Posted in Christian Living

Children of Men

Before the rise of the first civilizations on the Earth, the children of men had already begun searching each others’ features not for commonality but for diversity. It is not hard to find. Within the flesh and bone of Adam, his Creator had written into the code that defines his form and shape an infinite number of diverse combinations that might burst forth among the offspring that he should beget.

Celebration of this diversity within the tribe of Adam might well have been the catalyst for growth, adaptation, and ultimately the mastery of Creation and all that is in it. Which is precisely the Destiny which the Father of men was commanded to fulfill. But from the beginning it was not so to be.

In the opening pages of the Book of Beginnings we read of the first tribal division among those born of woman. Cain and his wife separated from their parents and moved into the land of Wandering and built a civilization all their own. Meanwhile the children of Seth would develop along a different path. There was nothing in particular in the curse of Cain that made his offspring physically different from their cousins. But genetic drift among severed peoples will inevitably bring distinctiveness. Within the first millennium Sethites and Cainites how become different enough that when the sons of Seth intermarried with the daughters of Cain the resultant combination of their genetics produced “might men”. It is common enough in nature that hybrid offspring manifest the strongest and most dominant traits of both of their parents’ heritage.

What was it that for so long kept the children of Adam and Eve apart? Was it the that the Sethites called upon the name of Jehovah? Was it animosity on the part of Seth for the loss of the murdered brother he never knew? Was it guilt in the heart of Cain for the blood on his hands that his tears could never wash away?

Within fifteen centuries from the birth of Seth, the wickedness in the heart of man had grown to the point that “every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually”. So, God started over. And the sons of Noah; Shem, Ham, and Japheth, descended from the mountains of Ararat and divided a brave new world for their own.

Once again, the families of humanity began to search each other to find what is unique and special and corrupt it into a reason for jealousy, hatred, and competition. We killed, enslaved, robbed, and conquered each other always seeking to prove whose is the birthright to the title, “Masters of the Earth and Sky”.

In the last two centuries men masquerading as prophets, scientists, and philosophers have created empires out of myths and legends that deny the truth revealed by God that He has “made of one blood all the nations of the Earth”. As our world slips again into a whirling vortex of darkness and distrust how might the children of God illumine the night that falls upon the children of men? Light the night, not by joining in the fray, but by showing the way.

Let the church be a beacon that draws all men to her Lord by letting the world see that within her sanctuary men of all colors, nationalities, tribes, families, cultures, and societies can unite as family into one body. Let them wander into the churches and see hate shattered by love as darkness shards when a candle is lit.

Let them see hope in the children of of the Prince of Peace joining arm in arm and creating a haven for the weary and the broken. Let the love of God shed abroad in the hearts of His own dear children draw all men to repentance.

Posted in Christian Living

The timeline of Jesus’ life proves the Bible is true…

So many prophecies of the Old Testament prophets of Israel were fulfilled during the life of Jesus that multi-volume books have been written to describe them.  This blog will not be one of them.  But here’s a look at how Daniel and the gospels prove the incredible historicity and homogeny of scripture.

Daniel was instructed that “70 weeks” had been determined upon the Israelites for judgment totaling 490 years.  Daniel said that these years would commence with the command to rebuild Jerusalem including the wall.  He also showed that it would be 483 years into the 490 years of judgement when the Messiah would be “cut off” for the people.  So, there it is.  483 years after the command to rebuild the walls of Jerusalem, Jesus was to be “cut off” in Jerusalem.  How can we tell if that happened or not?

When did the command to rebuild the walls happen?  Nehemiah chapter two tells us that it was in the twentieth year of Artaxerxes that Nehemiah was appointed Governor of Judea and commissioned to rebuild the walls of the ancient capital of David.  Artaxerxes the King became co-regent with his father in 474 B.C..  So the twentieth year of his reign was in 454 B.C. In April.

Since the Gregorian Calendar does not have a year 0, and the calendar year First Year B.C. Is followed by One A.D. We must add one year back to get to the year that Jesus died.  So, 454 minus 483 equals 29 plus one gets us to 30 A.D..  Could Jesus have been the right age to have died in 30 A.D.?

