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“Ojo por ojo” significa que amas a tu prójimo como a ti mismo

La ley dijo “ojo por ojo”, Jesús dijo: “ama a tu prójimo como a ti mismo”. Estos no son diametralmente opuestos. De hecho, ojo por ojo, significa que amas a tu prójimo.

English version: “Eye for an eye” means you love your neighbour as yourself

24 ojo por ojo, diente por diente, mano por mano, pie por pie, Moisés (Éxodo 21:24 NBLH)

“Amarás a tu prójimo como a ti mismo”, Jesús (Mateo 22:39 NBLH)

A primera vista, la Biblia parece un libro de extremos. En el Antiguo Testamento áspero y caído, usted tiene la ley que exige la compensación del “ojo para ojo” si una persona fue dañada. Si arrancó el ojo de una persona, entonces su ojo fue arrancado.

Entonces en el Nuevo Testamento usted tiene a Jesús que enseñó “ame a su vecino.” Cualquiera que lea estos pasajes sería muy confuso – “ojo por ojo” no parece muy cariñoso.

Pero ¿alguna vez has notado que hay algo extrañamente ausente en el Antiguo Testamento? No hay una cuenta de una persona que tiene su mano cortada o sus ojos arrancados debido a un crimen que cometieron – a pesar de que la ley lo requirió.

Jesús entra en la controversia

Entonces para empeorar las cosas, Jesús pesa sobre el asunto. En Mateo 22: 36-40, los fariseos le preguntaron a Jesús cuál era el mandamiento más grande. Jesús responde que el mayor es amar a Dios con todo tu corazón y agrega que el segundo mandamiento más grande es amar a tu prójimo como a ti mismo.

Habría estado bien si Jesús se hubiera detenido allí, pero no, el Señor añade entonces esta controvertida nota de pie de página: “En estos dos mandamientos dependen toda la ley y los profetas” (v 40 NVI).

La ley “entera” incluye “ojo por ojo”.

¿Cómo en el mundo cualquier edicto que exigiera cruelmente el castigo por una lesión tuviera algún fundamento en el amor?

Pero creo que “ojo por ojo” estaba en el centro mismo de la enseñanza de Jesús sobre amar a tu prójimo como a ti mismo.

Cómo funcionó la ley judía

Para entender lo que está sucediendo aquí, necesitamos reconocer las diferencias básicas entre la ley del Antiguo Testamento y nuestra ley occidental.

Primero, mientras nuestra ley se enfoca principalmente en castigar a los delincuentes, la ley judía se enfoca en la restitución, por ejemplo:

  • Si un hombre mataba accidentalmente el burro de un vecino, debía pagar una compensación económica, pero mantenía el burro muerto (Éxodo 21:33, 34).
  • Si una persona robaba un buey, se le exigía que pagara la restitución doble de su valor, siempre que se recuperara viva (Éxodo 22: 4), si no el ladrón pagaba cinco veces el valor (Éxodo 22: 1).
  • Si el infractor no pudo proporcionar una compensación adecuada, fue “vendido por su robo” (Éxodo 22: 3). Esto generalmente resultó en que el individuo trabajara para la víctima hasta que la deuda se reembolsara hasta un máximo de seis años (Éxodo 21: 2).

El segundo elemento que separaba la ley judía era la responsabilidad que cada israelita tenía de leer y memorizar la ley (Josué 1: 8, Salmo 1: 1-3). Los ciudadanos debían ser conscientes de sus derechos y obligaciones, por lo que las herramientas estaban en su lugar para resolver las quejas por su cuenta.

Ancianos en la puerta

Pero invariablemente surgieron situaciones en las que los individuos se negaban a pagar o no estaban de acuerdo con las circunstancias.

En estos casos, la víctima podía llevar su ofensa a los “ancianos de la puerta”, que se reunían rutinariamente para escuchar disputas (Deuteronomio 25: 7, Josué 20: 4 y Rut 4: 1). Los “ancianos a las puertas” o “jueces” también se pronunciaron sobre los casos criminales más graves. Después de escuchar la disputa, los ancianos tenían la autoridad para forzar la restitución o el juicio (Deuteronomio 21: 18-20).

Ojo por ojo” trata de lesiones personales

La ley judía era bastante directa con la pérdida de propiedad, pero las lesiones personales complicaron las cosas. Si una persona accidentalmente hirió a otro – incluso en una pelea – se le pidió que pagara por pérdida de tiempo / ingresos y cualquier tratamiento médico. Si la parte lesionada se recuperaba, no había otra expectativa (Éxodo 21:19).

Pero, ¿qué sucedió cuando hubo lesiones personales permanentes como la pérdida de un ojo, diente o incluso una mano? Aquí es donde el “ojo para un ojo, diente para un diente” golpeó adentro.

Primero aseguraba que el castigo equivalía al crimen. Era un ojo por ojo, no dos piernas por ojo.

Interpretación judía de “Ojo por ojo”

Pero como no hay casos de “ojo de ojo” que se utilicen realmente en el Antiguo Testamento, consulté con algunos teólogos judíos para averiguar por qué Israel nunca practicó este aspecto de la ley.

En su artículo Parshat Mishpatim, el rabino ortodoxo Gil Student dice que según el Talmud Judío la intención de “ojo por ojo” era por compensación económica no por venganza. (El Talmud es una colección de interpretaciones rabínicas de la ley que se remonta a siglos).

Los antiguos rabinos señalaron versículos tales como Números 35:31 y Éxodo 21:30 como evidencia:

31 Además, ustedes no tomarán rescate por la vida de un asesino que es culpable de muerte, sino que de cierto se le dará muerte; (Números 35:31 NBHL)

Student dice: “¿Por qué alguien pensaría que un tribunal acepta un rescate por la vida de un asesino? ¿De dónde vendría esta idea de pagar en lugar de castigo físico? Este versículo nos está diciendo que sólo en lo que respecta a un asesinato puede el tribunal no aceptar el pago. Por otro daño corporal, el tribunal acepta el pago (Talmud Bava Kamma 83b). “

En otras palabras, la ley permitió compensación financiera por lesión permanente – sólo en el caso de asesinato en primer grado no fue aceptada.

Pero note la palabra rescate. Habla de una persona que tiene otro cautivo y exige el pago de su liberación.

Bajo la ley, si la víctima estaba ciega, estaba literalmente sosteniendo el ojo del ofensor por el rescate. El delincuente tuvo que pagar el rescate (a la víctima) para liberar su ojo de similar “ojo por ojo” castigo.

“Ojo por ojo” determinó cuánto se pagó un rescate a la víctima. Cuanto más grave es el castigo físico, mayor es la multa: un diente como ejemplo vale menos que un ojo.

Este es otro ejemplo de donde el sistema legal de Israel difirió dramáticamente del nuestro. En nuestros tribunales, los abogados pasan horas discutiendo el alcance de la lesión, el dolor y el sufrimiento de la víctima, y ​​su efecto en su capacidad para obtener ingresos antes de llegar a un paquete de compensación.

En Israel, nunca era cuánto valía el ojo de la víctima, sino cuánto valoraba el ojo el ofensor, porque si no hubiese compensación suficiente, el delincuente podría tener su ojo similarmente arrancado.

Dado que sólo el asesinato estaba exento de compensación, esto sugeriría una gran variedad de crímenes que tenían una pena de muerte – tales como violación (Deuteronomio 22:24), adulterio (Levítico 20:10), secuestro (Éxodo 21:16) y prostitución (Deuteronomio 22:24) – podría ser tratado con un pago financiero a la víctima. Puesto que la vida de una persona era mucho más valiosa que un diente, la compensación sería mucho más alta.

“Ojo por ojo, diente por diente” era simplemente un medio para determinar cuánto se pagaría.

Ahora bien, es cierto que hay casos en que se utilizó lapidación para algunos de los crímenes enumerados anteriormente. En el Nuevo Testamento, los fariseos arrastraron a una mujer atrapada en adulterio a Jesús con la obvia intención de apedrearla (Juan 8: 7). Jesús logró salvarla de este destino. Aunque la ley permitió una compensación financiera y pareció ser esta la intención, la pena de muerte resultó popular entre ciertos elementos de la sociedad judía.

En Deuteronomio 19: 15-21, Moisés instruyó a los “ancianos de la puerta”:

“Así no mostrarás piedad; Vida por vida, ojo por ojo, diente por diente, mano por mano, pie por pie “.

No se podía mostrar ninguna compasión por el castigo, porque si hubiera un colapso aquí, la víctima sería victimizada una vez más. Esta fue la base del rescate de la víctima. Si un delincuente sabía que los ancianos mostrarían indulgencia, le dio la oportunidad de bafar a la víctima o incluso negarse a pagar cualquier restitución.

Ojo por ojo requiere que usted ame a su prójimo como a sí mismo

Por lo tanto, al decidir cuánto estaba dispuesto a pagar por el ojo de su vecino lesionado, el delincuente tenía que preguntarse cuánto valía su ojo, porque si no pagaba suficiente dinero, su ojo podría ser arrancado.

En el acto de calcular su valor, estaba en realidad amando a su prójimo como a sí mismo.

Changing your story

What is your story? Credit: rafaelsoares/Flickr/Creative Commons

What story is your life telling? Credit: rafaelsoares/Flickr/Creative Commons

We all have a story to tell and often people read our story before we actually get to tell it.

I have learned that we often give people evidence about ourselves by our words and actions. My insecurities have spoken for themselves and my perception of myself and life has shone through.

Literally, I have handed over my story to others by the way I talk about myself, present myself and perceive life.

In a matter of moments, people will take what I present and form an opinion of me. We are an open book to this world.

So the question is what story am I telling?

Is it one of hardship, struggle and pain, a perpetual victim-hood that never ends or is it one of a victor — a person who is overcoming each and everyday?

And if it isn’t the latter, do I want to change my story?

Our struggles, our pain, our disharmony with life, circumstances and people are opportunities for growth. They provide the platform to dive into the depths of Christ, into the pool of God’s grace, forgiveness and mercy.

As we overcome our trauma, we reflect God’s grace and become a beacon of hope to those who are struggling.

But to come out of life’s trauma as a victor, we must be willing to forgive.

Forgiveness isn’t something that just happens. Forgiveness is a skill we learn and practice our whole life. Our aim is to get better and better at the skill of forgiving those who have hurt us and will hurt us in the future.

We must recognize that holding on to grievances is harmful to us.  The more we talk about our past hurts, the more we strengthen their hold on us and the more we perpetuate the victim mentality.

The challenge is to change our story from one of anger and resentment to a story of healing.

Where our story is no longer about the past and the people who wounded us, but is now about hope and the future.

It’s an opportunity to see our lives and circumstances in the light of God’s grace, mercy, love and forgiveness.

God’s grace is our measuring stick. Because as the Lord has forgiven us we must in turn completely forgive those who have offended us.

It’s only when we look within and dive deep into our emotions and fears through forgiveness can we begin to change our story.

As one writer put it, “Ancient hatred can become a present light” as we learn to forgive.

It takes courage, and it doesn’t happen overnight. But forgiveness is a choice.

So choose victory over victim-hood.

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Avoid man’s glory

Credit: Jyrki Salmi/Flickr/Creative Commons

Credit: Jyrki Salmi/Flickr/Creative Commons

Years ago, I remember pushing away from my desk, walking down the hallway to a co-worker’s office. Once there, I bluntly asked what he thought of the most recent issue of the publication I worked on.

I saw the pained look on his face. It was obvious that I was fishing for a compliment. My coworker knew it, and he awkwardly answered it was great.

Later, I hated myself for what I had just done. It also wasn’t the first time I did something like that. Insecure people crave feedback from others to affirm them in their gifting, ministry or job.

But these pats on the back are like a drug. Once is never enough and you desire these constant affirmations from others to keep you going.

As you begin to minister in spiritual gifts or areas of ministry, this is one area that must be nipped in the bud.

Insecure people are constantly tempted to find out if the words they are giving have impacted the people receiving them or if the teaching was relevant.

They wrongly feel that this will strengthen them in their gifting.

In fact, it has the exact the opposite effect, as these affirmations actually produce unbelief and doubt in the person receiving them. This happens even if people are saying that your word or teaching really hit the mark.

In John 5:44, Jesus said:

How can you believe, when you receive glory from one another and do not seek the glory that is from the one and only God.”

In this verse, Jesus says when we receive glory or affirmation from people, it actually impedes our ability to believe. Instead of creating faith, pats on the back create unbelief as we use these temporary emotional highs to keep us going.

In the end, they actually degrade our inner confidence in God’s gifting or calling. Then like a desperate drug addict, we are start hunting around for our next hit.

Now if you minister to people, you can’t stop them from spontaneously saying your ministry really helped them. But even in these instances, we need to guard our heart.

Jesus told His disciples, “I do not receive glory from men” (John 5:41 NASV). This did not mean, that people didn’t express their appreciation to Christ, but it tells us that the Lord didn’t embrace their words.

Jesus purposefully guarded His heart during these situations looking to receive glory from God instead of man.

If we need this constant affirmation from others to keep us going, we will grow dependent on what they say. Then when someone comes along and says the word was wrong or our teaching off (and it will happen), our faith is shattered, even though it may have been exactly what God wanted us to say.

This is why Jesus said we must look to God for glory not man. We need the inner confidence that we are doing the Lord’s work.

If you struggle in this area, the first step is to acknowledge your insecurity and the second is start weaning yourself off the addictive glory of man.

Breaking curses being cast on government leaders

Pray for those in authority. Credit: thisisbossi/Flickr/Creative Commons

Pray for those in authority. Credit: thisisbossi/Flickr/Creative Commons

Charisma News recently reported on a bizarre op-ed that appeared in the Los Angeles Times on May 23, 2017. The author, Diana Wagman, has written several articles for the paper.

In her most recent, Wagman wrote about putting a “binding spell” on US President Donald Trump. What makes it even more strange is that Wagman claims not to be a devil worshiper, but decided to do her part joining thousands of like-minded people seeking to put a curse on  President Trump and his associates.

Wagman wrote:

“I cast a spell on the president. I was not alone. Thousands of witches, believers and people like me all over the world performed “A Spell to Bind Donald Trump and All Those Who Abet Him” under the waning crescent moon last month. It was not meant to physically hurt him, only to keep him from succeeding at his tasks. Now he’s complaining he’s the object of a “witch hunt.” Maybe the spell is working …”

Wagman actually researched “binding spells” before doing it. As part of her ritual, she found an orange candle, a tarot card and an  unflattering photo of the President. Then, while her husband watched TV in the other room, she performed the “binding curse” in the kitchen.

Though Wagman looks upon it as a “positive thinking” influence and not demonic, she planned to do it again at the next crescent moon that fell yesterday, May 23.

According to Charisma, the “binding spell” movement started several weeks earlier by a ‘medium’ and is now being used by thousands against the US presidency.

Though this has become quite public, it makes you wonder how many other world leaders are being targeted?

I don’t know what your feelings are about Donald Trump, but that doesn’t matter. As Christians we need to pray for our government leaders. When Paul encouraged believers to pray for those in authority, the emperor he was referring to was none other than Nero (1 Timothy 2:1-2).

Nero, who according to historians of the day blamed Christians for the fire that consumed Rome in 64 AD, sent Christians into the Colosseum to fight animals and used some as lights, tying them to poles, covering them in wax or oil and setting them on fire.

As Christians we must pray for our earthly leaders and to do this effectively, we must understand our authority in Christ.

Paul explains it best, when he wrote, “He (Jesus) had disarmed the rulers and authorities, He made a public display of them, having triumphed over them through him” (Colossians 2:15 NASV).

The word disarmed means to disrobe or remove the clothing and has the idea of plunder, the spoils of war.

The “public display” Paul mentioned refers to the Roman’s triumphant procession through the streets of Rome after their victory in battle. The defeated enemy leaders and soldiers were paraded in chains followed by the victorious general and the Romans who had been liberated by the action.

The plunder of war followed at the end displayed on carts for all to see.

In Ephesians 4:8, Paul again alludes to this procession when he says Christ led captive a host of captives. Three verses later, the apostle completes the analogy when he says the Lord gave the church gifts in the form of Apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors and teachers, which is reminiscent of the Roman practice of distributing gifts or booty among the victorious soldiers.

I believe this celebration actually took place in the spiritual realm. Every demonic spirit was aware of the great victory as the sound of this conquest resounded throughout the spiritual world.

Though these are the accurate descriptions of what happened, this reality has yet to be fully enforced on earth. This is why in the Lord’s prayer, Jesus teaches us that God’s kingdom will come as we pray God’s will in heaven is accomplished on earth (Mat 6:10).

These verses outline one vital component of this battle and that is perspective – we must fight from the higher ground knowing that Satan is a defeated foe. At every turn, he will try to challenge that truth. He will challenge your position in Christ and test how much you really believe this.

If the father of all lies can cause you to question your victory, then you are walking down the road to defeat. The smallest wound of doubt will incapacitate us.

So pray for the leaders of your country, province or state as the victor!

Sources:

God Sings Over Us

Credit: rachelakelso/Flickr/Creative Commons

Credit: rachelakelso/Flickr/Creative Commons

The Greatest Singer/Songwriter

“The LORD thy God in the midst of thee is mighty; he will save, he will rejoice over thee with joy; he will rest in his love, he will joy over thee with singing” (Zephaniah 3:17).

Like many of his prophetic counterparts, Zephaniah uncovered the great truth that our great LORD is a God who rejoices over His people. Not only is this a God who sings over His people but He is also a songwriter.

Isaiah, the prophet who’s writings are literary wonders also recognized that our beloved Bridegroom has a song which He makes known to His bride.

