The Apple Of God's Eye

June 20, 2011

Can You Believe Both The Bible And Evolution?

So many are saying today, “You can believe BOTH the Bible and evolution.” But this is emphatically not so! The Century Dictionary and Encyclopedia defines evolution as “opposed to creation” — the only PROOF of God. Huxley said it was “directly antagonistic to Creation,” adding, “Evolution makes it impossible to believe in the Bible.” And, we might add, the BIBLE makes it impossible to believe in evolution.

Sir Oliver Lodge said, “As taught by science, we learn that there has been no fall in man; there has been only RISE.” Another frank evolutionist, Carl Vogt, says: “Evolution turns the Creator out of doors.”

And yet, in high schools and colleges, many teachers and professors are teaching students that there is no conflict between the Bible and evolution. They teach that you can believe BOTH. Some try to teach that evolution was God’s METHOD of creation, and try to harmonize the first chapter of Genesis with the theory of evolution! This is merely crafty, cunning, lying deception, which is deceiving millions of students. They are then taught the “evidences” of evolution, they accept it, and soon become atheists before they realize it! (more…)

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April 29, 2009

The Facts Behind The Fictional Da Vinci Code

 

150What do you know about “The Da Vinci Code?” Millions of words and thousands of commentaries have been written about a code that DaVinci might have created. So where do I begin to provide a meaningful commentary from a godly perspective on this craze? Perhaps with three words: “It’s a novel!” That means – simply and plainly – the book is a made-up story.

In 2006, this book was made into a feature film starring Tom Hanks. It was, of course, a highly controversial film that whetted the appetites of conspiracy buffs worldwide and fueled already present doubts and misconceptions of those who do not know or believe the Word of God.

The Da Vinci Code’s blasphemy is nothing new. It’s just another highly promoted, celebrity-enhanced, big budget effort to discredit God and His Word. It is a compilation of half-truths and heart-felt heresies being sold to biblically illiterate seekers, particularity in denominational church settings where gullible participants involve themselves for the love and acceptance of a compromised collective. Let’s have a closer look at the novel.

Is Judas the betrayer a myth?

This book is too poorly founded to even have the title of pseudo history. Dan Brown simply pulls things out of the air. The opening page’s claim of historical reality served to confuse millions, and reading further, one witnesses a radically different view of the Bible and of Jesus Christ. It even portrays Judas, not as a traitor to Jesus Christ, but as a hero. Imagine that!

There have also been headlines in the past about the gospel of Judas being found in Egypt. It is estimated to have been put there some nearly 2,000 years ago, with 13 sheets in 1,000 fragments being found. But is this really so important to all of us? Does our salvation depend upon a tattered and worn document, maybe a couple of thousand years old? Is there any credence we can give to those writings? Do we really know what these fraudulent documents are all about, and which ones to believe?

We have to be careful of a deeper deceit here. If  modern Christianity were preaching the truth the way it should, these writings would not have much of an impact at all. But the whole world is deceived, and that includes religion. We need to be proving all things in this very, very information-glutted age when there’s no telling what we may be reading.

The biggest problem however is that we simply don’t know the Bible. Do you know the difference between the real gospel and a counterfeit gospel? You have to, by proving all things, as God says. Organized religion won’t help you because their deceit is just shocking. And now people are digging these things out of caves, and somehow they capture the imagination of the world with what they find.

But do you know something? Every single one of them is really attacking the Bible, and attacking the Christ of the Bible. They’re anti-Bible, and they’re anti-God. But if we are going to be defenders of the truth for God, we’re going to have to begin to speak out on these issues.

Here is an excerpt from The Da Vinci Code:

“The Bible is a product of man, my dear. Not of God. The Bible did not fall magically from the clouds. Man created it as a historical record of tumultuous times, and it has evolved through countless translations, additions and revisions. History has never had a definitive version of the book.”

Some people may fall for such words, but they’re wrong and you can prove it! This character says: “History has never had a definitive version…” and that is absolutely, TOTALLY false! It has had a definitive version. The problem is they have rejected it! Does anybody have proof of what they say? Does ANYBODY really prove their view?

