The Apple Of God's Eye

February 22, 2011

Biblical Leviathan: More Than A Legend?

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Dragons! You’ve got to be kidding! No one believes in Dragons, so how can we have a serious discussion about them?

Yet in connection with the marvels of the created world, mention is made in the Bible of a terrifying sea creature called “leviathan.”

The precise identification of this huge animal is shrouded in a few verses: Job 3:8, 41:1-34, Psalms 74:14, Psalms 104:24-26 and Isaiah 27:1.

It obviously was some sort of majestic and awe inspiring aquatic creature. The margin notes in some Bible versions (ASV, RSV) speculate that the creature was a whale, though this description does not appear to even closely match what the Bible describes.

Other scholars identify this animal as a huge crocodile, but these are found mainly in inland waters and would therefore not be described as great beasts of the sea (Psalm 104:25–26). Nor are crocodiles so terrifying that no one dares tackle them—as they are regularly trapped and killed by native tribes.

A third presuppositions is that Leviathan may have been some variety of ancient dinosaur – now extinct (see Duane Gish, Dinosaurs – Those Terrible Lizards, San Diego: Creation-Life Publishers, 1977, pp. 30, 51-54). But this, of course, is also nonsense, as dinosaurs became extinct long before the creation of man.

Then there are expositors inclined to identify leviathan as a  “mythological” entity, or as poetic imagery

“All five occurrences are in poetic passages and belong to ‘dead mythology,’ i.e., old mythological concepts are employed without suggestion that they are still believed” (The Zondervan Pictorial Encyclopedia of the Bible, page 912).

However, the description in this section of scripture (as we shall see shortly) treats  leviathan as a real sea “monster,” with which the ancients were quite familiar. (more…)

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October 21, 2009

Who Wrote The Book Of Genesis?

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special.lib.gla.ac.uk

The Jewish community, which has the responsibility of preserving the Hebrew Old Testament (Rom. 3:1-2), ascribes this book to Moses. There can be no doubt that Moses is the author of Genesis as well as the rest of the Pentateuch (Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers and Deuteronomy).

Jesus verified this by saying to certain religious leaders of His day, “Do not think that I will accuse you to the Father: there is one that accuseth you, even Moses in whom ye trust. For had ye believed Moses, ye would have believed me: for he wrote of me. But if ye believe not his writings, how shall ye believe my works?” (John 5:45-47). Here is Jesus’ own personal testimony that Moses wrote scripture.

But what part? Jesus gave the division of the Old Testament in Luke 24:44: All things must be fulfilled, which were written in the law of Moses, and in the prophets, and in the psalms…” A little earlier, Jesus, “beginning at Moses and all the prophets… expounded unto them (the disciples) in all the scriptures the things concerning himself” (verse 27). Jesus began with Moses because it was Moses who wrote the first five books of the Bible. This does not, however, preclude the fact that Joshua and later prophets added further comments to the law as Moses wrote it. See Deuteronomy 34:5-12 for the account of Moses’ death. Also Genesis 14:14 where the later name Dan is used instead of Laish (Judg. 18:29).

Definition of Genesis

Genesis is the “book of origins.” It constitutes that part of the Bible which is commonly called the introductory book of the Old Testament. The name Genesis is derived directly from the Greek translation of the Hebrew word bereshith, meaning “in the beginning.” The book of Genesis starts with a brief statement about the pre-Adamic world and goes on to cover the first 2,000 years and more of man’s history, from the creation of Adam and Eve to the settlement of the children of Israel in Egypt. The highlights of the first eleven chapters are a description of creation; God’s instruction to the first man and woman; the account of their disobedience which cut them and their progeny off from God’s Holy Spirit; man’s sinful degeneration which resulted in total destruction of human life, except for Noah and his family, by a Flood; and the disbursement of the races at the tower of Babel after the Flood.