“Now will I sing to my beloved a song of my beloved touching his vineyard”(Isaiah 5:1a).
“…and as the bridegroom rejoices over the bride, so shall thy God rejoice over thee” (Isaiah 62:5b)

In Psalm 42:8b, the Psalmist tells us, “…and in the night his song shall be with me…”

Scripture based Songs

In my early years as a Christian, most churches sang scripture songs which I discovered was an easy way to memorize the word of God. Even today, when I read a passage which I know as a song, I immediately break into singing.  Many times as I’m driving my car or taking walks, scripture songs come to mind as the Holy Spirit brings them to remembrance.

King David understood the importance of singing His word in Psalm 119:54,. “Thy statutes have been my songs in the house of my pilgrimage”.

Several years ago a noted music minister instructed me with, “If you want to sing a new Song of the LORD, read the Psalms”, which were mostly written by the sweet Psalmist David.

As one mother in Israel put it, “The young people are not singing scripture. They need to sing the words of the Bible to have the LORD’S anointing”.  How can we expect Him to bless the fruit of our lips when the songs we sing are sometimes not even doctrinally correct?

Another concern I hear from mature Christians regarding music in the church is, ‘It’s all about me songs – Where are the songs that glorify the LORD – where are the prophetic songs?”  If we are singing songs that bring attention to our humanity, our flesh, how can we receive a responsive song from the Bridegroom?

Moses’ Smash Hit

The Apostle John in a heavenly vision saw those who at the end of the ages would have victory over the beast and who would sing “the song of Moses the servant of God, and the song of the Lamb…”

In Deuteronomy chapter 31, the “LORD said unto Moses, Behold, thy days approach that thou must die…” (Verse 14a) and instructed him, “Now therefore write ye this song for you, and teach it to the children of Israel: put it in their mouths, that this song may be a witness for me against the children of Israel”.

Verse 21 details God’s reasons for giving Moses this song, “And it shall come to pass, when many evils and troubles are befallen them, that this song shall testify against them as a witness, for it shall not be forgotten out of the mouths of their seed….”.  “And Moses spake in the ears of all the congregation of Israel the words of this song, until they were ended” (verse 30).

Deuteronomy 32: 1- 43 is a record of Moses lengthy song which sets forth the perfections of God. It was the LORD God himself who gave Moses this song at the end of his life.

It’s hard to comprehend the awesome experience of one’s final musical composition being sung down throughout the generations to the culmination of all ages. What a song of victory and deliverance!

What a smash hit!

Moses final musical composition is a prophetic song so great that not only is it being passed down from generation to generation, but it will be sung in victory over the enemy.
George Handel also composed his most famous work, ‘The Messiah’ when he was ill and aged. It too stand has stood the test of time recognized as one of the world’s greatest musical masterpieces.

Moses and Handel, as fathers of faith, testify that one is never too old to receive God’s song. At the same time, one must be in full obedience to our Heavenly Father to receive such a musical wonder.

Hearing God’s Song

To hear God’s song over us we have to move past our own little world and get into His spiritual world.  Like John, we need to be in the spirit and willingly “come up here”.

Most often I receive God’s anointed songs during times when I am open to His Word. This gives the Holy Spirit opportunity to move and His words come alive with a new melody, a new rhythm and a new arrangement.

Some scripture based prophetic songs He has sung to me over the years are:

  • “Before I formed you the womb I knew you“ (Jeremiah 1:5-10)
  • “Come away, come away my beloved come away” (Song of Solomon 2:10)
  • “I will feed my sheep in Pastures green, by waters still” (Psalm 23)
  • “I have heard the cries of my people” (Exodus 3:7-10)
  • “Hearken unto me O House of Jacob and all the remnant of Israel” (Isaiah 46:3-9)
  • “Let not the wise man glory in his wisdom” (Jeremiah 9:23)

New songs that I have sung back to Him:

  • “How Amiable are thy tabernacles O Lord” (Psalm 84)
  • “Show me, show me, show me your glory O Lord” (Exodus 33:18)
  • “Blessing and Honour belongs to thee” (Rev. 5:13)

Songs given to motivate the Body of Christ:

  • “Open wide ye gates, be lifted up ye doors” (Psalm 24:7-10)
  • “Glory, give Praise and give Glory unto the Lord” (Jeremiah 13:11,16)

Songs to touch the unrepentant:

  • “O That My Head were waters” (Jeremiah 9)
  • “Ishmael my son, my son” (Genesis 17:18-20)

The Old and The New

Sometimes, God sings ancient songs to us. This may be in the form of a hymn, gospel song or a chant from past generations. It may even be a song of an unknown language. His Holy Spirit is able to touch our spirits and lead us into familiar truths which were revealed in a former era.

Jesus understood the principle of old and new which is recorded in Matthew 13:52, “Then said he unto them, Therefore every scribe which is instructed unto the kingdom of heaven is like unto a man that is an householder, which bringeth forth out of his treasure things new and old”.

Most scholars agree that on the night in which the LORD’S supper was instituted, Psalm 118 was the Hymn which Jesus and His disciples sang (Mark 14:26) as was custom after the Passover evening meal. Jesus recognized the importance of singing ‘old’ songs which had been written under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit.

God opens our ears to hear as the learned and to make us alive as a Bridegroom who sings over His beloved Bride. To hear those songs, we need to be the Bride who has made herself ready!

Turn Down the Noise

Credit: abbyladybug/Flickr/Creative Commons

Credit: abbyladybug/Flickr/Creative Commons

Recently I learned one of the most important lessons in my life. Why can’t we learn all the important lessons at the age of 12 or 14?

A few years ago I knew an older couple, and the wife was a severe critic of everyone. You know the type. The problem for me was our failed relationship. When I visited them I always left angry.

Her criticism of me was irritating, but maybe I deserved it and maybe there was some good advice in her cruel words. My breaking point was all the judgmental things said about other people. I didn’t want to join in and sometimes I tried to defend my friends. I can remember my anger as I write this. It’s impossible to correct an old critic.

These old people were devout church-going Christians, respected by everyone who knew them, and I am a Christian, so this was one of the biggest defeats in my life. My clinical description above doesn’t show my emotions; those people made some of us crazy.

And then I learned the secret.

I’m sure you are just like me; we try to change the source. We are surrounded by bad drivers, nosy neighbours, mean bosses, and other sources of irritation. So let’s road rage at those terrible drivers, tell those neighbours what they need to hear, quit that job, and generally lash out as needed. You too can have a defeated life.

I learned the secret when I was travelling. You might have missed it, but that old couple were my parents, my Mom and Dad. Mom was good a correcting the rest of us, in her old age. They spent half of the year in a trailer park in Arizona, but when they were home the irritation started again.

One time when I was traveling I had to change planes in Phoenix Arizona, so I extended my stop-over to a few days and picked up a rental car which I drove to the trailer park. Of course they were surprised, and I was surprised when we had a really fun day together. I hung out with them and Mom had no chance to make a plan.

At the end of the day she asked me to get a hotel room and come back again, but I could see the problem starting and I told them I had to go.

I drove down the road to Tucson and found a motel there. The next day was Sunday so I found a small church nearby. People in the church were friendly and the pastor and his wife took me out for lunch. They listened to my stories about people in my life who needed to be corrected; my Mom was not the only one.

They advised me to live under God, like a Christian with a clear conscience, and avoid any behaviour that I disagreed with. Just turn down the noise. We feel better when we drink less poison. And that is the secret; the responsibility to change is not on them, it’s on me.

From that time I changed my behaviour. With my parents, I started to carefully plan surprise visits, and I always left when things stopped being happy. Not long ago Mom died, and now I have good memories from her last years, with no arguments or hurt feelings.

With other people, I lost a few friends but good people came into my life to replace them. Some people really enjoy bickering and stress, but I know God did not call me to live that life. A few weeks ago some of my old friends started fighting with each other, and it is sad to see the destruction. They have started a fire that they can’t put out.

There is a story about an alcoholic who could not defeat his addiction until he learned my lesson. He carefully chose a route home from work that avoided the sight of all bars and liquor stores. And it worked; he turned down the noise and stayed sober. Just don’t have the argument; winning is overrated.

There are responsible ways to solve problems, and there are wrong ways. For Christians, the Bible gives clear instructions “But if you keep on biting and devouring each other, watch out, or you will be consumed by each other. So I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh.” (Galatians 5: 15 and 16)

Sometimes a good argument is better than a movie with no ticket price; it’s entertaining. Our problem is that we all have a limited time to do good work for God, and we can’t replace any day that is wasted.

I urge you, brothers and sisters, to watch out for those who cause divisions and put obstacles in your way that are contrary to the teaching you have learned. Keep away from them. For such people are not serving our Lord Christ, but their own appetites. By smooth talk and flattery they deceive the minds of naive people. Everyone has heard about your obedience, so I rejoice because of you; but I want you to be wise about what is good, and innocent about what is evil. (Romans 16: 17, 18, 19)

Achieving your full potential — deal with the fear

Don't let fear dominate your life. Street art in Dublin, Ireland. Credit: Giuseppe Milo/Flickr/Creative Commons

Don’t let fear dominate your life. Street art in Dublin, Ireland. Credit: Giuseppe Milo/Flickr/Creative Commons

There is an interesting parable in the Gospels that I believe Jesus purposefully told to prepare the disciples for Christ’s eventual departure. It would be a harbinger of what was to come.

I am referring to the teaching on talents found several times in the Gospels. It appears in different forms and at different times, and it seems Jesus told this parable multiple times, because it was a message His disciples needed to hear.

In the account recorded in Mathew 25:14-30, a ruler is going on a long journey and decides to leave his wealth or talents in the hands of his slaves to invest, until he returns.

This parallels Jesus departure from earth, the bestowing of the Holy Spirit and His gifts (Luke 24:49; Acts 1:8) and then Jesus second return.

What are the talents?

I  believe in God’s kingdom, they are the giftings (spiritual and natural) and callings that God has bestowed on every believer. The Lord has tasks for us to fulfill before He returns. Some of them are spiritual and some secular, but all equally important.

In this context one slave is given five talents, another three and the third one.

One of the major concerns Jesus had involved people who fall short of reaching their full potential. We know this because the focus of this parable is not on the first two men who doubled their master’s investment, but rather the third man who buried his talent in the ground (v 25).

He didn’t even bother to put the money in the bank to earn interest, he just hid it and waited for his master to return.

The man was controlled, or more accurately paralyzed, by three fears that dominated his life:

Fear of expectation

As we read the account, on of this slave’s biggest fears was that his master was a brutal man, and would not handle the slave’s failure.

‘Master, I knew you to be a hard man, reaping where you did not sow and gathering where you scattered no seed. 25 And I was afraid, and went away and hid your talent in the ground. See, you have what is yours.’ (Matthew 25:24-25 NASV)

Whether this was true or not is irrelevant, because the other two servants had exactly the same master and were not controlled by this fear.

This was a personal issue for the slave with one talent that he needed to deal with. He wanted to blame someone else for his shortcomings, but the real issue was his own insecurities.

As children, this fear of expectation can be built in us when our parents put unrealistic expectations on us in sports or school. When we fail to meet these expectations, we feel that we have let them down.

We see the look on their face that we have failed them. The best way to avoid this rejection is not to participate at all.

This fear will often follow us as we become adults.

If you put this on your children, ask them to forgive you. If your parents did this to you, forgive them.

Fear of men

We are scared of what others may think.

I am sure the man was aware of what the other two slaves were doing with their talents. They shared the same home and they were no doubt bragging about how well things were going with their investments.

We are often intimidated by the success of others and we shrink back as we compare ourselves.

There will always be someone better, we just can’t use that as an excuse not to reach our full potential. Truthfully, we may be utterly shocked on what our full potential is.

Fear of failure

We are also terrified of losing and the best way to do that is not to play the game. Here is the thing, we are going to fail. We are going to make mistakes, that is simply part of life’s journey.

But what so often happens is that we define who we are by our successes and failures. If you succeed, you are a winner. If you fail, you are a loser.

Your successes and failures have nothing to do with who you are in Christ. We must not let our achievements (including successes) define who you are. You are a child of God and accepted by the Lord, whether you fail or succeed.

Learn from your mistakes and move on.

Ultimately, this slave was controlled by an unbelief in his own ability to invest the talent wisely.

Fear is probably the single greatest impediment to fulfilling your calling in God. These fears need to be dealt with for you to reach your full potential.

  • The first step in this healing process is recognizing how much you are controlled by fear.
  • The second step is to quit blaming others for your failures.
  • The third step involves asking the Holy Spirit to come along side to strengthen us (Romans 8:26).
  • The fourth and most important step is believing that God wants you to succeed.

The incredible, delayed healing, of Delia Knox

The Sea of Galilee where Peter "briefly" walked on water. Credit: Asf Antman/Flickr/Creative Commons

The Sea of Galilee where Peter “briefly” walked on water. Credit: Asf Antman/Flickr/Creative Commons

It was Christmas Day, 1987, when a drunk driver slammed into the back of a car that Delia was a passenger in. She along with her sister and brother-in-law were driving home from a church service in Toronto, Canada.

Their car ended upside down and though her sister and husband only had minor injuries, Delia, then 23, was paralyzed from the waist down.

Delia was also a gospel singer and though she continued to sing from a wheel chair, she dreaded ministering in other churches, because invariably they wanted to pray for her healing.

At first, she appreciated their efforts but after a while she began despising these services that invariably focused on her healing. She recounts people dragging her out of a wheel chair and then watching her collapse to the floor.

In an interview with CBN, Delia said “I’ve been plopped, dropped and flopped, and flipped to the point where I was like, ‘I just can’t go through this anymore.'”

Then she met Bishop Knox, a speaker at a conference, she attended. They married and slowly her husband began to speak faith into her life. He would even hold her in his arms as they danced around the room at home and say one day they would really be doing this.

In 2010, Delia and her husband attended a meeting being held by Evangelist Nathan Morris. If she had known healing was one of the topics she would never have attended. By this time, Delia had been in a wheel chair for nearly 23 years.

She and her husband were at the front of the church and predictably Morris began to pray for her. But this time it was different.

As he prayed, Delia said for the first time in years, she started believing a miracle was possible.

Pastor Morris sensing the power of God was falling upon Delia, prayed that faith would arise in her.

Delia began to feel sensations in her legs and for the first time in over two decades actually felt the hands that were touching her legs.

Then came the moment she was dreading would she dare to stand. Delia said the years of flopping and falling filled her mind.

Would she swallow her pride and try again? With the help of her husband she stood and then fell back into her wheel chair.

She had to purposefully block the unbelief and doubt that was filling her mind. (Does this mean faith is a choice?)

Delia rose to her feet again and began to walk. She wasn’t just shuffling her hips that some paraplegics do, she was lifting her knees and taking actual steps.

Delia told CBN, “this was actually happening.” God had healed her.

Over the next couple weeks she continued to strengthen her legs and then joined her husband walking in front of their congregation in Mobile, Alabama for the first time.

I found this story very encouraging, because if we are honest, we all struggle with faith. But despite our failings, God will pull us through.

It is also an example of a mistake we often make about faith. People have the idea that faith is a thermostat, the more faith you have the greater the miracles. We just need more faith to perform miracles.

I believe this stems from teachings related to the words Jesus spoke to Peter after he briefly walked on water (Matthew 14:29). After Peter sank, Jesus said he had “little faith” (verse 31).

The translation leaves the impression if Peter had more faith he would have continued walking on water.

But is this the right translation for this phrase?

In this verse, Jesus used a compound Greek word “oligopistos” that combines “oligo” and “pistos.”

“Pistos” is the word for faith and “oligos” describes either a small quantity as it is used in Matthew 15:34 to describe a few fish or it can refer to a brief or short period of time as it is used  in Rev 12:12 and Acts 26:28.

The word is not used in the literature of the day, so Jesus seems to have created “oligopistos” for Peter’s special occasion.

Remembering that Peter actually walked on water was Jesus saying he had “little” faith or “brief” faith?

Context tells us how Jesus intended this word. Peter had enough faith to walk on water but the waves and storms eroded his faith, causing doubt. He quit believing and started to sink.

Faith does not function like a thermostat, it is more like a light switch — it is either on or off. You either believe or don’t believe.

Our biggest enemy is doubt or unbelief, not needing more faith.

If you believe you need more faith for miracles, that is a form of unbelief.

When a man was struggling with faith in the deliverance of his boy from an evil spirit, he didn’t ask for more faith. He cried out to Jesus “I do believe, help my unbelief” (Mark 9:24).

When Jesus told Peter he had little faith, the Lord added this cryptic phrase “Why did you doubt” (verse 31).

Sources:

The Holy Spirit wants to be your personal trainer

Wouldn't it be nice if voice spoke from heaven telling us what our spiritual gift was? Credit: The Shiney One/Flickr/Creative Commons

Wouldn’t it be nice if a voice spoke from heaven telling us what our spiritual gift is? Credit: The Shiney One/Flickr/Creative Commons

If you have been filled with the Holy Spirit, you have also received a spiritual gift (I Corinthians 12). Many of us are uncertain what it is. We expect the heavens to open up and a billboard descend stating the Holy Spirit has given you the gift of knowledge or gift of prophecy.

It would be nice if it was that simple.

But when you have been given a spiritual gift, one of the first things the Holy Spirit wants to do is display that gift personally to you. Like any loving parent, God wants you to unwrap your present and then He wants to train you in your gifting.

My first prophetic revealing and training session oddly enough took place in 1986 as I watched a National Hockey League (NHL) game between the Edmonton Oilers and the Calgary flames.

For those not fully familiar with the NHL, Calgary and Edmonton are both in the province of Alberta in Canada. Playing in the same division, there is a fierce rivalry between the two teams. Edmonton Oiler fans have bumper stickers on their cars saying my favorite team is the Edmonton Oilers and whoever is playing the Calgary Flames.

It was the critical final game for the divisional championship. The winner would move on to the Stanley Cup series for the league championship.

The game was tied at two in the third and final period.

