July 31, 2010

Human Wreckage & A Snort of Indignation

It is understood that some of the language used in the Old & New Testament is an adaptation for human understanding. The Bible uses wordage that lends itself to explaining to man the attributes and characteristics of God that would otherwise be nearly impossible or difficult to understand. God is often represented by human emotions or experiences humans would have (anthropomorphisms) and this is done for our benefit. We must be careful to acknowledge the fact that although some of these “emotions” attributed to God are not human when given to Him, it doesn’t mean that they are any less real. Anger, jealousy, love are some of the more common that we approach in God’s Word. Abraham Herschel a Jewish scholar called God the the God of feeling. He based his statement off of the ubiquitous anthropomorphisms spread throughout the Old Testament. Anthropomorphisms as mentioned above are human characteristics attributed to God to help describe Him. He said they should not be viewed as feeble human attempts to describe an unknowable God but rather to be welcomed as crucial and critical to our understanding of Him. The most amazing thing about God is not necessarily His infinite power or infinite knowledge but it is His infinite concern for humanity even to the point of allowing Himself to be characterized by human traits and to be crucified in a humilating death (Philippians 2). Why else would He continue to enter His creation to steer man back onto the straight and narrow?

The most conspicuous examples are the passages of the Bible where God “yearns” or has “compassion” or the fact that God’s love for humanity is long, long suffering and His love is “everlasting”. If Jesus Christ is the last and full revelation of God then Jesus’ emotions and feelings are true reflections of God Himself. Anyone who reads the New Testament, the Gospels in particular cannot walk away believing God is some kind of sadistic, stoic business man looking down His nose at you while puffing on a cigar and blowing the smoke in your face. At least this is not the Jesus that I have read in the Bible. One of my favorite examples of God showing his emotion is at Lazarus’s tomb. He weeps at Lazarus’ tomb and He also “snorts” with indignation In John 11:33. This can also can be understood as a grunt of righteous anger.

When Jesus therefore saw her weeping, and the Jews who came with her {also} weeping, He was deeply moved in spirit and was troubled...~John 11:33

The English versions really don’t do this verse justice. Most translate this verse “deeply moved" and "troubled" but the Greek is (Strong’s G1690: embrimaomai) the direct translation is “in-thundered”- "move with anger" or “mutter-ing” but a better understanding of this is to understand that “embrimaomai / ἐμβριμάομαι” is a compound word that comes from the words (Strong’s G1722: em- intensifier, intensify, at, by, with) and [brimaomai] which literally means to “to snort with anger” this Greek word is also used in reference to the snort that horses make. Older commentaries seem to downplay the snort and phrase this passage as "He groaned in the spirit". Regardless, the words "in the spirit" are clearly intending that this was effecting Jesus at the very deepest level. He was outraged and sad. It is the outrage, indignation and sadness for the human wreckage from sin.

Jesus was filled with indignation. It is certainly not because Mary and the others were weeping but because of sin which is the underlying cause of all suffering, and sorrow. His righteous anger is direct at the sin. Still this fails to encompass the intense surge of sorrow and emotion that this verse is trying to convey. His weeping would’ve been in sympathy of Mary and the others but His indignation was a righteous anger plain and simple. This profound type of change in Christ’s inner being would most likely would have also manifested in his expression and demeanor as noted “deeply moved in spirit”. He would’ve probably been visibly agitated, the tone in his voice probably would’ve changed, He also sighed/groaned (v. 38) along with the noted snort. In a word Jesus clearly showed His human emotion audibly and because it could be heard it most likely manifested in a visual change of demeanor since Jesus was indeed fully human (and fully divine).

We then see in John 11:35 that Jesus bursts into tears in the famous, “Jesus wept”. The long mentioned, often repeated, and poorly understood shortest verse in the Bible. (Strong’s G1145: dakruo) this is the only place this form of “weeps” is found in the New Testament. This verb does not mean to wail as in crying out loud for a lost loved one but it means to cry out of love for someone or something, a sympathetic love towards those grieving like Mary and Martha and to do it silently (under one's breath so to speak). There is no clearer example of God’s willingness to feel pain and empathize with humanity outside of the cross. It is a sacrificial sympathetic love. Again we see His absolutely fully human side. A genuine sympathizing High priest (Hendriksen 156). It is ironic that the book of the Gospel's that is most focused on Christ's diety (Gospel of John) has some of the most profound statements of His human nature.

The bottom-line is that we need to understand God is anything but apathetic or passive to His creation, especially humans. For people to stand and mock or demean the suffering of such a man shows either their complete ignorance of the man Himself or the absolute degraded nature of the person doing the mocking. The best way to confront the world's view or our view of a God that He is impassive is through Jesus on the cross. If the highest example of true love is to be understood as self-sacrifice or self-giving there is a factor of pain involved here. By loving a person we leave ourselves open to the possibility of being rejected as is the case with God and it is also the case with humans. This means that if Jesus would’ve been incapable of pain, then He would’ve also been incapable of love. This is clearly nonsense. Jesus' life as documented in the New Testament (and Old) is replete with examples of pain, happiness, joy, and nearly every other emotion understood by human beings. Aristotle’s image of an impassive and uncaring Deistic God was crushed at the cross and Jesus’ crucifixion.

Examining The Scripture XCIX: The Day of The Lord

In Isaiah 2:6-22 we come upon the phrase "Day of The Lord" and it is repeated three times. We should review the meaning of this phrase as we will see it multiple times in the books of the prophets before we finish reading and reviewing the Old Testament.

The following references are referring specifically to the “Day of the Lord” or a reckoning for all sinners. Verse 11, 12 & 17 to some extent all restate the same thing: “The proud look of man will be abased and the loftiness of man will be humbled, and the LORD alone will be exalted in that day”. In the context of this chapter this statement is foreboding. Man has become haughty and arrogant to the point that they will need to be humbled by none other than God Himself. Instead of mans grandstanding and self-aggrandizement there will only be one exalted: The Lord. When the Lord comes people will try to hide like animals (moles, bats) and flee into (v. 10, 19-21) “hide in the dust”,“caves of the rocks”, “holes of the ground”, because of their fear and terror of the LORD. There will be no escape when He comes because man cannot escape an omnipresent God…even in punishment in Hell because there resides a form of God’s wrath. No former vestiges of mans sin will continue to exist, idols will vanish [probably because the rodents and bats will carry them off because man will cast them aside (v. 20)].

To my knowledge the “Day of The Lord” is mentioned 19 times in the Bible, 3 of which in Isaiah Chapter 2 alone. Some of the others: Isaiah 13:6 & 9; Ezekiel, Joel: Multiple; Amos, Obadiah, most of the Minor Prophets have at least one quote in their books, in the New Testament specifically mentioned in passages from Revelation 6:17; 16:14. As with many prophecies of the Old Testament prophets they are or appear to be dualistic in their intent not just pointing to the immediate future but also to the long term future.

What I am not going to do here is go into a big speech about eschatological (last things) prophecy. What I will say is that the statements about "The Day of the Lord" conveys an air of expectancy. A day of judgment is coming, you cannot avoid it. This statement comes off as a warning of impending judgment and punishment due for sin committed. What it really is besides this is an exhortation to live a godly life (this goes for the Book of Revelation too). Too many people treat the return of God to judge in the Day of The Lord and Revelation's impending judgment as fodder for sensationalism and predictions. These claims of knowing the time and date are unbiblical. Personally, speculating on a date or time that the Lord clearly stated that only the Father knows is foolhardy and quite frankly, flirts with apostasy since adding to or taking away anything from scripture is apostasy. Some of the claims I've heard are worthy of a tabloid magazine. The warnings of the Day of the Lord in reality are basically trying to get believers to realize that they should live their loves like tomorrow the Lord will return. It is the exact fact that no man knows of His return that they should be prepared...they should not be making predictions and publishing books for profit containing the speculated dates or the Lord's return. We know the seasons by the changing of the leaves...

Lesson From A Fig Tree

"Now learn this lesson from the fig tree: As soon as its twigs get tender and its leaves come out, you know that summer is near. Even so, when you see all these things, you know that it[b]is near, right at the door. I tell you the truth, this generation will certainly not pass away until all these things have happened. Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will never pass away." Matthew 24:32-34

The Day and Hour Not Known

"No one knows about that day or hour, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father. As it was in the days of Noah, so it will be at the coming of the Son of Man. For in the days before the flood, people were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, up to the day Noah entered the ark; and they knew nothing about what would happen until the flood came and took them all away. That is how it will be at the coming of the Son of Man. Two men will be in the field; one will be taken and the other left. Two women will be grinding with a hand mill; one will be taken and the other left. "Therefore keep watch, because you do not know on what day your Lord will come. But understand this: If the owner of the house had known at what time of night the thief was coming, he would have kept watch and would not have let his house be broken into. So you also must be ready, because the Son of Man will come at an hour when you do not expect him. ~Matthew 24:36-44

Verse 37 tells us that things will be as they were in the days of Noah as there will be sin everywhere constantly or as Genesis 6:5

"Then the LORD saw that the wickedness of man was great on the earth, and that every intent of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually." Genesis 6:5

Yes, there is more in Scripture about it but I am not going to go into it here and now. Yes, it is important but not more important than having a relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ. It will suffice to say that if you accept Jesus and live as a Christian humbly and with a repentant heart, you will have nothing to worry about if He does return in your lifetime. Be like Noah and you will be one of the saved not one of the perishing because you are not going to know the hour when Jesus returns anyway. This is the whole idea of pending judgment to begin with. It is more a deterrent from evil than it is a threat. Christ will return. So what are we to do? Stand in abject fear reading the papers looking for signs of the end? NO! We are to live properly so that if that day comes in our lifetimes we are prepared to meet our Maker and have Him say to us, “Well done true and faithful servant!” For those that can’t seem to do this, well I guess they will stand in abject fear waiting for the end to come.

