Fascination with Isaiah

Isaiah

The Book of Isaiah has always fascinated me.  There is so much to discover in these pages.  Isaiah among other things discusses the future tribulation and the millennial kingdom; the salvation of the Servant-Messiah and God’s plan for peace.  There has been allot of debate over who authored the Isaiah scrolls and when they were made.  The debate is very important because it either validates or lays to naught the prophetic aspects of the book of Isaiah.  The prophetic nature of Isaiah is extremely important to Judaism and Christianity alike.

For Christianity the importance of Isaiah can be revealed in the number of times it is references.  The prophet Isaiah is referred to approximately eighty-five times in the New Testament.   While some of these are repeated references there are still at least sixty-one passages in Isaiah that are used as a single reference. 

Jesus launched his ministry by reading from the school of Isaiah.  This shows the necessity of the accuracy of the book of Isaiah.  Jesus could not have said that he is fulfilling this scripture if it was not already accepted as scripture by the Jews of his time. Here is the portrayal recorded by Luke.  

And he came to Nazareth, where he had been brought up: and, as his custom was, he went into the synagogue on the sabbath day, and stood up for to read. And there was delivered unto him the book of the prophet Esaias. And when he had opened the book, he found the place where it was written, The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he hath anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor; he hath sent me to heal the brokenhearted, to preach deliverance to the captives, and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty them that are bruised, To preach the acceptable year of the Lord. And he closed the book, and he gave it again to the minister, and sat down. And the eyes of all them that were in the synagogue were fastened on him. And he began to say unto them, This day is this scripture fulfilled in your ears.  (Luke 10:416-21).

The New Testament the Book of Acts chapter 8 refers to a Eunuch that was converted to Christianity by the use of the scriptures recorded in Isaiah and how they related to prophecy fulfilled by Jesus Christ.  The Lord sent Phillip to meet with this man to teach him from Isaiah all the things concerning Jesus. The man believe and was subsequently baptized. 

How great a find was discovered in 1947 among the Dead Sea Scrolls.  In this archeological find was located an intact and in “perfect” condition, 2nd Century BC scroll of the text of Isaiah.  It has been compared to the oldest know text, about 980 AD and is astonishingly accurate.  In fact, scholars have concluded that it is an exact copy. This lays waist to claims that the prophecies of Isaiah concerning the Servant-Messiah, the Millennial Kingdom, and God’s Plan of Peace were added later in time by editors of the text.   You see if you believe in divine inspiration then you must also believe in divine preservation.  If God cared enough to inspire the writers of the Bible then surely he would preserve that message also.

If he preserved it then we can trust what is written.  We can trust the prophecies.  We can trust the fulfillment of the prophecy.  We can look forward to the restoration of Israel.  We know that Jerusalem will be the capital of the world because we know the prophecy of our Lord establishing his kingdom here on earth in Jerusalem for 1000 years.  Through the seed of Abraham the whole world, every nation, all of creation will be blessed.  We know this because the scripture has been preserved by God himself. 

We also know this.  That Jesus fulfilled the prophecy of Isaiah 53.  When it says, “Surely he hath borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows: yet we did esteem him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted.  But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed” (Isaiah 53:4-5).   That means that Jesus did actually take our burdens of sin and he carried our sorrows and despairs to the cross.  It also means that we witnessed the chastisement of God that he took for us.  He was beaten, and mocked, and died for his love of mankind.  Jesus took our punishment like a loving older brother takes the blame for his siblings.  He died for us.  We know this because scripture prophesied this.  We know this because the New Testament recorded it for us.  We can trust it because God himself preserved the witness in the accuracy of the text.  This is the truth that sets you free.  Jesus was sacrificed to pay the debt of sin for you and for me.  We are indebted to Jesus for our very lives. By accepting this truth he promises to give us a life that we cannot comprehend.  He said a more abundant life!  More life than we know of.  That is amazing love.    

