Showing posts from 2019

Its Not About Christmas or Easter (or Sunday)

Does this altar represent everyday, or just special days? Its not about Christmas, or Easter or for that matter Sunday. What do I mean? I don’t mean- “Don’t celebrate holidays”. Absolutely we should celebrate the Sabbath,  Christmas and Easter. Heartless religion does not please God. So often our celebration of these days like Christmas and Easter and even our weekly Sunday gathering at church is religious, but has no true heart for God. People have been falling into this trip since the beginning of time. We see this in the Book of Malachi, “When you offer blind animals in sacrifice, is that not evil? And when you offer those that are lame or sick, is that not evil? Present that to your governor; will he accept you or show you favor? Oh that there were one among you who would shut the doors, that you might not kindle fire on my altar in vain! I have no pleasure in you, says the Lord of hosts, and I will not accept an offering from your hand.” Malachi 1:8, 10 ESV In this Bibl

Word for Word: Episode 54

And Light Was. וַיֹּאמֶר אֱלֹהִים יְהִי אֹור וַֽיְהִי־אֹֽור׃ וַיַּרְא אֱלֹהִים אֶת־הָאֹור כִּי־טֹוב וַיַּבְדֵּל אֱלֹהִים בֵּין הָאֹור וּבֵין הַחֹֽשֶׁךְ׃ וַיִּקְרָא אֱלֹהִים ׀ לָאֹור יֹום וְלַחֹשֶׁךְ קָרָא לָיְלָה וַֽיְהִי־עֶרֶב וַֽיְהִי־בֹקֶר יֹום אֶחָֽד׃ And (the)* Mighty One said, "Be Light" and Light was. Then the Mighty One saw the light, that it was good. So The Mighty One separated the light and the darkness. And the Mighty One called Light "Day" and darkness He called "Night". Then there was an evening and there was a dawn: day one. Genesis  1:3-5 (*definite article is not in front of the name “ Elohim ”) What had been a dark mass in a flux, probably collapsing on its own weight, was in a moment transformed as  electromagnetic energy  appeared “out of nowhere”. It is likely that the charged particles had now reached that narrow band that is visible to sentient creatures that had yet to be created. This happened mainly to allow li

The Body, God's Temple

A model of Herod's Temple at the Israel Museum in Jerusalem. Photo by Berthold Werner [Public Domain] “...your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God...You are not your own, for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body”- 1 Corinthians 6:19-20 ESV This verse is commonly used to support the idea of healthy living. While making an effort to live a healthy lifestyle is important and glorifying to God, this passage is not concerned with health. To say this verse teaches healthy living would be an incorrect application. This is a good example of a verse being “taken out of context”. The full context here reads: “Flee from sexual immorality. Every other sin a person commits is outside the body, but the sexually immoral person sins against his own body. Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own, for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your b

The Path to God

The Path to God Isaiah 40:1-5 Isaiah had been there for years as a voice to the royal house of Judah. The message switches in chapter 40 to one of hope in times of trouble. As with Hosea before him, his message to the people is salvation by grace. The debt they had was too great, so God was going to pay the price. The command to the prophet was to "comfort" the people of God. This didn't mean to make them feel comfortable. But he was to stand alongside then and support them. Instead of despair, there was hope. For sure, hard times were coming--from inside the kingdom and from the outside--but God was in control.  The road ahead was going to be long and obstacles remained, but the path to God was on schedule. It is important to note that the people of God cannot remove the barriers that keep them from the LORD. That path to God is cleared from His side. About 600 years later a latter day prophet named John would point the

Throw Your Gold in the Trash

What do you consider valuable in your life? When we hear the word “valuable” or “priceless” we often think of money or precious gems. What we think of as valuable and what truly is valuable are often very different things. How much do you value your relationship with God? Can you say that everything else feels like trash compared to God? In the Book of Job, Eliphaz gives us some great life wisdom. The Book of Job is considered “wisdom literature”, which means (like Proverbs and Ecclesiastes), it contains many pithy sayings on life. We often miss the great wise sayings found throughout Job, because we focus so much on the grand idea of “why do we suffer” (which The Book of Job actually does not answer directly). Eliphaz accuses Job of withholding his material wealth from the poor (Job 22:7-11), which explains, in his view, why Job is being punished. So Eliphaz offers the following admonition: “....If you remove injustice far from your tents; if you lay gold in the dust, and go

