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August 19 2016 6 19 /08 /August /2016 20:58
How salty are you?

“Salt is good; but if salt has lost its taste, how can its saltines be restored? It is fit neither for the soil nor the manure pile; they throw it away” – Luke 14:34-35

NRSV

When I think of salt, I think of the time I had made a cake where I had completely forgotten to add the salt. When I realized that I had forgotten the salt, my cake was already in the oven. I was hoping that the other major ingredients, such as the sugar, would help my struggling cake. Sadly, the sugar alone did not help my cake; it was bland and had no taste. I wanted to throw out my cake, which I hate doing when one considers the cost and time it took out of my day to make a cake. Salt is very important! It gives things taste and brings out the seasonings of other ingredients. Ingredients that would normally be dull on their own are given a whole new meaning with just a little salt. As disciples of Christ, could we be considered to be God’s ongoing cake recipe? God is in the process of molding us into the image He had always intended for humans through the example of His son. In order to make a good cake, God gives us time in order to become His perfect cake. I can somehow see how God must feel when He puts time and effort into individuals (because He can see their potential) who don’t turn into a wonderful cake. He must feel disappointed sometimes with us. Only He knows who must be thrown out because they lack certain ingredients or they have too many impurities which prevents them from being a disciple of Christ.

 

When I first read this passage, I thought of the church. Interestingly, the NRSV Study Bible makes a comment about salt. It says that this passage is “a warning against lackadaisical discipleship. “Lackadaisical” means to lack enthusiasm and thoroughness. The Study Bible continues to say that “Ancient salt was not pure sodium chloride, so the other material in the salt could go bad and cause the salt to be no good.” After I read this interesting note on this passage, I thought about how the other materials in the salt can make the salt go bad. Could Christ be referring to how we as disciples can make ourselves “go bad” because of the other materials that can influence us in our daily lives? We must be reminded of “Evil company corrupts good habits” (1 Cor15:33). It is important to be constantly reflecting on all outside influences and comparing its value system with that Bible, otherwise, those bad influences may affect our salvation. Israel had been punished and exiled to Babylon for mixing the God of Israel with the surrounding pagan gods. The value systems of those pagan gods were not the same as the God of Israel. Solomon in all of his great wisdom, amassed great wealth, wives and concubines from the pagan nations around Israel. Solomon’s wives (or company) turned his heart from following the true God (1 K11:1-8). Could Solomon have lost his saltiness? Will he be found amongst those at the first resurrection of those in Christ at Christ’s return? We will not know, however, believers can lose their salvation (Heb10:26-29; 2Pet2:20-22).

 

There is the possibility that believers can lose their saltiness and it is possible that is cannot be restored. Work out your own salvation with fear and trembling (Phi2:12). We must look at ourselves first and then decide if we have any unhealthy influences that may make us lose our saltiness. We must also look at our church. Is there any “material” that may prevent us from becoming more holy? How do church members speak of one another or even to those outside of the church? The bible says we should “speak evil of no one, to be peaceable, gentle, showing humility to all men” (Titus 3:2). It also says we should humbly correct others (2Tim2:25) and expose unfruitful works of darkness (Eph5:11). Find out what is “acceptable to the Lord” (Eph5:10) and do not lose your “saltiness.” In other words, do not lose your enthusiasm and thoroughness for the Word of God. Let’s be enthusiastic for God’s word and thorough for true doctrine that will give us peace, length of days and long life (Pro3:2). Pure salt gives us and others the strength to leave behind negative ways of thinking and acting that are not healthy to our spiritual and physical lives. We are the “salt of the earth” (Mt 5:13) to a dying world. We can give this world hope for a better life now and in the future, but only if we are truly salty. May God grant us the vision to throw away the things that can make us lose our saltiness.

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July 28 2016 5 28 /07 /July /2016 06:34
The Eye is the lamp of the body

"Your eye is the lamp of your body. If your eye is healthy, your whole body is full of light; but if it is not healthy, your body is full of darkness" (Luke 11:34).

Bible (NRSV)

I think as I reflect on this passage today, it reminds me of many other passages that focus on overall wholesome holiness for the physical and spiritual body. "Be holy for I am holy" (1 Pet.1:15) taken from Leviticus 11:44 just after God explains what foods are clean for consumption and unclean for consumption. Peter uses this passage in Leviticus to describe how believers should be holy in their conduct and to not conform to "former lusts." The eye is a very special and powerful organ; it can cause us to sin, however it is not the only organ of course involved in the various sins of this world. Jesus says that "if your right eye causes you to sin, pluck it out and cast it from you; for it is more profitable for you that one of your members perish, than for your whole body to be cast into hell" (Matt. 5:29). Jesus also talks of cutting off the right hand as well, which should make everyone sit up straight in their chairs. Why would Jesus suggest something so extreme? Jesus wouldn't in fact ask me to literally pluck out my eyes and cut off my hand? It is not the actual eye, but the thing that is causing my eye to sin. The cause is the thing that I must cut in order to have a more powerful and fulfilling relationship with God the Father.

The eye is powerful; we use it to see our world and the various things that are in our world either for good or for bad. It must be said that if we didn't have eyes, we wouldn't know what we would be missing, however, God gave us eyes to see our world. Could God have known that humans would use their eyes to lust, to greed, or to think evil thought? I believe that it would be harder to lust after something that we can't see, however, these thoughts begin with the heart whether we have eyes or not (Matt.15:19). I believe that in the beginning, God made Adam and Eve perfect. They didn't know that they were naked, therefore, they could not use their eyes to lust after each other. It was only until after they ate of the fruit of the tree of good and evil did they see that they were naked and felt ashamed. Why the shame unless it was not because of evil thoughts for one another? Therefore, we are capable of seeing with our eyes in a healthy manner because the first humans were capable before the fall. We can look at our world without desiring everything we see because God has given us His laws and Christ, the light of the world to help us overcome. We can use our eyes to say that something is evil or good, healthy spiritually or physically for our body. Our eye is the first organ to start an alarm system, such as "Hey, be careful." If our eyes are unhealthy or bad, our eyes won't give us that first warning before the sickness of sin moves onto another part of the body to make our body sicker and sicker. Our iniquities can separate us from God, so that He will not hear our prayers (Is.59:1-2). If our eyes are healthy, the whole body is healthy. It is the same for the body of Christ; if one member suffers, we all suffer (1 Cor.12:14-17). Every part of the body of Christ is important.

Therefore, are we using our first defence organ properly? Are we listening to what our eye has to tell us? Healthy eyes will make for a healthy body. The eye is the lamp of our body and it must "shine before men, so that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven" (Matt. 5:16). The health of our body is dependent on our eyes. How does our body reflect the health of our eye? Does our body have self-inflicted marks? If our body does have self-inflicted marks, reflect on why you decided to place marks on your body. Does our body partake of ungodly activities or pleasures? Does our body have addictions that we cannot cut? Reflection on God’s word and prayer can help us to truly see the spiritual health of our bodies and lives. If we are willingly, God will open doors in order to help us escape our addictions, but first, let us first examine our eyes in order to determine the overall health of our body!

Published by Sabbath Keeper - in Devotion
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April 24 2014 5 24 /04 /April /2014 20:16

There is different ways to translate Psalm 45:6 and to understand Hebrews 1:8 in connection with this Old Testament passage as a result. This can be seen in the picture below, a screenshot from five different translations and their footnotes taken from Bible Gateway. 


Psalm 45-6

 



Hebrews 1:8 is not about the Messiah (or Christ), Yeshua, being God at all. This is about the Davidic king sitting on God's throne. Remember, this an excerpt from Psalm 45:6.

Yes, the KJV renders it as "Thy throne, O God, is for ever and ever: the sceptre of thy kingdom is a right sceptre" (Psalm 45:6). But as written in the Cambridge Bible for Schools and Colleges:





"In view of these difficulties it is necessary to consider whether the words are correctly translated. Various other renderings have been proposed, taking Elohim as the subject or predicate of the clause instead of as a vocative. (a) God is thy throne: i.e. thy kingdom is founded upon God. In support of this are quoted such phrases as “Jehovah is my refuge and my fortress” (Psalm 91:2), or, “The eternal God is thy dwelling-place” (Deuteronomy 33:27). But the expression, to say the least, would be a strange one. (b) Thy throne is God, i.e. divine. But though Hebrew uses substantives as predicates in a way which our idiom does not allow, this particular instance seems scarcely admissible. (c) Thy throne [is the throne of] God (R.V. marg.). It is a disputed point whether this rendering is grammatically legitimate; but good authorities decide in the affirmative. It gives an excellent sense, and if the text is to be retained is the most satisfactory explanation of it. The theocratic king occupied the earthly throne of Jehovah as His representative (1 Chronicles 28:5; 1 Chronicles 29:23), ruling by His power (1 Kings 3:28), and in His Name; and the justice of this king’s government (6 b, 7) stamps him as a worthy representative of Jehovah." 

 


Jesus Christ is not God and never was, but he is the Messiah, appointed by God in the kingly office of ruler on God's behalf.


 

Praise be to God, His Father and Our Father.


In Jesus Christ's name.

Published by Sabbath Keeper - in Trinité -Trinity
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April 2 2014 4 02 /04 /April /2014 19:26

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Published by Sabbath Keeper - in Events-Évènements
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December 12 2013 5 12 /12 /December /2013 23:07

Hebrew Yahveh

 

If you’ve ever ventured to do any sort of Biblical research or so much as looked up a word in a concordance, you’ve more than likely stumbled upon the Hebrew word elohim (אלהים). There is a great deal of misinformation being spread about this word. The goal of this article is to clear up the confusion about elohim and reveal its origin, meaning, and usage in the Hebrew Scriptures.

 

For those who don’t have the slightest clue what elohim means, we will start by defining it according to the Strong’s Concordance:

 

Strong’s H430 – אֱלֹהִים

 

[1] (plural)

a)rulers, judges

b)divine ones

c)angels

d)gods

[2] (plural intensive – singular meaning)

a)god, goddess

b)godlike one

c)works or special possessions of God

d)the (true) God

e)God

 

As you can see, elohim is used of everything from false gods to mighty men, but most often it is used of YHWH, the God of Yisra’el. It is the plural form of eloah (אֱלוֹהַּ) and makes its debut in the Hebrew Bible in Genesis 1:1, which reads:

 

Literal English: In-beginning he-created God, the-heavens and the-earth.