Martin, John., John Walvoord. "Isaiah." Bible Knowledge Commentary Old Testament: An Exposition of the Scriptures (Bible Knowledge). Acambaro: Victor, 1985. 1038-1039. Print.

July 22, 2010

Examining The Scripture XCVIII: Blind To Sin

Old Testament prophets most often begin their messages with a critique or criticism of the people/society to whom they are sent or the society they are living within. From a reading of Isaiah 1:2-17, we begin to get a real clear image of the spiritual and moral state of Jerusalem and Judah in the eighth century B.C. that surrounds Isaiah.

The Wickedness of Judah is on display in the first chapter of Isaiah and the Lord is well aware of their sins and transgressions. Right from the outset in verse 2 we have some pretty damning evidences that God is not happy with Israel.

(A) Introduction

(v. 2) "Children have I reared and brought up but they have rebelled against me.” They had been taught and raised in the Law by God, but rebelled

(v. 3) “…but Israel does not know, my people do not understand." Spiritually they are blind

(v. 4) sinful nation, a people laden with iniquity...children who deal corruptly! They have forsaken the LORD, they have despised the Holy One of Israel, they are utterly estranged.

(B) Here we really get to the heart of the matter. Israel has turned its back on God and walked the other way (estranged). Not only have they estranged themselves from God, it appears to be active disdain for Him.

(v. 5) “Why will you still be struck down? Why will you continue to rebel?

(v. 6) “The whole head is sick, and the whole heart faint. From the sole of the foot even to the head, there is no soundness in it, but bruises and sores and raw wounds; they are not pressed out or bound up or softened with oil.

(C) A pronouncement of Israel’s condition as though they are being diagnosed in a severe state of trauma in a near death situation.

(v. 7-9) “Your country lies desolate”,” cities are burned”,”foreigners devour your land…desolate, overthrown by foreigners.”,”besieged city”.

(D) The descriptions of punishment for Israel’s disobedience is pronounced.

(v. 10 & 11) God’s stamp of authority through His prophet. Burnt carcasses are not going to be satisfactory atonement for what Israel has done. It is clear Israel is now only going through the motions. “Vain offerings” done with repetition of ritualistic practices with absolutely no heart intent behind the offerings to the Lord. God is clearly going to pour out His wrath.

(v.14) Your …”appointed feasts” my soul hates…The feast of first fruits is mentioned in this verse

It has gotten so bad that God will not even allow them/accept raised hands in worship to Him because He will “hide my eyes” from them. When they pray He “will not listen” because their “hands are full of blood”. God knows that nothing they do is done with integrity it is done with selfish motive. They are abusing God’s grace and mercy by this point. One final exhortation to do good and be righteous is mad in the verse 16 and 17 but with Israel’s track record of being a stiff-necked people and their pattern of apostasy the overriding impression is they are in big trouble. They are too corrupt, backslidden and apostate to even realize they are seriously messed up. Like many today they are probably trying to justify their goodness and how they are deserving of accolades and back slaps for their righteousness when the truth couldn’t be farther from them. They are in denial and deluding themselves. God will show them otherwise.

Martin, John., John Walvoord. "Isaiah." Bible Knowledge Commentary Old Testament: An Exposition of the Scriptures (Bible Knowledge). Acambaro: Victor, 1985. 1035-1037. Print.

Examining The Scripture XCVII: Everlasting Love

A comparison / contrast of Song of Songs 4:12-15 and 4:16-5:1. We see a sequence of events in courtship that is consumated in marriage. We then see what kind of romantic relationship the woman would like. In verse 12 (the male) mentions the word “locked” twice and “sealed up”. Gardens are often locked because of pest and intruders. The products of a garden “choice fruits”, “nard plants” are anthropomorphized. The fruits are kept from others...virginity or purity most likely are being referred to here. She has kept herself sealed up maintaining sexual abstinence for her husband until after marriage. Here we see Jesus Christ and the Church. The Church is God’s garden. The seeds that have been sown are ready for harvest so that they can be taken home. “Spices” referred to in v. 14 could be passion or zest for the relationship partner. The male (Solomon) is praising her attractiveness and desirableness. I have to assume from the figurative language that includes “bride” that this is consummation of a marriage. The implication although not explicitly stated is that sexual relations within marriage is acceptable and is to be enjoyed not looked upon as improper. In verses 16 & 5:1 we see the culmination of not wanting to be separated from a mate after marriage whether this means momentary separation like disengaging sexual activity or even from an embrace to carry on the other activities of life and /or the separation that is long term like war or death. It also shows that these two compliment one another. Here too we can also see Christ and the Church to some extent because, If Christ delights in the Church, the Church also delights in Christ.

The woman says: “Put me like a seal over your heart”. Seals were used as identification and ownership. The identity of a person was imprinted into the seal. By saying this she is saying that she wants everyone to know that he is permanently identified with her and as a symbol of this she wants the seals placed in the location where they would be the most significant. Over the heart which in those times was believed to be the center of thoughts and the arm which seem to signify actions and are highly visible. Additionally, the seal is created by a signet ring or [Strong’s H2368: chotham], from a root “to impress” It was sometimes carried by a string on the breast, and would, therefore, be near the heart. So this statement sort of has a double meaning. It is to put a seal on the heart as a seal on a letter to close it and also to impress upon the heart or add gravity to a situation to drive home a point or impress upon someone the importance or significance of something (Pulpit Commentary) .

It is a love and relationship so certain as to be compared to the certainty of “death” and “Sheol” (grave). Of course we then have the key verse about any “true” love. Love comes from the Lord (like a flame), even a love between a man and a woman a husband and wife. The woman submits to the husband and the man submits to Christ. In doing so we do what was planned by God and is stated in the Bible. “Wives, be subject to your own husbands, as to the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife, as Christ also is the head of the church, He Himself being the Savior of the body. But as the church is subject to Christ, so also the wives ought to be to their husbands in everything. Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself up for her, so that He might sanctify her, having (BE)cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, that He might present to Himself the church in all her glory, having no spot or wrinkle or any such thing; but that she would be holy and blameless. Ephesians 5:22-27 (NASB, Bible Gateway [Online]). By comparing this love to the Lord she is saying she wants the love the God wants for all humans. A perfect love based in Him, according to His will. That…is a good thing. Amen!

Examining The Scripture XCVI: Corporeal Senses

You would expect the five physical human senses to manifest themselves in the course of Song of Solomon. If you expect this you will not be disappointed and I will use Song of Solomon 2:3-13 as a case in point. The bulk of Chapter 2 is "physically" descriptive and because of this they have a visceral impact to the reader.

I interpreted this solely from the NIV translation to keep things simple and to avoid rabbit trails. I believe the intent of using sensory images is to better relate to what is being written in the text at a more visceral human level. Some of the descriptions within this book literally “put us in the action” as if we are there. As a matter of fact, comments from She/Beloved (NIV) are directed to the reader.


(v. 3) Describes the Lover among men as an apple tree in a forest and he is the fruit of that tree. In other words He/Lover is a rare find. Normally all you find in a forest is hardwoods or evergreens. Obviously the word taste implies intimacy with him or a type of relation. “Delight to sit in his shade” seems to imply that He is the protector and she the protected just as a shade tree protects one from the harsh rays of the sun.


(v. 6) Describes embracing (lover holds beloved). Another indicator of a very close intimate relationship. The previpous verse states she is faint with love so the embrace may also be a support or an effort by him to hold here upright, bolster, perhaps even exhort in a relationship.


(v. 8) Listen! (at reader?) He approaches her (see more below in Sight)
(v. 10) My lover spoke (He)…asking her to
(v. 12) season of singing, cooing of doves


(v. 8,9) Look! (at reader) He approaches her, she notes his attractive appearance as a “gazelle or a young stag”.

(v. 9) Gazing through windows & lattice: He is also anxious to see her also. There is a reciprocated relationship occurring here. The feelings are mutual. Probably a young love because there appears to be a bit of infatuation (visual and ideological) going on which is common in new relationships. The idealism of the other has not diminished yet. Interestingly, it should be noted that we should always approach Jesus like it is a new relationship (I do) because there will always be something new to find when worshipping and pondering God for eternity. He is infinite…the infatuation of Him will never end. Nice.