Christ taunts the critics by saying, “Well, PROVE Me now herewith! God isn’t backing down from the critics, and neither should we.

A different Christ

Now, obviously these are different views of Jesus Christ, and Christians are supposed to follow Him, but how can you do so if you don’t know Him and if you don’t know which books He inspired? And He absolutely, dogmatically states that He did! Do you honestly believe that His real teachings come from a lost gospel someone dug out of a cave? Does that really make any sense?

Notice 2 Timothy 3:16:

All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness.” Now,  can you prove that? Do you know what scripture really is? Is the lost book of Judas, Mary, Philip, or Thomas scripture? No, they are not! Brown’s book focuses on goddess worship, or worship of the divine feminine. He ties this pagan mysticism to Mary Magdalene. I mean really, he would have us believe that Christ and Mary Magdalene were active participants in a pagan sex cult? Brown is so far out in left field, he takes his proof from Da Vinci’s painting of “The Last Supper,” assuring gullible readers that it is Mary Magdalene sitting next to Christ, not John.

What is really diabolical about such statements is that Jesus Christ being involved in a pagan sex cult instantly disqualifies Him as being our Savior. Remember, He offered Himself as a sinless offering for all of mankind. If He was into such debauchery, we all  can fold up our tents and go fishing. There really wouldn’t be any more point in believing, would there? But there is not a single shred of evidence for what is being said!

Do you know your Bible?

If you don’t know the Bible, then some of these conspiracy theories start to sound pretty credible. I mean look, isn’t the Bible then just the work of men? Without scriptural knowledge, how do you dispel your doubts, even though Brown doesn’t offer any proof but just makes bold, blatant statements?

Now think about this! The author takes his proof from a Da Vinci painting, of all things! It would be ridiculously laughable, if this subject weren’t so serious! Is that really proof enough for the reader? Does such nonsense take precedence over the inspired Word of God? Does a painting by a man who didn’t know much about the Bible and God, in the first place really hold vital clues for us about God? Even if it did, who says this one interpretation is the right one? Wouldn’t many people have many interpretations? No, what we should look for are the bold statements made by Jesus Christ throughout the Bible. He tells us that this Bible was preserved, the Old Testament by the Jews, and the New Testament by the Greeks. That’s proven by the Bible, itself.

Was Mary a church leader?

Brown plays upon the Gnostic legends that Christ wanted Mary to head the Church, but Peter and the other apostles (painted as chauvinists) prevented this from happening after Christ’s death. Legends say Mary became a famous preacher founding Christian communities.

Notice, it is legend that says so. Nowhere in the Bible – our most reliable historical account of the life of Jesus – does it claim that Jesus and Mary were married. Nowhere in the writings of the early leaders of Christianity is there any reference to any such “marriage.” And amazingly, nowhere in the Gnostic writings – about which Dan Brown so endearingly speaks – is there an statement that Jesus and Mary were married. This error in Brown’s book makes Mary Magdalene out to be more important than Jesus Christ, and really, this fact has attracted a large feminist audience to the book.

But if you know anything about the Bible, then this is about as contemptuous as anything ever written. God the Father is in charge, and then Jesus Christ, not some human female. Luke 8:1-3 tells us that Christ actually cast seven demons out of Mary Magdalene. That should tell us something about her previous mental and spiritual condition, until God healed her.

Those same demons that influenced Mary now still roam this earth and heavily influence men, and even possess them. Doesn’t your Bible say that Satan is the god of this world (2 Corinthians 4:4)? But who believes that anyways?

Isaiah 46:9-10 says,

“I am God, and there’s none like Me.” There’s no one in God’s class! It is He that reveals secrets about what is to happen in the latter days…Dan. 2:38. You should be able to prove your Bible alone by comparing prophecy to news magazines or news sources! One-third of your Bible is prophecy, and 90% of that prophecy is being fulfilled today, so it’s easy to prove that God is prophesying today. The books of Daniel and Revelation are for the end time, as is the main focus of all the Major and Minor Prophets.