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Abortion: God Forgive Us All

What I relay to you is a true story of a young couple.  It was told as a matter or confession, not to a priest, but to any who would listen.  I don’t feel the necessity to identify the couple, as this could be any couple in modern society.

http://Photo by Rene Asmussen from Pexels

This young man was seeing a young lady, and their attractions grew to one another as often young people do.  They were both working and soon decided that it would be best to move in with one another and therefore save on some of the costs of living.  This would make things financially better for the both of them, plus there would be other “fringe benefits”. 

The young man admitted he was self-centered and was concerned more about having freed up money to have a good time and to have the benefit of sexual pleasures at will.  He wasn’t concerned about taking precautions to avoid pregnancy; that was her problem, not his.  He remember how great it was to be living with her indulging one another’s fantasies without regard to God or anyone else.  Until she got pregnant.

The pregnancy alarm “slapped him in the face”, as he put it.  They were both shocked and caught off guard. Suddenly life stopped for them.  All of their future plans, their relationship, and collage would all have to change.  He remembered thinking that his whole life was suddenly snatched from him with the realization of this permanent change.  He regretted his foolish arrogance and disregard for not avoiding this predicament by listening to his parents warnings.  He was scared.  She asked what to do.  He lined up the options: marriage, bail on her, abortion, or just ignore it. 

She wanted marriage and to keep the baby, but he wasn’t ready, so he just pushed her away ignoring the issue.  She moved in with another friend but still sought his advice. He wouldn’t return her calls.  In fear and desperation she scheduled an abortion. 

When he found out his heart was sickened.  Guilt flooded over his whole mental and emotional state.  He was shamed that he had failed her and the baby.  He wanted to tell her not to go through with it.  But his cowardice had left him unable to move, he had forsook his responsibilities and left the burden to his girlfriend.  Eventually he mustered up the strength to accompany his girlfriend to the clinic. 

When he walked in there were others like him waiting with their family members.  He could feel their eyes on him. He knew that they knew that he was the father of the baby that was being aborted.  He was murdering his own child.  He was sacrificing his own baby for what he perceived would be a better lifestyle for himself.  He knew that his girlfriend was struggling. She want to keep the baby, but was afraid that without his support it would not be possible.  She thought that he loved her.  She realizes now, too late, that he loved himself more.

The abortion was quick.  After the abortion she left with other friends who had come to support her.  He left all alone.  They never spoke again.  The guild and shame of the murderous act had destroyed their relationship.  Decades later this time period of his life would still haunt him.  Wondering what his child would have been like.  Wondering what his marriage with this young lady could have been.  How many memories did he forsake for his selfish act? 

Later he married a Christian lady.  He started going to church.  He would here the pastor teach on how God said that children are an heritage of the Lord (Psalms 127:3-5).  He read how scriptures like John 16:21 remarked on what a joy it is that a man can be born.  He heard in Provers 17:6 where it said that Children’s children are the crown of old men; and they glory of children are their fathers.  He felt such sorrow and remorse.  He had missed out on those blessings.  The blessings of seeing the birth of his baby.  He missed out on the joys of running with a kite with his baby.  He missed the times of teachings, like riding a bike, or driving a car.  More than that he missed out on the joy of having his grandbabies sit on his lap.  Unable to keep his façade up any longer. He spent hours confessing to his wife. 

He confessed his selfishness to her.  He relayed the shame of his cowardice avoidance of his responsibilities to his girlfriend and to his baby, and to God.  In tears he poured out his regrets and a lifetime of torment that he has lived with all of those years.  His wife took him in her arms and for two hours she told of the forgiveness available from God in Jesus Christ.  He eventually pleaded his cas before God, and poured out his sorrows to him.  He repented of his selfishness and lack of courage in doing what he knew was wrong.  He confessed the murder of his own child. 

He received forgiveness.  He has reached out with the support of his wife and his church to the once young lady, who he had failed before.  She too had spent a life time of dealing with the guilt and anguish that comes from the shameful act of murder we call abortion. She too has been redeemed by Jesus Christ. 

