The Apple Of God's Eye

December 30, 2009

Jesus' Birth: The Untold Story

In late December of each year, thousands of tourists flock into the small town of Bethlehem in the Judean Hills south of Jerusalem to participate in annual Christmas celebrations there. Some make the 6-mile journey from Jerusalem on foot. Upon arrival, they crowd with silent awe into the paved expanse of Manger Square in front of the revered Church of the Nativity, built over the traditional site of Jesus’ birth.

Inevitably, some of these tourists arrive in Israel unprepared. They have not thoroughly studied their guidebooks. As they step off their plane, they receive a real shock!  November through early March is “winter” in Israel! The weather gets cold, especially at night. Often it rains — or even snows! Yet many arrive in Israel carrying luggage bulging with summer attire, reasoning that it is always hot and arid in the Middle East. So they hurriedly purchase coats and sweaters in Tel Aviv or Jerusalem for their pilgrimage down to Bethlehem.

Nevertheless, most of those who stand in Manger Square on December 25 each year — prepared and unprepared alike — fail to perceive the message being proclaimed by the very weather around them!  Notice this plain testimony of your Bible: On the day of Jesus’ birth “there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night” (Luke 2:8). (more…)

October 30, 2009

What Happened To The Biblical Office Of The Apostles?

www.creationism.orgThere are some who say Christ only ordained the original twelve, that the apostleship was then sealed, and there would be no more apostles after the original twelve. Was this an office that would end after their death?

Unger’s Bible Dictionary says on the subject of apostle, “One sent with a special message or commission…. As regards the apostolic office, it seems to have been preeminently that of founding the churches, and upholding them by supernatural power specially bestowed for that purpose.”

The Companion Bible says, “One sent forth with a special mission or errand.”

And Clarke’s Commentary says, “The word apostle comes from a Greek word that means, I send a message.” He goes on to say, “Those who were Christ’s apostles were first His disciples; which means that men must first be taught of God before they are sent of God.”

Was the Apostolic Office Sealed?

The first apostles were chosen, just as any of us must be chosen, for God to use. Halley’s Handbook points out that the training of the first twelve was not an easy task, for they were being trained for a work utterly different from anything they imagined. They had no thought at first of becoming the preachers they turned out to be. They were expecting the Messiah to establish a political world empire of which they would be administrators. When they were told that Christ was to be crucified instead of establishing a throne at that time, they were stunned. Even at the last Passover, their minds were still on who was to have the greatest office. It was not until after Christ’s death, resurrection, and sending of His Holy Spirit that they understood His Kingdom was to be set up at a much later time. Notice in Acts 1:6 that they asked Christ before He ascended to heaven if He would, “at this time restore again the kingdom to Israel?”

Let’s look into the Bible to see if there is any evidence of this office being sealed with these original twelve. In Matthew 10:1 Christ called them disciples. Then in verse 2 they are called apostles, and in verse 5 they are “sent forth.” There is nothing in this chapter saying that the office was sealed. Mark 3:13-14 states that He ordained twelve. Luke 6:12-13 tells us He prayed all night before choosing and ordaining them. John’s account tells us the disciples were excited that they had found the Messiah and they willingly followed Jesus Christ as His disciples (John 1:37-41). Again, in all these accounts there is nothing about the apostleship being a closed office or a sealed office.

The Companion Bible tells us there are four places where the Bible lists the apostles in the New Testament: three times in the gospels which we have just read, and one time in the book of Acts. In fact, the word apostle or apostles appears eight times in the gospels, 68 times in Acts and the epistles, and three times in the book of Revelation. When used in the gospels, it refers to the twelve chosen and commissioned by Christ during His ministry. It was from this office that Judas fell. Remember the question is, was this office sealed with the twelve? Could there be others ordained to this office?

More Apostles Ordained

In Acts 1:13-26 we read the account of how the office from which Judas fell was given to Matthias. So here is the account of another apostle being chosen, though nothing more is said about him.

