2016.10.8 EDITORIAL: An Open Letter To Hillary Clinton Supporters

It is well-known that I oppose Donald trump.  I believe he has the makings of a dictator, and I will not apologize for my opinion.  It is based in the man’s own words.  However, if anyone thinks this makes Hillary Clinton a better choice, that person is an enemy of the United States of America!  Yes, you heard me correctly: if you support Hillary Clinton for President, you are an enemy of the United States of America!

Now, foolish people (Glenn Beck) may try to argue that we shouldn’t use such language because we all have to come together after the election.  I disagree.  There is absolutely no way for an honest person to defend Hillary.  She is the most corrupt politician this country has had in my lifetime (I am 50), and very possibly the most corrupt we have ever had.  The only reason she has not been jailed already is because the people who are responsible for prosecuting her are protecting their own involvement in her most recent crimes.  But this does not change the fact that this woman is corrupt to the core.

If a person knows that a candidate is corrupt. That the candidate refused to send aid to Americans in danger.  That the candidate then put an innocent American in jail to cover up the fact she refused to send help.  If a person supports a candidate who knowingly and intentionally placed classified information in a position where this nation’s enemies would steal it.  If a person supports a candidate they know to be running weapons to this nation’s enemies.  If you support someone who cannot tell the truth, who is an open and unashamed hypocrite and who seeks to eliminate (not just destroy) her enemies.  If you support such a person — a person who is clearly an enemy of this country — then you are knowingly and intentionally lending your support to them, thereby making yourself an enemy of the nation, as well.

Now, if the Apostle, John (whom Jesus loved) tells us that anyone who greets (welcomes/befriends/supports) an enemy of the Gospel, that person participates in their evil (2 John 7 — 11). Therefore, how can we be innocent if we greet/befriend/support someone who is at war with this nation?  We can’t be and we aren’t.  Furthermore, this applies to those who support Trump.  Both candidates have confessed to being enemies of the ideal of America.  Neither of them support the Constitution.  Both have openly opposed it — many times.  Therefore, supporting either candidate is to join with them in their attack on this nation and its laws.  The only difference is that Trump has only said he will go to war with our Constitution, Hillary has repeatedly demonstrated that she already has, and has been since her youth.

As for Mr. Beck: I ask you, sir, how does one ‘come together’ with an enemy of one’s own nation?  I understand the desire to heal the rift, but it is too late for that.  All that can be done now is to remove the evil from among us.  Now, both candidates have said things which would suggest they will both be happy to do that.  I, on the other hand, would not.  The removing and rebuilding is to be left to God, sir.  But it is not for God’s people to join with evil.  Scripture is very clear on this point: when God’s people join with evil, the Lord destroys them along with that evil — every time.  It will be no different for those who join with lawless politicians.  Lawlessness is lawlessness — period!  And any who knowingly and willingly side with ilawlessness become lawless, themselves.

RECOGNIZING THE HAND OF GOD IN OUR DAILY LIVES

I’d like to share some things that have happened in my life and the lives of the people closest to me.  It has happened in just the past few weeks and it shows how the Lord works.  It shows how the Lord uses bad things for the good of those who believe in and trust Him, as well as how He answers prayers and directs our lives.  For me, the events of the last few weeks have been a powerful affirmation of my faith.  This is why I want to share it: to invite other believers to rejoice with me, and to show those who are still in the darkness exactly what the Light looks like and how it works.

This latest episode in my story started a few weeks ago.  I was struggling to finish a major project in my own business when I was informed that I would have to make time to learn how to build my company’s new web site.  In the past, I had always had others help me with this.  I knew nothing about designing a web store, integrating a shopping cart, inputting all of my products and getting it all hosted.  Nor did I have time for it as I was struggling to finish that major project.  However, I had to do both or lose my company, so I did it.  In less than a month, I figured out how to build my new web store and finished my project.

Now, as if that had not been enough, it was during this period that the Lord told me to start reading a book I have had for a while.  I had started to read it several times before and, each time, I was told to put it away.  But, in the middle of struggling to build my new web store and finish my project, the Lord told me to take up this book and start reading it.  So I did, and it lead me to another book that I was also told to read.  I’ll be sharing what I learned with you soon enough, but the point at hand was these two books prepared me to help several friends of mine who were struggling with a spiritual problem that, had I not read these two books beforehand, I might not have been of the right mind to help them when I was called to do so.  The end result was, when it came time, I was mentally and emotionally prepared to do what was asked of me, and I did my part when I was asked.

Now, helping these friends involved a lot of people, including my wife and other members of my immediate family.  The situation was both stressful and emotionally draining, but we all got through it.  Now, keep in mind, I was still building my webs tore and finishing this major project while this was happening.  And on top of this, I was praying to the Lord for guidance in a matter that has been before me for a while.

For some time now, I have felt that the Lord was calling me to a more purposeful service.  I have been praying for His help in understanding what that might be, and I still don’t think He has given me the complete answer.  However, no sooner had I gotten through helping my friends than I was asked to do something else that will take a great deal of my time.  Several readers of this and my other blog have asked me to put large parts of my writing on several topics into pdf format so they can be preserved.  Now, please understand, I am not complaining, and you’ll know that to be true in a moment.  But I am my entire business.  I am a one-man show, so anything that takes me away from my shop takes me away from my primary source of income.  This is why I have been praying and begging the Lord for answers.  What does He want me to do?

Well, last week, yet another reader contacted me to ask how he could help me make these pdf files a reality.  You see, not only will it take time, but there is also a cost connected to it that, frankly, I couldn’t afford right now.  It is not that I am unwilling to pay the cost, it is just that all the time that I was taking away from actually running my business had been costing me money and I simply didn’t have it.  But this other reader offered to pay the start-up cost, and he has.  So I have started working on the changes necessary to move The OYL to an independent hosting site so I can do the things I need to do but which cannot be done if I stay with Word Press.  This is going to take time, time I do not have, but I am going to do it.

There is one last piece of this puzzle to share before I tie it all together for you.  This morning, I went to mix a product I use in my business.  It is rather costly, and, as I have said, my business is under some financial strain right now.  As I was just about finished mixing this product, I realized that I had been shipped the wrong item.  One of the products I was mixing was not correct, but I had already mixed it.  This ruined the whole batch, and I simply did not have the money to replace it which, honestly, would have put me out of business.  But I stayed calm and called my vendor, who had made this same mistake in the past, and I explained what had happened.  The last time, I caught it before I mixed the materials.  This time, I was in a hurry and I didn’t catch it.  So I asked my supplier to help.

Now, while my supplier was asking their manager what they could do for me, I received an order on my web store.  The order came in just minutes after I hung up with my supplier.  I did not look at it, I just printed it and stuck it in my in folder.  A half hour later, my supplier called back and offered me a solution.  In the end, I agreed to pay 1/3 the cost of the mistake.  I still did not know where to get the money, but it was better than having to pay the full cost.  So I hung up and looked at the order that had come in earlier.  It was for $1.50 more than what I had just agreed to pay!

Now, let me tie things together for you.  In the past few weeks, the Lord has shown me that I can trust Him.  He will get me ready for whatever task He has set before me (remember those two books?).  He will answer my prayers and make provisions for whatever will be required to do what He asks me to do (remember my reader who paid to start the changes to this blog?).  He will even take care of my company, thus taking care of me.  You see, when I messed up the mixing of my product today, I literally made it so I cannot work until the 5th.  It will take that long to get replacement product shipped to me and ready for use.  So I was given 4-5 days to set up the new blog page.  On top of that, I received an order for exactly the amount I had to pay to cover the mixing mistake.  So the Lord has shown me that He does want me to serve Him and others by setting up the new blog, and that He will not only direct my actions, but provide the time and money necessary to support my efforts.  And the whole time, I see that I am serving Him by helping others — through my business, through ministry to the people closest to me and through my efforts here on The OYL.

Now, I know other believers will rejoice with me over this because they will recognize God’s hand in it.  But I hope others will see that there was too much here to be simple coincidence.  There were too many ‘moving parts,’ and the timing was too ‘perfect’ for any of this to have been the result of random chance.  This is how the Lord works and I had to share it.  I just hope it helps others to feel firm in their faith or, better yet, come to faith for the first time.

A WARNING TO CHRISTIANS WHO SUPPORT TRUMP!

It has been some time since I have written.  This is because I am learning to write only when prompted, and then, to write only about those things I am told to write.  Please understand, I do not consider myself to be a prophet.  I do not hear predictions or prophecy of the future.  However, since the prophets were also sent to warn, and a great deal of what I am told to write seems to be in the form of a warning, I suppose I may be a prophet of a sort.  But I want you to know I do not see myself that way.  I see myself as someone who simply wants to obey the Lord, which is why I have a warning for all Christians who are supporting Donald Trump.  I pray you will listen.

The most common reason for Christian support for Trump is expressed in words to this effect:

“God used sinners, so He can use Trump.”

OK, if this is true, I have a question: why can’t God use Hillary Clinton the same way?

