The Apple Of God's Eye

May 8, 2011

God’s Word Versus Man’s Traditions

Why do we do the things we do?

Well did Isaiah prophesy of you hypocrites, as it is written:  “This people honors Me with their lips, But their heart is far from Me.  In vain they worship Me, Teaching as doctrines the commandments of men.”  Jesus, Mark 7:6-7

Some scholars, theologian and clergy believe the only way to understand the Bible is to have it explained to you by someone who has studied it.

Unfortunately, too many people subscribe to this belief.  All too often they listen to a priest, rabbi, or preacher tell them what the Bible says. And as if this was not bad enough,  they go even further into blindness by setting their own standard of morals and conduct.  They, in effect, become a god unto themselves.

The main problem with North America, and the world is that they have become a people who have deserted the Word of God, replacing it with their own “evolving”  moral code of diversity and tolerance. Now we see mainstream society accepted abortion, gay rights, pornography, false religions and every other immoral concept that has been devised in the heart of man.  “To each his own,” they say, and go merrily on their way, not coming close to understanding why our nation and world is in the condition that it is in.

There is a living God who oversees the affairs of men and nations.  This was true of Israel of the Old Testament and it true of the nations of the world today.  As a Bible oriented, moral and family value respecting nation we have become the greatest nation on the face of the earth.  This was also true of Old Testament Israel.  But like Israel, we have forsaken the commandments of God in favor of the traditions of man.  Is there any reason that we should not expect the same fate that befell Israel when they deserted the teachings of God?

It is time that America woke up and turned back to the faith and values that have made us great and condemn the immoral practices being legally practiced  in our nation today.  If we choose to live as heathens we cannot expect the blessings of the God of righteousness.

February 22, 2011

Did Old Testament Disobedience Result In Great Slaughter From God?

all-history.org

The King James Version states that at the time the ark of the covenant was returned to Israel by the Philistines, God slew 50,070 men because they had looked inside the ark. Many Bible translations and commentaries reject the number 50,070 as inaccurate and unreasonable. They argue that this verse should read that only 70 men were actually killed.

This conclusion, however, is inconsistent with the second part of this verse. The Bible plainly states that “the people lamented, because the Lord had smitten many of the people with a “great slaughter.”

The term “great slaughter” is used many times in the Old Testament to describe military engagements where tens of thousands of soldiers were killed. Notice I Samuel 4, verses 10 and 17, where 30,000 Israelite soldiers died at the hands of the Philistines in a “great slaughter.” Compare also Joshua 10:10, Judges 11:33, and II Samuel 18:7.

Nevertheless, Bible students still find the account of I Samuel 6:19 difficult to accept. The original Hebrew clearly reads “seventy men, fifty thousand men.” Scholars point to the unusual arrangement of the numbers in that the 70 stands before the 50,000. The smaller number appearing first, however, is not an unprecedented arrangement in the Hebrew language. Even the omission of a conjunction between the two numbers does not change the meaning of the original text.

The Bible very precisely states that 50,070 men died in a great slaughter because of the irreverence and presumption of the men of Bethshemesh. The critical arguments of Bible scholars to dismiss the number 50,000 as a scribal error or a deliberate corruption of the text are a misguided attempt to diminish this dramatic account.

February 12, 2011

The Truth Of God’s Word

iandibook.com

The Bible is the inspired Word of God and as such is truth:

2 Timothy 3:16-17: All scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.

Psalms is also full of references to biblical truth, in particular, Psalm 119, which has four references alone.

Psalm 119:89- Your word, O LORD, is eternal; it stands firm in the heavens.

And again:

Psalm 119:160- All your words are true; all your righteous laws are eternal.

And a few other references from both the Old and New Testaments:

2 Samuel 22:31- As for God, his way is perfect; the word of the LORD is flawless.

Luke 21:33- Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will never pass away.

One more:

Proverbs 30:5- Every word of God is flawless; he is a shield to those who take refuge in him.

Obviously the list goes on.  Those are just a few of the dozens of verses testifying to the reliability of scripture to guide our lives in conduct of morality and right and wrong.

Abortion and homosexuality are a denial of an absolute biblical truth.  Heading this perversity is a doctrine that has infiltrated our schools, our homes, the media, and the lives of every person in Western society –  evolution and the morality and worldview that it entails. With the idea that humans are nothing more than advanced animals comes the disregard for human life.  Abortion is a direct result of the success of evolution in our society.

Evolution and the Bible cannot mix, because they are fundamentally opposed to each other.  Evolution was invented for one purpose, and one purpose only- to provide people with an excuse to reject God.  That is it’s sole purpose. It goes against everything the Bible teaches, from creation to the sanctity of human life to the very existence of God.

Even so called Christians have tried to work it into the scriptures, with the result that some denominations have been made a laughingstock.

Evolution teaches that we are nothing more than advanced animals, and that homosexuality is just another way for evolution to keep mankind’s population in control. This is precisely why they compare humans to animals with seemingly homosexual tendencies. But comparing animals to humans is irrelevent, since animals do not possess the same level of intelligence as humans. And population control presumes that evolution can think, or act ahead of itself, which is preposterous. This sort of foolish talk is mere nonsense from blinded adherents.

The word of God teaches that mankind has a beautiful future with God, while evolution teaches that we have this short life and nothing else. Why would anyone choose the latter?

Pope Pius XII Is No Saint: History Reveals A Narrow Spirit And Heart While Millions Died

ivarfjeld.wordpress.com

“Pope Pius XII (Latin: Pius PP. XII), born Eugenio Maria Giuseppe Giovanni Pacelli (March 2, 1876 – October 9, 1958), reigned as the 260th pope, the head of the Roman Catholic Church and sovereign of Vatican City, from March 2, 1939 until his death in 1958. Some historians view the record of his long papacy and wartime predicament sympathetically; others view his actions (or inactions) critically, if not harshly. The interpretations of non historians vary even more widely, with some (John Cornwell, Hitler’s Pope) accusing him of pursuing personal power at the expense of the Jews, while others (Ronald Rychlak, Hitler, the War, and the Pope) argue he did everything in his power to help them. (Freelibrary.com)

In We Remember, a 1998 statement on the church’s role in the Holocaust, the Vatican claimed that Pius saved “hundreds of thousands of Jewish lives.” It was an absurd statement.

“Pope Pius XII, prior to his pontificate, successfully negotiated the Reich Concordat with Adolf Hitler in 1933, effectively destroying all political opposition to the fledgling Nazi movement in Germany. According to cabinet meeting minutes from July 14, 1933, Hitler considered the German-Vatican pact a “great achievement”—particularly “in the developing struggle against international Jewry.” (The Unapologetic Pope)

Since the death of Pope Pius XII i on October 9, 1958, there has been a concerted effort by the Vatican and Jesuits to diminish the overwhelming evidence of racial hatred, inaction and evil by this Roman Pontiff, particularly to the Holy Inquisition undertaken during his reign against the Jews.

In the 1960′s, it was the Jesuit sponsored work Three Popes and the Jews (1967), by Panchas. E. Lapide that attempted to portray the grand illusion and claims that Pope Pius XII never met Hitler once, in direct contradiction to the testimony of those closest to Pius for most of his life since Munich and his rise to Pontiff. (more…)

February 3, 2011

Have The Original Bible Languages Been Accurately Preserved?

thebiblicalworld.blogspot.com

God works through human instruments. He worked through a human, physical nation in preserving the Old Testament. That nation was the House of Judah, the people we call Jews today.

At Mt. Sinai, God gave the lively oracles to the “church [the physical national Israel] in the wilderness” through Moses (Acts 7:37-38, Authorized Version). Out of the 12 tribes of Israel, God chose and commissioned one tribe, the Jews, to preserve His Word. In Romans 3:1-2, Paul wrote: “What advantage then has the Jew? … Much in every way! Chiefly because to them were committed the oracles of God.”

The Jews have carefully preserved the original, inspired Hebrew Old Testament for us to this day. The basic reason, of course, is that only the Jews have kept an understanding of Hebrew. All the other tribes lost their language and do not speak Hebrew today.

But the Jews as a nation rejected both Jesus and the record of His message and life. Since the Jews would not preserve the story and message of God’s own Son, God led the apostles to use Greek, the most widespread language of their day, for the New Testament record. Greek was a highly developed, precise, accurate language, and was known throughout the Roman Empire. For centuries, the inspired original New Testament was copied and preserved in the Greek world for us today.

God has made it His responsibility to see that both Jews and Greeks have carefully copied the Scriptures from generation to generation. God has not left it to men to decide what is His Word.

Now, in this 20th century, God has raised up a work in the House of Israel — in the English-speaking world — to carry the. Gospel of the Kingdom of God to all nations. Neither the Jews nor the Greeks were willing or able to fulfill that commission.

To carry out His work through His true Church today, God has had His Word translated into the leading modern languages from the original Hebrew and Greek. Now all may hear and, if God is calling them and they are willing, understand!

Source: The Good News, April 1985

February 1, 2011

Where Did John The Baptist Get The Ceremony Of Baptism?

Filed under: Baptism,Biblical Characters — melchia @ 10:11 pm
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paramedicgoldengirl.blogspot.com

One of the greatest miracles of the Old Testament was a forerunner and type of what true baptism pictures today. It was the Exodus of Israel out of Egypt.

In I Corinthians 10:11, God reveals that these Old Testament events occurred to be examples to Christians. Now read verses 1-2: “Moreover, brethren, I do not want you to be unaware that all our fathers were under the cloud, all passed through the sea, and were baptized into Moses in the cloud and in the sea.”