In Acts 13 and 14 we are given an account of some of the work of Paul and Barnabas, but notice in Acts 14:14 Barnabas and Paul are called “apostles.” We see further proof that the apostleship wasn’t sealed. In Romans 11:13, Paul says, “I am the apostle of the Gentiles, I magnify mine office.” So we see in God’s inspired Word that Barnabas and Paul were the first and second apostles mentioned after the first twelve.

We can also find others mentioned in the Bible. Notice the third and fourth ones mentioned: Romans 16:7 says, “Salute Andronicus and Junia…who are of note among the apostles, who also were in Christ before me.” Here are two more mentioned.

Let’s look at the account of another apostle. We know that of the original twelve, two were named James, one was the son of Zebedee and the other the son of Alphaeus. There was yet another James who later became an apostle who was not numbered among the original twelve. This was James the half-brother of Jesus Christ. Galatians 1:17-19 gives the account of Paul returning from Arabia after his three years of training in the desert with Christ. In verse 19 he says, “But other of the apostles saw I none, save James the Lord’s brother.” Here is a fifth one mentioned after the twelve.

Two more apostles are mentioned by Paul which will take a little more study. In I Thessalonians 1:1-6 notice how Paul words the letter: “Paul, and Silvanus, and Timotheus, unto the church of Thessalonians….” Notice in verse 2 that he say “We give thanks,” grouping all three together. He says the same thing in verses 5-6. Then in chapter 2, verses 2 and 5, Paul still lumps all three together and in verse 6 he refers to them all as apostles: “Nor of men sought we glory, neither of you, nor yet of others, when we might have been burdensome, as the apostles of Christ.” We can see that Silvanus and Timothy are mentioned as apostles, bringing the number to seven, who were ordained after the original twelve apostles.

Epaphroditus and Titus are given the label of “messenger.” Notice Philippians 2:25: “Epaphroditus, my brother, and companion in labour, and fellowsoldier, but your messenger….” The same is said of Titus in II Corinthians 8:23. The Greek word for “messenger” here is apostolos, translated apostle in other places. The Diaglott of the original Greek translated “messenger” as “apostle” both times in these two scriptures. This brings our number of additional apostles to nine. It is rather evident that Christ did not seal the office of apostle with the first twelve.

Paul called himself an apostle nineteen times and even defended himself concerning this office in II Corinthians 10:13. The only time the word apostle and seal are used together is when Paul is defending his office (I Cor. 9:2). Read verses 1-5 and notice that Paul is saying that the seal or proof of his apostleship was the conversion to Christianity of the brethren. Paul used the analogy of a seal or stamp which was a figure cut in stone and then set in a ring by which a letter or document would be stamped, showing by whose authority the said document was sent. Paul used this analogy to show that God had sent him and placed him in the office of an apostle.

If this office was sealed and no one else was to hold that office, then why is it listed among the gifts of the Spirit in I Corinthians 12:28 and Ephesians 4:11-13? These are offices to be held in the Church and this was written over 20 years after Christ ascended to heaven and after most of the original apostles were either dead or sent to other places. Also keep in mind that the Bible was written mainly for us in the end time.

Notice in Revelation 2:2 that the Ephesus era was commended for testing those who claimed to be apostles. Wasn’t this an ideal spot to say there were no apostles, if the office had been sealed? No, the office of apostle has not been sealed and completed with the original twelve. Someday we may be surprised to learn just how many apostles there have been down through the centuries.

August 22, 2009

What Is God's Name?

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God’s name is important! We must not use it lightly or irreverently — but with a genuine sense of reverence and awe (Exodus 20:7). But what is the name of the heavenly Father? What is the name of His Son, our Savior, the Messiah? It is important that we know. For there is only one “name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved” (Acts 4:12).

Must we, as some claim, use only Hebrew names when speaking of the Father and the Son? Is salvation based on the pronunciation of God’s name in a certain language, or on a certain set of sounds? Are we unwittingly transgressing the Third Commandment when we say “Jesus Christ,” “God” and “Lord” — because these are not Hebrew names? There is no need for confusion. Read on and understand!

