Friday, October 27, 2017

Does the "Letter J" argument invalidate "Jesus?"

This is, quite possibly, the single worst argument ever against the name of Jesus, and it gets made all the time.  It's only ever directed at "Jesus" or "Jehovah," but nobody ever says anything at all about

Jordan, Jericho, Jerusalem, James, Joseph, John, Joshua, Jeremiah, Jacob, Judah, or Jeroboam.

The answer is this:  All those names (Including Jehovah and Jesus) begin with the Hebrew letter "Yud," which makes a Y sound.  But in the 1500s, when Tyndale first translated the Bible into English, the letter "J" also made a "Y" sound.  This is preserved in two places:  The German word for "Yes," which is "Ja," and pronounced as "Yah," and the transliteration of the Hebrew word "Hallelujah," which also ends with a "Yah" syllable.

This isn't about the "J" in "Jesus," but rather about the evolution of the English language.  Jesus' name is "יֵשׁוּעַ"  (Yeshua) which you can see reflected accurately in the recent movie "Risen" where they call Him that.

For more information on the Name of Jesus, see my blog post: "Jesus or Yeshua?  What's the deal?"

Wednesday, October 25, 2017

Proper defintions of "Atheist," "Gnostic," and "Agnostic"

Saying that an Atheist is someone who "lacks a belief in God" is to strip the word of any meaning at all.  If that's the definition, then rocks are atheists.  So are trees, rivers, clouds, and cell phones.  "Someone who lacks a belief in God" is not a statement about eternal truth, it's a statement about an internal position.  It's not about God, it's about you. 

But this definition of "Atheist" is fairly new.  it's not the definition of classical atheists like philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche.  His definition was more direct: Atheist, coming from the Greek prefix for "no" and the Greek word for "God."  That is, classically, the word "Atheist" meant someone who denies the existence of God.

But when Theists rightly began pointing out that an assertion of this type is a truth claim, and therefore the burden of proof was on the one making the claim, the definition shifted to the amorphous mess used by people like Dawkins and Harris today.  For more discussion on "Atheist," search YouTube for "William Lane Craig The Definition that will not die." 

"Gnostic," from the Greek "Gnosis," meaning "Knowledge, refers to a specific sect of theists which arose in the second century and survives today in the form of the Jehovah's Witnesses and the Mormons, as well as a few other cult groups.  They believed that Jesus entrusted His apostles with special, secret knowledge and that the only way to truly be saved was to go through the initiation rites where this secret knowledge would be imparted to you.  This, for example, is the reason for the secret ceremonies inside the Mormon temples. 

An Agnostic is one who simply does not know.  From the Greek "Ag" meaning "without" and "gnosis," knowledge.  An Agnostic is one who allows for the possibility that there may be a God, or there may not be, but claims to have no knowledge of the objective truth of God themselves. 

These are the correct definitions.  Niel deGrasse Tyson uses these definitions and agrees with me that the Atheistic position is indefensible.  Tyson calls himself an Agnostic, which is a position I respect. 

I hope that is helpful.

Click HERE to see Dr. Craig's video

Sunday, October 22, 2017

The Essential Nature of Genesis (Beresheet) for Christians

I have been told by my Christian brothers and sisters that the Old Testament was "nailed to the Cross," and that we no longer need to understand it.  It is not, they say, binding on us, and therefore we are not beholden to it.  They call it "The Law of Sin and Death," because they don't really understand what Paul was talking about.

And, of course, the idea that Paul is difficult to understand is not a new one.  In 2 Peter 3:16, the Chief Apostle writes:

He writes the same way in all his letters, speaking in them of these matters. His letters contain some things that are hard to understand, which ignorant and unstable people distort, as they do the other Scriptures, to their own destruction.

But the defense of the phrase "The Law of Sin and Death" is a subject for another time, because right now I want to discuss the Value of the Law of God. 

Hebrews 7:17 reads:

      “You are a priest forever, 
      after the order of Melchizedek.”

When it does, it is quoting from Psalm 110:4, which also reads:

      The LORD has sworn 
      and will not change his mind, 
                  “You are a priest forever 
      after the order of Melchizedek.”

