Saturday, March 31, 2012

The Sabbaths, as taught in the Old Testament

Notice the Passover and the Feast of Unleavened Bread. They are 8 consecutive days set aside as Sabbath days for the Lord. The Passover is a Sabbath, on which no work was to be done. Likewise, the next day, the first day of the Feast of Unleavened Bread, was also a Sabbath, which Jews were forbidden to do any work.

The logical fallacy of a Friday crucifixion should be evident now. There were two holy Sabbaths which all Jews observed here, and thus there are 48 hours demanded for the Lord to have been left alone in the grave. If Friday is the crucifixion, then Sunday would have been the first day of the Feast, another Sabbath day. Yet we find no hesitation in the disciples going to the grave, and trying to fix up the Lord’s body. The Jews were forbidden to even touch something dead on the Sabbath, and even journeying to the tomb would have been work, not to mention all the things which had been prepared to properly rebury Jesus.

Thus, the conclusion seems irrefutable: the Jews were not acting like it was the first day of the Feast, and thus, the day must not have been on Sunday. Rather, we are only left with two logical outcomes: the feast’s first day must have been Saturday, or perhaps Friday itself. In no logical manner can I see the first day of the feast to be a day scorned by Jews, so it becomes a calendar impossibility for the crucifixion to happen on Friday, since there are not the minimum 48 hours required to complete these two Sabbaths. Wednesday or Thursday are the only possible weekdays that our Lord could have been crucified on.

1. The First Sabbath
And God blessed the seventh day and made it holy, because on it he rested from all the work that he had done. (Genesis 2:3)
Six days you are to do your work, but on the seventh day do not work. (Exodus 23:12)

2. The Second Sabbath
The Passover
On the fourteenth day of the first month the LORD’s Passover is to be held. (Numbers 28: 16)
This is a day that you are to commemorate; for the generations to come you shall celebrate it as a festival to the Lord—a lasting ordinance. (Exodus 12:14)
It was Preparation Day (that is, the day before the Sabbath) Mark 15:42 (the Sabbath being spoken about here is the Passover)
It was the Preparation Day and the Sabbath was about to begin. (Luke 24:54) (the Sabbath being spoken about here is the Passover)

3. The Third Sabbath
The Feast of Unleavened Bread
On the fifteenth day of this month there is to be a festival; for seven days eat bread made without yeast. (Numbers 28:17)
On the first day (this is the day before Jesus arose) hold a sacred assembly and do no regular work.

4. The Fourth Sabbath
The Feast of Weeks
On the day of firstfruits, when you present to the LORD an offering of new grain during the Feast of Weeks, hold a sacred assembly and do no regular work. (Numbers 28:26)

5. The Fifth Sabbath
The Feast of Trumpets
On the first day of the seventh month hold a sacred assembly and do no regular work. (Numbers 29:1)

6. The Sixth Sabbath
Day of Atonement
On the tenth day of this seventh month hold a sacred assembly. You must deny yourselves and do no work. (Numbers 29:7)

7. The Seventh Sabbath
Feast of Tabernacles
On the fifteenth day of the seventh month, hold a sacred assembly and do no regular work. Celebrate a festival to the LORD for seven days. (Numbers 29:12)

8. The Eighth Sabbath
The Sabbath Year
But in the seventh year the land is to have a Sabbath of rest, a Sabbath to the LORD. (Leviticus 25:4)

9. The Ninth Sabbath
The Year of Jubilee
Then have the trumpet sounded everywhere on the tenth day of the seventh month; on the Day of Atonement sound the trumpet throughout your land. Consecrate the fiftieth year and proclaim liberty throughout the land to all its inhabitants. It shall be a jubilee for you; each one of you is to return to his family property and each to his own clan. (Leviticus 25:9, 10)
The fiftieth year shall be a jubilee for you; do not sow and do not reap what grows of itself or harvest the untended vines. (Lev. 25:11) (This was to be the year of rest for the land.)

