewhere in the Middle East shortly after 7 a.m (EST) on February 5, 1962, will revolutionize the world. Before the end of 1999 he will bring together all mankind in one all-embracing faith. This will be the foundation of a new Christianity, with every sect and creed united through this man who will walk among the people to spread the wisdom of the Almighty Power” (Montgomery, 1965, p. 171). This new “Messiah” better get busy, for the century is almost gone!

Joseph Smith

The Mormon Church was founded by Joseph Smith Jr., who claimed to be a prophet of God. Mormons are thus required to “give heed unto all his words and commandments” (Doctrine & Covenants, 21:4-5). It is, of course, a matter of historical record that many of Smith’s prophecies proved false. For example, the “seer” prophesied that the American Civil War of the mid-1800s would become so intense that “war shall be poured out upon all nations” (D&C, 87:1-3), resulting ultimately in the “full end of all nations” (87:6). In 1835 he declared that the “coming of the Lord” would “wind up the scene” within fifty-six years (Roberts, 1950, 2:182). Smith foretold that the Mormon temple would be erected in Independence, Missouri (D&C, 57:1-3). None of these prophecies was fulfilled, and they have been a source of humiliation to Mormon leaders.
Occasionally, a Mormon writer will attempt to justify Smith’s prophetic blunders. One such effort is reflected in a book titled, A Ready Reply, by Michael T. Griffith. Griffith contends that after “studying prophecy for several years” he “deduced” that there are certain rules that must be considered in evaluating this topic. One of these rules is: “A prophet can be mistaken about certain details of a prophecy but correct with regard to its central message” (1994, p. 23). Mr. Griffith’s “deducer” is in need of repair. There is a logical axiom which affirms that the total of a thing is equal to the sum of its parts. In other words, if the details of a prophecy are incorrect, the prophecy per se cannot be correct.

William Miller and Ellen G. White

William Miller (1782-1849) was the driving force behind the movement that eventually became the Seventh-Day Adventist Church. Miller was a Baptist minister initially. He developed an interest in prophecy and, after a two-year study, claimed that he had determined the precise time of the Lord’s return to Earth. It would occur on March 21, 1843. When this date came, and Miller’s prophecy was not fulfilled, he revised his calculations, and reset the date at October 22, 1844. When that prediction likewise proved false, thousands abandoned the Millerite movement.
Later, however, Ellen G. White would breathe new life into the disillusioned remnant. She, too, would accept the designation “prophetess.” “Almost every aspect of belief and activity of the Seventh-day Adventists was encouraged or inspired by a vision or word from Mrs. White” (Hoekema, 1963, p. 97). Adventists claim that between 1844 and 1915, Ellen White had more than 2,000 visions. An Adventist writer says that: “Some [of these] are in the process of being fulfilled, while others still await fulfillment” (Damsteegt, 1988, p. 225).

Hal Lindsey

In the early 1970s, Hal Lindsey’s book, The Late Great Planet Earth, became a runaway best seller in religious circles. Like many others, Lindsey also tried his hand as a prognosticator—especially with reference to the return of Christ. He suggested that the “generation” witnessing the rebirth of Israel as an independent nation (which occurred May 14, 1948) would be that generation alive at the Second Coming of Christ. Hear him comment on Matthew 24:34: “What generation? Obviously, in context, the generation that would see the signs—chief among them the rebirth of Israel. A generation in the Bible is something like forty years. If this is a correct deduction, then within forty years or so of 1948, all these things could take place” (1970, p. 43). What was “obvious” in 1970, was not so obvious later. In an article published in Eternity magazine, January 1977, Lindsey waffled, and stretched his forty-year span to perhaps a century!

Harold Camping

Harold Camping has a nationally syndicated television program out of Oakland, California. His greatest claim to fame is a book that he produced in 1992. It was titled 1994? Perhaps the most telling portion of the title is that question mark. The massive volume of more than 550 pages concludes in this unimpressive fashion: “The results of this study indicate that the month of September of the year 1994 is to be the time for the end of history” (1992, p. 531). September of 1994 should have been the end of Mr. Camping’s career as a teacher, but it wasn’t because in their own blindness, people continue to follow the blind.

CONCLUSION

There is not a more significant truth to be emphasized at this concluding point than this: the Bible is God’s final prophetic word to humanity. Do not listen to those who claim special predictive abilities, or to those who twist the Scriptures in an effort to fulfill a personal prophetic agenda.