The word here translated “baptized” means “immersed” or “plunged into.” Let’s understand the full meaning of this event.

Israel had just come out of captivity in Egypt. God said that He was going to bring them up out of that land of oppression — that pagan land of strange customs and evil ways. So God sent Moses to deliver them from their bondage in that land of sin.

Israel was in sin, living the wrong way. And God set His hand to deliver them.

After Israel’s Exodus from Egypt, God brought them to encamp “beside Pi Hahiroth, before Baal Zephon” (Exodus 14:9). To Israel’s amazement, they found themselves trapped, with the Egyptians closing in on them. The only way of escape was through the Red Sea.

When Israel saw Pharaoh’s army pursuing them, they became filled with fear (verse 10). But Moses assured them, saying: ” ‘Do not be afraid. Stand still, and see the salvation of the Lord….’ Then Moses stretched out his hand over the sea; and the Lord caused the sea to go back… and made the sea into dry land, and the waters were divided. So the children of Israel went into the midst of the sea” (Exodus 14:13, 21-22). This type of “immersion” was a veritable grave, and Pharaoh and his men all perished in it. For Pharaoh was still in sin and therefore was doomed (Romans 6:23).

Israel went through the Red Sea, picturing the death of that former way of life — then, coming up out of that grave by God’s grace, they were to enter a new way of life, a promised land.

And so in the New Testament God also requires Christians to crucify the old man, the former way, and to come up out of a watery grave and into a better way of life (Colossians 2:12).

Israel’s baptism was only a type. That baptism was under the Old Covenant, a physical agreement with physical ordinances and material rewards. But notice what God says about the New Covenant: “This is the covenant that I will make with them after those days, says the Lord: I will put My laws into their hearts, and in their minds I will write them” (Hebrews 10:16).

But what about John? Where did he get his authority? How did he know and understand the principle of baptism?

Answer: John had been taught those examples from childhood, for his parents were righteous before God (Luke 1:6). God, through the power of His Spirit, revealed to John the principle of baptism — that a people had to be prepared to hear the message of the soon-coming Messiah.

Repentant sinners needed to prove their repentance by an outward sign, as Israel did under Moses. That’s why John saw in Scripture that the original crossing of the Red Sea by a whole nation was a type of what each individual ought to do — be immersed, or baptized, in water.

Source: The Good News, May 1985

 

January 30, 2011

Why Did Christ Not Marry?

The Good News, February 1984

I Peter 2:21 says, “Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that you should follow His steps.” If Jesus were not teaching celibacy by His example, why didn’t He marry?

In Matthew 19:4-6, Jesus confirmed the sanctity of marriage in the eyes of God by quoting from the creation account (Gen. 1:27, 2:24). He further sanctified marriage in verses 8 and 9, by strictly teaching against divorce.

But Jesus had valid reasons for not marrying. The harsh physical circumstances surrounding His ministry, prophesied in Isaiah 53, would have prevented Him from being the parent and husband He would have wanted to be to set us an example. And Jesus knew He would die an early, agonizing death that would have left His young wife a widow.

It would have been easier for Jesus to go off, get married and live a “normal” life, forsaking His mission on earth. But His desire to do the will of His Father (Matt. 26:39) made Him willing to forsake physical marriage, a “good thing” (Prov. 18:22), for a better thing. And so He said:

“All cannot accept this saying, but only those to whom it has been given: for there are eunuchs who were born thus from their mother’s womb, and there are eunuchs who were made eunuchs by men, and there are eunuchs who have made themselves eunuchs for the kingdom of heaven’s sake. He who is able to accept it, let him accept it” (Matt. 19:11-12). (more…)

March 18, 2010

Fulfilled Messianic Prophecies Prove Bible Is Accurate!

cardensdesign.com

For the gospel writers, one of the main reasons for believing in Jesus was the way His life fulfilled the Old Testament prophecies about the Messiah. Following is a list of some of the main prophecies:

  1. Messiah was to be born in Bethlehem – Old Testament, Micah 5:2 – New Testament, Matt. 2:1–6, Luke 2:1-20
  2. Messiah was to be born of a virgin – Old Testament, Isaiah 7:14 – New Testament, Matt. 1:18-25, Luke 1:26-38
  3. Messiah was to be a prophet like Moses – Old Testament, Deut. 18:15, 18-19 – New Testament, John 7:40
  4. Messiah was to enter Jerusalem in triumph – Old Testament, Zech. 9:9 – New Testament, Matt. 21:1-9, John 12:12-16
  5. Messiah was to be rejected by His own people – Old Testament, Isaiah 53:1,3, Psalm 118:22 –  New Testament, Matt. 26:3-4, John 12:37-43, Acts 4:1-12
  6. Messiah was to be betrayed by one of His followers – Old Testament, Psalm 41:9 New Testament, Matt. 26:14-16, 47-50, Luke 22:19-23 (more…)

February 22, 2010

Where Did John The Baptist Get The Ceremony Of Baptism?

One of the greatest miracles of the Old Testament was a forerunner and type of what true baptism pictures today. It was the Exodus of Israel out of Egypt.

In I Corinthians 10:11, God reveals that these Old Testament events occurred to be examples to Christians. Now read verses 1-2: “Moreover, brethren, I do not want you to be unaware that all our fathers were under the cloud, all passed through the sea, and were baptized into Moses in the cloud and in the sea.”

The word here translated “baptized” means “immersed” or “plunged into.” Let’s understand the full meaning of this event.

Israel had just come out of captivity in Egypt. God said that He was going to bring them up out of that land of oppression — that pagan land of strange customs and evil ways. So God sent Moses to deliver them from their bondage in that land of sin.

Israel was in sin, living the wrong way. And God set His hand to deliver them.

After Israel’s Exodus from Egypt, God brought them to encamp “beside Pi Hahiroth, before Baal Zephon” (Exodus 14:9). To Israel’s amazement, they found themselves trapped, with the Egyptians closing in on them. The only way of escape was through the Red Sea. (more…)

January 11, 2010

Why Did God Kill In The Old Testament?

God Allowed Sinful Nations To Be Destroyed In Old Testament Times!It’s probably happened to you.  You were debating God, and someone pulled out the question, “If God is a God of love, how come he killed off so many tribes of non-Israelites in the Old Testament?”  Could you answer this question?

Many have unjustly accused God of being a murderer in the Old Testament because He either killed people or He allowed Israel to kill. However, this is a basic misunderstanding of the character of God, who does not change. He is the same yesterday, today and forever. So why was this practice allowed then, and not now, in the New Testament? Let’s explain!

In I Samuel 15:3, God commanded Saul to “go and attack Amalek, and utterly destroy all that they have, and do not spare them. But kill both man and woman, infant and nursing child, ox and sheep, camel and donkey.” Why did God have to deal so harshly with these people, even down to little children and animals? Was this unjust, cruel, barbaric?

God said: “All who behave unrighteously are an abomination to the Lord your God. Remember what Amalek did to you [Israel] on the way as you were coming out of Egypt, how he met you on the way and attacked your rear ranks, all the stragglers at your rear, when you were tired and weary; and he did not fear God” (Deuteronomy 25:16-18).

Notice how harsh and unfair the Amalekites were. They waited until their enemy was extremely weak, and even then, they attacked from behind, killing the laggers one by one. (more…)

December 22, 2009

Does Luke 16:16 Prove God's Law Is Abolished Today?

http://www.hem-of-his-garment-bible-study.org - The link between the Old and New Testament is the law of God!

Many make long and eloquent arguements to prove that Luke 16:16 means God’s law has been done away.

“The law and the prophets were until John: since that time the kingdom of God is preached, and every man presseth into it.”

Some say the “law and the prophets” is a clear reference to the Hebrew Bible (Old Testament) and that the New Covenant is dramatically different from the ‘ministration written on stones. So here, critics of God’s law wish to separate the Ten Commandments from what they say is a new moral code of the heart. But this is not what Jesus meant at all.

What, then, did Jesus mean by the statement, “The law and the prophets were until John?” When Jesus spoke of the “law and the prophets,” He was referring to the Old Testament, and meant that, until the coming of John the Baptist, the Old Testament scriptures were all that was available. The New Testament had not yet been written. It says nowhere that the Gospel of the Kingdom of God does away with the law of God. In fact, Christ says in the very next verse:

“And it is easier for heaven and earth to pass, than one tittle of the law to fail”  (verse 17).

Have the starry heavens or the planet earth passed away? Jesus said it would be easier for them to perish or be destroyed than for even one tiny part of God’s law to pass away! THAT is the clear interpretation, and this is backed up by very clear scriptures throughout the New Testament – scriptures which are conveniently ignored by critics.

Christ is indeed talking about obedience to the law of God. Those who disagree say the Old Covenant is no longer in force, which of course by their interpretation nullifies God’s law through the New Testament covenant. No one can deny that the Old Covenant is dead, but that does not mean the law of God is dead. Let’s explain!

Which laws are in force today?

How can you know which laws are no longer binding today? Which laws are we to observe?

The Bible is a book about law, and even a cursory read of this book shows that Jesus Christ did not come to do away with His Father’s law! You can find many references in the Bible to the Ten Commandments, but you can also read a lot about the statutes and the judgments. Then there are the ceremonial rituals and offerings. But which laws are we supposed to observe today?

The mistake lies in assuming the Ten Commandments make up the Old Covenant and that when Christ came, the New Covenant did away with the Ten Commandments and established only grace and promises.

