The Apple Of God's Eye

March 15, 2011

Joshua: A Man Overshadowed By His Deeds

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Only a few times in history has a person been born who accomplishes so much that his deeds are remembered as much or more than the person himself. Such a man was Joshua.

Have you ever noticed that Joshua is not even named by Paul as one of the great heroes of faith in Hebrews 11? Yet far lesser known personalities such as Barak, Samson and Jephthah are cited as examples.

Why not Joshua? Joshua who took charge of Israel after the death of Moses? Joshua who gave instructions to carry the ark across the Jordan, which parted as the Red Sea had in the days of Moses? Joshua who led Israel around the city of Jericho and the walls came tumbling down? Joshua who led Israel’s conquest of the promised land? Joshua who commanded and the sun stood still for one whole day?

Are there more dramatic examples of faith in the entire Bible? Why, then, did Paul leave Joshua out of Hebrews 11?

Perhaps the answer is found in the long list of Joshua’s accomplishments. What he did — or, better, what God did through him — was so great that the events actually overshadow the man.

The first time we hear of Joshua in the Bible is during the second month of the Exodus.

Under Moses, God led Israel out of Egypt by way of the Red Sea. After dividing the Red Sea for Israel, God killed the pursuing Egyptians in the returning water. The Israelites journeyed into the rugged mountains of the southern Sinai and camped in a plain called Rephidim.

At Rephidim, Israel entered into their first battle against hostile forces — the Amalekites.

You remember the story. When Moses held his staff high in the air, the Israelites were victorious. When his hands fell to his sides, the Amalekites were victorious. Finally, at the end of the day, Moses sat on a rock with his hands held up by Aaron and Hur. Israel was victorious. (more…)

March 2, 2010

The Meaning Of God's Tabernacle For Christ's Church Today

possessthevision.wordpress.coThe theme of God's tabernacle runs through the Bible like a continuous stream. The tabernacle, and its expanded form as the Temple, stands in the center of God's plan.

Anciently, God was very detailed in how He should be worshiped by ancient Israel, giving instructions for His tabernacle (Exod. 25-27 and 30). It sat in a courtyard (100 cubits long  x 50 cubits wide) enclosed by curtains (Exod. 27:9), with a gate 20 cubits wide at the front.

The courtyard contained an altar of 5 cubits x 5 cubits (Exod. 27:1-8), a laver (bronze basin where priests washed their hands and feet – Exod. 30:18-19).

It also contained a central tent (30 cubits long), which was divided into two sections by a veil, with the front section being the “holy place”(Exod. 26:33), and the section behind the veil called the most holy place, or the holiest of all (Heb. 9:3).

The most holy place represented God’s throne room in heaven. The ark of the covenant, with the wings of the cherubim spread overhead, was in this section (Exod. 25:10-22, 26:33-34).  Inside the ark were the tables of stone on which God had written the Ten Commandments. The lid of the ark, which was called the mercy seat, was where the Eternal – the One who later became Jesus Christ – manifested Himself.

Around the tabernacle was a section curtained off from the rest of the Israelite camp. No uncircumcised person was allowed to enter. The circumcised Israelites could enter and offer their sacrifices on the altar provided they were not ceremonially or spiritually unclean. (more…)

May 20, 2009

Should Christian Men Wear Earrings?

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Before I answer the question about men wearing earrings, we should first see that there is a need to keep a clear distinction between the two genders (male and female). God made two sexes. There is no third category, such as transsexuals.

Even today, there is a vast difference between men and women clothes and fashions, with each culture holding a clear distinction between male and female apparel. We need to accept that there is a gender distinction, a God-given male/female distinction that is defined by a culture and needs to remain a firm standard.

Zephaniah 1:8 states, “And it shall come to pass in the day of the Lord’s sacrifice, that I will punish the princes, and the king’s children, and all such as are clothed with strange apparel.” The Jamison, Fausset and Brown Commentary explains “strange apparel” as “…garments forbidden by the law—e.g., men’s garments worn by women, and vice versa.”

Is it biblically permissible for men to wear earrings?