So, very briefly, who is this Melchizedek fellow?

Melchizedek is mentioned only once in the Old Testament, in Genesis 14:18-20, which reads:

18 And Melchizedek king of Salem brought out bread and wine. (He was priest of God Most High.) 19 And he blessed him and said, 

                  “Blessed be Abram by God Most High, 
      Possessor of heaven and earth; 
            20       and blessed be God Most High, 
      who has delivered your enemies into your hand!” 

And Abram gave him a tenth of everything.

Now there's a lot more which could (and will) be said about him, but what I want to highlight in this blog is this:

 “You are a priest forever 
      after the order of Melchizedek.”

Jesus was born of the tribe of Judah. According to the Law of Moses, Priests of Israel could only come from the Tribe of Levi.   This means, as my Jewish friends point out, that Jesus would NOT have qualified to be a priest of the Temple in Jerusalem because He was born to the wrong tribe. 

But one who is not a priest cannot bring the sacrifice.  The Law of Moses explicitly states that those who want to make sacrifices bring their sacrifice "to the priest."  Then the Priest would offer the sacrifice. 

"But Jesus was killed by the Romans," one might object, "and they were not priests." 

In John 10:17-18, we find

 17 ... I lay down my life that I may take it up again. 18 No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord. I have authority to lay it down, and I have authority to take it up again. This charge I have received from my Father.” 

Who killed Jesus?  Jesus did. 

That is, Jesus offered Himself as the Sacrifice.

But in order for the sacrifice to be valid, it must be brought by a priest. 

And since Jesus was of the Tribe of Judah, and not the Tribe of Levi, He couldn't be a priest under the old system. 

But Melchizedek, who lived and died long before the time of the Patriarchs, was a priest. The Torah says of him: "He was priest of God Most High."

How was Melchizedek a "priest of God Most High" before the Levitical priesthood was established?

By calling Melchizedek a "priest" of the True God, the Torah establishes another priesthood, which the Author of Hebrews calls "The Order of Melchizedek."

If the Torah is nailed to the Cross, if the books of Moses are no longer relevant, then the Sacrifice of Christ on the Cross is invalid.  It was nothing more than one more Rabbi dying for making trouble. 

But if Jesus really is a Priest, after the Order of Melchizedek, then all of humanity can be saved.

Torah.  It's that important.