It is a terrible thing when society and governments condone the murder of innocent babies.  It is a terrible testimony to the state of a nation that prefers mothers to kill their babies for profits to be fed to special interest corporations.  Surely they will be held accountable before Christ in the final judgement.  So will the Christians who stop silently and watched this atrocity unfold before their eyes.  Especially those who live in countries where they have the right to vote on such matters of conscience.  It is not just those who need forgiveness. God forgive us all.

Don’t Mess With The Scripture

Don’t Mess with the Scripture

Newsweek, 12/23/2014 ran an article titled The Bible: So Misunderstood It’s a Sin.  https://www.newsweek.com/2015/01/02/thats-not-what-bible-says-294018.html

In this letter the author skillfully outlined how the bible cannot be trusted.  If you look at the evidence they put forward then it would be easy to convince yourself that there is no reason to put any trust in the bible, or any of its translators or scribes for that matter. 

This is not necessarily a direct response to this article, but rather it did get me thinking how many young Christians are attacked with such half-truths and then told that they don’t have a leg to stand on. Indeed this article goes so far as to start the article in such a manner as to silence ignorant Christians from the very first few paragraphs.

The author uses phrases like, “They are God’s frauds, cafeteria Christians…”.  In addition the article states that “clergy invoke a book they seem to have never read and words they don’t understand”.  The only true thing the author reveals is ignorance of what Christianity is all about.  That is probably our fault.  We do know that not everyone who calls themselves a Christian, is in fact a disciple of Christ as required in scripture.  Despite the stereo types we have been granted by modern day Nero’s we do have some real assurances that the Word of God is in fact just that.

Here is the thing.  Most critics do not have an issue with the original scriptures being divinely inspired by God. The reason is that none of these original text have survived.  What most arguments center on is the accuracy of the text we have received.  Here is the fundamental Christian view of scripture.  If God divinely inspired the writers of the Bible, then he (God) also can preserve it. We have been given warnings from God, not to alter his revelation of himself to us.   

Ye shall not add unto the word which I command you, neither shall ye diminish ought from it, that ye may keep the commandments of the LORD your God which I command you. Deuteronomy 4.2

Numerous times the different authors of the Bible asserted that they received direct guidance from God on their writings.

  • Leviticus 1.1 – the Lord called unto Moses, and spake unto him… “saying”
  • Jeremiah 1.4 –(Jeremiah) “the word of the Lord came…. “saying”
  • Revelation 1.1 – The Revelation of Jesus Christ … which God gave unto him (John)

Throughout the bible the authors warn of the dangers of altering the text of the scriptures.

Moses the 1st author warns against adding or taking away from the Words of God.

What thing soever I command you, observe to do it: thou shalt not add thereto, nor diminish from it (Deuteronomy 12.32)

The Apostle John gives a clear warning with a consequence on adding or taking away from the words of the prophecy.

For I testify unto every man that heareth the words of the prophecy of this book, If any man shall add unto these things, God shall add unto him the plagues that are written in this book: And if any man shall take away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God shall take away his part out of the book of life, and out of the holy city, and from the things which are written in this book. (Revelation 22:18-19)

This statement tells us:

  • Not to add to the prophecy or you will receive the judgement of God
  • Not to take away from the prophecy or the Lord will take away you part in the book of life, and the holy city, and from the blessings that are written in this prophecy
  • This also tells us that there is no further revelation to be accepted, because God is not sending anymore revelation.

Even in the middle of the Bible God commands us:

Every word of God is pure: he is a shield unto them that put their trust in him. Add thou not unto his words, lest he reprove thee, and thou be found a liar. (Proverbs 30.5-6)

Solomon reminds us that the word is:

  • Pure
  • Trustworthy
  • There is a consequence for changing the Word
  • God will reveal you as a liar

The importance of these warnings and reverence of the word of God is demonstrated in archeological findings.  The Isaiah text (700 B.C.) when compared to the copied text of Isaiah found in the Dead Sea Scrolls (200 B.C.) are almost identical with only punctuations added.  So the idea that original texts are necessary to get direct inspiration from God is foolish.  God has preserved his message to us. 