If God using sinners is a reason to support a man who is not only unrepentant, but boasts about his sin, then why doesn’t that same reasoning work with Hillary Clinton?  The Truth is, if it works with Trump, it works equally well with Hillary Clinton.  So, congratulations, Christian: you just argued for Christian support of Hillary Clinton!

OK, now that we have that out of the way, can we — as believers — get serious about this issue and start letting Scripture guide us?

First, understand that the angel told Daniel a beast is a world government.  That definition has never changed, so there is no reason to believe the beast in Revelation is a person.  Sound Biblical interpretation says the beast in Revelation is a government.

The next thing we need to understand is that, if we are looking to and trusting in government to set things right, then we are worshiping government and not Christ!  (If you fall into this category, I strongly suggest you give some serious consideration to what this might mean in relation to the mark of the beast).

Scripture also tells us not to be un-equally yoked.  In Truth, this means a believer should not join themselves to an no-believer.  Respectfully, I submit that both Trump and Clinton have told us with their mouths and their deeds that they do not follow the Lord.  Understand, I am not saying they do not believe in the Lord, I am saying they have said and done things that clearly demonstrate the Lord is not the Master of their lives.  The question at hand for believers is: “Is the Lord the Master of our lives?”

If the Lord is the Master of our lives, then we are only charged with doing our best to live according to our best understanding of His Word.  The outcome is for Him to decide, not us.  We are to trust in and rely on Him, not government, not ourselves.  This is what it means to let the Lord be the Master of our lives: we must surrender to Him and His plans, not ours.

Scripture is clear on this matter: believers are not to support those who are unrepentant in their sin.  We are to show them the love of Christ by the way we live, but we are not to join ourselves to them.  What the believer must understand is that your vote is an outward sign of support.  Therefore, we must cast our vote accordingly and leave the result to the Lord.  Scripture tells us not to fear, He can and will use all things for the good of those who trust and believe.

For example: as horrible as WW II was for the Jews, the Lord used that tragedy to bring Israel back into existence.  If God can bring such light from such darkness, why should we doubt Him today?  Why should we be trying to take things into our own hands by creating arguments for supporting someone who Scriptures clearly tell us we should stay as far away from as possible?  By arguing such foolishness as “God uses sinners so support Trump,” a believer does little more than Abraham did when he tried to rush things by having a child with Hagar instead of waiting on the Lord to give him a son through Sarah.  The result was not what Abraham intended, and Ishmael became and has remained a thorn in the side of believers ever since.

I’ll close with this.  I am not telling anyone how to vote.  That is not my business.  However, I am warning those who profess to believe in Christ that they should not be tempting the Lord by twisting His Word to support their desires.  If we believe, then we trust Him — not government, not even ourselves, but Him and Him alone.  And if we trust Him, then all we have to do obey His Word as best we can and leave the result to Him.  He is the Master, we are the servant.  Trying to force His hand by acting against His teachings is rebellion, and Scripture is clear about how rebellion turns out.  So why would any believer tempt the Lord by creating twisted reasons to support someone they should recognize as an opponent of God?  How can a person claim to be a believer while making excuses for supporting the ungodly?  It simply does not work, so chose wisely.  As for me and my house, we chose to obey and trust in the Lord.  I pray you will do the same.

AGENDAS: Political Ideologies In America

Recently, I heard a very well known radio talk show host tell his audience not to worry about the meaning of words.  It shocked me for two reasons.  First, this host is well known for telling his audience that “Words mean things,” and then defending the meaning of the word or words in question.  But what shocked me even more was the words in question this time were those words we use to describe the various political ideologies in America today.  What’s more, this host not only told his audience not to listen to anyone who tries to explain what these terms mean and to just accept what he tells his audience they mean.  Well, this has bothered me ever since I heard it — mostly because, after saying these things, this host then proceeded to give a false meaning for many of these terms.  So I had to write to help any who might be interested understand what the terms mean and from whence they came.

First things first: I trust we can all agree that the person who invents or develops an idea is the one who defines that idea.  By this I mean, if you invent something or develop an idea, then you are the ultimate authority on what that idea is and what it means.  No one else has the authority to come along later and tell you that you are wrong, or to change your idea and then assert that they now control it.  It is your idea and you alone define it — period.  Well, the same applies to those men and women who developed the various political ideologies vying for influence in America today.

Now that we have this understanding — that the inventor defines — let us look first at the political ideologies that are all vying for control of the American people.  Keep in mind, I have given generalized definitions which, when investigated, will reveal themselves to be accurate, but not exhaustive.:

Liberalism:

In the United States, this would be our founding fathers.

This has nothing to do with the ‘Liberalism’ of today.  This is why those who know and understand political ideology often refer to it as ‘Classic Liberalism.’  In simple terms, Liberalism is about the individual and individual rights and liberties.  However, Liberalism also contains an inherent sense of personal responsibility and accountability not only to ourselves, but also to each other and to society.  In other words, Liberalism acknowledges duty and accountability to others and to society.  Hence, it is dependent upon a strong moral foundation.

Progressivism:

In the United States, developed by Teddy Roosevelt, then co-opted by Woodrow Wilson.

This is an ideology that is difficult to explain.  In short, it is based on the notion that man can use science to purposely control society and direct human evolution.  hence the use of the term ‘progress’ in the name.  However, in the United States, Woodrow Wilson clearly and forcefully explained that ‘Progressive’ was a term chosen to sell Communism to the American people.  Thus, at least in America, ‘Progressive’ is synonymous with Communism.  But, no matter where it is found, the spirit of Progressivism is the idea that man is his own god and, as such, can direct his own evolution/destiny.

Communism:

Developed by Karl Marx.

In theory, Communism is a political ideology whereby society just naturally agrees on everything and runs itself by this collective conscience of agreement.  However, this is an impossibility.  While social in nature, man is not a collective organism.  Even among collective creatures such as ants and bees, there is a queen.  Thus, in practice, Communism is a derivation of the old system of the son king, or ruler as god.  Only, in this case, government is the god.  Under this system, the government owns and controls everything. Thus leaving those who would control society to fight over control of the government.

Fascism:

Developed and named by Benito Mussolini (whose symbol is that of community organizers today: a fascine, or bundle of small sticks into a larger stick with an axe head built in).

Also called corporatism by Mussolini, this is the primary competitor of Communism.  Whereas in Communism the government owns and controls everything directly, Fascism allows for a cooperation between business and government where private ownership and operation is allowed, but only so long as it is operated in accordance with the will of those running the government.  Otherwise, there is little difference between Communism and Fascism.  Here again, the struggle is to be the one in charge of the State, and hence, the nation.

Libertarianism:

This one has many authors, but one of the most prominent would be Ayn Rand.

This terms is actually a term used to describe a wide range of ideologies which all hold one primary value in common: that of self-interest above all else.  Thus, it is easier to explain what Libertarianism is not.  Most important to understand is that Libertarianism is not Liberalism.  While the Libertarian values the individual, and individual rights and liberties, there is seldom any sense of duty or responsibility to others or to society in the Libertarian ideal.  In general, the Libertarian is all about themselves.  Ayn Rand’s “Fountainhead” is the perfect illustration of the Libertarian ideal, as is “Atlas Shrugged.”

[NOTE: Rand’s ideology is called Objectivism, and is actually a mix of Liberalism and Libertarianism.  Her ideology has influenced the Libertarian and American Conservative movement, although, the American Conservative movement has no real claim tot hat name.]

Conservative:

In the American tradition, developed by Edmund Burke.

Like Libertarianism, Conservatism is another ‘catch-all’ term.  Contrary to modern assertion, Conservatism does not stand for any unique political ideology.  Rather, it is all about holding on to what already is.  In this sense, a Progressive who seeks to hold on to what they have gained is a Conservative.  Likewise, so is a Communist who seeks to hold on to their power, and a Fascist.  A better way to look at Conservatism would be as a traditionalist, or a ‘hold-what-you-have’ type of person.  What Conservatism is not is a positive assertion of any particular political ideology or set of beliefs.

Here is where we have to be discerning.  These are solid operational definitions for each of these ideologies.  But there is a tendency to co-opt or steal the term of one ideology so as to cloak the agenda of another.  For example:

Woodrow Wilson used the term ‘Progressive’ to represent his political agenda.  He spoke in Progressive terms, talking about progress and science and the scientific administration of society.  However, he was also very public in stating that he preferred Communism for America and that he chose to hide his true agenda behind the term ‘Progressive’ because he thought it would be the best way to get America to accept Communism.  Thus, Wilson co-opted ‘Progressivism’ to hide his Communist agenda (and he said so in his own words).

Likewise, today, the American Conservative ‘claims’ to represent the ideology of America’s founding fathers.  However, upon closer examination, one will discover that it doesn’t.  It actually represents the ideology of Teddy Roosevelt’s Progressive movement, which was Fascism by another name.