Sacred names?

The notion that we must use only God’s Hebrew names is of no ancient origin. Actually, the Hebrew-names teaching had its beginnings less than 50 years ago, in the late 1930s. At that time, proponents of the idea began to claim that it is gross sin to say the name Jesus Christ, which is an anglicized spelling of the Greek words lesous and Christos. Likewise, they declared it a sin to utter the phrase God the Father, for the English word God was said to be linked etymologically with pagan worship.

The Deity’s name, they alleged, must be spoken only in Hebrew. This is an important prerequisite for entering God’s Kingdom, they claimed. These same few teach that the sacred personal name of our heavenly Father is Yahweh (or, in its contracted form, Yah) and that the name of His Son is Yahshua the Messiah. The word Elohim, too, must be used instead of our equivalent English word God. They declare that when we pray or speak about the Father and the Son, we must use only these Hebrew names. It is wrong, they say, to translate the names of the Deity into English or any other language. In other words, we may freely read and discuss the Bible as translated into the English language in all terms except the names of God or Jesus Christ. Then we must speak Hebrew. Using substitutes for the names Yahweh and Yahshua, we are told, could deny us salvation.

Are Hebrew names the only ones acceptable to God? Is He insulted by anything else?

The tetragrammaton

First, let’s examine the name Yahweh, said to be the personal name of the Heavenly Father. In Exodus 3:15, the Creator introduced His name — YHWH — to Moses. (In many English versions of the Bible, YHWH is translated as LORD, usually printed in capital letters.)

Unrealized by many, the text of the Old Testament consists of consonants, no vowels. The original Hebrew of the Creator’s name as written in the consonantal text of this verse is spelled simply YHWH, not Yahweh. YHWH is often referred to as the “tetragrammaton,” meaning the “four letters.”

The name YHWH is derived from a form of the Hebrew verb to be. It has the same meaning as the name I AM, mentioned in the previous verse (Exodus 3:14). Hebrew scholars say YHWH could mean “he exists” or “he causes to be.” The English equivalents of this word would be “the Ever-living” or “the Eternal.”

Though we cannot be absolutely certain what the missing vowels in YHWH should be, many scholars believe that YHWH was probably vocalized originally as Yahweh.

The Jews, thinking the name YHWH too sacred to be uttered, ceased to even pronounce it after the days of Ezra and Nehemiah. Indeed, it was considered unlawful and blasphemous to utter it. When a Jew reciting orally came to YHWH in a scripture, he substituted the word Adonai (a Hebrew word meaning “Lord” or “Master”) instead. The name of God, in other words, was written YHWH, but pronounced Adonai.

But one thing is certain. The pronunciation of the Hebrew word YHWH was not “Jehovah.” This familiar but erroneous name is a comparatively recent invention, devised by Peter Galatin (the confessor of Pope Leo X) in 1520. Galatin interjected the vowels of the word Adonai (a-o-a) between the four sacred consonants YHWH, producing the hybrid monstrosity YaHoWaH, which later became “Jehovah” in some English Bibles. It is a totally artificial name, formed by adding alien vowels to the Tetragrammaton. It has no claim to legitimacy.

Yahshua is Yahweh!

The first point that must be made in answer to those well-intentioned but misguided advocates of “sacred names” concerns their labeling the Father Yahweh as distinct from His Son Yahshua (which means “Yahweh is salvation”). They claim YHWH is the Father, and that the Son later had to be revealed.

The truth is that the YHWH of the Old Testament is the very One who became Jesus or, in Hebrew, Yahshua! Yahshua, or Jesus, IS Yahweh!

Jesus was the Word (Greek, Logos, “spokesman”) who was with God the Father from the beginning (John 1:1). The Logos was the Creator — “All things were made through Him” (verse 3). That Logos — the Creator — later became flesh and dwelt among us (verse 14). He then declared the Father (verse 18), whom no man had heard or seen before (John 5:37).