(v. 11) See the winter has past (directed at reader) Which means Spring is next in the progression of seasons. Birth or rebirth, blooms, etc. (v. 12) Spring is pleasant to hear, see, smell and the by-products of springtime pollination are the summer fruits which are tasty. This verse covers multiple sensory imputs. Spring also brings the chirping of birds and the sound of cicada and nocturnal warm weather creatures.


(v. 13) Smell: Fragrance (vines, directed at reader) Fig trees from what I have read are extremely pleasant to smell. As above in verse 11 there is reference to blossoms flowering and their pleasant smell.

I’ve made every attempt possible not to fall into a pattern of thinking carnally as a Christian. Song of Solomon (Songs) easily lends itself to taking this route and perhaps in some cases it should. I personally chose not to because there is so much more that can be gleaned from the book. To get locked into the human sensuality aspect, which many through history often have, is to undermine the true value of the book and to go against some of what the Bible says about outward appearances since Song of Solomon tends to often dwell on appearances or external attributes rather than what God looks at which is the heart (although “Songs” deals with the heart also). I took the road less travelled on this one. I mentioned it but that is as far as I went with it. Someone else can take that avenue.

Deere, Jack S., John Walvoord. "Song of Songs." Bible Knowledge Commentary Old Testament: An Exposition of the Scriptures (Bible Knowledge). Acambaro: Victor, 1985. 1014-1015. Print.

Examining The Scripture XCV: She, He, Beloved, Lover, Friend & Other

I reviewed the Song of Songs and chose to do it with the NIV version for two reasons. (1) To show that there are definitive differences in English versions sometimes they are the product of poor translation (2) To show in detail who the speakers are and how they interact and a paraphrased version like NIV was best suited for this because of unit titles like "Lover" & "Beloved". This editorial distinction is based on the fact that certain pronouns in Hebrew are different for masculine or feminine gender.

Primarily on the basis of the gender of the Hebrew pronouns used, male and female speakers are indicated in the margins by the captions Lover and Beloved respectively. The labeling of “Friends” is anyone other than these two. The caption to this book also says, in some instances the divisions and their captions are debatable in the NIV. The ESV Beloved is replaced with She, Lover is replaced with He and Friends are replaced with Others. In some cases the ESV drops the designation completely and doesn’t distinguish (example: Ch 2). The NASB refers to the female (Beloved) as Shulammite Bride and/or Jerusalem's Daughters, the male (Lover) is Solomon. What we appear to have is (pun) schizophrenic gender labeling or eisegesis of “jots and tittles” or cantillations. Thank goodness we are not dealing with the TNIV or “gender neutral” Bible…that must have been a real nightmare to transliterate / translate *{chuckle}*. In actuality, the TNIV makes a gender distinction in Song of Solomon . Either way, the English versions are clearly not consistent with labels although the versions I looked at did get the gender correct. What I will say is that this book is a Hebrew song and being so is subject to the possible allegory, literal, or metaphorical interpretation.

There are multiple important meanings and/or distinctions found in this book in reference to the identity of the Beloved and the Lover. I will list four of them.

(1) The Song of Solomon puts forth the glory of wedded love:
(a)The Masculine and Feminine roles would have their normal human gender specific meanings here. When taken in this context there is a sensual/sexual connotation that adds (eh…hmmm) tension to the narrative. In the past it was debated whether or not to even teach this to young men and women until they reached a certain age and maturity level. Origen and Jerome have told us that the Jews would not even allow this to be taught to men until they were 30 yrs old (McGee 143)

(2) The Song of Solomon puts forth the Love or God (Yahweh) for Israel:
(a) The Masculine/He being God and the Feminine/She Israel
(b) The problem with this is that it sexualizes the relation between Jesus and the believer.

(3) The Song of Solomon puts forth the Love and Relationship of Christ and the Church:
(a) The Masculine/Bridegroom being Christ and the Feminine/She is the Church /Bride of Christ

(4) The Song of Solomon puts forth the Relationship and Communion of Christ and Individual Believers:
(a) The Masculine/He being Christ and the Feminine/She the individual

The bottom-line regardless of who HE and SHE are is that this book is about a Divine love or a love that has its under-girding and/or strength drawn from a Divine source, God. If we miss this about this book we have missed the entire point. It is about unity in a relationship between two beings that are unequal or a relationship that would require a compromise on one side. I’ll let you figure which side that would be ;).

Holy Bible: New International Version (NIV). [electronic].

McGee, Dr. J. Vernon. "Song of Solomon-Intro." Thru the Bible, Vol. 3: Proverbs-Malachi. Waco, TX: Thomas Nelson, 1983. 143-144. Print.

The Self & The Selfless: Two

{ This is a continuation of The Self & The Selfless: One }

As stated in the previous post, we as Chrsitians are called to a life of self-denial, self-giving or outright sacrifice. We need to kill off our old selves to do this properly. It is done in three ways.

Death to Sin: The Legal Death

It happens to all Christian by the fact of our union with Jesus Christ, His death and His Resurrection. In this union not only are we forgiven but we also share in the benefits of God’s gift of eternal life but we also share in His death as is symbolized in our baptism. Where we can we must kill the sin in our lives and/or resist it. Sin cannot be free to manifest itself whenever it feels like it wants. You are to control it through a sanctification process with Christ. You are to take captive any thought that is sinful or as 2 Corinthians 10:4-6 states:

“The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds. We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ. And we will be ready to punish every act of disobedience, once your obedience is complete.” 2 Corinthians 10:4-6

Die to Self: The Moral Death

Is is called self-mortification, to denying one’s self or taking up one’s cross. The result is a committed fellowship with a fellow suffering servant. It is not a death that we have done directly to ourselves but rather something that we do to ourselves through the power of the Spirit. We kill our old nature.

“Put to death, therefore, whatever belongs to your earthly nature: sexual immorality, impurity, lust, evil desires and greed, which is idolatry. Because of these, the wrath of God is coming. You used to walk in these ways, in the life you once lived. But now you must rid yourselves of all such things as these: anger, rage, malice, slander, and filthy language from your lips. Do not lie to each other, since you have taken off your old self with its practices and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge in the image of its Creator. Here there is no Greek or Jew, circumcised or uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave or free, but Christ is all, and is in all. Colossians 3:5-11

Carrying The Death of Christ Within Us: The Physical Death

We must carry the life and the death of Jesus Christ in us so that it is revealed to the world in our bodies.

“…persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed. We always carry around in our body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be revealed in our body.” ~ 2 Corinthians 4:9-10.

This is clearly carried out plainly in our bodies. It speaks of our infirmities, weaknesses and our mortality. It is why Paul said, “I die daily” in 1 Corinthians 15:30-31. It is human frailty. The subsequent resurrection is the inward vitality or renewal in a Christian’s life with Jesus that continues to renew us in hope until our last breath.

In Addendum:

I would like to add that this theology is not advocating negative attitude towards humans. Anyone that knows the story of Jesus Christ could ever get the impression that Jesus held humans of low or poor value. How could anyone imply that? If anything just the opposite is true and is shown in the Bible. There is a continued pattern throughout the Old Testament of moral and spiritual failure, punishment and repentance. If Jesus Christ had held people in such low regard why did He make Himself of no accord and humble Himself so greatly, great enough to allow Himself to be humiliated by crucifixion on a cross?

“Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus: Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself and became obedient to death-even death on a cross! Therefore God exalted him to the highest place and gave him the name that is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. Philippians 2:5-11

Jesus’ main mission ended in a death for humanity. How can anyone think that God is holding man in low accord after a sacrificial love like that for humanity? Whatever we do, we should NEVER see us as anything less than God sees us as. Additionally, Jesus during His life went out of His way to approach those that society rejected because He valued them so highly. The disowned, the rejected, the one’s society saw as human refuse, and He honored them. The pimps, the prostitutes, the diseased, the homeless, the broken….you and I.

He became like us in all things except sin. He renounced His position to become like us. Jesus, The King of Kings came down to serve, not to be served.

"...the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many." ~Matthew 20:28

Stott, John R. W.. The Cross of Christ. 20 Anv ed. Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 2006. Print.

The Self & The Selfless: One


Jesus told us how we are to view Him, others and ourselves and how we should feel about it too. We are not to allow ourselves to become arrogant and "high and mighty" especially in light of the fact that The One who could've, didn't allow Himself to become that way while He was here on earth, and He did so to serve as an example for us. On the flip side of the coin, we are not just interplanetary refuse spinning around a galactic core, in a vast cosmic void for the sake of giggles either. We have a distinct and apportioned value and purpose given to us by God, Creator of the κόσμος/Kosmos which is by definition an orderly and harmonious system. The One who created the orderly system created its components. A defense for an intelligent creator or intellegence built into the creation itself, even at the macrocosmic level. Even more interesting is that the entire universe, the earth, everything seems as if it was created to support human life, it is called the Anthropic Principle (Doesn't this fact seem to allude to importance given to humans in general? More on this later.)