So, one must be aware of the constant attempt to take the name of one ideology and hide behind it so as to sell a secret agenda to the American people.  This is done because, if the true nature of the hidden agenda were to be known, the American people would reject it.  We can guard against falling into such traps by knowing what each term really means and then looking for its characteristic tells behind whatever term if being used.  If someone starts the “America First’ Party and claims to stand for the individual, but then gets into power and starts to protect the State, or push a globalist agenda, you know you are dealing with Communism.  If they get into power and push the State and nationalism, you are probably dealing with Fascism.  And so forth.

The point is, just know what the people who developed these ideologies said they stand for and look for their tell-tale signs in whatever movement is courting your vote.  This will not guarantee you will not be fooled by a deceiver, but it will make it much more difficult for the deceiver to fool you.

‘Conservatives:’ YOU Made this Bed; Now Sleep in It!

I contribute to a political blog.  In fact, it is where I got my start in blogging.  I have posted less and less pure political commentary here on the OYL, but I share this now because I thought you might find this post of interest:

‘Conservatives:’ YOU Made this Bed; Now Sleep in It!

If you think of yourself as ‘Conservative,’ I beg you to read this post — all of it, to the end.  However, I’ll warn you now, it will be difficult to read and harder to accept.  Still, not only do you need to read what I have to say to you, but you also need to give it some very serious thought, because the people you think of as ‘Conservative leaders’ have been lying to you.  They have helped to cause the mess we’re in, and now they are turning on anyone who refuses to sleep with them in the filthy bed that they have made.  Worse, they are trying to get you to join them in their treason.  So, please, I beg you, read and consider my words.

Read the rest.

UNDERSTANDING SCRIPTURE: Jesus And The Trinity

One of the most difficult aspects to the Christian faith is the notion of the Trinity.  Our Jewish brothers and sisters really get tripped up on this.  They do not see it in the Old Testament.  However, once you understand the Trinity, you will find its ‘shadow’ everywhere in the Old Testament.  It’s just the ‘coming to understand’ part of accepting the Trinity that causes many to stumble.  The Trinity is not about the existence of three separate entities all claiming to be a god.  It is that there are three separate roles or functions of God and they are treated as separate but one at the same time.  I was teaching a class today which furthered the discussion I had in my post on, A Fuller Understanding of ‘The Word,’ and part of my lesson included a new way to look at Jesus’s place in the Trinity.  Apparently, my analogy was effective as I several class members asked me to share my analogy here on The OYL.  So, if you have a moment, I’d like to do just that.

We start by remembering that Jesus is Logos — the totality of all God’s Laws and Ordinances.  Now, think of God, the Father, in terms of yourself.  He, the Father, is what He is (I Am that I Am) just as you are what you are.  Each of you represents the totality of everything of which you are made: body, mind, will, soul, etc..  Now think of Jesus as the sum of all the ways God says things should be.  In relation to you, this would be the sum of everything you believe to be right or wrong, good or bad.  It is the sum of every principle or ideal or notion you hold dealing with how you believe a person should live.  But Jesus is more.  So add the sum of everything you believe about how the world works, as well.  Thus, Jesus is to God as the sum of everything you believe to be true is to you.  Got it?

Now, God made His Logos into flesh, a man.  This is Jesus: God’s Logos born fully man.  Now, you cannot take everything you believe about how the world works and people should live and make it into another person, but you can write it all down into a book!  So, think of Jesus as God’s Logos made into a book of flesh, and everything you believe about the way the world works and people should live as a book.  Now, both — Jesus and your book — are separate things, but, at the same time, they are still one with each other: Jesus is God and your book is you.  In other words, Jesus is separate from the Father, but He is still God, the Father.  Just as your book of what you believe is still separate from you, but it is still you.  Got that?

Now, when Jesus said He only does the Father’s will, and only testifies to what the Father tells Him, this is because He, Jesus, is God the Father, just in the form of a man.  He, Jesus, is everything God, the Father, decreed about how the universe will work and how man should live.  Jesus is the sum total of all God’s Laws.  Just as your book is everything you believe about how the world works and the way people should live.  Your book can only do or be what you wrote — because that is you and, thus, it makes your book you as well.  And your book can only witness or repeat the things you wrote because it is you.  Even though it is separate, it is not a person unto itself.  It has no will, no thought, no ideas, no authority — it has nothing outside of you and what you wrote about what you believe.  Jesus is like this (not the same, but like): Jesus is to God as your book is to you.

Now, think about the analogy we just created.  If God, the Father, is not present, but Jesus is, then God, the Father, is still present.  This is because Jesus is the sum total of the father’s Laws and Ordinances, His teachings, His ways.  In the same way, if I have your book but you are not here, I still have you with me.  Just as Jesus is the embodied Logos of God the Father, your book is a material representation of everything you believe about the world and way people should live.  No one can change them.  Yes, they can try to change the words in your book (or the Bible), but that is all they actually change.  No one actually changes God’s Logos, nor can they change what you believe.  Therefore, all something like this (i.e. changing the words in a book) all that actually does is create a false impression in the mind of the person who made the changes.  It does not change the reality of God’s Logos or what you believe.  This is because God’s Logos is part of Him, just as what you believe is part of you.  Each is one with the whole: Jesus with God and your book with you.  This leaves us with only one part of the Trinity left to explain — The Holy Spirit!

This is actually the easiest part.  The spirit is that which animates you, which gives you life.  When you die, your body does not die at the same time.  You are said to die when your Spirit leaves your body, but your body lives on for a time.  It actually takes days for every cell in your body to die.  Therefore, biologically, when you die, your body does not.  Whether people wish to admit it or not, this is actually evidence of the Spirit.  So, your spirit is that which animates you.  It is the part of you which allows you to work your will; to put your will into action.  Now, God only has to speak and His will is performed, but it is still done through His Spirit.  This is the Holy Spirit: that part of the Father which works His will.  Now, you actually have to write or type or otherwise do something physical to write down your beliefs into your book, but this does not change the relationship.  The Holy Spirit is to God the Father as your spirit is to you.  Both enable the will to act.  An, if you read Scripture carefully, you will find this is exactly what the Holy Spirit does: it performs God’s will.  Jesus was conceived through an act of the Holy Spirit.  In other words, Logos became man through an act of God’s will, His Holy Spirit.  In the same way (not identical, but relational), your book becomes a reality because your spirit enables you to enact or execute your will.

This, then, is the whole notion of the Trinity: not three separate beings all claiming to be gods, but one God — the Father — working through three different aspects of His being (or three different manifestations of His being).  At the same time, this also explains what Scripture means when it says we are made in His image.  We have a body, mind (or will) and spirit (or soul).  Now, there is more to this, as God has a three-fold nature to his character, so do we.  We are made to worship, fellowship and create (in limited fashion), just as God created us to worship Him and fellowship with Him.  The key here is not to limit God by thinking in terms of ‘either this and only this, or that and only that.’  Instead, we need to make God bigger in our minds by saying ‘this and that.’  If ‘this and that’ fir the pattern, then it applies.  Thus, God is love and God is mercy, but God is also a perfect judge; and a perfect judge sentences the guilty without fail or mistake.

Thus, we are wrong not to think of God in terms of all three: love, mercy and judge.  In the same way, we would be wrong to limit our understanding of how we are made in His image, and how we think or the Trinity.  For, if He is God, He is infinite and unlimited in His power.  Therefore, why shouldn’t the Father — if He so chose — manifest His being in three (or even more) ways?  It seems to me that, for the infinitely powerful, this would be a simple thing.  But for us, finite as we are in this world, it may not be so simple to understand…or maybe, to accept.

BIBLE PROPHECY: The Symbolic Significance Of Numbers In Scripture

In my last post, I explained some of the symbolic language used in Scripture, and how to realize when Scripture is actually defining that symbolism.  There is one last piece of the symbolic language of prophecy we need to discuss before we can start a serious study of Bible prophecy.  This is the use of numbers to represent Spiritual concepts or ideas.  This subject is often referred to as ‘numerology.’  I do not like this term because of its connection to what I consider to be an un-Scriptural abuse where people try to assign numbers to every aspect of Scripture and then use that to divine some secret or hidden message.  There are many reasons I reject this practice, but they are the subject for another post.  What I want to discuss is the repetitive use of certain numbers in connection to certain Spiritual themes.

While the use of numbers as symbolic of Spiritual Truths can become a complex subject, it can also be addressed in a short discussion.  This is because we do not need to explore every possible use of numbers and find every possible meaning for them.  The task at hand is simply to make the reader aware that numbers are used as symbolic representations of Spiritual Truths, and this symbolic use regularly appears in prophecy.  I believe this is because the use of symbolic numbers was so important and so well understood by the ancient Hebrew that the prophet simply assumed his audience would be aware of their meaning.

So, how do we know that numbers are used as symbolic representations of Spiritual Truths in Scripture?  By paying attention to the context.  This is actually linked to Hebrew poetry.  Part of the parallelism in Hebrew poetry is the way it is integrated in connection to the meaning of a number.  For example: if something is mentioned seven times within a given section of Scripture, then it could be another way of stressing the number seven without saying ‘seven.’  This could be significant as, in Scripture, the number seven is connected to completion, perfection and God, Himself, as the only completed and perfect Being.  Another significant number would be forty.  Forty is often connected to the concept of trials and/or suffering.  This link will further explain this subject:

Question: “What is biblical numerology?”