 

In this verse (and many others) elohim is modified by a singular verb (this case, bara). Due to this fact, a myriad of Trinitarian apologists have used this as an argument for their erroneous assumption that YHWH is “3 in 1. Their all-time favorite “proof text” for this argument is Genesis 1:26which reads:

 

Then God said, ‘Let usmake man in ourimage, after ourlikeness…’

 

Since elohim refers to himself in the plural “us” and “our”, Trinitarians jump to the conclusion that there must be a plurality in YHWH, thus proving the trinity to be true. This, however, shows how ignorant they are of the Hebrew language. No Hebrew grammarian would dare make such an asinine claim! YHWH is refered to over 20,000 times in the Tanakh with singular pronouns. Not to mention the hundreds of passages speaking of the uniqueness of YHWH (there are too many to quote here) and most importantly, the Sh’ma (Deuteronomy 6:4).

 

The passages which YHWH elohim speaks of himself in plural number a measly four. That’s right, only four. Those are: Genesis 1:26, 3:22, 11:7, and Isaiah 6:8. Although, YHWH is not the only singular being in Scripture to have been given a title of plurality. Here are a few examples among many:


1. Behemoth (plural of behemah, “beast”) is modified by the singular verb yokhalhe eats” in Job 40:15. Behemoth, though plural, is one creature and an extremely mighty creature at that (Job 40:16-24).

 

2. King Artaxerxes of Persia, in his follow-up letter to the Jews, said “the letter which you sent to us has been plainly read before me” (Ezra 4:18). Artaxerxes is one man, a mighty man, a king.

 

3. YHWH said to Mosheh, “I will make you a god to Pharaoh” in Exodus 7:1. The word for “god” is elohim. Mosheh was a man, not an army, yet he was given the title of elohim.

 

4. The father if the Hittites called Avraham his lord (adoni) and elohim (mighty one) in Genesis 23:6. Was Avraham more than one? No.

 

5. The pagan deities Ba’al, Dagon, and Chemosh are all called elohim (Judges 6:31, 1 Samuel 5:7, Judges 11:24), though we know they are individually only one god, not a pantheon or “Godhead”.

 

This concept of assigning a plural pronoun such as “we” to a single entity is the “Majestic Plural”. It is used to ascribe glory and honor to the one (or thing) to which it is mentioning. Not only is it used of mighty beasts, kings, and gods, but it’s also used of non-sentient nouns. One example is Genesis 4:10. When Cain slew Abel, the Hebrew literally says “your brother’s bloods cry up from the ground”. This is to show the severity of Cain’s actions. Likewise, in Ezekiel 25 YHWH says that because the Philistines took vengeance (verse 15) he will execute vengeance upon them (verse 17). However, YHWH’s vengeance in verse 17 is plural; denoting that the vengeances he inflicts will be much more severe and complete.

 

The renowned Hebraist, Wilhelm Gesenius remarked in page 399 of his work Gesenius’ Hebrew Grammar concerning the Majestic Plural:

 

That the language has entirely rejected the idea of numerical plurality in אֱלֹהִים(whenever it denotes one God), is proved especially by its being almost invariably joined with a singular attribute (cf. § I32 h), e.g. אֱלֹהִים צַדִּֽיק ψ 710, &c. Hence אֱלֹהִים may have been used originally not only as a numerical but also as an abstract plural (corresponding to the Latin numen, and our Godhead), and, like other abstracts of the same kind, have been transferred to a concrete single god (even of the heathen).”

 

There you have it. Whenever elohim is referring to a singular God (e.g. YHWH) it is abundantly clear that the idea of there being a plurality or a “uni-plurality” (as the Trinitarians put it) is totally foreign to the Hebrew language. Such claims are merely cheap tactics meant to circumvent and explain away the text rather than address it head on. So once again the central truth of Scripture stands firm:

 

Listen Yisra’el! YHWH your God, YHWH is ONE.


Isaiah 43:10 - You are My witnesses, declares יהוה, And My servant whom I have chosen, so that you know and believe Me, and understand that I am He. Before Me there was no El formed, nor after Me there is none.

Published by Sabbath Keeper - in Trinité -Trinity
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December 12 2013 5 12 /12 /December /2013 22:09

Hebrew Yahveh

 

Sh’ma Yisra’el YHWH eloheinu YHWH echad.

Listen Israel! YHWH your God, YHWH is one.

 

This verse, Deuteronomy 6:4 is the central creed of Judaism and the most important commandment according to our Messiah Yeshua (Jesus Christ) (Read Mark 12:28-29). There has been a great deal of controversy surrounding this verse ever since the Binity (later the Trinity) became the accepted Christology in Christendom in the 3rd century AD.

 

The point of contention is the Hebrew word echad. Binitarians, Trinitarians and Modalists alike argue that the Hebrew word echad, in this immediate context, denotes a “uni-plurality” (multiple personas in one entity), but is this truth or merely biased assumption? For clarity’s sake, we will examine the hundreds of occurrences of echad in the Torah (around 400 in all) and the many ways they are used in the Hebrew text.

 

This is what we read in the entry for echad found in Genesius’ Hebrew and Chaldee Lexicon:

 

Echad-part-1.png

Echad-part-2.png

Echad-part-3.png

 

Below you will find listed and will be given a link to every verse in the Torah that contains the word echad.  Each verse is color coded to match its function and usage in the Hebrew text. Since the numerical usages of echad are vast and self-explanatory, we will be focusing primarily on the few verses left to interpretation by Binitarians, Trinitarians and Modalists.

 

Legend:

Echad as an ordinal

Echad as a numeral

Echad as a unity

Questionable

 

Genesis 1:5, 9, 2:11, 21, 24, 3:22, 4:19, 8:5, 13, 10:25, 11:1, 6, 19:9, 21:15, 22:2, 26:10, 27:38, 44-45, 29:20, 32:8, 22, 33:13, 34:16, 22, 37:9, 20, 40:5, 41:5, 11, 22, 25-26, 42:11, 13, 16, 19, 27, 32-33, 44:28, 48:22, 49:16.

 

Exodus 1:15, 8:31, 9:6-7, 10:19, 11:1, 12:18, 46, 49, 14:28, 16:22, 33, 17:12, 18:3-4, 23:29, 24:3, 25:12, 19, 32-33, 36, 26:2, 4-6, 8, 10-11, 16-17, 19, 21, 24-26, 27:9, 28:10, 17, 29:1, 3, 15, 23, 39-40, 30:10, 33:5, 36:9-13, 15, 18, 21-22, 24, 26, 29-31, 37:3, 8, 18-19, 22, 39:10, 40:2, 17.

 

Leviticus 4:2, 13, 22, 27, 5:4-5, 7, 13, 17, 6:3, 7, 7:7, 14, 8:26, 12:8, 13:2, 14:5, 10, 12, 21-22, 30-31, 50, 15:15, 30, 16:5, 8, 34, 22:28, 23:18-19, 24, 24:5, 22, 48, 26:26.

 

Numbers 1:1, 18, 41, 44, 2:16, 28, 6:11, 14, 19, 7:3, 11, 13-16, 19-22, 25-28, 31-34, 37-40, 43-46, 49-52, 55-58, 61-64, 67-70, 73-76, 79-82, 85, 8:12, 9:14, 10:4, 11:19, 26, 13:2, 23, 14:15, 15:5, 11-12, 15-16, 24, 27, 29, 16:15, 22, 17:3, 6, 28:4, 7, 11-13, 15, 19, 21-22, 27-30, 29:1-2, 4-5, 8-11, 14-16, 19, 22, 25, 28, 31, 3436, 38, 31:28, 30, 34, 39, 47, 33:38, 34:18, 35:30, 36:3, 8.

 

Deuteronomy 1:2-3, 23, 4:42, 6:4, 12:14, 13:12, 15:7, 16:5, 17:2, 6, 18:6, 19:5, 11, 15, 21:15, 23:1624:5, 25:5, 11, 28:7, 25, 55, 32:30.

 

Each one of the verses listed in blue uses echad as the numeral one or eleven (one + ten), so there’s no point in splitting hairs over them. Similarly, the green verses use echad as the ordinal one (i.e., first), which cannot possibly denote a unity. The orange verses use echad ambiguously, while the red verses clearly denote a unified whole; these last two groups will be the subject of our investigation.

 

Genesis 2:24

So, as we see, there is no other Elohim (Mighty One) aside from YHWH. He is the only true Elohim, aside from him there is no other. Notice the constant usage of singular pronouns (I, he, himme). YHWH only refers to himself in plural pronouns when he is speaking to his malakhim (angels) (Genesis 1:26, 3:22, 11:7; Isaiah 6:8), every other time (about 20,000 times) he refers to himself in singular pronouns. And the reason for it is that he is one and ONLY one. That is the plain and simple reading of the text. Other explanations have to bypass the text and ignore the grammar altogether.


Genesis 29:14, Judges 9:2, and 2 Samuel 19:12 all use basar (בשר) to mean one’s kindred or flesh and bone. The Trinitarian assumption is that if man and woman are echad in marriage, therefore three beings can all be echad, yet still maintain independently the attributes of each being “fully God” without being three gods.


The problem with this line of reasoning is that man and woman, though echad in purpose, are still two separate beings. A husband is not his wife and vice-versa. Husband and wife are neither “co-equal” nor “co-eternal”. They are one family. A man and woman come together to make a child, which is their flesh and bone.

 

Genesis 11:1

What do we know from this verse? At one point in time everyone spoke the same language, not a “uni-plurality” of languages. Otherwise, verse 7 makes no sense. You simply can’t confuse their language if they speak different languages.

 

Genesis 11:6

Here YHWH is speaking to his malakhim (messengers or angels) about those building the tower at Babel. The people are am echad(one people) united in purpose and are of shaphah achat (one lip), meaning that they speak one language, not a unified multiplicity of languages. Therefore, YHWH says to his malakhim in the next verse: “Come, let us go down, and there confuse their language”. They spoke one singular language. There are some who would use the “us” of verse 7 to support a belief in a “uni-plural Godhead,” when it is instead a majestic plural.

 

Genesis 27:44

Here again echad has the masculine plural imsuffix. Contrary to popular belief, this does not make echad plural. Once again, this is a majestic plural; a numerically plural noun receives a plural suffix, verb, and adjective. Since yom (day) in this verse is in the plural form and echad (one) modifies yamim, therefore echadmust take on the plural suffix.

 

Genesis 29:20

The same principle holds true for this verse. Echadim(ones) is modifying k‘yamim (as-days); As Gesenius noted: This grammatical structure is equivalent to “a few days”. A grammatically plural adjective is modifying a plural noun.

