Romans 1:1. Paul, a slave of Christ Jesus.

To be honest, I am not sure what direction to take this study for several reasons. For one, Romans is very intense and designed to build us up in Christ. That is not a bad thing as the words Paul brings us, build a solid basis for who we are in Christ. As you can see below, my journey into verse one has taken at least a page unto itself. Considering that it took me six months to complete a study on the book of Micah, I am not sure how long this will take. Additionally, I have a personal reason to study Romans, as a group I sit with will soon be going through the book of Romans and I prefer to be prepared for discussions.

With that, let’s dive in and see where this will take us.

Romans 1:1 NLT  This letter is from Paul, a slave of Christ Jesus, chosen by God to be an apostle and sent out to preach his Good News.’

Pay attention to the phrase Paul, a slave of Christ Jesus.

For me, as a young man, slavery had a negative connotation, and I think that much of that came from the nightly news, as every broadcast in the ’60s and ’70s was filled with people of color marching for the right to treated like human beings. Much like the assassination of President John Kennedy, we watched Dr. Martin Luther King get assassinated, while white Southern police brutally beat the blacks who marched in protest.

In my home, it meant I had no right to have any say over my own life, and, it meant brutal, unjust treatment. Raised in a “Christian” home, I was taught that if I defended myself from some bully at school, and my mother found out about it, I would be handed over to dad for an additional beating after he would come home from work. Another aspect of my “Christian” upbringing, was being told, repeatedly, that the Bible teaches us to turn the other cheek; by my mom’s standards that meant that I was supposed to allow some school bully to keep punching me until I was spinning like a top or unconscious.

So, all this damage I am spewing is associated with the notion of slavery.

Slavery is the Greek word doúlos and means one who is in a permanent relation of servitude to another, his will being altogether consumed in the will of the other. WSD

The idea of being a slave, especially on purpose, repulsed me for years. What changed me because I am no longer taken back by the idea of being a slave to Christ, but long for it?

It has been a couple of things.

Having gone through what I call my “dark night of the soul,” I began to study my Bible intentionally – a journey that has been going on for over eleven years. My work schedule, at the time, was such that I had to be at work at seven in the morning and I had to drive through some wretched drive-time traffic to get there. Leaving an hour earlier, I was now within proximity of work, I bypassed the mad rush of traffic, and I could quietly eat my breakfast and read my Bible. Reading, seemed pointless at first as I felt dead inside, and the words were the same lifeless words I had heard before. I can remember crying out to God and saying if this dead feeling does not change then I cannot and will not keep doing this. I need you to make the words come alive, and they did.

There was another facet of my understanding that had to change. Aware that religion had taught me cute stories – narratives that enforced how my parents and church wanted me to see Jesus and God; therefore, a component of my reading and writing was an intentional and purposeful hunt to find the nature and character of God. With the understanding that Jesus is God, I began to study the gospels where the actions and words of Jesus were laid out before me. If my perception was correct, and Jesus was God, then I was seeing God in action. I could not worry about the “law” with all its regulations; I merely observed the life of Jesus. A significant example of God’s character was displayed when the temple rulers brought a woman caught in adultery. How odd, since adultery always requires two participants and it is typically the man who makes the moves on the woman, and yet, there was no man presented to Jesus that day. While the elders were looking for Jesus to condemn her, He most likely rebuked them as He wrote in the dirt. But then the most amazing thing happened as he showed the woman mercy.

Posted in Apostle Paul, bible study, God's character, grace, In Christ, Jesus, Law of liberty, Mercy, restore, Romans, Thoughts, Thoughts on scripture | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

A heavily modified version of an old post on Hebrews 5:11. It’s hard for you to learn.

We have much to say about this, but it is hard to explain because you are slow to learn. (Hebrews 5:11, NIV)

With an opening like this, many could perceive this as an insult. The writer of Hebrews may well have meant it to be just that, a shot at this particular group of Hebrew converts that made up a portion of the early church.

We have much to say about this,”

“What is the “this” the author is speaking of?” Obviously, by starting here, we have lost critical components of the conversation and therefore have missed the context. We find the context by returning briefly to Hebrews 5:1-10. Chapter five of Hebrews opens by speaking of Jesus as the better high priest, ordained by God. Because he achieved all this as a man, He became the source of eternal salvation for all those who obey him.

but it is hard to explain because you are slow to learn.”

I, for the longest time, thought of myself as a slow learner. It turns out that I am more of a visual learner, for once I get the imagery in my head, that scriptural scene usually stays with me forever. So, when it comes to my experiences in comprehending the Bible, the understanding has come through repetition and a great deal of writing. The writing has been my opportunity to ask God my questions, no matter how awkward or embarrassing, and put forth my heartfelt challenges. (A comparison for this would be a friend of mine who feels he is comfortable enough to say, God, lied about some situation! It might be how he feels at the time, as he searches for more appropriate words to express himself; but the reality is, God cannot lie, and my friend needs to grasp that concept.)

In our journey through Hebrews, we come to recognize that the entire book is in part a discourse proclaiming the superiority of Christ and why.

The cross plays a dominant role in this affirmation and here is why:

  • “His reverent submission.” (Hebrews 5:7)

Jesus voluntarily became a man; set aside His glory and position with the Father; submitted to death not only in his body but in his spirit; and, he did all this as a man.

  • yet He learned obedience by the things which He suffered.” (Hebrews 5:8)

There is more to this than what the eye can see. It will require you to think it through.

J. Vernon McGee said this in his commentary on chapter 5 of Hebrews, “What is obedience? A crowd of people asked Jesus, “… What shall we do, that we might work the works of God?” (Joh_6:28). Jesus replied, “… This is the work of God, that ye believe on him whom he hath sent” (Joh_6:29). Do you want to obey God? Then trust Christ. That is what He is saying.”

Maybe we should be paying attention to words like Dr. McGee’s. Since so few of us trust Christ, try to imagine having to trust the Father God with your life – Jesus did.

Dr. McGee goes on to say, that in all honesty, there is something here he did not understand; “Why did the Son of God need to learn obedience by suffering? And why did He need to be made perfect when He already was perfect?” Dr. McGee proposes perhaps the best answer one can give – “Now I am well acquainted with the explanation that men gave, but none of them satisfy me. I just recognize that it is a great mystery.” For myself, I have learned to relax in the knowledge that He loves me, just as He loves you, and that Jesus was willing to go through horrible punishment for us.

  • “and once made perfect.” (Hebrews 5:9)

The NIV translates the verse right before this as, “Son though he was, he learned obedience from what he suffered.” That obedience is one of the things that made Him perfect.

A couple of things jump out at me when I read that He was made perfect. Jesus was and is God; John chapter one spells that out for us when it says, He spoke the worlds into existence. I know that God, Jesus, Holy Spirit being God thing is hard to handle, but none the less, it is what it is. Therefore, His voluntarily stepping down to be a human disabled Him in a sense; at least momentarily. Think about that; He became a human – a defenseless baby, dependent upon Mary to nurse and change His diapers. He, like victims of trauma often do, had to learn to walk and talk all over again. Any powers associated with the Father were set aside until He learned who He was and what His powers were, just as we have to do.

This transition from heaven to earth provokes my second thought.

Because Mary, at such an early age, had enough strength of character that she was able to stand her ground and say, He is the Son of God, it did not fare well with anybody and gossip spread quickly. No one was buying Mary’s story, and for a time, neither did Joseph. Jesus, once he was born, was now reliant upon the protective covering of Joseph. Without this covering, He would have been thought of and treated as nothing more than an illegitimate child of an unnamed father. Accusations like this should have prevented Him from entering a Synagogue, or being taught in a Rabbinical school; and yet, what do we see, Jesus, at the age of accountability amazing the teachers in the synagogue with His understanding and knowledge. Where would He have learned all the things necessary to make Him who He became?

1. Joseph, we are told, was a good man. This title does not necessarily mean he fared well in the community; it says he too knew the Torah and Talmud and by repetition taught Jesus.
2. At Jesus baptism in the Jordan by John, the Holy Spirit descended upon Him. Scripture tells us that the Holy Spirit leads us and guide us into all truth, and, in the case of Jesus, led Him into the wilderness for forty days. We do not see Satan enter that picture until Jesus experienced a painful hunger at the end of that forty days. So, what was Jesus doing all that time? Talking to the God He had come to understand and recognize as His own Father.

Is there any doubt that He was perfect?

He was born through a woman who merely carried God’s fertilized egg. This course of action is the way it had to be done to bypass the inherent brokenness that came to every human through Adam; this course action, on God’s part, made Him sinless (that means, like us, He was not driven to satisfy personal desires.) And, we learn that He followed the will of the Father precisely; and yet, Jesus the Son is being made perfect again. John’s gospel tells us that he is God, was with God, created all things by his word, and upholds all things by the word of his power; and yet, Hebrews has God restoring him to power. Why? Because God was restoring His firstborn Son, given to be sin, back to His rightful position of authority, seated next to the Father in heaven.

  • “he became the source of eternal salvation for all who obey him.” (Hebrews 5:9)

God alone has the power to give life. However, Jesus told the Jews that he was God, and they very clearly understood that because they immediately tried to kill for making that claim. There was nothing veiled about what Jesus said, and yet, here again, we have a description of Jesus becoming the source of eternal salvation. To and for whom did He become the source of eternal salvation? All who obey him. (None of us do that entirely, but His grace is sufficient enough to ensure the salvation of all who believe.)

  • “designated by God to be High Priest.” (Hebrews 5:10)

Pay attention to the patterns for this is what the Jewish mind is accustomed to when analyzing prophecy. Aaron was a man, and God chose him. Look for patterns (this is what the Jewish mind is accustomed to when examining prophecy) Aaron was a pattern, but there is another clue here. Not after the order of Man but after the order or example of Melchizedek. A man who had no beginning and no end, appointed by God to be High Priest. Why? Because humankind had a limited lifespan and would have to have been replaced. Jesus, like Melchizedek, now continues because He was raised from the dead. Those who serve in the priesthood are born with a broken nature and must offer sacrifices for their failings before offering a sacrifice for others. It is true, that Jesus was born without sin, but could have given himself over to the desires of the flesh, as Satan pushed opportunities at Him, and yet He did not.