As I watched the game, I suddenly received an impression Steven Smith — an all star defense man for the Edmonton Oilers — was going to score on his own team. I remember it today as clearly as it happened decades ago.

A few minutes later on cue, Smith passed the puck from behind his own goal, hit the pads of Edmonton’s goal tender, Grant Fuhr, and watched the puck careen crazily into his team’s net. Because of this goal, Calgary beat Edmonton and went to the Stanley Cup where they eventually lost to the Montreal Canadiens.

It was a freaky occurrence.

After that game, whenever Calgary played Edmonton, and Smith had the puck, the Calgary fans would shout for him to “shoot.”

But in this strange incident, I received a prophetic insight that could only come from Holy Spirit. There was absolutely no reason for Holy Spirit to give me this revelation other than to show me my prophetic gifting.

Whatever  gift the Holy Spirit has given you, He wants to personally show it to you. So keep your eyes open for it.

The Holy Spirit did the very same thing for the prophet Samuel.

As a boy, his mother had turned Samuel over to Eli the High Priest to be raised in the things of God. Hannah, who was barren, had vowed to give her first-born to God if she ever became pregnant (1 Sam 1:11).

Samuel was destined to become one of the great prophets of Israel. But when God called Samuel, there were no prophets in the land to take him under wing, so the Holy Spirit had to train Samuel in the ministry.

The first thing the Holy Spirit did was display the gift to Samuel. The young man needed to know he was hearing the voice of God.

One night as the young teenager was preparing to go to sleep, God spoke to Samuel in an audible voice saying “Here I am” (1 Samuel 3:4).

That is all God said. There was no great revelation just three words.

Initially, Samuel thought it was Eli calling to him and ran into the High Priest’s room. Eli told Samuel to go back to bed.

This happened two more times. On the third time,  “Eli discerned that the Lord was calling the boy” (v 8).

Eli instructed the boy the next time God spoke, Samuel was to say, “Speak Lord, for your servant is listening.”

Samuel did exactly that and God then gave the young prophet a word of judgment against Eli and his family because of their corrupting influence in the House of God (1 Sam 3:11-14).

This story shows us that God was revealing to Samuel his gifting — that He was in fact hearing God’s voice.

Though it would be nice to have God speak to us in an audible voice, as it happened to Samuel, it is no guarantee we would know it was God speaking.

Incredibly, Samuel was sleeping only feet away from the Ark of the Covenant on which the very Presence of God rested (1 Sam 3:3). You couldn’t get any closer to God than this. But even this wasn’t enough.

The Holy Spirit will reveal His gifting to you, so keep your eyes and ears open. More importantly when it happens, you need to believe this is your gift and calling.

An important part of the training involves having confidence in the gifting God has given you, but it can be a slow and arduous process as the Holy Spirit must also deal with your insecurities and fears.

 

Do you have enough oil?

How is your oil supply? Credit: Ranil Amarasurilya/Flickr/Creative Commons

How is your oil supply? Credit: Ranil Amarasurilya/Flickr/Creative Commons

“At that time the kingdom of heaven will be like ten virgins who took their lamps and went out to meet the bridegroom. Five of them were foolish and five were wise. The foolish ones took their lamps but did not take any oil with them. The wise ones, however, took oil in jars along with their lamps.” (Matthew 25:1-2)

Women are like oil lamps, when the oil runs dry, you can’t get fire.

For years I resigned myself to ‘life by default’ where I went through the motions of dealing with whatever life handed me that day.

There was never enough time to just rest, relax or enjoy a good book.

Over the years, people-pleasing burned a lot of oil from my personal lamp. And, although it looked nice on the outside, I learned that it really was a way to avoid dealing with unresolved issues in my life.

I ignored my emotions and what was going on inside and tried to make myself feel better by giving my attention and energy to things and others.

But the parable of the virgins goes on:

Then all the virgins woke up and trimmed their lamps, The foolish ones said to the wise, ’Give us some of your oil; our lamps are going out. No, they replied, ‘there may not be enough for both of us and you. Instead, go to those who sell oil and buy some for yourselves’ (Matthew 25: 5-9)

The foolish virgins who did not take enough oil for the night asked if  they could borrow oil from those who had. The wise virgins said no, because they would not have enough as well.

As a people pleaser, I would have given them my oil and ran out myself. This was how I lived my life for years.

People pleasing disconnected me from my feelings and what was really going on in my life. It robbed me of opportunities for personal growth and I crashed and burned later in life.

The five-foolish virgins were not criticized for sleeping but for being unprepared as oil could be purchased at the market. It was available to anyone who needed it.

We must learn to nourish our soul drop by drop. We can only collect and prepare oil for ourselves. We cannot get our personal oil from anyone else.

It is our job to build up our oil supply by paying attention to our mental, physical and spiritual health. Nourishment is so much more than the food you put in your body.

“The bridegroom was a long time in coming, and they all became drowsy and fell asleep. At midnight the cry rang out: ‘Here’s the bridegroom! Come to meet him!”

The dark side to people-pleasing is that we repress or ignore our own needs. Remember our feelings and emotions are messengers trying to tell us something about ourselves.

When we loosen our grip on people pleasing, we will have more time on our hands and it will feel awkward.

Use the time wisely to build up your oil supply.

We can be foolish or wise.

It is our choice whether we keep on giving and giving until we burn out and have nothing left when we are called upon for something beyond the usual. In the case of the foolish virgins, it was the bride groom arriving at an unexpected time.

Don’t feel guilty about nurturing the light within.

The Spirit of Balaam, social media and the end of the age?

The Euphrates River in the Mesopotamia valley home to Melchizedek and Balaam. Credit: United States Navy

The Euphrates River in the Mesopotamia valley home to an ancient group who knew the true God — Abraham, Melchizedek and Balaam. Credit: United States Navy

If the Book of Revelation is a vision of the end times, then the Apostle John’s message to the seven churches of Asia in the first three chapters is a prophetic snapshot of what the end-times church will face.

In his letter to the church at Pergamum, John warns about the spirit of Balaam, suggesting it will be a rising force just before Christ’s return:

14 Nevertheless, I have a few things against you: There are some among you who hold to the teaching of Balaam, who taught Balak to entice the Israelites to sin so that they ate food sacrificed to idols and committed sexual immorality. (Revelation 2:14 NASV)

Balaam was a prophet mentioned in the Book of Numbers and, using the vernacular from the 1960s, he was one “strange” cat.

Balaam was from Petheor, in Amah near the Euphrates River, a country actually mentioned in Egyptian records. This puts Balaam in Mesopotamia where Abraham originated (Deuteronomy 23:3-6).

But his unfamiliarity with Israel tells us he was a gentile.

He may have been associated with a group that followed Melchizedek who was also from Mesopotamia. We know that Abraham paid tithes to Melchizedek who was called the King of Salem and the Priest of the Most High God (Genesis 14:18-20).

In Psalms 110:4, Melchizedek is pictured as a type of Christ. This suggests that there was a group in Mesopotamia who God revealed Himself to.

If Balaam was part of this group, he would have had a similar understanding of Jehovah. In fact, the Hebrew word that Balaam used for Lord (Numbers 22:8) is “Jehovah.” the proper name of the one true God.

But Balaam was also a prophet of some renown who actually heard from God. This meant he was a wicked prophet, but not necessarily a false one.

Under Moses, Israel had just defeated the Amorites and was now on the border of Moab. King Balak was nervous and he sent officials to Balaam offering him money to curse Israel. When God told Balaam not to go, Balak asked again:

15 Then Balak sent other officials, more numerous and more distinguished than the first. 16 They came to Balaam and said:

“This is what Balak son of Zippor says: Do not let anything keep you from coming to me, 17 because I will reward you handsomely and do whatever you say. Come and put a curse on these people for me.”

This time Balak sent celebrities, a large group, with even more money. Important, influential people were encouraging Balaam to curse Israel.  The pressure was on.

This time Balaam agreed to go, but told the group that he could only prophecy the message Jehovah gave.

So Balaam joined Balak on Mount Bamoth-Baal overlooking Israel’s camp and after constructing seven altars and sacrificing 14 animals to Jehovah, Balaam spoke words of blessing over Israel.

Outraged, Balak gave Balaam a second chance on Mount Pisgah where the Bible says Balaam “met with the Lord.” Again he blessed Israel instead of cursing them:

16 Then the Lord met Balaam and put a word in his mouth… (Numbers 23:16 NASV)

Desperate, Balak gave Balaam a third chance on top of Mount Peor and this time the Bible tells us that the Spirit of the Lord fell upon Balaam (Numbers 24:2). He not only blessed Israel, but even provided revelation of the coming Messiah:

“I see him, but not now;
    I behold him, but not near.
A star will come out of Jacob;
    a scepter will rise out of Israel. (Numbers 24:17 NASV)

Though Balaam could not curse Israel, he still desired the money Balak offered and eventually provided the Moabite king with information on how to defeat Israel. If Balak enticed Israel into immorality and idol worship, God would judge His people (Numbers 31:16).

Balak followed this advice. God judged Israel and Balaam received his payoff.

New Testament writers warned repeatedly about Balaam. Peter compares false teachers, who loved their wages of wickedness, to Balaam (2 Peter 2:15) and Jude warns of those who “for pay” have rushed headlong into the error of Balaam (Jude 11).

So what is the spirit of Balaam. In a nutshell, it refers to Christians perhaps even ministries who are influenced by money and popularity.

This is what makes it most difficult, because like Balaam, these ministries hear from God. They are anointed by God. They do prophesy accurately and there may even be legitimate miracles.

But they subtly adjust their message to what sells the most books, brings in the most donations or gives them the most popularity.

We are all susceptible to this, particularly in this new social media age where you are rewarded by people who like your message or video. We now track the number of followers we have on Twitter and the people who retweet our message. We encourage people to like our Facebook page and promote the page to increase the number of likes.

There are seminars on how to grow your influence on social media. Now in itself there is nothing wrong with any of this. In fact, I would encourage people to take courses and find out how they can best take advantage of social media in this fast changing world.

But it can become a problem, if growing your social media presence is more important than the message.

Because of social media’s increasing influence in the world, we will be tempted to be “liked” by people instead of God.

Don’t Crash and Burn

Credit: Gillfoto/Flickr/Creative Commons

Credit: Gillfoto/Flickr/Creative Commons

One could think, “It’s only a dream,” but why does it remain in my mind and spirit days later?

I was standing with a few other people when a low-flying plane passed overhead and took a nose-dive into a nearby hill. Its nose broke off from the rest of the plane and caught fire.

Our initial reaction was one of fear – if we run toward the plane will we be caught in a blazing inferno that is certain to follow? Our fear is soon overcome by concern for the well-being of those who might still be alive. We rush toward the plane and climb into the passenger section which has remained intact.

We don’t know how many people are killed but it doesn’t appear that anyone in the front burning section could have survived. And since the two broken sections are so close, we know it is just a matter of time, minutes or maybe only seconds, that the passenger section will also catch fire and be reduced to a heap of ashes.

As we begin to rouse passengers from their seats, the plane seems to be on water and then the vessel becomes as a sinking ship. We look out the windows and see land and a dock.

Some passengers jump out on their own accord, some need assistance. Still others wait for the right time when their crashed plane (ship) will move close enough to the dock to jump to safety. We, the rescuers, stay with the passengers, all the while keeping our eyes on the dock and the burning fuselage.

The time! We warn the remaining passengers it is now the time to jump or they will be burned by fire. But many refuse – they seem comfortable in their seats. It is as if this sinking ship has now become their comfort zone.

Interpretation

The plane, represents a vehicle for church or a ministry. It went off-balance, the Crew (Leaders) couldn’t control it and it crashed and burned. The Passengers (their followers) couldn’t even heed the warnings to flee for solid ground but have become comfortable in this sinking and unmovable ship. The time has come for them to jump to safety or like their Pilots, they too will be destroyed by fire.

The plane (a ministry) once had wings and could fly. But it has now become a sinking vessel and solid ground is the occupants only salvation.

“Holding Faith, and a good conscience which some having put away concerning faith have made ship wreck.” (I Tim. 1:19).

Application

The plane is just a vehicle to move us from one destination to another and is useless if it can no longer fly. Any ministry or church that goes off-balance has the potential to crash and burn. As observants, we who are standing on solid ground, are to help rescue the occupants. We are to warn and assist them out of their sinking ship, all the while discerning the time and warning of impending fire.

While in the Body of Christ today, there is much emphasize on ‘corporate’ ministry activities, we, as individuals, cannot point fingers as we are to be responsible for our own actions. (Rev. 20:12).

If Christian leaders ( pilots) allow their ministry vehicle (plane) to go off-balance, whether it is doctrinally or spiritually, that vessel will crash and burn. But those who have follow them can make their decision how long they will remain on the plane crash sight.

“Examine yourselves, whether you be in the faith; Prove your own selves ….” (II Cor. 13:5a)

La diferencia entre la iniquidad y el pecado

English version: The Difference between iniquity and sin

Hace varios años, una niña de 10 años fue brutalmente asesinada en la ciudad de Toronto. El asesino cortó su cuerpo y lo depositó en bolsas en el cercano lago Ontario. Ella fue secuestrada mientras caminaba las pocas cuadras desde el lugar de su amiga hasta su casa.

El hombre de 37 años acusado en este brutal asesinato no tenía antecedentes. Pero se convirtió en un sospechoso cuando la policía – al entrevistar a gente en el barrio – se dio cuenta de que había pintado recientemente su casa e instaló una alfombra nueva.

Para el ojo entrenado, esto era un indicador sutil de un individuo que intentaba encubrir un asesinato brutal.

Cuando la policía pasó por su casa, encontraron más de 10.000 imágenes pornográficas almacenadas en su computadora, incluyendo algunas con niños.

Aunque no había cometido crímenes previos, la repetida visualización de estas imágenes aparentemente construyó un bastión tan potente en su vida que finalmente se manifestó en el brutal asesinato sexual de una niña.

Durante años, consideré la iniquidad como una palabra más para el pecado. Parte de esta confusión se remonta a algunas versiones bíblicas que tradujeron la palabra hebrea “awon” como pecado.

Compruebe Éxodo 20: 5 y en el enlace siempre que puedas elegir tu versión de la Biblia. Las versiones King James y New American Standard traducen la palabra “awon” usada en este versículo como iniquidad, mientras que otras versiones lo traducen pecado.

Sin embargo, hay una diferencia entre la iniquidad (awon) y la palabra hebrea ‘chattah’ comúnmente traducido pecado porque encontramos estas dos palabras a menudo usadas en el mismo verso indicando que tenían distintos significados.

El profeta Isaías tuvo una visión donde fue llevado al trono de Dios y fue confrontado con su propia injusticia. Después de que Isaías declaró su indignidad, un ángel de Dios tomó un carbón encendido del altar y tocó los labios de Isaías y dijo:

Con él tocó mi boca, y me dijo: “Esto ha tocado tus labios, y es quitada tu iniquidad (awon) y perdonado[a] tu pecado (chattah). “(Isaías 6: 7)

La iniquidad de Isaías fue extirpada quirúrgicamente como un crecimiento canceroso, mientras que su pecado fue simplemente borrado. Claramente, desde este versículo la iniquidad y el pecado fueron manejados en dos formas distintas, porque eran diferentes.

Ntonces, ¿cuál es la diferencia entre el pecado y la iniquidad?

La palabra hebrea “chattah” significa “falta de la marca”. La palabra se usa en Jueces 20:16 para describir a los tiradores zurdos que podrían lanzar una piedra a un pelo y “no perder la marca”. En un sentido moral, La palabra se refiere a un acto distinto y específico de desobediencia – un fracaso para lograr un cierto nivel de vida.

En cambio, la palabra iniquidad ‘awon’ se refiere al carácter detrás de la acción, por lo que en Salmos 32: 5, David escribe acerca de cómo Dios perdonó la “iniquidad de su pecado”.

La Enciclopedia Bíblica de Wycliffe describe la iniquidad como el carácter de un individuo, que tiene un giro, una perversión o una inclinación hacia el pecado. Aunque la iniquidad incluye la idea del pecado, implica mucho más que esto y se refiere a la naturaleza misma de un individuo.

Porque la iniquidad es el carácter detrás del pecado, se convierte en la fuente de los actos del pecado. En pocas palabras, la iniquidad es una adicción al pecado.

Un hombre puede recibir un correo electrónico tentándolo a mirar pornografía.

Hace clic en el enlace y ve el sitio. Habiendo sido tentado unas cuantas veces, algo cambia. De repente, estos impulsos comienzan a levantarse dentro de él para ver estos sitios web por su cuenta. Ya no necesita una tentación externa.

Cuando esto sucede, el pecado se ha transformado en iniquidad.

Esta característica de la iniquidad se ve en Isaías 64: 6,7 donde Dios le dijo a Israel que fueron entregados al “poder” de la iniquidad (v 7). El profeta utiliza entonces la analogía de las hojas que se llevan por el viento como una ilustración gráfica de la capacidad inusual de la iniquidad.

La hoja muerta marchitada (Israel) estaba desamparada en la cara del viento (iniquidad) y fue volada donde el viento decidió ir.

Esto significa que cuando las personas tienen iniquidad en sus vidas, ya no están en control de su propio destino. Otra fuerza controla su vida.

Por eso, en Ezequiel 18:30, 31, Dios advierte a Israel que se aparte de su pecado, para que su iniquidad (a) no se convierta en piedra de tropiezo para ellos.

Simón el mago

Vemos este principio en acción en la vida de Simón el mago (Hechos 8: 5ss), que durante años se había ganado la vida deslumbrando al pueblo de Samaria con sus artes mágicas. Él era bastante famoso y se promovió a sí mismo como el “Gran Poder de dios” (vs 10, 11).