Mathew 5:18 – reminds us that not one jot or tittle will be removed until the law is completely fulfilled.

Some proofs of accuracy in prophesy Recorded in history:

         
Prophecy Book Written Fulfilled Expanse
Babylon ruled over Judah Jeremiah 25:11-12 626-586 B.C. 609-539 B.C. ~50yrs    
Babylon’s Gates Open for Cyrus Isaiah 45:1 Between 701 and 681 B.C. 539 B.C. Hundreds of years after prophecy  
Babylon permanently overthrown Isaiah 13:19 Between 701 and 681 B.C. 539 B.C. Hundreds of years after prophecy  
Babylon Reduced to Swampland Isaiah 14:23 Between 701 and 681 B.C. 539 B.C. and Archology confirmed in 1800s Hundreds of years after prophecy  
Jews survive Babylonian Rule Jeremiah 32:36-37 From 626 and 586 B.C. 536 B.C. ~90 yrs    

Add to this over 300 prophecies fulfilled in the birth, death, resurrection, and ascending of Jesus Christ to the throne room of God. 

How can we know what we received is accurate? Jewish tradition takes place after the fall to Babylon and Assyria. The scribes located the books of the Law and began making copies.  This custom of copying the text was a show of extreme respect and detailed scribing of the Word of God. Scott Manning published an article in March 17, 2017 that gives the following requirements for copying the Old Testament by Jewish Scribes.[i]  

Jewish requirements for scribes:

  1. They could only use clean animal skins, both to write on, and even to bind manuscripts.
  2. Each column of writing could have no less than forty-eight, and no more than sixty lines.
  3. The ink must be black, and of a special recipe.
  4. They must verbalize each word aloud while they were writing.
  5. They must wipe the pen and wash their entire bodies before writing the word “Jehovah,” every time they wrote it.
  6. There must be a review within thirty days, and if as many as three pages required corrections, the entire manuscript had to be redone.
  7. The letters, words, and paragraphs had to be counted, and the document became invalid if two letters touched each other. The middle paragraph, word and letter must correspond to those of the original document.
  8. The documents could be stored only in sacred places (synagogues, etc).
  9. As no document containing God’s Word could be destroyed, they were stored, or buried, in a genizah – a Hebrew term meaning “hiding place.” These were usually kept in a synagogue or sometimes in a Jewish cemetery.

Some unique things about the bible verses other ancient scripts

  • Bible’s claim that God is the author
    • Over 1500 statements in the text claim divine origin
    • Bible’s Internal Unity of Message
    • 40 Different Authors
    • Written over 1500 years
    • 3 Different Continents
    • Message from cover to cover: God saves through Jesus Christ
  • Historical Accuracy – some examples
    • There has never been any archeological evidence to dispute any historical claim in the scriptures
    • Moabite Stone found in 1868 documents Moab rebellion against King Jehoram soon after the death of Ahab (2 Kings 3)
    • Lachish Letters found in 1930s are documents found of a communique between two Hebrew commanders concerning the oncoming of the Babylonians impending invasion under King Nebuchadnezzar
    • Hezekiah’s tunnel discovered in 1867 recorded in (2 Samuel 5:6-8)
  • Textual Accuracy – No other ancient text has as many resources to draw upon to test its accuracy as the Bible does.
    • Over 5300 manuscripts fo the New Testament
    • 10,000 Latin Vulgate
    • Over 24,000 manuscript copies of portions of the text
    • No other ancient text has close to the amount of verifiable copies for comparison of accuracy – including Homer’s Iliad (643 surviving manuscripts)
  • Concerning Christ in Archeology
    • Codex Mediceus 68 II – Roman historian Tacitus wrote in a major work titled Annals (116-117 A.D.) giving credit to Pontius Pilate for executing Jesus.
    • Famous and Memorable Works of Josephus (including Jewish War and Jewish Antiquities Book 20) – Jewish historian Flavius Josephus’, (37-100 A.D.), account of the martyrdom of James, identifies James as “the brother of Jesus who-is-called Messiah” being executed by the high priest Ananus in 62 A.D.
    • Tetimonium Flavianum – 15th Century manuscript contains the testimony of Josephus referring to Jesus as a wise man, “if one out to call him a man.” It further speaks about his crucifixion, and resurrection. (authenticity contested – however it is an ancient text that has been recovered).
    • Ossuary of East Talpiot a district in Jerusalem inscribed, “Jacob, son of Joseph, brother of Yeshua” (published in 2002).
    • These tell us:
      • Jesus existed as a man
      • His personal name was Jesus (Greek translation)
      • He was called Christos (Greek translation)
      • He had a brother named James
      • His followers multiplied in both Jew and Hellenistic cultures
      • Jewish leaders did not approve of him
      • Pilate decided to execute him
      • Pilate was the governor of Judea 26-36 A.D.
  • Other not so famous people in history
    • Celsus a philosopher thought Jesus was a majician
    • Piny the Younger a Roman governor wrote about worship of Christ as a god.
    • Suetonius a Roman writer, lawyer and historian, wrote of riots in 49 A.D. among Jews in Rome thought to be incited by Christians
    • Mara bar Serapion, a POW held by Rome wrote a letter describing the wise Jewish king, indicating Jesus as the subject. 