Monday, October 2, 2017

"חֶ֫סֶד" Steadfast Love, Covenant Loyalty, BDB

†I. חֶ֫סֶד S2617, 2618 TWOT698a, 699a GK2875, 2876, 2877247 n.m. 2 S 16:17 goodness, kindness;—abs. ח׳ Gn 24:12 + 85 times; חָ֑סֶד Gn 39:21 + 12 times; cstr. חֶסֶד 1 S 20:14 + 8 times; sf. חַסְדִּי ψ 59:18 + 120 times sfs.; pl. חֲסָדִים Gn 32:11; cstr. חַסְדֵי Is 55:3 + 5 times (Baer p. 79 Ges 93, R. 1 F.); sf. חֲסָדַי Ne 13:14 + 10 times sfs.; (not in H or P). I. of man: 1. kindness of men towards men, in doing favours and benefits 1 S 20:15; 2 S 16:17 ψ 141:5 Pr 19:22; 20:6; ח׳ יהוה 1 S 20:14 the kindness of י׳ (such as he shews, Thes MV; that sworn to by oath to Yahweh Mich Dathe; shewn out of reverence to Yahweh Th Ke), cf. ח׳ אלהים 2 S 9:3; תּוֹרַת־ח׳ Pr 31:26 instruction in kindness, kindly instruction עָשָׂה חֶסֶד עִמָּדִי do or shew kindness (in dealing) with me Gn 20:13; 40:14 (E), 1 S 20:14; 2 S 10:2 (עִמִּי in || 1 Ch 19:2); c. עִם Gn 21:23 (E), 24:12, 14; Jos 2:12() Ju 1:24 (J), 8:35; 1 S 15:6; 2 S 2:5; 3:8; 9:1, 3, 7, 10:2a = 1 Ch 19:2a, 1 Ch 19:2b; 2 Ch 24:22; c. עַל 1 S 20:8; c. לְ 1 K 2:7; נשׂא ח׳ לפני obtain kindness before Est 2:9, 17; היטיב ח׳ Ru 3:10. 2. kindness (especially as extended to the lowly, needy and miserable), mercy Pr 20:28; Jb 6:14; אישׁ חסד merciful man Pr 11:17 (opp. אַכְזָרִי); מַלְכֵי ח׳ merciful kings 1 K 20:31; עשׂה ח׳ ψ 109:16; in this sense usually with other attributes (v. also infr. II. 2); || אמת Ho 4:1; Is 16:5; ח׳ ואמת Pr 3:3; 14:22; 16:6; 20:28; עשׂה ח׳ ואמת Gn 24:49; 47:29; Jos 2:14 (J; RV gives these under 1); || צדקה Ho 10:12; צדקה וח׳ Pr 21:21; || משׁפט Mi 6:8; ח׳ ומשׁפט Ho 12:7; || חוֹנֵן ψ 109:12; ח׳ ורחמים Zc 7:9 Dn 1:9.—(On Ho 6:4, 6 v. 3 infr.) 3. (rarely) affection of Isr. to י׳, love to God, piety: ח׳ נְעוּרַיִךְ Je 2:2 piety of thy youth (|| love of thine espousals to Yahweh); poss. also חַסְדְּכֶם כַּעֲנַן־בֹּקֶר Ho 6:4 your piety is like a morning cloud (fleeting), and כִּי חֶסֶד חָפַצְתִּי וְלאֹ־זָ֑בַח Ho 6:6 for piety I delight in and not in peace-offering (|| דעת אלהים, cf. 1 S 15:22);—so Wü Now Hi (v 4) Che; Ke Hi (v 6) al. sub 2 (or 1);—אַנְשֵׁי חֶסֶד men of piety Is 57:1 (|| צַדִּיק); pl. pious acts 2 Ch 32:32; 35:26; Ne 13:14. 4. lovely appearance: כָּל־חַסְדּוֹ כְּצִיץ הַשָּׂדֶה Is 40:6 all its loveliness as the flower of the field (so Thes Hi De Che Di al.; but δόξα 𝔊 1 Pet 1:24 & gloria 𝔙 favour an original reading הוֹדוֹ Lo or כְּבֹדוֹ Ew, see Br 375; Du הֲדָרוֹ). II. of God: kindness, lovingkindness in condescending to the needs of his creatures. He is חַסְדָּם their goodness, favour Jon 2:9; חַסְדִּי ψ 144:2; אֱלֹהֵי חַסְדִּי God of my kindness ψ 59:18; in v 11 read אֱלֹהַי חַסְדּוֹ my God with his kindness 𝔖 𝔙 Ew Hup De Pe Che Bae; his is the kindness ψ 62:13; it is with him ψ 130:7; he delights in it Mi 7:18. 