The explanations for why Jesus is superior is cloaked in references to the cross and his death.

There are two forms of death: Physical and spiritual. To be spiritually dead is to be separated from God, and Christ, for the first time experienced a separation from the Father. We call it his death, and no doubt the body was killed, but when John talks about death in Revelation 20, he refers to the second death. Christ’s body was not the only thing that died on the cross that day. Jesus, himself, attests to that by saying “my God, why have you forsaken me.”

Everything in scripture is a pattern, and we have Abraham for a model. When Isaac asked where is the sacrifice, Abraham answers “God will provide himself a sacrifice,” and that is precisely what happened that day on the cross.

Adam was the pattern for the man Jesus would become, and neither had experienced what it was like to be separated from God. Look at our Genesis account for the pattern. God made it clear to Adam what would happen on the day He ate from the Tree of Knowledge of good and evil – death; and yet, did Adam die that day? Not to the physical eye, but he did spiritually, as he lost his connection to God. Try to keep in mind that God is not a liar and He did say that day. Some will look at this as the eventual death of Adam, which came almost nine-hundred years later. Still, if Adam’s physical death was all that was implied, then that still makes God a liar, for it did not occur that day. I believe that Adam understood what God meant when God explained what would happen; that is what made Adam’s act of disobedience such a critical, treasonous error. It would seem only a few have experienced anything close to that kind of intimacy: Adam, who relinquished his relationship; Enoch, who walked off this earth, and Jesus, who was killed because he proclaimed his relationship with the Father. Of those moments that I feel separated from Him, I think I can equate it to being underwater, and not being able to breathe. Your spirit, much like your lungs need air, desperately seeks a relationship with the creator.

So, here we are back at Hebrews 5:11 where it says, “We have much to say about this, but it is hard to explain because you are slow to learn.”

Why would the writer of this letter to the Hebrews know the recipient’s spiritual state?

Perhaps he had been one of their teachers. With the Law and the prophets only written on scrolls – the majority of which were held within the communities Synagogue because of rarity and expense, there were no books to enlighten the new converts about the latest theories on how grace and spiritual laws work; and, surely there was no New Testament, for it was being written as they spoke.

Another safe assumption is that these were exclusively Jewish believers considering that the entire book is a letter to the Hebrews.

Jews in the compulsory Rabbinical schools were trained in the Torah and Talmud. Now, not everyone was a scholar like Saul/Paul, but within the Jewish community has a firm grasp of history and high Holy days was mandatory. Therefore, the knowledge of God’s grace had to come through the same documents that the religious leadership used to control people with its many burdensome laws. The most significant input the new church had, would have been oral tradition and inspiration given through the Holy Spirit. Paul was a perfect example of one of those people, as he and a handful of others began to grasp the grace that God was trying to tell us.

Look at Hebrews 6:1-2 to get an idea of what the basics were/are; not one of these can be taught in 10 minutes.

  • Basic teachings about Christ.
  • The fundamental importance of repenting from evil deeds.
  • Placing our faith in God.
  • Instructions about baptisms.
  • Instructions about the laying on of hands.
  • The resurrection of the dead.
  • Eternal Judgment.

What would make this hard to explain?

I would not think that it is the telling of the story of Jesus that is difficult; although the trip to the cross can be graphic and gory. Perhaps the visualization of cross sets many people at odds with the cross. Having heard angry arguments against Jesus descending to hell and taking the keys away from Satan, I can presume that many others with their religious mindset fight against the cross. We also know that many have a cloak over their eyes, and therefore their physical mind cannot grasp the impact of the cross. And then, there are those who are not willing to spend any time looking into God’s word, and therefore, will not find freedom.

What happened from the cross to the throne is what makes those of us who follow Him who we are. It is what made Jesus who He is, and it is what prompted God to call him our great High Priest, and the one who mediates for us continually. God so desperately wanted to restore that relationship with you that he allowed his Son to die for you, and Jesus voluntarily set aside the glory he had with the Father to be the required sacrifice so that you might live. All that Christ did was done for you.

Posted in Apostasy, bible study, End times, false teaching, God's character, grace, Hebrews, Hope, hypocrisy, In Christ, Jerusalem, Jesus, judgment, Mercy, redemption, wisdom | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

In the midst of a conversation, the statement was made, that the 144,000 get raptured. Sorry, I could not let it lie.

A statement was made that indicated that the one hundred and forty-four thousand bond-servants, sealed from every tribe of the sons of Israel, would be caught up in the rapture of the church.

When we do a lookup of either, the numeric value 144,000, or, the term written out, we only find three references; all of which occur within the Revelation of Jesus Christ, which John wrote.

The first reference to the 144,000 is in Revelation 7 where we see four angels standing at the four corners of the earth, holding back the four winds so that they did not blow on the earth or sea, or even on any tree. What does that mean to those who are here? It says the average mean temperature is going to rise by at least 10- 15 degrees. Along with all the other horrors that will be going on during this time of judgment, it will be unbearably hot.

In Revelation 7:2,3 we see an angel coming up from the east, carrying the seal of the living God. This angel shouted to the four angels, who had been given the power to harm the land and sea, “Wait! Don’t harm the land and sea or trees until we have placed the seal of God on the foreheads of his servants.

Revelation 7:4 NLT states, I heard how many were marked with the seal of God – 144,000 were sealed from all the tribes of Israel.

Those who are sealed are specifically from the tribes of Israel, not Jehovah’s witnesses. Verses 5-8 spell out how 12,000 from the sons of Israel were chosen from the tribes listed there.

Now the oddity in this story, if we were to keep reading, is that Revelation 7:9 immediately takes the reader into the throne room of God, where a vast crowd, too large to count, from every nation and tribe and people and language, are found standing in front of the throne and before the Lamb. These were clothed in white and held palm branches in their hands. 7:10 tells us, they were shouting with a great roar, Salvation comes from our God who sits on the throne and from the Lamb!

In Revelation 7: 13 John asks, who are these people and where did they come from? The answer is given in verse 14 where a voice responds; you are the one who knows. The speaker then explains, “these are the ones who died in the great tribulation. They have washed their robes in the blood of the Lamb and made them white. (And) That is why they stand in front of God’s throne and serve him day and night in his temple.”

What’s the point so far?

If I were to try and understand who the 144,000 are from a chronological standpoint, based upon what I see in the following verses, all this is happening within the seven years of wrath. Since we see an uncountable multitude standing before the throne, then there would have to have been a terrifying rush to kill people who have chosen to follow Christ early on, or enough time has passed to attain such numbers. This scenario is in consideration of the fact that three and one-half years into the seven, the false prophet will be unleashed upon the world. According to Islam, this man will be the enforcer of Sharia law, and the chopping off of the head is the primary method of killing.

The other place we find the 144,000 is in Revelation chapter 14.

“Then I looked, and there was the Lamb standing on Mount Tziyon (Zion); and with him were 144,000 who had his name and his Father’s name written on their foreheads. I heard a sound from heaven like the sound of rushing waters and like the sound of pealing thunder; the sound I heard was also like that of harpists playing on their harps. They were singing a new song before the throne and before the four living beings and the elders, and no one could learn the song except the 144,000 who have been ransomed from the world. These are the ones who have not defiled themselves with women, for they are virgins; they follow the Lamb wherever he goes; they have been ransomed from among humanity as firstfruits for God and the Lamb; on their lips, no lie was found—they are without defect.”(Revelation 14:1-5 CJB)

The Lamb, of course, is Jesus the Messiah; and, if He is standing on Mount Zion, then He has returned victoriously and returned the earth into the hands of the Almighty God. Since the 144,000 are, to the best of our knowledge, witnesses to the Jews during the time of wrath, then it is evident that their work is completed.

Look at a scene king David painted with words over three thousand years ago.
Psalms 2:1-6 ESV  Why do the nations rage and the peoples plot in vain?  (2)  The kings of the earth set themselves, and the rulers take counsel together, against the LORD and against his Anointed, saying,  (3)  “Let us burst their bonds apart and cast away their cords from us.”  (4)  He who sits in the heavens laughs; the Lord holds them in derision.  (5)  Then he will speak to them in his wrath, and terrify them in his fury, saying,  (6)  “As for me, I have set my King on Zion, my holy hill.”

David was talking about events that happen within and moments after the time of wrath – this time of wrath is the same thing most of the modern church mistakenly calls “The Great Tribulation.” Within this horrific time of tribulation, there will be a period in which the slaughter becomes even more numerous, and that is the time that Jesus spoke of when He said if God does not cut the time short no one would survive.

Since God seals the 144,000, they are untouchable and cannot be exterminated; at least we know that they cannot be killed by the things God is unleashing upon the land. However, we have no evidence that any of these died.

  • That would mean that they were not raptured.
  • And, it most likely means that they are alive today.
  • There is nothing that says they are exclusively in Israel, for we have Jews all over the world.
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God’s steadfast love and compassion. Micah 7:18-20.

This post will be the end of our journey through Micah’s prophecy.

The NLT translation headlines this section as,

God’s Steadfast Love and Compassion

If you have been following my study on Micah, then you will agree that what Micah had to say was hard to hear. Much applies to our lives although we don’t want to admit it, but pay attention to the last three verses.

Where is another God like you, who pardons the guilt of the remnant, overlooking the sins of his special people? You will not stay angry with your people forever, because you delight in showing unfailing love. Once again you will have compassion on us. You will trample our sins under your feet and throw them into the depths of the ocean! You will show us your faithfulness and unfailing love as you promised to our ancestors Abraham and Jacob long ago. (Micah 7:18-20 NLT)

  • Where is another God like you? Many translations say it like this, Who is a God like you, as though there was something out there to compare Him to.

An acquaintance of mine, vehemently said, Jesus cannot come back because not everyone has heard the gospel, and yet those same people who have not heard the gospel serve a multitude of gods, many of which are carved out of the trees or palm branches near them. So then, what is the distinction?