10. The Tenth Sabbath
The Feast of Purim
The Jews in Susa, however, had assembled on the 13th and 14th, and then on the fifteenth they rested and made it a day of feasting and joy. (Esther 9:18)
The Jews took it upon themselves to establish the custom that they and their descendants and all who join them should without fail observe these two days every year, in the way prescribed and at the time appointed. These days should be remembered and observed in every generation by every family, and in every province and in every city. And these days of Purim should never cease to be celebrated by the Jews, nor should the memory of them die out among their descendants. (Esther 9:27,28)

Saturday, March 17, 2012

The Literal Interpretation of the Bible

From time to time I think it good to reassert old doctrine, and I would like to talk about the verbal plenary inspiration of the Bible. Today we live in the very end times, and are looking for the appearing of our Lord, and so we have accumulated an enormous load of tradition. Recently I did teach about holding to the traditions of our forefathers, and we learned from a study of Scripture that God intended us to pattern our Christian living deeply after those traditions of the early teachings.

I think it is in the nature of man himself to question things—to look for something that defines “basic Christianity”. Unfortunately our curiosity and willingness to distill Christianity is not at all Biblical. With only one major exception that I will talk about, the writers of the Bible are assuming that the Christian believes God, and that his life will reflect genuine and profound changes. The place of faith that is fundamental to the Christian rests in the Bible. It is true that most Christians are brought to the Lord by hearing other Christians talk about God, but that talk is soundly based in the gospel.

And what is the gospel? It is a danger, I think, in our day to separate out the Bible into the simple gospel as distinct from the deeper gospel. Paul does that much with his references to the meat and the milk of the Word. Our danger lies in trying to separate the milk from the meat, and I think that is something foreign to Scripture. Scripture does properly display the milk of the Word, but it is to lead always into the meat of the Word, and when it does not, things are radically wrong in the believer’s life.

Peter uses the word “milk” to express food for the new believer: “As newborn babes, desire the sincere milk of the word, that ye may grow thereby: (I Peter 2:2) The problem we see all too readily. My youngest grandson is but a bare 6 months, and is a messy eater, yet unable to accurately bring even just the spoon to his mouth. I accept that as normal behavior for a six month old, but what about when he is 17 and still missing his mouth? At that point I would recognize something is wrong; I expect different behavior in newborns and 17 year olds. Is not our belief in God to be the same? How is it that we see the tragic seventeen year old Christian still unable to show even the most basic rudiments of growth?

Paul also teaches on milk and says: “I have fed you with milk, and not with meat: for hitherto ye were not able to bear it, neither yet now are ye able.” (1 Cor. 3:2) It happens that some Christians are “arrested” in their development. I do think these are those that my Lord spoke about when He gave the parable about seeds falling into stony ground and being burned up by the sun. Is it not interesting that Paul also includes an example of the worst that might befall such a man in the same chapter? “If any man's work shall be burned, he shall suffer loss: but he himself shall be saved; yet so as by fire.” (1 Cor. 3:15)

The calling is upon us to have faith, and faith simply defined is believing God. The revelation of God comes from the Scriptures, and if we wish to trust God, we must trust the message He Himself has given us. In our “modern” world we are often told that our beliefs are simply out of date. God says He created the earth in 7 days and 7 nights? Of course, God cannot mean that literally. At least so reasons the modern man, who then consults experts, some of whom will try to blend faith and science, and tell us what we really can believe. Poetical metaphors are invoked for the Genesis creation story, and I am told that I need to understand God was speaking to “simple” man, and using a story frame to try to get man to understand.

But if I am to understand Biblical history at all, man was not simple to begin with. Indeed he was pure until the fall, and with the fall has been descending into more and more animal behavior at every generation. The Bible record tells us of a man and woman who walked with God, and who among us has not yearned for that simple walk? Yet it is beyond us, for the Fall has irrevocably changed us into something far less than we originally were. So if I am to understand the Biblical account correctly, it stands in utter and complete opposition to evolution. One remarks of the utter descent of mankind into a darkness seemingly without hope; the other tells a story of a simple amoeba guided by chance and chaos and mutation towards ever more complex life. I have always thought the latter to take much more faith than the former.