And these links will provide you with a few of the more obvious symbolic associations between a given number and a Spiritual Truth:

THE SIGNIFICANCE OF NUMBERS IN SCRIPTURE

The Symbolism of Numbers in the Bible

With my next post, we will start to apply everything we have discussed thus far in this series on Bible prophecy.  We will start in Daniel.

BIBLE PROPHECY: The Bibles Symbolic Language

As I said in my last post, much of the Bible is written to conceal God’s Truths from those who would take it lightly.  Jesus told us not to cast our pearls before swine.  Well, by teaching in parables, He did just that.  In the same way, by giving their prophecies in symbolic language, the prophets ensured that only those who truly seek to understand the Lord’s Word will learn the symbolic language in which much of prophecy is written.  This should not come as a surprise to anyone, especially believers.  Scripture tells us that what is given freely or comes too easily is not held in high regard.  But those things for which we must work and work hard: those things are cherished.  The blessing here is that the symbolic language used by the prophets is all defined in Scripture, you just have to put in the time to read and understand it.   And because Scripture is learned precept upon precept, you will have to read and re-read until the Lord can teach you what you need to know to understand His prophecies.  When you get there, not only will you understand His prophecies better, you will also discover that you have built an intimate relationship with Him along the way.  So now, about that symbolic language.

The first place we should start is with Genesis, then go forward.  There is symbolic language in every book of Scripture, especially so in Psalms.  We must learn to look for it and to recognize it when we see it.

As for the prophets, they will often explain their symbolic language themselves.  If we read closely, we will usually find that the prophet defines the symbolism in his own prophecy.  However, there are exceptions.  Luckily, the prophet usually makes this clear, as well.  For example: when the prophet tells us he was told to “seal up” a piece of what he saw in his vision, the prophet is telling us that part of his prophecy is meant for a later generation.  Most times, if he tells us anything about this part of his vision, the prophet does not explain the symbolism he uses to do so.  This has to be learned later.  Luckily for us, we are very far down the Lord’s story-line, so we have access to a great deal of later prophecy that the ancient prophet may not have had in his day.  We must teach ourselves to look for it.

The perfect example here is found in Ezekiel 4:6 when the Lord tells the prophet he is given ‘a day for a year.’  The definition, itself, is symbolic, but when we read the passage, the context tells us that the prophet was told to lay one day for every year of history that will pass in the fulfillment of this particular prophecy.  There are two things we must take away from this.  First, and most immediate, the number of days the prophet was told to lay equal a number of years in the fulfillment of this prophecy.  These are real-time years in the lives of men; in the history of the Hebrew people.  But the second thing is just as important.  That is, once the Lord defines a symbolic meaning, unless He changes it at a latter date, we do not have the authority to change that meaning! 

Understand, the prophets knew the Scriptures.  There is a great deal of symbolism in Psalms, and the Psalms define the meanings.  So the prophets would just assume their audience knew these meanings.  But the prophets also paid attention to and studied each other.  This is because they wanted to know and understand the Lord’s prophetic language as much as any other.  So, after Ezekiel shared that a day is a year, all prophets after Ezekiel who mention a day in a prophetic timeline should be assumed to be using the day in like manner.  The perfect example here is Daniel’s many prophecies which count days (just to be clear here: not Daniel’s 70 weeks, but his ‘days’ prophecies).

So, we must learn to look for things in Scripture that are used and defined as symbolic in nature.  Once we find a clearly defined symbol, we must not change its meaning in our mind unless and until we find a latter point in Scripture where the Lord changes it.  Outside of this, we simply do not have the authority to change the meaning of something the Lord’s Word has defined.  Finally, we must build all of this upon itself until we can read passages such as this and understand it in this way:

Psalm 1:3  New American Standard Bible (NASB)

3 He will be like [this indicates symbolic language] a tree [one who stands upright, who is righteous] firmly planted by [a]streams of water, [who stands in grace, the Lord’s Word]
Which yields its fruit [good character] in its season
And its [b]leaf does not wither; [is not destroyed; prospers]
And [c]in whatever he does, he prospers.

We should not try to learn all the symbolic terms in Scripture in one bite.  That would only lead to frustration.  The symbolic language in Scripture is very deep, and it can take a lifetime to learn it well.  As Scripture says, precept upon precept.  Just focus on learning a little here and a little there.  The Lord will guide you.  The keys are to just make sure the Scripture clearly defines the meaning of a word, then hold to that meaning until the Lord changes it.  If He does not do so, or add to it, then we do not have the authority to change that meaning.  We must use it every time we encounter it thereafter.  Just make sure the Scriptures are speaking in symbolic terms and not plain language.  Look for the indicators.

Below are a couple links that will help you get started.  My next post will touch on one last aspect of symbolic language we must address before we finally dive into the prophets.  Next post, we look at the meaning of numbers in Scripture.

SOME HELPFUL LINKS

Bible Symbols

Symbol Meanings in the Bible

BIBLE PROPHECY: Know When You Are Dealing With Symbolic Language

The Bible speaks to us in many different literary forms.  Some of the time, it speaks in plain language.  At other times, it speaks to us through poetry.  There are also times when it speaks to us in figurative or symbolic language.  Much of prophecy is in this third form: symbolic.  Naturally, if we do not understand this symbolic language, or worse, if we try to interpret symbolic language literally, we are not only likely, but all but assured to misunderstand the prophet’s message.  Now, God is not a God of confusion, so we might wonder, if nearly one-third of Scripture is prophecy, why did God give it to us in a language that is not readily understood?  I asked Him this very question for many years until one day, it dawned on me.  When asked why He taught in parables, Jesus responded by siting a prophecy that said the Messiah would teach in parables so that the lost would be ever hearing but never understanding.  Not only was He fulfilling prophecy, but Jesus was teaching in a way that would seem foolish to the lost while making perfect sense to the saved.  Why should we expect prophecy to be any different?  God’s Word is designed to make us work to understand.  You have to seek understanding by studying, and studying with a sincere heart.  But, when you do, the Lord’s Word is good: you will find Him, and He will open His Word to you — even His prophecies.  You just have to learn the language.

Now, if prophecy is heavy with symbolic language, how do we learn the meaning of those symbols?  Well, we start by learning to recognize when we are dealing with symbolic language.  If we pay attention (by reading closely), we will find that the prophet usually tells us we are dealing with symbolic language.  The easiest and surest sign is when the prophet tells us he was having a “vision” or was “in the spirit.”  These are positive indications that what follows is likely to be figurative in nature.  But the prophet will usually give us other indications that many believers miss.  We must watch for indicator words.  When the prophet prefaces something with “like” or “like unto,” or “as” or “such as,” the prophet is telling us he is not being literal, but it trying to describe what he is seeing in his vision in terms that his audience will better understand (remember, the prophet’s audience is the ancient Hebrew).

For example: if the prophet tells us he saw something “like a gull,” we should not think he saw a bull, or even something that looked like a bull.  While it is possible, we must remember that, to the ancient Hebrew, the bull was symbolic of strength.  Have you ever wondered why the Hebrews kept making graven images of golden calves or bulls?  It is because the bull is a symbol of strength, so if you are going to make your own god, you would naturally want that god to give the impression of being strong.  Therefore, when a prophet says something was “like a bull,” we should first think like the Hebrew would and think ‘strong‘ or ‘powerful.’

So, before we start learning what the symbols in prophecy mean, we must first learn to recognize when we are dealing with symbolic language.  We do this by watching to see if the prophet tells us that he had a vision or was in the spirit.  But we also do this by watching for words that indicate comparison rather than physical likeness or appearance.  Once we master this, we can start looking for the meanings of the symbols used in Scripture.  This will be the subject of my next post: learning the symbolic language of Scripture.

UNDERSTANDING SCRIPTURE: What Does It Mean To ‘Practice’ Righteousness And Sin?

A brother and good friend of mine posted something on his Face Book page today, and it caused me a great deal of trouble — until after I had obeyed the Lord and written the second of a two-part post on the meanings of ‘The Word’ and TORAH.  Now I have an answer to the thing that troubled me as I read my friend’s post: ‘what does it mean to practice righteousness and sin?’  If you have a moment, I’d like to share the answer I was given with you.

Let me start by sharing the passage my brother posted:

1 John 3:3-10  New American Standard Bible (NASB)

And everyone who has this hope fixed on Him purifies himself, just as He is pure.