Pero había un movimiento tan poderoso del verdadero Dios en Samaria, que Simón se hizo cristiano. Debido a su notoriedad, la conversión de Simón fue bastante notable. Probablemente fue el primer converso al estilo de Hollywood del cristianismo.

Simón se unió a Felipe y observó a este discípulo en acción. El mago convertido fue testigo de primera mano de los milagros y quedó impresionado por lo que vio. Pero cuando Simón observó que las personas estaban llenas del Espíritu Santo, él estaba tan asombrado por la exhibición del poder de Dios que el mago ofreció dinero para tener la “autoridad” de hacer el mismo milagro.

Simón trató el relleno del Espíritu Santo como poco más que otro truco de magia, que quería añadir a su repertorio. Pedro inmediatamente reprendió a Simón por sugerir que este regalo pudiera ser comprado y convertido para obtener ganancias. Pedro, a través de la revelación del Espíritu Santo, vio que Simón estaba en la esclavitud – literalmente grilletes – de iniquidad (Act 8:23).

La iniquidad de Simón estaba unida a su deseo de fama y esta profunda compulsión interior llevó al mago a anhelar este poder sin importar el precio que tuviera que pagar para asegurarlo.

Esta historia también muestra que la iniquidad puede aparecer en una variedad de áreas. No está relegado a sólo pecados sexuales.

Tu mayor secreto

Hay otra curiosa característica de la iniquidad. A menudo es su mayor secreto.

En Job 31:33, el antiguo patriarca confiesa que encubrió su pecado ocultando su iniquidad en su seno e incluso compara su encubrimiento con los esfuerzos de Adán para esconder su pecado en el Jardín del Edén.

Job afirma su motivación para ocultar su iniquidad (awon) – “temió a la gran multitud” y el “desprecio” de su familia “le aterrorizó” (v 34). La razón por la que las personas ocultan su iniquidad es el miedo al rechazo. Las personas atrapadas por la iniquidad creen que otros estarán tan disgustados con sus pecados secretos que ya no tendrán ningún respeto por ellos. Se trata de perder la cara.

La iniquidad es tu mayor secreto. A menudo una persona que lucha con la adicción al alcohol tratará de mantenerlo oculto, aunque todo el mundo sabe que la persona tiene un problema. Es parte de su encubrimiento.

Tratar la iniquidad

Tal vez una de las cosas más importantes que puede hacer es limpiar su iniquidad. Tienes que reconocer tu pecado a alguien. Tienes que confesar tu adicción.
La segunda cosa es entender que Jesús murió por su iniquidad.

Pero El fue herido (traspasado) por nuestras transgresiones,
Molido por nuestras iniquidades.
El castigo, por nuestra paz[a], cayó sobre El,
Y por Sus heridas (llagas) hemos sido sanados. (Isaías 53: 5)

Cristo vino para liberarnos de nuestra iniquidad o adicciones al pecado. Sólo confiando en Dios podemos liberarnos. Tenemos que darnos cuenta de que no somos capaces de hacerlo por nuestra cuenta.

Prophesying Proportionally

Proportional Russian nesting dolls Credit: Elentari86/Flickr/Creative Commons

Proportional Russian nesting dolls Credit: Elentari86/Flickr/Creative Commons

Since we have gifts that differ according to the grace given to us, each of us is to exercise them accordingly: if prophecy according to the proportion of his faith. (Rom 12:6 NASV)

In this verse, Paul gives insight into how we are to function not only in prophecy, but all the gifts of the Holy Spirit.

He says we should prophesy in proportion to our faith.

The word proportion “analogia” used in this verse is a rare word in the New Testament and only used this once. It is a mathematical term and means ratio or proportion. Technically, the term refers to the comparison of one number with another — for example 1:2 is as 2:4.

The word is also translated in the secular literature of that day to mean fused indicating an unbreakable connection. In this sense, the ability to prophecy is fused to faith.

At first glance, it seems pretty straight forward. We prophesy in direct proportion to our faith in God.

But here is the problem.

If this is true, then there are 89-year old grandmothers who should be prophesying to the nations.  They have a tremendous faith in God, so their gifting should be in direct proportion, but strangely it isn’t.

So what is Paul referring to here?

In fact, Paul is not saying we should prophesy in direct proportion to our faith in God, rather I suspect he is saying we should prophecy in proportion to faith in our “gifting.”

If this is true, then the verse takes on a completely different meaning.

Measure of faith

Paul is following up on a statement he made three verses earlier, when he wrote:

“For through the grace given to me I say to everyone among you not to think more highly of himself than he ought to think; but to think so to have sound judgment, as God has given to each a measure of faith.” (Romans 12:3 NASV)

When it comes to spiritual gifts, the Holy Spirit gives believers grace(s) or gifts. One may receive a grace for prophecy and another healing (v 6).

The necessary prerequisite for this gifting is being filled with the Holy Spirit, which is a second work of grace after salvation. This infilling is referred to several times in scripture and often in association with spiritual gifts (see Acts 19:6; Acts 10:45-46).

Then within each gifting, the Holy Spirit issues a “measure of faith.”  The word measure (Greek metron) refers to a predetermined fixed amount. This measure determines at what level we will function in the gift.

In terms of the prophetic, the Holy Spirit may give one believer a measure of faith to function in the gift of prophecy (1 Cor 12:10) while He gives another a measure of faith to become a full-blown prophet (Ephesians 4:11).

The prophet represents a larger measure of faith than the gift of prophecy. Conceivably within each of these two groups there are different measures of faith and different levels of prophetic unction.

But notice how Paul also adds that we are not to think more highly of ourselves than we ought (Rom. 12:3). This is one of the biggest problems with spiritual gifts as we try to function beyond our level of gifting.

I have read stories of men and women of God demanding that they publicly be referred to an Apostle or Prophet. Some even insist that they be called Prophet (insert name). Maybe it’s just me, but I am immediately suspicious when someone demands a title.

I have met legitimate prophets who literally read your mail. I remember one who would be prophesying over a person and suddenly he would signal the sound room with a slashing movement to cut the microphone, so no one else would hear the word that was coming.

Invariably you would watch the person receiving the word began to heave and sob as God dealt with deep personal issues in their life.

Two things I noticed about these prophets. First they did not insist people call them a prophet. Second, they didn’t have to because based on their prophecies everyone knew they were.

But even legitimate prophets can think more highly of themselves. William Branham was an amazing prophet and faith healer during the 1950s and influenced a number of men and women who would become leaders in the modern Pentecostal movement.

But over time, Branham convinced himself that he was the end-times Elijah and one of the two witnesses mentioned in the Book of Revelation (Revelation 11).

Paul warns that if we think more highly of ourselves than we ought, we lose sound judgement (Rom 12:3). And that is exactly what happened to Branham who fell into deception as a result.

Simply prophesy the words that God gives you, don’t think more highly of yourself than you ought, and your level of gifting will become obvious to others.

Grand Canyon censored, for Christians?

Credit: gaberojas/Flickr/Creative Commons

Grand Canyon  Credit: gaberojas/Flickr/Creative Commons

Dr. Andrew Snelling has a Ph.D in geology from the University of Sydney, a world-renowned institution. He has written a number of articles and reports published in peer-reviewed science journals and has years of experience in geological research.

Yet, in 2013 when he wanted to take a few fist-sized geological samples from the Grand Canyon for research and scientific study, he was refused.

For decades officials with the Grand Canyon National Park have allowed scientists to take material from the Park for study. The Park had even given Snelling permission to gather samples in the past.

So, why did Park officials refuse Snelling this time?

The Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF), a non-profit, legal organization dedicated to defending religious liberties, alleges Park officials denied permission because Snelling is a Christian.

Snelling also works for Answers in Genesis, a Christian organization providing scientific evidence of creation. He does not accept the narrative that the Grand Canyon was created over 450 million years ago.

According to ADF, Dr Snelling was seeking “to gather samples at folds inside the canyon where all the layers were bent, but were not shattered because the rocks were still soft as they folded – supposedly remaining soft over a period of 450 million years.”

Before Park officials gives scientists permission to gather sample, they must first explain their objectives and give peer reviews of their work, which Snelling did.

Under normal circumstances, this is all that is necessary.

However, in Snelling’s case, ADF alleges Park officials turned to other scientists who had an “antipathy for Dr. Snelling’s religious beliefs and the religious views of the scientists who provided peer reviews on behalf of Dr. Snelling.”

ADF alleges one of these scientists told park officials that “ours is a secular society as per our constitution (sic)” and described his research as “inappropriate.”

The Park did not approve Snelling’s initial application.

In 2016, Snelling reapplied and this time Park officials gave Snelling permission, but he was not allowed to gather samples. Instead he needed to take photos and provide GPS coördinates of where he would be taking samples.

This would take more time and increase the costs of the research.

Since other scientists are not required to do this, ADF alleges “this appears to be a clear case of viewpoint discrimination.”

According to ADF, the Park stone-walled Snelling for three years, and eventually quit responding to his requests, even those made by his lawyers. This forced ADF to launch a lawsuit on Snelling’s behalf against the Department of the Interior, that manages America’s national park system.

In an interview with WND, Snelling said he expects debate on how the scientific evidence is interpreted, but “the Park shouldn’t prevent us from collecting data just like other scientists.”

ADF Allied attorney Michael Kitchen, who is helping represent Snelling in the case, added:

“The government isn’t allowed to discriminate against someone based on their viewpoint, and National Park officials have absolutely no legal justification in stopping a scientist from conducting research simply because they don’t agree with his views. Using someone’s views to screen them for a government benefit is unconstitutional.”

Sources:

Does an ancient tablet mention the Tower of Babel?

Curiously temples in Mexico are patterned off the same design as the Tower of Babel. Credit: Brian Hoffsis/Flcikr/Creative Commons

Curiously temples in Mexico are patterned off the same design as the Tower of Babel. Credit: Brian Hoffsis/Flcikr/Creative Commons

Shortly after the flood, the Bible says the people gathered in the Mesopotamia valley and started building a large tower to heaven.

They said, “Come, let us build for ourselves a city, and a tower whose top will reach into heaven, and let us make for ourselves a name, otherwise we will be scattered abroad over the face of the whole earth.” (Genesis 11:4 NASV)

Called the Tower of Babel, the Bible relates how God stopped its construction by creating different languages among this group forcing them apart and eventually causing them to scatter around the world:

 Come, let Us go down and there confuse their language, so that they will not understand one another’s speech.” So the Lord scattered them abroad from there over the face of the whole earth; and they stopped building the city.  (Genesis 11: 7-8 NASV).

Though many have called this account a myth, Dr. Andrew George, a professor at the University of London who specializes in Babylonian history, recently translated an ancient stone tablet held by a private Norwegian collector, Martin Schøyen.

The tablet discovered early last century refers to what many believe was the original Tower of Babel described in the Biblical text.

Tower of Babel outlined on table discovered a century ago: YouTube capture

The text describes an ancient ziggurat (platformed pyramid) built by King Nebuchadnezzar II who ruled Babylon between 605 – 562 BC.

The tablet portrays Nebuchadnezzar standing beside a seven platform ziggurat believed to be 300 feet tall, standing on a square base of equal size (300’ by 300’).

According to Breaking Israel News, the tablet describes how Nebuchadnezzar brought in people of all languages to build this massive tower:

“Etemenanki: Zikkurate Babibli: The house, the foundation of heaven and earth, Ziggurat in Babylon.

Nebuchadnezzar, King of Babylon am I — in order to complete E-Temen-anki and E-Ur-me-imin-anki I mobilized all countries everywhere, each and every ruler who had been raised in prominence over all the the people of the world — The base I filled in to make a high terrace. I built their structures with bitumen and baked brick throughout. I completed it raising its tops to the heaven, making it gleam bright as the sun.”

But what is equally interesting is that Nebuchadnezzar was restoring a much older tower that was in a state of disrepair.

It is difficult to date the original tower, but it was built shortly after people began settling in the area around 2300 BC and probably no later than the reign of Hammurabi (1792-1750 BC).

Curiously, Bishop James Ussher (1581-1656), who did an extensive study dating Biblical events based on genealogies believed the ancients built the Tower of Babel in 2240 BC.

He based that on Genesis 10:25, which says the earth divided during Peleg’s life time:

25 Two sons were born to Eber; the name of the one was Peleg, for in his days the earth was divided; and his brother’s name was Joktan. (Genesis 10:25 NASV)

Some believe the word divided refers to the division of the world by languages. Though this is not conclusive, the tower was built a few generations after the flood and shows that the Biblical dating falls within the dating of the tower discovered on the tablet.

Also, the Hebrew word for tower “migdal” used to describe Babel means a pyramid bed of flowers. This suggests the people of Babel were building a layered, ziggurat tower.

When the people groups scattered around the world, they still had memory of the Tower of Babel and its construction style. In Egypt and as far away as Mexico, they mimicked Babel’s ziggurat-styled construction when building their temples.

With people divided by language, several new nations suddenly appeared — Greece (2089 BC), Egypt (2188 BC) and Babylon (2234 BC) — all springing up after the Tower of Babel.

Sources:

 

Can Blasphemy be a Crime?

Custom House in Dublin, Ireland Credit: motorito/Flickr/Creative Commons

Custom House in Dublin, Ireland Credit: motorito/Flickr/Creative Commons

If I told you the police were investigating a famous man for blasphemy, possibly resulting in criminal charges, what country would you locate the story in? There is a famous trial in Indonesia, of a man who identifies as a Christian.

Several people in Pakistan are in prison and charged with blasphemy, and Iran and Saudi Arabia, and probably other Muslim majority countries have blasphemy laws. This is one way for conservative Muslims to protect their religion from critics. Christians, Jews, Hindus, and Buddhists cannot apply the laws against their critics, in those countries.

But this story is not about Muslims.

Would you believe that the police investigated a man for blasphemy in the Republic of Ireland? And the accuser identified as an offended Christian. It’s all true, and on the surface it seems very strange.

Apparently the police have decided to drop the investigation and not proceed with charges, just today, a few hours before I wrote this. The subject of the police investigation was an English comedian named Stephen Fry.

The Irish anti-blasphemy law was enacted in 2009. There was an old law in Ireland that banned blasphemy against Christians, but it was declared unconstitutional in 1999.

The new law is for “publication or utterance of blasphemous matter” against any religion, and Muslims have asked for protection against their critics. The new blasphemy law will probably be struck down, and many people in Ireland are embarrassed by Stephen Fry’s story.

So, are you offended by these words? “Why should I respect a capricious, mean-minded, stupid God who creates a world which is so full of injustice and pain?”

Would you like to answer back?

The words are from Stephen Fry when he was interviewed in Ireland in 2015. His comments were designed to annoy people, especially Irish people who have a long history of being talked down to by “their betters” with upper class English accents.

Mr Fry was successful in exploding a verbal bomb and he made himself even more famous.

Some journalists have tried to be fair and professional and a few commentators did the same:

“That’s in the Bible. You should at least try to read the actual Bible if you want answers to how religion handles this question. That’s what the story of Eve and the apple is all about. It sets the rules out right there. Eve had free will. God could not stop her exercise of free will. He can only judge and punish after the act.”

Most other comments are too crude and offensive to repeat.

What’s missing is balanced discussion that might teach us something. Have you noticed that we don’t have public debates anymore?

We have comedians who make themselves famous and rich by mocking us. Mr Fry did not invite anyone to offer a different opinion so he could learn from the discussion, and most of the comments that followed are amplified crude mocking of Christians.

Christians are warned not to follow this example; “Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry, because human anger does not produce the righteousness that God desires.” (James 1:19 & 20) and “Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the wicked, nor stands in the way of sinners, nor sits in the seat of scoffers.” (Psalm 1:1)

The most recent troubles in Ireland show that Christians, and everyone else, can never win against one-sided verbal assaults, and comedians are leading public discussion. The Irish police and the man who complained have all decided to drop the investigation, and I agree with them.

Blasphemy laws won’t fix this, but there is a problem, and it won’t go away, it will only get worse.

Recalling what was foretold by the holy prophets and commanded by our Lord and Savior through your apostles. First of all, you must understand that in the last days scoffers will come, scoffing and following their own evil desires. “Where is the promise of His coming?” they will ask. “Ever since our fathers fell asleep, everything continues as it has from the beginning of creation.” (1 Peter 3: 2 to 4)

Shod your feet with VICTORY

Credit: Simon Webster/Flickr/Creative Commons

Credit: Simon Webster/Flickr/Creative Commons

In his description of a believer’s spiritual armor, the Apostle Paul oddly refers to shoes.

and having shod your feet with the preparation of the gospel of peace;” (Ephesians 6:15 NASV)

Compared to the breast-plate or shield, shoes are certainly not the most prominent piece of armor, but don’t let their insignificance fool you, they are key to a believer’s victory.

The Roman soldier was equipped with sandal-like boots covered with brass that extended up to cover part of the shin. The sandals had nails protruding from the bottom giving the soldier extra grip.

Though a wound to the foot or lower leg was not necessarily life threatening it was very incapacitating. My son was practicing soccer in our backyard gearing up for a series of big games. He kicked the soccer ball near a, until then unknown, hornet’s nest. He received a single, barely visible bite on his ankle and was off his feet for days.

The smallest wound on the foot can hobble a soldier for extended periods of time making him completely ineffective for fighting.

When Paul compares these boots to the preparation of the gospel of peace and he is quoting from Isaiah 52:7, which declares how lovely on the mountains are the feet of him who brings good news, who announces peace.

This verse pictures messengers being sent from the battle back to the city announcing the enemy had been vanquished and the people were now set free from their imprisonment or captivity (see also Isaiah 61: 1-3).

This is the incredible truth of the New Testament. Every New Testament writer agreed on this single fact – Satan is a defeated foe. Yet, as we look around the earth, Satan’s hold is still clearly in effect.

