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Monday, May 4, 2015, 9:02 AM
Understanding the way people in ancient time used language helps to understand their thoughts. Language developed around having ways of naming (or speaking about) things. If you wanted a rock, you needed a word to mean rock; if you wanted water, you needed a word to mean water; etc. So the language developed along terms that were concrete- what could be seen, touched, physically in some way experienced. So how do you ‘develop’ words for ‘grace’, ‘honor’, ‘loyalty’, or ‘glory’, etc. since these cannot be seen, smelled, touched, or otherwise experienced in a physical way? This is why the Hebrew word ‘aph’ for ‘nose’ which you can see and touch on a person’s face, could also mean ‘anger’; though you couldn’t see or touch ‘anger’, you could see that someone was angry when his nose flared. When you are ‘fearful’ (fear is not something you can see or touch) it may feel like you stomach is churning (you can feel your stomach churning); so saying that your stomach is churning could mean ‘fearful’.
The Hebrew letters ‘ayin, lamed, nun’ may be pronounced something like “ahlawm” and mean “concealed, veiled, or hidden from sight”. The same letters could be pronounced something like “ohlawm” and mean “something beyond perception”. Something beyond perception could mean that it is so far away (in the physical dimension) that it is beyond sight (out of sight), so being out of sight it is ‘hidden from sight’ which would be as in pronouncing the word as “ahlawm” instead of “ohlawm”. But “ohlawm” could also mean beyond perception in terms of ‘beyond conception’ (beyond a person’s capacity to perceive or conceive). So something that is ‘infinite’, or ‘eternal’, or ‘forever’ is generally beyond one’s capacity to conceive, so the word “ohlawm” could be translated (from ancient Hebrew, not modern Hebrew) as ‘infinite’, ‘eternity’, or ‘forever’.
The Hebrew word ‘ad’ means ‘until’ (I believe this is in both ancient and modern Hebrew). Adding the conjunction ‘vav’ to the beginning of ‘ad’ you have ‘vad’ which literally means ‘and until’ but also can mean ‘forever’, which could be translated as ‘eternal’. What I am trying to do is to introduce you to the difficulty in translating the ancient Hebrew Bible into languages that we speak today. One has to be very careful in considering the ways words are used, and the different nuances that may be given to words, and figurative and abstract meanings that may come from concrete words.
Isaiah 5:11 Woe to those who rise early in the morning, that they may run after strong drink, who tarry late into the evening as wine inflames them! 12 They have lyre and harp, tambourine and flute and wine at their feasts, but they do not regard the deeds of the LORD, or see the work of his hands. 13 Therefore my people go into exile for lack of knowledge; their honored men go hungry, and their multitude is parched with thirst. 14 Therefore Sheol has enlarged its appetite and opened its mouth beyond measure, and the nobility of Jerusalem and her multitude will go down, her revelers and he who exults in her.
The Lord says through Isaiah here (and through Hosea in Hosea 4: 6) that people are ‘carried into exile’ (figuratively ‘destroyed’) for a lack of knowledge. People have a ‘lack of knowledge’ primarily because people believe what they want to believe and do not search for the ‘true knowledge’ that our Creator wants us to seek. We are to seek our Creator with all our heart; we are to seek to know Him; then in knowing Him, we are to seek to know Him better. Sheol has sometimes been translated as ‘grave’ or ‘underworld’ (because the grave is generally considered ‘under the ground’ or ‘under the earth’ or ‘under the world’ depending on how you view it) and sometimes as ‘hell’ (as the ‘underworld’ was thought by many in old times to be ‘hell’). This did not mean that the person ‘ceased to function or exist’ but that his physical, earthly body was used up and his ‘soul/spirit/essence of being or existence had left the confines of this physical, earthly body. The Old Testament Scriptures teach (and the New Testament confirms) that those who become God’s children (His adopted ones) would not be ‘abandoned’ to Sheol. Those who become God’s children will have an eternal home with their Heavenly Father (their Creator) whereas those others would be ‘abandoned’ to whatever torments their existence out of this body would be in. Without the knowledge of the Lord, people would be eternally abandoned.
Sunday, May 3, 2015, 6:34 PM
Do you ever feel doubts about your salvation? That’s not really a good thing, but it can lead to good if you think about it a little deeper. To understand, we need to remember that words in any language can carry certain nuances that change their meaning and understanding when used in different ways.