Low Self Esteem:

The idea of low self-esteem is relatively common today. There are many with crippling inferiority complexes. Sometimes the origin of these issues arose from childhood. Perhaps they arose more recently because of a broken relationship or failed marriage. The pressure of today’s competitive society makes matters worse. When people are politically or economically oppressed, as today in some cases, people feel demeaned and often worthlessness. Racial or sexual prejudices can contribute to inferiority as does the idea of being redundant in a system or organization and released from employment because of this to "downsize". These kinds of oppression can degrade anyone’s confidence. Technology can demote a person’s value also by making job positions unnecessary or they can do a job more accurately more often in an automated process that most of todays manufacturing is geared toward (even men are not).

Inflated Self Esteem:

The other extreme of this takes a pendulous swing in the other direction. The attitude is that you are to be full of yourself, or your sole need is to fulfill yourself; the attitude that life is short and you need to take advantage of it even if it means using and stepping on others. Nothing in life is more important than you. The power in self-affirmation and self-thinking has even transcended the church walls and has infiltrated the church. Feeling good about you is fine. Making yourself the entire and complete focus of your life in the church atmosphere is not. Self-help gurus and even some motivational speakers passing themselves of as pastors in a pulpit tell us that if “we” put “our” minds to something, “we” can do anything. Can someone please tell me where God is in that statement? Today’s culture has created a religion of positive psychology. A worship of self is all over the public theater. Intrinsic goodness of humans is assumed and coddled.

What The Bible Says:

Many Christians have been victimized by both of these "religions" (self belief systems). We are lured into them by the misunderstanding that we are to love ourselves. How so you ask? Many seem to misinterpret Deuteronomy 6:5 where it says to: “Love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength.” This is later reiterated by Jesus Christ and elaborated on in the New Testament in Luke 10:27, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind'; and, 'Love your neighbor as yourself.” Does it then say love yourself? No, it doesn’t and this is where people make an assumption that is wrong. They read something into the text that is not there...and it burns them badly. Nowhere does it say this in the Bible. Love God with all your heart and love your neighbor as yourself, for as Paul said in the context about marriage, no man hates his own body. If we look at the Greek in these verses the word for “love” is [Greek: agapao; agape] or [Hebrew: 'ahab; raheb ]. These loves are loves of self-sacrifice and for the service of others. They cannot therefore be used to refer to one’s self. The idea of sacrificing to love ourselves is ludicrous or at worst narcissistic (clearly not Christian demeanor).

As a matter of fact loving self is kind of counter-Christian. As a Christian we are called to a life of self-denial, self-giving or outright sacrifice and this is a tough pill for many to swallow. Somehow many glance right over Jesus’ statement:

“If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me”. Mark 8:34

So what must we do? What is the imperative, our imperative? We must die to self and commit ourselves wholly to God. Even this is not that easy because there are three different types of deaths and resurrections in a Christian’s life and they need to be distinguished so that they can be recognized for what they are.

Continued in Part Two (next post:------>)

July 21, 2010

Examining The Scripture XCIV: Stay Focused on What Matters

We will now look at the conclusion to Ecclesiastes in Chapter 12. In particular we will look closely at the fading & waning years of a human life and the penultimate stage of our sanctification before moving on to be with Jesus Christ in glorification. We will wrap with verses 13 & 14 and their single-minded exhortation to focus on God's glory. To stay transfixed on Jesus Christ as a man narrows the gap to the finish line in the course he calls life.

Verses 1 through 5 exhort us to remember God in the days of our youth (while we can enjoy Him). When we will not be suffering the decline of health and the affects of old age like aches, pains, poor sleep, the onset of chronic ailments and disease, etc. Much of the figurative language in verses 1-12 appear to be referring to declining physiological attributes. I have to assume the repeated references to darkness and may be physical manifestations of poor eyesight, blindness or even death itself. “Stooping” could be crippling effect of many injuries over time, osteoporosis or frail bones. “the grinding ones stand idle because they are few” are teeth worn down and painful or a total lack of them. “Men rise up at the sound of birds” notes that older folks have trouble sleeping (bone/joint pain) and are light sleepers (@ 41 I can relate to this one already). “sound of the grinding mill is low” is also obviously denoting deafness or inability to hear because of a lifetime of hearing damage. Verse 6-12 are basically an exhortation to live responsibly and a reiteration that all human accomplishments for human ends for this world are futile.

The verses specified 13 & 14 in the question conclude with the imperative to “fear God and keep His commandments”. Why fear God? We are to fear God because nothing in God’s creation happens without Him knowing about it. So what does that mean? It means God is sovereign...and He is just...which means He must judge us. The second part of verse 13 says, “because this applies to every person” and it makes this statement applicable to all humans. We will all stand in judgment before the Lord some day. If that is the case we are best served by fearing Him with reverential awe and following His commands. By doing this we are more inclined to obey and in so doing less prone to sin.

In a nutshell, although it doesn't say it like this, this passage is exhorting us to run the race as Christians until the end regardless of how hard it gets. To stay the course and never forget why we are running as Christians. We are running to and for the glory of God. By doing this, chances are we are also running with joy in our hearts and we are enjoying the run we are engaged in. Never mind that your knees ache and your feet are sore. :)

Glenn, Donald , John Walvoord. "Ecclesiastes." Bible Knowledge Commentary Old Testament: An Exposition of the Scriptures (Bible Knowledge). Acambaro: Victor, 1985. 1004-1006. Print.

Examining The Scripture XCIII: Random Proverbium

I decided to randomly point (with my finger) to a proverb in Ecclesiastes 10 because chapter 10 is generally agreed to be units of stand alone wisdom listed out and I figured they would all be good to pick from. They are short aphorisms (wisdom literature) dealing with right or wrong choices.

The first thing that strikes you about many of the verses in Ecclesiastes 10 is that they are odd in the dark brooding way that we have come to expect from Ecclesiastes. When I say odd I mean out of the ordinary. They are littered with Hebrew idioms and turns of phrase that are difficult to understand or come across as foreign to modern readers. They are bits of eclectic wisdom that are useful but...seem as though they are viewed from an eccentric point of view. They are Tim Burton-esque (Beetlejuice, Sleepy Hollow). They have a feel that is darker or more pessimistic than many proverbs that you would find elsewhere in the Bible: “fly in ointment”, “dig a pit”, “serpent bites before it is charmed”, “he who splits logs is endangered by them”. The tone turns brighter towards the end but even there I detect a hint of sarcasm such as “money answers everything”. I would have to say that this Chapter is a representative cross-section of Ecclesiastes as a whole: dark in tone, intelligent, useful but inherently odd from my point of view. It is a book that sees the absurdity of life, puzzles over it as if it is a riddle, a riddle with a single and often times subtle and evasive conclusion. God is behind everything in His sovereignty and providence...often times He is hidden from the human eye.

All this being said I feel compelled to pick the most eccentric of the lot. Although it is very useful information and wisdom its contrasting comparison is quite odd. As it was in Ecclesiastes 3 so it is here. These contrasting ideas are antithetical.

So...here it goes.

"Through sloth the roof sinks in, and through indolence the house leaks." Ecclesiastes 10:18

My first thought after reading this was, “---Whaaaa???--- That’s bizarre ---, I don’t get it”. For the life of me I could not understand what verse 18 was talking about. What does sloth and roof sinking have to do with one another. It then dawned on me that this verse has to be taken in context to the previous verses 16 & 17 because this verse is not stand alone or existing here in isolation as I had first thought. As it turns out "groupings of verses" in chapter 10 are isolated wisdom such as v. 16-18 referring to kings/royalty, v.14 & 15 are grouped around the idea of a "fool" which ironically lead into the verses about kings so in a superficial level all the verses from 14-18 contend for the same context: foolish people making foolish decisions as noted in my intro. As for my misunderstanding, this serves as an example of why taking random verses from the Bible out of context is so dangerous. You should always read the surrounding verse or even the entire chapter that a verse resides in to make sure you have a good idea of its context. If you still don't get it, go even wider, read the whole book. Anyway...my finger pointed verse is referring to princes, kings or leaders and carries over to verse 18 (and even resurfaces again in v.20).

In context: Lazy kings or leaders are about as useful as a sagging roof or a roof that leaks. They give the illusion that they are protecting or or keeping you safe but in reality they are about to fall in and allow some of the outside elements inside. This obviously can be interpreted from a spiritual angle also. Slothful spiritual leaders (both mental and physical) can also allow their roofs to sag allowing outside influences into the Church that shouldn't be in it. Additionally, lazy leaders also do nothing to repair rundown conditions of things within their spheres of influence. If let go too long and the deterioration continues the roof will collapse making the abode uninhabitable or unusable. If that abode is a place of worship, that is a nearly unforgivable. Clever.

