The Lost Art of Worshiping God with your Mind

Worship God with your Mind

Do you ever find it embittering, that when in church deep questions that really should be interesting like ‘What is worship?’ and ‘How do we worship?’ are always met with the same bible verses, the same yawn worthy cliches, and the same lack of ideas?  There’s not even a second to blink before someone in any particular bible study spouts off Romans 1:1 and everyone’s agreeing ‘worship God in everything’, it’s not just singing… yadda yadda.   Honestly, most of the discussion would read like a poorly written pamphlet from the Watchtower Society.  (You know, those Jehovah’s Witnesses who come to your door?)

That said, I’d like to pose the same questions here.  Rather than answering them though, or regurgitating some canned ‘lesson’ at you for compliance as if I were an outdated bible study manual, I’d like to share a perspective to engage, and some of my thoughts, to hopefully provoke some of your own.

What does it mean to ‘worship God with your mind?’ If you’re like most Christians, you instantly think ‘apologetics’.  That’s what it is right?  We worship God with our mind by being ‘ready to give an answer’, and being able to slap down those hordes of unreasonable, and fiendish atheists who are out to harass and proselytize you into losing faith.  Or convince Muslims that they’re adhering to an oppressive and backward religion.  If you’re really good, you can write a book with ‘proofs’ of Christianity, and go on a radio talk show.
Dialogue is important, so there might be more to some of that, but if all Christianity has to say for itself is a lame attempt to convince you that the Sunday preacher is right, then Christianity is all sale and no content.  It would be intellectually dead.

So maybe worshiping God with our minds is exactly the same as worshiping God in the other areas of our lives.  In the same way that someone who cleans can clean as an act of worship, perhaps we can think, reason, invent, and discover.  (Proverbs 25:2)

But what does that really mean?  What does it even mean to worship in anything at all?

Well, I’m really glad I fabricated that question for you.

It seems to be literally doing whatever it is you are doing for God.  (obligatory bible verse: Col 3:23)  You can consider this like a little child with a scribbled picture who looks up into their parent’s face with shining eyes and says “I made this for you.” hoping, and yearning deeply to hear their parent’s affirmation, ‘well done.’   I would imagine that there are many Christians who have a similar theological adherence as any of us have gone through their entire lives without that experience.   But is it any wonder why Anselm’s Proslogion was addressed to God himself?

I really feel like a philosopher is akin to a little child sitting by a campfire with God looking up at the stars and asking if those are the campfires of angels that are posted watch in the sky.

The unfortunate tragedy of church culture is that unless you’re interested in proving outsiders wrong, you’re politely informed that your gifts of science and philosophy are undesirable.  Theology when given to the congregation is a set of doctrines for adherence, not mysteries for discovery.  The church want’s it’s door holders, it’s janitors, its Sunday school and music ministries, but for all else, you’re unwanted.  You may also be informed that you’re not a Christian, or that if you are, you need to be fixed by learning to have correct theological adherence.

Is there anything left for that child to do, but to go to God all alone, with nothing but their little picture, and through their tears ask, “Are they right? Is my gift not good enough? Do I really not know you like they do? …do you still love me?”

Whatever intellectual projects we might endeavor to perform as worship appear as if they must be done outside the church.  I really believe that if the church began to live up to it’s view of worship, it would support many other avenues of expression, and become a centerpiece of culture once again.  But of course, it will never listen.

Questions

THE ABILITY to ask a question is one of the greatest gifts God gave to man. To question something allows us to be able to understand the concept better. Questioning leads to Knowledge, which leads to understanding, which leads to wisdom. We get a formal education in order to be able to ask new questions. People make entire fortunes answering questions no one has asked. Answers are worthless if no one is asking the question.

Questions are essential to Christanity. This may come as a shock to many people who think that questions do not belong to religion. The ability to analyize and reconize the need to an situation is the foundation of Christianity. The following essay hopes to convice the reader that a Christian is characterized by one who asks questions.
Questions are biblical. You see.

Genesis 3:1 NAS Genesis 3:1 Now the serpent was more crafty than any beast of the field which the LORD God had made. And he said to the woman, “Indeed, has God said, ‘You shall not eat from any tree of the garden ‘?”

Now, some may find it kind of ironic that the first recorded question in the Bible is by Satan. However, it could be demostrated that the first recorded book of the Bible is the book of Job, and here, God is the first one asking the questions.

Job 1:7-8 7 And the LORD said to Satan, “From where do you come?” Then Satan answered the LORD and said, “From roaming about on the earth and walking around on it.” 8 And the LORD said to Satan, “Have you considered My servant Job? For there is no one like him on the earth, a blameless and upright man, fearing God and turning away from evil.”

We can see here that questions can be used in mulitiple ways. In the first, Satan uses a question to cast doubt into what God has commanded. Look at how the NLT recordes this:

Genesis 3:1 NLT Genesis 3:1 The serpent was the shrewdest of all the wild animals the LORD God had made. One day he asked the woman, “Did God really say you must not eat the fruit from any of the trees in the garden?”

Did God really Say. Now, some would say “See you’re not to question anything that God has said! Don’t you know He is soverign?” Now notice that Satan did not sin by asking the question, the sin was lying and claiming that God would not make men subject to death. (Genesis 3:4)
Some say that the process of creating doubt or having it, is a sin. Doubt is something that is given by God to be the directors of investigation. If you doubt that the fastest way to get from point A to point B is by running, then you might use horses or a wheel. If you doubt that the sun is the center of the universe, you’ll do something to prove it otherwise. Doubt is the stuff that causes us to question our current situation, and leads us to want something more.
Wanting something more is not a sin. Our first parents could have easilly handled this desire by taking this doubt to God. When we take this doubt that we have an do not consult God about it, dangerous things can happen.
What happens when you doubt God? There is a certain kind of faith that expresses doubt in this way “I know that God can do better than this”. This idea expresses the doubt that not all of God’s promises are unlocked, and the full potential of a situation is capable of being expressed. This kind of doubt is expressed by Abraham in the destruction of Sodom.

Genesis 18:24-26 24 What if there are fifty godly people in the city? Will you really wipe it out and not spare the place for the sake of the fifty godly people who are in it? 25 Far be it from you to do such a thing– to kill the godly with the wicked, treating the godly and the wicked alike! Far be it from you! Will not the judge of the whole earth do what is right?” 26 So the LORD replied, “If I find in the city of Sodom fifty godly people, I will spare the whole place for their sake.”

Its imporant to note that it was not God who stopped giving out the promises, but it was Abraham who stopped asking of God. He doubted that fifty would be found there, and doubted that this was God’s best deal. This is an healthy doubt.
Today, doubt and questining is needed in the Christian community. There are many people who come to Church who soak in everything the preacher says without scanning the infomation for themeselves. There are many ministers also who will say things that they hear on TBN or some other network and simply regurtergate what they hear.

Some  common examples:

“the Trinity is a contradiction but we believe it anyway.”
‎”God helps those who help themselves”
“We’re not punished for our sins but by them”
“Have the faith the size of a mustard seed”

It was God given doubt that allowed a monk in the 15th century to doubt the idea that salvation could be bought or by works. It takes doubt to challenge the assumption that the Holy Scriptures are subject to the laws of man. It takes doubt to stop bowing down to images and to statues. It takes doubt to challenge the idea that the Scriptures can only be in one language. People doubted and challegnged and reformed the Church in the past, and it can be done again today.