Why is this so important?

But these are written, that ye might believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing ye might have life through his name. (John 32.31)

  • We can trust what is written
  • We can trust that it came from God
  • We can trust that we have the complete revelation from God
  • We know that Jesus Christ is the Son of God
  • We know that we can please God in obedience through Jesus Christ
  • We know that we can believe in Jesus Christ for salvation
  • We know that this belief in Jesus is all we need to have life

The 1st chapter of John refers to 2 different reactions to the Light (Word). 

  • Rejection and darkness
  • Believe and Life

John 1:10-13 says:

  • Some received Him
  • Some believed Him
  • Those who believe were empowered to be the sons of God

We cannot determine who will believe our report.  However; this must not stop our witness.  In the Book of Exodus it speaks of God hardening Pharaoh’s heart. But; if you take a closer look you will see that God in his mercy revealed Himself to Pharaoh multiple times and gave him many chances.  The scripture says that first Pharaoh repeatedly hardened his heart toward God. God so then with no other recourse left, let Pharaoh have his way.  Pharaoh’s disbelief led to his death, and the death of many others.  Unfortunately, those who do not believe and have a public forum will lead many to their own death because of unbelief. 

The good thing is that those of us who do believe.  To us has been given the message of redemption.  This message is ours and ours alone to deliver it.  Angels are not given so great an honor as to lead others to Christ.  If you have ever wondered what God has for you to do, it is this, love God (Mark 12:30), love your neighbor (Mark 12:31), and make disciples of Jesus Christ (Matthew 28:18-20).


[i] https://scottmanning.com/content/process-of-copying-the-old-testament-by-jewish-scribes/

To Be a Real Player

Great message here, it is right along with our ideals of personal evangelism and personal accountability to Jesus Christ.

Karina's Thought

In December ago I watched a Christmas concert video where one of the performer is my little foster sister, Sandra. I  very impressed and proud to see him sitting in  the front of grand piano playing a classical Christmas repertoire accompanied by an orchestra. Elegantly her fingers danced swiftly on the piano keys. While I watched Sandra on the stage, I remembered when she was under 17, I often took her to watch music concerts. She was interested in music especially classical music. I still remember when we were watching a concert, I whispered to her, “Someday you’re not only sit as audience but you must sit on the stage as a player” she replied firmly, “Yes! I must…!”

Now Sandra has proven her words a few years ago, now she has moved from the viewer to be the real player. Sandra is in the right position according to…

View original post 1,380 more words

Look at James and Hebrews

James talked about enduring trials, but what kinds of trials was James talking about?  I found this in Hebrews and thought that it was applicable to what we are discussing.  It is important for us to understand that faith results in actions.  Sometimes these actions are quite sever.  However, going through these trials build us up in Christ and gives us the endurance needed to run our race well.  Below is a table that shows some people in the Old Testament who were tested.