1. specif. lovingkindness: a. in redemption from enemies and troubles Gn 19:19; 39:21 (J), Ex 15:13 (song), Je 31:3; Ezr 7:28; 9:9 ψ 21:8; 31:17, 22; 32:10; 33:22; 36:8, 11; 42:9; 44:27; 48:10; 59:17; 66:20; 85:8; 90:14; 94:18; 107:8, 15, 21, 31; 143:8, 12; Jb 37:13; Ru 1:8; 2:20; men should trust in it ψ 13:6; 52:10; rejoice in it ψ 31:8; hope in it ψ 33:18; 147:11. b. in preservation of life from death ψ 6:5; 86:13 Jb 10:12. c. in quickening of spiritual life ψ 109:26; 119:41, 76, 88, 124, 149, 159. d. in redemption from sin ψ 25:7; 51:3. e. in keeping the covenants, with Abraham Mi 7:20; with Moses and Israel שׁמר הַבְּרִית וְ(הַ)חֶסֶד keepeth the covenant and the lovingkindness Dt 7:9, 12; 1 K 8:23 = 2 Ch 6:14, Ne 1:5; 9:32; Dn 9:4; with David and his dynasty 2 S 7:15 = 1 Ch 17:13, 2 S 22:51 = ψ 18:51, 1 K 3:6() = 2 Ch 1:8, ψ 89:29, 34; with the wife Zion Is 54:10. 2. חֶסֶד is grouped with other divine attributes: חסד ואמת kindness (lovingkindness) and fidelity Gn 24:27 (J), ψ 25:10; 40:11, 12; 57:4; 61:8; 85:11; 89:15; 115:1; 138:2; עשׂה ח׳ ואמת עם 2 S 2:6; 15:20 (𝔊, v. Dr); c. אֶת־ Gn 24:49; רַב ח׳ ואמת Ex 34:6 (JE), ψ 86:15; also || אמת Mi 7:20 ψ 26:3; 117:2; || אֱמוּנָה ψ 88:12; 89:3; 92:3; אמונה וח׳ ψ 89:25; ח׳ ואמונה ψ 98:3; || רחמים ψ 77:9; ח׳ ורחמים Je 16:5; Ho 2:21 ψ 103:4; ח׳ ומשׁפט Je 9:23 ψ 101:1; || צדקה ψ 36:11; טוב וח׳ ψ 23:6. 3. the kindness of God is a. abundant: רַב־חֶסֶד abundant, plenteous in kindness (goodness) Nu 14:18 (J), Ne 9:17 (Qr), Jo 2:13; Jon 4:2 ψ 86:5; 103:8 (cf. Ex 34:6 JE; ψ 86:15); רֹב חַסְדְּךָ Ne 13:22 ψ 5:8; 69:14; 106:7 (𝔊 𝔙 Aq 𝔗, to be preferred to MT חֲסָדֶיךָ); רֹב חֲסָדָו֯ La 3:32 ψ 106:45 (Kt 𝔊 in both to be preferred). b. great in extent: גֹּדֶל ח׳ greatness of thy mercy Nu 14:19 (J); גְּדָו֯ל־ח׳ ψ 145:8; it is kept for thousands Ex 34:7 (JE), Je 32:18, especially of those connected with lovers of י׳, Ex 20:6 = Dt 5:10; for 1000 generations Dt 7:9; it is great as the heavens ψ 57:11; 103:11, cf. 36:6; 108:5; the earth is full of it ψ 33:5; 119:64. c. everlasting: לעולם חסדוֹ Je 33:11; 1 Ch 16:34, 41; 2 Ch 5:13; 7:3, 6; 20:21; Ezr 3:11 ψ 100:5; 106:1; 107:1; 118:1, 2, 3, 4, 29; 136:1–26 (26 times); חסדךָ לעולם ψ 138:8; ח׳ מעולם ועד עולם ψ 103:17; ח׳ עולם Is 54:8; ח׳ אל כל היום ψ 52:3. d. good: כִּי־טוֹב חַסְדְּךָ ψ 69:17; 109:21; כי טוב חסדךָ מחיים ψ 63:4. 4. pl. mercies, deeds of kindness, the historic displays of lovingkindness to Israel: shewn to Jacob Gn 32:11 (R); but mostly late Is 63:7 ψ 25:6; 89:2; כְּרֹב חסדיו Is 63:7, see 3 a; promised in the Davidic covenant ψ 89:50; חַסְדֵי דָוִיד mercies to David Is 55:3; 2 Ch 6:42; mercies in general La 3:22 ψ 17:7; 107:43 f.—חֶסֶד in בן־ח׳ v. sub בֵּן. On Lv 20:17; Pr 14:34 v. II. חֶסֶד sub II. חסד.