Examining The Scripture XCII: Seasons

Ecclesiastes 3:1-8 Makes a statement through a nice piece of poetry, that there is a deliberate time for all human activity or a time for every purpose under heaven.

(1) There is a time for everything,
and a season for every activity under heaven:

(2) a time to be born and a time to die,
a time to plant and a time to uproot,

(3) a time to kill and a time to heal,
a time to tear down and a time to build,

(4) a time to weep and a time to laugh,
a time to mourn and a time to dance,

(5) a time to scatter stones and a time to gather them,
a time to embrace and a time to refrain,

(6) a time to search and a time to give up,
a time to keep and a time to throw away,

(7) a time to tear and a time to mend,
a time to be silent and a time to speak,

(8) a time to love and a time to hate,
a time for war and a time for peace.

Many of these, if not all of these activities/imperatives are directed at humans. He uses “antithetical” or opposing pairs that are the antithesis of one another for effect and/or illustrations of extremes in the human realm. Kill/Heal, Born/Die, Mourn/Dance, War/Peace. According to The Pulpit Commentary, Hebrew manuscripts and most printed texts of verses 2-8 are arranged in two parallel columns, so that one “time” always stands under another to further drive home this deliberate separation. We read later in Chapter 3 (v. 17) that the humans perpetrating these acts will be held accountable for them also through judgment. The interesting thing is that Solomon starts the list with something that a human has absolutely no control over: birth, or very little control over: Death. As he goes through this list of polar opposites we see patterns of life and death, building up and breaking down, emotional reactions perhaps to things like the deaths and births, the seeking and the losing. Although most of these things are to a varying degree different, so too are they easily combinable and interchangeable (Glenn et al 983).

You also get the sense of God’s providence working here. If there is a time for everything the implication is that it is planned. Everything refers especially to men’s movements and actions because it is “under heaven”. In human affairs Providence arranges the moment when everything will happen and the duration of its “happening”. There are also implications of prudence of a process of decision-making in some of these examples (killing, gathering, silence, speaking….choices, some wise, some not so wise.

So I guess what we really have here is a mingling of things that are completely in God’s control like conception/birth and death of an individual and we have things that are still within God’s providence and sovereignty but also man’s choice to some extent.

Glenn, Donald , John Walvoord. "Ecclesiastes." Bible Knowledge Commentary Old Testament: An Exposition of the Scriptures (Bible Knowledge). Acambaro: Victor, 1985. 983-984. Print.

Examining The Scripture XCI: Under The Sun II

There are (27) twenty-seven instances of the phrase “under the sun” in Ecclesiastes. A majority or which are direct statements to the reader. The remainder are rhetorical and/or unanswerable questions. The phrase “under the sun” is used repeatedly by the Preacher/Qohelet (a.k.a.: Solomon). It is often used in the context of a question, “what advantage…under the sun?”, or as a direct statement to the reader “there is nothing new under the sun”. So what is being asked? “What advantage does a man have in all his work which he does when he is living or in this world, the earthly realm?” The statement: “there is nothing new in our lives in this world“ It is the main crux of the entire book or Ecclesiastes and the resounding question that is constantly posed to the reader. Why are we here? What is the meaning of life? What is our purpose? Do we have a purpose? As a believer we are to conclude to the affirmative.

Everything that is done in this life is to be done to bring glory to God. Besides, through Christ our works after conversion are to be manifestations of our redeemed righteousness and to bring glory to God. We are literally to be recreated in God's image again. Just as we were originally created to do by God in the Garden with Adam...”. The Lord God took the man and put him in the garden of Eden to work it and keep it.” Genesis 2:15. Why? We were given dominion over the earthly creation with the stipulation that we work it. Why work? It was because it emulated the actions of Almighty God and brought glory to Him. Genesis 1 is replete with God working/creating in it. So much so that he “rests” in Chapter 2. All of these things were done by God, especially the rest, because they were to serve as an active example to man. We were to obey and be like Him.

• Ecclesiastes 1:3 What advantage does man have in all his work which he does under the sun?

• Ecclesiastes 1:9 And that which has been done is that which will be done. So there is nothing new under the sun.

• Ecclesiastes 1:14 I have seen all the works which have been done under the sun, and behold, all is vanity and striving after wind.

• Ecclesiastes 2:11 …behold all was vanity and striving after wind and there was no profit under the sun.

• Ecclesiastes 2:17 So I hated life, for the work which had been done under the sun was grievous to me…

• Ecclesiastes 2:18 Thus I hated all the fruit of my labor for which I had labored under the sun

• Ecclesiastes 2:19 And who knows whether he will be a wise man or a fool? Yet he will have control over all the fruit of my labor for which I have labored by acting wisely under the sun this too is vanity.

• Ecclesiastes 2:20 I completely despaired of all the fruit of my labor for which I had labored under the sun.

• Ecclesiastes 2:22 …what does a man get in all his labor and in his striving with which he labors under the sun?

• Ecclesiastes 3:16 … I have seen under the sun that in the place of justice there is wickedness and in the place of righteousness there is wickedness.

• Ecclesiastes 4:1 Then I looked again at all the acts of oppression which were being done under the sun…

• Ecclesiastes 4:3 But better off than both of them is the one who has never existed, who has never seen the evil activity that is done under the sun.

• Ecclesiastes 4:7 Then I looked again at vanity under the sun.

• Ecclesiastes 4:15 I have seen all the living under the sun throng to the side of the second lad who replaces him.

• Ecclesiastes 5:13 There is a grievous evil which I have seen under the sun: riches being hoarded by their owner to his hurt.

• Ecclesiastes 5:18 … to drink and enjoy oneself in all one's labor in which he toils under the sun during the few years of his life which God has given him…

• Ecclesiastes 6:1 There is an evil which I have seen under the sun and it is prevalent among men

• Ecclesiastes 6:12 …For who can tell a man what will be after him under the sun?

• Ecclesiastes 8:9 …I have seen and applied my mind to every deed that has been done under the sun…

• Ecclesiastes 8:15 … will stand by him in his toils throughout the days of his life which God has given him under the sun.

• Ecclesiastes 8:17…and I saw every work of God, I concluded that man cannot discover the work which has been done under the sun

• Ecclesiastes 9:3 This is an evil in all that is done under the sun, that there is one fate for all men

• Ecclesiastes 9:6 … and they will no longer have a share in all that is done under the sun.

• Ecclesiastes 9:9 Enjoy life with the woman whom you love all the days of your fleeting life which He has given to you under the sun

• Ecclesiastes 9:11 I again saw under the sun that the race is not to the swift and the battle is not to the warriors,

• Ecclesiastes 9:13 Also this I came to see as wisdom under the sun, and it impressed me.

• Ecclesiastes 10:5 There is an evil I have seen under the sun, like an error which goes forth from the ruler--

July 20, 2010

Examining The Scripture XC: Under The Sun I

Solomon explores areas of life in his search for meaning in Ecclesiastes 1 & 2. It appears as though he had searched everywhere and tried everything in an effort to find a meaning/the meaning of life. He eventually finds it but I will show you where in the course of this outline.

I. Ecclesiastes 1
(1) Labor: The futility of all human actions and endeavor, everything is meaningless.

a) Mans labor and toils
b) Conversely, God’s labor endures long after man (v. 4) earth, (v. 5) sun, (v. 6) wind, (v. 7) water systems. There is an enduring continuity and order to God’s work some of which is cyclical and repetitive in nature as outlined in verse 8, 9, 10 with statements like, “All things are wearisome”, “What has been will be again” and “there is nothing new under the sun”. Verse 11 speaks of the transient nature of man. How he is here a short time and then gone.

(2) Study, Wisdom, Knowledge: Solomon claims wisdom is meaningless. To clarify: of earthly things.

a) He devoted himself to study and to explore by wisdom
i) All that is done under heaven (earthly; of this world).

b) Solomon concludes he has seen all the things and all of them are meaningless
i) What is wise and worthwhile in this world but isn’t of God and can be burned up in the fires of judgment is worthless after we depart this world.
ii) He even goes as far as to say that wisdom of and for this world becomes a burden to the owner of it. The more knowledge the more grief.

II. Ecclesiastes 2

(1) Pleasures: The pleasures (of this world) are meaningless

a) He tested pleasure to find out what was good but that too also proved to be meaningless.

i) I imagine this is the case when too much of a good thing becomes a burden also. It becomes a means to an end but has little or no purpose. You become desensitized to the pleasure or built a tolerance to it and end up needing more and more of it to satisfy. You end up being a slave tot the thing that was created to serve you.

(2) Works (Reprise): Solomon then appears to return to human works or endeavors (full circle perhaps)

a) He undertook great projects:

i) Built houses for myself and planted vineyards.
ii) Made gardens and parks and planted all kinds of fruit trees in them.
iii) Made reservoirs to water groves of flourishing trees.
iv) Bought male and female slaves and had other slaves who were born in my house.
v) Owned more herds and flocks than anyone in Jerusalem before me.
vi) Amassed silver and gold for myself, and the treasure of kings and provinces.
vii) Acquired men/women singers, and a harem as well—the delights of the heart of man
viii) Became greater by far than anyone in Jerusalem before me
ix) was basically rewarded for all is labor

When he surveyed everything he had done and all his labor...everything was meaningless, a chasing after the wind. He concludes that both wisdom and folly are meaningless because every man dies both wise and foolish and they both end up in the same place, Sheol.