Two things of note.  First, in Hebrews 11:29 the author briefly mentions when Israel crossed the Red Sea. Now something that may be overlooked in the casual reading of this little verse… each individual had to make a decision to trust God and pass through the waters.  Any one who would have stayed behind, even though they would be “elect” of God would have died at the hands of Egypt (the World system). Those who truly believed God and used that faith to move forward were spared death.  Without faith in God they would have never moved. 

  
Second is the entirety of Hebrews 11:35-40 shows the trials that others before us have had to go through.  These things they endured not only demonstrated their faith, but; gave a benefit for us. Without these martyrs we would not have examples of what faith looks like in action.  We would not have the benefit of being able to trust in the Lord without seeing the faithfulness of God in their sufferings.  We could even go so far as to say that without the trials of the faithful who have gone before us, we would not know God.  Why then do we go through trials.   

Hebrews 11:17-33

FaithWhoAction
By
Faith
AbrahamOffered Isaac in obedience of faith and trust in God
By
Faith
IsaacBlessed Jacob and Esau’s future trusting the promise of God
By
Faith
Jacob When dying Blessed his sons future trusting the promise of God
By
Faith
JosephCommanded his bones be brought out of Egypt; believing God
By
Faith
Moses’ ParentsHid him 3 months without fear
By
Faith
MosesRefused to be a son of the Pharaoh’s daughter
By
Faith
MosesForsook Egypt
Through
Faith
MosesKept the Passover in obedience through faith
By
Faith
Moses and IsraelPassed through the Red Sea in obedience through faith
By
Faith
Joshua and IsraelFell the Walls of Jericho by obedience to the Lord
By
Faith
RehabReceived mercy salvation
Through FaithVarious JudgesSubdued kingdoms, wrought righteousness, obtained promises, etc… all through obedience in faith

Take some time this week to search out these examples and see what these saints did because of their faith.  If we believe that Jesus is the Lord and stand in that faith, then we will receive trials.  Trials are a good thing. Trials help us to grow and mature in our faith.  Trials help us to trust more on the Lord and his promises.  Trials help others to trust in the Lord and give an opportunity for others to learn how to respond in trials, and to encourage their own faith and endurance.

Death of James

Brother of Jesus, Leader of the Church of Jerusalem

James the brother of Jesus was not a believer of Jesus as the Son of God until after Jesus was resurrected.  James was a devout man who was also known as James the Just.  Clement of Alexandria and Hegsippus both wrote epithets that refer to James as the Just. He was a devout man who demanded the respect of both Christian and Jewish leaders. 

Once converted, James is believed to have worked, in the early church at Jerusalem, with the Apostle Peter (Cephas).  The Encyclopedia Britannica explains the James the brother of Jesus may have been a natural fill-in for the martyr James of the son of Zebedee (Acts 12:2). James appears in the book of the Acts of the Apostles to have been an influential member of the church Council in Jerusalem.  Paul the Apostle received council from James when he returned to Jerusalem.  Paul lists James and Cephas at pillars of the church in Jerusalem.  Peter also when he had been released from Prison in Acts 12 told them to go and tell James.  Peter’s singling out of James puts an emphases of the importance of James to the church in Jerusalem.  

James died around 62 A.D.  Christian Historians put his death in Jerusalem where he was martyred for his faith in Jesus as the Son of God.  Eusebius, a 4th Century Christian and historian chronicles 3 different sources of the death of James.  Clement of Alexandria, Hegesippus, and Josephus all have a different version of the martyrdom of James.  Hegesippus’ version is the one Eusebius judges as most correct.

