How Can I Charge for a Labor of Love?

I would like to draw your attention to a matter that we should all consider in the living out of our faith.  In the letter Paul wrote to Philemon, he makes a defense for Onesimus.  Onesimus was a slave to Philemon who had apparently ran away.  On his journey he apparently ran right smack into the Apostle Paul who had previously converted Philemon to Christianity.  Now Onesimus had his appointment with Jesus Christ through the evangelism of Paul. Now that Onesimus was a believer, Paul sought to return him to Philemon.  Paul asked that Onesimus be received as a brother in Christ, and forgiven of his wrong doings, as Philemon had also been forgiven in Christ.

If he hath wronged thee, or oweth thee ought, put that on mine account; I Paul have written it with mine own hand, I will repay it: albeit I do not say to thee how thou owest unto me even thine own self besides. (Philiemon 18-19)

It is clear that Paul is showing to Philemon that Onesimus should have nothing put to his account, and that Paul himself will reimburse Philemon of any costs that he deemed should be paid by the actions of Onesimus or the costs incurred by his absence from his duties. However; is what Paul says – albeit (notwithstanding, although) I know I do not need to mention that you are indebted to me.  What exactly that debt was is not specified.  However, being that Philemon owned slaves it is not likely a financial debt.  It is more likely that Paul was making a spiritual reference to the conversion of Philemon.  In this manner, Philemon’s very soul would have been what Paul was referring to.  His salvation was brought through the evangelistic efforts of Paul, and Paul was reminding him of the great debt that was relieved when Paul led him to Christ.  In this we see that Paul is reminding him that those who have been forgiven must also forgive.  Moreover we should not add to the debt of fellow believers. 

In the early development of the church the office of the Deacon was established.  Do you know why?  The church was in an uproar because the distribution of needs to the believers was not being distributed properly.  So the apostles told the church to select men to appoint over this duty of distributing to the needs of the church.  These men were the deacons of the church.  It was their responsibility to ensure the benevolence ministry was ran properly.  Now something related to this is the fact that all the believers of the church gave towards the needs of the church and they shared all things in common.  I know where are you going with all of this? I gave you all of this background to say this.  If a member of the body of Christ has a need, and you can assist them, then you should, and you should NOT charge for your services. You should not as a believer put a debt onto any believer’s account for something that you freely volunteered to do to assist them in their time of need.   

If this were the case and the church assisted you, for anything, then you should expect to make amends to the church.  Now I am not saying that if you want to repay the church you cannot, quite the opposite.  You are to assist the church and its body of believers out of gratitude, not debt. Once again I wish to be clear on this matter.  I am not talking about a professional service where it is agreed upon that the believers are in a business agreement.  I am speaking of a need that was requested to the church, and members of the church responded to the need, and then wanted reimbursement.  Especially if the member who is asking for reimbursement has received gifts and support from the church body in the past to cover finances, food, lodging, counseling, or anything else. 

What would the church be like if when you, as a believer and member of the congregation, needed assistance after a personal disaster, or a natural disaster like a hurricane or a fire, and then the church shows up and says we will help you if you pay us?  What of that? Would that be considered the “Christian” thing to do?  Even so, an individual member should never show up to assist another member and then demand money for their services. 

If the offer is made from the requester to pay, that is another matter, and it is not what I am speaking of either.  We who are indebted to Christ are to look after our brothers and sisters in Christ as we would our other relatives.  I would never charge my brother to assist him in moving, or in repairing his home, or even looking after his pets when he was out of town.  To receive payment for such services in his time of need it to strong-arm him.  How is that love? When Jesus said that they will know you are my disciples by you love…. I think we can say that this would be a demonstration of our love. 

We need to be ever mindful of the debt of which we have been forgiven. We also need to keep in mind that most all of us have an inherent debt we owe to our fellow members in the body of Christ. We should be willing to unashamedly seek the assistance of the fellowship, and to freely give assistance as needed to the fellowship with a joyous heart.