Faith and Mountains: God's Work

Recently I had the chance to visit Mt. Rainier in the State of Washington, which is one of the largest mountains in the United States. Mt. Rainier was literally the biggest thing I have ever seen in my entire life. It could be seen from long distances away and towered far above everything in its vicinity. The mountain was as tall, wide and thick as the eye could see. The mountain was not only untouchable, but impenetrable and immovable. The qualities of mountains make them ideal symbols for the obstacles of life- oftentimes immovable and towering far above anything else in life. The Bible uses mountains as a symbol for the seemingly mountainous assignments God gives us and of life’s greatest struggles.  This post will focus on the work that God wants us to do and how we can accomplish this with his help. See this post for the mountains of struggles in our life.  The people of Judah had finally returned from a long exile in faraway lands. Under the care of the Israelite gov

Word for Word: Episode 53

יֹ֥ום הַשִּׁשִּֽׁי The sixth day The sixth day was for the "world" of mankind. The animals were there as companions and the plants were for food. The deep waters of the sea were a mystery left for modern explorers to uncover. The word שִּׁשִּֽׁי ( shishshiy sixth) comes from the cardinal number שֵׁשׁ ( shesh six), which in turn comes from the verb שׂוּשׂ ( süs ) which means "to rejoice". It seems that since the hand has five fingers, one of the most primitive numbers indicated abundance. This aligns with the message of the last creation day. The words new to the reader follow: [ behemah ] בְּהֵמָה , livestock, cattle. [ adam ] אָדָ֛ם , man, mankind, Adam [ tselem ] צֶלֶם , image, likeness [ dem·üth ] דְּמוּת , likeness, similitude; from דָּמָה , to be like, similar [ zä·kär ] זָכָר , male; from the verb זָכַר (zä·kar), to remember [ nĕqebah ] נְקֵבָה , female; from נָקַב ( naqab ), to designate, appoint [ kabash

In One Sitting: Hosea

Recently I decided to do something special- read certain books of the Bible "In One Sitting" and write blogposts about them, sharing what someone can glean when they take a book of the Bible as a whole, rather than segmented like we normally do. Modern chapters, verses and headings are meant to act as reference aids, but we use them as artificial dividers in the text, where they often don't belong. This wasn't a concept that was brand new to me, but in order to read some books with the focus and dedication they need, I needed to set aside a special and concentrated time to read and meditate. This past weekend I did the Book of Hosea- which took me a little less than an hour to read in one sitting. Here are my thoughts on the book, after reading it all at once- no interruption. Comment below your own thoughts- I would encourage you to do for the Book of Hosea, or even another book- we may feature your thoughts by allowing you to guest blog. See what God will do. You

Word for Word: Episode 52

וְהִנֵּה־טֹ֖וב מְאֹ֑ד And behold--Very good Having surveyed everything on earth, the Creator was satisfied with the work He had done. The inspired penman emphatically ( הִנֵּה hinneh "behold") states that things went extremely well ( מְאֹ֑ד m@`od "exceedingly" + טֹ֖וב towb "good"). The word הִנֵּה (behold) first appeared in verse 29. It is from the root  הֵן ( hen ) which appears in combination with prepositions or the article as the third person plural "they, those". Different vowel sounds changes hennah to hinneh, that is, from "those" to "those!". Much has been written about "very good", but the word translated "very" ( מְאֹ֑ד) has its roots in the word אוּד (' ood ), a rake or poker for maximizing the heat of embers. With this in mind, m'a°d  (my attempt at transliteration) runs the gambit of meanings, from "very" (137×) to "mightily" (2×). The idea carries with it s

Word for Word: Episode 51

לָכֶ֥ם יִֽהְיֶ֖ה לְאָכְלָֽה To you it shall be for food As the description of the sixth day concludes, God's providence is in the forefront. The word אָכְלָה ( ok·lä') is the general word for food. It from the word אָכַל ( ä·kal) which means "to eat, devour, burn up, feed". The work is the third day is shown to be essential for the survival of the animate creatures of the fifth and sixth days. There were three classes of plants: the sprouts, the seed bearers and the fruit trees. The latter two are designated for humanity, while the first is for the the animals. In common terms, this can be understood as seeds (grain, nuts and berries) and fruits (including vegetables) were for people, while grass and greens were for animals.