  • [It is God] “who pardons sin and forgives the transgression of the remnant of his inheritance?” (NIV)

The ERV translation puts it this way – You take away people’s guilt. What other god, if there is one, does that? Ponder this statement, “You take away people’s guilt,” for a moment. Where else do we see this theme? For most of us, our minds look to the New Testament, but it is a theme repeatedly found in the Old Testament; one example is found in Exodus. Sadly, in the Old Testament, forgiveness was only temporary and required the death of a sacrificial animal, but with the New Testament, Jesus was that lamb, and He too was sacrificed once for the sins of the world. Jesus alone had that authority. Luke’s gospel tells us that this forgiveness would be proclaimed to all. This process we see in Luke’s gospel, how that Christ would suffer and rise again from the dead on the third day, is critical in God’s plan to regain His creation, humankind, back again.

  • The CEV translation phrases verse 18 like this, “We are all that is left of your chosen people, and you freely forgive our sin and guilt.”

I have sat in a Bible study, led by a man who is willing to tell you that no Jews advance into the millennium. In light of Micah’s statement, and what Luke tells us, everyone who believes receives this forgiveness and therefore obtains eternal salvation and life with the Father. Religion constantly berates us for sin, almost as if the cross did not exist. But the cross indeed happened, and sins were forgiven. That is one of the reasons why both the Gentile and the Jew are forgiven. The burning question then will be, what did you do with the Son, the Messiah I sent to you? If you are a student of the Bible, then you know that there is a time of wrath coming. Sadly, we the church improperly call this time, the Great Tribulation when it is a time of wrath and judgment. An aspect of that judgment is against Israel for their rebellion and rejection. God told them it would come, and it will, but during this horrid time, many will come to understand that Jesus is the longed-for Messiah God. Understanding and believing are the requirements to obtain this eternal salvation, but once you are in the time of wrath, you must endure what that period holds.

  • Many ask, what is God’s character, and how can I know that? Well, here is one of those examples that tell us what His character is – “ because you delight in showing unfailing love.”

How did Micah know that? Because he and others like him were taught an oral history; a history that spoke of examples of God’s love and mercy. There is no doubt that these stories were all intertwined with what seemed like perpetual war, but then that is what this community, called God’s people, has been done since they left Egypt. Why call Israel a community at war? Because their mission, under God’s orders, was to take the land God promised, and there was no way of doing that without conflict; that is why practically every story we read has a thread of bloodshed in it. I could not help but think about Jonah when I read this statement. The majority of the story we get on Jonah shows us a man, without reason, doing his best to escape God’s directive to go to Nineveh. Bypassing all the details in-between, Jonah arrives at Nineveh and exclaims, 40 days and you are dead! This judgment is precisely what Jonah wanted; however, they repented, and God relented – showing them mercy (for the time being.) Where we find Jonah’s real motive is at the end of the story where he says, I knew you would do that! What did God do? He delighted in showing His unfailing love to these barbaric Assyrians.

  • Once again you will have compassion on us.”

While God is always looking for ways to show compassion, the reality is that this will happen after Jesus comes back as the warring Messiah. Then compassion will be seen for not just God’s people, but all who accept Him. 1000 years of peace, a time I have a hard time picturing.

  • You will trample our sins under your feet and throw them into the depths of the ocean!”

This verse has a familiar theme for me. Compare this statement above with a couple of others. Psalms 103:9-14 speaks of God’s love for all who worship Him, and, how far He has separated us from our sins. Look at what Isaiah says. Jeremiah also speaks of God forgiveness. And lastly, Daniel reminds us that there is a price to be paid for sins – we have laws that uphold those penalties, but God, for reasons not explained in this verse, will put an end to their sin, atone for their guilt, and bring in everlasting righteousness? My opinion is somewhat irrelevant, but I see much of this happening on the cross. The requirement, on our part, is to believe in the Son. I suppose that means that I, in time, comprehend all that He did, but for now, to believe is enough.

  • Micah 7:20 NLT  You will show us your faithfulness and unfailing love as you promised to our ancestors Abraham and Jacob long ago.

Once again, with men like Jeptha, Gideon, and Samson, all you focus on is the violence as they tried to free their people, but maybe that is where the faithfulness and unfailing love is hidden in the background as God is calling Israel back to Himself. A friend of mine seems to be undone by the possibility that God created evil. He heard Radio Pastor John MacArthur say God created evil. At this point, my friend became so inflamed that he turned off the radio and swore never to listen to Pastor MacArthur again. Perhaps created is an entirely inappropriate choice of words, and here is why. I hate when Pastors say, “this is what James is saying,” this is especially redundant and insulting when it is obvious what, in this case, James is telling us. Consider the logic as we learn that:

  • it is not possible for God to be tested by evil.”

Fortunately, we have an explanation, for God spoke about the person who foolishly says, God put me through this test or evil.

  • and He tempts no one.” (MKJV)

That would eliminate Him tempting or testing you and I. My friend, influenced by far too many voices, suggests that God instilled Adam with evil. If you read the creation account, you see nothing that indicates that, and there is definitive evidence that Adam and Eve obtained the knowledge of evil through the consumption of the fruit of the tree that represented that knowledge.

Let’s play out one more scenario. If God, as Isaiah tells us, created evil, and humankind, in the spirit form, is made in the likeness of God, why wouldn’t Adam know evil as well? To answer the question I need to understand what Isaiah said!
“I form the light, and create darkness: I make peace, and create evil: I the LORD do all these things.” Isaiah 45:7 KJV 

Formyāṣar: A verb meaning to form, to fashion, to shape, to devise. The primary meaning of the word is derived from the idea of cutting or framing. [Word Study Dictionary]

The word create. Heb. bara, Poel Participle, which with “evil” requires the rendering “bring about.” So I can understand the idea of creation, in Isaiah 45:7, as God brought about.

Light – the Hebrew word ’ôr. It is a masculine noun meaning light. In a literal sense, it is used primarily to refer to light from heavenly bodies.

Darkness is the same word we see in Genesis chapter one where we find the creation account. Most innocently read Genesis 1:2 where it says, “and darkness was upon the face of the deep,” and see the earth as a place that simply had no light. But an in-depth look into a simple word like darkness and you find something ominous.

Darknesschôshek the dark; hence (literally) darkness; figuratively misery, destruction, death, ignorance, sorrow, wickedness: – dark (-ness), night, obscurity.

Isaiah gives us one more word, evil.

Evil is the Hebrew word ra‛ or râ‛âh. It means bad or (as noun) evil (naturally or morally). This includes the second (feminine) form; as adjective or noun: – adversity, affliction, bad, calamity, displeasure, distress,

But, in speaking through Isaiah, only moments later, we get this:

“For the LORD is God, and he created the heavens and earth and put everything in place. He made the world to be lived in, not to be a place of empty chaos. “I am the LORD,” he says, “and there is no other.” Isaiah 45:18 NLT 

He (God) made the earth perfectly, and, inhabitable from the moment of its origination; and yet, something appears to have happened, and because of that we find the earth covered in darkness – chaos. Isaiah distinctly tells us that God brought about evil. Since God cannot be tempted with evil, nor does He tempt any man with evil, then evil must have come from some other direction or source, and God, in time, had to allow it to be brought forth; we see that happening with Adam at the forbidden tree of knowledge. Jesus told us that He beheld Satan fall like lighting to the earth. Since Satan’s one purpose in life now is to usurp God’s authority and position, then it is safe to assume that the evil, calamity, distress, and adversity came with him.

  • [What does the BBE translation of James 1:13-17 say?] But every man is tested when he is turned out of the right way by the attraction of his desire.”

So, are you telling me that Eve was turned out of the right way because of personal desires? Yes. The MKJV puts it this way – But each one is tempted by his lusts, being drawn away and seduced by them.” Having struggled most of my life with self-esteem issues, I asked a counselor that used hypnotism about how this is done; this was important to me as I desire freedom from the fear associated with low self-esteem, and, I have seen stage shows where people do odd things like acting like a chicken. On a positive note, I have also seen a hypnotist get a lady past her morbid fear of snakes. When he was done with her, she was comfortable enough to hold a rather large snake. The counselor I spoke with, told me that the people doing odd things have a deeply inset desire to do those things and that these are the same people who drastically change with alcohol consumption. The counselor also told me that there was nothing they could make a person do if it is against their will. So, the hypnotized are only acting out upon their lusts/desires. In the MKJV you can see that they used the word lusts in James 1:13-17. Many perceive lusts as purely sexual, but it is not. Lusts are only desires that you have, like a fast or flashy car. In the case of Eve, she saw that the tree was not only good for food but that it gave you knowledge. The problem is that it was a knowledge that was not beneficial, for so many reasons; nor did she understand or care that her actions included the genetic alteration of the human species from that point forward – this is the best way for me to understand how we could all be born into sin.

Posted in bible study, creation, Creation, End times, forgive, gentiles, God's character, grace, Hope, Jews, judgment, Mercy, Micah, Prophetic, Sin, Thoughts, Thoughts on scripture | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Wait for the salvation of God. Micah 7:1-17.

As I move into the last chapter of Micah I feel a sense of relief because it seems that book studies/commentaries can, at times, be wearisome. In looking at statistics on the blog, I can see that readers have dropped off, especially when I use some of the oppressive wording that God is conveying in that portion of scripture. Perhaps that is why people do not and will not read their Bibles, because God often comes across as tedious. I too have to labor through sections as I try to make some of the darker passages more palatable. So when I opened Micah chapter seven today and began to do a quick read through, in hopes of moving quickly through Micah in one post, I found myself reading about many of the same feelings I feel as I write these posts. One sentence stands out, whether it is true or not is irrelevant, as it feels like it is.

No one is loyal to God; no one does right.

I recognize that many of you have a heart toward God and desire all that God has for you, but there are others, that after reading a few lines, catch only a vague feel for the heart of God and simply leave the post, just as they leave the Word of God. Welcome to the heart of Micah and the close of his book.