Why don’t we believe?

Secular and religious people stumble because they hate the government of God. In many cases, they don’t even know what it is. They assume that the Bible is not the infallible revelation of a supernatural God — without the scientific proof they demand on material questions. Most fundamentalists believers simply assume that this book is NOT the infallible Word of God. Have they proven this fact? Absolutely not! Religious people lean the other way. They simply assume the Bible is right, and when pressed with heavy questions, they have no good answers. In either case. you just can’t make statements and not prove them. Does such a stance  even make sense? But God always offers proof, we simply have to look for it!

A warning for man today!

In John 5:39, Jesus Christ told the Jews in His day to search the scriptures, because in them is eternal life. This was a warning. If we, like the Jews of old, think we have eternal life, we aught to consider what happened to them. They entered into a holocaust, with all kinds of cannibalism, pain and untold suffering. This is merely a type of what’s coming upon the world in this end time – the great Tribulation. The Jews were warned but didn’t listen. They believed in a false religion without evidence or proof. They didn’t know Christ, and the world today doesn’t know Christ. They talk about His person, but they don’t talk about His message.

But shouldn’t we know that message inside and out? Christ said, “The scriptures testify of Me. “Search the scriptures,” He said. That means both the Old Testament and the New Testament, which are solidly intertwined together. Many New Testament quotes are from the Old Testament. Don’t throw it away because Christ said we ought to live by EVERY word of God (Matthew 4:4). Why would we be given half a Bible that is correct, and half that is not correct? Does this make sense? No wonder they err, not knowing the Scriptures (Matt. 22:29). They should know the scriptures, but they don’t, nor the power of God.

God says to “prove all things” and He gives people every opportunity to do so. The proof is abundant and it’s not even that hard to prove the Bible if we’ll just apply our minds and work at it. That knowledge than change our lives and we’ll know exactly what this Bible is all about.

March 19, 2009

Are Confessions A Biblical Practice?

Christians are to confess their sins to God — not men. Notice David’s example in Psalm 51. No man can forgive sins. Neither has any man been given the office of mediator between mankind and God. This office is held by Jesus Christ alone. The apostle Paul was inspired to write: “Wherefore he [Christ] is able also to save them to the uttermost that come unto God by him, seeing he ever liveth to make intercession for them” (Heb. 7:25). The apostle Paul also wrote in I Timothy 2:5: “For there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man CHRIST JESUS.” Thus, as stated, confession of one’s sins ought to be made to God — not to a fellow human being — such as a priest.

Where did this practice start? A detailed confession to a bishop or priest appeared early in the history of the Catholic church. In the 5th-century discipline, the practice was to hear confessions at the beginning of [pagan] Lent and to reconcile the penitents on Holy Thursday. Gradually, however, the practice of reconciling, or absolving, sinners immediately after confession and before fulfillment of penance was introduced. By the end of the 11th century, only notorious sinners were reconciled on Holy Thursday. Often, those guilty of serious sins put off penance until death approached. To correct this abuse, the fourth Lateran Council (1215) established the rule that every Christian should confess to a priest at least once a year. In modern times the Roman Catholic Church teaches that penance is a sacrament, instituted by Christ, in which a confession of all serious sins committed after Baptism is necessary. The doctrine of the Eastern Orthodox churches concerning confession agrees with that of the Roman Catholic Church (Encyclopaedia Britannica, Article  “Confessions”).

The message of Sacramental Confession is so important to the Catholic church, that Pope Benedict XVI in a pre-Lenten audience with Confessors, urged them to preach the necessity for all Catholics – and to seek the sacrament themselves. He repeated that admonition urging the faithful to “invoke the Virgin Mary, whom God preserved from every stain of sin, that she help us to avoid sin and to have frequent recourse to the sacrament of confession, the sacrament of forgiveness, whose value and importance for our Christian life needs to be rediscovered today.”