REFERENCES

Barker, Dan (1992), Losing Faith in Faith (Madison, WI: Freedom from Religion Foundation).
Camping, Harold (1992), 1994? (New York: Vantage).
Collett, Sidney (n.d.), All About the Bible (London: Revell).
Damsteegt, P.G., editor (1988), Seventh-Day Adventists Believe... (Washington, D.C.: Ministerial Association General Conference of Seventh-day Adventists).
Davidson, Bill (1965), “Jeane Dixon Predicts the Future,” Ladies Home Journal, 82:74.
Doctrine & Covenants (1952), (Salt Lake City, UT: Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints).
Griffith, Michael (1994), A Ready Reply (Bountiful, UT: Horizon).
Hoekema, Anthony A. (1963), The Four Major Cults (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans).
Jackson, Wayne (1988), “Principles of Bible Prophecy,” Reason & Revelation, 8:27-30, July.
Lindsey, Hal (1970), The Late Great Planet Earth (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan).
Montgomery, Ruth (1965), A Gift of Prophecy—The Phenomenal Jeane Dixon (New York: William Morrow).
Randi, James (1990), The Mask of Nostradamus (New York: Charles Scribners Sons).
Roberts, B.H. (1950), History of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints (Salt Lake City, UT: Deseret).
Stern, Jess (1967), Edgar Cayce—The Sleeping Prophet (New York: Bantam).
Stoner, Peter W., and R.C. Newman (1963), Science Speaks (Chicago, IL: Moody).
Time (1965), “Seer in Washington,” 86:59-60, August 13.
Vine, W.E. (1951), I Corinthians—Local Church Problems (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan).
[See related articles on Charles Taze Russell and Fred W. Franz]

THE BROKEN SNARE & FREEDOM by Jim McGuiggan


http://theabidingword.com/logos/index.html

THE BROKEN SNARE & FREEDOM

  1. If it had not been the LORD who was on our side,
  2. Let Israel now say—
  3. If it had not been the LORD who was on our side, when men rose up against us:
  4. Then they would have swallowed us alive, when their wrath was kindled against us.
  5. Then the waters would have overwhelmed us, the stream would have gone over our soul:
  6. Then the swollen waters would have gone over our soul.
  7. Blessed be the LORD, who has not given us as a prey to their teeth.
  8. Our soul has escaped as a bird from the snare of the fowlers: the snare is broken, and we have escaped.
  9. Our help is in the name of the LORD, who made heaven and earth.
Praise God, some of us have never felt we were on the brink of disaster, never teetered on the edge of the abyss, never felt the loss was too great to bear, never lost sight of comforting landmarks as we sailed beyond familiar waters. We know the source of our blessing and we sincerely thank Him for his protection and generosity.
But many among us have been through hell and back.
We had heard this psalm of David [124] read to us, may even have read it ourselves many times and thought how fine it was. We may even have heard a good sermon on it [or preached one] and thought it assuring so we tucked it away in our hearts as something fine to tell others who were in trouble.
Then imminent disaster stared us in the face, calamity smashed through the doors of our happy homes and obliterated all sense of comfort and all our good answers, handy quips, fine verses and great sermons vanished like vapor and we knew we were doomed.
But God was magnificent!
We survived. Were saved, and now we were stronger and braver having come through the horror.
Psalm 124 was a familiar song from a psalmist, a lovely-sounding text but now it has become a throbbing personal experience. It was no longer just David’s song; it was ours.
We knew that such a deliverance was the work of God. Now we read the text with new eyes and tell our families and friends and fellow-strugglers, “Were it not that the Lord was on my side I would have been swallowed up alive. The swollen waters would have gone over my soul.”
How God worked that deliverance is a very complex matter though it isn’t vague or obscure; It’s simply too rich, too multifaceted, too deep for us to follow all the many ways He carries out His acts of rescue. But Paul doesn’t mind telling us that God most often does His magnificent work through things that look ordinary, things that are explained as nothing more than ordinary by many people. If He wants to work a miracle He does it! But read the Bible for yourself; miracles are recognized as “miracles” because they aren’t usual.
In 2 Corinthians 7 Paul is profoundly worried about the troubled and hostile Corinthian congregation and their response to a fierce letter he wrote them so he sends Titus to see how things are. He can’t wait for the report so he leaves a successful evangelistic situation and runs to meet the young man. He finally meets with a smiling and assuring Titus, giving Paul the “two thumbs up” sign as he comes into sight—good news!—and he is comforted. There are those who will plausibly tell you that it can all be explained in social and psychological terms and that’s the end of it. Paul wouldn’t believe a word of that! He says it was God who comforted him through Titus and in social/psychological experience. God made us humans and works with us as humans. There’s no need to deny that God enables us through “ordinary” means—the blunder is to reduce the comfort to nothing but “ordinary” means, meaning to exclude God. How do we think God answers our “give us our daily bread” prayers? So it suddenly appear on the table or floats down through the ceiling?
God keeps us through friends he has already shaped and they help us, truths already stored away in the heart, sights and sounds of brave people around us, bearing their awful losses in a gallant spirit, prayers offered on our behalf, people who gather around us and provide what they can provide under the circumstances—these and so many other things are the already-in-place instruments of God who delivers us. There are too many of them; they’re as complex as life. Evil comes at us in similar ways—we’re humans, for pity’s sake and God works with us as humans
The crucial point at this moment is this—it is God who delivers us through these lovely realities. In the medical realm we don’t thank the antibiotics or the EKG machine or the surgeon’s scalpel; we thank the people who produce and use such things to bring us health.
In the end it’s about persons and in the end it’s a Person believers turn to and applaud and thank for His gracious power when we are blessed and/or delivered.
For believing people, prayers may well be for deliverance from social, economic, family and other calamities—that’s no surprise, believers are as human as any other humans. As Shakespeare reminded us via Shylock in The Merchant of Venice when they’re hurt do they groan, when cut do they bleed, when they’re thirsty do they need to drink?
But down below their felt need for these basic human necessities there’s the desire to stay on their feet in the matter of faith.
Some years back when asked what their greatest fear was when first going into actual combat a great number of soldiers agreed that the overriding fear was not about dying but about failing to live up to expectations, fear of shaming themselves under pressure and consequently shaming their beloved families. That’s no surprise either.
What is true of soldiers is true of those who name the name of the Lord. Their social or physical agony matters but for them the fundamental thing is to stay on their feet as soldiers and servants and friends and representatives of God. Understandably, under the burden of pain or loss or bewilderment there is the appeal for God to remove the burden but it is to God the believer turns for help and it is to God they bring their tears and agony if the calamity wrecks all around them.
Standing, perhaps stunned, in the middle of the debris of a life in social ruins they maintain their faith in God and that is a magnificent deliverance. It isn’t just things or relationships—however precious they are—that are under attack, it’s their souls, their personhood, their very being.
Then with hearts broken, chests heaving and eyes streaming they realize they’re still on their feet. They might once have thought they’d fold or fall apart under disaster, they might have thought that calamity would obliterate their trust in God but now they know better.
But they know this also:
  1. If it had not been the LORD who was on our side,
  2. Let Israel now say—
  3. If it had not been the LORD who was on our side, when men rose up against us:
  4. Then they would have swallowed us alive, when their wrath was kindled against us.
  5. Then the waters would have overwhelmed us, the stream would have gone over our soul:
  6. Then the swollen waters would have gone over our soul.
  7. Blessed be the LORD, who has not given us as a prey to their teeth.
  8. Our soul has escaped as a bird from the snare of the fowlers: the snare is broken, and we have escaped.