Brown, Francis, Samuel Rolles Driver, and Charles Augustus Briggs. Enhanced Brown-Driver-Briggs Hebrew and English Lexicon 1977 : 338–339. Print.

Saturday, September 23, 2017

What Day of the Week did Jesus Die?

First we want to look at what the Scripture says.

John 19:14-15a
14 Now it was the day of Preparation of the Passover. It was about the sixth hour. He said to the Jews, “Behold your King!” 15 They cried out, “Away with him, away with him, crucify him!”

Image result for Passover

The day of preparation means the day you prepare, generally for the Sabbath.  Why do you need to prepare?  Becase on the following day, you can do no work, so if you want to eat, you make all your meals a day ahead of time.  John is here speaking of the day Jesus was crucified.  Was the day after the Crucifixion a Sabbath?

John 19:31
31 Since it was the day of Preparation, and so that the bodies would not remain on the cross on the Sabbath (for that Sabbath was a high day), the Jews asked Pilate that their legs might be broken and that they might be taken away.

Again, we have the detail of the preparation, and we have them taking the bodies off the crosses "so that the bodies would not remain on the cross on the Sabbath."   Couldn't they just take the bodies off tomorrow?  No, because obviously, tomorrow was the Sabbath.  But here, in 19:31, John gives us an extra detail:

"(for that Sabbath was a high day)"

Why mention this? Because not every Sabbath is a "high day."  there are some Sabbaths which are the weekly Sabbaths, and there are other Sabbaths which are "High Sabbaths."  What does the Scripture say?

Leviticus 23 designates seven days of the year as special Sabbaths, and these come to be called "High Sabbaths."

What's different about these Sabbaths?  They don't fall on a set day of the week.  For example,

Lev. 23:33-34
33 And the LORD spoke to Moses, saying, 34 “Speak to the people of Israel, saying, On the fifteenth day of this seventh month and for seven days is the Feast of Booths to the LORD.

That is, the Feast of Booths happens on a set day of the month.  Since the months do not always begin on the same day of the week, this and other High Sabbaths (which also have similar timings... a day of the month, rather than a day of the week) fall on different days of the week.

That means we can have a Sabbath day on a Wednesday or a Friday, or any other day of the week, and not on Saturday alone, during a Holy time.

John, in the verses above, tells us that Jesus was crucified on the day of preparation... the day before a Sabbath... and also that the following Sabbath was a "High Sabbath."

John 20:1
Now on the first day of the week Mary Magdalene came to the tomb early, while it was still dark, and saw that the stone had been taken away from the tomb.

Note, Mary didn't SEE Jesus be resurrected, she came after it had happened.   She came "on the first day of the week," and "while it was still dark."  That phrase is problematic, because we don't often get up before the sun.  Sunrise isn't like flipping a light switch... it's a gradual process.  So "while it was still dark" doesn't necessarily mean "before sunrise," it means before the sun had fully risen.

So, Jesus dies the day before a High Sabbath.  This isn't the weekly Sabbath.  Why not? Because John wouldn't have mentioned that it was a high Sabbath if it had also fallen on a weekly Sabbath.  He would have just said "The Sabbath."

And the women go to the tomb as soon as they possibly can to anoint the body for burial.  Why didn't they go before this?  Because both days were Sabbath days.

Now, lets assume that everything I've said above is wrong, and that Jesus was crucified on the day before the weekly Sabbath.  He would have been in the tomb

Friday NIGHT................ Saturday DAY
Saturday NIGHT..............and maybe part of Sunday day.

If we're exceptionally generous with the timing, we can suggest that he was in the tomb on Friday DAY, since they got Him buried before sundown, but that still gives us two days and two nights.

But Jesus said He would be in the tomb "three days and three nights."

Matthew 12:40
"For just as Jonah was three days and three nights in the belly of the great fish, so will the Son of Man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth."  

Is this three FULL days and three FULL nights?

What does the scripture say?

Matthew 17:22-23
22 As they were gathering in Galilee, Jesus said to them, “The Son of Man is about to be delivered into the hands of men, 23 and they will kill him, and he will be raised on the third day.” And they were greatly distressed. 

So He will be raised ON the third day, not after it.  So we don't need to worry about three full days.

Let us suppose, then, that Friday was the High Sabbath (of Passover) and that Saturday was the weekly Sabbath.

That means Jesus would have been crucified on a Thurdsday.

That gets us
Thursday NIGHT........ Friday DAY
Friday NIGHT........Saturday DAY
Saturday NIGHT...... and part of Sunday DAY, since He was raised ON the third day.