However, it is NOT the Virgin Mary who is our intercessor! The Bible takes a radically different stance than that of this false pagan church. John wrote that when we sin, we have an advocate with God the Father — Jesus Christ the righteous (I John 2:1-2). He is faithful to forgive our sins when we confess to Him (I John 1:7-10). Therefore, we can come boldly to His throne of grace (Heb. 4:14-16).

The Scriptures do tell us that we may confess our FAULTS to one another — so we can pray for each other (Jas. 5:16). But there is a difference between seeking a brother’s help in overcoming a fault — human weakness — and confessing sins of the past. The latter should not be done because only God can forgive sin. And humans do not forget, as God willingly does when our sins are removed (Heb. 8:12).

Some try to use John 20:23 to prove that persons in ecclesiastical offices have the power to forgive sins. This verse reads: “If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven; if you retain the sins of any, they are retained” (New King James Version). However, it does not mean that mere men can actually forgive sins in a spiritual sense. God alone can forgive sins (Mark 2:7-10; Luke 5:21-24). Christ spoke these words to His future apostles in the context of the Church authority He was giving them (see John 20:21) — the power to disfellowship those who were dissenters or heretics (see I Corinthians 5:2 and I Timothy 1:20) and bring them back into the congregation upon repentance (II Cor. 2:6-10).

March 9, 2009

What Is The Origin Of April Fool's Day?

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blog.redfin.com/sfbay/2008/03

April Fool’s Day or All Fool’s Day is of ancient origin. The custom of playing practical jokes on friends or sending them on fools’ errands on a particular day was practiced from earliest times.

The “Concise Dictionary of Holidays” says, “The tradition of setting aside some special day for making a fool out of other people has its roots in antiquity” (page 5).

The Book of Days says, “To find the practice so widely prevalent over the earth, and with so near a coincidence of day, seems to indicate that it has had a very early origin amongst mankind” (page 462).

The “Encyclopaedia Britannica” says this: “What seems certain is that it [April Fool’s Day] is in some way or other a relic of those once universal festivities held at the vernal equinox, which, beginning on old New Year’s Day, the 25th of March, ended on the 1st of April. This view gains support from the fact that the exact counterpart of April-fooling is found to have been an immemorial custom in India. The festival of the spring equinox is there termed the feast of Huli, the last of which is the 31st of March, upon which the chief amusement is the befooling of people by sending them on fruitless errands.”

Even though the roots of April Fool’s Day are not known precisely, the evidence clearly indicates that it is of pagan origin. That alone should tell us what God thinks of it.

April Fool’s Day is not mentioned in the Bible, but its foundation and instructions regarding it are. Foolish jesting is condemned in God’s Word (Eph. 5:4). And, as with any worldly custom taken from pagan tradition, God warns, “Learn not the way of the heathen” (Jer. 10:2) and, “Come out from among them and be separate” (II Cor. 6:17, RAV). Clearly, the followers of Jesus Christ should have nothing to do with April Fool’s Day.

March 8, 2009

Is The Word "Amen" Of Pagan Origin?

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Some say the word “Amen,” used at the end of a prayer to God is of pagan origin. It is true that an Egyptian pagan  god was called AMEN (the supposed personification of air or breath and represented by a ram or a goose). But there is absolutely no evidence to link the Hebrew word amen –meaning “truth” or “so be it” — in any way to this or any other pagan deity.

What we do find is that the inspired writers of the Bible were led to use this Hebrew word frequently. Surely that is endorsement enough. But, there’s more, as we’ll see shortly. First, however, what about the claim that those who wrote the Bible got this word from the Egyptians?

It would appear that if anyone “borrowed” this word from another people, the Egyptians got it from what was once the pure language spoken by everyone prior to the building of the Tower of Babel. Was this a deliberate counterfeit? In the Bible we find that Jesus Christ is called “the Amen” (Rev. 3:14).

How does the Bible define this word? Notice again the passage just cited. Jesus is “the Amen, the faithful and TRUE witness.” Its use here, directly connected with the word TRUE and emphasizing the TRUTH for which Christ stands, shows conclusively what its meaning is as used in the Scriptures.