Was Pope John Paul II A Good Man? GEORGE L. FAULL



Was Pope John Paul II A Good Man?

GEORGE L. FAULL  


There has been quite a lot of press about the death of the Pope.  One official said, “Mary was waiting at the gate of Heaven to receive him.”  Others said, “We were praying for him and now we’re praying to him.”

“The Catholic Church has lost its shepherd, the world has lost a champion of human freedom, and a good and faithful servant of God has been called home.”
- President George W. Bush

“Pope John Paul II was unquestionably the most influential voice for morality and peace in the world during the last 100 years.”
- Evangelist Billy Graham

“King: There is no question in your mind that he is with God now?”  Graham: “Oh, no.  There may be a question about my own, but I don’t think Cardinal Wojtyla, or the Pope – I think he’s with the Lord, because he believed.  He believed in the Cross.”
- Larry King with Billy Graham

There are many requests for the church to immediately elevate him to sainthood.  The world has judged him worthy of Heaven.  They feel it is fine to judge if you judge and pronounce a positive verdict.  However, if you give a negative verdict, you are judged
as a bigot and reminded that Jesus said not to judge.  One wonders why Jesus prohibition on judging applies to the negative but not to the positive.

One thing is certain.  Jesus said, “the word that I have spoken, the same shall judge him in the last day” John 12:48b.  We must be reminded that what the Word says now, it will say then.

The pope was a good man as far as Popes go, but he is not worthy of the admiration he is receiving.  Yes, he was opposed to abortion, homosexuality, and the murder of Terri Schiavo.  However, he showed his ignorance in favor of evolution and opposition to capital punishment and saying Muslims and Christian’s worship the same God.  But this is true of a lot of so-called evangelicals who have pronounced him a brother in Christ.

I do not share this view of Pope John Paul II.  Listen to some of his blasphemous words concerning Mary.  He declared her to be co-redeemer, though he never actually made her so as Catholic dogma.

"Thus there is a mediation: Mary places herself between her Son and mankind in the reality of their wants, needs and sufferings. She puts herself 'in the middle,' that is to say she acts as a mediatrix not as an outsider, but in her position as mother." Pope John Paul II, in Redemptoris Mater (On the Blessed Virgin Mary in the Life of the Pilgrim Church), Encyclical promulgated on March 25, 1987, #21.