When the disciples met with each other and told Thomas that Jesus had risen from the dead, Thomas doubted them. Maybe he felt as if they were mistaken, delirious, or someone made them think Jesus had risen when really he hadn’t. That’s when he said that he would have to see for himself the nail prints in His hands; and the hole in His side where the Roman soldier put the spear while Jesus was on the cross. When Jesus appeared, He said not to ‘doubt’ but ‘believe’. Now a person may believe something, but doubt certain concepts or things about what he believes. Then sometimes it is really a matter of knowing just what it is that you are doubting. You may believe that Jesus is all that the Bible says He is, but there may be certain concepts or teachings about Jesus in which understanding is lacking, and so there may be doubts about just what or how to believe. That is part of why God said that if you search for Him, you will find Him, if you search with all your heart. So the search may continue, in some respects, even after you have found Him. It is that search to know Him better, to be closer to Him, and to find His will for your life.
Now, if you doubt your salvation, consider this: If you asked someone who did not believe in the Lord Jesus Christ if he doubted his salvation, what would you expect his response to be? If he did not believe in Jesus, then would he see a need to believe in Jesus to be saved? Then he would have no reason to ‘doubt his salvation’ because he would not believe in it to begin with. So if a person doubts his salvation, then that should be a good sign that he is a believer; and the Scriptures teach that if you believe in Him, you WILL be saved. So you may have someone who ‘doubts’ without believing, but someone who believes but has ‘doubts’. So the unbelieving doubter will not “feel doubts about his salvation”, because he is not a believer to begin with. This is partly why Paul told a church that they needed to leave the ‘milk of the Gospel’ (the elementary teachings) and start ‘eating the meat of the Gospel’ (the deeper understanding of the Gospel implications).
Do you feel doubts about God loving sinners, as unlovable as they may seem? Do you feel doubts about Jesus coming to save a dying world from sin? Or do you doubt your own worthiness? Well, I don’t have any doubts about my worthiness, because I know that I am so pitifully unworthy that I don’t have to have any doubts about my ‘worthiness’ because I know I’m not at all ‘worthy’. So there is a major difference in ‘doubting the Lord Jesus’ and ‘doubting yourself’ when it comes to knowing salvation. So when you doubt your salvation, you must be a believer, or you wouldn’t have those doubts about your salvation.
Sometimes I can think how putrid my life can be and wonder how God could love something as unlovable as I am. Then I can remember that even Job had similar feelings expressed in the book of Job, but God asked Satan, “Who is like my servant Job?” David fell short and cried, “Lord, I am a worm and not a man. How could you take notice of something like me?” Yet the Scriptures teach that David was a man ‘after God’s Own heart’. So if sometimes you may doubt your own salvation, remember that it is not our Savior that you are doubting but yourself. Remember, I am not saying that any doubt is good, but, as Paul taught, all things can work together for the good. Even after a person is saved, though he may strive to live more perfectly, we are still so far from perfect. So when you feel moments of despair and start to doubt, let that feeling motivate you to strive to do better. Then let the doubt that you considered be something that strengthens your confidence.
Saturday, May 2, 2015, 10:37 AM
Genesis 3:22 Then the LORD God said, "Behold, the man has become like one of us in knowing good and evil. Now, lest he reach out his hand and take also of the tree of life and eat, and live forever—" 23 therefore the LORD God sent him out from the garden of Eden to work the ground from which he was taken.
After Adam and Eve ate from the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil, they were punished by causing them to have to ‘eat by the sweat of their brow’ (work) and to have pain in conception. This was why they were sent out of the Garden of Eden. But why would God not allow them to eat from the Tree of Life and live forever? Well, it’s something of a confusing blessing that we not eat of the tree of life and live forever at that point. To begin with, God told them that if they ate from the one tree they would surely die. Adam and Eve certainly had perfect DNA as God created them, and probably could have lived forever in Eden had they not disobeyed God. In disobeying, they began the process of aging that would certainly result in death, which they did eventually die.
It seems unlikely that any scientist would ever prove it, but there is in theological circles a theory that the perfect DNA that was created into Adam and Eve could have survived forever. It was in this perfection that they could multiply and not be concerned about genetic abnormalities no matter the relationship. Yet after eating from the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil, something changed in their DNA that caused this aging and decaying process. The more generations that passed, the weaker the DNA strain would become. This was why the earlier generations could live such extremely long lives and weren’t concerned so much that Adam and Eve’s children and for many generations would not have concerns with abnormalities in birth due to the closeness of relationship. It was a naturally occurring phenomena that over so many generations, the DNA would become weaker and the aging process accelerated and the more chance of abnormalities in birth.
