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Crucified Before the Foundation of the World

"Crucified before the foundation of the world." What does that mean? How could that even happen? Historians and archaeologists ta...

Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Names of God

In the Bible, particularly the Old Testament, many names are used to refer to God. This list is short and only speaks to names I have studied and used. There are 72 names cited by some scholars and even that is conservative. Sometimes there is a story that goes with the name and may indicate why it is used.
     1. Elohim is translated as God and is the first name of Diety. In            Hebrew it is plural in form, but singular in meaning. This                  implies the Trinity.(Genesis 1:1)
     2. Jehovah--YHWH--God--I AM--The Self Existent One.                    (Exodus 3:14)(pronounced Yaw-way)
     3. Adonai--means Lord--Without capitalization, adon or adonai            means master. Adonai with the capitals letters means Master            and is usually translated Lord. (pronounced ah-do-NI)
     4. Adonai Jehovah--Lord God--This title incorporates elements           of both words, but focuses more on the Adonai.                               5. Shaddai generally means the strengthener and satisfier.                    (Genesis 17:1)
      6. El means God and is used in other words to mean represent            God-Daniel means God is my judge; Gabriel means strength            of  God;Israel means wrestles with God.
     7. El Elyon is translated Most High or Most High God. (Genesis         14:18-19)
     8. El Olam means the Everlasting God--(Genesis 21:33) The             Hebrew word means hid or hidden and refers to time. It                   emphasizes the eternal duration of the Being of God. It also             presents the hidden or mysterious elements of his nature. He             is everlasting and He is the God of everlasting things. 
  
The next collection of Names of God emphasize his sovereignty in special circumstances and may be a comfort to us when we have a need of an extreme nature.

  1. Jehovah Elohim--God is creator and moral authority over man.
  2. Jehovah Jireh--The Lord will provide.(Genesis 22:8)
  3. Jehovah Nissi--The Lord my banner.
  4. Jehovah Rapha--The Lord who heals 
  5. Jehovh Sabaoth--This title refers to God's Supreme command of warriors, the hosts of Heaven.
  6. Jehovah Shalom--God our peace
  7. Jehovah Shammah--The Lord is present
  8. Jehovah Tsidkenu--The Lord our righteusness
  9. Lord of hosts-Commander of the warriors or soldiers of Heaven.
It is a blessing and an aid to Bible study and your prayer life to recognize the names and description of God in the scriptures. Learn to recognize Him and His ways, His depth and dimension, and the names He answers to.

Thursday, December 24, 2015

Did You Have a Question? Cain

English: Cain and Abel; as in Genesis 4; illus...
English: Cain and Abel; as in Genesis 4; illustration from the Sunrays quarterly (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
     The Bible asks a few questions, and the answers are available to those who search with open heart and open mind.
In Genesis 4 God posed questions to Cain after he and Abel had offered sacrifices to God. The questions came to Cain because his offering was not accepted by God. Abel's offering was accepted, and that gave Cain a reason to be angry. His vengeance was directed at Abel, and he killed him. 
     No rules or laws are recorded to explain the sacrifices and offerings, but, in hindsight, we say that Cain brought an offering of produce from his crops and Abel brought a blood sacrifice of his flocks. Analyzing the offerings in light of the Law of Moses, we now say that Cain was proud of his offering saying look, "Look what I produced." Abel in humility slaughtered his best stock as a sacrifice to God.  The difference was not explained in scripture before the death of Abel. Did Cain and Abel know the meaning of sacrifice? Now we know that bragging before God is not wise and does not bring forgiveness or blessing. Cain lived a long and painful life to prove this lesson. We will do well to learn it without the experience of Cain.

Sunday, December 20, 2015

Neheimiah- The Rest of the Story

Destruction of Jerusalem under the Babylonian ...
Destruction of Jerusalem under the Babylonian rule. Illustration from the Nuremberg Chronicle (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Neheimiah is the second part of the story of the Jews' return from Babylonian captivity. Ezra directed the beginning of the return with the rebuilding of the wall and repair of the Temple. Neheimiah was the govenor put in charge when the initial stages were completed.