This section is entitled by the translators as Wait for the God of Salvation.

The passage seems long, but I will break it down.

Micah 7:1-17 CEV  I feel so empty inside— like someone starving for grapes or figs after the vines and trees have all been picked clean.  (2)  No one is loyal to God; no one does right. Everyone is brutal and eager to deceive everyone else.  (3)  People cooperate to commit crime. Judges and leaders demand bribes, and rulers cheat in court.  (4)  The most honest of them is worse than a thorn patch. Your doom has come! Lookouts sound the warning, and everyone panics.  (5)  Don’t trust anyone, not even your best friend, and be careful what you say to the one you love.  (6)  Sons refuse to respect their own fathers, daughters rebel against their own mothers, and daughters-in-law despise their mothers-in-law. Your family is now your enemy.  (7)  But I trust the LORD God to save me, and I will wait for him to answer my prayer.  (8)  My enemies, don’t be glad because of my troubles! I may have fallen, but I will get up; I may be sitting in the dark, but the LORD is my light.  (9)  I have sinned against the LORD. And so I must endure his anger until he comes to my defense. But I know that I will see him making things right for me and leading me to the light.  (10)  You, my enemies, said, “The LORD God is helpless.” Now each of you will be disgraced and put to shame. I will see you trampled like mud in the street.  (11)  Towns of Judah, the day is coming when your walls will be rebuilt, and your boundaries enlarged.  (12)  People will flock to you from Assyria and Egypt, from Babylonia and everywhere else.  (13)  Those nations will suffer disaster because of what they did.  (14)  Lead your people, LORD! Come and be our shepherd. Grasslands surround us, but we live in a forest. So lead us to Bashan and Gilead, and let us find pasture as we did long ago.  (15)  I, the LORD, will work miracles just as I did when I led you out of Egypt.  (16)  Nations will see this and be ashamed because of their helpless armies. They will be in shock, unable to speak or hear,  (17)  because of their fear of me, your LORD and God. Then they will come trembling, crawling out of their fortresses like insects or snakes, lapping up the dust.

In a sense, Micah is pouring out his heart in anguish before God.

  • (1) I feel so empty inside— like someone starving for grapes or figs after the vines and trees have all been picked clean.

Who hasn’t felt that? Maybe there are some; my wife would say to me, I don’t understand depression. After several tries at explaining some of the symptoms of depression, she is now aware that she too goes through depression as well.

  • (2)  No one is loyal to God; no one does right. Everyone is brutal and eager to deceive everyone else.

You should know that is a false premise. It is, however, the same premise that Elijah moaned about when he said, I am all alone; there are no other prophets besides me! God told him differently. The problem here is that it is easy to feel alone and needs to be recognized for what it is, a deception from the enemy. This happened to me. A group I used to sit in had someone new show up; the assumption that several of the men made was that this new guy knew nothing, and so they immediately tried to impress him with their knowledge. The question was asked, how tall was David when he slew Goliath? After several moments of awkward silence, as no one knew the answer, I responded with, about six foot four inches tall. Needless to say, I was verbally attacked. I could give you several strong reasons for saying what I did, but because I had gone against tradition, I was deemed disloyal to God, and they, were brutal and deceptive in their responses.

  •  (3)  People cooperate to commit crime. Judges and leaders demand bribes, and rulers cheat in court.  (4)  The most honest of them is worse than a thorn patch. Your doom has come! Lookouts sound the warning, and everyone panics.

That has never changed; it is a part of that nature we inherited from Adam. Everyone does it, but it does not make it the right thing to say. Saying that the entire world has gone down the toilet is nowhere close to a true statement. Peter, on the day of Pentecost, said that a small portion of Joel chapter two had been fulfilled in their ears. This was the Holy Spirit of God talking through Peter, and God has never changed His mind about this statement.

It goes like this: Joel 2:28b-29 NLT  “I will pour out my Spirit upon all people. Your sons and daughters will prophesy. Your old men will dream dreams, and your young men will see visions.  (29)  In those days I will pour out my Spirit even on servants—men and women alike.

Are you having visions; dreaming dreams; has the Holy Spirit pour His spirit upon you, and are you prophesying? I know the answer and it is NO. Do you ever wonder why? Joel chapter two sounds more like hope and power; I would rather live in that instead of focusing on the doom that has come. I want to live in hope and power.

  • (5)  Don’t trust anyone, not even your best friend, and be careful what you say to the one you love.  (6)  Sons refuse to respect their own fathers, daughters rebel against their own mothers, and daughters-in-law despise their mothers-in-law. Your family is now your enemy.

These are the words of a wounded man – he is wounded by people he trusted; people he thought would receive the words he gave them. You can’t cross deeply embedded tradition and not expect an attack. Religion, no matter how safe you think it is, is not your friend. Don’t mistake a relationship with Jesus for religion. Jesus himself told us that those of our own households would become our enemies. Matthew 10:36.

  • (7)  But I trust the LORD God to save me, and I will wait for him to answer my prayer.  (8)  My enemies, don’t be glad because of my troubles! I may have fallen, but I will get up; I may be sitting in the dark, but the LORD is my light.

In the midst of Micah’s moaning, there is this amazing bright light. These words should be our battle cry no matter what.

  • (9)  I have sinned against the LORD. And so I must endure his anger, until he comes to my defense. But I know that I will see him making things right for me and leading me to the light.  (10)  You, my enemies, said, “The LORD God is helpless.” Now each of you will be disgraced and put to shame. I will see you trampled like mud in the street.

We don’t know what Micah did; we assume he led a pristine, carefree life. I don’t think so, because God seems to take those of us who have been battered and turns us into testimonies and warriors for Him. Maybe, Micah was like me; he understood his weaknesses and frailties. In that understanding, I can easily say, I too have sinned. Paul said, confess your sins one to another; well I can guarantee you that I am not sharing my life with many of you as you will eat me alive just as they do on the Walking Dead television show. I have to be selective about who I share things with and how much I share. Just know, that I have a couple of people that I can and do share things with, and, there are things that I will take to the grave. Religion and selfishness almost guarantee that some will gloat over me, but note this truth – I will see you trampled like mud in the street.

  • (11)  Towns of Judah, the day is coming when your walls will be rebuilt, and your boundaries enlarged.  (12)  People will flock to you from Assyria and Egypt, from Babylonia and everywhere else.  (13)  Those nations will suffer disaster because of what they did.

Verses 11, 12 both reflect hope and prophesy. To some degree the walls were rebuilt, and, in the six day war, Israel’s boundaries were enlarged. The UN would love to see that undone. Sadly, the prophets, including Micah, have spoken of enemies from those same nations that will flock to Israel, attacking Israel in the last days. The disaster that befalls them comes in the form of a firestorm [Ezekiel 38,39] and then a tremendous slaughter of all fighting forces when Jesus returns to earth. [Revelation 19:15]

  • (14)  Lead your people, LORD! Come and be our shepherd. Grasslands surround us, but we live in a forest. So lead us to Bashan and Gilead, and let us find pasture as we did long ago.

Verse fourteen is prayer and a plea to God.

  • (15)  I, the LORD, will work miracles just as I did when I led you out of Egypt.  (16)  Nations will see this and be ashamed because of their helpless armies. They will be in shock, unable to speak or hear,  (17)  because of their fear of me, your LORD and God. Then they will come trembling, crawling out of their fortresses like insects or snakes, lapping up the dust.

Verses 15 -17 is God’s response. In the end, the nations will fear/respect the Lord God, and they will come and bow before Him – end of discussion.


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Thoughts on the Gap Theory, Genesis 1:1-2.

A writer for Prophecy in the News, by the name of Terri McInnis, posted an article on their website, entitled, Gap Theory Exposed. She immediately referenced a book she had “just begun to read,” by Dr. Henry Morris named The Beginning of the World. She goes on to tell us that Dr. Morris was: an American Young Creationist, a Christian Apologist, and, an engineer. He also founded the Creation Research Society and the Institute for Creation Research in Dallas Texas. I have done this as well, giving you the reader, the titles, and accolades of some person, with the hopes of building acceptance of some thesis. In doing this, there is also the hope that you will accept these words as the only proper way of looking at a subject.

Young Creationist is merely another way of saying that Dr. Morris is a young earth proponent – that means, in the Doctor’s mind and others like him, God made all creation in a literal six days, and therefore the earth is only a little over six thousand years old based upon the age of Adam (Adam may well have lived an indeterminate amount of time before he and his “wife” ate the fruit and initiated the process of physical death – all time, as we know it, stems from that act.) I have a sister who also leans hard on the young earth theory; the problem with that is that my sister has no valid arguments to prove her point. You can scream at me all day long, arguing that carbon dating is invalid, but you can’t adequately explain where dinosaurs came from, or that there were multiple extinctions.

The other thing proponents of young earth have, is a problem with the word yôm.

The Word Study Dictionary explains the meaning of the word yôm as: “A masculine noun meaning day, time, year. This word stands as the most basic conception of time in the Old Testament. It designates such wide-ranging elements as the daylight hours from sunrise to sunset (Gen_1:5; 1Ki_19:4); a literal twenty-four hour cycle (Deu_16:8; 2Ki_25:30); a generic span of time (Gen_26:8; Num_20:15); a given point in time (Gen_2:17; Gen_47:29; Eze_33:12). In the plural, the word may also mean the span of life (Psa_102:3 [4]) or a year (Lev_25:29; 1Sa_27:7).”

The Strong’s concordance tells us that the word yôm primarily means to be hot.” However, it also carries the same connotations that the Word Study Dictionary does.

People who are adept with the Hebrew language will tell you that the word is defined when associated with another word that would define the length of time, in this case, a hot phase, and therefore a 24 hour period since it is associated with “darkness.” However, the scriptures do not give us that precise definition. Let me show you.

Genesis 1:3-5 KJV  And God said, Let there be light: and there was light.  (4)  And God saw the light, that it was good: and God divided the light from the darkness.  (5)  And God called the light Day, and the darkness he called Night. And the evening and the morning were the first day.