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Palm Sunday Observance

Palm Sunday

Palm Sunday is the observance of the day Jesus entered into Jerusalem prior to his arrest, trial, and subsequent execution.  It is commemorated on week prior to the Resurrection Celebration of Jesus’ rising from the dead.   Many Christians refer to this week as Passion Week and it is the end of the period of Lent. This entry into Jerusalem is a demonstration of the King entering Jerusalem and Jesus’ submission to his role in the redemption of Israel, and all of mankind.  This is a deliberate move by Jesus in fulfilling prophecy. 

In the book of the prophet Daniel we see in chapter 9 that there will be 483 years from the command to rebuild Jerusalem to the coming of the Messiah.  Nehemiah chapter 2 records for us, “And it came to pass in the month Nisan, in the twentieth year of Artaxerxes the king,” (Nehemiah 2:1), Historical documents from the Babylonian era puts this date at March 14, 445 B.C.  This brings us 483 years later, (using Jewish calendars) to April A.D. 32. [1] 

The timing of the arrival of Jesus in Jerusalem was of not just to take in the sites and see family and friends.  The arrival of Christ at this time had significant theological, political, and prophetical implications. Jesus came to Jerusalem during the time of Passover.  This was a special celebration of the Israelites delivery from death.  Passover was a time of special pilgrimage.  Jerusalem’s population of 40,000 would swell to over 240,000 in anticipation of this great festival of thanksgiving. The term Passover comes from the Jewish word Pesach, which means “to pass over”.  In Exodus we are relayed the story of how God delivered the Israelis from slavery in Egypt through 10 plagues, the last of which was death itself.  They were sparred the death of the first born by sacrificing a lamb and spreading it’s blood on the door posts, top, and both sides.  When death came and saw the blood of the lamb, death passed over that house.  Any home that was not covered with the blood of the lamb was entered by death and the life of the eldest son was taken.  So when we consider the offering of Jesus as a lamb for the slaughter, and in whose blood we are covered, we know that death passes over us also.  Death is the penalty for sin.  In Egypt, death was the penalty for disobedience to God.  Sin is disobedience to God.  Let us take a look at the entrance of Jesus into Jerusalem on start of Passion Week and the Passover. What Jesus was about to do in the manor he chose to enter Jerusalem would not only have an effect not only on Jesus and his followers, not the Jewish and Roman leaders, but mankind and all of creation. 

In entering Jerusalem on a little donkey, Jesus declared himself the long awaited Messiah, and the deliverer of Israel and the nations of the earth as promised to Abraham thousands of years in advance.  If you are not familiar with the telling of the events witnessed in scripture you can find them at:

  • Luke 19:29-44
  • John 12:12-19
  • Mark 11:1-10
  • Matthew 21:1-11

I know that some reading this do not have a bible to reference these events so here is Matthew’s account.

And when they drew nigh unto Jerusalem, and were come to Bethphage, unto the mount of Olives, then sent Jesus two disciples, Saying unto them, Go into the village over against you, and straightway ye shall find an ass tied, and a colt with her: loose them, and bring them unto me. And if any man say ought unto you, ye shall say, The Lord hath need of them; and straightway he will send them. All this was done, that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the prophet, saying, Tell ye the daughter of Sion, Behold, thy King cometh unto thee, meek, and sitting upon an ass, and a colt the foal of an ass. And the disciples went, and did as Jesus commanded them, And brought the ass, and the colt, and put on them their clothes, and they set him thereon. And a very great multitude spread their garments in the way; others cut down branches from the trees, and strawed them in the way. And the multitudes that went before, and that followed, cried, saying, Hosanna to the son of David: Blessed is he that cometh in the name of the Lord; Hosanna in the highest. And when he was come into Jerusalem, all the city was moved, saying, Who is this? And the multitude said, This is Jesus the prophet of Nazareth of Galilee.  – Matthew 21:1-11

Both John and Matthew make reference to something. Nestled in their accounts is a reminder of the faithfulness of God and the importance of the study of his Word.  In here is another prophecy from the Old Testament.  The prophet Zechariah proclaimed, “Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion; shout, O daughter of Jerusalem: behold, thy King cometh unto thee: he is just, and having salvation; lowly, and riding upon an ass, and upon a colt the foal of an ass.” (Zechariah 9:9).  Just as a side note, for those of you who have read the Revelation 19 and Zechariah 14:4, John tells us that when Jesus comes at his second coming, that he will place his foot on Mount Olivet.  I think it is no accident that Jesus entered Jerusalem from the direction of the Mount of Olives. 