 

Genesis 34:16

After Shechem the Hivite raped Jacob’s daughter Dinah (Genesis 34:1-2), the sons of Jacob deceitfully agreed to a treaty of sorts with S’khem and his people (Genesis 34:13-16); that, if they would all receive circumcision then Jacob and his people would dwell therein with Shechem and become l’am echad (one people). In context, this is not a “uni-plurality”, rather numerically one (Genesis 34:20-23). In layman’s terms, they would assimilate into one another, making a new nation.

 

Exodus 24:3

This is one of only three times in the Torah that echadis unambiguously used as a unified whole. However, it does not indicate a literal unity in persons, rather a unity in voice. For, “all the people answered with one voice, and said, ‘All the words which YHWH has spoken we will do’ ”. Each person had their own mouth and their own tongue, and they were not speaking with one mouth and one tongue.

 

Exodus 26:11

YHWH commands Moses to make fifty bronze clasps, to put the clasps into the loops, and to “couple the tent together that it may be one.” This is clearly not a quantity, rather a literal unified whole. Although it is not “uni-plural”, because the two curtains are to literally become one giant, interconnected curtain.

 

Deuteronomy 6:4

Finally, we come to the central verse for which this word study revolves around. The question is, does the word echad leave room for a “uni-plurality” or should we understand it to be an absolute singularity? Seeing that only 3 of about 300 or more verses in Torah clearly denote a unity, it would no doubt be a stretch of imagination to believe this echadto mean a “uni-plurality”, much less a trinity.

In fact, there is a great number of verses from the Tanakh that show the clear, absolute, and indisputable singularity of YHWH:

 

Deuteronomy 32:12

Literally: YHWH alone he-is-guiding-him and-there-is-no with-him El-of foreigner.

  

Deuteronomy 32:39

Literally: see-you! now that I, I he and-there-is-no Elohim with-me I, I-am-putting-to-death and-I-am-making-alive I-transfixed and-I, I-shall-heal and-there-is-no from-hand-of-me one-rescuing.

 

2 Kings 19:19

Literally: and-now YHWH Elohim-of-us save-you-us! please! from-hand-of-him and-they-shall-know all-of kingdoms-of the-earth that you YHWH Elohim to-alone-of-you.

 

Isaiah 43:10-11

Literally: you witnesses-of-me averment-of YHWH and-servant-of-me whom I-choose so-that you-shall-know and-you-shall-believe to-me and-you-shall-understand that I he to-faces-of-me not he-was-formed El and-after-me not he-shall become. I, I YHWH and-there-is-no from-apart-from-me one-saving.

  

Isaiah 44:6,8

Literally: thus he-says YHWH king-of Israel and-one-redeeming-of-him YHWH-of hosts I first and-I last and-from-apart-from-me there-is-no Elohim. Must-not-be you-are-being-afraid and-must-not-be you-are-fearing ?-not from-then I-announced-you and-I-told and-you witnesses-of-me ?-there-is Eloah from-apart-from-me and-there-is-no rock no I-know.

  

Isaiah 45:21-22

Literally: tell-you! and-bring-close-you! indeed they-shall-be-consulted together who-? he-announced this from-aforetime from-then he-told-her ?-not I YHWH and-there-is-no further Elohim from-apart-from-me El righteous and-one-saving there-is-no except-me. Face-about-you! to-me and-be-saved-you! all-of limits-of earth that I El and-there-is-no further.

 

Hosea 13:4

Literally: And-I YHWH Elohim-of-you from-land-of Egypt and-Elohim except-me not you-shall-know and-one-saving there-is-no unless-I.

 

Malachi 2:10

Literally: ?-not father one to-all-of-us ?-not El one he-created-us for-what-reason we-are-being-treacherous man in-brother-of-him to-to-profane-of covenant-of fathers-of-us.

 

So, as we see, there is no other Elohim (Mighty One) aside from YHWH. He is the only true Elohim, aside from him there is no other. Notice the constant usage of singular pronouns (I, he, himme). YHWH only refers to himself in plural pronouns when he is speaking to his malakhim (angels) (Genesis 1:26, 3:22, 11:7; Isaiah 6:8), every other time (about 20,000 times) he refers to himself in singular pronouns. And the reason for it is that he is one and ONLY one. That is the plain and simple reading of the text. Other explanations have to bypass the text and ignore the grammar altogether.

Published by Sabbath Keeper - in Trinité -Trinity
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November 24 2013 1 24 /11 /November /2013 04:00

Unless otherwise noted, all scripture quotations are from the New King James Version


Birthday celebrations are a big part of our Western culture: birthday cakes and gifts are part of this tradition. But what has God to say about it? Is it only innocent fun? Does it really matter what we do as followers of Christ in such occasions, in other words can we choose to celebrate it or not as part of our so-called “Christian liberty”? In this essay we will endeavor to answer those questions by looking at the Word of God, but also what early Church history and what first century Judaism (Jesus/Yeshua was a first century Jew) has to say about this topic. Finally, we will take a brief look at ancient customs associated with birthday celebrations.


Birthdays in the Bible

 

Birthday celebrations are not often mentioned in the Scriptures; in fact throughout the whole Protestant canon of the Bible there is only two direct mentions made of birthday celebrations. We will also see another couple of places, where some scholars believe mentions are made of birthday celebrations.

 

Salome-with-the-head-of-John-the-Baptist---painting--by-Gri.jpg

 

Salome with the head of John the Baptist by Hans Baldung Grien

 

The first account in the Protestant canon of Bible is found in Genesis 40:1-23. In verse 20, we read: “Now it came to pass on the third day, which was Pharaoh’s birthday, that he made a feast for all his servants; and he lifted up the head of the chief butler and of the chief baker among his servants.” The second account is found in the Gospels. In Matthew 14:6, we read: “But when Herod's [Antipas, who reigned from 6 AD to 39 AD] birthday was kept, the daughter of Herodias danced before them, and pleased Herod”. And in Mark 6:21 the following is said: “And when a convenient day was come, that Herod on his birthday made a supper to his lords, high captains, and chief estates of Galilee.” During this birthday feast, John the Baptist was tragically beheaded.

 

In those passages of the Scriptures, we see two powerful men celebrating their birthday with great pomp.  This is consistent with what we know of Ancient Middle Eastern history and customs. The International Standard Bible Encyclopedia states: “The custom of observing birthdays of great men, especially of kings, was widespread in ancient times.” The Smith's Bible Dictionary agrees: “The custom of observing birthdays is very ancient; Genesis 40:20; Jeremiah 20:15 and in Job 1:4 etc., we read that Job's sons "feasted every one his day." In Persia birthdays were celebrated with peculiar honors and banquets, and in Egypt those of the king were kept with great pomp.

 

The book of 2 Maccabees gives us another account of birthday celebration. Although not found in the Protestant canon of the Bible, the book of 2 Maccabees was originally used by Alexandrian Jews as part of their canon of Scriptures called the Septuagint. The authors of the New Testament were quoting from the Septuagint in their writings. The book of 2 Maccabees is still considered canonical by the Catholics, the Eastern Orthodox tradition, the Assyrian Eastern tradition and most of the Western Orthodox tradition. It is considered non-canonical by Protestants and modern Jews. Still, both Protestants and modern Jews consider this book from interest on an historical level. This is how we will use this book in this essay. Concerning birthday celebrations, we read an interesting account in 2 Maccabees 6:1-9.

 

Not long after this, the king sent an Athenian senator to compel the Jews to forsake the laws of their ancestors and no longer to live by the laws of God; also to pollute the temple in Jerusalem and to call it the temple of Olympian Zeus, and to call the one in Gerizim the temple of Zeus-the-Friend-of-Strangers, as did the people who lived in that place. Harsh and utterly grievous was the onslaught of evil. For the temple was filled with debauchery and reveling by the Gentiles, who dallied with prostitutes and had intercourse with women within the sacred precincts, and besides brought in things for sacrifice that were unfit. The altar was covered with abominable offerings that were forbidden by the laws. People could neither keep the sabbath, nor observe the festivals of their ancestors, nor so much as confess themselves to be Jews. On the monthly celebration of the king’s BIRTHDAY, the Jews were taken, under bitter constraint, to partake of the sacrifices; and when a festival of Dionysus was celebrated, they were compelled to wear wreaths of ivy and to walk in the procession in honor of Dionysus. At the suggestion of the people of Ptolemais a decree was issued to the neighboring Greek cities that they should adopt the same policy toward the Jews and make them partake of the sacrifices, and should kill those who did not choose to change over to Greek customs

- New Revised Standard Version

 

In this passage of 2 Maccabees, we learn of a pagan king, Antiochus IV Epiphanes, who desecrates the Temple by false worship, sexual immorality and unclean sacrifices. He also forbid Jews to keep God’s commandments and obliges them to partake in idol worship, including celebrating his birthday once a month.

 

As we have read earlier, birthday of great men were celebrated in ancient times. This was part of what we would call today cult of personality. In fact, many Greek and Roman leaders were worshipped as gods. Antiochus IV Epiphanes was one of those Greek leaders claiming to be a god. Concerning Egyptian Pharaohs, the Ancient History Encyclopedia states that they “were equated with the gods and with the duties and obligations due those gods. As supreme ruler of the people, the pharaoh was considered a god on earth, the intermediary between the gods and the people, and when he died, he was thought to become Osiris, the god of the dead.” Celebrating their birthday was a form of worship.

 

As for Herod Antipas in Matthew 14:6 and Mark 6:21, it is certainly with the same spirit and because of the same cult of personality that he was celebrating his birthday. In fact, one of his nephews Herod Agrippa on one instance at least is depicted as being worshipped as a god. “So on a set day Herod [Agrippa, who reigned from 41 to 44 AD], arrayed in royal apparel, sat on his throne and gave an oration to them. And the people kept shouting, “The voice of a god and not of a man!” Then immediately an angel of the Lord struck him, because he did not give glory to God. And he was eaten by worms and died” (Acts 12:21-23).

 

We find two more mentions of possible birthday celebrations in the Scriptures. One is found in Hosea 7:5, in which we read: “In the day of our king
Princes have made him sick, inflamed with wine;
He stretched out his hand with scoffers.” According to Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible and Wesley's Notes, this passage can possibly refer to a birthday celebration or an annual coronation celebration. In any cases, this is associated with drunkenness and ungodly behaviors. The other instance is found in Job 1:4-5.


And his sons would go and feast in their houses, each on his appointed day, and would send and invite their three sisters to eat and drink with them. So it was, when the days of feasting had run their course, that Job would send and sanctify them, and he would rise early in the morning and offer burnt offerings according to the number of them all. For Job said, “It may be that my sons have sinned and cursed God in their hearts.” Thus Job did regularly.”