The apostle John explains what has happened. He writes that the Son of God appeared to “destroy” the works of the devil.

the one who practices sin is of the devil; for the devil has sinned from the beginning. The Son of God appeared for this purpose, to destroy the works of the devil. (1 John 3:8 NASV)

The word destroy “luo” has several meanings. The most obvious is the idea of destruction or obliteration. But the word also has a second usage: it means to break a contract so that an individual is no longer legally bound to its conditions.

Though many translations use the word destroy, it leaves the wrong impression, because Satan’s kingdom has not been destroyed. It is still very much alive and well on planet earth.

However, because of  Christ’s work on the cross, Satan’s power to control, manipulate and seduce people has been destroyed. This idea is pounded home in Hebrews 2:14, 15 where the writer says, that Christ “rendered powerless (Greek largeo) him who had the power of death.”

Some versions have translated this verse as destroyed, but NASV is more accurate when it translates “largeo” as “render powerless” as the word means to neutralize, to make impotent, subdue or to bring into subjection.

Because of the cross, Satan’s power has been rendered ineffective. But only in the face of the cross does this happen. When not confronted with Christ’s authority, Satan is still a well-armed and dangerous opponent.

Most importantly, these verses outline one vital part of this battle and that is perspective – we must fight from the higher ground understanding that Satan is a defeated foe.

We are not just wearing the sandals of peace, we are wearing shoes of victory.

At every turn, Satan will try to challenge that truth. He will challenge your position in Christ and test how much you really believe this.

If the father of all lies can cause you to question your victory, then you are walking down the road to defeat. The smallest wound of doubt will incapacitate you.

Sound – The prerequisite to Music

Credit: pixlars/Flickr/Creative Commons

Credit: pixlars/Flickr/Creative Commons

While music is a huge industry, very few singers and musicians take the time to learn about sound, the prerequisite to music.  While the term “sounds of heaven” is often quoted in Churches, most Christians are clueless as to the true meaning of that phrase.

If music ministers don’t understand God’s purpose for sound, they will not be adequately prepared for the battle. As the Apostle Paul wrote in a letter to the church at Corinth, when discussing the gifts of the Holy Spirit:

“Even things without life, whether flute or harp, when they make a sound, unless they make a distinction in the sounds, how will it be known what is piped or played? For if the trumpet makes an uncertain sound, who will prepare himself for battle?”(I Cor. 14:7-8)

Sound and Light Vibrations

In the beginning God spoke (sound) and said, “Let there be light and there was light” (Genesis 1:3). This sound and light was the release of the Creator’s Glory since it was another three days before He created the sun and the moon.

Sound travels by vibrations which are transported from molecule to molecule and are often referred to as sound waves.  Light also travels by vibrations and these are called electromagnetic waves.  Although sound and light are on different frequencies they are the same type of vibrations. Within sound is music  and within light are colors and within them both is the Glory of the LORD.

With the fall of Adam and Eve, the sinful state of man lost understanding of those scientific truths.  But in these days as we rapidly move to the culmination of the ages, the mysteries of science are rapidly unfolding.

We are discovering the spiritual laws of things unseen and the natural laws of the physical things we see, are more intertwined than originally thought. These mysteries which have been from the foundation of the earth are now being revealed to the Body in Christ, specifically to those who walk with a humble and contrite heart.

Eye has not Seen nor Ear Heard

In 1974, shortly after my conversion to Jesus Christ, I was baptized by water immersion. Having Scandinavian grandparent immigrants who strongly believed that infant baptism was the way to salvation, this was a huge statement.  For me, it was an act of obedience with the conviction that to leave my old way of life in Egypt — it was a Jordan River that needed to be crossed.

When I came out of the water the Spirit of Prophecy came upon the Pastor who quoted Isaiah 64:4.

“Since the beginning of the world men have not heard, nor perceived by the ear, neither hath the eye seen, O God, beside thee, what he hath prepared for him that wait for him”

In I Corinthians 2:9, the Apostle Paul also made reference to Isaiah’s prophecy.

As a babe in Christ I thought the prophecy had more to do with material and spiritual blessings as a reward for obedience.  Now I consider the prophecy a ‘rhema’ word which spoke directly to my gifts and callings.  I now believe that scripture has more to do with the natural limitations of our ears and eyes when it comes to spiritual understanding of light and sound. The Lord promises those who love and wait on Him, that colors (light) and music (sound) will be directly prepared by His hand.

What an awesome promise of new creativity for musicians and artists committed to Christ.

Getting in Tune

The Piano is the granddaddy of all instruments consisting of 88 keys covering 7+ octaves which must all be tuned to each other to produce a clear sound.  In a regular piano, the low Bass notes consist of one string per key for about an octave, which changes to two strings per key for another octave or so, and three strings per key for the remaining octaves. The work of a Piano Tuner is to tune the strings within a note to be of the same pitch. A tuner must also tune each note to the same notes of the higher and lower octaves.

Over my career I have tuned countless pianos so my ear is trained to know when a key is out of tune. It amazes me when Music Companies spend hundreds of thousands of dollars to produce and market their international star’s latest record but fail to recognize that the piano used for that recording was out of tune.

It reminds of many Christian settings where individuals are out of tune with their fellow brothers and sisters and are more concerned with the “product” they are trying to market than the sound which is coming forth.

It is disturbing to be in a Christian setting where the people (notes) should be in tune within themselves and with one another but tension are being released so that one can actually feel the “vibes” being emanated.  Have you ever come out of a meeting and felt like a monkey has climbed onto your back? It’s quite  possible that you have been in the midst of individuals sowing discord among the brethren.

Instruction in Sound

The LORD gave Joshua specific instructions on how the Israelites were to capture the city of Jericho and all his direct orders involved the use of sound in battle (Joshua 6: 1-21).

Seven Priests blew Shofars, as thousands of human feet marched once around the city, without a word being spoken. This happened for six days while the people of Jericho watched and wondered. On the seventh day, they marched around the city seven times, all the while the seven trumpets were blowing. At the seventh time Joshua gave the order, “Shout, for the LORD has given you the city”.

Even though skeptics have questioned the accuracy of this account, if we recognize the power of Sound, we shouldn’t be surprised that Jericho’s wall fell down flat.  The marching sound of thousands of people alone would affect the ground and could loosen the wall’s stability.

Since low frequencies cause a physical response in your circulatory system and can literally stop your heart, the blowing Shofar and the marching would literally bring fear to the hearts of the inhabitants of Jericho.  Top it off with human voices expressing “Ruah”, the Hebrew word for shout which means “to split the ears with sound, as in blowing an alarm or crying out”, and God’s power is released.

In his book, “The Sound of Heaven, Symphony of Earth” musician Ray Hughes confirms this theory is a probability when he wrote:”

“A pair of 30 inch speakers connected to a tone generator can generate a note low enough to literally physically move a building off its foundation.”

He also states, “Scientists have experimented and found that by harnessing the energy of an oil well in New Mexico, that they could create an amplifier powerful enough to be heard in Italy”.

To achieve victory the tribes of Israel understood they needed to wait on the LORD and hear His voice before they went into battle.  When the Prophet Elijah heard the sound of rain, he knew the promise of God was coming.

Hearing the prophetic sound transmits

If a short-wave radio can receive communication from across the ocean, is it possible for a human to pick up that same information?   The prophet Isaiah spoke of supernatural hearing when he wrote;

“He awakens Me morning by morning, He awakens My ear To hear as the learned. The Lord God has opened My ear; and I was not rebellious, Nor did I turn away” (Is. 50:4b-5).

On July 6, 2004, while playing my piano and worshiping the LORD, I heard the cries of young children.  I discerned during my worship that this was coming from Australia.

I began to pace my living room and cry out, “Why are the children crying?” After some time the answer came, “Because they have no one to show them the Father’s Love”.

That answer disturbed me as I know there are some very good Australian Bible teachers.  Over the next few days, I prayed for those children and made contact with people in the Australian Christian community.  Since I didn’t have a teaching ministry to children, I wondered if the burden was for all Australian children or for a specific group.

A week later, my burden was uncovered with a news report that three children had spent six days on a remote island in the Torres Strait, north of Australia. Their parents and a younger sibling were presumed drowned at sea. Their father was a Badu Island Pastor.

When I had heard the children crying the week previous,  considering the time difference,  it occurred during the first few hours of being lost at sea.  No doubt they were crying and with the loss of their natural father, they had “no one to show them the Father’s love”.

Below are some excerpts of the full story that you can read here:  http://www.abc.net.au/pm/content/2004/s1153242.htm.

“13 July , 2004 –  Mark Colvin: In a remarkable tale of survival, three children have spent six days on a remote island after their family was swept away when their boat sank in Torres Strait.

The children have told rescuers that they swam quietly to avoid sharks and then opened coconuts with their teeth to stay alive.

Three other members of the family are still missing and a search is underway across the Torres Strait for the couple and their infant son.

Ian Townsend reports.

Ian Townsend: The six members of the family were on their way to Thursday Island for a birthday party. They’d taken their boat from Badu Island, where Naseli Nona was a local pastor. Aboard was his wife Lisa and their four children, two boys, 3 and 11 years old, and two girls, 10 and 15.

The boat developed engine problems, and as it was being fixed, it capsized. That was a week ago.

The parents and the baby boy are still missing, but the three eldest children are now recovering on Badu Island at the home of their aunt, Vicki Tamwoy.

Vicki Tamwoy: The three children that we have with us, Ellis, Bulla and Norita, were sort of told by their mum, swim for that rocky place over there so at least someone will survive. And Lisa, Haley, and Clarence remained together, sharing, you know, one life vest, and the children then remained on that rocky outcrop from Tuesday night ’til Friday morning.

Now they had no food, no water during that period of time. Bulla’s indicated that they might have had an oyster or two, but nothing else, certainly no water. On the Friday morning he said to the two girls we need to swim to this other island we can see, otherwise we will die.

So the three of them then took on something like a three kilometer swim to get to the island of Matu and there they remained from Friday until they were rescued by their uncle Frank Nona.”

This experience demonstrates that we only see and hear in part and that the prophetic is not always as it appears to be.

Initially I thought the message meant there was a lack of ministers to teach Biblical truths of the love of God. Instead it involved a very real situation about children who lost their natural father who was also their godly Pastor.  It demonstrated God’s great love for His children by allowing a person on the other side of the world to hear their cries coming from Australian waters.

Last Days Prophecy concerning the Arts

Although written more than 150 years ago, F. W. Kummacher (1796- 1868) in his book “Elijah The Tishbite” gave prophetic understanding of how in the last days, the beauty and glory of the LORD will permeate the world demonstrated through science and the arts.

“I refer you to that prophecy of Zechariah, which shall assuredly come to pass. ‘In that day shall there be upon the bells of the horses, Holiness unto the LORD: and the pots in the Lord’s house shall be like the bowls before the altar. Yea, every pot in Jerusalem and in Judah  shall be holiness unto the Lord of hosts; and all they that sacrifice shall come and take of them, and seethe therein; and in that day there shall be no more the Canaanite in the house of the Lord of hosts’ (Zechariah 14:20-21).

What a glorious prospect is here presented to us of the future condition of the church and of the world! The beauty and lustre of holiness shall then be spread over all we possess, and over all that surrounds us.  The Spirit of the Lord shall be universally diffused, and every object will partake of a Divine consecration.  The sciences will then be the handmaidens of religion, and their alpha and omega will be the glory of God in Christ.  The arts will return to their primary destination, and be again devoted to the service of the living God. ‘I the Lord, will hasten it, in its time.'”

 

Forgive for your heart’s sake

Credit: Ruby Babson/Flickr/Creative Commons

Credit: Ruby Babson/Flickr/Creative Commons

When Jesus spoke on forgiveness He was very clear on one thing: if we don’t forgive those who offend us, God would not forgive us.

14 For if you forgive others for their transgressions, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. 15 But if you do not forgive others, then your Father will not forgive your transgressions. (Matthew 6:14-15 NASV)

I sometimes wonder if we struggle to forgive ourselves for things that we have done in the past, that it is a sign of spiritual blockages caused by our unwillingness to forgive. These blockages hinder us from fully experiencing God’s forgiveness.

But an article on John Hopkins Medicine, Forgiveness: Your Health depends on It, provides one more reason to forgive. We need to do it for the sake of our physical health.

Like many of God’s commandments, such as circumcision that improves a man’s health, the need to forgive is another section in God’s user’s manual on proper operation of the human body.

According to the John Hopkins’ article, studies show that people who hold grudges and are unwilling to forgive are more susceptible to high blood pressure, heart attacks and oddly even struggle with higher cholesterol.

An unwillingness to forgive can also affect a person’s ability to sleep at night, result in increased anxiety, depression and even physical pain.

The article extensively quoted Dr. Karen Swartz who manages the Mood Disorders Adult Consultation Clinic at John Hopkins Hospital.

“There is an enormous physical burden to being hurt and disappointed,” says Swartz. “Chronic anger puts you into a fight-or-flight mode, which results in numerous changes in heat rate, blood pressure and immune response. Those changes, then, increase the risk of depression, heart disease and diabetes, among other conditions. Forgiveness, however, calms stress levels, leading to improved health.”

The article goes on to say that people who willingly forgive “are more satisfied with their lives and [tend] to have less depression, anxiety stress, anger and hostility.”

The Apostle Paul didn’t have a modern medical degree but with God’s insight, he basically gave the same advice:

31 Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice. 32 Be kind to one another, tender-hearted, forgiving each other, just as God in Christ also has forgiven you. (Ephesians 4:31-32 NASV)

Notice how Paul says we can only put away anger and bitterness, all bad for your heart, if we are willing to forgive those who offend us.

One of the indicators of unforgiveness is anger that exceeds the situation. Anger in itself is not wrong. Paul says, “be angry and sin not,” (Ephesians 4:26), but adds that we should not let the sun go down on your anger. You need to quickly forgive the offense.

But when our anger exceeds the situation it tells us that we have unresolved grudges in our life. Years ago, my wife and I were visiting with another Christian couple. I can’t even remember what we were talking about, but suddenly the husband exploded in anger.

The outburst shocked and embarrassed his wife.

I asked why he was so angry about what we had been discussing. He had no idea.

The reason he had no idea is because the discussion had poked an offense he had held deep in his heart probably for years. Jabbed, this unresolved offense roared back to life and that is what he was really angry about.

Sources:

Birds teach us about songs

Eurasian Wren singing (you can hear their song at the end of the article) Credit: Pieter van Marion/Flickr/Creative Commons

Eurasian Wren singing (you can hear their song at the end of the article) Credit: Pieter van Marion/Flickr/Creative Commons

Birds Sing at Certain Times

It is recognized that there is a time for the singing of birds and their songs communicate different messages.  King Solomon recognized this truth and even sang about it.

The flowers appear on the earth; the time of the singing of birds is come…” (Song of Solomon 2:12).

It appears that the Psalmist realized the power in song when he wrote;

“I will sing to the LORD as long as I live; I will sing praise to my God while I have my being.” (Psalm 104:33)

Singing at Dawn

The best time to hear bird songs is at dawn when birds all over the world demonstrate their greatest amount of singing activity.  With little wind and less disturbances, sound travels the best in the early morning.  Songs which are broadcast at dawn can be twenty times as effective as those broadcast at midday.

However, with so many variety of birds competing for the same audience, they have a remarkable knack of sharing the stage.

Mankind also is encouraged to worship the LORD in the early morning hours when there are less distractions from the busyness of life.

“O GOD, You are my God, early will I seek You…” (Psalm 63:1a)

“But I will sing of your power; Yes, I will sing aloud of Your mercy in the morning:”
  (Psalm 59:16a)

Birds Sing to Attract Mates

Singing is the way male birds try to attract females onto their territory.  It is said that female birds will listen for a number of days to their male suitors and that in fact, they prefer to mate with males singing the most complex songs with the largest repertoire.

Hence the LORD is also singing over His people with a large repertoire.

“The LORD your God in your midst, The Mighty One, will save; He will rejoice over you with gladness; He will quiet you in His love, He will rejoice over you with singing”. (Zephaniah 3:17)

And

“You are my hiding place; You shall preserve me from trouble; You shall surround me with songs of deliverance.” (Psalm 32:7)

How much more should we, the Bride of Christ, respond to the love songs of Jesus and sing His words back to Him!

“Oh, sing to the LORD a new song! Sing to the LORD, all the earth.
 Sing to the LORD, bless His name; Proclaim the good news of His salvation from day to day”. (Psalm 96:1-2).

And

“Your statutes have been my songs in the house of my pilgrimage.” (Psalm 119:54)

Birds can Distinguish Voices

Birds can distinguish their neighbors from strangers by individual differences in their songs. Like the Bird family, people who love Jesus Christ know the voice of their Shepherd.

“My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me.” (John 10:27)

Songs of the Night

It is believed that a Nightingale may hold up to three hundred different love songs in his repertoire.  A Nightingale sings its beautiful songs from a high tree branch where they carry a long distance.  At night, when it is hard to see the singer and the audience, song is the reliable way to communicate one’s love to a lover.

Since sound travels in all directions and can penetrate through or around objects, a song in the night is the perfect way to communicate over a long distance.   In case of humans, singing at night in the dark is a way of telling our Savior Jesus, that we are in love with him.

“I call to remembrance my song in the night…” (Psalm 77:6a).
 “Let the saints be joyful in glory;

Let them sing aloud on their beds.” (Psalm 149:5).

“You shall have a song as in the night when a holy festival is kept,
  And gladness of heart, as when one goes with a flute, To come into the mountain of the LORD, To the Mighty One of Israel.” (Isaiah 30:29).

Singing Defends a Territory

Male birds can claim or defend a territory by singing into it.  These territorial songs carry over long distances and convey detailed information about the location and identity of the singer.  Protected habitations are necessary to attract a female and to breed off-spring.