  1. AND now Caesar, upon hearing the death of Festus, sent Albinus into Judea, as procurator. But the king deprived Joseph of the high priesthood, and bestowed the succession to that dignity on the son of Ananus, who was also himself called Ananus. Now the report goes that this eldest Ananus proved a most fortunate man; for he had five sons who had all performed the office of a high priest to God, and who had himself enjoyed that dignity a long time formerly, which had never happened to any other of our high priests. But this younger Ananus, who, as we have told you already, took the high priesthood, was a bold man in his temper, and very insolent; he was also of the sect of the Sadducees, who are very rigid in judging offenders, above all the rest of the Jews, as we have already observed; when, therefore, Ananus was of this disposition, he thought he had now a proper opportunity [to exercise his authority]. Festus was now dead, and Albinus was but upon the road; so he assembled the sanhedrin of judges, and brought before them the brother of Jesus, who was called Christ, whose name was James, and some others, [or, some of his companions]; and when he had formed an accusation against them as breakers of the law, he delivered them to be stoned: but as for those who seemed the most equitable of the citizens, and such as were the most uneasy at the breach of the laws, they disliked what was done; they also sent to the king [Agrippa], desiring him to send to Ananus that he should act so no more, for that what he had already done was not to be justified; nay, some of them went also to meet Albinus, as he was upon his journey from Alexandria, and informed him that it was not lawful for Ananus to assemble a sanhedrin without his consent. (24) Whereupon Albinus complied with what they said, and wrote in anger to Ananus, and threatened that he would bring him to punishment for what he had done; on which king Agrippa took the high priesthood from him, when he had ruled but three months, and made Jesus, the son of Damneus, high priest. [i]

Tradition holds that James was brought to the temple and confronted on whether he believed that Jesus was the messiah.  James’ stance of belief that Jesus was indeed the Son of God infuriated the Sanhedrin and James was pushed of a high place of the Synagogue and then stoned.  It is reported that James prayed for his attackers in the same way that Jesus did, “Father forgive them, they know not what they do.”  Then his head was caved in by a club. 

James the brother of Jesus had once doubted Jesus as the messiah.  He probably felt at one time that he was crazy and was ashamed to call him his brother.  This James who believed and followed the Law of Moses to the last dash and the last dot of ink had given his life for his belief.  A belief that Jesus is indeed the Son of God who takes away the sins of the world.


[i] “Josephus on James.” Dr. Beth Elise Whitaker, 11 Apr. 2013, pages.uncc.edu/james-tabor/ancient-judaism/josephus-james/.

Luke 15:11-32 – What About My Child?

Ref: Luke 15:11-32

I spoke with a friend a day or two ago.  She was concerned because her son was getting old enough to leave the fold now.  She was concerned with the usual things that we as parents get concerned about.  If you have lived through this, or are currently going through this situation, then you know what I am talking about.  This is a heart wrenching time for a parent.  It has been 18 years where the mom and dad have been caring for the needs of their child.  They have tried hard to prepare them for this inevitable day.  All their hopes and aspirations are tied up in the fruition of the life of labor and love they have poured into their little baby, who is now a young adult.  Have they been good parents?

What if their young one fails?  How will they be able to help?  Will their child ask for help?  Did I prepare them enough for them to be successful? But probably the most heart wrenching question for a Christian parent is, “Will they continue in their faith?” Will they walk away from God and never return?

In a study done by Lifeway Research, author Ed Stetzer, relays that 70 percent of high school students who attended church on a regular basis, for at least one year, will stop going to church during their years of higher education.  There are allot of reasons for this, but most do not intentionally stop going to church.  That is, it is not that they could not wait to get away from their oppressive Christian parents so that they could leave their archaic religion.  Most just get caught up in their new busy life.  Juggling of study, school, work, and the development of new friendships distract them from their previous priorities.  Some will get distracted for a while, maybe some for several years, but most will eventually return.  Probably when they start their own families.  There are a few who will get distracted far beyond measure.  Some will forsake their childhood upbringing in favor of some college professor’s views, or do the world views on life, sex, and politics that permeate the college campuses. We can find throughout scripture examples to prove that the Lord does not abandon his children.