 

A number of commentators believe that “each on his appointed day” is to be understood as mentioning birthday celebrations.  This is the case for the Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary, the Clarke's Commentary on the Bible and also for the Smith's Bible Dictionary. The Pulpit Commentary reads:

 

Verse 4. - And his sons went and feasted. "Went and feasted" seems to mean "were in the habit of feasting" (Rosenmuller, Lee). In their houses. Each had his own residence, and the residence was not a tent, but a" house." Job and his sons were not mere nomads, but belonged to the settled population. The same is implied by the "ploughing of the oxen" (ver. 14), and indeed by Job's "yoke of oxen" in ver. 3. Every one his day. Most commentators regard these feasts as birthday festivities. Each son in his turn, when his birthday arrived, entertained his six brothers. Others think that each of the seven brothers had his own special day of the week on which, he received his brothers at his table, so that the feasting was continuous. But this scarcely suits the context. And it is admitted that "his day" (in Job 3:1) means "his birthday." The celebration of birthdays by means of a feast was a very widespread custom in the East (see Genesis 40:20; Herod., 1:133; 9:110; Mark 14:21). And sent and called for their three sisters to eat and to drink with them. This by itself is sufficient to show that the feasts were occasional, not continuous. Constant absence of daughters, day after day, from the parental board is inconceivable.”

 

If these are birthday celebrations, as those commentators believe, we notice that Job wasn’t taking part into those feast days. He would rather “send and sanctify them, and he would rise early in the morning and offer burnt offerings according to the number of them all. For Job said, “It may be that my sons have sinned and cursed God in their hearts” (verse 5).

 

As we have seen so far in those passages, birthday celebrations and/or personal feast days are essentially the fact of self-deified rulers and if they are not, as in the case of Job’s children, they may potentially result in sin.

 

First century Judaism and early Christian history on birthdays

 

Now that we have studied the several instances in which the Scriptures mention birthday celebrations, let see if first century Judaism and early Christian history has anything to teach us about such celebrations. We ought to remember that Jesus (Yeshua in Hebrew) was a Jew, which makes it relevant for us to know what was first century Jewish view, and subsequently early Christian belief, in regard to such celebrations.

 

In fact, first century Judaism is not silent on the subject. Josephus (37 to 100 AD), a Jewish scholar and historian born in Jerusalem to a father of priestly descent wrote about birthday celebrations in his two-volume work in defense of Judaism titled Against Apion. In book II and chapter 26, we read:

 

Nay, indeed, the law does not permit us to make festivals at the births of our children, and thereby afford occasion of drinking to excess; but it ordains that the very beginning of our education should be immediately directed to sobriety. It also commands us to bring those children up in learning, and to exercise them in the laws, and make them acquainted with the acts of their predecessors, in order to their imitation of them, and that they might be nourished up in the laws from their infancy, and might neither transgress them, nor have any pretense for their ignorance of them.”

 

josephus.gif

 

A bust of the Jewish historian Flavius Josephus

 

The Jewish Encyclopedia somehow agrees when stating: “There are no positive data in the Bible or in rabbinical literature concerning birthday festivals among the ancient Jews. This silence on the subject is, however, no warrant for the conclusion that the Jews altogether abstained from following a custom which was general among the Egyptians (Gen. xl. 20), Persians (Herodotus i. 133), Syrians, and Greeks. Even if not common among the people, yet kings and princes probably practiced it, following the custom of their heathen contemporaries.” Here we learn that birthday celebrations were not common among the people and were in fact borrowed from the heathens when practiced by kings and princes. In the Encyclopaedia Judaica, we read: “The celebration of birthdays is unknown in traditional Jewish ritual. A comparatively late exception, however, is the *bar mitzvah and the bat mitzvah. The only reference to a birthday in the Bible is that celebrated by Pharaoh (Gen. 40:20). In Reform and Conservative synagogues, special prayers of thanksgiving are recited on the occasion of significant birthdays (e.g., 50th, 70th, 80th, etc.) and at silver and golden wedding anniversaries.” In modern times, the topic of birthday celebrations is somewhat of a controversy in Judaism. While many Jews celebrate birthdays, some like Rabbi Chaim Elazar Shapiro (1871-1937) find no mention of such celebrations in rabbinic literature and believe that such celebrations is antithetical to “the Jewish trait of humility.”

 

Since early Christianity was still closely connected to first century Judaism, we should not be surprised to find birthday celebrations mentioned in a negative way. Indeed, in The Westminster Handbook to Origen (2004) edited by John Anthony McGuckin, we read :

 

“[w]hen commenting on Herod’s birthday as mentioned in Matthew 14:6, Origen castigates those who revel in their birthdays and recalls a Philonic text [Philo being a Hellenistic Jewish] that he had once read (De ebriatate 208): “Indeed one of our predecessors has observed that the birthday of Pharaoh is recorded in Genesis and recounts that it is the wicked man who, being in love with the affairs of birth and becoming, celebrates his birthday. But we, taking our cue from that interpreter, discover that nowhere in the scriptures is a birthday celebrated by a righteous person.”

 

Origen was a scholar and early Christian theologian (185 to 232 AD) who wrote a number of commentaries on the Bible and had a great influence on early Christianity. Another early Christian apologist, Arnobius of Sicca (284 to 305 AD) wrote, visibly holding in contempt birthday celebrations and speaking of Roman leaders: “Who, with licentious violence, undermine and wrest away the chastity of matrons and maidens, - these men you name indigites and divi; and you worship with couches, altars, temples, and other service, and by celebrating their games and birthdays, those whom it was fitting that you should assail with keenest hatred” (Against the Heathen. Book I, Chapter 64).

 

While we might disagree with first century Judaism in regard to the Messiah, while we might not agree with all that was written by early Christian commentators and apologists, those quotations still give us a fair idea of what was the New Testament writers view on birthday celebrations.


Birthdays and paganism

 

The reasons for the first century Jews and early Christian believers to not celebrate birthdays are not to be found only in their understanding of the Scriptures, but are also to be understood in correlation with the pagan customs associated with birthday celebrations. According to Kathryn Argetsinger in her research titled Birthday Rituals: Friends and Patrons in Roman Poetry and Cult (Classical Antiquity, 1992), the “people of late republican Rome celebrated at least three types of dies natales. In the private sphere, Roman men and women marked their own birthdays and the birthdays of family members and friends with gift giving and banquets. In the public sphere, the natales of temples and the natales of cities were observed; these “birthdays” were actually the anniversaries of the days on which particular cults, or cities, had been founded.”  Each of these types of birthdays was accompanied with religious rituals. According to the same authors, each private birthday was linked to a personal deity to whom an individual would make an offering in exchange for protection. Kathryn Argetsinger affirms in her research: “[W]hen relatives, friends, or clients celebrated a relative or patron’s birthday, they were bound, if they were truly pious, by the same sort of specific cult requirement as they were on their own birthdays.” Birthday greetings were religious acts accompanied by three type of offerings made to an idol or to the “genius” [the guardian spirit of a person] of an individual: incense, rituals cakes, and wine (Does that sound familiar?). Some ancient sources cited by the author seem to refer to the “genius” as being “some internal part of the self,” part of “a man as well as well as an external deity.” They were some “sort of ego extension into the divine sphere.”  The Roman poet Horace, in one of his writings, Ode 4.11, reports going as far as sacrificing a lamb on one occasion for the birthday of his patron Maecenas. The author concludes: “In undertaking celebration of another’s birthday a Roman undertook in part a religious obligation expressed by annually renewed vota [wishes] and ritual,” and “through this act of piety a Roman gained a new network of divine as well as earthly friends and patrons.”

 

Lares - genius familiaries

 

Mural from Pompeii. Domestic sacrifice with a genius familiaris and Lares (household gods).

Naples: National Museum. Lares are represented on the left and on the right, top level.

 

Such belief is not exclusive to Romans. In their book titled The Lore of Birthdays (1952), Ralph and Adelin Linton, gives a brief look at the history of birthday celebrations: “The Greeks believed that everyone had a protective spirit or daemon who attended his birth and watched over him in life. This spirit had a mystic relation with the god on whose birthday the individual was born.”  Furthermore, in the same book we read:

 

“[T]he idea [of birthday greetings and wishes for happiness] was rooted in magic. The working of spells for good and evil is the chief usage of witchcraft. One is especially susceptible to such spells on his birthday, as one’s personal spirits are about at that time. Dreams dreamed on the birthday eve should be remembered, for they are predictions of the future brought by the guardian spirits which hover over one’s bed on the birthday eve. Birthday greetings have power for good or ill because one is closer to the spirit world on this day. Good wishes bring good fortune, but the reverse is also true, so one should avoid enemies on one’s birthday and be surrounded only by well-wishers. ‘Happy birthday’ and ‘Many happy returns of the day’ are the traditional greetings

 

And:

 

Birthdays are intimately linked with the stars, since without the calendar, no one could tell when to celebrate his birthday. They are also indebted to the stars in another way, for in early days the chief importance of birthday records was to enable the astrologers to chart horoscopes

 

By reading those descriptions of pagan birthday celebrations, we better understand why the early believers would refrain from celebrating them. Such celebrations are highly connected with pagan worship and even the occult.  Looking back at those ancient beliefs, this is no surprise that a very controversial individual, Anton Lavey (founder of the Church of Satan), writes in his book titled The Satanic Bible (1969): “After one’s own birthday, the two major Satanic holidays are Walpurgisnacht and Halloween (or All Hallows’ Eve).”  Of course, Anton Lavey has a different take on birthdays. He merely sees birthdays as glorification of oneself: “Every man is a god if he chooses to recognize himself as one. So, the Satanist celebrates his own birthday as the most important holiday of the year.” For ancient civilizations, birthday celebrations were rather a way to connect with the gods and with the society at large. In any case, both self-glorification and worship of personal gods is condemned in the Bible.

 

On a side note, it should of interest for believers that the Scriptures do not mention the date of birth of the greatest man who ever lived, the Messiah Yeshua (Jesus Christ). It shows how unimportant it was for early Christians the date of someone birth in a world in which gods, kings and even common people were celebrating their birthdays in a religious manner. In fact, concerning December 25th, and according to M. J. Vermaseren; C. C. Van Essen in their essay titled The Excavations in the Mithraeum of the Church of Santa Prisca on the Aventine (Journal of Biblical Literature. 1966): "One should bear in mind that the Mithraic New Year began on Natalis Invicti, the birthday of their invincible god, i.e. December 25th, when the new light […] appears from the vault of heaven."

 

What should a believer do?