So here is man, the lone moral agent among all of creation, who knows there is a right and a wrong, but seems utterly unable to coherently define real morality, much less practice it. Even the wise men among us are twisted and so prone to decay, that we cannot agree on much of a moral code at all. Fallen, and falling to ever greater depths seems to be the story in history. Enter Jesus Christ. “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. All things were created by Him, without Him was not anything created that was created.” Simple, yet majestic words, that sweep fallen man from his feet and put him kneeling before his Savior. It seems to me that faith, or trust in Christ is simple belief that God did it, just as He said. To equivocate or add to, or twist, or metaphorize is just an easier way of saying, “I do not believe”.

Tozer was so jealous for his God that he suggests that we not try to prove Scripture at all. “To dig among the rocks or search under the sea for evidence to support the Scriptures is to insult the One who wrote them.” I do not agree with Tozer on this, for I have met too many grounded men of faith whom I believe are trying to look at their creation through the eyes of the Creator. But his bottom line has germs of truth: there are many who try to justify their faith with the evidence of their eyes. Some people do try to build their faith on the basis of what their eyes see, yet that is never the basis of proper faith, for I am told that faith is the “hope of things unseen”. However, I feel many creationists today are not trying to thus falsely bolster their faith; instead they are trying to see creation itself as would the Creator, a fine and noble endeavor. Does our creation show the hand of the Creator? Romans tells us that even natural man is exposed to His glory in creation and will one day be held responsible for not seeing Him behind all things. (Romans 1:18-20)

To eradicate the Bible of the story of the Creator is not possible without completely pulling apart the Word. Not just Genesis is out, but also Exodus, for in 20:11 it says: “For in six days the LORD made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that in them is, and rested the seventh day: wherefore the LORD blessed the sabbath day, and hallowed it.” Many Psalms would have to be rewritten, most of the prophets, and the great text from John quoted above would also have to be taken away.

Believing the Bible is not just an intellectual exercise; it is that because the deep things of God will cause us to think and ponder and wonder at the greatness of it all. But believing the Bible is, at its essence, choosing to believe God. Abraham believed God, and God reckoned it as righteousness. He asks of us one thing—to take Him at His Word. All else He has done for us. Why is it that so many want to detract from that word, saying that it is not true, or it is a myth that we have to search behind to find what God is really saying to us? The Word, the One that He sent, the One who has spoken to us, and who also said, “the Scripture cannot be broken”, He it is who spoke through the prophets and in the psalms. He it is who proclaims Himself, and it is but my duty to simply believe.

“Oh,” you say, “I wish you had chosen another example. Choosing creation is the one thing I am uncomfortable with, and I am not sure I can cast reason out the window to believe in some wild fairy tale.” But is it not exactly there that we meet God? Can you tell me how Jesus walked on water? Can you tell me how He made the lame to walk, or the blind to see? You see, if you give up believing in Creation, saying that it must have happened through time and chance and God was behind it all, then mustn’t you also give up the walking on the water? Or is your understanding better there? Is it any harder to believe God did one thing but not another? Three times the voice of the Father spoke out of heaven testifying of His Son, and we are told the heavy curtain in the holy of holies was rent from top to bottom when the Savior died. Are we to believe that God can intercede in small things only? Why do we so readily believe in the voice of the Father, and the power of God in rending the curtain, but we are afraid to believe that He created the world, indeed the universe, in six days? I am afraid that is the unrealized position of men who try to gainsay what God has told us. Our God is not a small God, and it is time that we stopped treating Him as such.

God does not ask me to suspend my thinking; rather my meditations are upon Him day and night, and my understanding of Him grows and increases as I walk next to Him. But He does ask that I simply believe. A great man of God long ago noted that “when the simple sense (of the Bible) makes the best sense, seek no other sense.” Tozer says it this way, “True faith rests upon the character of God and asks no further proof than the moral perfections of the One who cannot lie. It is enough that God said it, and if the statement should contradict every one of the five senses and all the conclusions of logic as well, still the believer continues to believe. "Let God be true, but every man a liar," is the language of true faith.”