We then arrive with Solomon at the whole point of this discourse. It would appear Solomon looked for many of the things above without God. This is perhaps during the time of his apostasy from the Lord which could be argued because of statements here about harems/concubines. So he ended up hating life (v. 17) hated all things (v. 18) his heart despaired over his labors (v. 20). He claims that a man can do nothing better than to eat and drink and find satisfaction in his work. Then he it’s the reason for all of the meaninglessness, “all things come from the hand of God FOR WITHOUT HIM, WHO CAN EAT OR FIND ENJOYMENT?" God gives wisdom, knowledge and happiness. God ultimately gives everything its meaning, its worth, it purpose…even man.

Examining The Scripture LXXXIX: One of My Favorite Proverbs

Proverbs 10:16 “The wages of the righteous is life, the income of the wicked, punishment”.

There is much in this verse that points to Christ. This verse is another way of saying “For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord” in Romans 6:23. Therein is one of its appeals for me. Proverbs is neat and the wisdom contained within it is inspired by God so, as 2 Timothy 3:16 tells us it is “useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness” but I enjoy finding/seeing Christ in much of what I read.

I do not mean to diminish Jesus by this statement but I get great joy in finding the shadows and types on my own and having that “A-ha!” moment. I do not perform eisegesis (read things into verses that isn’t there) but I know that the centrality of Scripture is Christ and I know that it I look hard enough and allow the Spirit to work through me I will find Christ directly or indirectly in many of the contexts that I read in the Bible. In the case of this verse it is a neon sign. I didn’t need a commentary to understand its implication either, nor because of its parallel with Romans.

Those that stay the course and walk in a disciplined Godly manner by obeying God and all He commands has accepted God/Jesus through faith. By doing this a person will “live”. “Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life, but whoever rejects the Son will not see life, for God's wrath remains on him." John 3:36 -also- "I tell you the truth, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life and will not be condemned; he has crossed over from death to life. John 5:24. So why do we gain eternal life from Christ by accepting. It is in this way that God has decided that Jesus Christ’s righteousness will be imputed to us. By accepting that: “that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures”…and we are to accept this fact by faith.

There is also an extreme strong parallel with Galatians 6:7 also, “God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, this he will also reap.” I believe the implication here is that we are all responsible for our own actions regardless of how people view God acting in our lives.

Conversely, the fruit of the wicked. All the profit that the wicked make they use in the service of sin, which tends only to death (Romans 6:21). What we see here is the due reward of honourable industry in contrasted with the gains obtained by any means, discreditable or not.

July 19, 2010

Examining The Scripture LXXXVIII: Levelheaded and Blockheaded

The merits of listening to "wisdom" are expounded upon in Proverbs 9:1-12 and the disadvantages of listening to "folly" are expounded upon in Proverbs 9:13-18. The differentiation and distinctions between the two seem pretty clear cut but when you have no commonsense I guess things are more difficult to distingusih. It is like the old saying/question my father use to ask me, "When does a fool realizze he is a fool?"

Merits of Wisdom Proverbs 9:1-12

(v. 1) “built her house…hewn out her seven pillars: The house is solidly built in a firm foundation (Christ is the Cornerstone). The builder has not skimped on effort or material. An honest attempt was made to do the best work possible. Cornerstones served multiple purposes. Two of which were (1) to support the wall (2) They were cut at exactly/perfectly 90 degree angles, every stone laid on it or after it needed only to be aligned with it to make a wall perfectly straight and level or as masons and carpenters call it, the stones are “true”.

(v. 2) “prepared her food...mixed her wine...also set her table”: The wise are totally prepared.

(v. 2 & 3) “sent out her maidens, she calls. From the tops of the heights of the city”: Makes extra efforts to assist others by inviting them. Helps others. Celebrations such as weddings were often community events during the time of the Biblical writings. They would often last days. This required a lot of planning. We see this is the amazement of the man when the wine is brought out after Jesus turns it to wine from water. To have saved the best wine for last meant that it may have been saved for days.

(v. 4 & 5) “Whoever is naïve…who lacks understanding...eat of my food and drink of the wine: Wisdom is helpful to those that don’t have it. Wisdom is also best served in like-minded company. To discern a wise saying to its fullest advantage it often takes a equal or an equivilant amount of wisdom to utilize it. Wisdom begets more wisdom because the wise take advantage or criticism as we see below.

(v. 7 & 8) “He who corrects a scoffer gets dishonor…reproves a wicked man gets insults….reprove a wise man and he will love you”: It is the age old question - When does a fool realize he’s a fool? Answer: Never. He’s too dumb to realize it and won’t accept criticism because he doesn’t think he’s wrong.

(v. 9) A wise man on the other hand is smart enough to realize the only path to more knowledge is to admit he doesn’t know (humble himself; Christ-like) and make room for the knowledge in his head by admitting they doesn’t know or admit he is wrong. The smart get smarter and the dumb…well, they stay dumb unless God intervenes

(v. 10) because fear of the Lord is the start of knowledge.

Disadvantages of Folly Proverbs 9:13-18

(v. 13) The woman of folly is boisterous, she is naive and knows nothing.: Loud-mouths that don’t think before they talk (is there anything more annoying?). We are dealing with the personalities that are never content, always requiring or craving attention. They are fake “generalists” or experts on everything, masters of nothing. They talk the ears off a brass monkey with nothing to say.

(v. 14 & 15) “sits at the doorway…by the high places of the city, calling to those who pass by, who are making their paths straight: The foolish are a bane to society. Not only do they create their own turmoil and “reap what they sow”. So too, because they are often a burden to society because of their stupidity, they drag down others with them that are not spiritually strong or discerning.

(v. 16 & 17) Drinking from one’s own well refers to sex in marriage so stolen water is adultery. ‘Bread eaten in secret is pleasant." Also then implies some type of illicit activity because of its close association to the previous comment. As we have already learned reading Proverbs 2:18 referring to adulteresses “her house sinks down to death and her tracks lead to the dead, so too this verse 18 in chapter 9 refers to the same end result

Examining The Scripture LXXXVII: Righteous Sexuality vs. Unrighteous Sexuality

There is a teaching in Proverbs 5:15-20 that is applicable to us today and is extremely relevant, probably too relevant. Some cultures in the past dwelt in and on colonialism and geopolitical expansion and that is what drove that society. Some cultures were driven and controlled by class warfare, some by military warfare or militancy alone. Our culture? It is driven by impulse. Sexual impulse. We are a visually crazed society that is all about self-fulfillment and what is good for "me". When things don't work for "me" they are tossed with the leftovers. A disposable society. Permanence and consistency are so...yesterday. Our moral ambivalent society is about making the individual happy and comfortable. We can now have unsolicited soft core porn send directly to our mailboxes in the form of lingerie catalogs and our children can get their hands on it before we even know its there...and its legal. It is truly one of my pet peeves. We can no longer turn anywhere without constantly being barraged with some type of sexually questionable material. Protecting my children from it is a full time job because it is on my television, on the Internet, Facebook, Billboards, in public in the form or people with poor judgment in attire, unsolicited circulars and catalogs in the mail, etc.

Unfortunately, this applies also to many relationships and marriages. More often than not many men and women in this day and age (culture) are focused on immediate need gratification and self need. These impulsive, lustful, sexually oriented mitigating factors are just as damaging to marriage and society-at-large as open warfare. Self-focused people care nothing for others and this type of mindset is not conducive to monogamous relationships or monogamous marriages. Additionally it is inappropriate for the public sector where my children become victimized by it.

Proverbs 5:15-20

(15) Drink water from your own cistern
And fresh water from your own well.

(16) Should your (A)springs be dispersed abroad,
Streams of water in the streets?

(17) Let them be yours alone
And not for strangers with you.

(18) Let your fountain be blessed,
And rejoice in the wife of your youth.

(19) As a loving hind and a graceful doe,
Let her breasts satisfy you at all times;
Be exhilarated always with her love.

(20) For why should you, my son,
be exhilarated with an adulteress
And embrace the bosom of a foreigner?

These ideas and precepts are what we read in Proverbs 5. The two overall ideas in this passage are water/fluid and sexual desires. More specifically it is water “control” and “moral” or properly controlled sexual desires. It is referring to chastity or restraint of some form. All the analogies of water embedded here or alluded to are allusions to control of the water. What reins it in? Cisterns, wells, springs, streams and fountains (preferred method) control water keeping it from “scattering abroad” or creating “streams in the streets” (not preferred). These water metaphors are placed adjacent to the passages on proper or improper sexual desires. The verse implies that proper sexual relations are in marriage because of the terms “wife of your youth”. That true sexual desire is best fulfilled in a marriage setting as God ordained in Genesis 2:24 “For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and they will become one flesh.” The proper control itself is the marriage. This is the boundary. Move outside this boundary and things become sinful, messy and uninhibited. Instead of clean, pure “unadulterated” water, your water becomes muddled, dirty, confused. It just runs freely or wildly in the streets. The terms parallels and metaphors here are rich and I see them all over this short passage. Simple juxtaposing of words and a clever use of words and I could write an entire page on them (but I won’t).