Some Christian groups deal with doubt better than others. A friend an I were canvassing in a housing project near our University. We were praying with people, giving out phamplets, reconizing the needs of people and taking prayer requests. Then something happend that was out of the ordinary, some Mormon missionaries parked their bikes on the houses down from us! This was a very intreseting situation, so we went to meet them. It was a very enjoyable experience (Mormons are some of the nicest people on earth) and they offered us some of their tracts. We took them. Beacuse we wanted them to know the truth, we gave them some of our tracts. Then something unexpected happend: they didn’t accept our tracts. Their church prohibits their members from accepting materials not produced by their church (I later learned that the ‘organization’ of the Jehovah’s Witnesses do the same thing). I define cults as organizations/groups that prohibit their adhearents from access to certain kinds of infomation. What these organizations are afraid of is that certain pieces of infomation will cast doubt in the organization. This leads to questining, and it could follow that they will leave the organization. Therefore its better for the organization that their members not think critically for themselves.

Other groups, such as the Amish, let thier members explore the world. They are free to read materials of a non-sexual nature, and they are free to engage in religious discussions with persons that are not of their community. They also let their children explore the wonders of the modern world, to let them decide for themselves if they want to join the community.

Universities were created to help deal with doubt. Christians who had doubts about their faith would often come to these places to speak to people who had those doubts and overcame them. Learning takes place when people doubt something, when they ask questions and set out to find answers.

Some answers we will not like. Some questions have answers that require that our lifestyle change.

Acts 16:27-34 27 When the jailer woke up and saw the doors of the prison standing open, he drew his sword and was about to kill himself, because he assumed the prisoners had escaped. 28 But Paul called out loudly, “Do not harm yourself, for we are all here!” 29 Calling for lights, the jailer rushed in and fell down trembling at the feet of Paul and Silas. 30 Then he brought them outside and asked, “Sirs, what must I do to be saved?” 31 They replied, “Believe in the Lord Jesus and you will be saved, you and your household.” 32 Then they spoke the word of the Lord to him, along with all those who were in his house. 33 At that hour of the night he took them and washed their wounds; then he and all his family were baptized right away. 34 The jailer brought them into his house and set food before them, and he rejoiced greatly that he had come to believe in God, together with his entire household.

The Jailer had a situation in which his entire worldview was in doubt. He like millions of people after him, asked the most important question that he could ask “What must I do do be saved?”. It was a result of that question that led his entire household to be saved.

When a person doubts the humanistic and naturalistic philsophies of this world, and they go with their questions to look for answers, Christians should be ready.

1 Peter 3:15-16 15 But set Christ apart as Lord in your hearts and always be ready to give an answer to anyone who asks about the hope you possess. 16 Yet do it with courtesy and respect, keeping a good conscience, so that those who slander your good conduct in Christ may be put to shame when they accuse you.

2 Corinthians 10:3-5 3 For though we live as human beings, we do not wage war according to human standards, 4 for the weapons of our warfare are not human weapons, but are made powerful by God for tearing down strongholds. We tear down arguments 5 and every arrogant obstacle that is raised up against the knowledge of God, and we take every thought captive to make it obey Christ.

In today’s world, every Christian should be able to tear down every argument that exalts itself aganist faith in God. While many might agree with this, Christians don’t generally apply it to their life. For example, if they beleive that homosexuality is a sin, they won’t express it to their friends if the topic comes up in conversation. Or, if they beleive that the termination of an unborn human being is evil, they won’t support legesigation that seeks to support their views by climing that “its someone’s choice”. When told that they can’t pray inside of their classroom, these types of Christians will cease praying. They will listen to degrading music inside of their own vehicle just to appease their friends. Lets not talk about how they will ignore the battlegrounds of YouTube and Facebook and promote secular viewpoints.

And its not their fault.

Christianity has traditionally taught that doubt was something that you should shut up inside of you, that the Church was not to be questioned. Though historically and acaademlly, the Church is and was questioned all the time, the average member was not exposed to these debates. But now the time has come for Christians everywhere to doubt. To doubt the traditions, philosophies and customs of this world. To doubt what is taught in your church and for you to know what you believe, why you beleive it and where it is found in the word of God. These kinds of Christians who doubt and question everything will find that their faith can sustain constant scrunity, and will not be challenged when someone from outside of their faith community challenges it.

Matthew 24:24-25 24 For false messiahs and false prophets will appear and perform great signs and wonders to deceive, if possible, even the elect. 25 Remember, I have told you ahead of time.

Revelation 13:13-14 13 And he doeth great wonders, so that he maketh fire come down from heaven on the earth in the sight of men, 14 And deceiveth them that dwell on the earth by the means of those miracles which he had power to do in the sight of the beast; saying to them that dwell on the earth, that they should make an image to the beast, which had the wound by a sword, and did live.

Many people will be deceived in the end of time beacuse they did not doubt. They did not doubt what their senses told them. They beleived the religious leaders of their day and did not question what they said.
Colossians 2:8 8 Beware lest any man spoil you through philosophy and vain deceit, after the tradition of men, after the rudiments of the world, and not after Christ.

The answer isn’t for us to abandon YouTube and join GodTube. You may think Wikipedia is too liberal; so we’re going to use Conservapedia. As Christians we should deal with doubt and find answers, not to simply change the channel.
As we deal with doubt, its also important to know where to get the answers to your questions. You can’t beleive everything on the internet, including this site. Let me demostrate. If your car is running ackwardly, it would be best for you to go to a mechanic. If your head, back and stomach are hurting..it would be wise for you to go to a physican. If you want to invest in some mutural funds; a financial advisor might be better for you then E-Trade. These people are specialist in their field. They went to school to get an education which makes them qualified to perform that particular professional service. Why would you not go to a minister to recieve some answers to your questions?

Now, let me clarify by ‘minister’. A ‘qualified minister’ is someone who went to an accrediated university and got some degree in theology. Philsophy, while wonderful, is not theology and therefore should be discounted. Jesus’ disciples spent three years under His direction before they were sent out to ministry. Most theology students spend four years in undergraduate; learn Hebrew and Greek (and some Aramaic). Some go on to graduate school where they recieve a Divinity of Ministry degree (D.Min). This would be a better source for answers to your questions that involve your eternal life. Be humble and drive to somone who went through tranining, just like you would drive to the financial planner or to the mechanic. Do not consider yourself weak, its doing your research. You’ll find a much fruitful response to your question than on the Neighborhood Bishop, Yahoo! Answers, WIkipedia or YouTube.

Doubt, Questions and Research are the things that make society great. It allows us to discover more about our world and helps to make it a better place. Midguided questions could lead to disease, war and anger. Questions that are done in humility lead to making the world a better place.

Is There Bad Reception With God?

Have you ever felt that the environment you were in or the people you hung around could hinder your communication with God? I grew up in the “projects” and the “projects” are not comfortable places to live. It is commonplace for one to see spit in the elevator, or a box with a picture and candles of the young man who was shot the night before. One may even be greeted by the young lady who is strung out on crack because one young man decided that he will not live to make an honest living. Such an environment can depress you and even desensitize you as a person.

I remember telling my brother that I would do something to change our community. I said, “Maybe if we could have workshops on community development and pray our community could change.” Then my brother gave me the most surprising response ever. He told me “ forget it! It’s useless; God can’t hear your prayers in this place. It’s a swamp. Just as you can’t get reception in a swamp you can’t get reception here. He later added, “ Besides you can’t clean a swamp and even if you successfully do, you will mess up the Eco-system.” “You will be doing more harm than good.” “Where will all the “swamp animals” live?” He concluded with a passionate plea and said, “you go against prophecy if you do this.” “For Jesus said the poor will always be with you.” “If God puts a man in a certain mindset, and you try to open the mind of that man, you go against God.”