Notice further: In Deuteronomy 32:3-4, we read that YHWH (translated “Lord” in many Bibles in verse 3) is “the Rock.” In I Corinthians 10:1-4, we discover that the Rock was none other than Christ. In John 8:58, Jesus reveals that He is the “I AM” of Exodus 3:14. In Hosea 13:4, YHWH says there is no savior but Him. YHWH, then, clearly is Jesus (Acts 4:12)!

Jesus (or Yahshua) was the God of the Old Testament. He was YHWH. With this understanding, one of the major tenets of the sacred names doctrine falls flat! Now look, at another major error in this false teaching.

Evidence from Old Testament

Though the vast majority of the Old Testament was inspired in the Hebrew language, Daniel and Ezra wrote portions of their books in Aramaic or Syriac, the prevalent language spoken throughout the Persian Empire and elsewhere during their time. It had replaced Hebrew as the language of common speech of the Jews.

When these men of God referred to the Creator in those passages, did they use the old Hebrew names, or did they translate them into Aramaic?

Nowhere in the Aramaic passages do we find the names YHWH or Elohim. An examination of the manuscripts reveals that in dozens of places the writers rendered the Hebrew names for God into the Aramaic word Elah. And it is just as proper that the Hebrew El and Elohim should be translated into the English word God.

Moreover, it should be noted that the name El was in use among the pagan Canaanites long before Moses penned the Pentateuch. In the cuneiform religious tablets excavated at Ras Shamra (the ancient Canaanite city of Ugarit in northern Syria), for example, El (El the Bull) is described as the head of the Canaanite pantheon, husband of Asherah and father of all the other gods. If it is a sin for us to use the English word God because pagan Druids used it to refer to their idols, then, by the same reasoning, it is also a sin to use the Hebrew words Elohim and El.

Also notice that the Hebrew word Elohim is used 240 times throughout the inspired Old Testament to refer to pagan, heathen idols (see Exodus 12:12, Deuteronomy 6:14 and Judges 11:24, for example). This usage shows that it is just as permissible to use the English word God today for both the Creator and for pagan idols.

Apostolic example

But what about the New Testament books? The original inspired language of the New Testament was Greek. Greek was virtually a universal language in the first century, widely understood by both Jews and gentiles.

Much of the New Testament was written by the apostle Paul, the apostle sent to the Greek-speaking gentiles who did not know Hebrew or Aramaic. When Paul wrote in Greek to Greek converts, did he pause in mid-sentence and switch from Greek to Hebrew to write Yahweh or Yahshua when faced with a sacred name? Never!

Paul invariably used the Greek words for “God” (theos) and “Lord” (kurios). And he used the Greek name Iesous (Jesus). And so did the other writers of New Testament books, as inspired by God’s Holy Spirit. In 665 places in the New Testament, the apostles translated the Hebrew word YHWH into the Greek word kurios.

There is not one New Testament Greek manuscript with the names of the Deity written in Hebrew!

In the face of these clear facts, “sacred names” proponents have no choice but to deny the New Testament was originally written in Greek. They assert — wrongly — that the whole of the New Testament was originally written in Aramaic (some even say Hebrew), and only later translated into Greek. At the time of this alleged translation, they claim, the sacred Hebrew names were wrongly removed and pagan Greek names substituted. The burden of proof is on them. The evidence? There is none — for it is a totally false notion, devised out of necessity to justify a false premise!

The Aramaic version of the New Testament available today is clearly a later translation from the original inspired Greek. The only copies of the original New Testament writings that have been preserved are in Greek — none in Aramaic or Hebrew.

More proof

Jesus said He came to reveal and declare the name of the Father to men (John 17:6, 26). Yet where do we find any discussion of its pronunciation? Where did Jesus say that Hebrew is the only name we must use? If pronunciation is so all-important, why did Jesus never say so?

Another point: Jesus prophesied that “many [deceivers] will come in My name” (Matthew 24:5). If the only proper form of his name is Yahshua, then Jesus’ prophecy has utterly failed — and He is a false prophet! Have many come in the Hebrew name of Yahshua? No — hardly any. But many deceivers have come in the name of Jesus Christ, which Jesus in this verse clearly calls His name.