Chapters 12 through 50 contain the account of Abraham’s calling and God’s promises to him due to his faithfulness; the story of Isaac and Jacob; and the account of Joseph and his family in Egypt. Genesis can rightly be summed up in the following words: “The book of Genesis is the true and original birthplace of all theology. It contains those concepts of God and man, of righteousness and judgment, of responsibility and moral government, of failure and hope, which are presupposed through the rest of the Old Testament, and which prepare the way for the mission of Christ” (The Foundations of the Bible, page 155). The record of Genesis is written in abbreviated form, and certain questions, as a result, have been frequently asked about its content. It is the purpose of this publication to answer a number of these questions in the light of the entire Bible (Genesis to Revelation).

September 12, 2009

Ye Are Gods

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my.opera.com

Jesus Christ said, “You are gods.” What did He mean by that? That’s really an astonishing statement, yet if you talk to most Christians they would not understand what that means. And when Jesus Christ was trying to explain it to the Jews and others throughout history — the Jews anyhow, tried to stone Him, and tried to kill Him.

What exactly is it about that statement that makes people so angry? John 10 and verse 30 says, “I and My Father are one.” The Jews — like Nicodemus, one of the rulers of the Pharisees — came to Jesus Christ at night and said that they knew He was a teacher from God. Christ was continually correcting the Jews and everybody else, and they heard Christ say He was one with the Father. So then the Father, or their God, would also be correcting them, and that made them very angry.

Of course they should have been repenting and not stoning or not criticizing. If we’re Christians, we have to follow Jesus Christ.

Notice verse 31-33 – Jesus answered them, “Many good works have I showed you from my Father; for which of those works do ye stone me? The Jews answered him, saying, For a good work we stone thee not; but for blasphemy; and because that thou, being a man, makest thyself God.

So here they were getting ready to stone Him again because of what they called blasphemy. They already admitted He was a teacher from God — God in the flesh, and saw the miracles He performed. How could anybody think this was just an ordinary man?

Imagine, religious people trying to kill their Creator over, really, one of the most inspiring messages in all the Bible? Verse 34: “Jesus answered them, Is it not written in your law, I said, Ye are gods.?” This statement is not true of angels. Christ didn’t talk about them being His son. And certainly animals don’t have potential like that. Human beings, as with most mainstrean religions, do not realize a human being is a magnificent creation with an awesome potential. This includes all races of men, as God is no respecter of persons.

Now let’s have a look at the psalm Jesus Christ quoted, and give you a little bit of a context or at least one verse that leads into that statement. Notice Psalm 82:5:

They know not, neither will they understand; they walk on in darkness: …

David is talking about the world in general here. And Christ quoted this very chapter… “neither will they understand.” It means they refuse to understand, and they go on and walk in continued spiritual darkness. Christ came to bring light, but they loved darkness, and they wouldn’t accept the message of Christ. It is the very same today.

There’s something wrong with human beings, and it’s called human nature. People refuse to hear what Christ had to say, even though they have an inspired Bible.

Now notice this amazing conclusion to verse 5. …”all the foundations of the earth are out of course.” Why? Because of this attitude or this human nature. That means all of the foundations of religion, all the foundations of politics, government, science, education, they’re all out of course.

Now truthfully, if all of the foundations of the earth are out of course (and this includes all of the mainstream religions), we’re talking about some major changes needed in our lives – in the lives of all on this earth. It is not a trivial matter. In other words, if the foundations are out of course, you’re building your house on sand, and it’s going to crash. It just simply won’t work.

Now, if you look around truthfully at what’s happening in this world, you’d have to say that’s true. All the foundations of the earth are out of course! Something is terribly, terribly wrong. And God says, “Okay, now I’m going to show you how to solve that problem and it’s not a problem that you can solve by yourself, take lightly or treat in a trivial way.

This is about our ugly human nature. Why are the politics on a wrong foundation? Why is science and education on a wrong foundation? Why religion? Because Christ said that the whole world is deceived by the devil (Revelation 12 and verse 9), and that he is the god of this world (II Corinthians 4 and verse 4). See, that’s getting to the heart of what this is all about.