Word for Word: Episode 50

זָכָ֥ר וּנְקֵבָ֖ה בָּרָ֥א אֹתָֽם He created them male and female It is hard to escape the biological truth reiterated in this verse. Mankind originates in the center of a man. The idea of the seed crosses all forms of life. The male (Heb. זָכָר zakar) is the sower of the seed. The adjective/noun is from זָכַר, to remember, bring to mind. Generally, it is the male of a species that is dominant. Conversely, the female ( נְקֵבָה nĕqebah) is the fertile receptor of the seed. The knowledge of the role of the egg was unknown in ancient times, though infertility was a great concern. The word nĕqebah is from the verb נָקַב (nakab) which means " to pierce, perforate, bore" and by extension, "to appoint". This is purely an agricultural term, as thoroughly appropriate with animals as it is with plants. The fact that the sexual differences were "created" means that these differences are essential to life. The mere "making" of organi

Word for Word: Episode 49

אָדָ֛ם בְּצַלְמֵ֖נוּ Mankind in Our Image The apex of creation was mankind ( אָדָ֛ם adam ). So far creation has been filled with with phenomena, objects, and living things. Though it all demonstrated the majesty and creativity of God, the earth was had no one who could understand it. This required a special feature that could show the mind of God. He called it His "image" ( צֶלֶם tselem ). "Adam" comes from the verb אָדַם which means "to be or make red". The word for "ground" also comes from this root. The color red represents blood that is essential for life. As seen earlier, life had been given to animals of the sea, air and land. The blood flowing in the veins of mankind represented more than mortality. It represented the life that is in God as an attribute. Mankind had life at the pleasure of God Himself, as will be seen in Gen. 2. The inherent life in God, imparted to mankind, made it resemble the creator in a special way--the image

How to Store up Treasure in Heaven

You’ve probably heard the saying that we should “store up treasures in Heaven” instead of focusing on earthly possessions. This phrase is used by Jesus numerous times and once by Paul, but is first and most famously used in the Sermon on the Mount: “Do not lay up [treasure] for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal, but lay up for yourselves treasures in Heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.”- Matt 6:19-21 ESV The question then becomes, “How do I seek treasure in Heaven?”. There is great news. We do not have to speculate or even infer wisdom from the Bible indirectly. Did you know the Bible tells us directly how to store treasure in Heaven? Let’s take a look directly at how we “lay up treasure in Heaven”. Paul’s Instruction  So how do we acquire this treasure that Jesus referred to? Well Paul gives us an exp

Word for Word: Episode 48

יֹ֥ום חֲמִישִֽׁי Fifth Day After providing everything needed to sustain it, God created living (moving) things. This is a turning point it creation. By adding sentience and movement, the Creator shared more of His character to the universe. Animals can consciously form relationships with others of their kind and form beneficial bonds with other species as well. The account of the fifth day introduced the following words: [sharats] v. שָׁרַץ to swarm, to bring forth abundantly; to creep, crawl. n. [sherets] שֶׁרֶץ : swarmers, creepers; a swarm [nephesh] נֶפֶשׁ soul, life, person [ chay] חַי living, alive; from חָיָה, to live. [ `owph] n. עוֹף a flying thing [ `uwph] v. עוּף to fly [ tanniyn] תַּנִּין dragon, serpent, whale, "sea monster" [ ramas] רָמַשׂ  creep, move lightly, move about [ kanaph ] כָּנָף  wing, extremity, edge [ rabah ] רָבָה to be great, many, much or numerous [ chamiyshiy] חֲמִישִׁי adj. fifth, from חָמֵשׁ (chamesh) five