This was discouraging for me to hear from my younger brother and I showed empathy for what seemed be a hopeless situation but I sought the scriptures for advice and was comforted by this passage in Psalms 139:7-12

7. Where can I go from Your Spirit?
Or where can I flee from Your presence?

8. If I ascend to heaven, You are there;
If I make my bed in Hell, behold, You are there.

9. If I take the wings of the dawn,
If I dwell in the remotest part of the sea,

10. Even there Your hand will lead me,
And Your right hand will lay hold of me.

11. If I say, “Surely the darkness will overwhelm me,
And the light around me will be night,”

12. Even the darkness is not dark to You,
And the night is as bright as the day.
Darkness and light are alike to You.

In this Passage, David is writing about how God’s presence has been everywhere in his life and even in places we don’t expect. It is encouraging to me because it shows me that no matter how bad my environment is, that nothing can separate me from the love of God or my ability to communicate with him. It amazes me that Jesus grew up in Nazareth. A place that was so bad that when it was heard the Messiah was from Nazareth, Nathaniel asked “Can any good thing come out of Nazareth?” And Phillip replied “come and see.” Therefore the question lies before you. Can I get any reception to God in my environment? My challenge for you is to try and see.

What shall I do that I may inherit eternal life?

 

Today in the church there seems to be a serious difference in opinion regarding the nature of obedience. Some have stood declaring that obedience to God’s law is unnecessary to salvation and even impossible. I, on the other hand would say that obedience to God is extremely necessary to salvation and is indeed possible for every child of God.

As far as I understand it, the Bible is quite clear. The account of the rich young ruler helps, “And, behold, one came and said unto him, Good Master, what good thing shall I do, that I may have eternal life? And He said unto him, why callest thou Me good? There is none good but One, that is, God: but if thou wilt enter into life, keep the commandment.” Matthew 19:16-17. Now we know that salvation is not of works, so what was Christ telling the young ruler? Christ was not telling the young man that he must earn merit in order to obtain eternal life, but rather he must meet a condition in order to receive eternal life. “In reply to this question [what shall I do that I may inherit eternal life?] Jesus told him that obedience to the commandments of God was necessary if he would obtain eternal life . . . . All should consider what it means to desire heaven, and yet to turn away because of the conditions laid down.” Desire of Ages, 518, 523. God extends the gift of salvation to us, but we must submit and meet the condition laid out before us, that is, obedience to God…not just believing. “The terms of salvation for every son and daughter of Adam are here outlined. It is plainly stated that the condition of gaining eternal life is obedience to the commandments of God.” Review and Herald, 26 October 1897. In other words, there is no salvation without obedience (1 Selected Messages, 364).

One can say that they believe and have faith, but “faith without works is dead,” the Bible says and that even “the devils believe and tremble,” (James 2:17-20) so mere belief and faith alone cannot secure our salvation. It is faith in Christ that gives us the strength to obey. One might say that we only need a relationship with God, or it is the only thing that matters….that will save us. Well, our relationship with God is the important thing however, what kind of relationship do we really think we have if we are not obeying God? Jesus said, “not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord (those that claim a relationship) shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven.” Matthew 7:27. Jesus also says that, “ye are My friends, if ye do whatsoever I command you.” John 15:14.

There is also the idea that man cannot keep God’s law anyway. My question to that would be this, why would God tell us to obey Him if we could not? Why would God tell us repeatedly to repent and turn from our wicked way to righteousness, to forsake our sin and keep His statutes? (Ezekiel 18:20-24; 3:18-21; 14:4-6; 33:8-16; etc.). However, trying to meet God’s holy standard alone will prove worthless. We need the grace of Christ to help us. “The grace of God in Christ is the foundation of the Christians hope, and that grace will be manifested in obedience.” Great Controversy, 256. We must have the abiding presence of Christ in us if we are to live holy lives….for it is Christ in us, the hope of glory (Colossians 1:27). “With Christ working in you, you will manifest the same spirit and do the same good works of righteousness, obedience.” Steps to Christ, 63.

“The condition of eternal life is now just what it always has been, just what it was in Paradise before the fall of our first parents, perfect obedience to the law of God, perfect righteousness. If eternal life were granted on any condition short of this, then the happiness of the whole universe would be imperiled. The way would be open for sin, with all its train of woe and misery, to be immortalized.” Steps to Christ, 62. God has not changed, but many are now teaching contrary to God’s word. It is sad to hear others push aside God’s law. By doing so, we place ourselves on the side of Satan who accused God of being unjust and boldly claimed that His law could not be kept. Let us shun any demonic idea and may we in faith look “unto Him that is able to keep you from falling, and to present you faultless before the presence of His glory with exceeding joy.” Jude 1:24.

The Theological Exclusiveness of Christianity Toward other Religious Systems

A friend posted recently on his Facebook status:

Christians stop judging followers of Buddha nor Alah. Because if u really knew about the two they are very similar to Christianity

I was immediately intrigued as to what he was really trying to say. A quick survey of the status revealed a number of things that represented complex theological ideas:

  1. Christians
  2. Judgement of other belief systems.
  3. Followers of other belief systems.
  4. Other Religions are legitimate.
  5. Implied Ignorance of Christians towards other belief systems
  6. Similarities amongst religious systems.

Each of these topics could in an of themselves take up a course or a dissertation in graduate school. That is because each of these things are vitality important and will become more important to the westernized world as we move into the 21st century. Christians are going to have to learn how to deal and interact with other belief systems. Failure to do so will be disastrous for the cause of Christ.

How Christians have historically dealt with believers of other faiths.

Historically, Christians/Hebrews have responded in various ways.

  1. Escape The Essene population in the Hellenistic age  decided that the sin (things like playing games naked in public places: the Gymnasium)  that the Greeks were proposing was dangerous. To be near these people would mean corruption (think Sadducee) and it would be better to separate from the world and its influences, to live a holy life apart from other peoples.
  2. Kill them All! We saw what happened when Muslims spread their influence across the Strait of Gibraltar  into Spain. As they were entering into France, they were pushed back by the Christians there. This victory then gave the Vatican the ideal that they could push them out of Jerusalem, this proved to be disastrous. It is known that Martin Luther, who was a German, hated the Jewish people. Everyone can agree that the majority of the Christian denominations did not do enough to prevent the Holocaust of the Jews.
  3. Theological Ridicule when Islam first became known to the west, the general idea was that it was an offshoot of a desert Christian sect, and wasn’t recognized as a another religion until much later.
  4. Ignore Them when some Christian approach people of other Faiths, they see right past them and do not acknowledge the religion of the other individual.
  5. Accept their Truth Claim this is idea that all truth claims are equal, and that Christians do not have an exclusive right to truth. This tries to achieve the same affect as the previous point–by simply embracing it, they hope that the truth claims and the “awkwardness” or discomfort that some people feel when approaching other faith traditions will go away.
  6. Dialogue Inter-religious dialogue is the best way to approach various faiths.  We need to learn something from them, but more importantly, they need to learn about Christ. I will maintain that dialogue is only effective if it leads to a clearer view of Christianity. This should lead to conversion, eventually.

Options 1 and 2 are no longer possible. Most Christians today do not have enough training in Theology to perform number 3. Options 4 and 5 are the most popular while 6 is simply hard.

 Ignoring Someone’s Religious Perspective is bad.

In the United States, its conventional to be in a secular mindset when interacting with everyday people. Its encouraged in the workplace, and people feel better knowing that many a hard discussion can be avoided if you never talk about two things, namely Religion and Politics. These things are normally avoided because they speak to the identity of a person religious conviction of individuals defines the person in some cases.  Some may see themselves as an artist, some people might say they are a musician; but if you have ever met someone who primarily identified themselves as a “Child of God” then you have a very special person. Special in that this person acknowledges a relationship with a higher power than themselves. If you are able to return the favor “Wow, so am I! Isn’t our Father Wonderful!” then you have just strengthen the interpersonal bonds between yourself and that individual, and they will never forget you when you two meet again. Religious identification among the religious is the thing that, in the past and in most places of the world, tends to bind people and communities together. 