 

The Bible does not condemn acknowledging someone’s age. In fact, the Bible makes a connection between age and wisdom. In Proverbs 9:11, we read: “For by Wisdom your days will be many, and years will be added to your life” (Holman Christian Standard Bible). Life is a gift of our Heavenly Father, for which we should rejoice everyday of our life. “By You I have been upheld from birth; You are He who took me out of my mother’s womb. My praise shall be continually of You” (Psalm 71:6). In the meantime, the Bible does not encourage self-glorification. On the contrary the Bible teaches humility and self-denial. In Matthew 16:24, Jesus Christ said to the disciples: “If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me.” Paul agrees, who wrote: “Therefore, brethren, we are debtors—not to the flesh, to live according to the flesh. For if you live according to the flesh you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live. For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, these are sons of God” (Romans 8:12-14). By showing love towards God and towards our neighbors and by denying ourselves we become children of God. In our individualistic society, this is so important to feel recognized. Many people will feel offended because they were not wished a “happy birthday” or because they didn’t receive the expected gift on their birthday. Meanwhile, the Bible tells us “[i]t is more blessed to give than to receive” (Acts 20:35).


Another important aspect of birthday celebrations to consider is the pagan customs associated with those celebrations. The Bible warns us strongly against pagan customs and against mixing the proper worship of God with ungodly practices. This is true not only in the Tanakh, the Old Testament, but also in the apostolic writings.  In 2 Corinthians 6:14-16, we read: “And what communion has light with darkness? And what accord has Christ with Belial? Or what part has a believer with an unbeliever? And what agreement has the temple of God with idols? For you are the temple of the living God.” Some customs and traditions may seems innocuous, but God gives us clear boundaries stones so that we may not fall back into sin after having become one of his children. We need to remember whom we worship and from whom we are receiving a true and genuine gift: “Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and comes down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow of turning” (James 1:17). We ought to have a discerning spirit and to be cautious in our deeds, including how and why we do celebrate birthdays. We need to remember who is our God so that we can remain holy. Therefore, let’s “[c]ome out from among them and be separate” and God “will be a Father to [us],” and we “shall be [His] sons and daughters” (2 Corinthians 6:17-18) says the Scriptures. Amen!

Published by Sabbath Keeper - in Babylon-Babylone
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November 5 2013 3 05 /11 /November /2013 17:48

parents and children 

 

Unless otherwise noted, all scripture quotations are from the New King James Version

 

Sexuality is a natural part of human life. But today, we are living in an increasingly over-sexualized world. Sexuality seems to have become an obsession and is over-emphasized in the entertainment industry and in the media. The term “sexy” is used for all sorts of purposes. It is sometimes even used for cars, for body lotions and other objects. Many people, including Christians, are left wondering what sexuality is all about. Our modern contraception culture strikes at the heart of the God-designed purpose for sexuality. Pleasure has become the main focus of sexuality and procreation, has been cast aside. Many people, including Christians, are left wondering what sexuality is all about. Thankfully, the Bible is not silent on this subject. In fact, a lot can be learned in the Scriptures concerning the purpose of sexuality and proper sexual behaviors.


Adam and Eve

 

Beginning in Genesis chapter one, we learn about the great purpose God has for mankind. From the very beginning, God’s purposes for sex and marriage is clearly stated. Sexuality is for the procreation of the human species. In Genesis 1:27-28, we read: "So God created man in His own image; in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them. Then God blessed them, and God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply; fill the earth and subdue it; have dominion over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the air, and over every living thing that moves on the earth.”

 

The real purpose of sexuality is for procreation and those not prepared to assume the inherent responsibility of human sexuality should refrain from it. This is a blessing that God bestows open the human race. We are to be fruitful, to fill the earth and to be stewards upon it. God sanctified sexuality and commanded Adam and Eve to have an intimate sexual relationship and to procreate. This obvious purpose for sexuality has been increasingly downplayed in the recent decades. We are in a world in which the only purpose of sexuality seems to be the satisfaction of one’s selfish pleasure. Sexual gratification was not God’s original purpose to sex. In fact, God re-emphasized the sacred meaning of marriage and family in Genesis 2:24. We read: "Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and they shall become one flesh." Family is the first human institution found in the Bible. It was instituted and commanded by God himself. God intended children to be conceived and to grow through those holy institutions that we call marriage and family; a family consisting of a husband and a wife. Thus we learn that sexuality was not meant to satisfy selfish desire but to produce offspring. Still, according to 2010 U.S. Census data, the number of people aged 40 to 44 who have decided to not have children is close to 20 percent. As a result of the increase liberalization of moral standards, many today in the Western world, have forgotten the real purpose of sexuality. God designed the pleasure associated with sexuality to promote procreation and to enhance couple spiritual relationships. The apostle Paul teaches that childbearing is part of a woman’s normal and healthy purpose in life (1 Timothy 2:15). This misunderstanding concerning the real purpose of sexuality is at the root of all sorts of aberrant sexual practices. 

 

The marriage institution

 

To better understand sexuality in the context of the Bible, we first need to understand the meaning of sexual intercourse in the Torah (the five books of Moses). In ancient Israel, to have sexual intercourse was synonymous with marriage. In Exodus 22:16-17 we read: “If a man entices a virgin who is not betrothed, and lies with her, he shall surely pay the bride-price for her to be his wife. If her father utterly refuses to give her to him, he shall pay money according to the bride-price of virgins.” In the Torah, we do not find the concept of pre-marital sex. Having sexual intercourse with a virgin is an act of marriage. In Genesis 24:67 Isaac and Rebekah are publicly married by entering a tent to have a sexual relationship. By having sex, a man and a woman become “one flesh.” The Torah and Jesus Christ in the Gospels make this concept very clear. Sexual intercourse means a relationship for life and implies that the couple will have children. Divorce is seen as a violation of God’s marriage covenant. In Malachi 2:14-16, we read: “Because the LORD has been witness Between you and the wife of your youth, With whom you have dealt treacherously; Yet she is your companion And your wife by covenant. But did He not make them one, Having a remnant of the Spirit? And why one? He seeks godly offspring. Therefore take heed to your spirit, And let none deal treacherously with the wife of his youth. “For the LORD God of Israel says That He hates divorce, For it covers one’s garment with violence.”

 

Throughout the Bible, in order to preserve the sanctity of marriage, God gave us a number of directives allowing us to discern between what is acceptable and what is not.  Leviticus 18:6-29 define the boundaries of godly sexuality. A number of prohibitions are given concerning sexual relationships with close relatives, unacceptable marriage relationships and unnatural sexual practices. Although those commandments were given to Israel, they are binding on every nation. In Leviticus 18:24-29, we read: “Do not defile yourselves with any of these things; for by all these the nations are defiled, which I am casting out before you. For the land is defiled; therefore I visit the punishment of its iniquity upon it, and the land vomits out its inhabitants.” The nations and people who do not follow God’s commandments are sexually defiled. All of us should read and meditate on Leviticus 18. This chapter tells us how God values highly families and the “one flesh” principle found in the Scriptures.

  

Prohibited sexual relationships

 

Some sexual practices prohibited in the Bible are becoming increasingly prevalent in our society. To name of few, we can cite pornography, adultery and homosexuality. In our Western society, these practices are becoming more and more acceptable. In fact, in 2006, the porn industry in the USA alone generated about $13 billion in estimated revenues. According to the Internet accountability and filtering company Covenant Eyes, “50% of all Christian men and 20% of all Christian women say they are addicted to pornography” (2013). As for homosexuality, according to Pew Research (2013), “[v]iews of homosexuality are particularly positive in Spain (88% say it should be accepted by society), Germany (87%), Czech Republic (80%), Canada (80%), Australia (79%), France (77%), Britain (76%), Argentina (74%), Italy (74%) and Philippines (73%).” A great number of Mainstream Christian Churches, such as many Reform and Lutheran Churches in Europe and in North America do not consider homosexuality to be a sin anymore. All in all in the USA, and according to a study by the Barna Group (2003), 42% of respondents found “having a sexual relationship with someone of the opposite sex other than their spouse” acceptable. Furthermore, “[a]bout one-third of the population gave the stamp of approval to pornography (38%), […] and homosexual sex (30%).”  There is even today in North America a well advertised website that claims to be “the world's leading married dating service for discreet encounters” (in other words, for adultery).

 

Despite acceptance by some Christian Churches, are such practices biblically acceptable? First of all, what does the Bible has to say about pornography? Although, the Bible does not use the term pornography as such, many Bible principles oppose such practices. For example, in Matthew 5:28, Jesus says: “whoever looks at a woman to lust for her has already committed adultery with her in his heart.” Being aroused or the desire to have sex with someone to who one is not married is akin to adultery. Pornography is clearly wrong. The Bible encourages us to “put to death your members which are on the earth: fornication, uncleanness, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry” (Colossians 3:5). In this passage, practices such as pornography are compared to idolatry. Instead of deadening immoral desires, pornography nurtures them.  The psalmist encourages us to “set nothing wicked before [our] eyes” and “[to] hate the work of those who fall away.” On a side note, the same is true for a practice often linked to pornography, which is masturbation. The absence of a direct specific biblical injunction regarding masturbation shouldn’t leave us to conclude that this practice is acceptable in God's eyes. Masturbation, as pornography, is a self-centered sexual activity, which rely on immoral fantasy. True, sexuality involves some form of pleasure, but it is first of all meant for reproduction and as an expression of love between spouses (Read Proverbs 5:15-19). The Scriptures encourages us to “cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God” (2 Corinthians 7:1). There is no place for pornography and masturbation in a Christian life. If you find yourselves stumbling and falling on such issue, do not despair and know that God is “good, and ready to forgive,
And abundant in mercy to all those who call upon You” (Psalm 86:5). In the meantime, “Flee sexual immorality,” and remember: “[H]e who commits sexual immorality sins against his own body […] the temple of the Holy Spirit.” We ought to “glorify God in [our] body and in [our] spirit, which are God’s” (1 Corinthians 6:18-20).