Everyone who practices sin also practices lawlessness; and sin is lawlessness. You know that He appeared in order to take away sins; and in Him there is no sin. No one who abides in Him sins; no one who sins has seen Him or [a]knows Him. Little children, make sure no one deceives you; the one who practices righteousness is righteous, just as He is righteous; the one who practices sin is of the devil; for the devil [b]has sinned from the beginning. The Son of God appeared for this purpose, to destroy the works of the devil. No one who is [c]born of God practices sin, because His seed abides in him; and he cannot sin, because he is [d]born of God. 10 By this the children of God and the children of the devil are obvious: [e]anyone who does not practice righteousness is not of God, nor the one who does not love his brother.

Next, let me clearly state the issue that caused me so much trouble:

John, whom Jesus loved, appears to be telling us that anyone who sins practices sin, and therefore, is of Satan.  Only those who practice righteousness are of God.  However, Scripture also tells us that no one is righteous but God.  So, at first glance, it would appear as though John is telling us that no one is righteous, and therefore, no one is of God.  The natural conclusion from this is that no one is or will be saved.  However, Scripture tells us otherwise.  So, how do I resolve this conflict, and what does it mean for me, personally?

I must confess, this has bothered me for some time.  I know I sin.  I have several areas where I struggle greatly, and even when I am thinking of doing something I know I should not, and the Holy Spirit is telling me I am about to sin, I do it anyway.  So, when I read John’s words, I cannot explain the anguish I feel within me.  John seems to be telling me I do not really love Jesus, and that I am a sinner.  So what hope do I have?

Luckily, the Lord has set it on my heart to study His word and share what He reveals to me through my blogging.  As part of my studies, I have been studying the ancient Greek and Hebrew languages in which Scripture was originally written.  I have also been studying ancient Hebrew culture, so as to better understand Scripture by putting it closer to its proper context.  So, when I read my brother’s Face Book post this morning, I did not realize it, but the Lord was already helping me work out the answer to my struggles.

As I said, I wrote a two-part post on the fuller meaning of ‘The Word’ (logos) and the original meaning of TORAH.  Now, I offer this caution: these two posts are not for new believers.  Unless you understand what it means to ‘chew tough meat,’ I would suggest the reader seriously consider skipping those posts.  But the answer to the trouble in my heart over what ‘practice’ means was given to me this morning as I finished the second of the two-part post.  What’s more, the Lord also gave me a way to explain it that will not shake the faith of a new believer.

Regular readers will know that I stress the meaning of words quite frequently.  This is because many solutions to needless problems can be found in understanding what the words we use actually mean.  So, let’s look at the word, ‘practice:’

Full Definition of practice

Simple Definition of practice

  • : to do something again and again in order to become better at it

  • : to do (something) regularly or constantly as an ordinary part of your life

  • : to live according to the customs and teachings of (a religion)

OK, so, using the definition above, what does it mean to ‘practice’ righteousness and sin?

Do I try to be better at sinning?  No!  I try to do better at being righteous.  So, in this way, I ‘practice’ righteousness, not sin.

Do I try to sin as a regular or normal part of my life?  No!  I know I sin, even when I do things that I do not realize are sins (we all do this: we see those things we recognize as sin, but then we do things that we do not realize are also sin, so we miss a great deal of the sin in our lives).  No, I try to make righteousness a routine in my life.  So, in this way, I ‘practice’ righteousness, not sin.

Do I live according to sin?  No!  I recognize sin and I reject it when I do — even as I catch myself doing it, I reject it.  At the same time, I try to live according to righteousness.  So, in this way, I ‘practice’ righteousness, not sin.

So, according to the definition of ‘practice,’ I do not ‘practice’ sin, but righteousness.  However, here is a word of warning:

It is not the same for someone who thinks they are practicing righteousness when they follow their own idea of right and wrong.  The only thing that is righteous is God and God’s Law (i.e. the narrow path).  Any deviation from this path is lawlessness, and, as John explains, sin and lawlessness are the same.  Therefore, no matter how ‘good’ a person may believe themselves to be, unless they are trying to follow God’s path, they are still lawless, and thus, they practice sin.

Now, I realize that, to human understanding, this sounds narrow-minded.  I am declaring that there is only one path to righteousness, and that this path is Jesus and only those who follow this path are ‘good.’  Well, yes!  That is exactly what I am saying, but then, it is not me who says this, but God, Himself.  I am merely defending the Word of God (i.e. logos).

Also, the believer still has to realize that this does not excuse our sin.  When we stray from the narrow path, we sin, and the price for sin is death!  So, even if we get back on the narrow path, we still deserve death — even if we only stray that one time!  This is where faith comes in to the equation.  We have to walk the narrow path by faith, focusing on staying on that path and trusting that the Lord will work out the rest.  We will all stray from the path (sin), and once we do, we are eternally tarnished: there is nothing we can do to wash away our guilt.  Only Jesus can do that, and that is where we have to place our faith/trust/hope.

If you have read and understood my two-part post of ‘The Word’ and TORAH, my language here is probably making even more sense to you.  You know I see Jesus, ‘the law’ and the narrow path as being the same things.  But even if you have not read those two posts, I pray you can see what it means to ‘practice’ sin vs. righteousness.  Also, remember that those who are lost (off the narrow path) cannot see that they are lost.  They see only their own desires.  So, if you can see and admit you are sinning, that is a good indication that you at least know where the narrow path is, and the directions for staying on it (the Lord’s commands).  If you care about staying on that narrow path, and following His directions for staying on it, even if you sin from time to time, you are practicing righteousness.  However, if you do not see the path or acknowledge His directions for getting on and staying on it, or even if you do see them but do not care to heed them, then you are practicing sin (lawlessness).

I hope this will help the reader.  I know it has helped me.  It has put my heart at ease.  It does not release me from working to stay on the path by following the Lord’s directions; it helps me to know which I practice: righteousness or sin.  I pray it will do the same for you.

UNDERSTANDING SCRIPTURE: What Did ‘TORAH’ Originally Mean?

A WORD OF CAUTION: This post is not intended for new believers.  It is meant for those who are already used to chewing ‘tough meat.’  If you do not immediately understand that reference, you might want to seriously consider skipping this post.

This post is a continuation of the discussion I started in my post about the fuller meaning of logos, usually translated as ‘The Word.’  In my studies of ancient Hebrew, I encountered something that, at first, might seem to be a false teaching.  However, the more I have studied it and prayed on it, the more I have become convinced it is actually true.  What did I discover?  I found that, just as with the original meaning of the word, logos, the meaning of ‘TORAH’ has changed over time — and the change is significant. Continue reading “UNDERSTANDING SCRIPTURE: What Did ‘TORAH’ Originally Mean?”

BIBLE PROPHECY: Ancient Hebrew Poetry

This is the 9th post in a series I am writing about end times prophecies in the Bible.  If you would like to read the earlier posts, the series starts here.

The last thing we have to discuss before we can start taking a serious look at Biblical prophecy is the use of Hebrew poetry in prophecy.  Even in the best cases,  it can be difficult to understand exactly what the poet means by the words he uses.   And this is true even when the poetry is based in something as easily recognized as meter and rhyme.  But ancient Hebrew poetry is not based in meter and rhyme, but in parallelism.  And even then, there are different forms and levels of parallelism.  In fact, ancient Hebrew poetry often has nested layers and forms, all within the same poem.  The Book of Revelation is such a book, and so are Isaiah and Daniel.  Now, if we do not understand the poetry being used, then how can we possibly expect to properly understand the prophet’s message?  The answer should be obvious: we can’t.  Therefore, let’s look on several forms of parallelisms found in ancient Hebrew poetry.

The first thing I want the reader to understand is that this is a very deep and complicated subject, and the source of a great deal of confusion — even among the most studied of Biblical scholars.  I do not pretend to have any special insight or understanding.  At best, I am providing a very rudimentary and — if I might add — clumsy outline of this subject.  My hope is for nothing more than to make the reader aware of just how deep the subject of Hebrew poetry runs through the Scriptures, and — if I’m lucky enough — to spark an interest in the reader that will lead to more in-depth, personal study of the matter.  Now, with that said, let’s look at parallelism in Scripture.

The first thing we need to understand is that there are many forms of parallelism in Hebrew poetry.  It can be as simple as re-stating two or more central ideas, only each time they are re-stated, they either add additional information or describe something from a different perspective.  On top of this, the grammatical structure can also be parallel, even within another set of parallel passages.  For example:

Proverbs 6:20-22  New American Standard Bible (NASB)

20 My son, observe the commandment of your father
And do not forsake the [a]teaching of your mother;
21 Bind them continually on your heart;
Tie them around your neck.
22 When you walk about, [b]they will guide you;
When you sleep, [c]they will watch over you;
And when you awake, [d]they will talk to you.

These parallels can also be contrasts to each other.  One line may say one thing, then the next line could express an opposite idea.  For example:

Proverbs 11:1  New American Standard Bible (NASB)

Contrast the Upright and the Wicked

11 A false balance is an abomination to the Lord,
But a just weight is His delight.

Still other parallels can come in the form of a ,stair case,’ where the expressions used constantly intensify the central idea:

Proverbs 29:1-2  New American Standard Bible (NASB)

Warnings and Instructions

29 A man who hardens his neck after much reproof
Will suddenly be broken [a]beyond remedy.
When the righteous [b]increase, the people rejoice,
But when a wicked man rules, people groan.