The believer who comes part way is just that, a part way believer. The gospel terms him a milk drinker, and not at all ready for meat. To come all the way I should say, “Thou alone knowest, oh God!” To come to the Word of God knowing it is through His Word that I will be fed is my only path to the meat of the Word. Come to the Word, willing to believe, and pray to God that you might have eyes to see and ears to hear that you may grow thereby.

All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, reproof, and instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be thoroughly furnished unto all good works. 2 Timothy 3:16, 17

If he called them gods, unto whom the word of God came, and the scripture cannot be broken; John 10:35

Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the spirit which is of God; that we might know the things that are freely given to us of God. Which things also we speak, not in the words which man's wisdom teacheth, but which the Holy Ghost teacheth; comparing spiritual things with spiritual. 1 Corinthians 2:12, 13

For the prophecy came not in old time by the will of man: but holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost. 2 Peter 1:21

Through thy precepts I get understanding; therefore I hate every false way. Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path.
Psalm 119:104,105

So faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God
Romans 10:17

Tozer, A.W. (2010-06-03). Man - The Dwelling Place of God (Kindle Locations 366-367). Unknown. Kindle Edition.

Tozer, A.W. (2010-06-03). Man - The Dwelling Place of God (Kindle Locations 357-359). Unknown. Kindle Edition.

Sunday, March 11, 2012

The Woman taken in Adultery

The Woman taken in Adultery
Thoughts from sermon, March 11, 2012

It was a good thing to see Trevor speak this morning! Taking his text from John 8, he simply retold the story of the woman taken in adultery. I did appreciate his full acceptance of this Scripture, for there are some that reject it on the basis of its not being found in early manuscripts. I have always thought that an early copier deleted his copying of this portion of Scripture for moral reasons—that is that the copier found the passage to be scandalous. While I will never know for certain, I was agreeably pleased to find some of the commentators of John saying the same thing.

I have always wondered what it was that Jesus scribed so diligently in the dirt beneath His feet. Surely the context suggests that the woman brought in was scantily clad at best, and I have often thought Jesus’ scribing in the sand was to save the poor woman more embarrassment. Speaking as He did to the men bringing her in seems to me to be scarcely enough to convict them. “Let he who has no sin cast the first stone.” While those words may have dissuaded many a thinking man, the evidence around the whole circumstance seems to be that the Jews were trying to trap Jesus.

Trevor brought that out very well, explaining that for Jesus to follow either course of stoning the woman, or setting her free would have bad repercussions for Jesus. So He finds another way. I have always wondered (without a smidgen of proof) whether Jesus was not writing the fellow’s names down and under their names listing their secret sins. For example, He would write Joseph down, and then under his name He might have written “adultery”. Turning to Benjamin, He might have written “stealing” with the exact amount of money the man had stolen. I cannot imagine anything more convicting to those who would trap Jesus than to find that they themselves had been trapped. Just a thought, as I said there is not the least of proofs. But is it not a wonder that the savage wolves that were welling to feast on this woman’s life, suddenly lost their taste for blood? The idea of Jesus spelling out their sins does give me pause.

Here are other thoughts I wrote on this passage: Here and here:

Friday, March 09, 2012


As I am getting older, I find myself thinking more of what is to come, either when I die, or when the Lord comes to find me. Yet, I am not sure it is just getting older; I do wonder if He is not getting closer, so close now that I can almost see His appearance. At any rate, such thoughts in my mind have led me to speculate much on what heaven will be like.

The song is titled, “I Can Only Imagine”, but would it not be more appropriate to title it, “I Cannot Begin to Imagine”? Paul tells us, “But as it is written, Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him.” (1 Corinthians 2:19) Nothing has changed from what Paul told us two thousand years ago. We still have no idea of the depth and breadth of love that God has given us. In my most lucid moments I am but dimly conscious of my high estate—an estate that God tells us that angels long to look into. If I understand my Bible aright, I have been bestowed a gift of the mighty Holy Spirit, God Himself, who is going to dwell in me not just in this lifetime, but also in the eternity which is to come. Think of it! God in me! What is man that thou are mindful of him?