 

Adultery is a sin and it has always been so, either in the Tanakh or in the apostolic writings. Although the Ten Commandments clearly forbids adultery, “You shall not commit adultery” (Exodus 20:14), the sin of adultery is already mentioned in Genesis. In chapter 39 verses 7-9, we read: “And it came to pass after these things that his master’s wife cast longing eyes on Joseph, and she said, “Lie with me.” But he refused and said to his master’s wife, “[…] How then can I do this great wickedness, and sin against God?”” Read also Genesis 12:10-20. From the very beginning, to be married meant becoming “one flesh” as an unavoidable consequence of a man and a woman being sexually involved. The Gospel writings agree: “Have you not read that He who made them at the beginning ‘made them male and female,’ and said, ‘For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh’? So then, they are no longer two but one flesh. Therefore what God has joined together, let not man separate” (Matthew 19:4-6).  In the same token, this passage condemns once again divorce as being the breaking of a God instituted covenant. The same is obviously true for adultery. In Hebrews 13:4, we read: “Marriage is honorable among all, and the bed undefiled; but fornicators and adulterers God will judge.” To participate in an act of prostitution is adultery as well. “Or do you not know that he who is joined to a harlot is one body with her? For “the two,” He says, “shall become one flesh” (1 Corinthians 6:12-20). One cannot possibly be “one flesh” with one’s spouse and be “one flesh” with a prostitute.  Marriage was originally intended to be between ONE MAN and ONE WOMAN. This still holds true today. Although, the Torah regulated polygamy, as can be seen in Leviticus 18, such arrangements are only to be seen as a concession made to a specific type of patriarchal societies in which it was nearly impossible for an unmarried woman to provide for herself. Polygamy was allowed, not encouraged, so that a man would provide and protect a number of women from prostitution, slavery or starvation. In some cases, it was seen as a way to fulfill the commandment according to which mankind is to “be fruitful and multiply” (Genesis 9:7). In the case of Abraham, Sarah and Hagar, we learn that polygamy was not without causing tensions in marriage (Genesis 21). Monogamy, in contrast to polygamy, conforms more closely to God’s ideal for marriage. Read Genesis 2:24, Deuteronomy 17:14-20.  The fact that having multiple wives can cause tension and even sin is best seen in the example of King Solomon (1 Kings 11:3-4). In the Gospels and in the apostolic writings, Jesus Christ emphasizes the “one flesh” command as being between ONE man and ONE woman (Read again Matthew 19:4-6). It is further emphasized in 1 Timothy 3:2, 12 and Titus 1:6 (please read those passages). Overseers, elders and deacons are to be “husband of one wife.” Such criteria rules out adulterers and polygamists. If such a qualification is specifically required for leaders in the Church, this is obviously a standard of holiness for all Church members. All men in the Church should strive to be “temperate, sober-minded, of good behavior, hospitable, able to teach” and “having faithful children not accused of dissipation or insubordination.” Obviously, the same is true for being the ““husband of one wife.” This should apply equally to all Christians. God our Father “who called [us] is holy,” and we “also [should] be holy in all [our] conduct” (1 Peter 1:16). Read Ephesians 5:22-33 for a further description of the husband and wife relationship. As there is ONE Christ, there is ONE husband, and as there is ONE Church, there is ONE wife. As seen with Adam and Eve, God did not design marriage to be polygamous. This is further reason why adultery and prostitution cannot be holy and acceptable in God’s eyes.

 

What about homosexuality, is it acceptable for Christians today? Although, the Scriptures do not speak often about homosexuality, each time they do, it is condemned as being a sin. It is made clear in Leviticus 18:22 in which we read: “You shall not lie with a male as with a woman. It is an abomination.” According to the Torah, it is to be punished by death (Leviticus 20:13). In the Gospel age, there is no theocratic kingdom on earth.  Christians are to obey the law of the land and not to try to enforce death penalty applicable only in the context of Ancient Israel to a secular society. Still, homosexuality remains a sin as it was from the very beginning. This is still an abhorrent sexual behavior to God. According to most Jewish and Christian scholars in history, homosexuality was one of the sins involved in God’s destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah. The apostolic writings agree. Jude 7 mentions Sodom and Gomorrah and tells us that those cities “having given themselves over to sexual immorality and gone after strange flesh, are set forth as an example, suffering the vengeance of eternal fire.” The first chapter of Romans speaks of homosexuality as being a rejection of God and akin to idolatry (verse 25). “For even their women exchanged the natural use for what is against nature.  Likewise also the men, leaving the natural use of the woman, burned in their lust for one another, men with men committing what is shameful, and receiving in themselves the penalty of their error which was due” (Romans 1:26-27). Read 1 Corinthians 6:9–10. Scriptures reject homosexuality, in accord with God’s will and design for human sexuality. If not the Bible, at least nature tells us that the natural sex partner for a man is a woman, and the natural sex partner for a woman is a man. There are numerous claims about homosexuality: some believe it to be a chosen behavior, some think they were born this way and others see homosexuality as a mental illness. In fact, as late as 1973, homosexuality was included in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM). In any case, no matter which one of these assertions is/are true (if any), it does not make homosexuality an acceptable “lifestyle” according to the Bible. This simply tells us that in a fallen world we need more that our own will to overcome the flesh. Even the apostle Paul had his own weakness. “For I delight in the law of God according to the inward man. But I see another law in my members, warring against the law of my mind, and bringing me into captivity to the law of sin which is in my members” (Romans 7:22-23). Homosexuality denies the sanctity of human sexuality as designed by God. However, God is loving (1 John 4:8) and patient (Romans 2:4). Paul comfortingly reminded us that “[n]o temptation has overtaken you except such as is common to man; but God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will also make the way of escape, that you may be able to bear it” (1 Corinthians 10:13). This is true for homosexuality, but it also applies for pornography and adultery. Remember: “[W]ith the temptation [God] will also make the way of escape, that you may be able to bear it.”

 

Marriage bed undefiled

 

Increasing changes in our society’s moral values and practices have left many Christians wondering what is sexually acceptable in a Christian marriage. Surrounded and influenced by pornography and by over-sexualized mainstream medias, a great number of Christian are left wondering if sexual practices such as anal sex, oral sex and partner swapping are acceptable in a marriage setting. Being contaminated by worldliness, a number of so-called Church leaders are giving confusing answers to such questions. Once again, the Bible does not specifically address anal sex, oral sex and partner swapping as such, but it does provide a great number of principles, which shed light on such sexual practices. First of all, and despite the overwhelming carnal nature of the world surrounding us, it is somewhat reassuring that Christians wonder about such practices and try to understand what they need to do in order to walk “in the fear of the Lord and in the comfort of the Holy Spirit” (Acts 9:31).  This does mean that the Holy Spirit of God is working in us and leads us to investigate and question such practices. Sadly, a number of Christian leaders are not “full of the Holy Spirit and wisdom” as they should be (Acts 6:3) and give some confusing (ungodly) answers to those questions.

 

Those who know the Scriptures are aware that God is preoccupied with holiness in marriage. We already mentioned Hebrews 13:4: “Marriage is honorable among all, and the bed undefiled; but fornicators and adulterers God will judge.” Those who read Leviticus 18 are also aware of a number of prohibitions regarding some practices abhorrent to God. We already learned that one “shall not lie with a male as with a woman” (verse 22). The same is true for bestiality. Verse 23 reads: “Nor shall you mate with any animal, to defile yourself with it. Nor shall any woman stand before an animal to mate with it. It is perversion.” Under the rulings of the Old Testament, such behaviors were to be punished by death. Genuine sexuality is a matter of holiness. Nothing has changed in human sexuality since Moses wrote down those commandments in a book. These directives reflect God’s will for a holy sanctified sexual life. First, let’s pause and ponder on Leviticus 18:19 as it will shed light on practices such as anal and oral sex. In the same part of the chapter in which God condemns adultery (verse 20) and child sacrifice (verse 21), He also prohibits having sexual intercourse with a wife during her monthly period. “[Y]ou shall not approach a woman to uncover her nakedness as long as she is in her customary impurity.” As all other discharges from the body, the woman’s monthly flow is considered unclean; avoiding sexual intercourse during a woman’s monthly period is a matter of holiness and sanctity. In fact, the Bible already mentioned it in Leviticus 15:19-24. If accidently violated, a man “shall be unclean seven days” as is the menstruating woman. If a deliberate act of sexual intercourse during a woman period was to happen, the couple committing the offense was to be “cut off from their people” (Leviticus 20:17). This highlights the seriousness of holiness in marriage and in sexuality. When in Acts 15:20, the first council in Jerusalem mentioned “sexual immorality” as one of the minimum requirements for the Gentiles to enter the fellowship of the saints, as first century Jews, what they had in mind was Leviticus 18. Remember, in Leviticus 18:24-26, we read: “Do not defile yourselves with any of these things; for by all these the nations are defiled, which I am casting out before you. For the land is defiled; therefore I visit the punishment of its iniquity upon it, and the land vomits out its inhabitants. You shall therefore keep My statutes and My judgments, and shall not commit any of these abominations, either any of your own nation or any stranger who dwells among you.”

 

How does this apply to anal sex, oral sex and swapping partners? First, concerning swapping partners (a “Christian” website exists encouraging this practice!), we read in Leviticus 18: 20 and learn that one should “not lie carnally with [ones] neighbor’s wife, to defile [oneself] with her.” Obviously, swapping partners, even in a consensual manner, would break such a prohibition. As we wrote earlier, in ancient Israel, to have sexual intercourse was synonymous with marriage. And as we learned throughout this study, marriage is a sacred institution originated in Genesis in which a man and a woman become “one flesh” (Genesis 2:24). Read also Matthew 19:4-6. Anal and oral sex are to be included in the same range of unnatural and unclean practices. Nature tells us that anal sex and oral sex do not fulfill the main purpose of human sexuality that is procreation. Furthermore, as we have seen studying Leviticus 18:19, to keep the marriage holy and to have a sanctified sexual relationship with one’s spouse, unclean practices should be avoided. In the Bible, semen is unclean. “If any man has an emission of semen, then he shall wash all his body in water, and be unclean until evening” (Leviticus 15:16).  We know from the Scriptures that some animals were not to be eaten for they were unclean. If the carcasses of one of these animals were to touch any cooking objects, those objects couldn’t be used anymore. “And everything on which a part of any such carcass falls shall be unclean; whether it is an oven or cooking stove, it shall be broken down; for they are unclean, and shall be unclean to you” (Leviticus 11:32).  The same principle applies for oral sex. How can the mouth be put in contact with uncleanness, when it is supposed to be used to praise God? “I will bless the Lord at all times; His praise shall continually be in my mouth” (Psalm 34:10). First century Judaism and early Christianity did not consider unnatural sexual practices to be acceptable. In fact, the Epistle of Barnabas, a second-century Christian text that was often quoted as Scriptures by early church writers expressly condemns oral sex. “Moreover, he [Moses] has rightly detested the weasel [Leviticus 11:29]. For he means, 'Thou shalt not be like to those whom we hear of as committing wickedness with the mouth with the body through uncleanness [orally consummated sex]; nor shalt thou be joined to those impure women who commit iniquity with the mouth with the body through uncleanness"' (Letter of Barnabas 10:8). Even though Judaism is becoming increasingly liberal as well, it traditionally held a similar view on oral sex. An halakah reads: And even though one may kiss whatever part of his wife's body that he wants, it is forbidden to look at, or to kiss, his wife's sexual organ, for whoever looks there has no shame, and trespasses ‘and you shall walk modestly with your G-d’ (Michah, 6:8), and he removes the look of shame before G-d from his face; for whoever has a sense of shame will not sin. Not only this, but he incites his evil inclination, and all the more so, someone who kisses that place transgresses all of the above and ‘You shall not make an abomination out of your souls’” (Aven HaEzer, 230:4. Darkei Tahara, Ch.22, 3-4). Those texts are not part of our Bible, but they tell us what early Christianity and Judaism understood of the Scriptures. They testify that biblically and historically such practices cannot be considered spiritually appropriate and part of the Christian life. 