In the very first chapter of your Bible, it says we are going to be made in the image or the character of God. That’s a process where we have to be willing to bring God into our lives and let Him rule us, or it can’t happen. From the beginning man has rebelled. Adam and Eve didn’t want God’s way. They wanted their own education, their own religion, their own politics. And God said, “Okay, but you’re going to run into problems you can’t even imagine.”

Now back to Psalm 82:6 to see what is God’s solution to these foundations being out of course:

“I have said, Ye are gods; and all of you are [sons] of the most High.”

It says children in some translations. It should be sons. We’re sons of the most High. The word God there could read judges. That same Greek word is used over 1,300 times in the New Testament to refer to God Himself!”

Christ wasn’t talking about judges — He was talking about these Jews’ potential to enter the very Family of God! He was refuting their anger over His saying that He, a man, was God. ”

Christ said to the Jews, “if all of the foundations of the earth are out of course, how are we going to solve it? Yes, I say I’m the Son of God, but I also say you are gods! You have the potential to be God, or the Son of God, as I am a Son of God!”

Remember Genesis 1? It’s the animal after the animal kind, and then when He came to man He said, “Man is going to be made after the God kind!” We look like God today, physically, in His likeness, but we’re going to be made in His image or character. That’s where the solution is – not in going to heaven to waste our time strumming a harp on some far away cloud while looking with rapture at the face of God. No, Christ said we’re going to enter into and be born into the very Family of God.

And yet humanity does not understand it. All the foundations of the earth are out of course because of human beings who won’t allow God show them what their potential. Unfortunately, this means they will  have to suffer until they learn this lesson. The number one problem we have today is that of human survival.

Going back to John 10:35, we see it says the Scripture cannot be broken. The Old Testament and the New Testament cannot be broken. It’s God’s Word, and He’s promised to fulfill every single word of it! Why don’t we just believe what it says?  Because there’s something terribly wrong with human beings. God doesn’t want us to go through all of this suffering. He said, “You ought to become perfect as your Father in heaven is perfect” (Matthew 5:48). This is not happening in this world, not even in organized religion.

God says we’re being greatly influenced by the devil. That is the problem, and yet people don’t even want to believe in a devil. But your Bible says the devil is alive, well, and very active, and he has led man into all of these foundations of the earth being out of course. That is the main reason there has to be a different government on this earth, and that’s what Christ is about to institute. He will return very shortly, and He’s going to give us that government this time that nobody’s going to push aside. Just before human beings destroy all human life on this earth.

Let’s quickly go back to Gen. 1:26: “And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness:…” What it really says is that physically, we have those features that look like God. The animals on this earth do not. God made the the animal after the animal kind, and when He got down to man He said, “All right, let’s make man after the God kind.” We are here to become gods in the God Family, as God’s Son. We’re going to be the Sons of the Father. He says, “You are gods,” and that gets right at the heart of why we were created, and why we ought to be inspired and moved by these great truths.

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

July 29, 2009

What Do The Words And Symbols Between Verses In Psalm 119 Mean?

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There is an ongoing question concerning the words and symbols found between the verses of Psalm 119.

These words are the names of the letters of the Hebrew alphabet. In this psalm each letter of the Hebrew alphabet is
spelled out in English, and in many Bibles the Hebrew symbol is written before it. Here is the reason.

Psalm 119, like the majority of the psalms, was written to be sung as a song of praise to God. But, unlike most other psalms it was written in a unique style. It is divided into twenty-two sections or strophes, each composed of eight lines or verses. In the first strophe (verses 1-8) the first word in each line in the original Hebrew begins with Aleph, the first letter of the Hebrew alphabet. In the second strophe (verses 9-16) the same style is used and each line begins with Beth, the second letter of the Hebrew alphabet. This system is continued until all the letters of the Hebrew alphabet have been utilized.