Another mistake is to assume that the Ten Commandments didn’t even exist until God gave them to Moses on tablets of stone; that are simply part of the ritualistic law of Moses.

To begin to understand the truth about the laws discussed in the Old Testament, we must first establish the fact that God’s law existed long before Moses at Mount Sinai! In fact, God’s law existed long before Adam and Eve. Few people realize this fact.

Statutes and Laws Prior to Moses

Abraham was commended for obeying God’s commandments. But it also said he kept God’s statutes and laws. What was this referring to?

Webster’s Dictionary defines statute as, “an established rule or law.” God’s statutes usually command or forbid certain things, in addition to the Ten Commandments. Gesenius’ Lexicon says this about statutes: “An appointed law, a statute, an ordinance…used of the laws of nature [as prescribed by God]…a custom observed as though it were a law.” God’s statutes are based upon the Ten Commandments.

Judgments are binding decisions by judges based on God’s previously revealed law. These decisions are used to settle similar future disputes and to render a sentence or verdict.

God gave statutes and judgments for the general well-being of the people—for the protection of everyone’s legal rights. They are all based on the principle of love toward God and love toward your neighbor.

The difference between them is summed up in these terms: “In general, the Ten Commandments apply to individual conduct, the statutes to national or church affairs, and the judgments to decisions rendered according to the principle of the Ten Commandments and the statutes.”

Law in effect prior to Moses

God’s law was very much in effect prior to the establishment of His covenant with Israel. God revealed His commands and laws to Israel because during their captivity, Israel had lost much of the knowledge of God’s way. They were in bondage to an idol-worshipping nation (Exodus 16:28). This was said before the nation even reached Mount Sinai! God gave them His truth at Mount Sinai because they had lost it. God had to reveal His law to them again before entering into His covenant with them.

“And the Lord said unto Moses, How long refuse ye to keep my commandments and my laws? See, for that the Lord hath given you the sabbath, therefore he giveth you on the sixth day the bread of two days; abide ye every man in his place, let no man go out of his place on the seventh day. So the people rested on the seventh day” (Exod. 16:28-30). God had to remind them that this was holy time and they weren’t to violate it by looking for manna. They had lost the knowledge that it had been established long ago (Gen. 2:2-3). Again, this instruction occurred before the Israelites arrived at Mount Sinai.

The commandments were NOT instituted at Mount Sinai and were NOT part of the Old Covenant. So once the New Covenant arrived, it cannot annul what was never ratified under the Old Testament. In other words, the dissolving of the Old Covenant could not destroy what it did not bring into existence! The Ten Commandments, which God gave in written form to Moses on Mount Sinai, were not new. Only the codified form in which God wrote them was new.

What is the law of Moses?

The Bible, on several occasions, refers to the law of Moses, but it never says the law of Moses is the Ten Commandments. The law of Moses comprises the statutes and judgments God gave to Moses to give to the Israelites. The difference between the law of Moses and the law of God is that God spoke the Ten Commandments. Moses delivered the statutes and judgments.

Yet we read in Luke 2:22, 39 that the “law of Moses” is called the “law of the Lord.” This is because all law comes from God. He is the lawgiver. Remember that these statutes and judgments had no sacrifices with them originally. The sacrifices were added later. The law of Moses then had two parts: civil and ritualistic. The part given before the sacrificial laws we are to keep and never forget (Mal. 4:4).

When Christ defined the two great commandments in the law in Matthew 22, He quoted out of the “book of the law” (Lev. 19:18; Deut. 6:5), which we are told to remember. Christians are told to obey these two basic laws which God gave to Moses for the people. The civil law of Moses expounds how the Ten Commandments are to be applied. We are to keep this part, not in the letter only, but now in the spiritual intent, as brought out in Matthew 5-7.

Then why are we told in Acts 15 that the Gentile converts do not have to observe the law of Moses, except for four points? (Acts 15:5, 28-29). The answer is cleared up in Acts 21:21. The law called into question involved the customs, mainly circumcision, which were instituted long before the law of Moses. The spiritual intent is not done away today. Just like the Ten Commandments, they are still in force; but like the Passover, the manner of circumcision has been changed. It is now of the heart (Rom. 2:29).

This controversy did not involve the spiritual intent of the civil law of Moses, but the ceremonial additions to it. These scriptures are not saying that adultery or murder is okay now. The Ten Commandments are not being discussed or done away with here.

The four points mentioned here were originally part of the civil law; but they were also added to the ceremonial law to prevent these pagan customs from being practiced by Israel with their sacrifices. The Gentiles ate their sacrifices with the blood. They strangled their animals, presented them to their idols and committed fornication in their religious ceremonies. Because these four points were also included in the ritual laws, some new converts may have thought they were abolished along with the sacrifices when Christ fulfilled them. So the four points mentioned in Acts 15 had to be specifically declared to still be in effect. They remained binding after the abolition of the physical sacrifices and washings.

The civil laws regulating tithing, clean and unclean meats, sexual cleanliness and the annual Sabbaths, for example, are still in effect for the New Testament Church because they help explain what sin is.

Conclusion

God’s spiritual laws describe God’s character and enable us to know what God is like. Since the character of God is unchanging (Mal. 3:6; Heb. 13:8), God’s spiritual law is unchanging. God has lived by this way of love for all eternity.

The only laws that are no longer binding are the ceremonial laws, fulfilled by the sacrifice of Christ and the coming of the Holy Spirit. Today we offer spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God (Rom. 12:1-2) in obedience to God’s eternal spiritual law.

We can’t ignore what Christ told a young man seeking the way to eternal life, “If thou wilt enter into life, KEEP THE COMMANDMENTS” (Matt. 19:17). How clear!

September 28, 2009

The Day of Atonement and Your Future

Scene one: A young woman walks through a semitropical garden filled with beautiful trees loaded with luscious fruit. Everything looks so good — so right.  But is it?

Suddenly she is confronted by a talking serpent who asks about God’s commands. Subtly, the serpent reasons with her until she decides to eat the fruit forbidden her by her Creator. Her husband then follows her example of disobedience.

From that time forward, mankind continues to be subject to Satan’s influence. Consequently, all humans sin and fall short of God’s glory.

Scene two: A young man, once strong and virile, is nailed to a stake. Blood oozes from deep, gaping lacerations in His body, wounds inflicted by a savage beating. Tormentors surround Him, arrogantly jeering, “He can save others, but not Himself!”

But the man’s mind is not on revenge; it is on the ultimate purpose of His suffering, which is to provide the sacrifice necessary for mankind’s salvation.

Finally, after many hours of suffering, death comes suddenly. Three days later He is resurrected. He rejoins His Father, where He serves as High Priest and soon-coming King for all humanity.

Scene three: The earth has been devastated. Plant and aquatic life are almost nonexistent. The human population has been reduced to a small fraction of its former size by the terrifying events of the Great Tribulation and the Day of the Lord.

Everywhere there is destruction, but there is also hope. Jesus Christ has intervened in world affairs. One obstacle remains — the presence of Satan the devil, mankind’s enemy for 6,000 years.

To eliminate this threat to global peace, an angel is sent to bind Satan. Satan is taken to a place of restraint where he is prohibited from influencing mankind for a thousand years.

Is there a relationship between these scenes? The answer is yes. There is a profound relationship that can be understood by studying the meaning of one of God’s annual festivals — the Day of Atonement.

This Day is commanded

Most professing Christians don’t even know that this Festival of God exists. Many who have heard of it think that it is no longer to be kept. But what does God say?

“And the Lord spoke to Moses, saying: ‘Also the tenth day of this seventh month shall be the Day of Atonement. It shall be a holy convocation for you; you shall afflict your souls, and offer an offering made by fire to the Lord. And you shall do no work on that same day, for it is the Day of Atonement, to make atonement for you before the Lord your God…. You shall do no manner of work; it shall be a statute forever throughout your generations in all your dwellings’ ” (Lev. 23:26-28, 31).

This year the Day of Atonement falls on September 28. Some will reason that this command ceased to be in force after Christ’s crucifixion. Such reasoning is false! Jesus Christ did not come to nail God’s annual Holy Days to the cross (Matt. 5:17-18) .

The fact is that God’s festivals have only begun to be fulfilled. These days picture aspects of God’s plan of salvation (Col. 2:16-17), and must be observed by true Christians.

But what about the ritualistic laws that the Old Testament commanded with festival observance? Are they to be kept, or have they been fulfilled?

The purpose of the physical rituals God gave to ancient Israel was to remind the people of the need for the payment of their sins. The various sacrifices pointed ahead to the sacrifice of One who would come later in history as Savior of all mankind.

So the ritualistic laws were fulfilled by the events leading to and including Christ’s own sacrificial death. Therefore they need not be kept today, nor can they be, as there is no Aaronic priesthood to perform these physical duties (Heb. 9:8-10, 10:1-4, 9-12).

The ritualistic laws are no longer performed, but their various aspects still have symbolic meaning. For each festival, we seek to understand all the festival’s meanings, as revealed in the Bible, and as they relate to salvation.

The Tabernacle and the priesthood

Before we proceed with a study of these rituals and symbols, it is necessary for us to understand some things about the Tabernacle and the priesthood.

After making the covenant agreement with Israel, God told the nation to build a Tabernacle, which is a physical type of God’s habitation in heaven (Ex. 25-27, 30, Heb. 9:23-24). The Tabernacle consisted of an enclosed courtyard, containing an altar for animal sacrifices and a tent.