Now the meaning this manor that Jesus entered Jerusalem was not lost on the Jews nor the Pharisees. The entering of a man into the city on an ass was probably not such a big deal.  This had everything to do with who the man was and what he represented.  Jerusalem was ripe with rumors of a messiah.  They were looking for the return on the throne of David.  They anticipated to have a great man of God to deliver a message from Jehovah.  They desired to have an Israelite above all other Israelis to liberate them from the oppression of Rome and bring God’s judgement to the world.  The fame of Jesus as a man of God was all out the region.  There were witnesses the asserted he could heal the sick, even those afflicted by the incurable diseases like leprosy.  Others told how he had restored sight, a sign that God was with him.  Then there were the ones who told how Jesus had cast out demons, and how he stood up to the religious hierarchy, and that even the authority of the Pharisees could not supersede his.  This man possessed authority both in heaven and in earth.  Then, came the stories of his raising at least two people from the grave.  This man, Jesus of Nazareth, had authority even over death.  Surely this is the Son of David, the Son of God who has come to deliver his chosen people.  Wow what an exciting day!

As Jesus entered into the city in such a symbolic way, the message was receive loud and clear.  The common people of Jerusalem and all of Israel that were gathered began to tear the branches from the trees and lay the branched and their cloaks in to the path of their king.  Like a red carpet event in Hollywood, California, people were in a fanfare of the undeniable message being given to them by Jesus.  They worshiped him and called out loudly, “Blessed be the King that cometh in the name of the Lord: peace in heaven, and glory in the highest.” (Luke 19:38).  The Gospel of St. Matthew gave another point of view of these events when the author wrote, “The crowds that went ahead of Him and those that followed were shouting: ‘Hosanna to the Son of David!’ ‘Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord!’ ‘Hosanna in the highest!’”(Matthew 21:9)  The term “Hosanna” is from the Hebrew hishi’a na and had the intent of “save”, but; the meaning is that of a complete thought.  The expression means, “Salvation, Thank You” and is intended as a show of recognition and gratitude to Jehovah for his “saving us”. It was clearly a great time of jubilationfor Jesus and the crowd.  But not everyone was happy with the proceedings.  The religious leadership in Jerusalem were greatly trouble by this display of public affection for Jesus.  They feared a riot and the inevitable consequences that would be inflicted upon them from Rome, and the challenge to their authority presented in this bold challenge. Surely they must have also feared the wrath of God from the apparent blasphemy of this Jesus of Nazareth. 

The Pharisees quickly challenged Jesus’ motivations for entering Jerusalem in such a public manor; and told him to tell the crowds to be quiet.  They wanted him to deny that he was the messiah and that he was the Son of God.  Instead, Jesus insisted that he is who he is, and that if the crowds were silent then the stones would cry out to give him the honor he deserves.  Wow, can you see this.  Jesus was saying that he is the creator of the world.  Creation itself recognized its creator, but not man.   Jesus in essence told them I cannot deny who I am and even if the crowd did not, then the rest of creation would testify that I am the Son of God, the Word who was in the beginning, the creator of everything that is seen and unseen in heaven and in earth.  This laying of the palm leaves at the triumphant entry of the promised Messiah into the city of Jerusalem, and the confrontation at the gate, marks the beginning of the Passion Week and the advent of Palm Sunday.


[1](Chuck Missler, 11-1-2004, Koinonia House, Daniel’s 70 Weeks: The Precision of Prophecy http://www.khouse.org/articles/2004/552/)

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.    

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…

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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.