If our own use of the word is based on the Hebrew, we need not fear that we are sinning when we use it. Of course, if we attribute existence or power to some mythical god in our minds as we use it, we are using it wrongly and not the way those who wrote the Bible did. See Romans 14:23, last part.

Jesus Himself included the word AMEN as part of the model prayer. He gave for all Christians (Matt. 6:9-12). Therefore it is not incorrect to use it.

February 23, 2009

Between The Testaments, Part 2

From: The Good News Of Tomorrow’s World

September 1971

By Ernest Martin and Harry Eisenberg

After a series of battles with the Syrians, Ptolemy I, the Greek king of Egypt, took firm control of Judaea in 301 B.C. His descendants retained that control for over ONE HUNDRED YEARS, until 198 B.C. This one-hundred-year period of Greek-Egyptian domination is very important in the religious history of the Jews. This is the period in which many great and significant changes first began to take place in Jewish religious life.

“During the comparatively quiet rule of the Ptolemies, Greek ideas, customs and morality had been making peaceful conquests in Palestine” (Charles Foster Kent, “History of the Jewish People”, page 320). There was little resistance to these inroads. We are informed by Dr. Jacob Lauterbach, a learned Jewish scholar, that Jewish tradition knows of no religious teacher who taught any form of religion from the death of Simon the Just (270 B.C.) until about the year 190 B.C. (Jacob Z. Lauterbach, “Rabbinic Essays”, Hebrew Union College Press, Cincinnati, 1951, page 196).

“This would have been impossible,” Dr. Lauterbach says, “if there had been any official activity of the teachers in those years” (ibid.). But there was none. In fact, whole generations came and went, offering no great resistance to the new customs which were encouraged by the commercial and educational intercourse taking place between the Jews, Greeks and Hellenistic Egyptians. In fact, thousands of Jews migrated to Egypt during this period. By the end of the Ptolemaic period, there were over a million Jews in Egypt, out of a total population of about seven million.

A prime example of Hellenistic influence is the PAGAN concept of the immortality of the soul. This doctrine was widely publicized in the writings of the pagan Greek philosopher Plato.

The Coming of the Seleucids

In 198 B.C. the Seleucid kingdom of Syria conquered Judaea and drove out the Egyptians. Like the Ptolemies, the Seleucids were also of Greek origin and equally Hellenistic in culture and outlook. At first, conditions in Judaea were pretty much like what they had been under the Ptolemies. The Seleucid ruler, Antiochus III, was favorably inclined toward the Jews.

Conditions rapidly changed, however, with the coming to the throne in 175 B.C. of Antiochus Epiphanes. Shortly after he ascended the throne, there was a contention among several of the priests in Jerusalem for the office of High Priest. Jason, the brother of the reigning High Priest, persuaded Antiochus to transfer the office to him, by offering a large sum of money to the King.

Jason was Hellenistically inclined and was followed in this by many of the people. “A passion for Greek costumes, and Greek names (Jason’s Hebrew name was Joshua) seized the people. Large numbers were enrolled as citizens of Antioch (the capital of Syria). Many even endeavored to conceal the fact that they had been circumcised …. To demonstrate that he had left all the traditions of his race behind, Jason sent a rich present for sacrifices in connection with the great festival at Tyre in honor of the god Hercules” (Kent, “History of the Jewish People”, pp. 324-325). Of course, not everyone in Judaea went this far, but by and large, most people are inclined to follow their human leaders, at least to a certain extent.

About three years after Jason assumed office, Menelaus (Hebrew name “Onias”), a man most believe to have been of the tribe of Benjamin (not a descendant of Aaron and therefore not truly a priest) offered Antiochus a larger bribe than Jason, and he was named High Priest instead. Because of this, Jason fled beyond Jordan to the Ammonites for refuge. (See McClintock and Strong, “Cyclopaedia of Biblical, Theological and Ecclesiastical Literature”, Vol. I, pp. 271-272; and II Maccabees, Chapter 4).