The tent was divided into two sections by a veil. The section behind the veil was called the “Most Holy” place or “Holiest of All.” The other section was the “holy place” (Ex. 26:33, Heb. 9:3). The most holy place represented God’s throne. Located here was the Ark of the Covenant, which contained the Ten Commandments and other items (Deut. 10:2, 31:26, Ex. 16:33-34, Num. 17:1-10). The lid of the Ark was called the mercy seat; this was where God manifested Himself (Ex. 25:22).

The job of high priest was given to Aaron; his sons served as priests. As time passed, other of his descendants held these positions. As priests, they performed various animal sacrifices and ceremonies on behalf of Israel.

Rituals for Aaron

On the Day of Atonement, special animal sacrifices and ceremonies were conducted. These are explained in Leviticus 16.

This was the only day when Aaron was allowed to enter the most holy place. Before doing this, he had to bathe and dress himself in his priestly garments (Lev. 16:4). Then he had to offer on the altar a bullock as a sin offering for himself.

Once this was completed, he took a censer, a vessel that held burning coals, from the altar and entered the most holy place. He then took incense, an aromatic compound, and placed it on the burning coals. Next he sprinkled blood from the bullock on the mercy seat, which represented God’s throne (verses 11-14).

Why did Aaron do these things? What did they picture? Aaron had to first make atonement for himself as a sinning human before God. The word atonement means “to make at one with.”

Washing himself pictured having his conscience changed to accept God’s standard of righteousness (Heb. 10:22). His linen coat symbolized living a righteous life (Rev. 19:8). The incense pictured prayers ascending to God (Ps. 141:2, Rev. 5:8). The blood represented the way sins are forgiven (Heb. 9:13-14, Rom. 3:25).

Aaron, the high priest, was a type of Jesus Christ, who is now our High Priest (Heb. 3:1). By living a sinless life, Jesus qualified to offer Himself as a sin sacrifice for all humanity through His crucifixion.

After Jesus’ death, the veil in the Temple (the Temple had replaced the Tabernacle) was torn in two from top to bottom (Matt. 27:50-51). The torn veil represented the fact that we are now allowed direct contact with God the Father through prayer (Heb. 10:19-22, John 16:23).

This contact is something that those living before Christ’s resurrection did not have; their access was limited to the Word of God, the God of the Old Testament who became Jesus Christ.

The two goats

Now that Aaron had completed sacrifices for himself, what happened next?

“The two goats he must place in front of the Eternal at the entrance to the Trysting tent [Tabernacle]; Aaron shall cast lots over the goats, one lot for the Eternal and the other for Azazel the demon; the goat that falls by lot to the Eternal shall be brought forward and offered as a sin-offering, but the goat that falls by lot to Azazel shall be set free in presence of the Eternal, that Aaron may perform expiatory rites over it and send it away for Azazel into the desert” (Lev. 16:7-10, Moffatt).

Whom did this slain goat, whose blood was sprinkled on the mercy seat and the altar for the sins of the people (Lev. 16:15-19), represent? The answer is Christ, who was slain and whose blood was shed for the forgiveness of our sins (Heb. 9:12, 22-26).

But Christ’s death has not completed the job of making atonement for the sins of humanity. Why? Because Satan, the god of this world, has blinded the minds of most people. Consequently, mankind rejects the true Gospel, which includes accepting the sacrifice of Jesus Christ and living a righteous life (II Cor. 4:3-4, Rev. 12:9).

So how will the job of atonement be completed? How will mankind be made at one with God?

The answer is revealed through the symbolism of the live goat — the azazel, in Hebrew.

Says The Comprehensive Commentary: “[According to] the oldest opinions of the Hebrews and Christians … Azazel is the name of the Devil … the word signified the goat which went away.” The Azazel was the goat that was sent into the wilderness.

This Azazel is sometimes referred to as the “escape goat” or “scapegoat.” But these terms make the meaning unclear. Scapegoat has come to mean “one who bears blame or guilt for others.” This is not the case with Satan. He is guilty of influencing mankind into disobeying God (Eph. 2:2). And he will be punished for it — Satan will bear his own guilt! He will not be allowed to escape.

Symbolism,

The live goat was brought before Aaron, who, as we have seen, is a type of Jesus Christ, our High Priest. Aaron laid hands on this goat, confessing upon it the people’s sins. Then it was led by another individual into the wilderness where it was released (Lev. 16:20-22).

How is this symbolism going to be fulfilled? Jesus is coming to this earth again, this time to rule. He will order Satan bound and taken to a place of restraint for a thousand years (Rev. 20:1-3).

The world will then become free of Satan’s influence and responsive to God’s way of life; man’s sins will be laid to Satan’s charge. The change will be remarkable. Humanity as a whole will accept the sacrifice of Jesus Christ and live according to God’s law (Isa. 11:9). Finally, there will be universal peace, joy and happiness (Jer. 31:12-14).

What about fasting?

In addition to the symbolism of the sacrifices, there is another aspect of this Festival that we must consider. Notice Leviticus 16:29:

“This shall be a statute forever for you: In the seventh month, on the tenth day of the month, you shall afflict your souls, and do no work at all, whether a native of your own country or a stranger who sojourns among you.”

What does it mean “afflict your soul”? The word afflict (Hebrew anah) is translated “humble” in Psalm 35:13, where David said, “I humbled myself with fasting.” So afflicting oneself means to fast.

Biblical examples show that fasting means to go without food and water (Deut. 9:9, 18, Esther 4:16, Acts 9:8-9). This is the only day when we are commanded to fast. It is so important that in the New Testament we see this Festival referred to as “the Fast” (Acts 27:9).

The purpose of fasting is to humble ourselves, to see our insignificance and realize our need for and utter dependence on God (Jas. 4:9-10). God does not hold us guiltless for the sins that Satan influences us to commit. We bear a responsibility for yielding to Satan’s temptations.

God wants you to examine yourself so you will recognize your shortcomings and overcome them. These are the conditions of a proper fast that will cause God to intervene on your behalf.

Keep this Festival

The Day of Atonement, then, is a solemn, serious occasion, and yet, because of what it pictures, this Festival is a tremendously positive and encouraging day.

Besides revealing vital understanding about God’s plan of salvation, the Day of Atonement can bring you much closer to God, if you obey God’s command to observe this day.

Don’t deny yourself this relationship with God. Decide now to keep the Day of Atonement!

Source: The Good News, August 1983

August 21, 2009

How To Remember Scriptures!

Many have suffered needless frustration because of fruitless efforts to retain certain passages of Scripture in their memory. Perhaps you have tried and repeatedly failed to commit to memory important verses from our Maker’s Instruction Book.

On the other hand, the ability to remember chapter and verse and to dazzle others with this skill becomes a fetish with some! There are those who delight in “showing off” their capacity to quote from memory long sections of Scripture or even whole books of the Bible. Some might claim to have “the fastest Bible in the West” (or the East as the case may be!). On a moment’s notice these individuals will fire a rapid series of scriptural verses at their helpless victims, hoping to impress them with their spirituality.

Is this a proof of spiritual mindedness? Or is it rather merely evidence of great, toadishly swollen vanity?

Is Memorizing Word for Word Necessary?

Let’s be balanced! Let’s understand that salvation does not depend on one’s ability to quote chapter and verse from the Bible! If it did, it is conceivable that none of the original apostles and authors of the New Testament would ever have qualified for the Kingdom of God!

Why? Because in the days of the twelve apostles and the writers of the New Testament, the Old Testament writings had not yet been divided into chapters and verses. In fact, it was not done until long after those men were all dead!

The sole exception to this was the Book of Psalms. The Psalms are actually songs. They were composed by a number of authors and originally intended to be set to music. Therefore it was necessary to divide them into chapters and verses for musical and poetical expediency. And as songs, of course, they were intended to be memorized. For ease of memorization the verses were sometimes arranged acrostically (alphabetically).

Now consider this fact: The New Testament authors quoted directly from the Psalms 116 times — yet in only one instance did they mention the chapter from which they were quoting! This one case is Acts 13:33: “…as it is also written in the second psalm…” The remaining quotes from the Psalms make no mention of either the chapter or the verse.

Other than those from the Psalms, the New Testament contains 167 more direct quotations from the Old Testament and, of course, no chapter or verse is referred to in a single instance. In some cases, when quoting from the Old Testament, the speaker or writer did not even mention the name of the person or the book he was citing. Take, for example, the time when Jesus Christ was being tempted by the devil. Jesus quoted directly from the Book of Deuteronomy, which was written by Moses, yet he did not even mention the author or the name of the book! Check that for yourself in Matthew 4:4, 7 and 10.

In other instances where the prophets of old are referred to, they are simply mentioned by name, but, of course, no verses or chapters are given. For some examples, read Matthew 2:17; 8:17; Luke 4:17.

The Bible was not divided into chapters until about 1250 A.D. when Cardinal Hugo composed a Latin concordance or index of the Scriptures. Over 300 years later, in 1560 A.D., the first Bible translation wholly divided into chapters and verses was produced in Geneva, Switzerland. It was known as The Geneva Bible.

It should be apparent, then, that the ability to quote chapter and verse from the Bible like a human computer is not necessary, and is in some cases nothing more than sheer vanity! If, however, a person is gifted with an exceptional memory for scriptures, it is certainly to his advantage if he exercises his ability in right humility and for an honorable purpose. There is absolutely nothing wrong with having an excellent memory!

It IS Important to Retain Knowledge

We are told to “grow in grace and in knowledge” (II Peter 3:18). As Christians, we should be continually increasing our knowledge of God’s Word. Peter also instructs us, “… be ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you with meekness and fear” (I Pet. 3:15).