In other words, Jesus was saying that false churches would use the true name. Jesus obviously is not concerned with the language in which His name is spoken; it remains His name. There is power and authority in Jesus’ name — the only name by which we may be saved.

Consider further: In John 17:11, Jesus asked the Father to “keep through Your name those whom You have given Me.” As we trace the history of the true Church through the ages; what name do we find it using? “The Church of God,” or the equivalent name in the native language spoken by members of the Church at any particular time! We do not find through history the name “Church of Yahweh” or some other Hebrew form. Either it is acceptable to use the non-Hebrew word God — or the Father failed to answer Jesus’ request!

What’s in a name?

What does the word name really mean, anyway? In Bible usage, a “name” signifies much more than merely a set of vocal sounds. Names convey meaning. They are given for a purpose. “Abraham,” for example, means “father of many nations.” “Israel” means “prevailer with God.” And Yahweh means “the Eternal.”

One’s name summarizes one’s authority, power, reputation and character. It is not merely a certain set of sounds or vocal vibrations that is important, but the meaning and power behind the name.

God’s name has profound significance. The Hebrew text of the Old Testament contains many divine names (some in Hebrew), each descriptive of some aspect of God’s character. Among them is El Shaddai, “almighty God,” as in Genesis 17:1, and Eloheseba’ot, “God of hosts,” as in Amos 5:27. The meaning of each of them is infinitely more important than its mere sound in Hebrew. God’s character remains the same — whatever the language may be.

Moreover, you need to understand that Elohim (God) is a family name (Ephesians 3:14-15)! It has a plural ending — allowing for more than one member in the one divine Family. We may also bear that name — the very name of God! We may enter the God Family by a resurrection.

Performance, not pronunciation

Salvation is not based on pronunciation! Those who would worship the sound of a name — treating it with superstitious and mystical reverence — make an idol out of that sound. Thinking they have some gift of greater knowledge, they actually miss the whole point and intent of the Scriptures, and engender needless strife and division.

Remember the words of Jesus in Matthew 7:21: “Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven.”

Performance, not pronunciation, is of paramount importance to God. We honor His name by obeying Him, not by mouthing a certain sound. Do not be misled by the naive and misguided “scholarship” of those who would make a “show of wisdom.” Their teachings are not substantiated by the Word of God, but are based on a multitude of woefully misapplied scriptures. Speaking the names of God in Hebrew is not a prerequisite for salvation.

Take reassurance from the statement of the apostle Peter, who declared, “If you are reproached for the name of Christ [Christos in the original Greek], blessed are you, for the Spirit of glory and of God rests upon you” (I Peter 4:14).

Source: The Good News, January 1986

July 26, 2009

Was Jesus A Jew?

The word “Jew” is a shortened form of the old English word “Judean,” referring to the descendants of the patriarch Judah. In the New Testament genealogies, both Mary and Joseph are listed as descendants of Judah, through the line of David (Matt. 1 and Luke 3). Jesus was not only a descendant of Judah — He was not only a Jew — but He was of the Davidic — the kingly — line of Judah. Numerous verses refer to Jesus as the son of David.

The apostle Paul was inspired to write: “It is evident that our Lord sprang out of Juda” (Heb. 7:14). In Revelation 5:5,
Jesus is called the “Lion of the tribe of Juda.”  Long before His birth, it was prophesied that Shiloh — the Messiah, the Prince of Peace — would come from the tribe of Judah (Gen. 49:10).

In His conversation with the woman at the well, Jesus said, “Ye [Samaritans] worship ye know not what: we [Jews] know what we worship: for salvation is of the Jews” (John 4:22). Jesus used the pronoun “we” and clearly considered Himself to be a Jew. But the Jews rejected Him — He came “unto his own, and his own received him not” (John 1:11).

Paul wrote about God’s sending His own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh (Rom. 8:3). Christ took on the flesh and blood of His physical parent Mary (Heb. 2:14). Jesus was born as a human being by a divine begettal into the nation, area, and family of Judah. Jesus was a Jew!