Many of the Jews thought Jason had been unjustly deprived of becoming High Priest. Many of the people began to take sides — some for Jason, some for Menelaus. Fighting broke out between the two groups, both of whom were led by outright Hellenists.

Jason’s forces won out and Menelaus fled to Antioch. There Antiochus became infuriated to learn that many of the Jews had taken sides against his appointed official or, in effect, against his government itself! At that time Antiochus was planning to conquer Egypt. When that failed, due to the intervention of the Romans, he decided to take out his anger on the rebellious Jews at Jerusalem. He planned not only to subdue the Jews but to put an end to their religion once and for all.

Antiochus, feigning peace, proceeded to take the city. He polluted the Temple by burning swine’s flesh on its altar, and erected a statue of Jupiter Olympus in the Holy Place. This had been prophesied by Daniel (Dan. 11:29-31). He plundered the Temple of all objects of value and then issued a decree forbidding the Jews to worship God or in any way to exercise their religion.

Despite the severity of this decree, there were many Hellenistically inclined Jews who nonetheless accepted it without protest. Many of these Hellenists were priests and Levites. On the other hand, for many other Jews, the majority of whom may have been only slightly interested in religion previously, this decree forbidding such basic practices as circumcision and requiring idol worship was simply too much.

The Maccabean Revolt

In the small village of Modi’in, the head of a priestly family, Mattathias, and his five sons, stood up to oppose Antiochus and his decree. “If anyone zealous for the laws of his country and for the worship of God, let him follow me,” he proclaimed (Josephus, “Antiquities of the Jews”, Book XII, Chapter VI, Part 2).

Thousands flocked to his banner and a full revolt was under way. Just before his death, Mattathias made his third son, Judah (called Maccabee), general of their army. After a long series of battles with his forces greatly outnumbered, Judah defeated the Syrians and their Samaritan allies. In 165 B.C. he went up to Jerusalem and purified the Temple, restoring the true ritual of God. Judah was killed in a later battle.

Finally Simon, the last survivor of Mattathias’ sons, was able to proclaim an independent nation with himself as High Priest. The nation was now, at last, free of foreign domination. But the years of religious anarchy and Hellenistic influence had taken their toll. Dr. Lauterbach states: “During the seventy or eighty years of religious anarchy, many new practices had been gradually adopted by the people” (Lauterbach, page 205).

The British scholar Travers Herford adds: “In the absence of authoritative guidance, the people had gone their own way; new customs had found a place among old religious usages … new ideas had been formed under the influence of Hellenism which had permeated the land for more than a century, and there had been no one to point out the danger which thereby threatened the religious life of the people” (Herford, “Talmud and Apocrypha”, pp. 64-65).

The Sanhedrin

We are now at the point where the Pharisees first make their appearance in history, some time after the Maccabean wars. But before we note this, we need to examine briefly the rise of the Sanhedrin, the body which they dominated during much of its existence.

While some sources would lead us to believe that the Sanhedrin was the direct successor to the Great Assembly, this was not the case. It was not until about 196 B.C. after a hiatus of some eighty years that the Sanhedrin was first established. This is shown by an ancient manuscript found today in a text called “Fragments of a Zadokite Work”. This text points to 196 B.C. as the year the Sanhedrin first met. This body is said to consist of “men of understanding from Aaron” (that is, priests), and “from Israel wise teachers” (that is, non-priestly teachers) (Lauterbach, “Rabbinic Essays”, page 203).

This is significant! The writer mentions there were both priests and lay teachers in the new Sanhedrin. This was an innovation. Until this time only the priests, with their assistants, the Levites, were considered to have the authority to teach religion to the people.