Memory is therefore one of the important attributes that God has given to humans. For most people, however, remembering does not come easy. It seems many have difficulty retaining even the simplest things! Perhaps you have that difficulty.

If so, then you can take heart from this fact. Even though most of the Bible was not originally written with chapters and verses, the Bibles we use today are! And since they are, we can certainly take advantage of this valuable aspect of modern translations.

The present chapter and verse divisions do make it easier to locate the scriptures we need, and to do it in a systematic way without having to wade through whole books and sections of the Bible to find them. By increasing our memory of scripture locations, we can improve our overall knowledge of God’s Word and be better able to “rightly divide the word of truth” (II Tim. 2:15).

We should stand in awe of the authority of the scriptures inspired by the great Creator of mankind! We should tremble before the Word of the living God! (Isa: 66:2.) We should fear to misuse, twist, or misquote the Bible! A fast, flippant answer, hastily given to “save face,” is often inaccurate and wrong! Therefore it is important that we come to really know our Bibles and develop the ability to use them correctly as Peter said.

Understanding More Important Than Rote Knowledge

It may be impressive to be able to “rattle off” dozens of scriptures from the Bible. But it is more impressive and vastly more profitable to have a good understanding of the Scriptures!

Of what value (spiritually speaking) is a man who has the capacity to cite from memory a large number of scriptures without understanding? An inexpensive concordance may be purchased for about eight dollars and likely contains a far greater list of scriptures than any man could normally memorize.

Solomon, in his God-given wisdom, recognized the transcendant importance of gaining understanding. He said, “… lift up your voice [pray] for understanding….” “… Happy is the man that findeth wisdom and the man that getteth understanding.” He said we should “… get understanding” (Prov. 2:3; 3:13; and 4:5). There is a tremendous joy and a sense of exhilaration in realizing you have grasped and understood a spiritual principle for the first time!

Why is it so much more important to have understanding of the Scriptures than merely to be expert in locating and quoting them? Simply because the ability to cite verses and chapters from the Bible is merely a mechanical operation. But comprehending their meaning is a spiritual accomplishment! Read Romans 7:14 and I Corinthians 2:14 in connection with this.

Surely you can see that the important thing is to study for understanding, and not merely to memorize by rote!

Of course, it is also fine to want to increase your skill and ability in rapidly locating and citing scripture verses. And since it is, here are some pointers that will help you — if you practice them habitually — not only to understand, but also to be better able to recall verses of the Bible.

Get the Overview of the Bible

Many have failed to recall the location of certain scriptures because they have thought of God’s Word as a disjointed and disconnected collection of thousands of unrelated verses. Therefore, you should strive to see the Bible as an organized whole. Get the big picture! Learn the books of the Bible first and try to have a general idea of what they are about. Become familiar with the basic divisions of the Bible, the types of books, and the general subject of each book.

In order to get the overview of the Bible, you should at your earliest opportunity quickly read through the entire Bible from Genesis to Revelation. Studying just bits and pieces, here and there, will never enable you to grasp the broad picture — the panorama of the Bible.

To read the whole Bible through, you need to set up a program of Bible study. You should set aside a certain period of time each day to read perhaps five chapters. In order to be sure you don’t bog down, read rapidly to get the general idea of what each chapter is about. Don’t worry about little details. Skim more rapidly over genealogies and those areas where you may be tempted to lose interest.

As you read you’ll find the Bible coming alive with fascinating stories about the lives of godly men of old, gripping true exploits of Biblical heroes, and containing encouragement, exhortation, and valuable instruction in every part!

Study by Subject or Chapter

Many chapters in the Bible were made chapters because of a natural subject content. For example, I Corinthians 13 has been called the “love chapter” because it primarily deals with that subject. Exodus 20 and Deuteronomy 5 both discuss the Ten Commandments. Revelation 20, I Corinthians 15 and I Thessalonians 4 are concerned with the resurrection.

Hebrews 11 is known as the “faith” chapter. Psalm 51 is David’s psalm of repentance after his sin with Bathsheba. Psalm 119 deals extensively with the Law of God. Isaiah 11 speaks in detail of the millennial reign of Christ. On and on I could go.

It is easier to remember the subject of an entire chapter than individual verses. But to really remember what is in entire chapters, you need to familiarize yourself with them by studying and poring over them. Doing this will help your overall ability to retain Bible knowledge! And when you do learn the overall content of some of these basic chapters, you will begin to more rapidly locate individual scriptures on the subjects covered in them.

Be Impressed With the Verses You Are Studying

If you were driving a nail into a board and you tapped very lightly on it with the hammer, it would not penetrate the wood very deeply. Your mind is the same way.

Our minds adequately retain for instant recall only those things that have left a deep impression on them. Unless you are sufficiently impressed with something the first time you hear or study it, chances are it will soon fade from memory. Therefore, you must allow the verses you are studying to make a deep mental impression!

If you merely read superficially over verses, simply skimming them, they will leave little or no impression! There is a proverbial saying to the effect that if you eat Chinese food, half an hour later you will wonder what you ate. If you study superficially, half an hour later you will wonder what you read!

It is imperative, therefore, that you dwell on and concentrate intensely on what you are studying! Let the words of the Creator sink deeply into the innermost recesses of your mind.

Associate What You Study with Real-Life Situations

Do not allow your Bible study to be merely academic or impractical. Relate what you are studying in the Bible to actual situations in this life. Relate it to history or future events in world affairs.

When you study prophecy (about one third of the Bible deals with prophecy) ask yourself, “Has this ever happened? Is it happening now? Or is it yet future?” Then, as you read the daily newspaper, and as things happen on the world scene, certain verses from the Bible will spring to mind!

When you study a section in the Book dealing with a law or some aspect of Christian conduct, ask yourself, “Am I obeying this? How can I perform this?” Then when you come up against a situation in daily life which involves that principle, the verse will come to mind.

If in your mind the Bible is relevant to life, both past and present, its verses will spring to LIFE! They will become living oracles which have a definite BEARING on human life in general — and yours in particular! This will make them much easier to retain and recall.

Meditate and Think on the Verses You Have Studied

The old cliché “out of sight, out of mind” applies here. After you have closed the Book, unless you continue to mentally digest its words, they will tend to fade from conscious thought. They will be crowded out by other things.

The example of King David of Israel applies in this case. He said, “Oh how love I thy law! It is my MEDITATION ALL THE DAY” (Psalm 119:97). David’s mind was perpetually on the things of God. Not to the exclusion of his responsibilities as administrator of the kingdom, but including those principles in his rulership as well.

God’s Word is truth (John 17:17). We are admonished by the Apostle Paul to think on (meditate on) the truth. (Phil. 4:8.) The more you do this, the more the verses and chapters of our Maker’s Instruction Book will become real “mind stickers”!

Drill Yourself in the Scriptures

To “drill” is to indulge in mental exercise aimed at perfecting facility and skill by regular practice.

Drilling yourself in the verses of the Bible is one of the finest ways of committing them to memory. Many have found the use of “flash cards” helpful in this respect. These can be made very simply by purchasing a supply of 3×5 index cards and writing or typing the scripture out in full on one side, and then the chapter and verse location on the other side. Use these cards for key scriptures you wish to recall.

Go through the cards regularly by reading the quote and then trying to recall its location by chapter and verse. Then turn the card over and check on yourself. You could reverse this process by reading the chapter and verse first and then trying to recall its wording. Since every translation varies, don’t necessarily try to memorize word for word, but just the key thought, subject, or point of the verse. This method will provide you with a helpful review of the scriptures and is a valuable means of aiding your memory.

Drill yourself also on the subjects of basic chapters such as those mentioned earlier in this article. You’ll find that repetition is indeed the best form of emphasis!

Ask God For Help

Jesus Christ promised His disciples: “But the Comforter (Greek paracletos — “one called alongside to help”) which is the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you” (John 14:26).

God’s Spirit is intended to help and assist you in both understanding and recalling to mind the words of Jesus Christ. Utilize that help! ASK God to help you apply the principles in this article daily. Practice them and work on them faithfully. Develop right study habits and stand in awe of the words of the living God. As you continue to submit to God and respect His Word, He will help you in your efforts to study and retain scriptures.

But don’t become discouraged if you don’t become a “walking concordance.” Remember the ability to understand Scripture is vastly more valuable than the ability to merely quote it!

Source: The Good News, January-April 1971

May 18, 2009

Was Christ A Long Haired Nazarite?

Jesus was not a Nazarite.

Some have been misled by an erroneous interpretation of Matthew 2:23:

“And he came and dwelt in a city called Nazareth: that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the prophets, He shall be called a Nazarene.”

Many have concluded that this prophecy had to be a written prophecy recorded somewhere in the Old Testament. This is an unfounded assumption.

Since they could not find anything in the Old Testament about Nazarenes, they guessed that some similar word must have been intended. Using this erroneous reasoning, they went one step further in their folly and assumed that this scripture was referring to the LAWS (NOT prophecy ) about Nazarites.

Notice that the prophecy said that Christ would be called a NazarENE, not a NazarITE. A NazarENE is one who lives in Nazareth; and a NazarITE is one who has a nazarite vow, which is described in Numbers 6. Many Bible students have been confused by the similarity of these two words, although they are not at all related in their meanings. They are just as unrelated in meaning as some of our English words of today that have similar sounds, such as “encumber” and “cucumber.”

Christ was a Nazarene, a man from Nazareth. He was not a long-haired Nazarite. A Nazarite was forbidden to drink wine, but Christ drank wine on numerous occasions. Either He was never a Nazarite — or He broke His vows!