April 30, 2009

Obama Worship Meets Public Outrage: President Portrayed As Messiah

157Many followers of President Obama claim that he has a “messianic” personality. They believe that he believes that he is some kind of messiah whose job it is to “save” the rest of us.

Not only is this an over-the-top assessment of the president, but the belief, or fear, that he has these tendencies is taking hold, especially among conservatives who find his attempts to fix the economy and improve social conditions intrusive and beyond the traditional role of government.

Well guess what? Now an artist has painted his vision of a messianic Obama, a painting that was to be on display April 29th at New York City’s Union Square.

Michael D’Antuono said his painting, “The Truth” has, during its previous private showings, raised eyebrows and spurred discourse on the nation’s current political climate and deep partisan divide. The 30″ x 54″ acrylic painting on canvas depicts President Obama appearing much like Jesus Christ on the Cross; atop his head, a crown of thorns. Behind him, the dark veil being lifted (or lowered) on the Presidential Seal.

Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan, has previously been clear in his nearly religious adoration of Obama. “You are the instruments that God is going to use to bring about universal change, and that is why Barack has captured the youth. And he has involved young people in a political process that they didn’t care anything about. That’s a sign. When the Messiah speaks, the youth will hear, and the Messiah is absolutely speaking.”

Even the title of the piece, “The Truth,” suggests a play on biblical themes, as Jesus said in John 14:6, “I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.”

To me, the silent consent of this type of portrayal by President Obama is astounding. Instead of getting out in front of the messianic talk, he disobeys the commandment: “thou shalt have no other gods before me.”

 NewsBusters had more:

“The Truth” is stranger than fiction. This is not a spoof picture from “The Onion” or any other satirical website. The artist quite clearly portrays Obama as a latter day Christ like figure considering the outstretched arms and the crown of thorns. Obama worship, complete with halo images, has been noted before here on NewsBusters but it was nothing compared to current expressions in awe of The One as we approach his hundreth day in office on Wednesday.

Gateway Pundit said: Liberals Will Coronate Obama at Union Square.

In celebration of his first 100 disastrous days in office liberal goons will crown Obama in messianic imagery at New York City’s Union Square on Wednesday.

Thankfully, some common sense prevailed a day later. Due to overwhelming public outrage, a released statement said the artist chose to cancel the event.

PR Newswire:

Painter Michael D’Antuono has cancelled the planned public unveiling of his latest work “The Truth” at NYC’s Union Square Park on President Obama’s 100th day in office due to overwhelming public outrage. The artist’s decision was based in part on thousands of emails and phone calls; online blogs and other public commentary received in the first 48 hours following its release. …

The artist insists that the work was intended purely as a political piece. “The religious reference was used metaphorically and not to insult anyone’s religious beliefs. If that is the effect that my art has had on anyone, I am truly sorry,” says D’Antuono.

Get “The Audacity of Deceit: Barack Obama’s War on American Values” and you’ll find that this man, though placed in his office by God, is clearly not a Messiah but a destroyer of values and morals. This book will teach you about  looming hostile attack on Judeo-Christian values and freedoms. 

April 12, 2009

Bet You Don't Know Who Is The Real Jesus?

 

Editors Comment: This great little article is from the Trumpet.com which really highlights the deficient view of a false Saviour by mainstream Christianity. I can’t say it enough times that most denominations are seriously deficient in Bible knowledge; in any real depth of scriptural understanding or interpretation. What a testament to how many people are deceived by man made religions with unbiblical doctrines and an abundance of pagan traditions.

It doesn’t matter if one argues against my statements; they are easily provable from the Bible. If critics are happy being deceived, that’s fine. But here you’ll only find biblical truth. Have a go at the article below and prove it from your Bible. I’ll guarantee your particular denomination’s beliefs will start to look silly – mighty fast.