 

Marriage itself does not make legitimate all forms of sexuality. Anal and oral sex, as well as the use of pornography and sexual toys, are unnatural sexual practices and remain sinful, even for married Christians. Anal sex uses body parts in a way contrary to their designed purposes. This is perversion. The anus and the rectum are highly contaminated passageway specifically designed for expelling waste from the body. Feces are considered unclean in the Scriptures. “You must have a place outside the camp and go there to relieve yourself. You must have a digging tool in your equipment; when you relieve yourself, dig a hole with it and cover up your excrement. For the LORD your God walks throughout your camp to protect you and deliver your enemies to you; so your encampments must be holy. He must not see anything improper among you or He will turn away from you” (Leviticus 23:12-14 – Holman Christian Standard Bible). Read Ezechiel 4:12-14. According to the Medical Institute for Sexual Health (2012), anal sex is “very damaging to your health and quite possibly life threatening.”  It can cause “anal abscesses, hemorrhoids, or fissures.” It can “weaken your muscles down there, which makes it hard to hold feces.” Furthermore, “[t]he fragile nature of the anal tissue makes it easier for STDs to enter into the bloodstream” and “[r]ecent studies have linked anal sex to anal cancer.” On a side note and concerning oral sex, the same Institute recognize that “[w]hile pregnancy may not be an issue, oral sex still puts you at risk for many STI’s, including syphilis, gonorrhea, genital herpes, chlamydia, HPV, and HIV” (Medical Institute for Sexual Health, 2012). The Bible is not a medical manual, but God certainly does not want us to indulge in sexual practices detrimental to our health. ““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”” (Jeremiah 29:11 - NIV). The secular world of media and pornography actively promote sexual practices such as adultery, oral sex and anal sex. It doesn’t make it acceptable. On the contrary, knowing where it is coming from, Christians should be even more suspicious of such practices.

 

We did not mention practices such as sadomasochism in our study, but for those who wonder about it, there is enough to say that such practices are unhealthy (physically and mentally). They are obvious deviations of the true purposes of human sexuality which is first procreation and secondly the building up of a sanctified and spiritual relationship between a man and a woman. “Therefore put to death your members which are on the earth: fornication, uncleannesspassionevil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry” (Colossians 3:5).

 

As a conclusion

 

            God instituted sexuality and marriage for a special purpose. Human sexuality is a sacred bond that units a man and a woman as “one flesh” (Ephesians 5:31). Sexuality is a joyful and spiritual experience to be lived within the bounds of marriage. The secular world has corrupted the true meaning and purpose of sexuality and marriage, which is procreation in a healthy spiritual environment and the building up of a family. Pornography, adultery and homosexuality are sins condemned by the Bible. Even within the bound of marriage practices such as oral sex, anal sex or sadomasochism are unhealthy and unnatural and deviate from God’s purpose for human sexuality. Every Christian should meditate on what God says about sexual purity. “For this is the will of God, your sanctification: that you should abstain from sexual immorality; that each of you should know how to possess his own vessel in sanctification and honor,  not in passion of lust, like the Gentiles who do not know God […] For God did not call us to uncleanness, but in holiness” (1 Thessalonians 4:3-5,7). For a Christian to continue in fornication (sexual impurity) is to deny the work done for us by God through Jesus Christ. “But when He, the Spirit of truth, comes, He will guide you into all the truth” (John 16:13). This is somewhat reassuring that despite propaganda from the media and the prevalence of pornography in our Western world, a number of Christians still question the spiritual relevance and purity of practices such as adultery, anal sex, oral sex and homosexuality. Despite the fact that we are living in a time in which people do “not endure sound doctrine, but according to their own desires, because they have itching ears, they [do] heap up for themselves [false] teachers”, the Bible encourages us to “[g]uard, through the Holy Spirit who lives in us, that good thing entrusted to [us]” (2 Timothy 1:14 - Holman Christian Standard Bible). May God bless you and keep you!

Published by Sabbath Keeper - in Family-Famille
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November 5 2013 3 05 /11 /November /2013 17:39

Hebrew Yahveh

 

Unless otherwise noted, all scripture quotations are from the King James Version.


The subject of the true sonship of God, and the relation existing between Jesus and God, has long been a question of contention. A lack of definite knowledge of the true Word of God is always responsible for a wrong understanding of this most vital subject.

 

It is believed that the ancient Babylonians and Assyrians were the first people to formulate a trinity. This influence was also found in Egypt, Greece, and Rome in the centuries preceding and surrounding Jesus Christ’s birth.

 

In his book written in 1992 and titled Egyptian Religion, Siegfried Morenz wrote: “The Trinity was a major preoccupation of Egyptian theologians” and he goes on to add “Three gods are combined and treated as a single being, addressed in the singular. In this way the spiritual force of Egyptian religion shows a direct link with Christian theology”.

 

In this tract, we won’t go into great length to prove the pagan origin of the Trinity, as it is a well proven fact among historians and it may be easily verified idea of a Trinity or a triune God is not foreign to most of the pagan religions. One can only wonder how one cannot question the Trinity doctrine knowing such a fact. Christendom, ignoring the Scriptures, borrowed a lot of practices and beliefs from already existing pagan religious system.

 

The concept of a triune God then became the teaching of the Trinity in the early Roman Catholic Church and was, in its early development, one of the main points of doctrine to be discussed at the infamous Council of Nicaea held in 325 A.D. Later on, and as the doctrine continued to develop after the Council of Nicaea, the Trinity of Papal Rome became eventually known as God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit. Although in details they may differ, most Christian denominations today hold to some form of the Trinity doctrine. Mind you, there is no Trinity (and no "binity" as some teach) mentioned in the Bible.

 

The Roman Catholic Church has picked up many of the Babylonian mysteries. The doctrine of the Trinity is such a teaching. These Babylonian teachings flowed into many of the Pagan religions and are also in so-called Christian religions to this very day. The Papacy has in some of its churches, as for instance, in the monastery of the Trinitarians of Madrid, an image of the triune god, with three heads on one body. How such an abomination can be reconciled with the two first commandments contained in Exodus 20? “Thou shalt have no other gods before me. Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image, or any likeness of any thing that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth.” (Exodus 20:3-4).

 

The prophet Daniel, in chapter seven, told us of coming events, illustrating them by a beast with ten horns, and there was another little horn that came up among the ten, plucking up three of the former horns by the roots. The angel, in giving the interpretation, said, “Thus he said, The fourth beast shall be the fourth kingdom upon earth … And the ten horns out of this kingdom are ten kings that shall arise: and another shall rise after them … and he shall subdue three kings” (Daniel 7:23-24).

 

History responds to this prophetic call, and everyone familiar with the past knows the Roman Kingdom to be the one represented by this ten horned beast. The ten kingdoms of Rome existed down to the time of the rise of the papal power, and the Roman Catholic Church was responsible for the plucking up of these three horns, or kings. The last one to be overcome by Rome, in connection with the church, was the Ostrogoth kingdom, in the year 538 A.D. These kingdoms are spoken of in history as the Arian kingdoms, deriving their name “Arian” from Arius, a noted theologian and profound teacher of his day. His point of contention with the apostate Church of his time was the doctrine of the sonship of Jesus, the first step toward what was to become known as the Trinity. It is worth noting that the doctrine of the Trinity led to such abomination as the Catholics who believe teach that Mary is the Mother of God, and that Jesus was God upon earth.

 

Arius on the Trinity

 

Arius believed just as the Scriptures teach on the question of the Trinity, which should be the belief of every Christian and well informed person. We cannot deny the infallible Word of God, and “at the mouth of two or three witnesses”, the LORD says, every word must be confirmed.

 

Richard Rubinstein in his book written in 1999 and titled When Jesus Became God states that Arius was “a successful minister” and that “he was greatly admired for his personal purity as well as for his preaching” (page 53).

 

It is known that Arius did preach, as stated in Richard Rubinstein’s book, that ““There was when he [Jesus] was not,” meaning that he was not eternal, like God. Rather than asserting that Jesus was divine by nature, Arius emphasized that he had earned his “adoption” as Son and his “promotion” to divine status through moral growth and obedience to God. The priest did accept the idea, current throughout the East, that Christ was “preexistent”—that God had conceived him before time began and used him to create the universe. But it was not clear wether Arius believed this literally, or wether he meant that God merely had foreseen Jesus' coming before his birth to Mary” (page 55). Arius professed, in accord with the Scriptures: that the Father and the Son are two distinct individuals; that the Father alone is God in the proper sense; that Jesus was created and as such cannot be the Almighty God and the Creator of all things. For such a belief, Arius was excommunicated and banished of Alexandria, the city were he was preaching as a minister. In a letter to one of his powerful friend and most fervent supporters, Bishop Eusebius of Nicomedia, in which he was criticizing his persecutors for teaching that “as the Father is, so is the Son”, Arius wrote: “We are persecuted because we say that the Son had a beginning, but that God was without beginning. That is really the cause of our persecution; and likewise, because we say that He is created from nothing. And this we say because He is neither part of God, nor of any subjacent matter. For this we are persecuted; the rest you know” (Quasten, Patrology, 1950).

 

In Nicaea, 325 A.D., Arius and his supporters were finally expelled for refusing the new creed and rules. Others, because of fear signed, but had their tongues in their cheeks. Arius was banished by Constantine. But not all was settled, by any means. Arius had many supporters and there were great numbers of saints that refused to accept anything but the Holy Scriptures. They knew that the ideas purported at the Council of Nicaea were totally contrary to the Bible and what the Bible set forth. They held their ground and some of the ministers after returning home changed their minds and were sorry that they had signed the Nicene Creed. These people continued “earnestly to contend for the faith that was once delivered to the saints” (Jude 3).