The prophecy — that the Saviour would be called a Nazarene — was not “written” in the Scriptures. Matthew says it was “spoken by the prophets.” It was a universally recognized ORAL prophecy that was authoritatively preserved from generation to generation by the priests. It became a WRITTEN prophecy only in New Testament times.

One verse, however, contains an interesting play on words — Isaiah 11:1. The word “branch” here is from the Hebrew “nezer.” This word is very similar to the Hebrew word for “Nazarene.” Perhaps the Jews at that time understood this verse to refer to someone from Nazareth.

May 15, 2009

The Bible Explained

1The Bible contains history, prophecy, spiritual knowledge, wisdom and truth. Within its pages is the most needed key knowledge about the origins of all life. It is the basis of all true knowledge. No other book in the history of man reveals what this book reveals. It gives details about us—what we are and God’s intended purpose for all mankind.

The main flow of human history was written down in the Bible before it occurred. What happened to ancient Babylon, Egypt, Greece, Persia, and Rome was recorded 2,000 or more years ago. What is happening and is sure to happen to modern powerful nations today was also written down in the Bible.

It also contains God’s divine revelation that mankind is not capable of discovering. Mankind is limited to acquiring material knowledge that comes by the five senses. Yet for man to live happily and peacefully with God and other humans, he needs spiritual knowledge. Only the Bible can provide this type of education. However, it does not contain all knowledge. It is simply the starting point.

Still, very few people, even most Christians, understand and believe their Bible in full (Colossians 1:26; Matthew 15:8-9; Luke 6:46) They have no idea it is an instruction book for mankind on how to be happy and successful. They do not believe it is  the literal “Word of God” (2 Timothy 3:16) — which is also one of Jesus Christ’s titles (Revelation 19:13).

Christianity in general disagrees as to what the Bible actually says on critical doctrines. The Christian world is thoroughly confused about Christ’s return. Even Bible scholars dissect the scriptures by picking out only a few verses, or small parts of verses, to support their own ideas. They read different meanings into the Scriptures, taking great liberties by ignoring clear rebuke. Others have worked tirelessly to inject meanings into verses to support their own false doctrines, mercilessly subjecting it to private interpretation against instructions to do so (2 Peter 1:20). It is no wonder that people cannot see the plain truth so simply presented within its pages. We are a society plagued with Bible illiteracy.

There is an explanation for this phenomenon. The Bible is actually not written to be understood by regular reading. It is best studied by subject; finding all the related scriptures on a topic, and accepting the plain meaning. It is also coded – with large swaths hidden from meaning by those not called. Several verses show that Christ Himself purposefully hid His meaning from the general public. (Matthew 13:10-11; Luke 8:10; Luke 10:21-24).

Still, the Bible is intended to be decoded by those whom God calls – his true Christians (Matthew 13:11; Mark 4:11). They understand that the Bible is 100% true, 100% of the time. (Psalms 119:160; John 17:17). It is their foundation of knowledge, covering principles for success and happiness for every situation they come across. (Psalm 111:10).

It is God’s desire to make His spiritual knowledge plain to any willing to see (1 Corinthians 2:9-14; James 3:15-17). Unfortunately, leaders in government, education and religion reject what God says is coming.

Here are some Bible stats:

  1. The Holy Bible is a book on fire as the world’s bestseller, with an estimated 6 billion copies printed between 1816 and 1992.
  2. The Bible has been translated into approximately 2,230 languages and dialects.
  3. Parts of the Bible are over 4,000 years old.
  4. The Bible was written over a 2,000-year period by about 40 authors on three continents (Africa, Asia and Europe).
  5. The King James Bible is divided into 39 Old Testament books, originally written in Hebrew and Aramaic, and 27 New Testament books, originally written in Greek. That’s 66 total.
  6. The King James Bible has: 1,189 chapters, 31,173 verses and 773,692 words.

The Bible breakdown:

SECTION BOOKS CONTENTS
The Law Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, Deuteronomy God’s law, the history of ancient Israel, and prophecy.
The Prophets Former Prophets: Joshua, Judges, 1 and 2 Samuel, 1 and 2 Kings. Major Prophets: Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, Daniel. Minor Prophets: Hosea, Joel, Amos, Obadiah, Jonah, Micah, Nahum, Habakkuk, Zephaniah, Haggai, Zechariah, Malachi
History and prophecy for ancient and modern Israel.
The Writings Ruth, 1 and 2 Chronicles, Ezra, Nehemiah, Esther, Job, Psalms, Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, Song of Solomon, Lamentations
History, prophecy, poetry and other writings.
The Gospels Matthew, Mark, Luke, John
Biography of Jesus’s life
The Acts Acts
Church history
The Epistles Romans, 1 and 2 Corinthians, Galatians, Ephesians, Philippians, Colossians, 1 and 2 Thessalonians, 1 and 2 Timothy, Titus, Philemon, Hebrews, James, 1 and 2 Peter, 1, 2 and 3 John, Jude
Letters from Christ’s apostles to their brethren
Revelation Revelation
Prophecy

April 13, 2009

Was Jonah In The Belly Of A Whale, Or A Great Fish?

Editor’s Note: In this article I introduce two scriptures (Jonah 1:17 and Matthew 12:40) to answer “apparent incongruities” (seemingly impossible scenarios) and to apply apologetics (a reasoned defense of the faith) in affirming the trustworthiness of the Bible.

imagesbible.jexiste.fr/.../Ang_Jonah.htm

imagesbible.jexiste.fr/.../Ang_Jonah.htm

The “apparent incongruity” is the account of a reluctant prophet named Jonah who was swallowed by a fish and yet remained alive in its belly for three days.

 The Book of Jonah has been described as a parable, an allegory, and a satire. However, this is an extremely faithless approach to the scriptures. A large proportion of all modern criticism of the Bible comes from the assumption that miracles do not occur. Skeptical theologians explain every miracle in Scripture away by either tacit rejection or naturalistic explanation. This leads to such ludicrous, varied, and contradictory explanations that the biblical scholar finds ever further justification in the miraculous over the ridiculous!

There are plausible explanations for questions, but we must look at this event with knowledge of God’s miraculous power. Could He have prepared a great fish to be in the vicinity of the floundering ship, to swallow Jonah in the raging sea, then in the time appointed transport him to shore and vomit him up? Absolutely! As the all-powerful Creator God, He is in no way limited by what He created. 

But now what about the type of creature used to swallow Jonah? The original Hebrew wording of Jonah 1:17 is accurately translated in the King James Version as “a great fish.” The Old Testament translation produced by the Jewish Publication Society also refers to this creature as “a great fish.” 

We read that “The LORD had prepared a great fish to swallow up Jonah. And Jonah was in the belly of the fish three days and three nights.” (Jonah 1:17, King James Version).

Some controversy arises over the King James translation of Matthew 12:40. This verse says

“He (Jesus Christ) will be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth, just as Jonah was “three days and three nights in the whale’s belly.” (Matthew 12:40.)

But the fact that Jonah was in the WHALE’S belly was only an assumption on the part of the translators. The New King James Version correctly renders this phrase as “in the belly of the GREAT FISH.” 

A whale is not a fish

Since a whale is a mammal rather than a fish, does this point to a contradiction between Jonah 1:17 and Matt. 12:40? No, and here’s why.

Realize that the Old Testament is written in Hebrew except for small portion in Aramaic (book of Daniel). The New Testament is written in Greek, not English. Neither the KJV or any other translation determines the meaning in English above the original language. Both “whale” and “great fish” are English translations of the original words.

Strong’s Dictionary says the Greek word translated “whale” is ketos (pronounced kay-tos), and means “a huge fish (as gaping for prey).” 

Smith’s Bible Dictionary” makes the following comments about the word WHALE: “Probably the fish which swallowed Jonah was some large kind of shark, or fish especially provided.”

“There are at least two species of Mediterranean marine life that are known to be able to swallow a man whole. These are the cachalot and the white shark. Both creatures are known to prowl the Mediterranean and have been known to Mediterranean sailors since antiquity. Aristotle described both species in his 4th Century B.C.” Historia Animalium (gotquestions.org).

 

The Easton Bible Dictionary says the “white shark is sometimes found 30 feet in length.” [Robinson, Lexicon  (from Barnes’ Notes)] states: “This event took place in the Mediterranean Sea, somewhere between Joppa and Tarshish, when he was fleeing FROM Nineveh. It is said that the “whale” seldom passes into that sea, and that its throat is too small to admit a man. It is probable, therefore, that a fish of the “shark kind” is intended. Sharks have been known often to swallow a man entire. The fish in the book of Jonah is described merely as a “great fish,” without specifying the kind . – Letusreason.org

The evidence supports the conclusion — that it was some kind of large fish, and not a whale, which swallowed Jonah. In any case, the Bible says God  God specifically “prepared” (mahnah—appointed, constituted, made ready) a great fish (Gesenius, 1847, p. 486). So another argument is that Jonah being swallowed was a divine miracle and thus the type of creature  God used could have been whatever sea life was available or He created a special (massive) creature to serve his purpose of causing Jonah to repent and to carry out His command of preaching.