In secular places, where religious isn’t the glue for the community, you can observe the destruction of the community. In these neighborhoods, you have violence or domestic abuse. You can see it in the abortion rate, you can see it in the family, you can see it in the daily conversation.

When you meet individuals with strong convictions, and you never take the time to find out what those convictions are, then your conversations with that person will be shallow, the great discussions and perspectives on life will be missed, and neither you nor that person will be edified. 

Blind Acceptance

There is then the recent inclination to immediate validate all forms of spiritual expression as a valid religion. For most Christians that do this, this comes an a explicit reaction to the general Christian response to persons of other faiths: That they are going to hell. When they begin to think about the sheer population of non-Christians out there it frightens them that so many people can potentially suffer the fate of an everlasting separation from God. Rather than saying “I’m going to spend my life trying to show the truth of Christ to every single man, woman, boy and girl I meet!” they resort to changing the theology of Christianity to be more inclusive of other faiths.

A Biblical Point of View

Lets look at this from the Bible’s point of view of what it teaches in a nutshell:

God is Good. God is Just. Human beings were good once but became bad. Human beings are so bad, they can’t help themselves! God helps human beings become better. God becomes a real fleshly man, Jesus,  and uplifts mankind because Jesus is 100% God. Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross allows the sins of humanity to be taken away and applied to Him.. Mankind can now become right in God’s eyes if they trust accept the righteousness of Christ, of which they did not deserve. (1 John 4:8; Psalm 100:5; Exodus 34: 6,7; Genesis 3; Romans 3:9-20;  John 1:1-3,14; Colossians 1:15-19; John 10:30; Romans 6:23; 2 Corinthians 5:17-19; Hebrews 2:9-18; 1 Corinthians 15:3,4)

I think anyone would admit that these claim have far reaching consequences if you accept them as true. Much of the New Testament is about defending the very realization of how the first coming of Jesus Christ transformed our way about how we think about God and His nature and work. Any other claim that denies a fundamental part of this, lets say the religion explicitly teaches that Jesus was nothing more than a regular man, maybe even a very special prophet, but surly not a person able to taking on the sins of Humanity. Then the said religion would be incompatible with Christianity. Lets not get side tracked by the argument that they may teach about Love, Justice and Peace (Jesus had some interesting ideas about peace, namely that He did not come to bring that to Earth, but conflict! See Matthew 10:34). These things may be all good but they are distractions. Why? If we have conflicting different standards about what Love is, about what it means to have Justice, then talking about those things won’t matter. If you deny the greatest Love story that I know, Jesus dying for us, then what do you mean by Love?

Every religion and belief system that I can think of acknowledges that there is something wrong with humanity. (well, humanism says everything is all right!) Christianity is the only religion where the solution to this problem does not rest in what you as an individual can do, but about what He has done. Mark Finley says: “Faith is not human being centered, it is God centered. It is never faith in me, it’s always faith in Him. It’s never trust in what I can do, it’s always trust in what He can do. It is never focused on what I want, it’s always focused on what He wants.”

Christianity is by nature, mutually exclusive. Christians should be aware of this, even though we live in a religious pluralism today. Take what Christ said about Himself:

John 14  6 Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. 7 If you really know me, you will know my Father as well. From now on, you do know him and have seen him.”

Jesus is claiming that He is the door to God. This is big news! If you have the philosophy that Jesus was “a good person” then if you don’t believe this you have to believe that He was a really big fat liar!

Mark 14: 61,62 But Jesus remained silent and gave no answer.   Again the high priest asked him, “Are you the Messiah, the Son of the Blessed One?”  “I am,” said Jesus. “And you will see the Son of Man sitting at the right hand of the Mighty One and coming on the clouds of heaven.”

He also claimed to be the very Son of God. He claimed to also ride on clouds! You should suffer from Cognitive dissonance if you still think that Jesus was a “Good Person” and yet don’t believe in His claims. If you try to deny that He said the above things, then there is no basis for you to affirm other things. You cannot believe Jesus was a good person without believing into Jesus.

It should be clear that a liar on such a scale should not be trusted. If Jesus didn’t mean to say these things, then He was crazy. If you maintain that Jesus was still a nice guy, then you would have to discount the Bible as a big misunderstanding.

But what about those who follow Buddhism and Islam?  This group of people represents nearly half the people of the world, and how they understand Jesus –according to Christianity– will determine their salvation. Get the picture: nothing, nada, no, zero , zip –nothing a person can do can make them closer to God. It is only by transferring the punishment that was yours to Christ, that you may escape the wrath of the Law. You can’t buy this, you can’t work your way up to it, you can’t nice your way into it. It doesn’t matter if you reject God’s son. If you were never given the choice, then that is a subject for a different post.

If you accept Buddhism as a religion, then you basically admit that you don’t need Jesus to be good, that you can do bad all by yourself. This is an affront to Christianity. If you believe in Islam, you believe that you can work your way to God as long as your bad deeds are less than your good ones. Again, this nullifies the sacrifice of Christ. Islam even teaches that there was no sacrifice by Christ that was made.  It also denies the resurrection.

Look at the Qur’an

[4.171] O followers of the Book! do not exceed the limits in your religion, and do not speak (lies) against Allah, but (speak) the truth; the Messiah, Isa son of Marium is only an apostle of Allah and His Word which He communicated to Marium and a spirit from Him; believe therefore in Allah and His apostles, and say not, Three. Desist, it is better for you; Allah is only one God; far be It from His glory that He should have a son, whatever is in the heavens and whatever is in the earth is His, and Allah is sufficient for a Protector.

[112:2] Allah, the eternally Besought of all! 3 He begets not nor was begotten.
”God forbid that He Himself should beget a son!” [19:29]

Christians say God is Three in One,  Islam says God is One, Hinduism says there are thousands of Gods and Mormons believe that we can become God  ‘As man is, God once was; as God is, man may be.'(LDS Apostle James E. Talmage, Articles of Faith, Ch.24, p.430 – p.431, LDS Collectors Library ’97 CD-ROM) This it should be evident that they are disagreeing about the very character and nature and person of  God!

Objective Morality

If all religion is right then this means that all of them are wrong, and whatever faith someone chooses to believe in (lets say religions that require human sacrifice, or religions which say that homosexuals should be killed on sight) no one could pass any judgement as to if that or any other action would be right or wrong.

But I believe that objective morality do exist. I believe that there is a such thing as right and wrong. And if that is true, then it also exists when we’re looking at anything that claims any truth statement. This leads me to believe that there could be only one way, one truth one right. Everything else is wrong. Wrong may not be the same as sinful, if you’re ignorant. However, I want the truth, and I’m going to do everything I can to arrive at it. Yes, its simpler to say that everyone should go according to their own desires, but I know that I am sinful and am in need of cleansing. Because of that, i’m going to find God’s solution to the problem of sin.

Religion bounds by definition. It is the thing that expresses everyone’s complex relationship with the king of the universe. I don’t believe in a God that isn’t Triune, some people do. Because this is a fundamental difference, we are not talking about the same person. (this is equivalent of saying that two siblings are describing their mom, and one describes her as black and skinny while the other one talks about her as being of Asian decent and obese with green eyes, they clearly are not talking about the same person). To suggest that God creates these different religions to fit various personalities creates confusion at the very least. The Bible suggests that God isn’t one of confusion. Religion is the expression of a person’s relationship with God.

The exclusive claims that Christianity makes is one that is hard for some people to accept these days. We want religious pluralism, but its a logical inconsistency to suggest that multiple statements that are mutually exclusive are all correct. If we try to mix truth with error then we have something that the bible describes as a Babylonian religious system (symbolized by wine).

Close Minded People

My friend then said this:

So I respect ur knowledge but not ur closed mindset. God knows that it takes sum of us to hear the same advice 10 different ways b4 it clicks. Who is to say God didn’t create different religions to appeal to different people?