The Bible does not speak directly about the matter of men wearing earrings. However, we find guidelines in God’s Word to follow in such matters. For example, we read where the apostle Paul says that even nature (common sense) should teach us that “if a man have long hair, it is a shame unto him” (I Cor. 11:14). When considered in context, it is obvious that Paul was saying it is shameful for a man to look like a woman.

This, then, is a basic guideline. Men and boys should appear obviously masculine and not easily mistaken as feminine. Or, said another way, men and boys should not look like women and girls. Even more clear, however, is the clear command not to cross-wear, that is, men are not to wear women’s clothes and women not to wear men’s clothes.

A woman shall not wear man’s clothing, nor shall a man put on a woman’s clothing; for whoever does these things is an abomination to the LORD your God. (Deuteronomy 22:5)

So why is it now common to see men wearing an earring? One is tempted to conclude that because men now wear them, then there is no longer any feminine association with this action. But getting caught up in fads is wrong and it is precisely here where Christians can get caught off guard. Woman’s apparel should never become acceptable to both men and women.

God’s Word does mention earrings worn by men in several places, but they ALL involve God’s servants telling people to remove or give up earrings. There were pieces of jewelry worn on the ear lobe in Bible times (Gen 35:4). While these were generally worn only by Israelite women, the men among the ancient ISHMAELITES apparently wore earrings too (Judg 8:24-25). There is one incident where the Israelites (young men and women) brought their earrings to Aaron in order for him to make an idol out of it. It must have been an Egyptian (pagan) custom for young men to wear earrings. See Exodus 35:22, Numbers 31:50,; and Judges 8:24-26.  Also, recall the story of the golden calf ( Exodus 32). Aaron fashioned it out of the Israelites’ earrings—including the men’s (verses 2-4). In this account, idolatry is linked to earring-wearing!

Popularity does not make gender cross-wear permissible.

Christians need to accept that certain things which are acceptable to people within a culture are not acceptable to God.Why? Because it has crossed gender lines and distinctions become blurred every time men or women wear other clothing or apparel like earrings from the other gender.

Wearing earrings is traditionally a feminine thing. Men just did not wear earrings (in the modern Western context). Women can wear big or small earrings. Both are considered feminine even though one might be popular and the other not. On the other hand, men can wear all sorts of hats or jeans, but not feminine hats or jeans. When men blur the line of gender distinction, they are rebelling against God’s command to not share styles and customs. This is why there should not be any cross gender custom change. It is not popularity that makes it right or wrong, it is God’s word. Because it started off in rebellion, it will remain an item that displeases God.

The Christian attitude should be one of modesty, humility, and service to God and neighbor. Making a male look like a female or vice versa, or going to extremes — being motivated by personal vanity — is condemned. Our CHARACTER, rather than our outward appearance, should be the outstanding and memorable quality about us.

Modesty is the biblical admonition

According to the Word of God, a Christian is not to appear strange or outlandish, either in his actions or attire. In that light, men should also not become all fussy, have their nails buffed and dye their hair. A man bag is still a pocketbook and nail polish is nail polish even if it’s clear and you’re an aggressive stock trader with a firm handshake.

The Bible does not encourage us to call undue attention to ourselves, and it certainly speaks against rebellion (see Romans 1:28-32 and II Corinthians 12:20). Instead, we are to avoid “all appearance of evil” (I Thess. 5:22), and to be a light (Matt. 5:13-16). In short, God wants us to be good citizens and to set a clean and wholesome example of modesty and right behavior based on His law. Therefore, we ought to consider how our appearance will affect our relationship with others.

March 16, 2009

Is It Biblical To Ordain Women As Ministers?

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As this subject is no doubt going to raise some emotional ire, I would like to preface it by saying that my approach is based on the Bible, not on opinions or feelings. God has a preordained way of teaching us spiritual aspects in this physical life, and we have to approach this with a humble attitude.

There is not much room for error on this subject, as the Bible is more than clear in its explanation. The apostle Paul’s instructions were: “I permit no woman to teach or to have [exercise] authority over men; she is to keep silent” (I Tim. 2:12, RSV). Also see I Corinthians 14:34. Paul is explaining that it is not proper for women to exercise administrative or ecclesiastical authority over men within the Church. In other words, women were NOT to become Church elders or give sermons.

Albert Barnes’ Notes On The Bible says this of the subject: ” This rule is positive, explicit, and universal.  The meaning cannot be mistaken; (compare I Tim. 2:11-12).