Since a day is as a thousand years with God, then I can assume that the measure of time can often be an irrelevant thing with Him. (Anyone knowledgeable in scripture is aware of the 70 years of captivity assigned to Israel; and although a defined period of time they remained in captivity for several years beyond that time. And then, there is the very specific timing that we learn of in Daniel’s prophecy; a timing that spells out, that “from the going forth of the commandment to restore and to build Jerusalem unto the Messiah the Prince shall be seven weeks, and threescore and two weeks of years – 490 years. The fascinating aspect of this is that Jesus, in the role of Messiah, placed himself on that young colt and rode into Jerusalem on the 490th day, just as it was given to Daniel. All this proves that God is capable of keeping precise time if He needs to.

Based on what I see in verses 3-5 of Genesis chapter one, can I assume that God has a clock and this period, like most sports, is a mandatory precisely timed period? NO.

So, what do I see in Genesis 1:3-5?

God, creating light. Light and day are obvious counterparts that separate the daylight hours from the night, but, as you pursue the depth of the Hebrews words find two diversified events which I will explain.

Light is the word ore and means illumination, or luminaries – in this case, stars and planets. Since our Sun falls in the category of stars, and we are the perfect distance from our star, then the earth has just the right amount of warmth or yôm. In verse five He calls that light that gives heat day. But verse four points out that there is also a darkness present. Before His creation of luminaries, I suspect that there was nothing more than vast, cold darkness.

Now, look up the word darkness, and you get something ominous. “chôshek meaning the dark; hence (literally) darkness; (figuratively)misery, destruction, death, ignorance, sorrow, wickedness: – dark (-ness), night, obscurity.”

Could I look at the creation, as I do the Book of Revelation, where we see a cyclical and repeated telling of the chain of events and the possible interruption of those events? Perhaps, but perhaps God is trying to get us to understand something deeper; like the fall of Satan. That event is shrouded in secrecy; or is it? It could be that this “gap” is where Satan was thrown to earth.

In Luke’s Gospel, the disciples came back excited about the short missionary trip Jesus sent them, and they said, “even the devils are subject to us through your name.” Well, that is fascinating news, but Jesus knew it would work for them; and yet Jesus responds with what some might perceive as negativity.

Luke 10:17-18 KJV  And the seventy returned again with joy, saying, Lord, even the devils are subject unto us through thy name.  (18)  And he said unto them; I beheld Satan as lightning fall from heaven.

From what I understand sarcastic banter, intended to outdo the other, was a way of life for the Jew. I can hear many of you now saying, Jesus would have never entered into such an exchange; but He did, with Nathanael. When Philip found Nathanael to tell him about finding Jesus, the one the scriptures talk about, Nathanael responds with, can any good thing come out of Nazareth? Jesus, knowing this, cuts Nathanael down to size with, you thought that was something, wait till you see what else happens. Read the first chapter of John’s gospel to get the whole picture.

John 1:50-51 KJV  Jesus answered and said unto him, Because I said unto thee, I saw thee under the fig tree, believest thou? Thou shalt see greater things than these.  (51)  And he saith unto him, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Hereafter ye shall see heaven open, and the angels of God ascending and descending upon the Son of man.

So when we look at Luke 10:17-18, he is telling them, that there is more, and that I was there and witnessed this event. Now you should be asking, what did Satan’s fall look like? One Bible teacher described it as though Satan was thrown like a dart. Considering how extremely hard God could throw something, I can picture an impact crater much like the one found off the Yucatan Peninsula. Scientists tell us that the Yucatan crater alone could have caused at least one of the extinctions. Just something to think about.

I will tell you straight away; I lean toward the idea that the earth is billions of years old; it just makes more sense to me based upon evidence and what I see when I look at the Hebrew words that tell us of the creation. The bottom line here, is that my beliefs, in my mind, do not diminish God in any way, but instead make Him more powerful and surprising; and, neither do arguments for a young earth decrease God in my mind, although I have watched people struggle with their beliefs as they deal with these conflicts we are so adamant about.

One the first things Ms. McInnis points out, presumably from Dr. Morris’ book, is that “most Christians do not believe in evolution, yet they believe that the earth evolved over 16.5 billion years!” Stop here for a moment; as of yet I thought we were talking about the possibility of a very long and indeterminate gap in time between verses 1 and 2? No one said anything about evolution, yet, but we will. Can I understand that something happened to make the earth void and formless? Yes, I can. Look at what Genesis 1:2 tells us.

The earth was formless and void, and darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was moving over the surface of the waters. (Genesis 1:2 NASB)

Now stop for a moment and allow me to show you verse one.

Genesis 1:1 JPS  In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth.

If God spoke everything into existence, then why not the earth? We assume he did. But without form and void certainly does not sound like He did, unless he made the earth in the spinning blob form that scientists occasionally depict. If that was the case and God had to allow for cooling and settling, you might think He would have told us. Note this passage from Isaiah:

Isaiah 45:18 NASB For thus says the LORD, who created the heavens (He is the God who formed the earth and made it, He established it and did not create it a waste place, but formed it to be inhabited), “I am the LORD, and there is none else.

While it clearly says he formed it to be inhabited, it also clearly states that the earth was formed. Now that can take some time, or, God can merely speak the globe into existence – He is capable of doing that. Even if God created it perfectly in the first few moments, there was no light to sustain plant growth, and, if you are doing your advance reading, then you know that we did not have sun until the fourth “day.”

Now, let’s go back to this idea of evolution for a moment. In time, as we read the creation story in Genesis, we see a couple of things –

Genesis 1:26-27 KJV  And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness: and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creeps upon the earth.  (27)  So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them.

Genesis 1:26-27 may cause some people grief as they try to understand what just happened, but suffice it to say, this is a spiritual event. Humankind, as yet, has no earthly bodies. It is not until Genesis chapter two that we see the man being formed.

Genesis 2:7 KJV  And the LORD God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul.

Even though He formed the man, He does not form the woman from the man’s rib, for, once again, some indeterminate time.

What is my take away from this? Man did not evolve. But then what of something like the Paracas Peru elongated skulls? DNA testing has shown them to be pre-Nazca, but show haploid associations with European and Middle Eastern groups; and, they have mitochondrial DNA “with mutations unknown in any human, primate, or animal known so far.” []
Now, how might that be explained? For that answer, we have to indulge ourselves in Genesis chapter six.

Genesis 6:2-4 KJV  That the sons of God saw the daughters of men that they were fair; and they took them wives of all which they chose.  (3)  And the LORD said, My spirit shall not always strive with man, for that he also is flesh: yet his days shall be a hundred and twenty years.  (4)  There were giants in the earth in those days; and also after that, when the sons of God came in unto the daughters of men, and they bare children to them, the same became mighty men which were of old, men of renown.

I am not going to take the time to pursue this, but there is something mysterious and ominous going here. Men like LA Marzulli, go to tremendous lengths to explain the giants, and, how they came back into the earth after the flood of Noah’s day, that destroyed all flesh, but Noah and his family. This information tends to indicate that our discoveries from the Paracas region, with their elongated skulls, may have been pre-flood, but then, as I said, the giants continued to show up after the flood.

Why point all this out? Because I don’t see an evolution within God’s creation of man at all. What I see is a demonic infiltration with mutations, and that should concern us more than the age of the earth because apparently, this infiltration not stopped.

Back to Genesis

If the earth was perfect as Isaiah 45:18 declares, then what happened? Perhaps this can help to explain.

Genesis 1:2 NLT  The earth was formless and empty, and darkness covered the deep waters. And the Spirit of God was hovering over the surface of the waters.

  • “And darkness upon the face of the deep.”

Deep is the Hebrew word abyss, and we should all know what that is. Darkness – is the Hebrew word choshek and means; the dark; hence (literally) darkness; (figuratively) misery, destruction, death, ignorance, sorrow, wickedness: – dark (-ness), night, obscurity.

Genesis 1:2 says that “the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters.” Spirit is the Hebrew word ruach and means wind, breath, mind, spirit; this should have an immediate significance to what we recognize in New Testament terms as the Holy Spirit. Where else do we see the Holy Spirit? At the beginning of creation.

John 1:1-3 ESV In the beginning, was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. (2) He was in the beginning with God. (3) All things were made through him, and without him was not anything made that was made.

Why, if God merely spoke a perfect creation into existence, does He now have to move upon the face of the waters with His Spirit? Is it to put things back into order? Or, is it just part of the plan? There is little doubt that the earth was filled with some form of chaos for a time; a time long enough to petrify trees, and cause multiple generations of dinosaurs to be buried alive.

Maybe I have not opened or closed the gap in the theory, but I hope that I made you think. There are some things that I don’t think we need to be so brutally adamant about, and the Gap theory is one of them. It may bring some answers, but as several of my friends would say, it is a minor argument in the schemes of things.

Posted in 70 weeks, bible study, creation, Creation, Daniel, false teaching, Genesis, Things I have never noticed before, Thoughts on scripture | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Micah 6:10,11. Houses filled with treasure gain by cheating.

When we ended Micah 6:9 we were left with this ominous declaration, The armies of destruction are coming; the LORD is sending them.”

Does anybody see the banking system in this passage from Micah 2:2? I do. Here in America, we had a horrendous collapse of the banking system. One, in particular, stands out, as they were consistently on the nightly news for a time; this bank is one in which I used to do business. The problem, as some see it, is that they got caught; the others, to put it simply, were not found out?

But why?

I said, “Listen, you leaders of Israel! You are supposed to know right from wrong, but you are the very ones who hate good and love evil. You skin my people alive and tear the flesh from their bones. (Micah 3:1-2 NLT)

Here, we see leaders being the very ones who hate good and love evil. Micah wrote these words almost three thousand years ago, and yet those very words are more legitimatized today. Again, here in America, we have gone through years of televised Senate hearings about subversive actions by our very governmental leaders. My take away as I listened; these people are, on both sides of the witness stand are evil; and, they seem to prefer evil rather than good.