"'The motherhood of Mary in the order of grace,' as the Second Vatican Council explains, 'lasts without interruption from the consent which she faithfully gave at the annunciation and which she sustained without hesitation under the cross, until the eternal fulfillment of all the elect. In fact, being assumed into heaven she has not laid aside this office of salvation but by her manifold intercession she continues to obtain for us the graces of eternal salvation. By her maternal charity, she takes care of the brethren of her Son who still journey on earth surrounded by dangers and difficulties, until they are led into their blessed home.'" Pope John Paul II, in Dives In Misericordia (The Father of Mercies and God of All Comfort), Encyclical promulgated on November 30, 1980.

"(Continuing our catechesis on the Blessed Virgin Mary, we are considering her cooperation in the redemptive sacrifice of Christ)...Mary...co-operated during the event itself and in the role of mother; thus her co-operation embraces the whole of Christ's saving work. She alone was associated in this way with the redemptive sacrifice that merited the salvation of all mankind. In union with Christ and in submission to him, she collaborated in obtaining the grace of salvation for all humanity...In God’s plan, Mary is the 'woman’ (cf. John 2:4; John 19:26), the New Eve, united to the New Adam in restoring humanity to its original dignity. Her cooperation with her Son continues for all time in the universal motherhood which she enjoys in the order of grace. Trusting in this maternal cooperation, let us turn to Mary, imploring her help in all our needs." Pope John Paul II, in his General Audience of April 9, 1997, (quoted in "The Virgin Mary as Co-Redemtrix, Mediatrix and Advocate", by B.A. Robinson).
“Mary, though conceived and born without taint of sin, participated in a marvelous way in the sufferings of her divine Son, in order to be Coredemptrix of humanity.” Pope John Paul II, in remarks made to pilgrims after his General Audience on September 8, 1982 (quoted in Insegnamenti di Giovanni Paolo II, V/3 (1982) 404, quoted by Arthur Burton Calkins“Pope John Paul II’s Teaching on Marian Coredemption”,

"The teaching of the Second Vatican Council presents the truth of Mary's mediation as 'a sharing in the one unique source that is the mediation of Christ himself.'" Pope John Paul II, in Redemptoris Mater (On the Blessed Virgin Mary in the Life of the Pilgrim Church), Encyclical promulgated on March 25, 1987, #38

"The truth of the Assumption, defined by Pius XII, is reaffirmed by the Second Vatican Council, which thus expresses the Church's faith: "Preserved free from all guilt of original sin, the Immaculate Virgin was taken up body and soul into heavenly glory upon the completion of her earthly sojourn. She was exalted by the Lord as Queen of the Universe...For the Mother of Christ is glorified as 'Queen of the Universe'." Pope John Paul II, in Redemptoris Mater (On the Blessed Virgin Mary in the Life of the Pilgrim Church), Encyclical promulgated on March 25, 1987, #41.

Pope John Paul II was presumptuous, like all the other preceding Popes.  Note his titles as Pope:
¨     “Pontifex Maximus” (The great high Priest) cp Hebrews 4:14
¨     “Holy, Lord God, the Pope” cp II Thessalonians 2:4
¨     “Vicar of Christ” cp John 5:43
¨     “The Holy Father”  cp John 17:11, Matthew 23:9
¨     “Successor to the Prince of the Apostles” Acts 1:20-25
¨     “Chief Shepherd” cp I Peter 5:4
¨     “His Holiness” cp Acts 3:14

Do I hate the man himself?  No.

Do I admire him?  No
He was the head of the system that exalts itself above all that is called God.  He was the Head of the Babylonian system.  I do not judge him.  God’s Word has already judged him.  I only affirm that God’s Word is true.  He could not be ignorant that he is not the great High Priest.  He knew he was not God.  He was absolutely the opposite of the one he alleges to be successor.  Peter said, “Silver and gold have I none.”  Look at the coffers of Rome.  Peter said, “Stand up, I also am a man.”  Did the Pope ever say such words?  Here is a man who claims that when he sat in Peter’s chair, he could not error.  Here is a man that believed the wafer and wine turn into the ACTUAL BODY AND BLOOD OF JESUS, and then he worshipped it.  This is pure idolatry.  If it became Jesus’ actual body and blood, then he was a cannibal and he ate blood, which any Christian knows is forbidden, even in the New Testament.
No, this man was the great enemy of Christ.  He steals His worship, His titles, His work, His ordinances, and perpetuates division among believers by his presumptuous claims.  Another came in Jesus’ name and men have received him just as Jesus said in John 5:43.