So while I know not what that life is going to be like, but I do know the God who is making it for me. I rather think He is delighting in His surprises for us, as well as surprising us in the timing of His Coming. I do trust Him. I expect to have much friendship when I get there; others who believe like me, who love Him, and with whom I will spend eternity. I know I will have sustenance for Revelation speaks both of the Tree of Life and of the River of Life. My God, my friends, and care for my basic needs. Perhaps that is all I need to know.

Thursday, March 08, 2012

Jesus- 3 days and 3 nights

Here is a link to the argument for the implausibility of a Friday crucifiction. The Bible teaches that is must have been on a Thursday or a Wednesday, but that, understanding Jewish Sabbaths makes it impossible to have been on a Friday.

Saturday, March 03, 2012

He’s not a tame lion, you know

Problem Stated
Let me see. Today I have a problem. I want to construct a box for God to fit in. “What a ridiculous notion,” you say. “God cannot fit into a box of your creation.”

If I understand the meaning of hermeneutics it is the Biblicist’s job to try to trace outlines of the box that God has made for himself. It is a high calling and many do a wonderful job, yet sometimes the box can be drawn too narrowly. I remember many years ago arguing with my Bible college peers about something called “dual fulfillment”. I think it is a classic illustration of what I wish to discuss in this paper. I have named it the box problem.
Dual fulfillment, as I understand the term, is the belief that God can indeed make a single prophecy that has one fulfillment, often in the time of the prophet, and a second fulfillment, often a messianic one. The prime example of dual fulfillment is Isaiah 7:14 where the prophet says: The virgin shall be with child and will give birth to a son, and will call him Immanuel. This was fulfilled in Isaiah 8:3, where it says: Then I went to the prophetess, and she conceived and gave birth to a son. It is fulfilled in a more wonderful and far more established way as is made plain by Matthew 1:23, where it says: The virgin will be with child and will give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel.
Some professors at Biola taught dual fulfillment; others vehemently disagreed. We students were also divided; some of my good friends did not see dual fulfillment at all. I perceived that they had a box problem. In other words, they were so busy building a box for God, folding and tucking him into each corner very neatly, and then very tidily sealing the box that they forgot that God makes his own boxes. I am reminded of Aslan, of whom Lewis tells us again and again, is not a tame lion. Not wanting to establish or disestablish dual fulfillment here, I instead would like to point to the box my good friends had inadvertently built when denying dual fulfillment. I think it is easily seen when I pose the question, Can God be big enough and wise enough to say one thing that will have different meanings at different times?
If you say no, God is not that big then you have a box problem. You have just built a box for God that he himself did not build. No where in scripture is dual fulfillment denied, and if you insist on moving forward with this negative answer, then it seems to me that you will have to establish why God would restrict himself to this box.
God does restrict himself to some outlines of a box. He tells us often what he is like. For instance, scripture tells us that he cannot deny himself, he cannot lie, and he is both truth and light. But, as far as I know, nowhere does he say prophecies cannot have two meanings. And that, in a nutshell, is the box problem. If God has not stated a limit of himself, who are we to restrict him?
I am often guilty of the box problem analogy in my own life. I see something evil happening to someone, and instantly I feel that to be so wrong, and sometimes I take the next step of questioning God. Whenever that happens I am constructing a box, however large, in which I wish to fit God.
What a wonder we are that we can question our Creator! What a folly we commit we do so! He came as the Lamb of God the first time, and we in the world rejected him. He is coming as a Lion of God the second time, and he is rejecting the world. In all probability most of us living today will see his coming. It will probably be more bloody and messy than anything we wish to dwell on, but we should remember that he is not a tame lion. We are not telling him what he ought to be; he is telling us what we ought to be.