Now we are looking at Micah 6:10.

Micah 6:10 NLT  What shall I say about the homes of the wicked filled with treasures gained by cheating? What about the disgusting practice of measuring out grain with dishonest measures?

How would we, the “impoverished” who have to work for a living, know what is in the homes of the wealthy? We never would if it wasn’t for the books that have been published that show us the lifestyles of the rich and famous. If Micah’s words are meant to get us to look at those who have caused us grief, then how do I separate myself from the judgment associated with the envy that typically develops out of such a look? What did Jesus tell us about judging?

“Do not judge, or you too will be judged. For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you. “Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? How can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when all the time there is a plank in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye. (Matthew 7:1-5 NIV)

While Matthew 7:1-5 seems to be saying that we will receive a comparable result to what we dish out, it does not tell us that the judgment will come from God, in the last day, before the great white throne. I have found my judgments slapping me in the face six months after an event that I provoked against another follower of Christ. In religious settings, the teaching on judgment often comes across as though God is storing up some wrath against us; for the believer, this wrath will allegedly be dispensed at the Bema seat of Christ, or, as some portray, we too will stand before the Great White Throne, with its potential of a fiery hell. These teachings are blatantly wrong and contrary to scripture which conveys that ALL wrath was placed on Christ, so that we, as believers, no longer have to experience the wrath that our sin demands.

To try to understand the depth of the passage, based upon one translation, in this case, the NLT is preposterous. I shall show you some others, the entire purpose of which is to demonstrate the need for something other than superficial readings.

Micah 6:10 NIV  Am I still to forget your ill-gotten treasures, you wicked house, and the short ephah, which is accursed?

Micah 6:10 KJV  Are there yet the treasures of wickedness in the house of the wicked, and the scant measure that is abominable?

Micah 6:10 ERV  Do the wicked still hide treasures that they have stolen? Do they still cheat people with baskets that are too small? Yes, all of this is still happening!

Micah 6:10 ESV  Can I forget any longer the treasures of wickedness in the house of the wicked, and the scant measure that is accursed?

As I contrast the various Bible versions, the common theme I see is treasure, improperly acquired, and stored up in the houses of the wicked. Since we have established that the wicked, in this instance, are the leaders, who have become wealthy at the cost of those they have done business with, then I can make the argument that the wealthy of Israel had given themselves to the Babylonian spirits of lust and greed.

While I have associated Micah 6:10 with the banking system, there is another theme present, and that is the Babylon system. I have, on several occasions, been asked what I think Babylon is, I can tell you decisively what it is not. It has nothing to do with the physical location of the city that God said would be uninhabitable.

How the hammer of the whole earth is cut down and broken! How Babylon has become a horror among the nations! I set a snare for you and you were taken O Babylon, and you did not know it; you were found and caught because you opposed the LORD. The LORD has opened his armory and brought out the weapons of his wrath, for the Lord GOD of hosts has a work to do in the land of the Chaldeans. Come against her from every quarter; open her granaries; pile her up like heaps of grain, and devote her to destruction; let nothing be left of her. (Jeremiah 50:23-26 ESV)

and Babylon shall become a heap of ruins, the haunt of jackals, a horror and a hissing, without inhabitant. (Jeremiah 51:37 ESV)

For me, the obvious factor is that when Revelation 17:5 and Revelation 18 speak of Babylon. These passages are not talking about a destroyed city; they are talking about a harlot, and since there is no harlot per se, then we have to be talking about idealistic doctrines of greed, lust, and spiritual darkness. Yeah, I know, this last one “spiritual darkness” is vague, but then, so is the spirit world. If you operate on the principle that a vast number of angels, equaling one third, fell to earth with Satan, then you have the entities that are promoting all methods of killing off anything that looks like Christ. At this point, you might say, no one looks like him, and therefore none of us should be harassed. Unfortunately, you would be wrong, for all of us were made in God’s image, and that has never changed. In addition to that, we, by acknowledging that Jesus is God’s Son who died for the world, become one of His own through adoption. Now, look at the verse below, for it validates the idea of Babylon having demons as its greatest motivation.

And he called out with a mighty voice, “Fallen, fallen is Babylon the great! She has become a dwelling place for demons, a haunt for every unclean spirit, a haunt for every unclean bird, a haunt for every unclean and detestable beast. (Revelation 18:2 ESV)

I have been mocked and laughed at enough to know that references to things like “the New World Order” and the “Illuminati” cause people trouble, but if you had been paying attention, then you would know that these are real entities that have grandiose plans to eliminate the consumers of goods and keep the best for themselves. The rich seem to understand that this earth is limited in its resources and that we, the insignificant, consume too many resources. In my mind, this is the basis of the Babylon system that scripture tells us will be destroyed. Think about it: money, banking systems, land possession, inflation, (deadly) pollution, and the dissemination of information; who controls it all? A relatively small group of people, who only get richer every day. Welcome to the world of the harlot, dressed in scarlet, that rides the beast. Spend a few minutes reading Revelation 17; it paints a far-reaching picture of this harlot that drinks the blood of the saints.

Is there anything we, as followers of Christ, can do about it? Well, yes and no. Yes, we can vote, make our voices heard, and do whatever is necessary without harm. This battle we are in is first and foremost a spiritual battle and should be fought in the realm of the spirit. What does that mean? It means we pray. One of the things I have, once again, become aware of, is that spiritual entities have names, like depression, and poverty; understanding that gives me direct ammunition in prayer and I speak directly to those things. God never asked us to sit and take a beating, and neither would I.

The “No” side of this coin shows its ugly head as you realize that God is fulfilling His plan. Unfortunately, His plan doesn’t always coincide with ours. Let me ask you a question. Have you ever heard of the phrase, a false flag? A false flag is a pre-planned and staged event, invoked by some government entity, where crisis actors are sent to portray victims and aggressors. These events are acted out to: distract us from some other issue, promote fear, raise a level of rage in people, demonstrate a need for more gun controls, to name a few. Sadly, in these scripted events, real people can and do die. As I pointed out in Micah 6:9, the enemies that are coming to destroy Israel, are being sent by God, Do you now understand what I am saying when I say, these events may well be part of God’s plan? We are experiencing the birth pains Jesus spoke of in Matthew’s gospel.

Matthew 24:3-9 ESV  As he sat on the Mount of Olives, the disciples came to him privately, saying, “Tell us, when will these things be, and what will be the sign of your coming and of the end of the age?”  (4)  And Jesus answered them, “See that no one leads you astray.  (5)  For many will come in my name, saying, ‘I am the Christ,’ and they will lead many astray.  (6)  And you will hear of wars and rumors of wars. See that you are not alarmed, for this must take place, but the end is not yet.  (7)  For nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom, and there will be famines and earthquakes in various places.  (8)  All these are but the beginning of the birth pains.  (9)  “Then they will deliver you up to tribulation and put you to death, and you will be hated by all nations for my name’s sake.

In closing this out we will look briefly at Micah 6:11.

Micah 6:11 NASB “Can I justify wicked scales And a bag of deceptive weights?

Those that abide by God’s moral code, can quickly answer, NO. Some, argue the point, as they think there is an appropriate condition in which cheating is good or suitable.

“You must use accurate scales when you weigh out merchandise, and you must use full and honest measures. Yes, always use honest weights and measures, so that you may enjoy a long life in the land the LORD your God is giving you. All who cheat with dishonest weights and measures are detestable to the LORD your God. (Deuteronomy 25:13-16 NLT)

While I don’t live under the law, I do live under grace, and cheating is still not acceptable.

Posted in armies, Assyrians, bible study, caught, condemnation, destruction, End times, God's character, guilt, invasion, Islam, Israel, Jerusalem, Jews, judgment, Micah, overtaken, Sin, Things I have never noticed before, Thoughts, Thoughts on scripture, war | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

I am regularly challenged by the horrendous lack of understanding in the church body.

My friends and I meet each week; we have no set Bible study plan, but we do open our Bibles each time we meet. If it were a study, there would be some detectable pattern in our methods, such as an intense look at a particular book of the Bible, or some preassigned passages we could talk about on our next visit. What does happen, almost without hesitation, is that one man, in particular, will have questions from his readings which stretch across the entire Bible. The rest of the time we talk about life, and that is a good thing.

I am regularly challenged by the lack of understanding this brother seems to have; it convinces me more, each day, that we need legitimate Bible study in our church bodies. If you, like me, have endured the book studies most leaders offer, then you would also know that the books are written to promote the author’s way of thinking or some organizations viewpoint. I happen to think they should encourage God’s point of view. So let’s see if we can find God’s point of view in a couple of subjects.

Here are a few of the questions that are presented to the group by this brother.

Having read Genesis 3:5 he asks, who is the “you” that is giving the woman trouble, and who is “his” seed?

I could attempt to answer his question without much thought, but it is so much more convincing when you have scripture to back up your answers. There is a problem with this process, and that is, we have answered this very question before.

Genesis 3:15 NIV  And I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and hers; he will crush your head, and you will strike his heel.

Enmity is the Greek word ‘êybâh and also means hostility, hatred.

If I take the narrow view, looking only at Jesus as the woman’s seed, can I see evidence of that hostility? By merely reading the gospels, you can perceive this hostility culminating in the brutality the Jewish leadership bestowed upon Jesus, in His questioning at the home of Annas and then Caiphas the high priest (John 18,) and then pushing Pilot to hang Him on the cross.

If I take the broader view of Eve’s seed, then I am looking at the human race. It seems that some have less hostility focused against them, while, as the recent news conveyed, the Christian church in Nigeria is suffering from deadly violence. We, as the church, do suffer as Satan tries to badger, or belittle us, into not acting and walking in the excellence and beauty that Christ established for us. Bluntly said, Satan is trying to take us out of the way as we represent the thing he hates more than himself, Jesus.

The NASB uses the word seed instead of offspring. Now both terms convey the idea of a product of interaction, but the term seed has intimacy as a part of its definition.