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The Real Jesus

By Stephen Flurry

The Trumpet.com, April 10, 2009

This is the time of year newsmagazines often grace their covers with a pale, tender-skinned, soft-spoken, long-haired, womanish figure wearing a beard. It’s supposed to be Jesus. But these erroneous depictions of Christ look nothing like the Jesus described in your Bible.

The real Jesus was a powerfully built, masculine man—a rugged outdoorsman. He was a man who was master of every situation. He was a people-person and a dynamically persuasive teacher. He was a man of upstanding character—an upholder and promoter of God’s perfect law of liberty.

Isn’t it time you became acquainted with the Jesus of the Bible?

Christ’s Family

Prior to his 3½-year ministry, Jesus Christ was brought up in a large family as the oldest of five brothers and at least three sisters (Matthew 13:54-56). Traditional Christianity depicts Jesus’s stepfather as some kind of uneducated, deadbeat dad who was baffled by his stepson’s remarkable genius. Joseph was supposedly married to a superior woman.

The real Joseph, however, was the loving head, provider, protector and primary educator of this extraordinary family. He was a “just” man, Matthew wrote, with sterling character. Upon learning that Mary was pregnant, Joseph initially intended to secretly dissolve the engagement for the sake of his own reputation—and Mary’s.

But while Joseph “thought on these things,” an angel appeared unto him and said that Mary had conceived of the Holy Spirit. In response to the angel’s instructions, Joseph obeyed God, risked his upstanding reputation in the community, took a pregnant woman to be his wife and accepted her firstborn son as one of his very own.

In northern Galilee, Jesus became known as the son of Joseph (John 6:42). As a teenager and young adult, Jesus worked outdoors, developing into a master craftsman on his stepfather’s carpentry crew.

“And the child grew, and waxed strong in spirit, filled with wisdom: and the grace of God was upon him” (Luke 2:40). This was due, in large part, to the indomitable influence of His mentor and stepfather, Joseph.

When Jesus was 12, for example, Joseph took his wife and children to Jerusalem to observe the Passover and the feast of Unleavened Bread. Only males were required to go to Jerusalem for the three annual festival seasons (Exodus 23:14-17). But Joseph was a successful businessman and family man—so he took the entire family.

It was during this trip to Jerusalem that Jesus wound up in the temple reasoning with the doctors of the law. Having learned to be an exceptional student under His father’s direction, Luke’s account says that Jesus was “hearing” and “asking questions” (Luke 2:46). He was listening and learning from some of the most distinguished educators of His day—this was no ordinary 12-year-old.

His parents, having lost track of Jesus on the way home, returned to Jerusalem to find Him in the temple. They were “amazed.” The teachers of the law were “astonished at his understanding.”

From that point forward, Scripture says, “Jesus increased in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and man” (verse 52).

The real Jesus grew up in a well-balanced, God-fearing household where His physical father served as head and His mother as a submissive and loving helpmeet and homemaker.

Jesus as Master

In his Trumpet column last week, Robert Morley wrote about the dearth of male teachers in elementary and primary schools today. “Why is society robbing young boys of the masculine role models they need?” he asked. When Morley was a boy, his favorite teachers were the stronger, more authoritative male role models he could look up too.

Isn’t it the same for you? Think back on the male teachers who impacted your life most when you were younger.

Now think about Jesus Christ—the greatest orator and teacher who has ever lived. Why should we imagine Him to be an effeminate weakling who somehow moved the masses while speaking in hushed tones?

“Follow me,” He supposedly whispered to the fishermen, tax collectors and businessmen of His day and, of course, they promptly dropped everything to learn a new profession.

That is not the Jesus of your Bible. The real Jesus “waxed strong” physically and spoke with such powerful conviction and clarity that He astonished the masses! “For he taught them as one having authority, and not as the scribes” (Matthew 7:29).

Jesus Christ did not teach or even look like the self-righteous religious figures of His day. After the miracle of the loaves and fishes, the Jewish commoners wanted to make Jesus a king (John 6:15). His wildly popular impact early on in His ministry enraged the jealous chief priests and Pharisees. “If we let him thus alone, all men will believe on him: and the Romans shall come and take away both our place and nation,” they reasoned in John 11:48. They demanded their officers to apprehend this persuasive scholar. But none of the officers would lay hands on Him.