Close-mindedness is commonly claimed by people who are confronted by people who disagree with their claims. Truly close-minded people would not engage in a discussion. But what is even more important is how my friends’ theology was affected. He claimed that it cannot be claimed that God did not create different religious for various peoples. Without getting into a discussion about the origin of religion, I countered that it would be much more efficient for there to be a group of religions that taught mostly the same thing on the key subjects, than to have various religions that teach and contradict each other. I believe that mankind has misinterpreted much of what God attempts to communicate, and because of selfishness has devised other ways.

Side Note: If you want a good book that will give you and introduction of the various religions of the world see the book God Is Not One: The Eight Rival Religions That Run the World–and Why Their Differences Matter by
Stephen Prothero. He breaks each religion down and shows that each religion solves a different problem in its own way.

However, if you find yourself in any of these other belief systems that are opposed to Christianity, the Bible claims:

“Therefore having overlooked the times of ignorance, God is now declaring to men that all people everywhere should repent, because He has fixed a day in which He will judge the world in righteousness through a Man whom He has appointed, having furnished proof to all men by raising Him from the dead.” Acts 17:30,31

In closing, the similarities that you might find among the religious systems of the world do not matter if they disagree on the fundamentals; who God is, who we are, and what is the solution to the Human problem. As Christians we have to recognize this. If you believe Christ, you cannot sit buy and not share this knowledge that you have with the persons you love. You don’t love them if you keep them ignorant. Friends don’t let friends commit theological fallacies.

This week  I received a third place prize for an essay competition by the Center for Adventist-Muslim Relations. I received a monetary prize and a plaque. It was judged by Christians and Muslim experts. You can be open minded, but you also have to be grounded. However, don’t become too open minded so that your brains fall out!  If we want to reach souls, we have to know how different people groups think. We have to be dialogue, we have to be respectful, but don’t let this lead to a denial that Jesus Christ is and will always be: the Truth, the life and The Way

Faith and the Titanic

This year marks the 100th aniversary of the terrible sinking of the RMS (Royal Mail Ship / USPS) Titanic. On April 15, 1912 this ship was the largest moving structure ever built by the hands of mankind. It was luxurious, spacious and packed more than 2000 on what would be her first and last voyage from  Southampton, England to New York City. Its also interesting to know that the ship was funded by J.P Morgan Chase. (I wonder if the bank will make any statement in regard to this tragedy) Over 1000 persons died when the ship broke into two–710 survivors were left in lifeboats that weren’t filled to the max. Everyone associated with the event is now dead.

But where was God?

This is a question people ask when disaster’s happen. And no doubt this question has been asked many times since the event. Is it possible to trace God’s hand in this event? It is possible to understand it through His eyes? Some would say that God didn’t care about these people, that He could have simply moved the iceberg and everything would have been okay. But the Christian should nevertheless look for God’s hand in the matter and this is what I hope to set out to do today.

Side Note: Class Restrictions 

An interesting thing to notice that the Titanic was the most segregated ship of its time. Though all of the classes were treated better than what was accustomed to at the time, first and second class had nearly all of the luxury. For example, first and second class had multiple bathrooms while there were only two (one for each gender) for the entire third class (1,026  passengers). Third class passengers were on the waterline, so when the ship crashed into the iceberg, they would be the first to go.  Third class had Iron toilets, while second class had Porcelain and first class had marble toilets! The most interesting thing is that each class of passengers were kept from interacting with each other. So a person in second class could not enjoy or even see all the tantalizing things that were happening in first class. But if you were in first class you were only a deck below where the lifeboats were! Luxury indeed were not for most of its passengers, just for those who could afford it. However the richest passanger abourd the ship, John Jacob Astor IV did not survive.

A Near Accident 

When the Titanic left On Wednesday 10 April 1912 a few minutes after her departure at Noon, the ship had a near accident. The huge ship passed by a much smaller ship  SS City of New York . The displacement of water caused the other ship to increase height drastically and fall back to normal levels. The ships cables could not support the sudden change and snapped. This caused the New York to spin out of control and it nearly missed the Titanic by 4 feet (1.2 meters). This delayed the ship for an hour.

The ship then went to France and Ireland. From there it went out of the English channel into international waters. It then traveled for three days smoothly.

Divine Intervention

With a disaster about to hit so many souls, it would have been even more disastrous if this event happened without warning. But there was a warning. I believe that God was trying to send a message to the Titanic to prevent what happened from taking place.

God uses humanity to warn Titanic

 

At least six warnings, like the one pictured here, were sent to the Titanic. The Marconi International Marine Communication Company, Limited, was the main telecommunications service operating in the North Atlantic Ocean. They had two operators on the Titanic: Senior Jack Phillips and Junior Wireless Operator Harold  Bride. They were both considered very qualified and were tasked with carrying messages two and from the Titanic on the Marconi “Wireless” (their radios).

It is known that the wireless operators had an antenna that had power output of 1.5 kW per each of the two antenna that were in use. This allowed for a range of 1000 miles. The messages were communicated in Morse Code, which consisted of dots and dashes.

The wireless operators had many messages, along with weather reports, they were given news reports from newspapers and also a heavy amount of mail. As the ship got closer to New York, many passengers sent messages ahead to family members to make plans for their arrival.  This resulted in a large load of information that had to be translated and communicated.

Ice Warnings Received By Titanic

Date/Time
Ship
Message
14/4 9.00am

Caronia (MSF) – Eastbound, New York to Liverpool, Queenstown. The message was delivered to the bridge, where Captain Edward John Smith posted it for his  officers to read.

‘Captain, Titanic – West-bound steamers report bergs, growlers and field ice in 42° N, from 49° to 51° W, April 12th. Compliments, Barr’

14/4 1.42pm

Baltic (MBC) – Eastbound, New York to Liverpool, Queenstown. This message was delivered to Captain Edward John Smith as he talked to Bruce Ismay. Ismay pocketed the piece of paper, and later showed it to several passengers. At 7.15pm, Smith asked for its return, when it was finally posted in the chart  room.

‘Greek steamer Athenia reports passing icebergs and large quantities of field ice today in latitude 41° 51′ N, longitude 49° 52′ W. Wish you and Titanic all success. Commander.’

14/4 1.45pm

Amerika (DDR) – This message was actually a private one to the US  Hydrographic Office in Washington DC, overheard by Titanic’s radio operators. Regretably, it never made its way to the bridge.

Amerika passed two large icebergs in 41° 27′ N, 50° 8′ W on April 14.’

14/4 7.30pm

Californian (MWL) – This message was actually to Antillian (MJL), but overheard by Titanic’s radio operators. This was delivered by Bride to the bridge, although Captain Edward John Smith was not made aware of it. He was in the a la carte restaurant, dining with the Wideners.

‘To Captain, Antillian: Six-thirty pm, apparent ship’s time; latitude 42° 3′ N, longitude 49° 9′ W. Three large bergs 5 miles to the southward of us.  Regards, Lord.’

14/4 9.40pm

Mesaba (MMU) – This message never reached the bridge. Harold Bride was getting some much needed sleep, and Jack Phillips was busy on the key sending and receiving commercial traffic to Cape Race.

‘From Mesaba to Titanic . In latitude 42° N to 41° 25′,  longitude 49° W to longitude 50° 30′ W, saw much heavy pack ice and great number large icebergs, also field ice, weather good, clear.’

You can read more about the geographic reprsentation of the reported areas where the icebergs were reported here.

About forty minutes before Titanic began to sink, another message was sent to her by the S.S. Californian.  The ship was in the same ice-field that Titanic was approaching, and was stuck in it. The Californian sent a message to the Titanic without the MSG prefix (which would require a response from the Bridge).  Phillips, maybe beacuse he was tired or he was trying to send out all of those reports the passengers wanted sent out,  replied to the Californian  with a message of “D-D-D,” meaning shut up. Can you believe it? So, the Californian turned off their radio. When the Titanic sent out distress signals, the S.S. Californian which was only a few miles from the sinking ship.