However, there are two forms of parallelism which must be considered central to any attempt to study and understand prophecy.  These are the chiasim and the bifid.  Once we understand these two major forms of Hebrew poetry, we will realize that many of the books in the Bible are bifids, and a great many more contain chiasims.  So, what are bifids and chiasims?

Let’s take the bifid first.  Simply put, a bifid is a book that is divided in the middle, with each half telling the same story, only in a different way.  Isaiah is a bifid.  If you read critiques, you will find that many people have questioned whether or not the latter half of Isaiah was actually written by Isaiah.  They rightly point to some differences between it and the first half.  But their mistake is in not understanding that Isaiah is a bifid.  It stops in the middle, then starts from the beginning and retells the whole story all over, just with different information and a different perspective.  Daniel is also a bifid, but it is easier to recognize — if you read it in its original languages.  That’s right, Daniel was originally written in two different languages.  The first half is written in Chaldean and is addressing the Gentile world.  The second half is in Hebrew and addresses the Hebrew people.  Finally, the easiest bifid of all to recognize is Revelation.  It starts with Christ clearly stating that he is addressing His prophecy to the Church.  Then, in the middle of Revelation, Christ tells John that he (John) must prophecy again only, this time, he (John) is to address the Gentiles.  In all three cases, Isiah, Daniel and Revelation, both halves of the books tell the same story, only to different audiences and with different information.

Then there is the chiasim.  Most believers have heard chiasims before, but you may have never been taught that is what they are.  Simply put, a chiasim is like an ascending and descending scale.  The chiasim will address two or more ideas on the way up the scale, then address those same ideas again as it goes back down the scale, only, this time, it addresses them in reverse order.  One of the most well known chiasims in Scripture is “Your ways are not Mine, My ways are not yours.”  See how it goes up two steps, then back down two steps?  Here is another example:

Proverbs 11:19-20  New American Standard Bible (NASB)

19 He who is steadfast in righteousness will attain to life,
And he who pursues evil will bring about his own death.
20 The perverse in heart are an abomination to the Lord,
But the blameless in their [a]walk are His delight.

Chiasims are probably the hardest form of ancient Hebrew poetry to recognize.   This is because the poets often place breaks between the steps, breaks where they discuss other things.  Chiasims can also be spread throughout several chapters or even an entire book (of half of a book in the case of a bifid).  And we cannot rely on the numbering system in our Bibles, either.  We must remember they were added much later, and are not part of the original texts.   So chiasims can be difficult to spot, and even when we find them, they can be difficult to follow.  For example, Genesis 1:1 through 2:3 is written in the form of a chiasim.  There are also two parallel chiasims in Revelation, one in each half of the book.  On top of those two chiasims in the bifid that is Revelation are also three parallels of seven, with nested parallels within those seven.  So the reader should understand that, if one does not know about and have some concept of ancient Hebrew poetry, one is very unlikely to understand what the poet was trying to tell us.

OK, if you have been following me through all my posts on Biblical prophecy to this point, you should be starting to get the idea that there is much more to the language of prophecy than simply reading the English translation.  And on top of everything I have discussed so far, I still haven’t mentioned the symbolic language or numerology written into prophecy.  Now, if this is frustrating for you, I assure you, I understand. I can see how it might appear as though there’s no use even trying to study prophecy.  I mean, how can we study it when we have to learn all this other stuff before we even begin with the prophets?  Luckily, the prophets actually left us a great many clues that serve as sign posts to help us navigate our way through their prophecies.  So, this is where we will finally start our actual study of the prophets and their prophecies: with the ‘sign posts’ they left for us.

You can find the next post in this series here.

ADDITIONAL READING ON ANCIENT HEBREW POETRY

Bifids & Chiasims

Poetry in the Hebrew Bible

How Ancient Hebrew Poetry Works: A New Description

The Key to Biblical Poetry

BIBLE PROPHECY: The Ancient Hebrew Language

This is the 9th post in a series I am writing about end times prophecies in the Bible.  If you would like to read the earlier posts, the series starts here.

The ancient Hebrew language was very different from its modern form.  Not only was it a ‘sense-based’ language, originally, its written form was also hieroglyphic.   This means the language was based in concrete terms, which to the ancient Hebrew would mean terms familiar to a semi-nomadic, agricultural society.  The hieroglyphics are just a natural outflow of this ‘pictorial’ form of thinking.  It also lead to a language where two letter root words were used to form the basis of an entire family of words with similar or related meanings.  Naturally, there is a great deal more to the ancient Hebrew language, but the way it relates to and is connected to the lifestyle of the ancient Hebrew is what is most important to understanding Biblical prophecy.

First, we will look at the hieroglyphic nature of ancient Hebrew.  The word, or pictograph for ‘strength‘ was a drawing of a bull’s head (see additional reading links below).   To the Hebrew, the strongest animal he had at hand was the bull, so, naturally, to a sense-based mind, the bull would be a symbol of strength.  Likewise, the word or symbol for ‘house‘ was a drawing depicting the layout of an ancient Hebrew tent.  Now, even though these are words, in ancient Hebrew, they are also letters.  The image of each letter implies an image, and the meaning attached to that image is understood as the meaning of the word.  So, when we put the bull’s head and the tent together, we get ‘strength of the house,’ which is the Hebrew word for husband or father.

 Reading right to left:

= strength    = house

= husband or father

Another example would be a phrase found in the Bible, “The Lord is slow to anger.”  The ancient Hebrew does not actually say this.  The Hebrew word for ‘anger‘ is ‘nose.’  So the original Hebrew actually says “The Lord is slow to nose.”  Now, remember what we said about ancient Hebrew being concrete, or pictorial in nature.  When we get angry, we tend to breath faster and heavier, which causes our nostrils to flare.  So, to the ancient Hebrew, nose (and nostril, which is related) are connected to anger.  Now, let’s look at one last example:

The Hebrew words for deer and oak also hold the meaning of strength or leadership.  The deer was seen as one of the strongest animals in the forest, and the oak as one of the strongest woods.  So these words are often used to refer to strong leaders.  Now, think about how this changes the meaning of a phrase such as:

Psalms 29:9

“The voice of the Lord makes the deer to calve.”

or according to another translation:

“The voice of the Lord twists the oaks.”

What the Psalmist was actually saying is:

“The voice of the Lord makes strong leaders turn [from their ways, to the Lord’s].

So you can see how not understanding the nature of ancient Hebrew can and does cause confusion in understanding Scripture — and doubly so when trying to read prophecy.

Now, when we read modern Scripture, a lot of this has been translated for us, so we don’t run into these sort of problems nearly as often as they actually appear in the original texts.  This is because others, who are familiar with the ancient Hebrew language, have translated the ancient texts so that we may better understand them.  However, by trying to put things in more modern terms, these translators, as well meaning as they are, have inadvertently made it more difficult to understand the more difficult parts of Scripture.  Part of the trouble is found in the way ancient Hebrew was written.  Originally, Hebrew had no vowels.  The reader had to use the context of the rest of the text to help them chose the correct word and then fill in the vowels mentally.  Given than many words have the same spelling when the vowels are left out, this allows for mistranslations, even in the time of the original author.  Throw in the problems of culture and the nature of prophetic vision and you can see how easily even the most well-meaning people can get confused while trying to put ancient Hebrew into modern terms. This is why we must study the original culture and language: so that we can better understand the subtle nuance of the original message [It is also something you teacher out there should make an effort to teach you flock].

So, what should we take away from this?  Well, if nothing else, we should understand that the prophet or scribe probably has a different meaning from that of a literal interpretation.  It also means that the Scriptures are not as ‘garbldie-gook‘ (as one Atheist put it to me) as many like to believe.  It just means we do not understand the language, and, if we do not understand the language, we should not expect to get a clear understanding of the message.  Once again, it would be like trying to explain computers to someone from the 19th Century and wondering why they do not understand.  To them, you might be using English words, but they would not have the reference frame necessary to understand what you were telling them.  Well, we are no different, only the time line is reversed: in our case, the ancients are trying to explain spiritual matters to a culture that has largely rejected the idea that such a thing as the Spirit world even exists.

Now that we have touched a little bit on the subject of how the ancient Hebrew language worked, the next thing we need to do is have a brief look at some of the more artistic uses of the language.  This will be the subject of our next post: Hebrew poetry.

You can find the next post in this series here.