As you can see, Psalm 119 in the original Hebrew is really an intricately written poem. The alphabet was used by translators to separate its twenty-two sections for the reader, because in the English translation this acrostic pattern is not possible to duplicate. Today, in English, we have an accurate translation of the original, even though it is impossible to duplicate the poetic Hebrew form.

July 5, 2009

What Does "Selah" Really Mean?

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blog.jstaten.com

What does the word “selah” (Hebrew: סלה‎) as found in the Psalms and the book of Habakkuk really mean? There have been numerous studies and articles on the meaning of “Selah”–and not a whole lot of agreement.

Selah is found in two books of the Bible, but is most prevalent in the Psalms, where it appears 71 times. It also appears three times in the third chapter of the prophet Habakkuk (3:3, 9,13) .

There is a great deal of confusion about the meaning of “selah,” primarily because the Hebrew root word from which it is translated is uncertain. As such, “selah” may be the most difficult word in the Hebrew Bible to translate concisely.

The Psalms were written as songs and  accompanied by musical instruments and there are references to this in many chapters. Thirty-one of the thirty-nine psalms with the caption “To the choir-master” include “Selah” so the musical context of selah is said to be obvious. Many scholars believe that it was a direction for the musicians to repeat verses, play interludes, tune the instruments, and so on.

Some render “selah” from two Hebrew words: s_lah, to praise; and s_lal, to lift up, or even salah, to pause. From these words comes the belief that “selah” is a musical direction in the Psalms. This would encompass all the meanings—praise, lift up, and pause.

The Septuagint translates Selah into Greek as Äéáøáëìá diapsalma, which may mean interlude. And Strong’s Dictionary gives the meaning under number H5542 as; “suspension (of music), that is pause: Selah.”

However, where it is mentioned again in Habakkuk 3:13, we realize this passage was not written to be sung, though Habakkuk’s prayer could inspire the reader to praise God for His mercy, power, and grace.

Interestingly, Holman’s Bible Dictionary says many of the musical theories proposed  by scholars (the pause either for silence or musical interlude, a signal for the congregation to sing, recite, or fall prostrate on the ground, a cue for the cymbals to crash, a word to be shouted by the congregation, a sign to the choir to sing a higher pitch or louder) are unproveable.

A more plausible meaning?

Another plausible meaning translated “selah” is from the primary Hebrew root word [calah] which literally means “to hang” or “to measure or weigh in the balances.” An example of this word [calah] as it is literally translated ‘valued,’ is in the book of Job, indicating that which is measured.

Job 28:15-16

  • “It cannot be gotten for gold, neither shall silver be weighed for the price thereof.
  • It cannot be valued with the gold of Ophir, with the precious onyx, or the sapphire.”

These verses use the same Hebrew word [calah], showing the context of “measuring against.” The translation ‘valued’ illustrates the measuring of something for an exchange. In this case, it shows us that wisdom cannot be measured against gold, as it is obviously is beyond monetary value.

In verse nineteen we see this very same illustration again. Referring to wisdom, Job says, “The topaz of Ethiopia shall not equal it, neither shall it be valued with pure gold.”  Again, the word translated “valued” in this verse is the same Hebrew calah. Job repeats that wisdom is beyond comparing against even jewels, and when weighed in the balance against wisdom, the finest jewels cannot equal its value.

In the French book “The Music of the Bible Revealed,” by Suzanne Haik-Vantoura, we find the same explanation which seems to fit every use of the word in the Bible. The author, who is a Jewish music student, concludes that “selah” was part of the sung text and not an instruction to the players. While she does not define the word itself, her work does suggest that “selah” is similar to the word amen at the end of a prayer, an exclamation of confidence or and certainty of what has been said.

John Gill’s Exposition of the Bible agrees, stating that it is added “as a mark of attention, something of moment and importance being observed.” The purpose would be to emphasize the truth or seriousness of a passage, and that we should measure and reflect upon what has been said.

