Reftagger

Saturday, February 9, 2019

Only God Can Remove Some "Demons": A Study on Mark 9:14-29

Sometimes in life, there are just some things that we can’t seem to overcome. There are many problems that, no matter how hard we try, are unsolvable.God gives all believers the power to encounter everyday life and to do his work in it all. Oftentimes we cannot solve problems, because we confuse God’s power and our power in God.
In the Gospel of Mark, there is an account of Jesus performing an exorcism on a child. While Jesus was traveling around Caesarea Philippi, he reveals to his Apostles that he is the Messiah and that he will die and rise again after three days. Escaping the gathering crowd, Jesus took Peter, James and John to a mountain. There he “transfigured” or revealed his full majestic form in communion with Elijah and Moses. While Jesus was on the mountain he left the other nine Apostles behind with the crowd.
During this time, a man brought his demon-possessed son was brought to the Apostles, having heard of the miraculous healing powers these men possessed. The Apostles, while commissioned with special power by Jesus Christ, were not able to remove this demon. This led to an ensuing argument over whether Jesus and his Apostles really had the power to cast out demons and heal ailments. (Mark 8:27-9:14).

When Jesus returned, he saw the argument. The father went up to Jesus and asked him to heal his son- if he was able. On this Jesus questioned the father’s doubt- if he could heal. Jesus told to him that anything was possible for those who believe and the father cried “I believe, help me with my unbelief!”. So Jesus rebuked the demon and it left the boy. After leaving the presence of the crowd the Apostles asked Jesus why they weren’t able to drive out the demon. This sort of thing could not be resolved except by prayer (Mark 9:29) (some textual variants add fasting, but the point is the same).
“But if you can do anything, have compassion on us and help us. And Jesus said to [the father], ‘ “If you can”! All things are possible for one who believes.’ Immediately the father of the child cried out and said, ‘I believe; help my unbelief!’" (Mark 9:22b-24)
“This kind cannot be driven out by anything but prayer [and fasting]” (Mark 9:29)
"Truly I tell you, if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you.” (Matt 17:20)

In this account there are a doubting father and self-reliant Apostles. The Apostles had the special authority of God to drive out demons (Mark 3:15). The father came to the Apostles, knowing that the Apostles had performed exorcisms before. When Jesus himself came he had only a sliver of hope left. He thought to himself “Jesus fix this if you can”. Jesus told him to believe and the father knew he needed help with unbelief. The Apostles could not drive it out themselves, because only prayer could drive it out. The Apostles had been given power by God, but weren’t relying on God to do the healing. Instead, they needed to be fully reliant on God through prayer (and perhaps fasting). The father did not get what he desired, because he did not truly believe the Apostles could do it.

The same could be said for believers today. We do not have the same supernatural powers that the Apostles did. Even still, God grants believers a spiritual power to deal with problems of this life and to wage a spiritual war (Eph 6:12). Despite this, there are still some things we cannot “cast away”. In many cases, the only thing we can do is pray and believe.

So whatever “irremovable demon” is in your life- remember that anything is possible with belief (Mark 9:23). We have power from God to live life, but sometimes the only thing we can do is let God do his work. As Christians, God has given us power to rely on his power, not to muster it up ourselves.

Tuesday, February 5, 2019

Word for Word: Episode 36

לְאֹתֹת֙ וּלְמֹ֣ועֲדִ֔ים וּלְיָמִ֖ים וְשָׁנִֽים

Signs, seasons, days and years

Having made the earth habitable, God made the heavens useful. Aside from distinguishing day from night, the "clock" became a calendar.

The word "signs" is the Hebrew אוֹת (ōth). As with the translation, the word indicates a signal. Signs identify the true state of things. The lights in the sky are used to confirm the message of the creator.

A season (מוֹעֵד mo`ed) is an appointed place or time. Affixing the prefix "m" to the root verb יָעַד ( yâʻad) forms the noun. By watching the sky regular meetings and activities can be scheduled.

The orbs and points of light also make it possible to observe special days. These include the first day of the month and year (Heb: שָׁנָה, shaneh).

The year is marked when the sky returns to its original appearance. The word שָׁנָה is taken from the verb form shanah, the same root for the number two.

The place of the earth among the heavenly bodies was designed to allow a clear view of what has been set in place. As the Psalmist would write "The heavens declare the glory of God" (Ps. 19:1).

Monday, February 4, 2019

Word for Word: Episode 35

מְאֹרֹת֙ בִּרְקִ֣יעַ הַשָּׁמַ֔יִם

Lights in the heavenly space

The lights now commanded to take their assigned places are not the source of light that had shown on the first day. The word used here is מָאוֹר rather than the אוֹר of verse 3.

This alone clears up the charge that there is an inconsistency in the account. The "m" as a prefix often indicates a place. The maorim are lit, or lit up, by energy that is not their own. Like lamps and mirrors, they need a light giver.