So the Titanic was notified of the danger, and due to the stubbornness of some of the crew, and the myth of the “unsinkable ship”, they went full speed ahead. They saw the iceberg, made a turn and it hit it. At first they thought it was a minor scrape, but they did not know of the 300-foot gash well below the ship’s waterline.

When the captain assessed the damage, he predicted the ship would last about an hour. The minutes that followed would forever be encased in human minds until this very day. With over 40,000 tons of water filling the ship, it began to sank.

There are tales of a band playing Nearer my God to thee as the ship sank. This song would be played during the many benefit concerts that raised money for the victims of the tragedy, including their families.

This clip from the Titanic Movie(1997) seems to best capture the sadness of the event.


At least among those men, Faith was still alive and well in their hearts. Titanic carried a total of 20 lifeboats which could support about 1/3 of the total capacity of the ship. This was considered well above the standard of the day as the thought was that the boats would be used to ferry passengers to and from any other large boat that would be there for the rescue, in the unlikely event that something would occur.

The demise of the Titanic lead to drastic changes in safety regulation of Navel vessels. The International Convention for the Safety of Life at Sea (SOLAS) was created to create global changes in the way ships were ran. 24 hour radio operators were made standard, and all messages dealing with the navigation of the ship were made the highest priority always, regardless of heading. There are also numerous other improvements that are still in effect to this day.

So God did not let this happen without warning. When I consider this, I thank Him for the warning messages. I could see Him crying out as the ship sank, with tears in His eyes as people fell victim to hyperthermia. We need to stay watch to the messages that God sends in our life, and be forever watchful of His hand when tragedy strikes.

Did Jesus Sail Across the Mediterranean?

I was watching History Channel’s H2 this past Easter (April 8, 2012) and they had this series called Secrets of Christianity running all day (how appropriate -_-). Being a Christian, the title caught my attention. The series’ six episodes were aired and repeated later in the afternoon, beginning with Vesuvius and the Fear of God, followed by The Messiah Before Jesus,  and continuing with The Lost Voyage of Jesus, The Roman Army’s Secret Christians, Selling Christianity, and ending with Nails of the Cross. I didn’t watch all of them. I caught half of The Messiah Before Jesus and the whole of The Lost Voyage of Jesus–the episode I will be focusing on.

Secrets of Christianity is a documentary series done by documentary director and producer, Simcha Jacobovici. Jacobovici has a background in philosophy, politics, and journalism. He is most famous for his series The Naked Archeologist.

 

Find out more about Simcha Jacobovici at: <http://www.apltd.ca/pages/people/simcha-jacobovici> and <http://www.hellomagazine.com/profiles/simcha-jacobovici/>

So the premise of the episode The Lost Voyage of Jesus is that Jesus’ journey to the region of the Gadarenes, or Gerasenes, depicted in the Gospels of Mark (4:35-5:20), Luke (8:22-39), and Matthew (8:18-34) did not take place on the Sea of Galilee but on the Mediterranean. He claims that the storm described in this story could not have taken place on the placid waters of Galilee but rather on the Mediterranean Sea, which is known for violent storms. He sites further evidences to prove this claim.

The central point to his argument is that Jesus set out to fulfill “the sign of Jonah.” What Jacobovici believes the sign of Jonah to be is bringing the lost sheep of Israel back to the fold, that is, those tribes that were scattered during exile returning to Jerusalem. He then goes on to say that part of the tribe of Gad had settled in Spain. His reasoning for this is that in the ancient world, there was a region in southern Spain called Tartessos. Situated in the area of Tartessos was a coastal town called Gades/Gadir/Gadira, now modern-day Cadiz. He speculates further that because the town of Gades has Gad in its name, it is evidence that it was inhabited by members of the tribe of Gad. Jacobovici believes Tartessos to be the place referred to in the Book of Jonah as Tarshish.  It is his assertion that Jonah set out to minister to these Gadites in Tartessos before God caught up with him. Since the sign of Jonah is interpreted to mean the reunification of the twelve tribes of Israel, it is essential that Jesus undertake this journey as part of his Messianic duty. From this perspective, Gades, Spain could easily be seen as the land of the Gadarenes that Jesus and his disciples traveled to.

Upon arriving at Cadiz, Spain, Jacobovici examines the coastal landscape and compares it to what is described in the Gospel story.

Mark 5:1-14, from the NIV

1  They went across the lake to the region of the Gerasenes.  2  When Jesus got out of the boat, a man with an evil spirit came from the tombs to meet him3  This man lived in the tombs, and no one could bind him any more, not even with a chain.  4  For he had often been chained hand and foot, but he tore the chains apart and broke the irons on his feet. No one was strong enough to subdue him.  5  Night and day among the tombs and in the hills he would cry out and cut himself with stones.  6  When he saw Jesus from a distance, he ran and fell on his knees in front of him.  7  He shouted at the top of his voice, “What do you want with me, Jesus, Son of the Most High God? Swear to God that you won’t torture me!”  8  For Jesus had said to him, “Come out of this man, you evil spirit!”  9  Then Jesus asked him, “What is your name?” “My name is Legion,” he replied, “for we are many.”  10  And he begged Jesus again and again not to send them out of the area.  11  A large herd of pigs was feeding on the nearby hillside.  12 The demons begged Jesus, “Send us among the pigs; allow us to go into them.”  13 He gave them permission, and the evil spirits came out and went into the pigs. The herd, about two thousand in number, rushed down the steep bank into the lake and were drowned14  Those tending the pigs ran off and reported this in the town and countryside, and the people went out to see what had happened.

He remarks that  the scenes described in this passage indicate that the tombs were not far from the shore but were actually quite close, and that there were hills among the tombs. The passage explains further that the hills were on the coast and that they were steep. The fact that the pig herders ran to the town to tell the people what had happened and that the people came out to see, suggests that the town was nearby. Jacobovici continues by saying a cemetery with a nearby town means that it was a necropolis, or city for the dead. That there were pigs leads him to believe that this was not a Jewish community but a pagan or Gentile one since contact with pigs is considered a sin in the Torah. He believes the pigs described in the story were used as sacrifices in celebration of the dead. This fact is more evidence for Jacobovici that this event did not take place in the Jewish area of Galilee.

After examining the evidence and the surrounding landscape, Jacobovici concludes that the area matches the description found in the Gospels. Not only are there steep hills along the coast, but there is a fairly large number of tombs with a nearby village where pigs are minded. However, because Jacobovici is using the NIV Bible, he points out a problem in the translation. He says that the word translated as ‘lake’ in the original Greek actually refers to salt water, not fresh water, and should be rendered more accurately as ‘sea’; further evidence to support his claim that the events described took place on the Mediterranean Sea rather than the fresh water lake of Galilee.

Although the area checks out as a possible location for the events found in the Gospels, Jacobovici reexamines the story and suggests that the storm encountered at “sea” forced Jesus and his disciples to dock at the nearest port, which he says would have been on the Balearic Island of Majorca off the eastern coast of Spain. He remarks that this location fits the description found in the Gospels also. Interestingly, there is a group of Spanish Jews that Jacobovici spends some time with on the island who claim they are the descendants of Jesus and Mary Magdalene. These supposed descendants of Jesus believe that Jesus was an ordinary man who lived a normal life, died, but was not resurrected. He is regarded as a good teacher, nothing more. There is even site in Majorca under a certain tree where a footprint is preserved that locals regard as the footprint of Jesus. As much effort as Jacobovici puts forth in demolishing accepted biblical interpretations, he spends little time scrutinizing these claims and passively accepts what is being said.