In Luke chapter 15 we find the story of the prodigal son.  In this story the youngest son makes a plea for his half of the inheritance and leaves home.  This rebellious son then squanders his fortunes in a foreign land and winds up being homeless and penniless.  After much soul searching he decides to return home and beg forgiveness in hopes that he can work on the family estate as a hired hand.  When he returns his father is overjoyed.  The father’s love overflows from deep in his heart and he rejoices over the return of his son with a great feast and a party.  The oldest son, who remained obedient is put off with this forgiveness his younger sibling received.  He is caught up in his own selfish interests to see the miracle that has happened.

This story has many different points at which we can tear it apart and find some universal truth or a great life application.  I have many times used this parable as a part of my testimony, because I was also a wayward son who had returned.  If you are not familiar with this story it can be found in Luke 15:11-32.

Here in this passage we see a man that did everything right.  He raised his kids in a God-fearing home.  He taught them the value of good hard work. He taught them about the Lord.  He taught him the customs of their people, and how to be good men.  He instructed them in the way of their faith.  Yet one of his children fell away.  This is the case for many of us parents. 

We can teach, and discipline, and hold our breath till we are blue in the face, but some of our children will go away form their faith.  We can do everything right.  Still our loved one abandons the truth and rebels against God.  I should also mention that we can do everything wrong, and yet our child finds God.  The point here is that faith is a personal decision.  Our job is to pray for them, teach them, and reinforce the instructions of life and hope in Christ.  Teach them the wisdom of knowing God and the advantages of living a godly lifestyle.  We are to give them an understanding of God that they can use in life’s decisions.  But the decision is up to them.  Each man (woman) is responsible to God for themselves.  This is why the father rejoiced. 

The father in Luke 15 knew when his son asked for his share of the inheritance and left that he was already lost before his feet his the road.  He also knew that he could not stop him.  He knew that while his son was in rebellion that he was already dead spiritually.  I am sure that his heart was broken.  Something that we cannot miss though.  The father knew his son had to make the decisions. 

When his youngest son asked for the money his father did not argue with him.  His father could have told him, that money is not yours yet, you do not have a right to it.  His father could have drilled him with all kinds of questions, he could told him how foolish he was, and what a bad son he is.  He could have struck out in anger.  The father had all of the authority and right to do any or all of these things.  Instead he listened.  He gave his son an opportunity to learn a life lesson that his son needed. 

This father also trusted God to return his son to his faith. The father knew that the son in his heart did believe in God and that this little light of faith would be used by God to steer him home.  I am sure he held onto Proverbs 22:6.  The father had hope.  He knew that God loved his son also, just as much as he did.  He knew that God would not abandon his son.

This hope is evident in verse 20 of Luke 15.  It says, “But when he was yet a great way off, his father saw him.” This father was looking for the return of his son.  He expected the Lord to deliver his son.  He rose up and looked for him every day!  We don’t know how long the timeframe is of the story, but it was long enough for the son to lose his inheritance, take a slum job, deal with starvation, and finally repent.  The son swallowed his pride and came with full intention of making things write with his father no matter what the consequences. 

This story can tell us so much about the love of God.  When the son returned the father did not care where he had been, or what he had done.  He only say his son.  His baby was coming home.  I think about this and I think about my own son.  He is a grown man, but every time I look at him, I still see the little infant that I held for the first time at his birth.  I know the heart of God by this memory.  With all that I love my son and no matter what he has done or where he has been, I still see this little baby in my hands.  That I like to think is the way that God sees each of us.  This father in our story just saw his baby, crying and beaten up by life, returning home.  This father who loved his son, put his arms around him.  Nothing else mattered. 

This is what Jesus made possible.  No matter how far we go.  No matter what we have done. No matter how rebellious we have been.  Jesus made a path home for us, for our children.  Have hope in the Lord.  Your heavenly Father has not abandoned you, and will not abandon your son or daughter.  Yes there are some hard lessons in life to learn.  No we cannot shelter our children from consequences of their own decisions.  However; we can have confidence that the Lord will never leave or forsake them.