Seed is the Greek word zera‛ and means offspring, descendants, posterity, children. But, it also speaks to us of moral quality or a practitioner of righteousness. Certainly, if we give this verse some consideration, we can visualize the idea of a practitioner of unrighteousness as being an offspring of Satan.

There may have been a pause in our conversation that morning, but only because we attempted to answer the first question. As we tried to answer Genesis 3:15 he jumped into question/challenge #2.

He had been doing as he says, reading in both the Old and New Testaments with no apparent purpose when his reading took him to the gospel of Mark where it says:

But about that day or hour no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father.” Mark 13:32 NIV

Most religious people, when they use this verse in a conversation, are trying to push some limited understanding and their fear of the future, on the listener. Let’s see if I can stay within the boundaries of scripture as I try to respond to my friends’ arguments.

  • First, Jesus is speaking to His Jewish disciples.

    Can we, without thinking this through, assume that He is NOT talking to the modern day church? We have to be careful about a challenge like this, for there many things within the law that the disciples understood, that are applicable to us – even if they were spoken under the law; and what about things God said prior to the law, as in the Abrahamic covenant?

    It is wise to NOT be so closed minded. The law seemed to have very little freedom in it, while the New Covenant is filled grace and constraints as well.

    One other thing; Paul, was an expert in the law, and God used that knowledge base to teach Paul the “freedoms” that we now enjoy as followers of Christ. So, the law, then, is the basis for the grace.

  • Everything Jesus is saying in Mark 13:32, is under the auspices of the Law.

    We are not under the law. Does the law serve as a benefit and guide to our lifestyles? Absolutely, but our greatest source of information has now become the Holy Spirit.

    John 14:26 NASB “But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all that I said to you.

    The obvious factor is that this is Jesus speaking. If I have the freedom to disregard Jesus words simply because they were spoken under the law, then I should disregard what Jesus said in John 14:26.

    “But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all that I said to you. John 14:26 NASB

    The problem with setting the passage aside without understanding is that Jesus fulfilled all that He said, and returned to the Father. The Father/God, in turn, sent the Holy Spirit as He said, and we have Peter, speaking on the day of Pentecost – filled with power through this new Holy Spirit they had been promised. The law, therefore, had no negative impact on the fulfillment of the promised gift of the Holy Spirit.

    As believers, not under the law, what then constrains us? We are to consider ourselves slaves to the Holy Spirit, just as Paul did.

    and having been freed from sin, you became slaves of righteousness.” Romans 6:18 NASB

    So, even though I am free from the law, I am still, by my own decision to follow Jesus, a slave to righteousness. Personally, I find no bondage in that decision, but freedom.

While it would be narrow-minded to reject information from the Old Testament, What then, do we have to guide us? The New Testament.

What are some passages that speak toward knowing what things are to come?

Acts 1:6-8 NASB So when they had come together, they were asking Him, saying, “Lord, is it at this time You are restoring the kingdom to Israel?” (7) He said to them, “It is not for you to know times or epochs which the Father has fixed by His own authority; (8) but you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be My witnesses both in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and even to the remotest part of the earth.”

I included verse six because it demonstrates that the Jewish disciples asked when He would restore the kingdom to Israel (Means that they had a particular mindset when they asked – one we Gentile believers don’t seem to get.) We know that Jesus will restore the kingdom shortly after the seven years of God’s wrath. The problem is that there is nothing that gives us a clear, distinct, timing as to when the seven years begins.

My friend asks, how is it possible that Jesus, the same Jesus who is God, would not know the time? Perhaps the answer lies in the fact that Jesus chose to be a man. He has never stopped being a man. Yes, Jesus is God, but, is it possible that in His choice He gave up some inherent abilities, such as reading the Father’s mind.

Now as to the times and the epochs, brethren, you have no need of anything to be written to you. For you, yourselves know full well that the day of the Lord will come just like a thief in the night. While they are saying, “Peace and safety!” then destruction will come upon them suddenly like labor pains upon a woman with child, and they will not escape. But you, brethren, are not in darkness, that the day would overtake you like a thief; for you are all sons of light and sons of day. We are not of night nor of darkness; so then let us not sleep as others do, but let us be alert and sober. For those who sleep do their sleeping at night, and those who get drunk get drunk at night.
(1 Thessalonians 5:1-7 NASB)

The Apostle Paul wrote to the church in Thessaloniki, with the express purpose of settling their nerves; someone had convinced them that the rapture had already taken place, leaving them stuck in the time of God’s wrath. This is an important concept to understand, especially if you have allowed yourself become convinced that God would allow those He calls His own to suffer wrath when Jesus took all the wrath meant for us, upon Himself, on the cross.

But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. Much more then, having now been justified by His blood, we shall be saved from the wrath of God through Him. (Romans 5:8-9 NASB)

and to wait for His Son from heaven, whom He raised from the dead, that is Jesus, who rescues us from the wrath to come. (1 Thessalonians 1:10 NASB)

For God has not destined us for wrath, but for obtaining salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ, (1 Thessalonians 5:9 NASB)

Because you have kept the word of My perseverance, I also will keep you from the hour of testing, that hour which is about to come upon the whole world, to test those who dwell on the earth. (Revelation 3:10 NASB)

The writer of Hebrews spelled out a similar theme when they spoke of Rahab, a citizen of Jericho who hid the Israeli spies and then following their instructions brought about her own salvation/rescue from pending destruction. You can find the entire story of Rahab in Joshua chapter 2.

By faith Rahab, the harlot did not perish along with those who were disobedient, after she had welcomed the spies in peace. (Hebrews 11:31 NASB)

In 2 Thessalonians chapter 2 Paul addresses another piece of evidence that helps to promote the timing associated with God’s wrath being poured out upon the earth.

And you know what restrains him now so that in his time he will be revealed. For the mystery of lawlessness is already at work; only he who now restrains will do so until he is taken out of the way. (2 Thessalonians 2:6-7 NASB)

We, the praying church, are the thing that is holding back the lawless one, and we will do so until the day we are removed from the earth. When this takes place there will be destruction coming out of every pore of the earth, and from above as well. Do not think for a minute that this will stop humankind from trying to eradicate followers of Christ, as well as each other, it will not; but even worse, will be at the three and a half year mark with the revealing of the false prophet. That man will be the enforcer of sharia, and heads will roll.

In Matthew 24 Jesus disciples asked Him a direct question:

Matthew 24:3 NASB As He was sitting on the Mount of Olives, the disciples came to Him privately, saying, “Tell us, when will these things happen, and what will be the sign of Your coming, and of the end of the age?”

He answered it like this.

“See to it that no one misleads you.” (Matthew 24:4b NASB)

We constantly have people trying to mislead us; many of them sound reasonable, and that is the scariest part of this equation.

One of the greatest clues we have comes out of Jesus responses in Matthew 24 when He said:

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

That fig tree was Israel, and it became a nation in 1948. Scripturally the average lifespan of a man is seventy years. We are given some leeway, but a little math puts us in the year 2018. I don’t know whether you noticed or not, but 2018 has come and gone, and we are still here. See what I was saying about leeway.

What does this all mean? It means, as far as I am concerned, that much like the World Series, we are in the ball game. God happens to be the one that picks the start date. We know that the series will only go seven games and that God will be the winner.

Currently, we are watching all the playoff games as they go on around us.

As the prophet James Taylor once said, keep your eyes on the Holy Land, and surrounding vicinity, because the series is about to begin.

Posted in bible study, character study, Cult teachings, Deception, false teaching, Genesis, gentiles, God's character, Hebrews, Hope, In Christ, Israel, Jesus, Jews, judgment, Matthew's gospel, Our being caught up, Rahab, Thoughts on scripture | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Micah 6:9, the armies of destruction are coming.

It has been a rough week and I needed to spend some time the Father.

Micah 6:9 NLT  Fear the LORD if you are wise! His voice calls to everyone in Jerusalem: “The armies of destruction are coming; the LORD is sending them.

Without explanation, let’s break this down.

  • Fear the LORD if you are wise! Words of wisdom, no matter who you are, or, what you are doing. Notice how it says if; perhaps we should all look at this as one of those self-analyzing questions that now and again needs to be asked as you say, if I am found to be wise, let it be in your eyes Father. I guess that means that I recognize that He is your Father and that you need to hold the mirror of the word up frequently as you would a mirror and look in it.
  • His voice calls to everyone in Jerusalem:” The NET translation implies that this can also be read – “the voice of the LORD is calling.” Keil & Delitzsch, in their commentary on the Old Testament, state, “because Israel is altogether wanting in these virtues, the Lord must threaten and punish. Mic_6:9. “The voice of Jehovah, to the city it cries, and wisdom has thy name in its eye; hear ye the rod, and who appoints it!” With these words, Micah introduces the threatening and reproachful words of the Lord. It is not to be taken by itself, as an exclamation, “Hark! voice of the Lord!” as in Isa_13:4; Isa_40:6, but must be connected with what follows.”

The deadly nature of the warning comes next.

  • The armies of destruction are coming;” J. Vernon McGee attempted to give us a portrayal of Micah; it goes as follows. “We have seen that Micah has been directing his prophecies largely to the urban areas, to the cities. His writing reveals that he is a very sophisticated writer. He was in the know; he belonged to the upper echelon. He is in contrast to Amos who said, “I’m no prophet. I’m just a gatherer of sycamore fruit.” And yet, it was McGee that gave me this: “Micah the Moresthite means that he was a native of Moresheth of Gath, which is southwest of Jerusalem. Although he was in the kingdom of Judah, he prophesied to both kingdoms, but his main message was directed to the northern kingdom. I have often wondered about that. His contemporary, Isaiah, was a prophet to the southern kingdom;… You will never misunderstand Micah because he makes it very clear to whom he is speaking.”

If Micah had not told us, we would have never known of such a place called Moresheth in Judah. Isaiah the prophet, also from Judah, was born of influence and therefore had access to the court of kings and influential people. Isaiah’s lifestyle, it seems, was not Micah’s. As you can see above, Micah prophesied to the Northern Kingdom of Israel, where Samaria lay.