Central to his objective, he sites the passage near the end of the story about the villagers asking Jesus and his disciples to leave.

Mark 5:15-17 , from the NIV

15  When they came to Jesus, they saw the man who had been possessed by the legion of demons, sitting there, dressed and in his right mind; and they were afraid.  16  Those who had seen it told the people what had happened to the demon-possessed man– and told about the pigs as well.  17  Then the people began to plead with Jesus to leave their region.

Jacobovici interprets this to mean that Jesus’ attempt at persuading the Gadarenes to return to Jerusalem was unsuccessful. He then comments that the language used in the Gospel story is obscure and that the exact location of the land of the Gadarenes was meant to be concealed, since it would reveal that Jesus failed at this central task of reuniting the lost tribes of Israel as his role of Messiah. This leads Jacobovici to conclude that Jesus was not a true Messiah.

The thing about this show is Jacobovici knows where he is going and is just stringing the viewer along by using references and facts that support his views, while ignoring or casually brushing aside others that contradict them. The show purports to reveal secrets about Christianity but does more to create a work of fiction similar to Dan Brown’s “The Da Vinci Code.” By the end of the documentary, it is clear what Jacobovici’s agenda is. That he travels extensively on the show to the places relating to the subject of each episode does make for an interesting watch though.

 

Good Passion

Today is Good Friday, it comes every year and I don’t notice it until it passes and Easter comes. And when Easter comes I usually miss that also. Why? Because Easter weekend is better known as “Alumni Weekend” where graduates (and friends of graduates, and their parents) come to visit Oakwood University and admire the campus and relive the good-old days when they attended. There are usually so many events surrounding the entire weekend (and because we’re Sabbath keepers, the hype is all around Saturday) that the fact that Sunday is the day that Christ rose from the grave often goes unnoticed. However, I shall break from tradition and dedicate this post to that event that happened so long ago.

What is “Good Friday”?

Good Friday, anniversary of Jesus’ death on the cross. According to the Gospels, Jesus was put to death on the Friday before Easter Day. Since the early church Good Friday has been observed by fasting and penance. In the Orthodox, Roman Catholic, and Anglican traditions, the celebration of the Eucharist is suspended; liturgical service involves veneration of the cross, the Passion narrative from the Gospel of St. John, and communion using bread and wine consecrated the previous day, Maundy Thursday. Other forms of observance include prayer and meditation at the Stations of the Cross, a succession of 14 images, usually on wooden crosses, depicting Christ’s crucifixion and the events leading up to it. –Columbia University, Press. “Good Friday.” Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6Th Edition (2011): 1. History Reference Center. Web. 6 Apr. 2012.

This idea is related to something called The Passion of Christ. No, not the movie, but very similar to it. It refers to the day that the Christ was Crucified. If you were talking about the entire Easter weekend you could say the passion, death and Resurrection of Christ.

When was Christ Crucified?

To date the death of Christ using the Scriptures alone requires a number of advanced techniques! Lets get started.

We’re going to use the prophecies of the Scriptures to date the death of Christ.

A Day for a Year

Ezekiel 4:1-7  NAS Ezekiel 4:1 “Now you son of man, get yourself a brick, place it before you, and inscribe a city on it, Jerusalem.  2 “Then lay siege against it, build a siege wall, raise up a ramp, pitch camps, and place battering rams against it all around.  3 “Then get yourself an iron plate and set it up as an iron wall between you and the city, and set your face toward it so that it is under siege, and besiege it. This is a sign to the house of Israel.  4 “As for you, lie down on your left side, and lay the iniquity of the house of Israel on it; you shall bear their iniquity for the number of days that you lie on it.  5 “For I have assigned you a number of days corresponding to the years of their iniquity, three hundred and ninety days; thus you shall bear the iniquity of the house of Israel.  6 “When you have completed these, you shall lie down a second time, but on your right side, and bear the iniquity of the house of Judah; I have assigned it to you for forty days, a day for each year.  7 “Then you shall set your face toward the siege of Jerusalem with your arm bared, and prophesy against it.

God made Ezekiel do some crazy things, the prophets carried out these stunts to show how serious they were, so that the people would believe them. The point is that God was warning Israel about the possible punishment for Israel’s unfaithfulness and He assigned Ezekiel the task of lying on his side for 390 days (or a year and 25 days or 9360 hours or from the time this post was written until Wednesday, May 1 2013) and then to do the same thing again on his other side after he finished.

The Scripture indicates that the number of days Ezekiel laid on his side was to be equal to the number of years the actual punishment would take place. The introduces us to the Year-Day Principle. Lets take a look at another passage:

Numbers 14:28-35   28 “Say to them, ‘As I live,’ says the LORD, ‘just as you have spoken in My hearing, so I will surely do to you;  29 your corpses shall fall in this wilderness, even all your numbered men, according to your complete number from twenty years old and upward, who have grumbled against Me.  30 ‘Surely you shall not come into the land in which I swore to settle you, except Caleb the son of Jephunneh and Joshua the son of Nun.  31 ‘Your children, however, whom you said would become a prey– I will bring them in, and they shall know the land which you have rejected.  32 ‘But as for you, your corpses shall fall in this wilderness.  33 ‘And your sons shall be shepherds for forty years in the wilderness, and they shall suffer for your unfaithfulness, until your corpses lie in the wilderness.  34 ‘According to the number of days which you spied out the land, forty days, for every day you shall bear your guilt a year, even forty years, and you shall know My opposition.  35 ‘I, the LORD, have spoken, surely this I will do to all this evil congregation who are gathered together against Me. In this wilderness they shall be destroyed, and there they shall die.'”

Moses sends out people to spy on the land (to get a good look at it). Because they did not have Google Earth, it takes them 40 days to accomplish this. The overwhelming report is that this land has giants in it and its a no-go. Two however, Caleb and Joshua, say otherwise and agree that with God on their side they could overtake the giants and accomplish the promise! God gets upset at the lack of faith and as a result of their lack of faith, they were to wonder for forty years in the wilderness until everyone over 20 years of age dies out. God uses the year-day principle here.

Other uses of the Year-day Principle could be drawn from Leviticus 25:2-4 when comparing it to Exodus 20:8-10 even though its not a prophecy.

Another use is by Christ:

Luke 13:31-34   31 Just at that time some Pharisees came up, saying to Him, “Go away and depart from here, for Herod wants to kill You.”  32 And He said to them, “Go and tell that fox, ‘Behold, I cast out demons and perform cures today and tomorrow, and the third day I reach My goal.’  33 “Nevertheless I must journey on today and tomorrow and the next day; for it cannot be that a prophet should perish outside of Jerusalem.  34 “O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the city that kills the prophets and stones those sent to her! How often I wanted to gather your children together, just as a hen gathers her brood under her wings, and you would not have it!

Jesus was not during Jesus’ Passion Week, therefore we have to conclude that by third day  he means the third year of His ministry.

Jewish authors seem to like interchanging days with years also.

Malachi 3:4 and the offerings of Judah and Jerusalem will be acceptable to the LORD, as in days gone by, as in former years.

So the year-day principle is a concept that isn’t foreign to the text, but is used as a principle teaching device in it.

Whew, background covered, let apply this!

 

Daniel 9:24-27   24 “Seventy ‘sevens’ are decreed for your people and your holy city to finish transgression, to put an end to sin, to atone for wickedness, to bring in everlasting righteousness, to seal up vision and prophecy and to anoint the most holy.  25 “Know and understand this: From the issuing of the decree to restore and rebuild Jerusalem until the Anointed One, the ruler, comes, there will be seven ‘sevens,’ and sixty-two ‘sevens.’ It will be rebuilt with streets and a trench, but in times of trouble.  26 After the sixty-two ‘sevens,’ the Anointed One will be cut off and will have nothing. The people of the ruler who will come will destroy the city and the sanctuary. The end will come like a flood: War will continue until the end, and desolations have been decreed.  27 He will confirm a covenant with many for one ‘seven.’ In the middle of the ‘seven’ he will put an end to sacrifice and offering. And on a wing of the temple he will set up an abomination that causes desolation, until the end that is decreed is poured out on him.”