Skylarks actually use song as a form of defense against predator birds.  Similarly, King Jehoshaphat of Judah instructed those who should sing to the LORD as they went before the army into battle with their enemy (read II Chronicles 20:14-30).

Singing within our Environment

Like humans whose native songs differ according to their languages and culture, it is recognized that the tunes bird sing are shaped by their environment.  A bird which lives in New York City’s Central Park will have a different tune than one on the island of Fiji.

In fact, it is known that different environments will cause birds to sing more or less. Like humans, birds will sometimes keep silent when they are being preyed upon.

“For there those who carried us away captive required of us a song, And those who plundered us required of us mirth, Saying, ‘Sing one of the songs of Zion!”
 How shall we sing the LORD’S song in a foreign land?” (Psalm 137:3- 4).

I live in a well-treed neighborhood in which hundreds of birds make their habitation.  A few summers ago, I found it unusual that the birds weren’t singing around my house. I soon realized that I had not been singing much either in the past weeks.

That night I determined to worship the LORD and spent an hour singing and playing the piano. The next morning as I opened my front door, I was startled by the hundreds of birds eating worms in my yard.

The birds had returned! I believe they were attracted back by the Song of the LORD. And to this day they continue singing!

“And that the Gentiles might glorify God for His mercy, as it is written:
 For this reason I will confess to You among the Gentiles, and sing to Your name.”
 (Romans 15:9)

(Note: Much of the information on Bird Song is found @  http://www.pbs.org/lifeofbirds/)

Below — Eurasian Wren singing:

¿Por qué el rey David estableció el Tabernáculo de David?

English version: Why Did King David set up the Tabernacle of David?

Quizás uno de los artículos más polémicos que he escrito es “el profundo y oscuro secreto del Rey David”. He tenido más comentarios sobre ese artículo que cualquier otro que he escrito y fácilmente he tenido más gente en desacuerdo conmigo.

En el artículo sostengo que el rey David era ilegítimo. Cuando dijo en los Salmos que fue concebido en el pecado – lo quiso decir literalmente. Su madre lo concibió en un acto de pecado.

He aquí, he sido criado en iniquidad,

Y en pecado mi madre me concibió. (Salmos 51: 5 NASV)

Esto explica lo que sucedió cuando Dios le dijo a Samuel que fuera a Belén a ungir a uno de los hijos de Isaí como el siguiente rey de Israel, reemplazando a Saúl (1 Samuel 16: 1-13).

La Biblia nos dice que los ancianos estaban temblando cuando el profeta apareció (v 4). Samuel aterrorizó a los ancianos, así que cuando el profeta de Dios pidió a todos los hijos, los ancianos se asegurarían de que estaban allí.

Pero excluyeron a David. Algunos sugieren que esto sucedió porque él era el más joven, pero considerando el miedo que tenían de Samuel, eso no tiene sentido. Sin embargo, si David no era un hijo verdadero (ilegítimo), los ancianos podrían racionalizar no incluyendo a David.

Sin embargo, cuando Samuel se dio cuenta de que ninguno de los hijos antes de él era el que Dios escogió, el profeta preguntó si había otros. Los ancianos rápidamente trajeron a David de los campos y Samuel lo ungió como rey.

Pero un comentario sobre el artículo del Dr. J. Watson me hizo pensar, escribió en parte:

“Por un lado, está dando demasiada credibilidad a los comentarios judíos. Además, si esta teoría totalmente infundada fuera verdadera, entonces David habría sido un bastardo y no se le habría permitido entrar en la congregación del Señor (Deuteronomio 23: 2), lo que hizo, por supuesto, muchas veces con Gran deleite (Salmos 42: 4) … – Dr. JD Watson, pastor / autor ”

El Dr. Watson hace una muy buena observación.

Cuando David se hizo Rey, el Tabernáculo de Moisés fue establecido en Gabaón.

Contenía el Arca de la Alianza en la cual la presencia de Dios descansaba dentro del Lugar Santísimo, lugar en el que sólo el Sumo Sacerdote podía entrar.

Este tabernáculo fue donde la congregación se reunió y donde los sacerdotes realizaron los sacrificios en favor de Israel. Los hijos ilegítimos estaban prohibidos (Deuteronomio 23: 2).

Después de convertirse en rey, David hizo lo que ciertamente fue una decisión controvertida. Decidió trasladar el Arca de la Alianza desde el Tabernáculo de Moisés a una tienda establecida en Jerusalén, llamada Tabernáculo de David (véase también 1 Crónicas 16).

16 Y como el arca del SEÑOR vino a la ciudad de David, Mical, hija de Saúl, miró por la ventana y vio al rey David saltando y bailando delante de Jehová; Y ella lo despreció en su corazón. 17 Y trajeron el arca del Señor, y la pusieron en su lugar dentro de la tienda que David había puesto para ella; Y David ofreció holocaustos y ofrendas de paz delante del Señor. 18 Cuando David hubo terminado de ofrecer el holocausto y la ofrenda de paz, bendijo al pueblo en el nombre del Señor de los ejércitos. 19 Además distribuyó a todo el pueblo, a toda la multitud de Israel, tanto a hombres como a mujeres, un pan de pan y uno de dátiles y uno de pasas a cada uno. Entonces todo el pueblo se fue cada uno a su casa. (2 Samuel 6: 16-19 NVV)

No desmantelaron el Tabernáculo de Moisés y lo movieron. Acaban de quitar el Arca de la Alianza. De hecho, los sacerdotes se quedaron atrás y continuaron sacrificándose en el Tabernáculo de Moisés aun después de que el Arca se había ido (1 Crónicas 16: 37-40).

David hizo este movimiento inusual porque se dio cuenta cuando Samuel le ungió rey esto significó a pesar de su estatus bastardo Dios aceptó a David tal como era. Dios había mostrado misericordia. Dios lo aprobó.

David deseó profundamente estar en la presencia de Dios, pero no pudo hacerlo en el Tabernáculo de Moisés debido a su ilegitimidad. Pero él podría hacerlo, si movía el Arca del Pacto a un lugar diferente y un hogar diferente. Y a pesar de un fallo (2 Samuel 6: 6-7), el movimiento tuvo la aprobación de Dios.

En el Tabernáculo de David, el Rey David tenía pleno y libre acceso a la Presencia de Dios. Además, no había ningún velo que separaba a la gente del Arca de la Alianza, como había en el tabernáculo de Moisés.

Todo el mundo podía venir ante la presencia de Dios en esta tienda sencilla.
Muchos de los Salmos fueron escritos para adoración en el Tabernáculo de David. El movimiento provocó un tipo diferente de adoración que lo que típicamente ocurrió en el tabernáculo de Moisés. En el tabernáculo de David, el pueblo:

  • Hizo sacrificios de alabanza (en lugar de sacrificios de animales) a Dios (Salmo 27: 6).
  • Aplaudieron (Salmo 47: 1).
  • Levantaron sus manos en adoración (Salmo 134).
  • Gritó (Salmo 47: 1, 5).
  • Bailado (2 Samuel 6:16, Salmo 149: 3).
  • Busqué al Señor (1 Crónicas 16: 10-11), y
  • Jugaron sus instrumentos (1 Crónicas 23: 5, Salmo 47: 5, Salmo 149: 3).

Tenían tiempos de gloria en la presencia de Dios.

Aparte de estas expresiones de culto, los salmistas también escribieron varios tiempos de gentiles entrando al Reino de Dios (Salmo 18:49, Salmo 117: 1, Salmo 47: 8-9). Tendrían el mismo acceso a la presencia de Dios que los judíos.

El Tabernáculo de David existía por un breve tiempo entre el Tabernáculo de Moisés y el Templo que construyó el hijo de David, Salomón. Después de que el templo fue completado, los sacerdotes transportaron el Arca de la Alianza de la tienda de David en el Santo del Lugar del Santo y la Gloria de Dios cayó (2 Crónicas 5:14).

Pero después de la construcción del templo, algunas profecías extrañas empezaron a surgir. El profeta Amós habló acerca de la restauración del Tabernáculo de David, no el Tabernáculo de Moisés o el Templo, sino la pequeña tienda de David.

11 “En aquel día levantaré el tabernáculo de David,
Y el muro de sus brechas;
También levantaré sus ruinas
Y reconstruye como en los días antiguos;
12 Para que posean el remanente de Edom
Y todas las naciones que son llamadas por mi nombre, ”
Declara el Señor que hace esto. (Amós 9: 11-12 NASV)

Pero observe la referencia a los gentiles. Se convertirían en una gran parte de la restauración del tabernáculo de David. De hecho, parece que la restauración sería principalmente para este propósito – para traer a los gentiles.

Todos, judíos o gentiles, tendrían igual acceso a la Presencia de Dios.

Este pasaje es mencionado de nuevo por los líderes de la iglesia primitiva cuando la controversia estalló después de que los gentiles se convirtieron en cristianos y fueron llenos del Espíritu Santo. La iglesia convocó una reunión para decidir qué hacer con estos forasteros.

Algunos de los judaizantes pensaban que la iglesia necesitaba circuncidar a los gentiles. Esencialmente, necesitaban convertirse en judíos antes de convertirse en cristianos.

Pero otros no estuvieron de acuerdo.

En la conferencia, James citó el pasaje de Amós (Hechos 15: 13-20), y dijo que se estaba cumpliendo ante sus ojos. Además agregó que los gentiles no necesitaban ser circuncidados, que ellos entrarían como socios iguales en la fe con los judíos.

El Tabernáculo de David era un símbolo o presagio de la iglesia. En el Libro de Hebreos, se nos dice que lleguen con audacia a la Sala del Trono de Dios (Hebreos 4:16). Debido a la obra redentora de Jesús, tenemos pleno acceso a la presencia de Dios, tal como lo hicieron en el Tabernáculo de David.

Los escritores del Nuevo Testamento describieron a Jesús como cabeza de la Iglesia (Colosenses 1:18). El profeta Isaías describió esto de una manera ligeramente diferente. Dijo que el Mesías gobernaría desde la “tienda de David” (Isaías 16: 5).

El Tabernáculo de Moisés tenía su propósito. Demostraba la perfección necesaria para venir ante la Presencia de Dios. Sin pecado. No hay ilegitimidad.

Pero el Tabernáculo de David mostró la misericordia de Dios. Él iba a hacer un camino para que todos tuvieran acceso igual a la Presencia de Dios a causa de la sangre purificadora de Jesús (1 Juan 1: 7).

Los hijos ilegítimos se convertirían en “hijos de Dios” (2 Corintios 6:18).

26 Porque todos sois hijos de Dios por la fe en Cristo Jesús. (Gálatas 3:26 NASV)

 

NOTA FINAL: Mientras el Rey David estaba transportando el Arca del Pacto desde Gabaón a Jerusalén, ocurrió un incidente que paró la procesión (2 Samuel 6: 6-15). El Arca de la Alianza se deslizó y Uzzah extendió la mano.

Tan pronto como su mano tocó el Arca de la Alianza, fue inmediatamente golpeado muerto por la Presencia de Dios.

Aturdido, la procesión se detuvo. Sin duda en este momento David pensó que había cometido un enorme error al mover el Arca fuera del Tabernáculo de Moisés. Incluso pudo haber pensado que no era la voluntad de Dios.

Rápidamente arreglaron para guardar el Arca en la granja de Obed-edom. Era un gittita, un gentil. Probablemente temiendo por sus vidas, David y su séquito regresaron a Jerusalén.

El Arca se sentó en la granja durante tres meses. Pero algo bizarro empezó a suceder. Dios bendijo a este granjero gentil. Era tan notable que la noticia llegó hasta el rey David en su palacio.

Se reveló una cosa importante. Dios no se enfadó por el arca que fue sacada del Tabernáculo de Moisés. Si lo fuera, Obed-edom habría sido maldecido, no bendecido. Envalentonado por lo que estaba sucediendo, el rey David se dio cuenta de que su plan para establecer el Arca en Jerusalén era la voluntad de Dios, pero que debía hacerse correctamente.

Un plan fue desarrollado rápidamente para transportar el Arca al Tabernáculo de David.

Reigning it in

Credit: Alex Ferguson/Flickr/Creative Commons

Credit: Alex Ferguson/Flickr/Creative Commons

Smoke billowed upstairs and I ran down to see what was going on.  Something was left to slowly cook on a stove burner and no one was paying attention to the build up of smoke until it filled our nostrils and we couldn’t see through the haze.

When I am angry my emotions build up in the same way until I am filled with its fumes and can’t see what is really happening. I want to blame someone, anyone except myself.

At these moments, there is so much unleashed power at my fingertips and what happens next is up to me.

I find it challenging to bring my anger to an immediate full stop. It’s like reigning in a team of runaway horses and slowly bringing them under control.

You can’t bring them to an immediate full stop. It takes time and I am learning to slowly lead my anger away from a destructive end where a loved takes the brunt of my pent-up frustration.

The Apostle Paul talks about taking our thoughts captive and leading them away from destructive ends.

“We lead every thought and purpose away captive into the obedience of Christ.” (2 Corinthians 10:5)

Feeling the weight and strength of my emotions building up is a signal that things are about to spin out of control. I take a deep breath and start pulling back on my anger, ease up, another deep breath, as I slowly gain control and then reach a full stop.

For me, it’s a process, and a better way to bring my anger under control than trying to pull off a full stop.

I am in control of the outcome. There is no one else to blame.

As we humbly confess our weaknesses and inability to change on our own, God’s grace meets us and enables us to purposefully and intentionally walk under the power of the Holy Spirit.

“Oh Lord, I want your grace to prevail in my life and relationships. Convict me when I long to respond in the flesh. Help me take captive every wrong emotion and enable me to respond to those I encounter today with your forgiveness and grace.” (Krista Williams , Proverbs 31 Ministry)

Stunning video of baby revived in Jesus’ name

Dramatic video has surfaced of men pulling a man and his two children out of a black truck that had flipped upside down in raging waters near Myrtle Texas on Saturday, April 30, 2017. People came across the vehicle caught up in a storm that hit that part of Texas over the weekend.

Several men waded into the rushing water and struggled to open the vehicle doors against the raging current. Finally, they were able to drag a baby and toddler out of the truck.

In the video, a man carries a lifeless baby to the shore. In an interview with WFAA-TV in Dallas, Tom Mitchell, who videoed the rescue said, “The infant is white, blueish grey, no color at all and the eyes were not focused when I looked down on her.”

Mitchel knew immediately that if they didn’t do something, this baby was going to die.

On video you hear him say, “This baby is going to die if we don’t start CPR fast” and then the video goes dark as he sticks his cell phone in his pocket.

Mitchel describes what happened next — a woman leaned in and prayed:

“Dear Jesus, please help this baby breathe. Dear Jesus please let this baby breathe.”

Mitchel told the TV station as soon as the woman uttered these words, the baby came to life.

“Well, the first prayer she said, I felt a response in that child,” said Mitchel.

Another man shouts “she is breathing.” The baby was alive though struggling to breathe and was rushed to the hospital. Rescuers were able to rescue the father and toddler as well.

After the video was posted on YouTube, predictably some posters showed up to mock the incident.

One person asked why everyone is thanking “god” since “a god” had nothing to do with it and attributed the rescue to the work of the people at the scene.

Yes it was a great job by the people, black and white, coming together to rescue a family who would have undoubtedly died without help. But even people at the scene recognized the effect of the woman’s prayer on the child.

It was no different from another prayer caught on tape of Tim Tebow praying for a man who suffered a seizure at a ball game. As Tebow prayed in Jesus’ name the seizure stopped.

In Mark 8, we read a curious statement that Jesus made about His disciples:

17 And Jesus, aware of this, *said to them, “Why do you discuss the fact that you have no bread? Do you not yet see or understand? Do you have a hardened heart? 18 Having eyes, do you not see? And having ears, do you not hear? And do you not remember. (Mark 8: 17-18 NASV)

A huge crowd had spent most of the day listening to Jesus speak. It was late and the disciples were wondering how they would feed this crowd of 4,000.

Jesus said because of the hardness of their hearts, even His disciples, believers, could not see, hear or even remember the miracles.

Why did Jesus say that?

Because two chapters earlier, Jesus had performed a miracle feeding 5,000 people with  five loaves and two fishes (Mark 6:33-44) and here they were days later wondering how they were going to feed this crowd.

The hardness of heart explains how the Pharaoh did not see the hand of God in the plagues being brought against Egypt. Archaeologists have even found evidence of these great plagues describing them from an Egyptian perspective — Read: Does an ancient papyrus speak of the Exodus plagues from an Egyptian perspective? and Yet another confirmation of the Jews exodus out of Egypt?

The pharaoh continued to resist God until his own son was struck dead.

The Bible says initially that the pharaoh hardened his heart (Exodus 8:32), and then it changed and God began to harden the pharaoh’s heart (Exodus 9:12).

So miracles can happen and some people will not recognize them for what they are, because they either don’t want to see them or can’t.

Sources:

Darwin and the Scottish Cows

Scottish Highlander cattle Credit: Lloyd/Flickr/Creative Commons

Scottish Highlander cattle Credit: Lloyd/Flickr/Creative Commons

Charles Darwin developed his theory of evolution for the origin of the species when he sailed around the world on a ship named the Beagle. On that voyage, in 1834, he explored the eroded valley of the Santa Cruz River in Argentina and he commented on the lapse of ages and the gradual erosion that produced the valley.

We now know that a GLOF (Glacier Lake Outburst Flood) occurred when an icy glacier blocked the river near the mountains and dammed up a huge reservoir. When the water burst through the ice, the GLOF eroded the valley quickly, probably in days.

When I was a boy, I travelled with my family in Washington State, and I noticed that the dry interior had hundreds of eroded water channels, all dry, and I saw probably the biggest water fall in the world, Dry Falls, four times the size of Niagara, in a deep eroded valley. I knew then that something very big had happened.