ADDITIONAL READING ON ANCIENT HEBREW LANGUAGE

The Philosophy of the Hebrew Language

Introduction to Ancient Hebrew

The Culture of the Hebrew Language

The Ancient Pictographic Hebrew Language

A Brief History of the Hebrew Language

 

AN INTERESTING NOTE ABOUT PICTORIAL HEBREW

Archeology has discovered several ancient Hebrew pictographs for the name of the Messiah.  Now, they do vary a bit, but no one can make the claim that these various spellings mean they are different names.  This is because all of the different spellings come from the same root word, which means that they are all related.  This is the nature of Hebrew.  But one of the most frequent spellings shows the pictograph for ‘behold‘ or ‘look,’ then ‘the highest man‘ then the symbols for ‘tent peg,’ which means ‘to fasten‘ or ‘nail,’ and then a letter which is literally the symbol of the cross.  So, from right to left, it literally says the name of the Messiah is “Behold, the highest man, nailed to a cross.”  Another related spelling for the Messiah literally reads “Behold, hand, behold, nailed.”  In fact, every variation of the spelling for Messiah depicts some picture of a man or hands being nailed, often to the Hebrew letter, ‘tav‘ which looks exactly like a small case ‘t‘, or a cross.  Now, keep in mind, that was written 1500+ years before Christ was crucified, and at least 750 years before crucifixion was even invented!  That, my dear reader, is prophecy literally written into the very fabric of the language God’s chosen people spoke!

HavetPicture

This should be a testimony to both Hebrew (i.e. Jew) and skeptic alike that Jesus is the Messiah, and as Messiah, He is God!

UNDERSTANDING SCRIPTURE: A Fuller Understanding Of ‘The Word’

Most believers are familiar with the words of John 1:1-5: “In the beginning there was the Word.”  Today, we understand ‘The Word‘ to mean Jesus, but I fear we have lost a great deal of John’s original meaning.  It isn’t so much that this loss has changed anything, but more like it has robbed us of something more.  If you have a moment, I’d like to explain.

First, we have to understand that the Scriptures are the Word of God.  As such, He will preserve them.  This is why, no matter how often skeptics try, no one has yet been able to show that the Scriptures have been altered over time.  When the Dead Sea Scrolls were found, they affirmed that the Scriptures we have today are nearly identical to those from 200 B.C.  Other ancient fragments of Scripture have dated to even earlier periods, and they have affirmed the same thing: Scripture has been preserved

[The preservation of God’s Word is actually directly connected to the subject at hand.  I hope you will see how by the end of this post.]

Now, Satan (which means adversary, or accuser) cannot change this.  God wills that His Word be preserved, so there is nothing Satan can do about that: His Word (i.e. the Scriptures) will be preserved — period!  So how can Satan combat this?  The same way he always has: through deception.  As in the case with Even in the Garden, this deception often comes in the form of perversion, or twisting of the Truth (telling of half-truths, or part of the Truth in a way that produces a false impression or conclusion).  Well, I believe this is what has happened in the case of John 1:1-5.  Only, in this case, it is not so much that Satan has twisted the meaning of John’s original words as it is that Satan has taken away a great part of their original meaning.  Here’s why I say this.

First, read the passage in its original Greek (you will have to follow the link for the original Greek):

John 1: 1-5  New American Standard Bible (NASB)

The Deity of Jesus Christ

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. [a]He was in the beginning with God. All things came into being through Him, and apart from Him nothing came into being that has come into being. In Him was life, and the life was the Light of men. The Light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not [b]comprehend it.

Notice that the original Greek does not say ‘word,’ but ‘logos.’  Now, you might say that this is the same thing, since ‘logos‘ means ‘word’ (or Word of God).   However, that is not what ‘logos‘ meant when John first used the term.  Remember, John was written in the 1st Century, and he was using 1st Century Greek.  Therefore, we should understand that the meaning of a word then is not necessarily the meaning of that word today.  When we look, we discover this is precisely the case here.  John actually re-assigned a meaning to the word, ‘logos,’ so that now, today, we understand it to mean ‘the Word of God.’  But what did ‘logos‘ mean in John’s day and how might that original meaning affect our understanding of John’s original message?

Remember, when John is writing, he is in the time when the Greek philosophers were at the height of their influence.  John is in a world dominated by Greek culture, and he is writing in Greek.  At that time, ‘logos‘ was understood to refer to the controlling principle in the universe.  So, why would John use this term?  Look at the rest of the verses:

In the beginning was ‘the controlling principle of the universe.’  Paul explains what this ‘controlling principle‘ is in Romans 1 & 2.  Paul calls it Natural Law.  Today, we think of it as ‘the laws of physics,’ but here is the point of my post: the laws of physics are only part of God’s Natural Law.  Which then means, today, we have lost a good part of our understanding of what John meant by “The Word.”  That lost part has been taken away.

Now, keep reading.  John tells us that ‘logos‘ existed in the beginning.  This means before the creation of the universe (keep reading, you’ll see this is what he means).  And that ‘logos‘ was not only withTheos‘ (the One True God), but that ‘logoswasTheos.’  Therefore, ‘logos‘ is with God and is God.  Now, let’s try to put this in more modern terms.

John has just told us that the sum total of all the laws which govern this universe are part of The One True God.  This means all the laws of physics, the laws governing logic, mathematics, economics, society — everything: all these laws are part of ‘logos,’ and thus, they are God.  Got it so far?  Now keep reading.

Next, John tells us that all things were created through this ‘logos.’  The Greek word translated ‘created‘ here is ‘ginomai,’ which means ‘to bring into being.’  So, John is literally telling us that this sum total of governing laws he calls ‘logos‘ is the means by which God created everything that has ever been created.  The very first thing we should note is that this excludes God and ‘logos,’ which means they are not ‘created’ beings.  But now, let’s put this into more modern terms.

John started by telling us that the ‘governing force‘ which he calls ‘logos‘ is part of The One True God.  It is the sum total of all laws which control everything that has ever been created.  And that it is through this sum total of governing laws that everything which has ever been was created in the first place.  Now think about what that means.  We do not doubt that we are using the laws of physics when we create something, so why should it surprise us when John tells us God did the same thing in creating the universe?  God, as the author of these governing laws — logos — uses them (logos) to create everything He has ever created.  Simple, right?  It should be.  It just means the Law Giver uses His own laws to work His will.  Now, what does this give us so far?

Logos (the governing force of the universe) existed — with God — before anything was ever created.

These governing principles are God (it must be, as it was not created, therefore, it must have always existed, which, by definition, makes it God).

And that it is through this governing set of principles that God created everything He has ever made.

Now, finish the passage.  John finishes by telling us that in this ‘governing force‘ (logos) is life, also referred to as the light.  The Greek word here for ‘life‘ is ‘zōē.’  This refers to the spiritual life of deliverance from the proper penalty for sin.  In other words, this ‘zōē‘ is eternal life — salvation — and refers to all those who will ever be redeemed.  Now, let’s wrap up:

In his original Greek, John was telling us that Jesus is much, MUCH more than just God as man.  Jesus is the governing principle by which all things that have ever been or ever will be are made.  Paul later tells us that it is through Christ (this same governing principle) that all things are also sustained.  John tells us that this ‘logos’ is not only with God, but is God.  So God and ‘logos‘ are one, but thought of as also being distinct from each other.  This is not so difficult to accept.  Your thoughts and words are one with you, but they are also separate things.  How do you know that to be true?  Because you speak of them as being part of you, but also distinctly separate from you in your own speech.  So why should John speak of Jesus any differently?  Finally, John tells us that it is through this governing principle, logos, that true redemption is found.  Thus, Jesus becomes the light of the world, and all those who do not understand and accept Him are lost in darkness.

Now, there is something more I want to share, and it is directly related to John 1: 1-5.  However, it is going to have to keep until my next post on this subject.  Until then, the point I want to make is this:

Over time, the meaning of ‘logos‘ changed.  Today, we understand it to mean ‘The Word,’ or, Jesus.  But originally, logos communicated a much deeper understanding of Who Jesus actually is.  By stealing this understanding away, Satan has prevented us from grasping this deeper understanding.  However, by returning to the original meaning of the word, logos, we do not change our modern understanding of Christ.  That remains.  Nothing I have just explained changes Who Jesus is in any way.  All it does is expand our understanding of Jesus.  It makes Him bigger, and that is what Satan wants.  He does not want us to understand just how big God actually is, so Satan steal away little pieces of our understanding, or he gets in the way so that we never gain them in the first place.

In my next post on this subject, I will try to explain how the ancient Hebrew’s original concept of God is directly tied to the way John used the term, logos, to describe Jesus, and to the way Jesus described Himself.

BIBLE PROPHECY: The Ancient Hebrew Culture

This is the 8th post in a series I am writing about end times prophecies in the Bible.  If you would like to read the earlier posts, the series starts here.

The culture of the ancient Hebrews has all but been erased.  Today, the closest thing we have to this ancient culture are the Bedouins.  Like the Bedouins of today, the ancient Hebrews lived in a culture of semi-nomadic tribes of  farmers and herdsmen.  They traveled in small, familiar groups, lived in tents made of goats hair tarps and had few material possessions.  Their wealth was measured in terms of children and the size of their herds.  As such, they were used to living in the wilderness.  Their lives consisted of traveling from watering hole to watering hole and pasture land to pasture land, all according to the seasons and the rains they brought.  As desert dwellers, the lives of the ancient Hebrew literally depended upon the rain, so everything about their lives was focused on the rain and the life-sustaining crops that it yielded.

