The desert cross

A little gem from the book of Numbers chapters 1 and 2.
Reading these chapters can be a little like reading genealogies, a little tiresome and a tendency to rush through or even skip over them. However, the numbers listed here reveal an interesting image.
Rather than go through a wordy explanation, and draw a diagram that would have to be scanned and uploaded, I’ve opted to let Chuck Missler explain all in this short video. Chuck does mumble a bit in places, but the important information is clear enough.

On the recent Hamas/Israel conflict

You will have heard that Hamas recently fired a missile into Israel, causing damage to a civilian house and some minor injuries. Israel retaliated in her usual fashion with significant air strikes into Gaza. Fortunately, due to advance warning and precision strikes, there was no loss of life. This has been followed by a show of force at the border involving heavy artillery. It seems that neither side want an escalation at this time. In Israel’s case, this is considered to be political because of upcoming elections; not a good time for Israel to suffer any loss of life in combat.
Many are critical of what is considered to be Israel’s over reaction to any action against her, with some wondering if these really are God’s chosen people who are the subject of God’s promises to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.
Ezekiel 36:22-38 speaks of Israel’s restoration. The first says “Therefore say unto the house of Israel, Thus saith the Lord GOD; I do not this for your sakes, O house of Israel, but for mine holy name’s sake, which ye have profaned among the heathen, whither ye went.”
Note: “I do not do this for your sakes”.
Before the Israelites entered the Promised Land, Moses said to them “Not for thy righteousness, or for the uprightness of thine heart, dost thou go to possess their land: but for the wickedness of these nations the LORD thy God doth drive them out from before thee, and that he may perform the word which the LORD sware unto thy fathers, Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.” [Deu 9:5].
Note: “Not for thy righteousness, or for the uprightness of thine heart,”
Different times; similar sentiments.
Many times Israel have not kept God’s ordinances and commandments. However, we need to remember that at the End Times, God will keep His promise and His people will be restored. At which time God says:
“A new heart also will I give you, and a new spirit will I put within you: and I will take away the stony heart out of your flesh, and I will give you an heart of flesh.
“And I will put my spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes, and ye shall keep my judgments, and do them.
“And ye shall dwell in the land that I gave to your fathers; and ye shall be my people, and I will be your God.”
[Ezekiel 36:26-28, KJV]

The structure of Genesis

I don’t think my coming to faith was by any of the usual means, prompted, as it was, by the realisation that Genesis had a structure to it supported by archaeology. There’s nothing new in this – I came across it many years ago – but I thought it would be of interest as few people seem to know about it.
There are a number of phrases in Genesis known as toledoth statements, or colophons, which are ‘title’ sentences to the toledoths. The Hebrew term toledoth is generally translated generations in the King James Bible. We come across this several times in Genesis, marking major divisions in the Genesis record.
Here is a full list from the King James:

These are the generations of the heavens and of the earth when they were created…. (Gen. 2:4a)
This is the book of the generations of Adam.…. (Gen. 5:1a)
These are the generations of Noah: (Gen. 6:9a)
Now these are the generations of the sons of Noah, Shem, Ham, and Japheth: and unto them were sons born after the flood. (Gen. 10:1)
These are the families of the sons of Noah, after their generations, in their nations: (Gen. 10:32a)
These are the generations of Shem: (Gen. 11:10a)
Now these are the generations of Terah: (Gen. 11:27a)
Now these are the generations of Ishmael, Abraham’s son, whom Hagar the Egyptian, Sarah’s handmaid, bare unto Abraham: (Gen. 25:12)
And these are the generations of Isaac, Abraham’s son: (Gen. 25:19a)
Now these are the generations of Esau, who is Edom. (Gen. 36:1)
And these are the generations of Esau the father of the Edomites in mount Seir: (Gen. 36:9)
These are the generations of Jacob. (Gen. 37:2a)

There is some discussion over the placing of some of the colophons, but there is no doubt there is a structure in Genesis supporting the fact that Moses compiled Genesis from records in his possession.
More information is readily available on the Internet by searching ‘toledoth’.

Are we individually created by God?