In the 1920s, a Geologist named J. Harlen Bretz named that region in Washington State the Channeled Scablands and claimed a massive flood had occurred. He was opposed for about forty years by his colleagues who claimed his ideas were outrageous and biblical.

Before he died, he won the argument and he is now a hero of Geological Sciences. At the age of 96 in 1979 he said “All my enemies are dead, so I have no one to gloat over.”

We know now that a glacier formed a reservoir, Glacial Lake Missoula and the GLOF eroded at least 2000 square miles / 5200 sq km of scablands. The Columbia River flow was equivalent to every river in the world, multiplied by ten, and an eroded gully 200 feet deep has been found, offshore on the floor of the ocean. Those are biblical proportions.

So why do evolutionists dislike GLOFs? Ask a Scottish cow.

In the Highlands of Scotland, the cows are long-horned and long-haired. They’re a primitive model of Hamitic Longhorn, imported by the ancestors in the ancient stone ages. Think of a dinosaur among cows.

Nearby Scottish farmers developed breeds like the Aberdeen Angus that is supposed to make hamburgers taste better, and Ayrshires, and Belted Galloways, and Clydesdale horses, and those black and white terrier dogs.

Animal breeding is man-made evolution, and it only happens with gradual uniformitarian conditions. Farming districts with generations of peace and stability produce new breeds. Unruly places like the Highlands had constant clan warfare and cattle thieving. If your cow showed signs of improvement, it would not be yours for long. The motto for my Highland family is “touch not the cat but a glove.” That explains the enduring Stone Age model for cows.

In 1980, scientists led by Luis Alvarez proposed the K-Pg or K-T Extinction event that wiped out the dinosaurs after an asteroid struck the Yucatan Peninsula in Mexico, and that scenario is widely accepted today.

The new science of Catastrophism now claims that the dinosaur era is framed by the Triassic–Jurassic Extinction Event at the beginning and the K-Pg at the end. Apparently the history of the Earth is filled with massive die offs called extinction events, mass extinctions, or biotic crises. This science of disruption is new and the terms are fluid.

Darwin’s theory requires a universe that spans immense lengths of time without interruption, and now science has removed that possibility. We know the Earth has a tortured history.

Among secular scientists, interest in extinction events is growing because of the concern for climate change and global warming. We are being warned that humans are disrupting life on Earth, just like in ancient times and we could end up like the dinosaurs.

The creation story in the Bible has periods of time identified with the Hebrew term “Yom.” Whether or not a Yom is exactly 24 hours is a discussion for another time, but the larger pattern in the Bible is ecosystems succeeding each other, with distinct pauses between; plants – sea life – birds – land animals.

Someone, four thousand years ago described a pattern that our best scientists have only begun to learn in the last forty years.

Noah’s flood is an extinction event, and so are the events prophesied in Bible books like Ezekiel, Daniel, and Revelation. Jesus said about our future “For at that time there will be great tribulation, unmatched from the beginning of the world until now, and never to be seen again. If those days had not been cut short, nobody would be saved. But for the sake of the elect, those days will be shortened.” (Mathew 24: 21 and 22)

Something very big is going to happen.

Lord, You have been our dwelling place in all generations. Before the mountains were born or You gave birth to the earth and the world, even from everlasting to everlasting, You are God. You turn man back into dust and say, “Return, O children of men.” For a thousand years in Your sight are like yesterday when it passes by, or as a watch in the night. You have swept them away like a flood, they fall asleep; in the morning they are like grass which sprouts anew. In the morning it flourishes and sprouts anew; toward evening it fades and withers away. (Psalm 90: 1 to 6)

 

President of Austria says all women in that country may be forced to wear a Muslim hijab

President of Austria, Alexander Van der Bellen Credit: Die Grunen

Alexander Van der Bellen, President of Austria, says all women in that country may be required to wear a Hijab or head scarf. Credit: Die Grunen Linz/Flickr/Creative Commons

The British newspaper, The Independent, is reporting on the bizarre statements Austria’s left-leaning president, Alexander Van der Bellen, made to students in March. He told the group that at some point all women in Austria may be required to wear a hijab to fight Islamaphobia in that country.

The hijab or scarf is a head covering worn by many Muslim women for religious reasons and differs from a burqa that covers the face.

Van der Bellen was responding to a young woman’s question who was opposed to recent moves by Austria and other European governments, such as Germany and Holland, that are passing legislation that would limit the wearing of a burqa, and in some instance a hijab, in public.

The school girl stated that removing the scarf or burqa would result in women relying on their appearance when making their way in society instead of their accomplishments.

In his response that was videoed back in March, but just recently broadcast on Austrian TV, Van der Bellen said that it was every woman’s right to wear what she wanted, but then he added:

“And it is not only Muslim women, all women can wear a headscarf, and if this real and rampant Islamaphobia continues, there will come a day where we must ask all women to wear a headscarf — all — out of solidarity to those who do it for religious reasons.”

A former University professor, Van der Bellen who once led Austria’s Green Party was sworn in as president in January after narrowly winning the December presidential election. He opposes national borders and wants Europe to be a single country.

The legislation being passed by the Austrian government would not only ban wearing a burqa in public areas such as courts and schools, but also includes a partial ban on a headscarf for women in positions of authority to avoid any appearance of partiality, such as judges or police officers.

The good news is Austria’s president is largely a ceremonial position, the bad news is this is obviously what politicians actually believe.

Egypt has already instituted a ban on women wearing a full burqa in public.

 

Sources:

 

A counterweight to worry

Pero's Bridge, Bristol, England with its two counterweights Credit: Adrian Pingstone/Wikipeida/Creative Commons

Pero’s Bridge, Bristol, England with its two distinctive counterweights Credit: Adrian Pingstone/Wikipeida/Creative Commons

Pero’s Bridge is one of the world’s stranger looking bridges. Built in 1999, it is a pedestrian drawbridge that spans St. Augustine’s beach in Bristol, England.

The two outside sections are attached to land and the inner section serves as a drawbridge that raises to allow boats to pass beneath.

It has two distinctive, horn-like objects on either side of the bridge. At first glance, it seems they are nothing more than abstract art added to decorate the bridge.

In fact, it is art, but they also serve as important counterweights that exert force in the opposite direction allowing the inner span to raise quickly.

Also called a “bascule” bridge — French for “balanced scale” — people have used this type of design for centuries because counterweights raise bridge spans quickly and with relatively little energy.

Like a bascule bridge, we all need something to counter what life throws at us.

As you watch the media, a person can quickly be caught up worrying about world events and our rapidly changing society. We worry about our jobs and health and our children’s future.

It eventually saps our strength and we slide into a chronic state of unbelief, hopelessness and even fear.

These worries are very real, but God has provided a counterweight that swings our spirit back into balance.

In his famous passage on anxiety, the Apostle Paul writes:

Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. (Philippians 4:6-7 NASV)

When we are overcome with worry, Paul calls us to pray. But notice how he adds one vital component — we need to pray with “thanksgiving.” He includes it, because thanksgiving is God’s counterweight to worry.

So what is the apostle referring to?

I think Paul is saying we need to thank God for answered prayer. When we pray for our children we need to thank God, that the Holy Spirit is working in their lives.

Now there may not be any visible signs that God is doing anything. But we need to believe that God is moving behind the scenes — because He is — and we need to thank God for this.

This is the “evidence of things not seen” the writer of Hebrews refers to when describing faith:

Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen. (Hebrews 11:1 NASV)

Then as we pray with thanksgiving, the counterbalance kicks in, and the peace of God that passes all understanding rises up to guard our heart.

Did a mystical Jewish rabbi foresee 22 years ago the rising threat of North Korea?

Streets of Pyongyang, the capital city of North Korea Credit: Keith Martin/Flickr/Creative Commons

Streets of Pyongyang, the capital city of North Korea Credit: Keith Martin/Flickr/Creative Commons

Breaking Israel News (BIN) is reporting on the strange prediction that Rabbi Levi Sa’adia Nachamanii made in a 1994 speech, one month before he died.

In it, he discussed who would be the greatest threat facing Israel. He said it would not be Arab countries, but in fact North Korea.

“Not Syria, not Persia (Iran), and not Babylon (Iraq), and not Gaddafi (Libya),” Nachamanii said, adding that “Korea will arrive here.”

Nachamanii is from a mystical branch of Judaism called Kabbalah. It is a centuries-old tradition in Judaism that is derived from two ancient texts — the Zohar and Sefer Yezirah.

They tend to spiritualize every word and number in the Bible. Some believe they stray into the occult through magical rites such as using amulets for healing, the belief that lost souls can inhabit people requiring deliverance that Kabbalists perform and forcing oaths on demons.

But Kabbalists also have an intense interest in the end times and the coming of the Jewish Messiah. Perhaps one of the strangest stories to come out of this group involved Kabbalist Rabbi Yitzhak Kaduri. Just before he died in 2006, Kaduri left an envelope for his followers and told them not to open it until a year after he died. In the envelope he would reveal the identity of the Jewish Messiah.

When it was opened in February 2007, Kaduri’s followers broke the Rabbi’s coded message that named Jesus Christ as the Messiah.

With the recent threats from North Korea, BIN writer Adam Berkowitz took a second look at what Nachamanii said in 1994. The rabbi gained notoriety in Israel after successfully predicting both the 1967 six day war and the 1973 Yon Kipper war.

Whether he predicted these two events on the basis of a good understanding of political events in the Middle East or spiritual insight is unclear. What can be certain is that in 1994 North Korea was not a threat to Israel and his comments were completely out of sync with popular political sentiment at the time.

The rabbi even intimated that the threat from North Korea would be nuclear and cited a verse out of Deuteronomy without explaining it:

“They have roused Me to jealousy with a no-god; they have provoked Me with their vanities; and I will rouse them to jealousy with a no-people; I will provoke them with a vile nation. For a fire is kindled in My nostril, and burneth unto the depths of the nether-world (She’ol), and devoureth the earth with her produce, and setteth ablaze the foundations of the mountains.” (Deuteronomy 32:22 The Israel Bible)

In an interview with BIN, Kabbalist Dov Bar Leib explained the passage that Nachamanii used. The term ‘no-god’ refers to the atheistic beliefs of the North Koreans and the general rise of atheism in the world.

‘No-people’ refers to the Palestinians who are not a nation.

The word ‘sheol’ that describes hell is the same Hebrew word used for Seoul, South Korea and Leib said it suggests that North Korea will attack South Korea and take it over. The fires that would set mountains ablaze refers to a nuclear strike.

Though in my mind he is stretching the interpretation of this passage, the recent nuclear threats from North Korea’s unhinged leader Kim Jong-un are on the minds of many today.

There is also a verse in Zechariah that may hint of a nuclear attack in the Middle East:

12 Now this will be the plague with which the Lord will strike all the peoples who have gone to war against Jerusalem; their flesh will rot while they stand on their feet, and their eyes will rot in their sockets, and their tongue will rot in their mouth. (Zechariah 14:12 NASV)

It describes a plague that will cause people’s flesh and eyes to fall off their face while they are still standing. Though the prophet uses the word plague to describe it, he may have used a word people understood.

The prophet could hardly describe the nuclear blast from a Russian made 15F1r with a 750 kilotons to 1.65 megaton warhead.  There were simply no words in the Hebrew language at the time to describe either a nuclear blast or even the concept of radiation fallout. The only word Zechariah had that was even close was ‘plague.’

This is part of the problem with interpreting prophecies that speak of events hundreds, even thousands of years in the future.

Sources:

The soil of my heart

Credit: Volker Neumann/Flickr/Creative Commons

Credit: Volker Neumann/Flickr/Creative Commons

It’s that time of year when I want to get outside and start cleaning up our yard, pull my pots out of the shed and get ready for gardening.

But, I can’t just yet because it snowed last night — six inches of snow at the end of April. It was disheartening!

There have been frustrating times and seasons when I have not understood the reasons for delays and waiting for the fulfillment of my hopes and dreams.

But God is not in a hurry and doesn’t mind if I have to wait because He understands the process.

The Bible talks about these seasons of life:

“To everything there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven; A time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up that which is planted.” (Ecclesiastes 3:1)

He has ordained seasons in the physical realm and similarly in the spiritual. Fulfilling God’s purpose in our lives is a process, just like the development of a plant.

From the seed grows a root, then a sprout, seedling leaves spring from the stem, then branches and finally at the top — the flower.

God will not force a plant to bloom before its time.

Recently a missionary from Vietnam spoke at our church. I was stirred and convicted by his words. I have redacted his name because of the persecution of Christians in that country. He said:

“It’s about the heart soil, the condition of our hearts. Our hearts are not prepared for the Holy Spirit to do a deep work.”

I desperately need the spade of the Master Gardener to dig deep and break up the hardened soil of my heart in preparation for the seeds of truth to be sown in the days ahead.

There is a prayer I read recently that I have written and re-written in my journal. I have prayed it repeatedly since I first saw it in a devotion a week ago as I caught glimpses of the true condition of my heart.

It’s not a pretty sight.

“I want your grace to prevail in my life and my relationships. Break my heart with the things that break yours. Show me where my heart is hardened under the power of bitterness. Convict me when I long to respond in the flesh. Work your forgiveness in me.” – Krista Williams (First 5 – Proverbs 31 Ministry)

I choose to embrace the process and allow the seeds of truth sown into the prepared soil of my heart  produce fruit that will draw people to the gift of Christ.

“Rather, let our lives lovingly express truth (in all things, speaking truly, dealing truly, living truly). Enfolded in love, let us grow up in every way and in all things into Him Who is the Head, (even) Christ (the Messiah, the Anointed One).”  – Ephesians 4:15 AMP

Christ is the flower (bloom), the Head, the one we are are growing into.  Embrace Jesus and His process.

The last generation?

credit: david/Flickr/Creative Commons

credit: david/Flickr/Creative Commons

Jesus made a statement about the end times that for decades has puzzled those studying eschatology.

In his discussion of the signs leading to His second coming,  Jesus said:

32 “Now learn the parable from the fig tree: when its branch has already become tender and puts forth its leaves, you know that summer is near; 33 so, you too, when you see all these things, recognize that He is near, right at the door. 34 Truly I say to you, this generation will not pass away until all these things take place. (Matthew 24:34 NASV)

Most understood this to mean, that when the various end-time signs cited in this passage started to take place, Jesus’ return will occur within that generation.

Because they consider the fig tree as symbolic of Israel, the 1948 restoration of Israel as a nation is a key end-times marker.

So what was a generation?

Many believed that a generation was 40 years and adding that to 1948 meant Jesus would return sometime before 1988. And during the lead up to that date, there was a flurry of end-times speakers and books predicting Jesus’ eminent return.

When it didn’t happen, some speculated that Israel’s 1967 Six Day War when it took Jerusalem was the key year. This would put Christ’s return sometime before 2007.

Of course, it didn’t happen then either.

Then it was suggested a generation was 70 years and again using 1948 this would put Christ’s return sometime before 2018. This may explain why in recent years there has been an outbreak of predictions about Christ’s return.

Some like Harold Camping, then president of Family Radio, provided an exact day stating Christ would return on May 21, 2011 and when it didn’t happen, he adjusted the date to October 21, 2011. Wrong again.

For some reason people like setting exact dates, even though Jesus clearly said we would not know the day of His return:

42 Therefore be on the alert, for you do not know which day your Lord is coming. 43 But be sure of this, that if the head of the house had known at what time of the night the thief was coming, he would have been on the alert and would not have allowed his house to be broken into. 44 For this reason you also must be ready; for the Son of Man is coming at an hour when you do not think He will. (Matthew 24:42-44 NASV)

Nevertheless, much of this discussion on Jesus’ return stems on the length of a generation? Is it 40 years or 70 years?

The answer to this question may be found in the recent announcement that at 117 years of age, Violet-Mosse Brown from Duanvale, Trelawny, Jamaica is the oldest person in the world. She was born March 10, 1900.

Brown who is also a born-again Christian credits her long life to faith in God and particularly the fifth commandment that promised a long life to those who honor their parents.

She was water baptized at age 13 and in an interview with CBN, Brown said, “I’ve done nearly everything in the church. I spent all my time in the church.”

She earned the title of the oldest person after the death of an Italian woman who died at 117 on April 15, 2017. She was the last known person born in the 1800s to still be alive.

The ages of both these women highlight a little known second curse that God made on humanity just prior to sending the flood provoked by the marriage of the sons of God to the daughters of men (Genesis 6:1).

In addition to judging the world with a flood, God said:

Then the Lord said, “My Spirit shall not strive with man forever, because he also is flesh; nevertheless his days shall be one hundred and twenty years.” (Genesis 6:3 NASV)

God limited how long people would live to 120 years. Prior to Noah’s flood men and women lived for hundreds of years and after the flood there was a gradual fall off and by Joseph’s day, life spans were below 120 years and would stay that way.

Does this suggest a generation is 120 years?

If so, using the restoration of Israel as the key marker, it would put Christ’s return closer to 2068.

Oddly, this somewhat fits a date given by famous scientist and Bible scholar Isaac Newton. Writing in the 1700s, Newton adamantly said that the restoration of Israel as a nation needed to take place before Christ came back.

Using Daniel 12:7 as his spring board, Newton predicted that Christ would return sometime around 2060. Again he needed a date to begin his countdown and used the establishment of the Holy Roman Empire in 800 AD as the start.

But in all these predictions there are huge ifs and more questions than answers. The only thing we know for sure is that we won’t know the date, but we will see the signs that Christ’s return is near.

Sources:

Tomb of Herod the Great discovered

Herdodium complex Credit: Eitan Yaaran/Wikipedia/Creative Commons

Herdodium complex Credit: Eitan Yaaran/Wikipedia/Creative Commons

In 2007, Hebrew University of Jerusalem announced the discovery of the tomb of Herod the Great, including his sarcophagus and mausoleum, on the Northeast slope of Mount Herodium. This confirmed the existence of a major player in early New Testament history.