This would not have been permitted while the Great Assembly, the successor of Ezra, was in authority. This is clearly shown from the writings of Malachi, who was contemporary with Ezra, Nehemiah and the early days of the Great Assembly. “For the priest’s lips should keep knowledge, and they should seek the law at his mouth: for he (the priest) is the messenger of the Lord of Hosts” (Mal. 2:7). The law of Moses, which God had directly commanded him, dearly enjoined that the priests and Levites were to perform the functions of teachers, not just any layman who would presume to do so. (See Deut. 18:1-7, 33:10 and also Ezek. 44:23.),

Lay Teachers Reject Sole Authority of Priests to Teach

Why this radical change? Again we must briefly go back to the period of religious anarchy when the Egyptian Ptolemies ruled Judaea. Both the Ptolemies and the later Seleucid rulers looked upon the High Priest as the head of the Jewish nation. In turn, it was the High Priest, with his assistants (other priests) who dealt with the Hellenist rulers on behalf of the nation.

Outstanding among these were Joseph, the son of Tobias, and his son Hyrcanus. In order to be successful diplomats at the Hellenistic court in Alexandria, they felt it necessary to adopt Greek ways. And these they brought back with them to Judaea. Thus, it was the priests, the ones who should have been teaching the people God’s Law, who became the chief proponents of Hellenism.

From 206 to 196 B.C. a series of battles between the rival Hellenistic kings of Syria and Egypt devastated many parts of Judaea. Some blamed Hellenism for this trouble and began to seek to return to the laws of their fathers. But to whom could they turn?

The priests as a whole had become thoroughly Hellenized. In fact, different priests were taking sides in the wars and were even raising up armies to help either the Syrians or the Egyptians. The only ones who had studied God’s Word and remained committed to it in any form were a few laymen and some minor priests. These sat in the new Sanhedrin.

What Was God’s Way?

Prior to and during the Maccabean revolt, the outwardly Hellenistic priests and their followers supported Antiochus Epiphanes. The lay teachers and the Sanhedrin as a whole supported the Maccabees. Religiously speaking, the major result of the Maccabean victory was the TOTAL DISCREDITING OF HELLENISM in Judaea. The High Priesthood was given to the Hasmonean (Maccabean) family itself, which descended from minor priests. No one was an outright Hellenist any longer. Many were desirous of following God’s way. But whatever religious unity there might have been was short-lived.

The question basically was one of determining just what was God’s way. There was, of course, the written Bible (the Old Testament). But how were the people to apply its teachings to the various problems and events that arise in daily life? The Jews, remember, had just emerged from a period where the teaching and practice of God’s Law had been forbidden. And this had been preceded by an era of some eighty years during which Hellenism had made great inroads into the daily lives of the people; and all this while there had been no organized body directing religious life.

Hundreds of years before, Ezra and those priests and Levites assisting him had “… read in the book in the law of God distinctly, and (had given) the sense, and caused them to understand the reading” (Neh. 8:8.). Through the ages, God’s servants have been responsible to show the people (with His guidance) how His Law applied in various situations in their lives. This was never the prerogative of anyone who wanted to choose “the ministry,” “the priesthood” or “the rabbinate” for a vocation, but only those whom God specifically chose. And in ancient Israel, under the Old Covenant, God chose the priests, primarily, with the Levites to assist them, for this purpose of teaching.

The Pharisees Come on the Scene

Following the Maccabean victory there were many priests who were ready and willing to resume their ancient, God-given role as teachers and expounders of the Law. But there were also the lay teachers who had come to sit in the Sanhedrin and had made a notable contribution to the Maccabean cause at a time when many priests were outright Hellenists and supporters of Antiochus Epiphanes. Lauterbach says that the lay teachers “refused to recognize the authority of the priests as a class, and, inasmuch as many of the priests had proven unfaithful guardians of the Law, they would not entrust to them the regulation of the religious life of the people” (Lauterbach, page 209). It was these lay teachers who organized themselves into the party of the Pharisees.

Although many of the priests had indeed become Hellenized, this did not necessarily give the lay teachers the right to usurp some of the priests’ God-given authority. But, sadly they insisted on following the way that seemed right to them (Prov. 14:12; 16:25). However, two wrongs did not make a right in that day any more than they do today.

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