“The same term (“prepared”) is employed to refer to additional direct manipulations initiated by God. He prepared a plant (4:6), a worm (4:7), and a vehement wind (4:8) [Wigram, 1890, p. 733]. George Cansdale was correct in concluding: “[T]here is no point in speculating about the full physical explanation of an incident that primarily is metaphysical, i.e., miraculous” (1975, 5:925, emp. added). McClintock and Strong agree: “[T]he transaction is plainly miraculous, and no longer within the sphere of zoological discussion” (1881, 10:972). Jonah’s survival after being inside a sea creature is no more remarkable than Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego surviving the “burning fiery furnace” (Daniel 3:27).” (apologeticspress.org)

A similar instance can also be found in Book of Numbers, chapter 22, versus 28 through 30 where God gives Balaam’s donkey the power of human speech in order to have a conversation with Balaam.

February 23, 2009

Seven Rules To Right Decisions

by Albert J. Portune

Tomorrow’s World, June 1969

How many times has your life, your happiness, your self-respect been upset and disturbed because you’ve made a wrong choice, or an unwise decision? Looking back on our past all of us can remember choices we had or opportunities that presented themselves – and we wish we could go back and CHANGE what we did.

How would you like to be able to make the right choice – EVERY TIME? You can, you know, if you apply the right principles EVERY TIME! The principles for making right and wise decisions are available to you. If you are willing to diligently apply them each time, YOUR LIFE can become a series of successes in the decisions you have to make. Are you willing to learn these principles?

Life Is Choice

Life is a series of decisions. You can’t begin a day without making choices. What time to rise, what clothing to wear, what to have for breakfast, what course of action for the responsibilities of the day, etc., etc. The majority of our decisions are routine and dictated by routine and preset requirements of job, school, weather and environment. Most of us do well enough in these routine decisions. It is the bigger, more unusual decisions that affect our lives where we become vulnerable and need to make the RIGHT decision. Decisions like: Whether to buy a new car and which kind – whether to quit your job and move to another area – whether to go into business for yourself – whether to add a room to your house or buy new furniture – whether to go to college, or take a trip to a distant place.

Sadly enough, many have faced major decisions in life, chosen unwisely and found their lives in a shambles which took time and tears to remedy. Making wise decisions is not a matter of chance. Some people are not just “lucky” while others are unlucky. Success in choices depends on basic factors. Those who are “lucky” have their luck in accidentally or intentionally using the right principles in making their choices. If you KNOW the right principles and apply them, you eliminate most of the elements of chance. Success is assured because you have eliminated the risks.

The Right Source

Most people, faced with important decisions make the same fundamental ERROR! This error is common to man because man is basically a self-centered creature. He usually depends on himself for the inherent ability to arrive at a conclusion. The Word of God – the Bible – which is the book about man, but inspired by man’s Creator – God who knows man intimately, most accurately describes this basic fault in man.

“Oh Lord, I know that the way of man is NOT IN HIMSELF: it is NOT IN MAN that walketh to direct his steps.” These words were written, under the inspiration of God by His prophet Jeremiah, chapter 10 verse 23. The fundamental, underlying basis for making right decisions lies OUTSIDE the pole of the man making the decision. This seems remarkable, but it is nonetheless true.

Whenever we have a decision to make, the first thing we usually do is to ASSUME WE have the basic ability to come to that decision. In reality, God’s Word makes clear we ought NOT to rely upon our own abilities alone. True, we may have to use the abilities God has given us, but directed by God – not ourselves.

“Trust in the Lord with all your heart; and lean not unto thine OWN understanding” (Prov. 3:5). Wisdom is truly realizing the basic nature in man. Few people have discovered this basic nature. Most people feel they are benign creatures, basically good, gentle, having outgoing concern for others, generous, kind, considerate. Hence, being all this, they certainly could be relied upon to make a decision which would take all factors into consideration. But, unless God’s spirit has opened their minds most people don’t know they are inherently by nature selfish, covetous, greedy, full of vanity, deceitful, proud and wicked. It is true, you know.

“The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked:” and “the carnal mind is enmity AGAINST GOD: for it is not subject to the Law of God, neither indeed can be” (Jer. 17:9 and Rom. 8:7). Those who have come to know God have learned this about themselves and have come to the first point of wisdom which is NOT to depend on this source for a decision.

Leaning to this source for a decision will ALWAYS tend to lead us to a wrong decision. This source of wisdom will always tend to a decision or a choice that flatters self, looks good to others, makes the “big splash,” satisfies lust or exacts revenge. Truly the Proverbs describe this end: “There is a way that seemeth right to a man, but the end thereof are the ways of death” (Prov. 14:12 and 16:25).

Rule One: Ask God FIRST For His Wisdom

So, the first rule in the SEVEN RULES to wise decisions is to GO OUTSIDE of self to God to get the wisdom. Any other first step would be foolish. God alone knows just the right course of action you should take ! No one else does! He should be the first source.

You will have other steps to follow, but unless they are guided by God they may avail you nothing. In fact following all six other rules could lead you to ruin without God directing them.

“…. the Lord is a God of knowledge and by HIM actions are weighed” (I Sam. 2:3).

When you are confronted with an important decision in your life, go to a private place and pray to your Father in heaven. Tell him about your decision – how it affects you, what are the alternatives that lie before you. Admit to him in prayer that you LACK the ability and wisdom you need and want His omniscient help and wisdom.

“If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it [wisdom] shall be given him” (James 1:5). Admit in your prayer that without God’s help you would tend to choose the course of vanity, lust, pride, envy and retribution. Tell Him you want His mind and attitude – an attitude of service, concern for others, love, patience and mercy. If the decision is profound enough, add fasting to your prayers so God sees that you truly care and want to be guided by Him.

Solomon an Example

When Solomon became King of Israel after his father David, he knew he was faced with many momentous decisions. The responsibility of ruling a mighty nation and making all the decisions that are part of being a monarch weighed heavily upon him.

What was the first thing Solomon did? His actions are an EXAMPLE for us – recorded in the Word of God. “And Solomon said unto God, Thou has shewed great mercy unto David my father, and hast made me to reign in his stead … for thou hast made me king over a people like the dust of the earth in multitude. Give me now WISDOM and KNOWLEDGE, that I may go out and come in before this people: for who can JUDGE [decide for] this thy people, that is so GREAT?” (II Chron. 1:8-10). Because Solomon sought God FIRST and acknowledged Him as the source of RIGHT DIRECTION, God granted him wisdom and knowledge to make right decisions and choices. God blessed him and the nation Israel over which he ruled (verses 11:17).

No matter how large or small a decision we have to make, we should always go to God FIRST and acknowledge Him as the source of direction, wisdom and knowledge to make the right choice. Even if we must make a quick – rapid-fire – decision, we always have time – even if it is only an instant – to pray within ourselves, “Father, help me to see Your will.”

Rule Two: Get Examples From the Bible

“Blessed is the man that walketh not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor standeth in the way of sinners, nor sitteth in the seat of the scornful. But his delight is in the law of the Lord; and in His LAW [the Bible] doth he meditate day and night. And he shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of waters, that brings forth his fruit in his season; his leaf also shall not wither; and WHATSOEVER HE DOETH SHALL PROSPER” (Psalm 1:1-3) .

The Bible — God’s Word – is an instruction book for man and a history of man’s mistakes, successes, rewards and punishments. It runs the full gamut of human experience. In the Old Testament, when God was bringing Israel out of Egypt, the people had to make many decisions. Some were right – many were wrong! These examples are priceless in helping us avoid making similar mistakes in decisions we must reach.

Some of the wrong decisions which led to disaster for the people are recorded a second time in I Corinthians in the 10th chapter. Notice what the apostle Paul says about these occurrences: “Now all these things happened unto them for ensamples: and they are written for OUR ADMONITION, upon whom the ends of the world are come” (verse 11).

By a deep knowledge of God’s Word – through constant study and meditation – we have a backlog of experience to draw upon. We certainly can profit by the mistakes others have made, and also from their wise decisions. Seek in your knowledge of God’s Word, or by meditating further on it, to find a basic principle that relates clearly to your choice or decision. Try to determine how your reasoning may be similar to a specific example in God’s Word.

Jesus’s Example

Jesus, under severe temptation from Satan to make a wrong decision, knew this principle well. When the Tempter sought to entice Jesus to choose immediate world rule – showed him alluring world kingdoms to tempt Him – Jesus said: “IT IS WRITTEN, Man shall not live by bread alone, but by EVERY WORD that proceedeth out of the mouth of God” (Matt. 4:4). Jesus also said twice more “IT IS WRITTEN !”

We should follow His example! Jesus knew God’s Word. He drew heavily upon it to make His choices. The unjust judges of this world follow this principle even if their choices may be wrong. No judge presiding over a court case ever comes to a decision without knowing the decisions that have been rendered previously in similar cases. Lawyers always rehearse previous court cases for what has happened in the past.

We have literally hundreds of “court cases” upon which God has rendered His verdict – IN THE BIBLE. Yet far too many of us neglect to seek that knowledge from God’s Word and apply it to our decisions. Far too many of us just do not know God’s Word well enough.’ Therefore we make wrong decisions on points for which there are direct examples in the Word of God.Your best insurance to guiding your steps through your changing pattern of life is a deep and profound knowledge of God’s Word. “Thy Word is a LAMP unto my feet, and a light unto my path” (Psalm 119:105).

Rule Three: Get all the Pertinent Facts

In most decisions you will have time to carefully consider all the factors. Too many times when a decision needs to be made we “leap before we look.” This is another universal error most people make – they don’t take enough time to consider all the facts!

Basic “high-pressure” salesmanship is designed around this human weakness and natural human lust. Ninety percent of purchases made are “impulse buying.” People go “shopping” without a factual study of the type, quality, price, performance and need factors already clearly defined. Therefore they are prime targets for the fast talking line of the high-pressure salesman – and in HIS backyard – where his glittering gadgets have you spellbound.