Herod was part of a larger clan who ruled Palestine during its Roman occupation — his grandfather and father had ruled before him. Herod, who was declared “King of the Jews” in 40 BC by the Roman Senate, died in 4 AD.

Most Christians are familiar with Herod the Great and his role embedded in the Christmas story. Herod was the king that the Magi consulted when they came to Judea looking for the “King of the Jews” (Matthew 2:1). This news troubled Herod (v 2) and he asked the Magi to report back when they had found the new King.

When the Magi – warned in a dream – took a different route home, Herod was enraged (v 16). After consulting his advisors, Herod determined where the Jewish Messiah had been born and brutally ordered the slaughter of all Bethlehem boys — two years and younger (v 19, 20).

But an angel had earlier warned Joseph to flee to Egypt with his family and they only returned after Herod had died (Matthew 2:13, 15, 19).

History of Herod

This behavior was totally in character for Herod. He was a vicious man who was suspicious of any potential challenges to his throne. He often dressed as a commoner and circulated among his citizens trying to discover what people thought of him and to root out any potential challenges to his authority.

When Salome, Herod’s sister, became jealous of the influence of Herod’s first wife Mariamme, Salome told Herod his wife was unfaithful.

Herod married Mariamme because of her Jewish ancestry to gain support from the Jews. Despite the groundless charges, Herod ordered Mariamme killed. Herod would later kill Mariamme’s sons, who Salome accused of rebellion.

Herod was so overcome by grief by Mariamme’s death, doctors feared he would die. Some suggest, this marked a turning point in Herod’s life as he tipped into insanity.

The murder of the Bethlehem boys also took place at the end of Herod’s reign when most historians conclude Herod was mad.

Nearing death, Herod ordered the arrest of 70 elders of Israel who were to be killed when Herod died, so all Israel would mourn his passing. Ironically, after his death, the 70 were released, transforming Herod’s funeral into a day of celebration.

Herod’s construction of Herodium

While King, Herod was involved in numerous building projects. He rebuilt the Jewish temple to gain the favour of the Jewish priestly class. Construction started in 20 BC and it was known as Herod’s temple. Other projects included the building of a palace at Masada.

However, his most ambitious project involved the Herodium complex located 12 kilometers south of Jerusalem. It was one of the most elaborate “monarchial” complexes constructed during this period of Roman history.

First Herod built a large cone shaped hill that was high enough to be seen from Jerusalem.

The complex included a fortified palace on top of the mound complete with watch towers.

A second palace with elaborate gardens, stables and pools was built along the lower half of the hill.

Herod chose this site because it marked the spot in 43 BC when as governor of Palestine, he defeated the Parthians. When the Parthians had attacked Jerusalem, Herod fled the city. During his flight, the chariot containing Herod’s mother overturned.  The accident allowed the Parthians to catch the fleeing group forcing Herod to engage in battle.

Flavius Josephus’ record

First century Jewish historian, Flavius Josephus, wrote in his book — The Jewish wars – a description of Herod’s funeral which he said took place in 4 AD. He stated that Herod’s body was interred in a tomb at Herodium:

Around the bier were Herod’s sons and a large group of his relations; these were followed by the guards, the Thracian contingent, Germans and Gauls, all equipped as for war. The reminder of the troops marched in front, armed and in orderly array, led by their commanders and subordinate officers; behind these came five hundred of Herod’s servants and freedmen, carrying spices. The body was thus conveyed for a distance of two hundred furlongs to Herodium, where, in accordance with the directions of the deceased, it was interred. So ended Herod’s reign.” — Jewish Wars, 1,23,9

Unfortunately, Josephus’ record as a historian has come under attack, primarily from Liberal commentators annoyed by numerous references to Jesus Christ in his writings.

Tomb discovery

However, based on Josephus’ testimony, Hebrew University Professor Ehud Netzer had been excavating the Herodium site looking for Herod’s tomb since 1972.

According to Josephus, the Romans destroyed Herodium in 71 AD during the Great Jewish Revolt (66 AD – 72 AD), when Jewish rebels used it as a base.

The Romans had completely obliterated the Jewish Temple a year earlier as part of this same campaign, an act prophesied by Jesus (Matthew 24:1-2).

Netzer finally found Herod’s mausoleum after digging at several locations on the side of the hill between Herod’s two palaces.

In a news release, Netzer described it as “one of the most startling finds in Israel in recent years.” Though largely destroyed, it still contained decorated urns used to store the ashes of cremated bodies.

They also found the remains of a large, highly decorated sarcophagus constructed of red limestone. The team concluded this was undoubtedly the sarcophagus of King Herod since it matched the size and quality of other sarcophaguses used for royalty.

Not surprisingly, Herod’s sarcophagus was purposely broken into hundreds of smaller pieces undoubtedly by the Jewish rebels who had used the palace during the rebellion:

Worthy of note is the fact that the sarcophagus was broken into hundreds of pieces, no doubt deliberately. This activity, including the destruction of the monument, apparently took place in the years 66-72 C.E. during the first Jewish revolt against the Romans, while Jewish rebels took hold of the site, according to Josephus and the archaeological evidence. The rebels were known for their hatred of Herod and all that he stood for, as a “puppet ruler” for the Romans.

The discovery of Herod’s tomb adds yet another page to growing archaeological evidence substantiating the Gospel accounts.

Sources:

Study suggests babies feel pain in the womb in first trimester

A recent study published in the journal Cell has provided evidence that babies feel pain in the womb sooner than many in the pro-abortion camp want us to believe.

In recent years, several reports mostly by specialists doing procedures on preemies or the unborn concluded that babies feel pain in the womb. For decades, most did not believe this was possible.

This most recent study published at the end of March confirmed what others are saying. But this study differed in one important way from earlier reports. It didn’t analyze a baby’s reaction to pain but rather looked at nerve development and concluded that a baby’s nervous system is fully formed by the end of the first trimester (12 weeks).

The study described the development as an “adult-like pattern of skin innervation” and added that the baby developed it earlier than previously thought.

Despite their findings, the researchers were quick to add that this did not necessarily suggest a baby feels pain in the womb.

The theory that babies did not feel pain in the womb began to unravel in 1983. Kanwaljeet Amand — who then worked at a neonatal intensive care unit at John Radcliffe hospital in Oxford, England — noticed that premature babies going through surgery were coming to him with symptoms of shock. This included shallow breathing, grey skin and a weak pulse.

It often took Amand several hours to stabilize the infants.

He eventually received permission to follow these premature babies through their procedures and discovered that other than a paralytic to keep the infant still, a baby received no anesthesia for their operations that sometimes included heart surgery.

Further studies of these infants showed sharp spikes in stress hormones, a clear sign of stress and pain.

When hospitals started giving preemies anesthesia for their operations, it resulted in a significant jump in survival rates. Amand concluded that babies in the womb feel pain as early as 20 weeks.

This recent study is disturbing news for those in the pro-abortion camp because painful procedures are often used to abort babies including saline solutions and vacuums that rip the baby apart.

Pain also shows that these infants are not a conglomeration of cells called a fetus to make the baby seem less human.

According to the Daily Wire 12 states have already passed laws requiring anesthesia for babies during abortions.

Sources:

 

But we still speak King James

Ancient rendering of Lambeth Palace (L) and St. Mary-at-Lambeth (R) Credit: Boston Public Library/Flickr/Creative Commons

Ancient rendering of Lambeth Palace (L) and St. Mary-at-Lambeth (R) Credit: Boston Public Library/Flickr/Creative Commons

Workers doing renovations at the Garden Museum in London, England accidentally broke through the floor and discovered a large chamber.

When they lowered a mobile phone through the hole they saw 30 lead coffins, some piled on top of each other, that had been hidden from view for centuries.

The Garden Museum is located in an ancient medieval church, St. Mary-at-Lambeth, found next to the official residence of the Archbishop of Canterbury (Lambeth Palace) – the head of the Anglican Church.

St. Mary-at-Lambeth is considered a ‘deconsecrated’ church. This is a ceremony Anglicans perform on a church when it is no longer to be used for religious service. They essentially remove the religious blessing rendering it fit for secular purposes.

St Mary-at-Lambeth today now home to the Garden Museum Credit: kotomi_/Flickr/Creative Commons

St Mary-at-Lambeth is now home to the Garden Museum Credit: kotomi_/Flickr/Creative Commons

The Anglo Saxons constructed the first church at the site in 1062, but over the centuries it has undergone major renovations and rebuilds.

Perched on top of one of the coffins was an old gold-painted archbishop miter or crown indicating this was the burial chamber of some of the Anglican church’s long-lost archbishops.

Realizing the enormity of their discovery, the area was opened up and they discovered coffins with the nameplates labeling the final remains of Archbishop Richard Bancroft (1604-1610) and Archbishop John Moore (1783-1805).

If St Mary-at-Lambeth’s records are correct, there are probably three other archbishops down there as well.

Perhaps the most famous of the archbishops buried at the site is none other than John Bancroft, the man responsible for the publication of the King James Bible.

Though Bancroft did not actually write it, in 1604 he headed a group of 41 Hebrew and Greek scholars who would eventually create it. The first version of the King James bible would not be published until 1611, a year after Bancroft died.

Though the King James Bible is no longer widely used because of its archaic ‘thees’ and ‘thous,’ its successor the New King James Bible, that modernized the language, continues to be popular.

Though many of us stumble on the old English, many of the sayings in popular use today are taken from the King James Bible — some estimate as many as 200.

One of the more intriguing ones is “saved by the skin of my teeth” referring to a close call. It was taken from the book of Job as he described his suffering and how close to death he was:

20 My bone cleaveth to my skin and to my flesh, and I am escaped with the skin of my teeth. (Job 19:20 KJV)

The phrase “drop in a bucket” referring to a thing’s unimportance comes from the Book of Isaiah as the prophet describes the insignificance of the nations compared to God:

15 Behold, the nations are as a drop of a bucket, and are counted as the small dust of the balance: behold, he taketh up the isles as a very little thing. (Isaiah 40:15 KJV)

The term “scapegoat” is used to describe someone being blamed for another’s transgression. On the Day of Atonement, Israel’s high priest used two goats. He sacrificed one for the sins of the nation and on the second, the scapegoat, the high priest placed Israel’s sins and then drove the goat into the wilderness.

10 But the goat, on which the lot fell to be the scapegoat, shall be presented alive before the Lord, to make an atonement with him, and to let him go for a scapegoat into the wilderness. (Leviticus 16:10 KJV)

Other phrases based on the Bible still in use today include:

Sources:

Two types of Christians, only one hears a knock

Ruins of temples used in Imperial cult worship in Laodicea, Turkey Credit: Richard Munden/Flickr/Creative Commons

Ruins of temples used in Imperial cult worship in Laodicea, Turkey   Credit: Richard Munden/Flickr/Creative Commons

I regularly receive a daily devotional from Open Doors, a Christian organization that stands with believers being persecuted around the world.

In a recent newsletter, they quoted Iranian Christian leader, Luke Yagnazar, who now lives in the US.  Having come from a country where a person can be thrown in jail or even executed for believing in Jesus, Yagnazar talked about his faith struggle in the US.

He said:

“It is more difficult to be a Christian in the USA than in Iran. There you are either a Christian or not.”

In Iran, your decision to become a Christian is not taken lightly. It is very black and white.

But in Canada, the US and many other Western countries we have developed a second tier of Christianity. Colored gray, it easily infects us all, myself included.

The Book of Revelation talks about this second tier using a slightly different analogy. Speaking to the church at Laodicea, the Apostle John writes:

15 ‘I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot; I wish that you were cold or hot. 16 So because you are lukewarm, and neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of My mouth. (Revelation 3: 15-16 NASV)

The Book of Revelation was a prophetic vision of the end times received by the Apostle John while banished on the Island of Patmos. At the beginning of his vision he had a message to seven churches that existed in his day.

However, many believe due to the prophetic nature of John’s vision, this message to the seven churches also describes issues and challenges that will face the church in the last days.

So what made the Laodicean Christians lukewarm?

The passage points to the cause:

17 Because you say, “I am rich, and have become wealthy, and have need of nothing,” and you do not know that you are wretched and miserable and poor and blind and naked, (Revelation 3:17 NASV)

Because of its textile industry, banking and location on a major trade route, Laodicea was a very wealthy city.

In her article, The Church of Laodicea in Bible and Archaeology on Bible Archaeology, Megan Sauter writes that Laodicea’s problems stemmed from a decree made by the Roman Emperor Domitian who ruled at that time.

Though the Romans treated their emperors as gods, this usually only happened after death. But Domitian declared himself a god before he died and demanded worship. Referred to as the Imperial Cult, this worship often took place inside pagan temples.

The Jews were exempt from participating and because Christians were considered Jewish, they were initially exempt as well. At its start, the early church was basically made up of Jews who embraced Jesus as the Messiah. However, when God moved on the gentiles, they began flooding in and very quickly, Jews became a small, insignificant minority.

When that happened, the Romans no longer considered Christianity as an off shoot of Judaism — meaning the church was no longer exempt from Emperor worship,

Depending on where you lived, refusing to participate in the Imperial cult, could even affect a person’s ability to buy and sell referenced in John’s vision (Revelation 13:16-17).

When faced with this choice, many wealthy Christians compromised their faith and participated in the Imperial cult worship. Yet, they still claimed to be Christian and continued to go to the church – but it was this act that God labelled as lukewarm.

But God makes one last statement to the Laodiceans:

19 Those whom I love, I reprove and discipline; therefore be zealous and repent. 20 Behold, I stand at the door and knock; if anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and will dine with him, and he with Me. (Revelation 3: 19-20 NASV)

Yes the statement that many Christians use to encourage non believers to accept Christ was actually a message God intended for lukewarm believers.

Though early Christians faced death and the ability to buy and sell in John’s day, due to the prophetic nature of this vision, many believe Christians will face this type of persecution one more time — at the end of the age.

And for some it is already starting to happen.

Sources:

So Who is Zoroaster?

Zoroaster temple in Iran Credit: Bastian/Flickr/Creative Commons

Zoroaster temple in Iran Credit: Bastian/Flickr/Creative Commons

About three thousand years ago, probably in the times of David and Solomon in the Bible, a man named Zoroaster or Zarathustra began preaching about one God, and one great force of evil in the world.

His home was probably near Afghanistan and his teaching came to dominate all Iranian people, from northern India to Greece, in Europe. Information about times and places is mostly lost, but scholars agree that someone tried to turn people to God, in central Asia, many centuries ago.

According to Tabari, a Sunni Muslim who lived about a thousand years ago, Zoroaster the ancient prophet of Iran was from Israel and a disciple of Jeremiah, or he travelled with a Hebrew prophet. We know the Persians were often kind to Israel and their temple in Jerusalem.

Kings of Persia (Iran) ordered the rebuilding of the temple of Jerusalem:

“Lord moved the heart of Cyrus king of Persia to make a proclamation throughout his realm and also to put it in writing: “This is what Cyrus king of Persia says: “The Lord, the God of heaven, has given me all the kingdoms of the earth and he has appointed me to build a temple for him at Jerusalem in Judah.”” (Ezra 1:1 and 2) … [and King Darius later added] so that they may offer sacrifices pleasing to the God of heaven and pray for the well-being of the king and his sons. “ (Ezra 6:10)

Daniel and his friends, and Nehemiah were senior officials close to Persian kings, and Esther was a devout Jewish woman and also the Queen of Persia.

When Jesus was born, wise men, known as Magi, travelled from the east to find the baby Jesus. In their homeland, God spoke to them and they listened and obeyed, at great personal risk and cost; and when they found Jesus, they worshipped him. Magi were followers of Zoroaster.

Later, the Persians opposed the Roman Christians, as they opposed the Romans, but they accepted eastern Christians in countries under their influence like Armenia and Georgia.

So what happened to the ancient religion of Zoroaster? It was mostly conquered by Islam and forced to assimilate. A remnant remains, mostly in Iran and India, and the community is progressive and prosperous in India, with many leading scientists and industrial leaders. Tata Group is emerging as one of the leading industrial companies in the world, based in India and founded by a Zoroastrian family.

Another branch is the Yazidis who are being persecuted by ISIS in Iraq. Also, Iranians who were converted by their Muslim conquerors mostly follow Shiite Islam and stubbornly remain different from the Sunni majority. The terrible violence in Syria and Iraq and Yemen is mostly Shiite versus Sunni.

Some Shiite groups revere Zoroaster as a prophet of God, as does the Bahai faith that emerged from Iranian Islam. Today there are reports of growing interest in Zoroaster and Christianity among Iranians and Kurds, who are ethnic Iranians. The explosive growth of Christian communities is a concern for the Islamic Republic of Iran. The seeds keep sprouting.

So who is Zoroaster? We might never know the details because his legacy has been suppressed for centuries. I am convinced that many centuries ago, someone tried to turn central Asia to God and I believe the work of God cannot be undone.

If you believe in spiritual forces, that may explain the growing restlessness in Turkey, Syria, Iraq, Iran, Afghanistan and the region. Civil wars and millions of refugees show a great restlessness. I have met people from those regions, in my work and in Christian churches in Canada, and my impression is that they have a sense of longing, in spiritual things.

God will feed their hunger.

When the day of Pentecost came, they were all together in one place. Suddenly a sound like the blowing of a violent wind came from heaven and filled the whole house where they were sitting. They saw what seemed to be tongues of fire that separated and came to rest on each of them. All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit enabled them.

Now there were staying in Jerusalem God-fearing Jews from every nation under heaven. When they heard this sound, a crowd came together in bewilderment, because each one heard their own language being spoken. Utterly amazed, they asked: “Aren’t all these who are speaking Galileans? Then how is it that each of us hears them in our native language? Parthians, Medes and Elamites; residents of Mesopotamia … (Acts 2:1 to 9)