And the Adam Clark Commentary says it may come from äìñ salah, meaning to strew or spread out intimating that the subject to which the word is attached should be spreadout, meditated on, and attentively considered by the reader. This may be confirmed by by Psalm 9:16, where the word “higgaion’ (signifying meditation), is put before selah at the end of the verse.” So it is a fit subject for meditation; and shows selah to be really a nota bene; attend to or mind this.”

Vine’s Expository offers another similar explanation: “The word is never used at the beginning of a psalm, nor has it any grammatical connection with the context. Its usual position is either at the end of a strophe or at the end of a psalm. It often connects what precedes with what follows (sometimes by way of contrast, as if to stress both, as if saying, “This being so, give heed to what is now to be said.”

From all facts presented, we can easily see there is a lot of disagreement as to what various experts think is meant by the word and what is conveyed in the use of it. Logically, God knew that the Psalms would be read and not sung over many years of their use, and that there would be confusion about a musical term put into them. He also knew they would be printed in a book to teach His people spiritual concepts of His word of truth in the end time. As such, it seems highly likely that He would put in a word to call special attention to exhort us to ‘weigh’ these things thoughtfully, and to reflect and consider in good sense judgment what is ‘really’ being said, whether we read or sing the psalms.

June 21, 2009

Reincarnation: Myth Or Fact?

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Reincarnation is a concept which is common to many religious beliefs and spiritual practices. Those who believe in this theory teach that after death a person’s “soul” is reborn in a new body, which is sometimes referred to as the “transmigration of the soul” or metempsychosis.

The abundance of reincarnation myths around the world finds appeal in the idea that a fundamental part of themselves will live on after death, even though their bodies may decay.

The immortality of the soul doctrine (especially prevalent in the West) is basic to the belief in reincarnation. But, that doctrine is false! The classic inquiry “Who am I?” is being replaced by the puzzling question “Who was I?”. The Bible plainly shows that one’s soul is NOT immortal. Notice Genesis 3:19:

“In the sweat of thy face shalt thou eat bread, till thou return unto the ground; for out of it wast thou taken: for dust thou art, and unto dust [not another body] shalt thou return.”

Also notice Ecclesiastes 3:19-20:

“For that which befalleth the sons of men befalleth beasts; even one thing befalleth them: as the one dieth, so dieth the other; yea, they have all one breath; so that a man hath no preeminence above a beast …. All go unto one place; all are of the dust, and all turn to dust again.”

Psalm 146:4 states that when a man dies “his breath goeth forth, he returneth to his earth; in that very day his thoughts
perish.”

We can further this concept for those who say the body is irrelevant to the concept of reincarnation by quoting Heb. 9:27, which states that  a man “is destined to die once, and after that to face judgment. In other words, he is NOT reborn to die over and over again.

So if this belief is not biblical, how did it start?

What is reincarnation?

“Reincarnation, literally “to be made flesh again”, is a doctrine or metaphysical belief that some essential part of a living being (in some variations only human beings) survives death to be reborn in a new body. This essential part is often referred to as the spirit or soul, the “higher” or “true” self, “divine spark”, or “I”. According to such beliefs, a new personality is developed during each life in the physical world, but some part of the self remains constant throughout the successive lives.” [wikipedia]

Answers.com terms reincarnation as rebirth of the soul in another body. Britannica Concise Encyclopedia terms it as the doctrine of the rebirth of the soul in one or more existences. Oxford University Press expresses it as existence of a soul that is periodically reincarnated in a body. And Columbia Encyclopedia references it as occupation by the soul of a new body after the death of the earlier body.

The teaching of reincarnation (a religion of the east) is making heavy inroads into Western society today. However, it is important to understand that it is in no way a scientific or religious truth.