The application to modern day is so obvious as to be a smack in the face. We live in a society that not only allows divorce and extramarital sexual behavior, it actually appears to either: encourage it or no longer frown upon it. Verse 20 asks us why we should be intoxicated with forbidden woman and the bosom of an adulteress. These are predominately sensual or physical allurements that draw people in, mostly for selfish and self-gratifying reasons. Marriages are usually not selfish relationships governed by self motives. The mindset to engage in these two different types of sexual relations are diametrically opposed. I’ve mentioned this American mindset numerous times in the course of posting on this blog. They had Generation X and Generation Y. We are now in Generation “I” or “Me” and it has pervaded all of society simultaneously except for a small remnant or holdouts (Christians) that refuse to be assimilated into the culture like a mindless horde of visually crazed, sexually over-stimulated drones. There is still small segment that still hold moral values in high esteem. A remnant that still obey and honor God not only with their mouths but their actions also.

Many people believe that abstinence until marriage is untenable, unrealistic and naive. I believe it is commanded by the Lord. Proper sexual relations are to be in a proper marriage relationship. A proper marriage relationship is outlined in the Bible in multiple places as being between a man and a woman. Period. The most obvious case of this being:
English Version: Genesis 2:24 "Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife; and they shall be one flesh."

The best literal translation/transliteration that I can produce from my lexical sources is this:

[על כן יעזב איש את אביו ואת אמו ודבק ...באשתו... והיו לבשר אחד]

"on.so he-is-leaving man >> father-of.him and >> mother-of-him and.he-clings in.woman-of.him and.they-become to.flesh one"

Look very closely at the word [ באשתו ] or woman-of.him (Strongs H802: 'ishshah or ish-shaw'), it is a feminine or female of 'enowsh or [אֱנוֹשׁ](Strongs H582: mortal man, person, mankind). A woman (in the same sense as H582): female, woman (opposite of man), wife (woman married to a man), female (of animals)often unexpressed in English.

Interestingly, this word for wife (singular) is the word used in Hebrew to denote the female of a species, very specifically it is the member of the union between male and female in the relationship that produces the offspring from the union or "she" would be the childbearing sex. According to the Bible then there are three things that can be implied here: (1) a proper marriage can produce offspring through natural or normal methods (i.e.: intercourse) and (2) The members of the union have to be different genders [Greek: heter-, hetero: different; unlike] as the original statement denotes a clear breakdown of male or female from the Strong's Hebrew H582 meaning: mankind. (3) Since the verse is clearly referring to a man and clearly referring to a female or the childbearing sex, there is no need of further disambiguation necessary. This is clear cut 1:1 translation. Man (male) cleaves to Woman (female). If you believe in Biblical inerrancy as I do, there is no argument here.

Please also note it says woman not women (note to polygamists).

Please also note that I have not injected any opinion into the translation. The above statements are direct translations form the Hebrew text and are based on sound hermeneutics.

Anyone interpreting this Scripture in any other manner than between a man and a woman is either practicing eisegesis (reading into the text something that is not there) or is being willfully ignoring what the original languages said (*). People really needed to understand the original Hebrew of this text in particular to realize the implications of this statement in (v. 24) and how it effectively defines what constitutes a marriage to obedient Christians.

We cannot continue to have increasing divorce rates, broken families and increased totals of single parents without these factors having a deleterious effect on society. I don't care if many people believe it is unrealistic we need to try to stem the tide. I believe that the road we are on which continues to erode the family unit in society is detrimental. The moral ambivalence and apathy of secular society is unsustainable and non-conducive to maintaining the integrity of society. So to continue down that road and believe things cannot get worse or continue to degrade is...unrealistic. It is bleeding over into our churches

Christians and need to take the higher ground on this one. Yes, some of us have been in compromising situations in the past. We may be Christians but we are also human. As Christians though we are obliged to be new creations and we have put those lives behind us. Hypocrites? No. We are only hypocrites if we are continuing in these sins as habit with no guilt of desire to repent. I believe people can change for the better. We as Christians are to forgive if a person is repentant but if there is a pattern of continuing/continual sin or unwillingness to do what is proper when the person knows what is proper, that is a different story. When we forgive we are to expect a permenant change and a turn away from the sinful behavior. If we forgive and there is no change then our forgiveness becomes only appeasement and we become enablers of the wicked and depraved.

(*) Sexuality and all its deviations are a blog topic within themselves that I will address at a later time. When I do address this ticking time bomb I will not be using the standard Scripture passages that most produce to rebuke sexual immorality outside of marriage such as Leviticus 18 and some other references similar to those. I will be going to other sources that most people do not use because they exemplify points better such as Genesis 2:24 above. If you read items properly, in their context and sometimes even in their original languages the truth becomes more obvious. The English versions such as KJV, NKJV, NASB & ESV are accurate but they convey the information in a black and white manner when sometimes the Greek or Hebrew bring it to 3D color. Additionally, I will be using quotes from Paul and Jesus Himself to defend the case. In particular I will address the relationship between Jonathan and David which has been hijacked by people with an agenda. Not only has it been taken out of context, the people that hijacked it couldn't possibly have read or understood the original Hebrew or the Septuagint. Is this hateful? No, hardly. It is obedience. I am trying to dispel half-truths or outright lies. I see sexual deviancy as no different than any other sin and I waited a long time before addressing this issue in my blog. I wanted people to realize that I am firmly rooted in the Bible and that I care about people and removal of sin from people's lives. I was told to dislike the sin not the sinner, just as Jesus did.

Examining The Scripture LXXXVI: My Son(s)

The words “my son(s)” is/are repeat continually throughout Proverbs 1-9. In these passages this term is used most frequently to probably refer to Solomon’s own sons because of the reference in in verse 8 of “your mother”. Originally proverbs were used for instruction and these verses were orally delivered to either to students of Solomon or others in the royal court or others to their sons in their homes. In learning environments at the time of Solomon it probably was not uncommon to address a student as “son” also…so this term may have taken on a dual purpose. This to me this just shows the inherent wisdom of the person they came from. They instilled a single word with a dualistic meaning and purpose. So whether or not this was used in a domestic or public setting is of no adverse consequence. It would’ve applied just the same. That is very wise (Buzzell 902).

(1) Proverbs 1:8-Hear, my son, your father's instruction. And do not forsake your mother's teaching;

(2) Proverbs 1:10-My son, if sinners entice you, Do not consent.

(3) Proverbs 1:15-My son, do not walk in the way with them Keep your feet from their path,

(4) Proverbs 2:1-My son, if you will receive my words. And treasure my commandments within you,

(5) Proverbs 3:1-My son, do not forget my teaching, But let your heart keep my commandments;

(6) Proverbs 3:11-My son, do not reject the discipline of the LORD Or loathe His reproof,

(7) Proverbs 3:21-My son, let them not vanish from your sight; Keep sound wisdom and discretion,

(8) Proverbs 4:10-Hear, my son, and accept my sayings. And the years of your life will be many.

(9) Proverbs 4:20-My son, give attention to my words; Incline your ear to my sayings.

(10) Proverbs 5:1-My son, give attention to my wisdom, Incline your ear to my understanding;

(11) Proverbs 5:7-Now then, my sons, listen to me And do not depart from the words of my mouth.

(12) Proverbs 5:20-For why should you, my son, be exhilarated with an adulteress...

(13) Proverbs 6:1-My son, if you have become surety for your neighbor, Have given a pledge for a stranger,

(14) Proverbs 6:3-Do this then, my son, and deliver yourself; Since you have come into the hand of your neighbor, Go, humble yourself, and importune your neighbor.

(15) Proverbs 6:20-My son, observe the commandment of your father.

(16) Proverbs 7:1-My son, keep my words. And treasure my commandments within you.

(17) Proverbs 7:24-Now therefore, my sons, listen to me, And pay attention to the words of my mouth.

Holy Bible: New American Standard Bible., 2008. Online.

Buzzell, Sid, John Walvoord. "Proverbs:Introduction:Addresses." Bible Knowledge Commentary Old Testament: An Exposition of the Scriptures (Bible Knowledge). Acambaro: Victor, 1985. 902-903. Print.