Now, why not allow them to eat of the Tree of Life, which would likely regenerate their DNA so they could continue to live forever? The blessing is, that after eating from the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil, then the painfulness of ‘this world’ became known. In obeying the Serpent and not God, man had given Satan the dominion of this world. How could he do this? God had given man dominion of this world, but mankind bowed down to the will of God’s adversary, Satan. The one you serve is the one you turn your life over to. By that act of eating the forbidden fruit, mankind turned himself to Satan’s will rather than the will of our Heavenly Father and Creator. God still ‘owns’ the world, and will have the final judgment, but since God gave man dominion, then man turned himself over to Satan.
Now consider living in this world forever, with its pains, heartaches, work, injustices, and many other maladies and calamities. Is that something to be hoped for? What would life be like forever in these earthly bodies with the desires, the world full of greed, and what has been phrased ‘the dog eat dog’ approach to life?
This earthly body doesn’t live forever, but that ‘breath of life’ that God breathed into man does live forever. Yet because man separated himself from his Creator in disobedience, that breath would be doomed to a tormentuos (as Jesus describes) eternal separation from his Creator to eternity with the Satan that man bowed himself to in the Garden of Eden. Yet because of God’s love for man, God offers man reconciliation with his Creator to be his Heavenly Father forever, through the sacrificial life, death, and resurrection of His Only Begotten Son, Jesus Christ, our Lord and Savior. Have you come to believe in your Creator’s love for you through Jesus?
Wednesday, April 29, 2015, 10:35 AM
Luke 6:24 "But woe to you who are rich, for you have received your consolation. 25 Woe to you who are full now, for you shall be hungry. Woe to you who laugh now, for you shall mourn and weep. 26 Woe to you, when all people speak well of you, for so their fathers did to the false prophets.”
People can receive good for good and evil for evil, but the big question is- do you want your rewards in this life, or rewards that will last for eternity? Many are deceived by false teachers that you are supposed to be enjoying earthly rewards in this life. Then would you trade eternal rewards for those that do not last? Jesus told the people (as above) that if they chose to laugh now (meaning enjoying their earthly prosperity), then they would have their time for mourning and weeping.
As to the comment regarding people speaking well of you- yes, we are to seek a ‘good name’. But what the people of this world call ‘good’, is not the same as what our eternal Heavenly Father calls ‘good’. Notice that Jesus said “… when ALL people speak well of you …” Remember that the vast majority of this world will not find the way to eternal life with God. Jesus had said that the way to destruction (referring to the eternal torments following the last judgment) was broad, but the way to eternal life in Heaven was narrow, and that few would find it. When all people speak well of you, then they are the people of this world, and the people of this world love their own. Also, when all people speak well of you, then you have to decide, is that part of your seeking praise in this life, rather than the life of praise for our Heavenly Father who will give His children mansions in glory?
Luke 12:29 And do not seek what you are to eat and what you are to drink, nor be worried. 30 For all the nations of the world seek after these things, and your Father knows that you need them. 31 Instead, seek his kingdom, and these things will be added to you.
32 "Fear not, little flock, for it is your Father's good pleasure to give you the kingdom. 33 Sell your possessions, and give to the needy. Provide yourselves with moneybags that do not grow old, with a treasure in the heavens that does not fail, where no thief approaches and no moth destroys. 34 For where your treasure is there will your heart be also.
When Jesus said that seeking God’s Kingdom “… these things will be added to you” He was saying that He would supply your needs to perform His will in this world, but that the real things that are added to you are those eternal rewards, the rewards that never decay or rust or perish. Do not expect serving the Lord to bring you a wealth of earthly rewards. If it is earthly rewards that you are seeking, then you are not seeking God’s Kingdom.
Luke 12:56 You hypocrites! You know how to interpret the appearance of earth and sky, but why do you not know how to interpret the present time? 57 "And why do you not judge for yourselves what is right?
Remember that in the earlier passage Jesus noted that people in time past “spoke well” of the false prophets. People better take note of the times. There are many false prophets and teachers today that are being well spoken of. Be careful not to be led astray.
I didn’t paste the entire story of the rich man and Lazarus. I hope you are at least familiar with the story. But the following verse speaks of earthly and eternal rewards.
Luke 16:25 But Abraham said, 'Child, remember that you in your lifetime received your good things, and Lazarus in like manner bad things; but now he is comforted here, and you are in anguish.