Word for Word: Episode 47

פְּר֣וּ וּרְב֗וּ וּמִלְא֤וּ Be fruitful, multiply, and fill The filling of the new world with life from the Creator would be hard, but necessary work. Though it could have been accomplished in a moment, God set in motion a process. The gift of life had been given, but the command meant it was by volition that the paired animals would obey. It is a built in urge in living things to "procreate", but soon the creatures would have to choose. The first command is to be fruitful, פְּר֣וּ ( paru ) from פָּרָה (parah). On day three the fruit trees we're created bearing fruit ( פְּרִי, peri )  a derivative of this verb. The command to multiply is רְב֗וּ, rebu , the verb רָבָה ( rabah , to become great, many, much or numerous). Each of these translations reflect the root meaning of increasing. The verb would become the honorary title of Rabbi, that is to say "great one". Finally, the animals are told to "fill" their realm with descendants. The verb here i

Life Lessons from David and Bathsheba

If you have ever been in church, than you have probably heard the infamous account of “David and Bathsheba”, that is, the adultery of David and Bathsheba and David’s eventual murder of her husband. Clearly this event in David’s life is warning against adultery and its grave consequences. It is a clear example of how even David, the “man after God’s own heart” traumatically fell into sin. All of these things are true, but what does this episode really mean for my life? What life lessons can I learn from David and Bathsheba. In this blog series we are going to take a deep dive into the affair between David and Bathsheba and the real, relevant and practical life lessons we can learn from this. Idleness Leads to Temptation “[It happened] In the spring of the year, the time when kings go out to battle , David sent Joab, and his servants with him, and all Israel. And they ravaged the Ammonites and besieged Rabbah. But D avid remained at Jerusalem .”- 2 Sam 11:1 ESV  David had been

A Narrative Shift

David had endured years of violence and uprising running from Saul as rightful King and now he would experience it again- this time everything he had spent his life building would be at stake. After Nathan delivers God’s indictment of his double-sin: murder and adultery, there is a complete change in the narrative of the Book(s) of Samuel ( 1 and 2 Samuel should be understood as one book). Up until this point, Samuel focuses on David’s rise to power. After this, everything in the main narrative goes down hill. In the same way, after we sin the natural results of the sin or God’s justice may dramatically alter the course of our lives in a negative way. David was acquitted of the punishment he legally deserved: death; however, David still experienced God’s wrath in the law of retribution. “An eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth” (Exo 21:24) or for David- sexual relations with another’s wife will happen to him and violence he committed against Uriah will happen within his own family. 

God, Create a Clean Heart In Me

“David said… ‘I have sinned against Yahweh.’ And Nathan said to David, ‘Yahweh also has put away your sin, you shall not die.’” In the midst of David ’s verbal confession before the prophet Nathan , David wrote (or said) a prayer- now known as Psalm 51. It is important to remember that biblical prose is not journalistic in nature, but it is storytelling. The events are not fictional, but they are narrated and told “at a distance” from the raw, historical happenings. David’s confession may not have been at the same time that Nathan had confronted him. It seems, that David’s confession here is a representative statement of his prayer and Nathan’s response is God ’s response. David’s prayer is full of asking God to do things. David fully recognizes that in order to get the effects of cleanliness and restoration, God must be the cause. David asks God to create a clean heart in him. The Hebrew word for create here, bara is a verb that only has God as the cause (according to Dr. Michae

The Confrontation

After Uriah’s death, Bathsheba mourned. After the mourning was over David took her as his wife, the right thing to do in the circumstances. But the thing that David had done displeased [Yahweh]. And And [Yahweh] sent Nathan to David”- 2 Sam 11:27b-12:1a Uriah was dead, Bathsheba was now his wife. For David, it was as if he not only avoided the consequences of his sin, he had made amends by marrying Bathsheba. God saw what he had done and was not pleased. As the King of Israel, David was responsible the governance of his kingdom; but was still under the leadership of God. Therefore, David had a personal prophet, Nathan, who communicated the revelation of God to him and interceded before him. One day Nathan came before David, having been sent by God. He presented him with a scenario: a rich man with large flocks stole one man’s only lamb. In those days, Kings would act as the chief judge over the country, hearing cases and ensuring fair justice. (2 Sam 12:1-4) When David heard this