“No man ever spoke like this man!” they said in John 7:46 (Revised Standard Version).

Jesus Christ simply did not fit into the mold of what people thought a religious leader should look and sound like. He was a hard-working, rugged-looking, masculine family man. He loved construction and numerous other outdoor activities like sailing, hiking and camping. He was an avid reader and studier—conversant in every imaginable topic.

And He loved people. He socialized so much His critics accused Him of being a glutton and winebibber! In actual fact, Jesus was the friendliest man who ever lived. He loved being among crowds. He interacted with Samaritans, the blind and lame, the elderly, and women and children. He broke bread with Pharisees, tax collectors and sinners.

Then there were His students—the disciples. Most of those who dropped everything in order to follow the Messiah later sacrificed their very lives for this impressive, God-fearing man. “Did not our heart burn within us, while he talked with us by the way, and while he opened to us the scriptures?” His disciples lamented after Jesus was gone (Luke 24:32).

Jesus lived the abundant life (John 10:10). He practiced what He preached. And in living in accordance with all of God’s holy laws, He left for us a perfect example to follow (1 Peter 2:21).

Strive to follow those steps set before us by Jesus Christ—the real Jesus, as depicted in the pages of your Bible.

March 2, 2009

The 70 Weeks Prophecy of Daniel 9:24-27 Explained!

To begin, let’s quote from “Halley’s Bible Handbook”: “The Captivity, which was then drawing to a close, had lasted 70 years. Daniel is here told by the angel that it would yet be ’70 weeks’ till the coming of the Messiah [see verse 24]. The ’70 weeks’ is generally understood to mean 70 weeks of years, that is, 70 sevens of years, or seven times 70 years, that is 490 years. As if the angel were saying, The Captivity has been 70 years; the period between the Captivity and the Coming of the Messiah will be seven times that long. Seven, and cycles of seven, sometimes have symbolic meanings; yet the actual facts of this prophecy are most amazing, as follows:

The date from which the 70 weeks was to be counted was the decree to re-build Jerusalem [see verse 25]. There were three decrees issued by Persian kings for this purpose … The principal one of these was 457 B C [the one given by Artaxerxes]. The 70 weeks is subdivided into 7 weeks, 62 weeks, and 1 week [see verses 25 and 27]. The 69 weeks (including the 7) equal 483 days, that is, on the year-day theory, Ezek 4:6, which is the commonly accepted interpretation, 483 years. This 483 years is the period between the decree to re-build Jerusalem and the coming of the ‘Anointed One,’ [see verse 25]. The decree to re-build Jerusalem, as noted above, was 457 B C. Adding 483 years to 457 B C brings us to 26 A D, the very year that Jesus was baptized and began his public ministry. A most remarkable fulfillment of Daniel’s prophecy, even to the year. Further, within 3 1/2 years Jesus was crucified, that is, ‘in the midst of the one week’ ‘the Anointed One’ was ‘cut off,’ ‘purged away sin and brought in everlasting righteousness,’ [see verses 24, 26, and 27]” (End quote).

There is however one slight correction to be made in Halley’s Bible Handbook. The overall calculations are correct, but it does not account for the ONE YEAR which is gained in making the transition from B.C. to A.D. dates. Because there is no year 0, one year is gained and must be added to the A.D. date. It was A.D. 27 when Jesus was baptized and began His ministry — not A.D. 26.

In conclusion, it is extremely noteworthy that in Daniel’s prophecy of the ‘seventy weeks’ (Dan. 9:24-27), Jesus was to be cut off ‘in the midst of the week.’ While this prophecy has the application of a day for a year, so that this 70th week became a literal seven years, Christ being ‘cut off’ after three-and-a-half years’ ministry, as He was, also denotes that He was ‘cut off’ on the middle day [Wednesday] of a literal week.”

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