Many will read a passage like Micah 6:9 and only see the relatively immediate Assyrian destruction that is coming, first to Israel and, in time, to Judah. The Assyrian invasions that occurred throughout this period, beginning around 730 BC, and culminated in 701 BC against Judah, however, as Micah tells us, the Assyrian is coming again.

The next aspect should cause some to shudder.

  • the LORD is sending them.” The simplistic definition of this is that God is sending all that this “Assyrian” represents. In the passages from Micah 5:5-6, I see, not only a singular entity but again, fighting forces. That entity, I believe, is known to us as the Antichrist. Now, what of this “they” that rules Assyria with drawn swords and enters the gates of the land of Nimrod?

Micah 5:5-6 NLT  And he will be the source of peace. When the Assyrians invade our land and break through our defenses, we will appoint seven rulers to watch over us, eight princes to lead us.  (6)  They will rule Assyria with drawn swords and enter the gates of the land of Nimrod. He will rescue us from the Assyrians when they pour over the borders to invade our land.

Because we now should be able to make a strong tie between Micah 6:9 and Micah 5:5-6, we should able to grasp, at least minimally, some idea of this Assyrian and where he comes from. Let me help you by showing you a map.

Everything that is yellow, green or a blend of those colors comprised the Assyrian empire. When Micah 5:5-6 speaks of Nimrod we are talking about the region that comprises modern-day Iraq.

To be honest, the first thing I thought of as I saw the name Nimrod was Jonah and Nineveh; these too were Assyrians. Unless you have been living in a cave then you are aware of the group, of which we seem to have no origins called ISIL, or their preferred name ISIS. With firearms lifted high, they entered the region that formerly was Nineveh and retook towns like Mosul – a town that sat on the outskirts of Nineveh after Americans “liberated” it in the Iraq wars.

In so many ways I can see ISIS fulfilling some of Micah’s prophecy, but the greatest fulfillment is found in Ezekiel 38 and 39 when Gog, the leader of Magog, swarms over Israel and dies on the hills of that country.

Keep your eyes on the Holy Land.

Posted in antichrist, armies, Assyrians, destruction, invasion, Islam, Israel, Jerusalem, judgment, Magog, Nimrod, overtaken, Prophetic, Thoughts on scripture, war, wisdom, wrath. | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Matthew 10:28, Him who able to kill the soul and the body.

A question came up about the soul. We seem to think that it is immortal and that it will, either live with the Father in heaven or, exist in permanent torment in hell. Are there any other options? Jewish thought on the subject is varied; it is, however, the origin of what we, in Christianity, believe. I give you two examples.

Gehinnom: A Jewish Hell

Only truly righteous souls ascend directly to the Garden of Eden, say the sages. The average person descends to a place of punishment and/or purification, generally referred to as Gehinnom.

The name is taken from a valley (Gei Hinnom) just south of Jerusalem, once used for child sacrifice by the pagan nations of Canaan (II Kings 23:10). Some view Gehinnom as a place of torture and punishment, fire and brimstone. Others imagine it less harshly, as a place where one reviews the actions of his/her life and repents for past misdeeds.

The soul’s sentence in Gehinnom is usually limited to a 12-month period of purgation before it takes its place in Olam Ha-Ba (MishnahEduyot2:9Shabbat33a). This 12-month limit is reflected in the yearlong mourning cycle and the recitation of the Kaddish (the memorial prayer for the dead).

Only the utterly wicked do not ascend to the Garden of Eden at the end of this year. Sources differ on what happens to these souls at the end of their initial time of purgation. Some say that the wicked are utterly destroyed and cease to exist, while others believe in eternal damnation (MaimonidesMishneh Torah, Law of Repentance, 3:5-6).


On their website –, the information ends with a bold exclamation,

We Don’t Know, So we Must Make Our Lives Count.”

Instead of focusing on the potential torment, why not focus on a God that loves you so much that He gave His only son as the final, all-encompassing, sacrifice. Perhaps such love is a motivation to live for Him.

Another website article dated June 18, 2013.

Written by, By Rabbi Baruch HaLevi, entitled:

I’ve always read that Jews don’t believe in the concept of hell. Is that true?”

There isn’t one definitive understanding of life after death or heaven and hell. has this to say.

“First, let me distinguish between what “Jews believe” versus what “Judaism” believes. Quite often one has nothing to do with the other and this is a perfect example. Jews may not believe in the afterlife—heaven and hell—but Judaism unequivocally does.

Growing up I was told that Jews don’t believe in the afterlife. No heaven. No hell. No nothing. However, like most everything else I learned about Judaism growing up, this was incomplete. Although there are strains of modern Judaism that would argue against life after death, the vast majority of Judaism, Jewish history, Jewish theology, and Jews themselves unequivocally believed in Olam Habah—the world to come.

(So,) Yes, Judaism believes in “heaven,” and yes, Judaism also believes in “hell.”

I did not have any of this information on a recent morning as I sat with the guys; it wouldn’t have mattered anyway, as one fellow, the one who keeps finding unusual and bizarre things to talk about, doesn’t seem to want to hear the truth.

Let’s get something straight here. I am not the final source of all truth and knowledge. If I don’t have the answer I will tell you, but, if you give me a chance, I will look it up and give you an answer. At that point, the Bible is my definitive source for truth. The Bible program I use has 45 translations available for me to choose from; are they all correct? I seriously doubt it, as many translations have known errors, and language so weakened that it makes those word choices seriously inadequate at times. Don’t give up hope, for God still manages to bring hope and healing even through problematic scriptures; this is why I constantly compare translations, and it is a problematic passage that is what brings me to the verse in question.

Those that refer to this passage generally focus on fearing God and the hell that seems to be dangling out there as a threat in an effort to keep us on a straighter path. My friend, that morning, showed great interest in this phrase, “God, who can destroy both the soul and the body in hell.”

Matthew 10:28 NLT  “Don’t be afraid of those who want to kill your body; they cannot touch your soul. Fear only God, who can destroy both soul and body in hell.

The NLT is fairly new to me, and it says that God can destroy both the body and soul in hell; that, is not what I was taught growing up. We were taught the soul is eternal and never dies, however that is not the implication here. I went through a translation comparison and every version I have uses the word destroy.

First, I have to ask, what is the context. Well, the conversation that evoked this comment by Jesus started all the way back in verse one of chapter ten. You can look it up for yourself if you have the time. Suffice it to say, Jesus called his disciples, prepared them, and sent them out in pairs with this message:

Matthew 10:6-8 NASB but rather go to the lost sheep of the house of Israel. (7) “And as you go, preach, saying, ‘The kingdom of heaven is at hand.’ (8) “Heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse the lepers, cast out demons. Freely you received, freely give.

At this time they were to only go to the Jews. You might think that the lost sheep would welcome this message of life, but there was obviously some animosity. Matthew 10:16-23 speaks directly to the hostility, that not only His disciples would eventually face, but we, the church, as well, and it’s not pretty.

If you are a follower of mine, then you know that I have recently talked about a friend who, in opposition to what scripture says, believes that the church must go through the “tribulation.” There are many reasons, based in scriptures, that convince me otherwise, however, there is an overwhelming abundance of evidence to show that our everyday lives will be filled with tribulations. Just today, I learned that China literally blew up a mega-church in China. According to Open Doors USA, North Korea tops the list for persecution, with Afghanistan a close second. If you are interested check out the ranking list on the Open Doors website –

When talking about the time period in which tribulations will exceed human reason, you are talking about the time of God’s wrath and judgment. Jesus, on the other hand, said tribulations, and that includes deadly events, would be a way of life. We here in America have yet to grasp the horrors of great tribulation, but we will.

The Greek word for kill is apokteinō and that is the word used when Jesus spoke of, “those who want to kill your body.” That word means to kill outright; figuratively to destroy: – put to death, kill, slay.

When Jesus told them to “rather fear Him who is able to destroy both the soul and the body..” He used the Greek word apollumi. That word is a derivative of two words and means to destroy fully (reflexively to perish, or lose), literally or figuratively: – destroy, die, lose, mar, perish.

Just looking at the alternative words – lose, mar, or perish, I wonder why the translators would choose the word destroy, over say, mar. One could mar an expensive piece of furniture. It might retain its functionality while losing its value. Furniture, unlike a Ming Dynasty vase, might be repairable, or should I say, salvageable. Merely using the term salvageable makes me think of who God is, and what He seems to do all the time, salvage people.

I find I can’t get away from this idea of total destruction. One of my own brothers was advocating that a merciful God would not simply put people into an eternal, torturous hell. To that I would say He did not do that to them, they did it to themselves. You see, we all have the knowledge of good and evil, and some simply choose to follow the evil path. Many would say, some of those followers had no choice. If I use the children next door, I have watched them develop some nasty attitudes that closely resemble the “adults” that are raising them. Influence may leave a stain on you, but the choice to act right, at some point, will be theirs alone.

This discussion and its vagueness are one of the reasons I included the Jewish thoughts on hell at the very beginning; as they too can see those condemned to hell as being imprisoned for a period of time and then, totally eliminated. Really, that makes a lot of sense. I cannot fathom an eternity of torment, no more than I fathom what an eternity of peace will feel like. But make no mistake, I choose eternity with the Father over any other option.

Over the course of several weeks, uncomfortable things have happened. One of those things was the passing of my mother. That woman had every confidence in the world as to where she was going when she died. I could say, she had an assurance, based in scripture, and her confidence prompted me to seek answers for myself. I could no longer trust what I deem fairy tales, I learned in Sunday school. I ascertained for myself, that Jesus words and actions were true and verifiable; therefore, I too have that same confidence in my destination. The other side of that coin is the anguish I hear when people say, how can I know what will become of me when I pass. Obviously, a few of the options, are either eternal hell in torment; a relatively short time in hell followed by vaporization of some sort or a life filled with peace in the Father’s arms.

Since my life in Christ affords me the confidence of life with the Father, then I have chosen that option.

As my Jewish friend stated:

We Don’t Know, So we Must Make Our Lives Count.”

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