Yes, Jesus was born during the reign of Caesar Augustus who reigned for forty years from 27 B.C. To 14 A.D..  Luke 3 tells us that the beginning of John the Baptist’ ministry and then of Jesus began in the fifteenth year of the reign of Tiberius.  It’s easy to assume that this then was the year 29 B.C. since Augustus had died in the year 14.  But Tiberius had already been reigning as “Princeps” since the death of Agrippa in the year 12.  Which means that the fifteenth year of his “reign” was actually A.D. 26.  (Not that he had been reigning for fifteen years and was in the sixteenth year, but rather that he was in the fifteenth year and had therefore ruled for a total of 14 full years.)

Luke chapter three also tells us that in that year when John Baptized Jesus that Jesus began to be about thirty years old in A.D. 26 when John Baptized him.  26 A.D. Minus “about thirty years” takes us back to late 5 B.C. To early 4 B.C. For the birth of Christ.  Which is a topic for another day.  If Jesus began his ministry in 26 B.C. And John records three, possibly four passovers total including the one on which he died, then Jesus died in 30 A.D. at 33 years old.

Passover was on Wednesday, in 30 A.D.  Which means it was also the Preparation Day for the High Sabbath of the Feast of Unleavened Bread on Thursday.  Which is why the Gospels all say Jesus died on the day of “the preparation” of the Sabbath.  Jesus was laid in the tomb before Sundown.  He prophesied that he would spend three days and three nights in the Tomb.  The tomb was found already empty very early in the morning “before the breaking of day” according to the gospels.  Ergo, Jesus did not spend all of Saturday night in the tomb.  Wednesday night, Thursday Day, Thursday Night, Friday Day, Friday Night, Saturday Day.  In Israel the new day begins at Sundown.  On Saturday evening when the sun set, the First Day of the Week began.  

Somewhere between Sundown and Sunrise on the First Day of the Week, Jesus rose from the Dead and he had already been in the tomb for three full days and three full nights, just as he had foretold.  Daniel’s prophecy that he would die 483 years after the command to rebuild the walls was fulfilled down to the very month.  God is always right on Time!!  

Posted in Christian Living

The Sword in the Pen

“Holy men of God spake as they were moved…”  (2 Peter 2:21)

Once upon a time, long ago, in a land where evil giants did the bidding of petty tyrants and false prophets stole the hearts of men with frightening tales of angry gods who must be appeased with bloody battles and bloodier rituals, there lived a young musician who played in the court of the King.

The lad was a once and future shepherd who understood the power of words. His name is David.  He is now famous the world over because he felled a giant, united a Kingdom, and lifted up his people out of tyranny.  But his most enduring legacy, long after the castles and fortresses have turned to dust, that still lives on are the songs that he wrote.  He was a warrior and a poet.  He knew how to wield both the pen and the sword.

Because the words that he wrote are the very words of God in the sacred psalms there is a sword in his pen.  “The word of God is quick and powerful and sharper than any two-edged sword.”  Hebrews 4:12  As a Captain and a King, David had to learn how and when to wield the sword in Battle.  What battles are worth fighting?  Not just in terms of whether or not they can be won, but also in terms of at what cost.  

As Christians in a world that is filled with so much anger, hatred, feuding, and brokenness, one of the hardest things to know is when to wield the Word of God as a sword of battle, or when to carry it as “balm of Gilead” to heal the wounded hearts from the battles raging all around us.  It is so easy to take the sword into the meanstreets of the Social Media melee, and start swinging.  Or pick a fight with a class-mate or co-worker and call it “taking a stand”.

But, in the final analysis, does that kind of Battle, won or lost, help us win the war?  Truth is a powerful weapon.  But light doesn’t have to beat back darkness.  Darkness flees from it.  “The wrath of man worketh not the righteousness of God”.  (James 1:20) The Good Samaritan, didn’t draw his sword and run after the robbers.  He pulled out his first aid kit and tended the wounded.

There is a time to stand and fight against an evil giant.  There are hills worth fighting for and even dying on.  But there are also issues that come up that we have more important things to worry about than winning those particular arguments.  The only thing more important than knowing how to wield a sword, is knowing when.