Friday, March 02, 2012

On Sovereignty and Free Will

On Sovereignty and Free Will

Did you notice that at the outset of The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe that we are told by beaver that there are four thrones waiting for two sons of Adam and two daughters of Eve? Not three thrones. I do sort of speculate strangely sometimes but I can’t help but wonder what if Aslan had prophesied of three thrones instead of four? Think of the advantages. He could have avoided the whole bloody mess in one swoop. Let the Witch have the sniveling Edmund─ he certainly wasn’t worth anything anyway.
Analogies help us understand deep things in the Bible that are difficult to grasp. I want to look at the analogy of Aslan and Edmund. It is not entirely clear where the prophecy of the four thrones comes from but it certainly must have originated from Aslan. Let us assume so for the sake of this discussion. Aslan, in a sovereign act, says there are going to be four thrones. He knew beforehand that one would betray him in an act of free will. Edmund chose to follow the White Witch, knowing full well in his innermost being that the Witch was evil.
Was sovereignty compromised? No! Was free will abrogated? No! The prophecy was fulfilled exactly as told. But as Aslan says: It may be harder than you know. Edmund did his very worst, and it worked exactly into the predestined plan of Aslan.
If I may be allowed to do something that Lewis correctly points out is wrong, let me suppose that Edmund had done everything as correctly as he possibly could. Here I am asking the “What if” question that Aslan reminds us constantly is not allowed. But I ask nonetheless: what if Edmund did everything exactly right? Would the sovereignty of Aslan nevertheless prevailed?
My analogy thus gives us the widest spectrum of free choice. But whether Edmund says no or yes, there prevails the sovereignty of Aslan. Could not the free will of man and the sovereignty of God work in harmony in a similar fashion? To borrow from my Lewis again, Nothing is more probable.
A final thought, if I may. I am probably more of a sniveling Edmund than Edmund ever was. What was I worth? Somehow God thought me worth the great price of his own son. Thankfully he did not eliminate my throne at Cair Paravel.

Society and Christians

On the one hand we have an attitude of righteousness as Conservative Christians. We condemn certain lifestyles as abhorrent, and declare the judgment of God upon those people. Jesus did this, and it is good that we try to follow in his footsteps. I am told by Bible scholars that Jesus spent the great majority of his time talking about Hell and judgment for those who do not repent.
But let us remember that Jesus also taught us great compassion. One of the many poignant moments that define my life came when I was working with the homeless in Los Angeles. I worked with a friend whom I respected and admired very much. He would often pick out the homeless man who was totally emaciated, perhaps from his alcoholism. Lice often crawled on his shirt, which in any case was dirty beyond description. To these men my friend George would go, and hug the men, saying gentle things which I could not hear, but which often brought a genuine human smile from a poor wretch. Often as not, both would disappear into George’s office, and there he would try to reach through to the man’s soul.
When I think of George I often think of the pictures I would see on TV of Mother Theresa, hugging the lepers and the poor pitiful souls that she would give her life of service to. I am convinced that both George and Mother Theresa had something which I need- something which was also present within Jesus. Remember the woman taken in adultery and about to be stoned? Jesus stood by her side, not praising her lifestyle, but standing against the men who would have taken her life. Those people Jesus reminded of their own sin, and they, being convicted by their own sin left the woman to Jesus. He remonstrated her, telling her to go forth and sin no more.
We Christians are sometimes known by what we are against. We are against drinking and dancing. We are against divorce and decadence. Homer and Jethro sing a sing that says, “I don’t smoke, I don’t chew, and I don’t go with girls that do.” A funny ditty, but illustrative of how society has seen us. We are defined thus by what we are against, and not at all by what we are for. How can we not be known for being a people of compassion, a people who care for the downtrodden? The challenge to us is to love those who sin in spite of their sin, and to be known as men who love rather than men who don’t. The world should see our love so vibrant and overpowering that it eclipses that which we are still not doing. Our lifestyle calling is to purity, and self control, but our love should shine so brightly that it becomes what the world sees when it sees Christians