Word for Word: Episode 34

יֹ֥ום שְׁלִישִֽׁי

The Third Day

The primary root of the verb שָׁלַשׁ (shalash), translated "to do or be of a third part", may have originally meant "to intensify". However it always acts as a number in all its forms.

The Hebrew word for three is שָׁלוֹשׁ (shalosh). In its use in the language, the idea of fullness is clearly seen. Many of the sacrifices had to be three years old, Elijah had water poured out three times. The third day often indicates a limit, as if to call for patience.

On the third day the earth became fully suitable for habitation. Everything from this point on would be for the benefit of the inhabitants.

The words in this portion:

[`asah] עָשָׂה. To do, make, work, form

[raqiya`] רָקִיעַ. Expanse, firmament. Literally, that which is spread out (from the verb רָקַע).

[tavek] תָּוֶךְ, Within, among

[tachath] תַּחַת. Under

["asher] אֲשֶׁר. That, which, who

[sheni] שֵׁנִי. Two, second. From the verb שָׁנָה (to do again, change).

[qavah] קָוָה. To wait, look for, hope, expect; to collect, bind together.

[maqom] מָקוֹם. A place (to stand). From קוּם, to rise.

[yabbashah] יַבָּשָׁה. State of dryness, dry, dry ground, dry lamd

[yam] יָם. Sea, seaward. Plural, יַמִּ֑ים.

[dasha, deshe] דָּשָׁא (v); דֶּשֶׁא (n). To sprout, be green. A sprout, grass.

[`eseb] עֵשֶׂב. Grass, herb.

[zara`, zera`] זָרַע (v); זֶרַע (n). To sow, a seed

[min] מִין. Kind

[pĕri] פְּרִי. Fruit

[`ets] עֵץ. Tree

[shalash] שָׁלַשׁ. To intensify? To be or do a third part. Three, third

Word for Word: Episode 33

פְּרִי֙ לְמִינֹ֔ו

Fruit after its own kind

From the very beginning, plants have been producing other plants, not in a generic way, but in a specific plan. Each one produces fruit that is expected from it.

The word for this in Hebrew is מִין ("meen"). Its root meaning is "a portion, or sort". Each kind of plant has built in instructions to make more of the same kind.

Much discussion has ensued as to what a "kind" is. The concept is plain: parent organisms produce others like themselves. The similarities are not just on the surface, so any observations should take context into account.


Word for Word: Episode 32

עֵ֣ץ פְּרִ֞י עֹ֤שֶׂה פְּרִי֙

Fruit trees making fruit

The most advanced plant created by God's command was the `ets ( עֵץ ). From a word meaning "firm", the tree is attached to the ground, from which it gets water and minerals, while reaching towards heaven, from which it gets its strength and food.

The tree and other plants become the means by which God perpetuates life upom the earth. The fruit (Heb:  פְּרִי peri) of the trees, especially, provides a visible and portable way to spread the attributes of its parents.

Word for Word : Episode 31

עֵ֚שֶׂב מַזְרִ֣יעַ זֶ֔רַע

Herbs producing seed

The second class of plants was what is variously translated herb and grass. The עֵ֚שֶׂב (aseb) was a distinct class of plant apart from the sprouts, though the ancient root means essentially the same thing.

It may be that both words refer to small plants in general in different stages of growth. If this the case, the sprouts grow to become seed ( זֶ֔רַע. zera` ) lbearers. The root of the verb form here, zara`, means to sow, that is, to scatter seed.

Sunday, February 3, 2019

Word for Word: Episode 30

תַּֽדְשֵׁ֤א הָאָ֨רֶץ֙ דֶּ֔שֶׁא

Let the land sprout sprouts

In commanding the soil, God calls out first to a barren land. The ground had no seed of its own, so God must have created the plants in the dirt and in full bloom. The grass filled the land, glistening under God's light as it entered the leading edge of the globe.

The word for the class of plant that came up is דֶּ֔שֶׁא (deshe) is from the verb דָּשָׁא (dasha) which means "to sprout, shoot, grow green". In the original text, the letters had no vowel points. This means the reader would use context and syntax to give the narrative life.

The sense of the phrase is that God told the land to become green with grass, and it did.

Word for Word: Episode 29

תֵרָאֶ֖ה הַיַּבָּשָׁ֑ה

The dry stuff appears

When the deep waters drained into the reservoirs, dry land was revealed. The translators provided the word "land" as understood. What appears (or what God saw, see verb in v. 4) is literally just the local example of dryness (Heb: יַבָּשָׁה yabbashah). The damp rocky surface was likely dried quickly by the light from the creator.

By the end of the rotation of the new planet, the soil would be supernaturally prepared, probably by the redirected waters rising from below.