Reincarnation in Hindu art

Reincarnation in Hindu art

The concept of this belief can be stated as follows: after death, the human soul leaves the body and passes into either 1) a plant body, an animal body, another human body, or even an extra-terrestrial body.

Belief in reincarnation has ancient roots. This doctrine is a central tenet within the majority of Indian religious traditions, such as Hinduism (including Yoga, Vaishnavism, and Shaivism).

It also appears in Jainism and Sikhism, two faiths that grew out of Hinduism and are still practiced in India. Jainism shares with Hinduism a belief in many gods. Sikhism, a monotheistic religion, combines some elements of Islam with Hinduism.

Hinduism, Buddhism, Jainism, and Sikhism all began in India, where the idea of rebirth first appears in texts dating from about 700 B.C. They share a belief in samsara—the wheel of birth and rebirth—and karma—the idea that an individual’s future incarnation depends on the way he or she lived. People who have done good deeds and led moral lives are reborn into higher social classes; those who have not are doomed to return as members of the lower classes or as animals. Only by achieving the highest state of spiritual development can a person escape samsara altogether. (Mythencyclopedia)

The idea was further entertained by some ancient Greek philosophers, the Egyptians and Greeks,  among the Celts and Druids, and in various “mystery religions” of the Near East. It spread somewhat among the Hebrews, before the time of Christ, and has survived among various Hasidic groups in the world today.

Many modern Neopagans also believe in it, as do some New Age movements, along with followers of Spiritism, practitioners of certain African traditions, and students of esoteric philosophies such as Kabbalah, and Gnostic and Esoteric Christianity. The Buddhist concept of Rebirth although often referred to as reincarnation differs significantly from the Hindu-based traditions and New Age movements in that there is no unchanging “soul” (or eternal self) to reincarnate.

People apart from ancient Israel had no concept of a personal God,  so  reincarnation took hold as a way of explaining many of the mysteries of this life. The perpetual state of karma (as a primitive form of retribution) supposedly helps to  “expiate’ the sins of previous incarnations.

Does the Bible mention reincarnation?

While the Bible does not mention the term reincarnation, it does condemn it in context in speaking of John the Baptist. In the Gospel of John, Christ is asked about a blind man: Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, for him to have been born blind? In other words, he must have done something wrong in a previous life, or he wouldn’t have been born with blindness. To which the Savior replied: Neither he nor his parents sinned…but that the works of God might be manifest in him (John 9:2-3r).Jesus Christ here clearly refuted the idea that the existence of evil can be explained by reincarnation. Why? Because reincarnation undercuts the gospel message in three ways.

  1. First, it assumes that God is impersonal and is therefore unknowable.
  2. Second, reincarnation denigrates the Atonement of Christ.
  3. Third, it denies the fact that Jesus physically resurrected from the dead.

You see, the law of karma is entirely incompatible with the teachings of the Bible. There is no mechanistic “wheel of re-birth” (as taught by Hindus, Buddhists, and their Western equivalents). Those who are now in the grave will NOT go to heaven, as “no one has gone up into Heaven, except He having come down out of Heaven, the Son of Man…., and neither will their consciousness leave the grave:

Marvel not at this: for the hour is coming in which all that are in the graves shall hear His voice and shall come forth; they that have done good, unto the resurrection of life; and they that have done evil, unto the resurrection of damnation. (John 5:28-29)

Esoteric foolishness

Still, many tell of crackpot esoteric experiences which seems real to them, but they conveniently throw out the Scriptures to go with their own impressions and subjective opinions. Such people are attracted by superficial and grandiose nonsense about hallucinatory “memories” of previous lifetimes-often gained through “regressive hypnosis.” That might make for some exciting storytelling, and if good enough, maybe even land them an appearance on Oprah and guaranteed a few book sales. But it doesn’t make for good reality.