Examining The Scripture LXXXV: Wisdom of The Ages

There is an inherent value in wisdom that seems to be placed there by God. That little something extra that does not come from a worldly source. It is otherworldly in its origin. Wisdom is almost an intuitive sixth sense that defies description. People know it when they see it and when they see it usually is paid respect or at least it is not taken lightly. I must say that most of the words or ideas in Proverbs 1:1-7 which begins the Book or Proverbs are quite similar but are not exactly the same. They all imply that wisdom is the ability to use knowledge correctly. There are many smart people in the word that lack any wisdom. We know as Christians that Christ is wisdom. The other additional comment on this passage as a whole that would like to make is that a Bible version or correct translation was critical for this exegesis. Paraphrased versions were lousy for this question. It needed to be a literal word for word translation like the NASB. The NIV really missed the boat on this in terms of the “terms”.

(1) In (v. 2) it says “instruction” implying that it has equal footing or comes with wisdom.

(2) Wisdom is also associated with “discerning the sayings of understanding”. You need to be able to understand or have enough insight of common sense to realize when you are having wisdom spoken of given to you audibly. The old saying is “When does a fool realize he is a fool?” Answer: Never, because he’s a fool.

(3) In (v. 3) we see the word instruction again in synonymy with wise behavior, righteousness, justice and equity.

(3a) These primarily are terms that lend themselves to litigiousness or are handy in times of disparity or dispute. Righteousness in particular is a value vehemently sought after in the Bible as a defining and required virtue/value for Christians to attain and make part of their very being.

(4) (v. 4) Wisdom gives naïve people or makes naïve people prudent or a person who is either effective at application of wisdom (at the right time and the right place) or is good at judicious at dispensing/using it.

(4a.) It also allows youth to have discretion (I did not have much of this myself in my youth).

(5) (v. 5) Wisdom allows for a man to increase in knowledge. The smart get smarter & the wise will become wiser.

(5a) A wise person will not act like they are a “know-it-all” and realize they can benefit from advise from multiple sources or “constructive criticism”

(6) (v. 6) To understand proverbs and a figure or saying (Strong’s: H4426 “mliytsah”) or in this context perhaps figures of speech, veiled sarcasm or even a colloquialism or phrases of foreign lands that are enigmatic. As would be the case with Solomon who had people come from afar to seek his wisdom.

(7) Also, (v. 6) (Strong’s: H2420: “chiydah”) and dark sayings :riddles

(8) Of course the most valuable of all is that fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge. Wisdom and true knowledge originates from the Almighty. Because of this it is no surprise that fools are considered fools for despising wisdom and instruction.

One axiom about wisdom in particular that is not always true is that you will grow wise as you grow older no matter what. Not so. We need only look around in the world today (especially in the media) at middle-aged to elderly people routinely making fools out of themselves. They have no commonsense and routinely fail to discern between right and wrong properly. Age in no way guarantees wisdom anymore than youth guarantees immaturity. There are always exceptions, especially when it comes to wisdom. Wisdom is bestowed on those that seek the Lord...and THAT is smart at any age ;).

Examining The Scripture LXXXIV: Psalm 51 - Forgive Me (Beauty In The Broken)

My favorite Psalm is Psalms 51. It is a prayer or psalm asking for forgiveness of sins and a psalm of restoration. David wrote the Psalm after or during the sin of adultery with Bathsheba. We as believers know that David was forgiven and eventually restored to some extent so it is consolation for other sinners. If David did what he did and could be forgiven we too can be forgiven for our sins also.

David’s spiritual relationship with God based solely on his actions was either distant or backslidden. A man adhering to the precepts and commandments of the Lord that was capable of adultery, deception and murder clearly did not have God is mind. Being this way, there is no way that we can even remotely say that David was trying to be holy. If David wasn’t attempting to be holy then he was going the opposite way in relation to God. God cannot look upon sin without judging it at some point. God is a holy God. David was at odds with God and this cannot stand. David either needed to repent or he would be judged. Judged then or judged when he died. David having a heart for the Lord repented “then” because he wanted an intimate and close relationship restored with God in this life AND the next. The only way that was possible was via the route just mentioned: repentance.

Psalm 51 is a "Lament Psalm". The function of a Lament or Psalm of Petitionary Praise (Westermann), is to provide a structure for crisis, hurt, grief, or despair; to move a worshipper from hurt to joy, from darkness to light, from desperation to hope. This movement from hurt to joy is not a psychological or liturgical experience only, although it includes those. And it is not a physical deliverance from the crisis, although that is often anticipated. The movement "out of the depths" from hurt to joy is a profoundly spiritual one. They are often the most emotionally charged Psalms also.

Psalms 51 is the ultimate sinner’s prayer seeking forgiveness and repentance to help restore a relationship with the one true Almighty God. I have written private piece on this Psalm before and it warrants typing in here from my journal. It is and outline or breakdown of this Psalm into its constituent parts and how they fit together as a whole for he believer who is truly aware of his sin. This Psalm is written by and for a sinner who truly knows his place in relation to the Lord and their need to seek His forgiveness. These people also have a very good understanding of how holy God is and how unholy man is, how wretched man is. Psalm 51 is the prayer and worship of a broken man.

It should be stated that Psalms 51 is an answer of reply to Psalms 38 which is an individual lament in which David is being chastened by the Lord for sins, transgressions and guilt. God’s wrath towards the sinner (David) in 38 becomes so ferocious David describes terms of personal attack. The discipline for sin is harsh signifying God’s severe displeasure with David. David bemoans the severity of his afflictions all throughout Psalms 38. Nothing can seem to quiet His heart. He is guilt ridden. David realizes that the only way to quiet a discordant heart is obedience and reconciliation with God. This can only come through His mercy. God is called on to remove the sense of guilt too heavy to bear. David’s suffering becomes a typology of Christ although Christ wasn’t suffering under His own sin but other’s sin.

We now know how to approach Psalms 51. David is pained and remorseful for his sins and backward spiritual state after his incident with Bathsheba. David systematically breaks down his condition and his sin and goes after it in prayer to the Lord in a manner that is reminiscent of a warrior systematically dismantling an enemy.

This will be a long post due to the entirety of Psalm 51 being in here but it is worth it to break down this Psalm to understand it fully and totally.

(v. 1-2) A Prayer for Individual Restoration

(1) Have mercy on me, O God,
according to your unfailing love;
according to your great compassion
blot out my transgressions.
(2) Wash away all my iniquity
and cleanse me from my sin.

(v. 3-6) Confession and Remorse (Lamentation for Sins)

(3) For I know my transgressions,
and my sin is always before me.
(4) Against you, you only, have I sinned
and done what is evil in your sight,
so that you are proved right when you speak
and justified when you judge.
(5) Surely I was sinful at birth,
sinful from the time my mother conceived me.
(6) Surely you desire truth in the inner parts;
you teach me wisdom in the inmost place.

(v. 7-12) A Prayer For Restoration.

David pleads to God for a pardon and that this incident may promote the glory of God and the conversion of sinners.

(7) Cleanse me with hyssop, and I will be clean;
wash me, and I will be whiter than snow.
(8) Let me hear joy and gladness;
let the bones you have crushed rejoice.
(9) Hide your face from my sins
and blot out all my iniquity.
(10) Create in me a pure heart, O God,
and renew a steadfast spirit within me.
(11) Do not cast me from your presence
or take your Holy Spirit from me.
(12) Restore to me the joy of your salvation
and grant me a willing spirit, to sustain me.

(v. 13-17) Thanksgiving

A sinner who has experienced a deep sense of sinfulness and forgiveness then does what is proper for God and to God. Worship and thank Him.

(13) Then I will teach transgressors your ways,
and sinners will turn back to you.
(14) Save me from bloodguilt, O God,
the God who saves me,
and my tongue will sing of your righteousness.
(15) O Lord, open my lips,
and my mouth will declare your praise.
(16) You do not delight in sacrifice, or I would bring it;
you do not take pleasure in burnt offerings.
(17) The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit;
a broken and contrite heart,
O God, you will not despise.

(v. 18-19) A Prayer of National Restoration

God is pleased with a contrite heart and prayer for prosperity of Zion.

(18) In your good pleasure make Zion prosper;
build up the walls of Jerusalem.
(19) Then there will be righteous sacrifices,
whole burnt offerings to delight you;
then bulls will be offered on your altar.

David had such a deep and abiding love for God that he was always thinking about Him. Conversely, when David backslid and drifted away from God he had an acute awareness of sin that he was always thinking about. Sin and God cannot coexist. Not in reality, nor in our heads. One pushes the other out. It is why we are to dwell on God and His statutes always. When we think on God there is no other room for sin.“No one who is born of God will continue to sin, because God's seed remains in him; he cannot go on sinning, because he has been born of God. 1 John 3:9. In this way I am like David and this was his best Psalm. I relate to it the most because…I am a sinner like David. Hopefully I have the same heart for God that David did also. Ultimately God was merciful with David, I pray He is merciful with me.

These principles that David used are a perfect example of a prayer of repentance and forgiveness. We would be well served to think about these steps in our prayers to our Father when approaching His throne to seek His pardon for our transgressions.

Claus Westermann, Praise and Lament in the Psalms, John Knox, 1981.
Claus Westermann, The Psalms: Structure, Content, and Message, Augsburg, 1980.
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