Posted in Christian Living

A Place Called “Everlasting”…

It’s a common mistake.  Anyone could make it.  Someone would ask me, “Where’s Jesus from?”  My first response used to be “Nazareth” or “Bethelehem”.  After all, He is called a “Nazarene” for a reason.  He grew up and lived most of his life in Nazareth.  But when we look to the gospels we find that even though Jesus’ family lived in Nazareth, He was not actually born there.  Both Matthew and Luke record the birthplace of Jesus as Bethlehem in Judea.  What is more, Jesus’ parents were both descended from David’s house.  David was a Judean (of the tribe of Judah) and his family was from Bethlehem.  The implication of Luke’s record about the tax census in Luke chapter two is that his mother’s husband, Joseph, had to go to Bethlehem to register because Joseph was born there too.  So, it would not be accurate to say Jesus was really “from Nazareth” as a place of origin. But He wasn’t really from Bethlehem either.  John makes it clear in both chapter one and in chapter two of his Gospel that Jesus came down from Heaven to Earth.  He didn’t come into being or begin to exist when He was conceived in the womb of Mary.  So, is Jesus from Heaven?  Colossians chapter one makes it clear that God created all things “by” or through Christ.  John Chapter one tells us that “all things were made by Him” and that “without Him was not anything made that was made”.  The first statement of the Torah in Genesis declares that God created “the Heaven”.  So, if God created the Heaven and God created everything that was made “by” Jesus and without Jesus nothing was made that was made, then, Jesus made the Heavens.  And if Jesus made it, then He didn’t come from there originally.  He came from Nazareth when He came to be baptized and begin his ministry.  He came from Bethlehem to Nazareth, by way of Egypt.  He came down from the Glorious Heaven to Earth.  But Jesus can’t be originally “from” any of these places because He made them all and must then have pre-existed them all.

So, where does Jesus come from?  Or in a broader sense, where does God come from?  An often overlooked profit who lived at the same time as Isaiah named Micah gives us the clearest answer to this question in chapter five of the book that bears his name.  But thou, Bethlehem Ephratah, (though) thou be little among the thousands of Judah, (yet) out of thee shall he come forth unto me (that is) to be ruler in Israel; whose goings forth (have been) from of old, from everlasting.  (Micah 5:2)

Jesus has been “going forth” from “of old”.  His original hometown is before time, before space, before creation.  He is “from everlasting.”  This is one of the clearest teachings about God and Christ in the Bible.  God is truly Timeless.  Omnipresent through time as He is through space.  Not a creature in time, but the Creator of time.  And if Jesus is older than the years, than what does that mean?  How can I relate to Him?  I can kind of conceive of Everlasting future.  From the moment of my new birth in Christ when I repented of my sins and believed the gospel, I have been living eternally.  My body may decay, but in truth, I cannot die.  But, both my temporal physical life and my eternal spiritual life have definite beginnings.  When my parents love brought them to intimate joining and God blessed their union by quickening my life within my mother’s womb, I began to live in time physically.  When the Holy Spirit convicted me of my sin, convinced me of the gospel, and called me to repentance and faith, and I responded to His voice, I began to live in Eternity spiritually.  Each of those two kinds of life that are in me have a source and a beginning.  I can kind of understand it.  But, God is not a creature.  He has no point of origin.  No genuine “nativity”.  The Father, the Word, and the Holy Spirit have been “going forth” from “of old”.  They are “from” a place called “Everlasting”. 

I may not claim to ascertain the meaning of that.  But I have laid claim to the message in it.  My God Who is my Father is bigger than the moment I am trapped in.  He’s more available than a heartbeat away.  He’s going to outlast the Kings and Presidents and Prime Ministers of all temporal Kingdoms and Republics of men.  He will still be God when I run out of Time.  He has been God when the Old World perished in the Flood.  He was God enough to save Adam’s seed through the Ark of Noah.  He was God enough to stop Abraham’s hand from sacrificing Isaac.  He was God enough to deliver Goliath into David’s hand and the Kingdom to His posterity.  He was God enough to bear the darkness of Golgotha.  And God enough to be the Sonrise of that first Easter Sunday.  He was God enough keep the candles burning in the Lord’s persecuted churches through those Dark days that stretched into Dark Ages.  He is God enough hold me when I earthly parents die.  When my children make choices that break their parents’ hearts, He’ll be God enough.  When this world finally spins out of all control but His, He’ll be God enough to take His children home, and set His wrath in motion.  And when His fury has been spent, He’ll be God enough to come in Person to heal the land that He made.  Whenever the days are too long and the hours are too full of Darkness, I know that He is still God enough, because He not only will be forevermore, He already has been fromevermore.

Posted in Christian Living, FYI, The Christian Man, The Christian Women

Does God Really Not Need Me?