And John Gill’s Exposition Of The Bble states: By this the apostle would signify, that the reason why women are not to speak in the church, or to preach and teach publicly, or be concerned in the ministerial function, is, because this is an act of power, and authority; of rule and government, and so contrary to that subjection which God in his law requires of women unto men. The extraordinary instances of Deborah, Huldah, and Anna, must not be drawn into a rule or example in such cases.

THAT is the crux of the subject – rule and government of God – in the Church of God. Such a subject will not sit well with modern women who are in positions of authority over men in a business/governmental climate. I don’t think I have to state what feminists will think. However, that makes no difference to what God thinks, or what He desires in His true Church. And this is why those churches which allow women preachers can easily be weeded out as NOT being inspired by the Holy Spirit. This practice is simply unbiblical.

There is also the admonition of I Cor. 11:3, which says (godly) women are to be under obedience to their husbands. This verse clearly defines the structure God desires in the family (see also Eph. 5:22, Tit. 2:5, I Pet. 3:1). For “under obedience,” translate, “in subjectation” or “submission,” as the Greek is translated (Eph. 5:21-22, 24). Again, the Bible is clear that the authority in the family rests upon the man.

So, does this mean that the husband is to lord it over the wife. Are these instructions to the denigration of women? Absolutely not! Paul uses the relationship of a man and woman to describe the relationship of Christ and the Church. The husband is a type of Jesus Christ in the family and the wife is a type of the (future) bride of Christ (the Church) – see Eph. 5:22-24. Christ died for the Church (and the world at large) and so proved His love for His people. So the relationship of love which prompted Christ to give His life, is the same the man ultimately has for his wife (Ephesians 5:22-33). It is a heavy responsibility.

Critics usually fail to see a crucial aspect of God’s government. Man and woman are equals; neither being inferior or superior. But the Scriptures clearly reveal the subordination in authority of the woman to the man from the  beginning.

However, subordination has nothing to do with inferiority. Christ is not inferior to the Father, but He is subordinate, and under authority, to the Father. The woman is not inferior to the man, but she is subordinate. There is no loss of equality; there is a distinction of  her God-given role.

God gave the woman to man as “a helper comparable to him” (Genesis 2:18,20). Paul later describing the relationship of man and woman stated, “…woman is the glory of man. For man is not from woman, but woman from man. Nor was man created for woman, but woman for the man.” (1 Corinthians 11:7-9).

Are there women in Scripture who have had positions of authority? Yes, Deborah (Judges 4:4), Miriam (Ex. 15:20), Huldah  (II Kings 22:14), and Noadiah (Neh. 6:14), are all identified as prophetesses, and Deborah also as a judge (Judges 4:4). Does any of this contradict New Testament instructions for the Church? No, because we do we not read of any Levitical priestesses. The law specifically revealed that it would be “Aaron and his sons” (Exodus 28:3-4) who were to serve as priests. God’s design for the Levitical priesthood was that it would be of the men, not the women. These women served in extraordinary circumstances, and sometimes in time when there was a clear lack of proper manly leadership.

The Bible also includes examples of instruction collected from outstanding women. Included are Hannah’s prayer, Miriam’s song, and the teachings of Lemuel’s mother.

The New Testament does give precedent for the ordination of deaconesses (see I Timothy 3:8-11 and Romans 16:1, RSV). Apparently, Priscilla and Aquila, who served under Paul’s administration, were deacon and deaconess. In the Church at that time was a very powerful and effective teacher named Apollos. Apollos’ knowledge was imperfect, though, and “… when Priscilla and Aquila heard him, they took him and expounded to him the way of God more accurately” (Acts 18:26, RSV). Here we find a woman and her husband together teaching a man the way of God more perfectly. Notice also Paul’s instruction in Titus 2:3-5.

In conclusion, all humans are equal, but not all persons have the same responsibilities and duties. Husbands and wives have distinct roles in their relationship, but share equality in God’s promises of eternal life.  The Spirit of Christ can never contradict itself; and God’s government is there to promote peace, truth, and order in the church, to seek that which is good for it, to bear with that which is not hurtful to its welfare, and to keep up good behaviour, order, and decency.

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