Neheimiah recounts some similar accounts of the census and proof of blood lines and the opposition from those who had not been taken to Babylon. He says they worked with the tools but kept a weapon with them to defend their work. He lists some of the accomplishments naming the gates that were completed. During the rebuilding of the Temple, they discovered a scroll that had been lost in the destruction. Chapter 8 discusses the importance of this discovery.  

There is argument between historians and theologians about whether Ezra and Neheimiah lived during the same time or whether these events took a longer period of time. I would like to get some idea of the time frame, however, I don't want to get bogged down in a historical argument when my purpose is to understand the message this event has for modern readers.

I love the description of the reading of the scroll in Chapter 8. By this time many of the exiles had returned. They assembled in the square before the Water Gate; men, women and all who could listen with understanding stood and listened. Ezra, the scribe,  brought the scroll out and read it and the people listened attentively. He stood on a high wooden platform and other scribes, priests and Levites stood with him. As he read some of the Levites were explaining the meaning so that all could understand.

They stood and listened from daybreak till noon. The people said "Amen, Amen," with raised hand. Then they bowed and worshiped. Neheimiah and Ezra said to them, "This day is holy to the Lord your God. Do not morn or weep." For all the people were weeping.
Then he said to them "Go and eat the good food and drink the sweet drink, and send portions to those who have nothing." They began to celebrate and rejoice for they understood the law and some wept. 
He said, "Do not grieve because your strength comes from rejoicing in the Lord."

The next day they celebrated the Festival of Booths. Subsequently, in Chapter 9 they declared a National Day of Confession of Sin. The rest of the Book of Neheimiah gives details of the resettling and renewal of worship and Neheimiah's reforms.

Don't make the mistake of dismissing the less well-known books of the Bible as unimportant or dull or uninspiring. There are gems of wisdom and stories of valor and victory in them. 

Saturday, December 19, 2015

Ezra

The Book of Ezra tells an important event in the story of Israel. The story continues in Nehemiah. Together these two books describe the rebuilding of Jerusalem's wall and the Temple after the return from Babylonian captivity. There is much attention given to the genealogies of the men who returned to do the work. They respected the purity of the bloodline because they had been instructed from the time of Moses this was the responsibility of the Jews, and they noted and excluded all who were the children of mixed marriages or those who had married non-Jews.


There may be other reasons for this bias against non-Jews. The Jewish people were asked to help pay for the construction. They gave generously, so the prejudice may have had concern about who would receive the money or who would be responsible for how it was used. Only those Jews from Judea and Jerusalem gave money or valuables. Those from the Northern Kingdom were either not asked or had already refused. This may also relate to the way and reason the citizens of the Northern Kingdom became "lost." If their genealogies were not provable, they would have been excluded because they could not prove their bloodlines.

Chapter 1 of Ezra records the decree of Cyrus to send the Jews back to Judah and Jerusalem to begin reconstructing the walls of the city and the Temple. Cyrus made an inventory of items that were confiscated and brought to Persia and returned them as part of the reconstruct. He also ordered a census of the captives who wished to be part of the project.

Chapter 2 is a record of the Census and the gifts given to support the work. I will not repeat it here.

Chapter 3 reports the restoration of the sacrifices and the priests who conducted the services. Many wept when they saw the Temple foundation laid, but many others rejoiced. The sound of it carried far away.

Chapter 4 describes the opposition to the rebuilding from those who were still in the land, who had not been taken away. There were letters exchanged between this group of citizens and Artaxerxes who ruled in Samaria and the land West of the Euphrates. Artaxerxes supported the rebuilding and work was resumed.

Tattenai, governor of the region west of the Euphrates, challenged the authority to rebuild. The Jews who had not be deported resented the rebuilding efforts and were often counted as the enemies. Some of the enemies were settlers who were neither Jewish nor interested in the integrity of the county or restoration of a stable government.

Ezra oversaw the work and monitored the disputes between the opposing forces. In Chapter 4 Artaxerxes lent his support and the rebuilding was completed and sacrifice was resumed.