As we learn about God there are many incredible truths about Him to discover.  Early on we try to wrap our minds around the concept of being truly “eternal”.  Only God is truly Eternal in the sense that God is from everlasting and to everlasting.  And we struggle to wrap our brains around that.  Then we learn that God is All Knowing.  And we get quiet as we try to absorb the magnitude of knowing everything.  Someone teaches us that God is omnipresent and we clutch at the possibility of being one hundred percent present in every corner of creation and every moment of time all at the same time all of the time.  We heard about an attribute of God somewhere called omnipotence.  All of our superheroes and legends became smaller as we thought about God being “Almighty”.  We almost leap back into the pages of the sacred text to find out more about this God we are learning to know and we turn page after page in wonder as we try to suspend our disbelief and accept by faith that God is still more unknowable than He is known after all this time.  And then we read the words that Paul said about God to the Areopagites on Mars Hill.  Luke, the Beloved Physician, chronicler of the Christ of God and his holy apostles was moved by the Holy Ghost to record the words so we could read them back again and again.  Of the unknown God Paul said this “as if He needed anything…”.  

The emphasis on “anything” is mine.  I have no idea if Paul inflected the word when first he spoke it.  But it’s precisely that word that reveals one of the most incredible truths about God.  Jehovah doesn’t need anything.  The pagans of Athens had spent centuries bringing him gifts of vegetables, bread, nuts, and flesh.  But God doesn’t get hungry.  They built Him Palacial temples of ivory and gold.  But God doesn’t need to come in out of the cold.  God doesn’t go fishing, plant crops, draw water from the well at the edge of town.  He doesn’t need to.  Once upon a time, God made time.  In the Beginning, He made the space that our reality occupies.  He made the planets, the stars, including our world and our Sun.  That means that He existed without any of those things.  And He is eternal.  That means He existed forever and for evermore before anything else did.  How long could a person live without ground to stand on or a sky to gaze toward?  How long can one go without food?  A few days?  Water?  Even less time.  But God managed to get along just fine before any of those things existed.  Forever.  

Some people refer to this truth about God as His “Independence”.  Others call it His “self-sufficiency”.  Theologians use a word that comes from Latin, “aseity”, which refers to the state of being alone or by oneself.  For all Eternity, God existed utterly “By Himself”.  Whatever it is called, it is a staggering idea.  God doesn’t really need anything… or … anyone.  

God doesn’t need me.  He got along just fine without me for all Eternity past, and if I chose not to accept Everlasting Life from His open hand, then God would keep on getting along just fine without me for all Eternity yet to come.  All of my silly notions of being integral to God’s plans, God’s purposes, God’s essential being are challenged by this truth.  I’m ultimately unnecessary.  Because in the final analysis the only One Creation needs to exist, is the One Who alone doesn’t need Creation to exist.  I don’t know how I feel about that.  If I’m not needed, does that mean I am not valuable?

Perhaps the very opposite is true.  Could it be that the only way to truly know the value of a person or thing is to completely remove any necessity or profit derived from it.  Anyone who needs me finds in me intrinsic value.  I am worthy because I am worth something.  But anyone who doesn’t need me has the ability to truly value me for me alone.  God doesn’t need me.  But how does God assess my value?  How much am I worth to God?

Before the beginning, in the vastness of the ultimate void where space and time were not, God thought of me.  God dreamed of me.  God envisioned me.  He didn’t decide to make me.  He didn’t think up the idea of me.  He has always known everything.  The Self-existent Eternal Mighty Three always knew me before there was me.  He knew that I was going to be.  And He knew what and who I would be.  Every failure.  Every curse.  Every stumble.  Even every deliberate act of rebellion and every willful hurt.  God knew.  He knew it all and chose to make me anyway.  Or rather, He never wavered from His eternal decree that I would come to be.  He also knew that I would be unable to save myself from myself.  And that I would need the one thing that only He could become: My Saviour.  From time out of mind He always knew what I would cost Him.  And He made me anyway.  Before He shaped the body of my ancestor from the dust of Eden He already felt the nails in His hands.  Before He said “Let there be light” He had already said “It is Finished”.  Does God need me?  Not at all.  But does God value me?  There stands a lamb before the throne of God with holes in his hands and feet  and a scar in his side.  The pierced lamb is the eternal testament to how much I am worth to the God who made me.