Consequently, it is no surprise that the ancient Hebrew tended to stress the importance of rain.  But not only the rain: he also placed a great deal of importance on the crops and pasture lands the rain provided.  To the ancient Hebrew, the three were all connected to the continuation of his life and the lives of his family, and that connection was further extended to his dependence upon God to provide those life-giving rains.  Thus, the ancient Hebrew didn’t think, he knew that his life was entirely dependent upon the Lord.  If the Lord held back the rain, the ancient Hebrew was in peril of dying.  Given this, it is only natural that we should expect to see the ancient Hebrew relating to God through  images connected to their way of life and, more importantly, the things which God provided to sustained their material lives.

The ancient Hebrew was also thought in material or concrete terms.  To him, if you could not see, taste, smell, hear or feel it, then it made little sense.  This is not to say he did not have any understanding of the abstract, because he did.  The ancient Hebrew was very religious, and by its very nature, religion is an abstract thing.  It just means that the ancient Hebrew tended to use concrete imagery to describe and discuss abstract thing.  Here again, if we do not understand this concrete way of thinking and we try to overwrite our modern world view, which is so rooted in the abstract, we are not likely, but guaranteed to misunderstand the ancient Hebrew Scriptures.

The ancient Hebrew also thought of time in a very different way than we do today.  Today, we think of time as being a linear thing, with a starting point and moving constantly forward.  Thus, we think in terms of ‘past,’ ‘present’ and ‘future.’  But the ancient Hebrew did not think this way.  To him, there was only those things that ‘had already manifested’ (i.e. had already came to be, or happened) and those things which ‘were yet to manifest’ (i.e. had not yet came to be, or happen).  Given that the ancient Hebrew would have thought this way, then we should expect that he would have communicated with this assumption in mind, as well.  Therefore, if we try to force our modern, linear perspective of time over top the ancient Hebrew Scriptures, we are not likely to misunderstand, we are all but guaranteed to misunderstand.

Another interesting characteristic of the ancient Hebrew is that he was an excellent historian in a time when man had not yet started to care about history.  In fact, it could be argued that the ancient Hebrews were the fathers of modern history.  Before them, men did record things, but they usually only recorded things to glorify some important person or event, and even then, they tended to embellish what actually happened, and/or leave out the negative.  This is not the case with the ancient Hebrew.  To him, the history of his people was his religion: the two were inseparable.  Consequently, he recorded everything — good and bad — as accurately as he could because, in his eyes, that history was a record of God’s Hand in the lives of his people.

This brings us to the final point I’d like to make about the ancient Hebrew culture, which is that their faith was central to everything they did.  It was their very existence.  In the mind of the ancient Hebrew, everything he did was part of a relationship with the Lord.  Thus, to live a righteous life was to live in harmony with the Lord’s ways.

Now, all of this should naturally be expected to reflect in the way the ancient Hebrews spoke, and, as we will see in my next post, it is.  But, for now, we should understand that, just as our dependence upon technology influences the way we see and relate to the world, the ancient Hebrew’s dependency on God to provide rain shaped and influence the way he saw the world.  And, just as we work the things of our daily lives into the way we communicate, the ancient Hebrew worked the familiar things of his daily life into the way he communicated, including his writings — and, yes, even Scripture.

You can find the next post in this series here.

ADDITIONAL READING ON ANCIENT HEBREW CULTURE

The Ancient Hebrew Culture

The Nomadic Lifestyle of the Ancient Hebrews

Hebrew Society, History, Religion, and Texts

BIBLE PROPHECY: Get Into The Sandals Of The Prophet

This is the seventh post in a series I am writing about end times prophecies in the Bible.  If you would like to read the earlier posts, the series starts here.

Having written a six-post introduction to my series on Biblical prophecies, it may seem that it is time to start getting into the prophecies, themselves.  Unfortunately, we’re not quite ready to do that. That’s because we have to learn the language of prophecy before we can study prophecy.  Now, that may sound absurd, but it isn’t.  That’s because — in this case — I am using a much more expansive meaning of ‘language.’  I do not mean that we have to learn Hebrew and Greek, or any of the languages into which the Scriptures are translated.  No, I mean we have to understand everything connected to the way the prophets tried to communicate their visions.  To do this, we not only need to understand their written and spoken language, but also their culture.  Only by studying these things can we hope to place the prophets’ messages in their proper context.  So, before we can understand the language of prophecy, we have to learn how to put ourselves in the prophets’ sandals (so to speak).  We do this by addressing three general areas, all of which are connected to the language of any given culture and time:

First, we have to understand that all of the prophets were Hebrews (i.e. Jews), and they were writing from a Hebrew perspective and to a Hebrew audience.  Therefore, we have to learn something about the Hebrew culture.  Otherwise, we may miss the cultural references written into prophecy.  This is especially important for those of us who have been raised in the Western world, as we have inherited a Greek mindset, whereas the ancient Hebrew was of a Middle Eastern mindset.  The two are very different.  The primary difference being that the Greek mind tends to think in abstract terms, whereas the Middle Eastern mind tends to think in more concrete terms.  If we do not understand the differences, though we may read the Scriptures with sincere desire to understand, we will likely never understand their fullest meaning simply because we do not understand the cultural divide.

Next, we have to understand the Hebrew language.  In many ways, language and culture are interconnected: each helps to shape and define the other.  This would also include things like idioms, allegories  and figures of speech and the way they are connected to a given culture. It is no different with the ancient Hebrew culture and language.  The need to understand the ancient Hebrew culture and language is made all the more important when we realize that the ancient Hebrew only had some 8,500 — 9,000 words in his entire language, and those words were all based in relation to a nomadic culture that saw the world in concrete terms.    Now consider what this meant to the ancient prophet who was told to describe Spiritual things (which are inherently abstract in nature) to a people who thought in concrete terms.  Not only did the prophet have to explain something alien to the Hebrew mind, but he had to do so using a language that was based in concrete thinking.  Think of it like this: how would you explain computer programming to someone who has never seen a computer, and how would you explain it without using any of the language computer programmers use to describe what they do?  If you can imagine how difficult that task might be, then you will have some idea of the task that was handed to the prophets.

Finally, we have to understand Hebrew poetry.  This is because a great deal of prophecy is actually written using various forms of Hebrew poetry.  Now, at first glance, this may not seem to be all that important: why would it be unusual that an ancient author might write in poetic form?  After all, we still do this today.  The problem is that Hebrew poetry is very different from the poetry most of us recognize.  Therefore, if we do not know and understand Hebrew poetry, we might miss it in the prophets’ writing.  Now just imagine, how would your understanding of a modern poem change if you did not realize it was poetry and tried to force a literal interpretation onto the words in the poem?  I doubt any of us could make much sense out of any modern poem if we tried to read it in this way.  Well, why should it be any different when reading ancient Hebrew poetry?  It isn’t.  So, if we do not realize we are reading poetry, then, no matter how sincere, we simply will not be able to understand the message.

Therefore, before we can hope to understand ‘the language of prophecy’ in its fullest meaning, we have to understand as much as possible about the three areas I just mentioned.  So, by the way I reason, this means we should start first with the ancient Hebrew people and their culture.

BIBLE PROPHECY: What Is ‘Antichrist?’

This is the sixth post in a series I am writing about end times prophecies in the Bible.  If you have not read the previous five posts, STOP!  DO NOT READ ANY FURTHER!  It is imperative that, before you read any further in this post, you  go back to the first post and start reading — for your own sake, not mine.

OK, for most believers, this is going to be a difficult post.  None the less, this series is about studying what Scripture actually says and not the things that men teach.  So, with that said, let me say this as clearly as I can:

Scripture never talks about a single figure known as “THE” Antichrist, nor does it ever say that Satan will ever manifest himself incarnate!

Now, before the reader leaves me, allow me to use Scripture to prove that I am correct — because understanding what antichrist actually is changes everything! Continue reading “BIBLE PROPHECY: What Is ‘Antichrist?’”

BIBLE PROPHECY: The Church Has Fallen For A Lie!

This is the fifth post in a series I am writing about end times prophecies in the Bible.  If you have not read the previous four posts, STOP!  DO NOT READ ANY FURTHER!  It is imperative that, before you read any further in this post, you  go back to the first post and start reading — for your own sake, not mine.

“The folly of interpreters has been to foretell times and things by this prophecy [Revelation], as if God designed to make them prophets. By this rashness they have not only exposed themselves, but brought the prophecy also into contempt.  The design of God was much otherwise.  He gave this and the prophecies of the Old Testament, not to gratify men’s curiosities by enabling them to foreknow things, but that after they were fulfilled they might be interpreted by the event, and his own providence, not the interpreters’, be then manifested thereby to the world.  For the event of things predicted many ages before will then be a convincing argument that the world is governed by Providence.”

– Sir Isaac Newton (yes, that Isaac Newton)

Continue reading “BIBLE PROPHECY: The Church Has Fallen For A Lie!”