You may have heard people say we are all created by God, or, someone who has a problem he or she can’t overcome say: God made me this way; He should accept the way I am.
A verse often used to support this is Jeremiah 1:5 –
“Before I formed thee in the belly I knew thee; and before thou camest forth out of the womb I sanctified thee.”
Here are three reasons why I have trouble accepting we are all individually created.
1. The flippant reason
I have a complaint. If God created me, why am I not perfect?
2. The emotional reason
Try telling the parents of a seriously handicapped child with a very short life expectancy that God created that child for them.
3. The factual reason
Genesis 5:3 says we aren’t –
“And Adam lived an hundred and thirty years, and begat a son in his own likeness, after his image; and called his name Seth:”
There is only one way to interpret this verse: God did not create Seth; he was the product of his parents, Adam and Eve. This is exactly how we understand the law of biogenesis today. This is an emphatic, unambiguous statement with no possibility of interpreting it any other way.
As there cannot be a contradiction in what God says, when we come across scripture that appears to disagree with Gen 5:3 we have to try and understand what it really means, or put it in that file named “I don’t know the answer yet”.
So, what about Jeremiah 1:5.
In this case, I believe it’s quite simple. God is speaking to Jeremiah, not us, and is telling Jeremiah He created him and raised him to be a prophet. The remainder of verse three supports that: “and I ordained thee a prophet unto the nations.”
Psalm 139:13,14 is another commonly quoted scripture:
“For thou hast possessed my reins: thou hast covered me in my mother’s womb. I will praise thee; for I am fearfully and wonderfully made: marvellous are thy works; and that my soul knoweth right well.”
It seems to me that the psalmist is simply praising God for the wonder of His design of procreation that creates a new life.
However, Psalm 119:73 is more problematic as the psalmist specifically said that God made him.
“Your hands have made me and formed me; give me understanding so that I may learn Your Commandments.”
Consequently, I’m having to put 119:73 in that file: “I don’t know the answer yet”.
Is anyone able to reconcile Genesis 5:3 with Psalm 119:73 ?

Which Bible version do you use?

This question has been prompted by recent articles referring to the misuse of Jeremiah 29:11, now, apparently, a favourite verse.

In two articles I’ve read, the quote is from the NIV:

“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”

However, the KJV says:

For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, saith the LORD, thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to give you an expected end.

Other more literal translations are similar.

Dr Irene Lancaster, in her short article at christiantoday.com, says: ” … there is no word for ‘plan’ in the Hebrew Bible. The Hebrew word used means ‘thoughts’ – no more and no less. ‘Prosper’ is also a flight of fancy.”

@RevMarkWoods, also writing for christiannews.com, says:
“[Jeremiah 29:11 has] been described as one of the most misused verses in the Bible. Originally a promise to Israel of restoration after years in exile in Babylon, it’s now used as a feel-good affirmation that ‘God has a plan for our lives’ and that everything works out for the best in the best of all possible worlds. This is a long way from Jeremiah’s intention – and a long way from real biblical exegesis, which doesn’t support the idea that God has our futures mapped out for us.
“At its worst, Jeremiah’s verse helps people avoid responsibility for their own choices. It’s a comfort blanket, enabling people to feel that whatever they do – how hard they work, whether they study, whether they work at a marriage or a relationship or a church – doesn’t really matter, because it’s all part of God’s plan.
“And that’s not really how it works. The Bible is clear that the world is a place of moral effort, of responsibility. We aren’t to tempt God by leaving everything to him: he’s given us choices. Yes, we can rely on his guidance and his care for us, but he still expects us to choose well.”

The misuse comes from lifting a more liberal translation of the verse out of context; common, I would suggest, for prosperity and feel-good preachers.

So, does that make the NIV a bad translation? I wouldn’t rubbish the NIV; I used it extensively when involved in a local Bible study group. However, it does show the need for having more than one Bible version available (which I did), with at least one of them being a more literal translation.

Sinéad O’Connor converts to Islam

Re:BBC online, 26th October 2018.

In this article it is said her decision was “the natural conclusion of any intelligent theologian’s journey”. What utter nonsense. I would suggest any ‘intelligent theologian’s journey’ would take them in the opposite direction!

Islam 101

The linked file is a PDF version of ‘Islam 101’ that can be found in a few places as internet pages. The title page describes it’s purpose:
“Islam 101 is meant to help people become better educated about the fundamentals of Islam and to help the more knowledgeable better convey the facts to others.”
It is, in my view, essential reading to understand what is behind the threat of Islam that faces the West.
‘Islam 101’ can be read here: http://bit.ly/2pYlPDD
Please read and share.

Quran …. fight; Bible …. love

I saw this verse from the Quran in a Facebook post this morning …
Quran 4:74 “Let those (believers) who sell the life of this world for the Hereafter fight in the Cause of Allah, and whoso fights in the Cause of Allah, and is killed or gets victory, We shall bestow on him a great reward.”
It reminded me of this verse from the Bible …
Mat 5:44 “But I say to you, Love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who despitefully use you and persecute you”