Monday, April 27, 2015, 4:36 PM
It cannot be stressed enough that when you study the Bible (the Scriptures; God’s Word) you cannot be too quick to assume that you know what is said based simply on the dictionary definitions of the words. Words often mean different things to different people and many words are used in a figurative sense. The Hebrew word tov means ‘good’ or ‘not bad’. The Hebrew word ra means ‘bad’ or ‘not good’. If you see good or bad, do not necessarily assume ‘evil’ or ‘wicked’. An apple that is good is edible, but not righteous. An apple that is inedible is bad, but not wicked. When the Scripture says that there is no one who does ‘good’, it is translated from the same Hebrew word ‘tov’ which means ‘good’; but it is something of a common expression people understand that it does not mean that the person may never do something that is good. It means that as some time in one’s life, every person does something that is ‘not good’. People are sometimes prone to doing something that is ‘not good’. Human nature involves drives and desires that are often driven by selfish motives, and not necessarily for the ‘good’.
1st Samuel 16:7 But the LORD said to Samuel, "Do not look on his appearance or on the height of his stature, because I have rejected him. For the LORD sees not as man sees: man looks on the outward appearance, but the LORD looks on the heart."
When Jesse presented his sons before Samuel so the Lord would indicate to Samuel which of Jesse’s sons were to be anointed to be king of Israel, Jesse presented several sons before David who was the chosen one. The others were rejected. Some would say that if God rejected someone, it meant that that one would never be one of God’s children, because he was rejected. Common sense tells people that this ‘being rejected’ simply means that they were not the ones who were chosen to be anointed. Yet many may read in the Bible that someone was rejected, and make it mean more than it means. Sometimes it may say that one was ‘loved’ and the other ‘hated’. This is where sometimes understanding that expressions don’t always mean the same to everyone. The expression that one may be loved, and another hated may not have anything to do with some general understanding of love and hate, but used as an expression that one was accepted and the other was rejected. Now to say that one may be rejected does not mean that a person is ‘totally’ rejected in the sense of ‘will never be acceptable’. It often simply means ‘rejected for a certain task or purpose’.
The same applies to many words in the Bible. The word ‘aph’ means ‘nose’, but also means ‘anger’, and comes from the idea that when one is angry, his nose flares. Someone (from the Hebrew language) who has a ‘long nose’, does not necessarily mean that his facial feature is long, but likely means that it takes him a long time to get angry (‘longsuffering’ ‘he is slow to anger’; ‘he is patient’; or ‘he can take a lot of abuse without an adverse reaction’). Likewise, the words love and hate may be translated from a number of words or expressions. (In someone’s eye or face may mean ‘love’ as in someone’s heart.)
2nd Samuel 1:25 "How the mighty have fallen in the midst of the battle! "Jonathan lies slain on your high places. 26 I am distressed for you, my brother Jonathan; very pleasant have you been to me; your love to me was extraordinary, surpassing the love of women.
The passage above is used by some to support homosexuality, supposing that this was David’s love for Jonathan. Though David had several wives and children, he clearly showed heterosexuality when he saw Bathsheba and desired her. His love for Jonathan was based on that brotherly sense of loyalty and standing by one as a brother, in spite of the fact that Jonathan’s father had been seeking to kill David. The Bible clearly teaches that homosexuality goes against natural order (in several verses). I am not judging homosexuals. God is the ultimate judge. I myself am too far from perfect to cast stones at anyone else’s imperfections. I do not understand the ‘x’ and ‘y’ chromosomes, the hormones, or the emotions or feelings. God knows what is in any person’s heart. Even so, sin is sin, and I am a sinner in need of His mercy. But if anyone hears someone saying that they can show that the Bible is not against homosexuality, do not listen to them. Listen (not to me but) to people who really understand the language and the culture and the interpretations of the language and not just ‘dictionary definitions’ of words.
I know this post is getting long, but there is one other related example about language. There are some who will not use any translation of the Bible but the King James Version (and that is fine, I love the King James Version), but one example they use for their reason is incorrect. Some say that there are versions that do not say that Mary the mother of Jesus was a virgin. Actually, in this respect, the King James Version is ‘incorrect’ in actual definition, but still ‘correct’ in interpretation. The actual Greek words declaring Mary a ‘virgin’ is accurately translated as ‘a young maiden’. This is according to dictionary definition. Still, the culture into which Mary and Jesus were born, if Mary were not a virgin, then she would have been called something other than ‘a young maiden’. From the true and pure understanding, she was a virgin, and it was prophesied in the Old Testament that it would be so. However, the translation ‘a young maiden’ is an actual dictionary translation of the Greek, though most translations use the translation ‘virgin’. I’m not certain which versions may not use ‘virgin’, but I am sure it is not more than a very few.