Word for Word: Episode 46

יְבָ֧רֶךְ אֹתָ֛ם אֱלֹהִ֖ים God blessed them With millions of sentient creatures scattered from the deepest sea to above the clouds, their creator assured their continuance by granting them what they collectively needed. The word בָּרַךְ is a root word which means "to kneel", as a subject to a ruler to request a favor. When used in the intensive form as here, it becomes the granting of that favor. That is to say, "to bless". When the self-sufficient Creator deems it proper to cause good things to happen to please his creatures, it shows a personal interest in the affairs of this world. In blessing the lives of even the wiggling sea urchins, God demonstrates his benevolent providence. He is always there, doing the right thing.

The Desperate Cover Up

"So David sent word to Joab, 'Send me Uriah the Hittite.'"- 2 Sam 11:6 ESV So begins David’s attempt to hide his sin. He had sent Bathsheba home from his bedroom, as if nothing had been done wrong. Within a short time, David heard word that Bathsheba was pregnant. Sooner or later, David would have to deal with the consequences of his actions. In response to Bathsheba’s pregnancy and “evidence” of David’s sin, he sought to deal with it the natural way- bring Uriah home to his wife. When Uriah came home from the frontlines, David gave him a warm welcome- completing hiding any ulterior motive. After a pleasant and hospitable evening, David sent Uriah on his way home with a gift to encourage his return to his wife. To David’s dismay, Uriah did not return home that night. When David heard this he was shocked- he would have to move from a simple to an elaborate cover up if Uriah did not go home to his wife. “Uriah said to David, ‘The Ark and Israel and Judah dwell in

The Anatomy of David's Affair

“But each person is tempted when he is lured and enticed by his own desire. Then desire when it has conceived gives birth to sin…” (James 1:14-15a ESV) “And David sent and inquired about the woman. And one said ‘Is not this Bathsheba, the daughter of Eliam, the wife of Uriah the Hittite?’- (2 Sam 11:3)  The moment David saw the beautiful Bathsheba and chose to desire her, he (as in the words of Jesus) “had already committed adultery with her in his heart” (Matt 5:28). David had already sinned. He had the option to repent of it right there, confess it to God and to turn away (perhaps literally) from his sin. The woman David had seen piqued his interest, so he sent some people to go find out about her. They told David she was Uriah the Hittite’s wife. Uriah the Hittite was no stranger to David, in fact Uriah was one of the top thirty men in all of David’s army (1 Chr 11:41)! The identification of Bathsheba as Uriah’s wife wasn’t something that David could just brush off. David woul

Idleness Leads to Temptation

“[It happened] In the spring of the year, the time when kings go out to battle , David sent Joab, and his servants with him, and all Israel. And they ravaged the Ammonites and besieged Rabbah. But David remained at Jerusalem .”- 2 Sam 11:1 ESV (emphasis added)  These are the opening lines of the account of David’s adultery. It was spring, the war season. In ancient times, armies would primarily fight during spring weather. Armies were not equipped to fight during the cold months of winter. Even if a war was ongoing, opposing sides would often cease battle for the season until the weather was right again. Then they would resume in the spring. One possible reason armies fought in warm weather was that crops were plentiful, giving easily accessible food to passing soldiers. In those times, Kings were also generals. They led their army on the front lines of the battle. They planned military strategy, negotiated with the enemy and boosted the morale of the troops. Under normal circums

Word for Word: Episode 45

הָֽרֹמֶ֡שֶׂת The movers On the other side of the spectrum of sea creatures were the myriad of smaller animals--living beings that self propelled through the water, the liquid medium that makes life possible. There are so many different sea animals that we may never know how many there are or may have been. They live in the deepest part of the waters that have been explored so far. They also live in drops of water so small that the air can transfer them to bodies of water far inland. (see /) Aside from the placement of the stars, the filling the ocean was the most extensive act of original creation. And so far as we know, this collection of living things far exceeds the stars in variety.