The problem with the Christian church is that it reads that Jesus was crucified on the day before the Sabbath, and since we don't study the Old Testament, we don't realize that Saturday wasn't always the only Sabbath.  So we institute our "Good Friday" services and our "Easter Sunday" services and think that we can ignore the promise of three days and three nights.

If we understand our Old Testament, though, we see how the scripture lines up perfectly.

We don't have to look at what Jesus said in Matthew 12:40 and say "Oh, He didn't mean that, He meant something else."

Monday, September 18, 2017

Why Are All Persons of Equal Worth?

Image result for adam first man on earthוַיִּבְרָ֨א אֱלֹהִ֤ים׀ אֶת־הָֽאָדָם֙ בְּצַלְמ֔וֹ בְּצֶ֥לֶם אֱלֹהִ֖ים בָּרָ֣א אֹת֑וֹ זָכָ֥ר וּנְקֵבָ֖ה בָּרָ֥א אֹתָֽם׃

      So God created man in his own image, 
      in the image of God he created him; 
      male and female he created them.

This is why people are all equal.  This is why every person on earth has sacred worth.  Because they are all made in the image of God.

What does it mean to be made in the image of God?  Since God is a spirit, and a spirit does not have flesh and bones, it cannot mean God's physical image.

We have a clue, however, in this:  No other animals in the creation story were made in the image of God.  Only people.  So what is the major difference between people and animals?

Moral agency.

When a new lion pack leader kills the cubs of the previous pack leader, even though they are still cubs, we do not hold him guilty of murder.

But if a man murders children, we do hold him guilty of murder.

The man has moral agency... he is morally responsible for his actions.

That is the Image of God.  What makes us human is that we are responsible.

Now, one theological objection to my premise might be this:  Adam and Eve were made in the image of God, but Cain and Able (and Seth, and all the rest) were made in the image of their parents.

But Genesis 9:6 makes a blanket statement:

      “Whoever sheds the blood of man, 
      by man shall his blood be shed, 
                  for God made man in his own image. 

Now, capital punishment issues aside, this verse makes a blanket statement, after the flood of Noah, regarding the worth of human beings, and giving a reason for it:  All humans are of the same worth because they are all made in the image of God.

One weak objection to this would be that it only speaks of "man," not woman.  But the Hebrew word there translated as "man" is "אָדָם" (adam) which refers to both men and women.  It is the same word used in Genesis 1:27 above, which calls both "male and female" by this word.

The important question here, then, is this:  If we jettison the Torah, if we jettison the "Image of God" concept, what basis do we have for declaring that all people are equal?  A word of warning:  Simply stating "All people are equal" is not an argument... it is a statement.  What is the foundation upon which it is made, if not God?

Tuesday, August 29, 2017

The Bible and Science

"Science" has already disproven the Bible.  Let me explain why I am still a Christian:

In the 1820s, an archaeological dig in Babylon discovered that, beyond any doubt, Nebuchadnezzar was NOT the king of Babylon during the Babylonian exile.... His brother was.  There was no way to resolve it, the matter was settled.  The Bible was wrong.

90 years later, further archaeological digs in the same area discovered that, while Nebuchadnezzar's brother was, indeed, King, he spent most of his time out of state, leaving his brother as the vassal King.  Armed with this knowledge, we then look at Daniel 5:29, where Nebuchadnezzar promotes Daniel to "third highest" in the kingdom, and it suddenly makes sense... Nebuchadnezzar himself was second highest.

The Bible was right all along, but for 90 years, the world had "solid, incontrovertible evidence" that the Bible had a factual error in it.  If you were a Christian at that time, and you were aware of this error, would you have abandoned your faith?  Would that have been the right thing to do?  

"Science" is never 'fixed.'  The "Science" is never "settled."  The moment it becomes settled, it ceases to be science and becomes Dogma.  GOOD science says this:  EVERYTHING is up for debate.  And always will be.  

Given the facts, then, if the Bible were "absolutely proven false by science," I'm going to stick with my faith.  Because even if none of the Bible is true, even if God doesn't exist and Jesus never lived, Christianity is still a great way to go through life.  

But I am personally convinced that Christianity is True, and that Jesus is alive.