...according to the idea of reincarnation, if one is “saved” at all it is only after many lifetimes of working out the consequences of one’s sins. This is the cold and dreary legalism of the pagan religions which was totally abolished by Christ’s sacrifice on the Cross. (Hieromonk Seraphim (Rose): The Soul After Death)

The term “Christian” has been rendered nearly meaningless now with people of every bizarre belief and teaching claiming that their views can comport with Christianity. Ignoring the word of God and therefore avoiding being moved by the Spirit of God, such people circumvent the entire process of Christian growth. There is no spiritual maturity, because there is no growing where there is no knowing (II Pet. 3:18).

Christ told us that the way was narrow that leads to eternal life. Anyone who denies the clear teachings of Scripture about the afterlife denies Christ by his rejection of the Word of God.

Because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it.

The real nature of man is something few understand. The teaching of the immortality of the  soul is simply un-biblical and cannot be substantiated by scripture. Those who try do so with limited understanding or false pretenses.

April 4, 2009

Why Did People Live Longer Before The Flood Of Noah's Time?

 

According to the Bible, people once lived for hundreds of years. Adam lived 930 years. Methuselah lived the longest of any person mentioned. He died at 969 years of age (see Genesis 5). Shortly after the Flood, however, we find people living much shorter life spans. Abraham, for example, lived 175 years (Gen. 25:7). A few generations later, Joseph lived “only” 110 years (Gen. 50:22). We are told in the Psalms that 70 years is considered to be a good long life (Ps. 90:10). David died at that age and was described as being an old man full of years (I Chron. 29:28). That was about 1000 B.C. 

Before the Flood
 
 
Biblical Patriarch Life Span Age at Birth of First Son
Adam 930 130
Seth 912 105
Enosh 905 90
Cainan 910 70
Mahalealel 895 65
Jared 962 162
Enoch 365 65
Methuselah 969 187
Lamech 777 182
Noah 950 500
 
After the Flood
 
 
Biblical Patriarch Life Span Age at Birth of First Son
Shem 600 100
Arphaxad 498 35
Salah 433 30
Eber 464 34
Peleg 239 30
Reu 239 32
Serug 230 30
Nahor 148 29
Terah 205 70

 

Chart Source: Biblestudy.org

There have been many speculations concerning the great shortening of human life spans. The Bible, however, does not directly explain how or why this came to be. Possibly, God simply determined that about 70 years is sufficient time for a person to fulfill his purpose. Those who are called can prepare in that length of time to receive immortality at the return of Christ. Those not yet called can learn that the ways of man do not bring satisfaction or fulfillment. Thus, when they arise in the judgment they will be able to choose God’s way.

March 10, 2009

Who Are The Authors Of The Old Testament Books Of The Bible?

The first five books, Genesis through Deuteronomy, were written by Moses during the 40 years of wandering. Joshua is the logical author of the book of Joshua. Judges was written by the prophet Samuel, according to Jewish tradition. Samuel also wrote I Samuel 1-24 (I Sam. 10:25; 25:1). The remainder of I Samuel and all of II Samuel was written by Nathan the prophet and Gad (I Chron. 29:29). I and II Kings were probably written by Jeremiah, compiling older records made by prophets contemporary with the events.

Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, Hosea, Joel, Amos, Obadiah, Jonah, Micah, Nahum, Habakkuk, Zephaniah, Haggai, Zechariah, and Malachi were all prophets of God who wrote the books bearing their names.

The Psalms had various authors. David wrote about half of them; other authors include Asaph or his descendants, the sons of Korah, and Moses. Proverbs 1 through 29 belong mostly to Solomon. Chapters 30 and 31 are respectively ascribed to Agur and Lemuel.

The author of the book of Job is not definite, though it was most likely Job himself. The Song of Solomon was written by Solomon. Jewish tradition attributes the book of Ruth to Samuel. Lamentations was undoubtedly written by Jeremiah. Ecclesiastes was written by Solomon. Esther was probably written by Mordecai.

Daniel, Ezra,and Nehemiah wrote the books which bear their names. I and II Chronicles were written by Ezra.

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