Not that we’re specifically talking about decisions on buying, but it is an excellent thing to remember that the item you are tempted to buy will still be there tomorrow or the next day or next week. Only your desire to HAVE IT makes you feel like you must get it NOW. The salesman knows that too.

One key which will save you many headaches and pocketbook pains is learning to “wait 24 hours” especially in reference to impulse buying. Every salesman knows a person is most apt to buy on the spur of the moment after he has been pushed “off balance” by his basic desire to possess plus the strong “pitch” he has just been given. But if you will say, “I’ll think it over” – leave the store – go home and wait until tomorrow – most likely many factors will come to you which you were unable to consider under the pressure of the moment.

This key also applies to any choice you have to make. We are always “off balance” until we have carefully weighed ALL the facts. Whatever time you have before you must decide, use it to weigh carefully all the alternatives that lie before you and the costs or actions they demand. It is always good to accumulate a written list of all the pros and cons. It will serve two purposes. One: you won’t forget the unpleasant aspects which we are so often prone to nullify or treat lightly. Two. it will force you to take the time to consider the factors in detail, which, again, we are usually reluctant to do. Be sure you get the FACTS. Don’t be satisfied with guesses and assumptions. If there are FACTS to get, get them. It’s your life!

Rule Four: Seek Wise and Abundant Counsel

In getting the facts, we should again remember not always to lean to our own knowledge of the subject. We should seek those who have the most accurate information relative to our choice. Let us suppose you are considering a change from one area of the country to another. This involves a change of job – change of home – change of school for children – change of climate – change of cost of living – and many, many other things. A wise decision cannot be reached without learning what these factors are like in the new area. One way to learn these facts is to ask or counsel with someone who is an AUTHORITY on these factors in the new area.

In every case seek wise counsel from a reputable authority or sources you can rely on. Don’t rely on backyard advice or “water-cooler wisdom” for a decision in your life. Don’t be satisfied with one opinion only! A primary principle from God’s Word shows us to seek wise counsel: “WHERE NO COUNSEL is, the people fall: but in the MULTITUDE OF COUNSELLORS THERE IS SAFETY” (Prov. 11:14).

Many times we feel it is a sign of weakness to ask for help and opinions. This is again vanity and self-centeredness. Even in the largest corporations the wisest executives seek out advisors and counsellors to help them make wise decisions.

Rule Five: Make a Definite Decision

In applying the preceding rules, we will have come to the place where we are ready to make a definite decision: Now is the time! We have asked God for wisdom and direction; we have searched His Word for examples and lessons. We have gathered and weighed all the facts and eventualities. We have sought authorities, wise and abundant counsellors. The choice or decision should now be CLEAR. Make that decision DECISIVELY – POSITIVELY! Don’t vacillate! Don’t waver!

Again God’s Word gives us the example. “For he that wavereth is like a wave of the sea driven with the wind and tossed … A double minded man is UNSTABLE in all his ways” (James 1:6, 8). This brings us to the sixth rule.

Rule Six: Have Faith in the Decision

Faith is one of the most powerful forces we can employ to cause circumstances to turn out right. Once we have come to a decision based on God’s principles we can have FAITH it will work out correctly. We should EXPECT our choice – to turn out RIGHT and GOOD. We can have ABSOLUTE FAITH that it will!

“Faith is the substance of things [or conclusions] HOPED FOR, the evidence of things not seen” (Heb. 11:1).

Believing is now our part! The whole eleventh chapter of Hebrews is a testimony of those who made choices and decisions in their lives toward an ultimate goal and they attained them THROUGH FAITH! Jesus said, “If thou canst believe, ALL THINGS are possible to him that BELIEVETH”! (Mark 9:23). Trust your decision. Trust the God who led you to it. Believe it will turn out as planned. Expect it to! HAVE FAITH.

Rule Seven: Work Diligently for the Desired End

The last rule is where many fall down. The right conclusion to a decision is NOT AUTOMATIC! We must go all out to bring the desired end to reality. In the course of obtaining all the facts and getting wise and abundant counsel we will have discovered many things to DO !

Now that we have made our choice and have faith that it will work out, we need to roll up our sleeves and GET TO WORK! Another basic principle from God’s Word will help. Wise Solomon learned from God: “Whatsoever thy hand findeth to do, do it with thy might” (Eccl. 9:10).

Here is where many of us fail. We do not diligently and systematically go step-by-step through every phase of effort toward the desired goal! Resolve, in every choice or decision, to thoroughly and judiciously do your part.

There is never a time in your life when you can afford to NEGLECT these principles. Write them down on a card and carry them with you. Learn them – make them a part of you. Put them into practice in your life.

Between The Testaments, Part 1

From: The Good News Of Tomorrow’s World

September 1971

By Ernest Martin and Harry Eisenberg

Just who were the Pharisees and where did their religious doctrines originate? In the Old Testament? If so, why did Christ so strenuously oppose their ideas? Is the Bible — both Old and New Testaments — a house divided? An examination of the period “between the Testaments” shows that while men may be divided — the Bible is not!

Much of the professing Christian world today suffers from the mistaken notion that Christ came to do away with His Father’s religion — the religion of the Old Testament. Nothing could be further from the truth! Jesus Himself said, “Think NOT that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfill (fill to the brim)” (Matt. 5:17).

Christ plainly said that He did not come to do away with His Father’s religion but to COMPLETE God’s revelation. Then why are so many confused on this point? Why do some mistakenly preach that the Law was “done away”?

One of the major assumptions in this connection is that most theologians ASSUME that the Pharisees and the other religionists of Jesus’ day were the representatives and the exponents of the revelation given to Moses — God’s Old Testament religion. But the Bible shows that the One who later became Jesus Christ was the Lord of the Old Testament: “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God …. All things were made by him; and without him was not anything made that was made” (John 1:1, 3, see also Eph. 3:9 and Heb. 1:2). Just where and when did the Pharisees get their practices which Jesus condemned?

The Return From Babylon

Chronologically speaking, the last three authors of the Old Testament are Ezra, Nehemiah and Malachi. These three men all worked among the Jewish community that had returned to Judaea after the Babylonian captivity. They were largely successful in bringing the people an awareness of God’s true religion. A body of priests (Aaron’s descendants whom God had ordained to be the religious leaders) was set up to guide the people in matters of religion. This company of men was known in history as the “Great Assembly” or “Synagogue” (“Knesset Hagedolah”). Due to the work of this body throughout the period of Persian dominance the Jews were living for the most part in accordance with God’s Law (Heinrich Graetz, “History of the Jews”, Jewish Publication Society, Philadelphia, 1894, Vol. I, pp. 406-407).

Because of this, God granted them special protection and privileges by a series of miracles, at the coming of Alexander the Great in 330 B.C. This is described in Josephus’ “Antiquities of the Jews”, Book XI, Chapter X, Parts 5-6.

A New Way of Life

At his death, Alexander’s empire was divided into four parts (Dan. 8:22). Judaea first passed under rule of Ptolemies of Egypt and, later, the Seleucidae of Syria. Both of these were Macedonian (Greek) dynasties and were great exponents of the pagan, Gentile way of life known as “Hellenism.”

The basic philosophy behind Hellenism was this: Every man had the right to think for himself on any matter as long as there was not a real departure from the customs that were essentially Greek. This philosophy — freedom of thought or individualism, which is SEEMINGLY altruistic in-principle — resulted in myriads of confusing and contradictory beliefs among the Greeks in every phase of life. Every man was allowed his own ideas about the sciences, the arts, law and about RELIGION.

So varied were the opinions among the Greek scholars in the various fields of study that individuals took pride in contending with one another over who could present the greatest “wisdom” and “knowledge” on any particular subject. With the encouragement of the rulers, Hellenism spread rapidly in the Ptolemaic Empire. Judaea was by no means exempt.

Great Assembly No Longer in Authority

Within a score of years after the coming of the Greeks, the Great Assembly disappears from history as an organized body having religious control over the Jewish people. It is not known how the Greeks dismissed this authoritative religious body from its official capacity as teachers of the Law. But it is obvious that the authority of the Great Assembly was eroded and the Greek leaders forbade them to teach. Without the religious guidance of the Great Assembly, many Jews began to imbibe the Greek customs and ideas which were inundating the land.

“With the change from Persian to Greek rule (the Ptolemies were Greeks, remember), Hellenism made its influence felt, and came pouring like a flood into a country which had known nothing of it. There was no escape from its influence. It was present everywhere, in the street and the market, in the everyday life and all the phases of social intercourse” (R. Travers Herford, “Talmud and Apocrypha”, Soncino Press, London, 1933, page 77).

Much of this Hellenistic influence came from the numerous Greek cities which were established under the Ptolemies. Most of these were on the Mediterranean seacoast or on the east side of Jordan. With the Great Assembly removed from the scene and this new culture substituted for the Law of God, the Jews began to absorb many elements of Hellenism. The Jews had no one to guide them in understanding the Law except a few isolated teachers here and there who lacked the official authority of the Great Assembly.

After a few years of this influence, the people literally came to a state of religious confusion. Some endeavoured to keep a form of the Scriptural teachings, but with Hellenism everywhere, it became almost impossible to adhere to the true form of the law of Moses. Almost everything the Greeks brought to the Jews was antagonistic to the laws of God, and, without the religious guidance of the Great Assembly, many of them began to tolerate these innovations and even, as time progressed, to take up many of the Greek ideas and customs themselves.

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