70 ‘sevens’ (others translate this as 70 weeks) are set apart for certain things to happen. The start of this prophecy was to be when the command to rebuild Jerusalem (remember that Nebuchadnezzar had destroyed it to earlier and it was now in ruins, see chapter one of Daniel) Well, that time came in the year 457 B.C.

Ezra 7:13,21  13 Now I decree that any of the Israelites in my kingdom, including priests and Levites, who wish to go to Jerusalem with you, may go. 21 Now I, King Artaxerxes, order all the treasurers of Trans-Euphrates to provide with diligence whatever Ezra the priest, a teacher of the Law of the God of heaven, may ask of you–

Ezra 6:14-15  4 So the elders of the Jews continued to build and prosper under the preaching of Haggai the prophet and Zechariah, a descendant of Iddo. They finished building the temple according to the command of the God of Israel and the decrees of Cyrus, Darius and Artaxerxes, kings of Persia.  15 The temple was completed on the third day of the month Adar, in the sixth year of the reign of King Darius.

Notice that a number of different decrees or commands were issued for the rebuilding of the temple. But the prophecy was to be activated when Jerusalem was not only rebuilt, but restored. Everything was to be rebuilt, even the wall and the trenches…everything. This took place in 457 B.C.

Using the year-day principle:

70 x 70 = 490 days

this has subsets of 7 ‘sevens’ , 62 ‘sevens’  and one ‘seven’ .

If we take these sevens to mean weeks of days, then we’re looking at 7 years, 62 years and another 7 years.

49 years later after 457 B.C the temple was completely rebuilt.

John 2:18-21  18 Then the Jews demanded of him, “What miraculous sign can you show us to prove your authority to do all this?”  19 Jesus answered them, “Destroy this temple, and I will raise it again in three days.”  20 The Jews replied, “It has taken forty-six years to build this temple, and you are going to raise it in three days?”

Yes, it off by three years (the Jews’ recollection, or it may be that the 3 extra years were to touch up some stuff, this is speculation)

62 weeks or 434 years later we arrive at 26 A.D (the extra year is due to the fact that their was no year zero. Weird!). This matches the exact time of Christ’ baptism. The end of the 69 weeks is mentioned by Jesus in Mark 1:15 when He says “The time is fulfilled”, referring to the 483 years. The verse says that the messiah will be cut off, but it does not specify the time, that’s given in the next verse.

27 He will confirm a covenant with many for one ‘seven.’ In the middle of the ‘seven’ he will put an end to sacrifice and offering. And on a wing of the temple he will set up an abomination that causes desolation, until the end that is decreed is poured out on him.”

The Last week, or the 7 years are the years of the covenant. After the middle of the ‘seven’ or 7/2 = 3.5 or three and a half years later Christ was crucified. This places us at. 30.5 A.D (or 31 AD).

Christ did many things on that old rugged cross (it may have been a new one, we don’ t know lol). And it is outside the scope of this post to describe in any concise way what happened when the Lord of Glory laid down His own life. Future posts will venture to describe that. For now, we know from prophecy that He gave up His life in the year 31 A.D. Good Friday is meant to celebrate that.

Here is a song that describes in short detail what Christ’ death on the Cross meant.



Innocent by Luminate

What if You would’ve never sent Your Son
What if You held back Your love
It would be so different there would be no hope for us
But that’s not the way it all went down
We’re covered by mercy now
Could’ve found us guilty but You chose to save us

We are, we are, we are innocent
We are, we are blameless
‘Cause You take all the shame
And You wash it away
‘Til we are, we are innocent

You make us, You make us, You make us innocent
You make us, You make us, You make us innocent

So we can finally rest tonight
We can finally say goodbye
To the past that held us
To the fear that ruled our lives
I know we’re gonna fall sometimes
Nobody’s got a perfect life
Could’ve found us guilty but You chose to save us

We are, we are, we are innocent
We are, we are blameless
‘Cause You take all the shame
And You wash it away
‘Til we are, we are innocent

You make us, You make us, You make us innocent
You make us, You make us, You make us innocent

We are dancing ’cause we know we’re Yours
You are, oh, You’re what we’re living for
We were lost, oh yea, but now we’re coming home, we’re coming home

You make us, You make us, You make us innocent
You make us, You make us, You make us innocent

We are, we are, we are innocent
We are, we are blameless
‘Cause You take all the shame
And You wash it away
‘Til we are, we are innocent

You make us, You make us, You make us innocent
You make us, You make us, You make us innocent

You make us, You make us, You make us innocent
You make us, You make us, You make us innocent

Terach

Images of Sumerian Idols, they most likely looked like this by the time Abraham was around.

Abraham’s father, Terach was an idol-manufacturer. Once he had to travel, so he left Abraham to manage the shop. People would come in and ask to buy idols. Abraham would say, “How old are you?” The person would say, “Fifty,” or “Sixty”. Abraham would say, “Isn’t it pathetic that a man of sixty wants to bow down to a one-day-old idol?” The man would feel ashamed and leave.

One time a woman came with a basket of bread. She said to Abraham, “Take this and offer it to the gods”.
Abraham got up, took a hammer in his hand, broke all the idols to pieces, and then put the hammer in the hand of the biggest idol among them.

When his father came back and saw the broken idols, he was appalled. “Who did this?” he cried. “How can I hide anything from you?” replied Abraham calmly. “A woman came with a basket of bread and told me to offer it to them. I brought it in front of them, and each one said, “I’m going to eat first.” Then the biggest one got up, took the hammer and broke all the others to pieces.”

“What are you trying to pull on me?” asked Terach, “Do they have minds?”
Said Abraham: “Listen to what your own mouth is saying? They have no power at all! Why worship idols?”

—From (Midrash Bereishit 38:13)

Lets Be innovative like Abraham was!!

Re-share!

Shouting John

This is how the story goes:

There was a new church being built in his town that did not believe in dancing or speaking in tongues. And when they opened the doors of that church John joined that church. Everybody got disturbed, because John was dancing all of the church. When they held his hands his legs were going, when they held his feet they hands were going, it just like fire….

Well the board had a meeting about John. We have got to do something about john for something is wrong with him. Doesn’t he not we have dignitaries in our church, doesn’t John know we don’t act like that in our church. We are going out to see john.

Well when they drove out to see john. They were driving in their fine cars. There was this 86 year old man plowing behind an old beat up mule. They came up and spoke to john and said, if you can’t stop dancing, if you cant stop shouting, we are going to put you out of our church. “Well” John said, “Put me out! I can’t hold my peace. Did you see that Land you drove up on, God gave me all that land! Not one time, have I been to the court house! Not one time I have been to the cemetery. But you don’t want me dance in your church. Well if you don’t want me to dance in your church…hold my mule I am going to shout right here!

I first heard about this story as a basis for shouting and dancing at the Adventist Youth Service for Oakwood University on Friday, August 12, 2011. I’m not one who believes in dancing or shouting in tongues while in the House of God but this struck me. People can have right actions, but wrong motives. They weren’t concerned about the theological aspects of John’s dancing, they were concerned about the “dignitaries” in the Church. Worship should be constrained and regulated not because of respect for dignitaries or cultures, but for theological reasons only.

Another point: never use a story or a parable as a primary reason for why a action is wrong. Use it for illustrations and analogy, but not as a reason. Why? because parables and anthologies have to be interpreted, and if you use a story such as the one above as your reason, you neglect to see all sides of an issue and fail to make the Bible your standard of faith.