 

Thence acceptance of the Scriptural testimony concerning Jesus Christ was termed as Arianism. It prevailed for a long time against the opposition of worldly bishops and the emperor who were at the start of what is known nowadays as the Roman Catholic Church. Catholicism was born at this first ecumenical council. Each council held thereafter was held in creating another false doctrine and creed favouring tradition to truth, and making up ideologies contrary to the Word of God.

 

The Catholic Church on the Trinity

 

The Roman Catholic Church bitterly opposed the teaching of Brother Arius and as a result of this contention the three horns, or kingdoms, known as the Arian kingdoms, were rooted up. The Catholic Church taught that the virgin Mary was the mother of God, that Jesus was actually God upon earth, and while on earth was somewhat absent from heaven. According to this same Church, when Jesus ascended back to heaven, Peter took His place on earth, and thus began the succession of popes from St. Peter onwards. The popes claim to represent God on earth. Hence, the Catholics, all along in every period, considered the pope God.


The three Arian Kingdoms stood behind Arius and were defenders of the true faith on the Trinity, viz., that Jesus is just what the Scriptures declare Him to be, and no more, viz., “The Son of God,” conceived of the Holy Ghost, born of the Virgin Mary, the Lamb of God, sacrificed on Calvary for the sins of the whole world. It is a self-evident fact that Arius and the Arian kingdoms were on the right of this contention, and that they taught the truth on the subject under consideration. The opposing power which Daniel said would think to change times and laws and to wear out the saints of the Most High, began their persecution with Arius who died poisoned by his opponents because he dared to oppose them on the question of the Trinity.

 

More than one hundred texts in the New Testament speak definitely of Jesus being the Son of God. On the occasion of His baptism, the Father in heaven spoke, saying, “This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased; hear ye him” (Matthew 17:5). When Jesus ascended to heaven, we learn from Mark that He “sat on the right hand of God” (Mark 16:19). The vision given our beloved Stephen, at the event of his death as a martyr, cannot be doubted by the mind held in tune by the blessed Holy Spirit. He exclaimed: “Behold, I see the heavens opened, and the Son of man standing on the right hand of God” (Acts 7:56). The foregoing scriptures were some of the main ones used by Arius against his opponents in setting forth his contention on the deity of Jesus. This dear Brother believed in the power and influence of the Holy Spirit, and in the true Sabbath. He was indeed led by Heaven, and obtained boldness to stand against the powers that were arrayed against God’s truth. Yet, Brother Arius did not limit the power of Jesus, as some do, but believed the words of the Son, that “All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth” (Matthew 28:18).

 

Many texts set forth the beautiful harmony existing between the Father and Son, making them one. In John 17, we read: “Holy Father, keep through thine own name those whom thou hast given me, that they may be one, as we are.” Several times in this chapter similar expression are used.

 

The Oneness of God and Jesus

 

In the beginning, when God set forth the marriage institution and declared the relationship that should exist between the two, the husband and the wife, He said, “And they shall be one flesh.” The same conditions of oneness existing between the Father and Son are declared to exist between man and wife. They are to be one in purpose, one in object, and harmony and unity should exist between them. God, the heavenly Father, and Jesus Christ, His Son, are one (John 10:30, 38). They are one in purpose, but they are two separate, individual beings.

 

Jesus Called God

 

Paul speaks of Jesus thus: “God was manifest in the flesh, justified in the Spirit, seen of angels, preached unto the Gentiles, believed on in the world, received up into glory” (I Timothy  3:16).


As the light in the lampstand gave “light over against it” (Exodus 25:37), so Scripture illuminates and explains Scripture. Let’s for instance take a look at Exodus 3, the beginning of the chapter. We learn, verse 2 that “the angel of the Lord appeared unto him [Moses] in a flame of fire out of the midst of a bush”, then in verse 4, we read: “God called unto him out of the midst of the bush, and said, Moses, Moses”. Was it really God speaking to Moses? No, it was the angel of the LORD speaking on behalf of God as confirmed in Acts 7:35. Another Scriptures should help to better understand passages in which Jesus is seemingly declared to be God. In Exodus 4:16 we read concerning Moses: “And he shall be thy spokesman unto the people: and he shall be, even he shall be to thee instead of a mouth, and thou shalt be to him instead of God”.  Jesus, a created being and the Word of God made flesh, is also God’s spokesman, and an even more powerful one than Moses could ever have been (Deuteronomy 18:18). Jesus should surely be to us “instead of God”, as He was for the apostles and His first disciples.

 

But let’s remember that Jesus himself never claimed to be God. Accused by the Pharisees to take upon himself authority only belonging to God and thus “making himself equal with God” (John 5:18, see also John 10:31-36), Jesus made it clear that he was not God, but rather the Son of God. “Say ye of him, whom the Father hath sanctified, and sent into the world, Thou blasphemest; because I said, I am the Son of God?” (John 10:36). We should better take heed as Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God. Acceptance or rejection of this statement determines our eternal destiny. “And this is the record, that God hath given to us eternal life, and this life is in his Son. He that hath the Son hath life; and he that hath not the Son of God hath not life” (1 John 5:11-13, see also Acts 8:37).

 

Indeed, “to us there is but one God, the Father, of whom are all things, and we in him; and one Lord Jesus Christ, by whom are all things, and we by him.” (1 Corinthians 8:6). That which Arius confessed is still confessed by the Church of God and the servants of God.

 

Some may object that such a belief may lower Jesus Christ, but Trinitarian and other Binitarians actually forget what Jesus himself was teaching concerning God the Father, and by doing so they do not show the same respect as Jesus, the Christ, showed to the Father, His Father and our Father, His God and our God (John 20:17). Who had ever seen or heard supposed “evangelists” preaching, or supposed Christians praying and was not surprised to not even hear them mentioning God, the Father, in their sermons or prayers? It is very common in modern day Christianity. By doing so, not only, do they disrespect the Father, but they do not even follow Christ’s teachings as Jesus said “I can of mine own self do nothing: as I hear, I judge: and my judgment is just; because I seek not mine own will, but the will of the Father which hath sent me” (John 5:30). Are not Christians supposed to be followers of Christ?

 

The Trinity doctrine and all its variants are actually the equivalent of breaking the first of the Ten Commandments, “Thou shalt have no other gods before me” (Exodus 20:3), which the Roman Catholic Church and its daughters are in fact eagerly doing and which Jesus Christ would have never done.

 

The “Trinity Verses”

 

Some like to present as proof of a Trinity some verses where the three “persons” of a Trinity are supposedly presented. Generally, they may start by using the supposed baptismal formula of Matthew 28:19. In some of his writings, Eusebius (260-340), a so-called “Church Father” and Bishop of Caesarea quotes Matthew 28:19. This man known as “the Father of Church History” never quotes the verse as it is found in our Bibles today. The verse always ends with the words “in my name.” In Book III of his famous work Ecclesiastical History, in Chapter 5 and Section 2, we read “But the rest of the apostles, who had been incessantly plotted against with a view to their destruction, and had been driven out of the land of Judea, went unto all nations to preach the Gospel, relying upon the power of Christ, who had said to them, “Go ye and make disciples of all the nations in my name.” Once again, in another of his writings, Oration in Praise of Emperor Constantine, in Chapter 16 and Section 8, we read: “What king or prince in any age of the world, what philosopher, legislator or prophet, in civilized or barbarous lands, has attained so great a height of excellence, I say not after death, but while living still, and full of mighty power, as to fill the ears and tongues of all mankind with the praises of his name? Surely none save our only Savior has done this, when, after his victory over death, he spoke the word to his followers, and fulfilled it by the event, saying to them, “Go ye and make disciples of all nations in my name.” The notes and commentaries found in the very Catholic Jerusalem Bible agree. We read concerning so-called the baptismal formula: “This formula is probably a reflection of the liturgical usage established later in the primitive community. It will be remembered that Ac [the book of Acts] speaks of batising ‘in the name of Jesus’, see Ac 1:5f. The attachment of the baptized person to all three persons of the all three persons of the Trinity will have been made explicit later.” All of these lead us to believe that the Trinitarian baptismal formula is not to be found in the original manuscript the way it was written by Matthew. Eusebius took part to the infamous council of Nicaea in which it was to be decided whether Christ was God or a creation of God. He never used the Trinitarian formula, but always quoted Matthew 28:19 as reading “in my name.” If the Trinitarian formula had existed, it would have certainly be used by early Trinitarians to defend their doctrine. Obviously, the Trinitarian formula was added later and is not to be found in the earliest manuscripts. If Matthew 28:19, as we find it in our Bibles today, is a truthful rendering of the original manuscripts, how do we explain the disobedience of the apostles. They never baptized using this formula. All new disciples were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, thus corroborating the verse as it is quoted by Eusebius in his works. Furthermore, and without mentioning it and going in to much detail explaining that it is not in fact a proper baptismal formula, as it may be acknowledged by reading the Book of Acts, suffice it to say that this verse does not demonstrate that God, Christ, and the Holy Ghost constitute a Trinity or a triune God and that the three are equal in substance, power and eternity. The listing of three people such as Tom, Dick and Harry in a same text of any sort does not make those people a three in one being.

 

Another passage frequently used may be found in 1 John 5:7-8 and is called the Comma Johanneum by some Bible scholars. It read “For there are three that bear record in heaven, the Father, the Word, and the Holy Ghost: and these three are one. And there are three that bear witness in earth, the Spirit, and the water, and the blood: and these three agree in one.” In this quote from the Scriptures, the words underlined were added to some Greek manuscripts and do not belong to the original manuscript. Ardent Trinitarians agree that this underlined part was not found in the earliest Greek manuscripts. The Roman Catholic Church even admits it in a footnote in its own version of the Scriptures, the New Jerusalem Bible. The footnote goes on to say: “The words in italics [making reference to the words we underlined above in this tract]” are “not in any of the early Gk MSS [Greek Manuscripts], or in any of the early translations, or in the best MSS of the Vulg. [The Vulgate, a 4th century Latin translation of the Scriptures] itself” and “are probably a gloss that crept into the text”. A Trinitarian scholar, Henry Alford (1810-1871), in his writings, even bluntly states that this addition to the Scriptures was omitted by all Greek Manuscripts previous to the beginning of the 16th century. Such an unreliable text certainly cannot be used to prove a Trinity.

 

Conclusion

 

To conclude, we should agree that Jesus is not God in an absolute sense, and certainly not God the Son as the Trinitarians would like us to believe. Jesus is consistently called the Son of God. Contrary to the Nicene Creed which teaches that Jesus Christ is “begotten, not made”, the Church of God believes, as set forth in the Scriptures, that Jesus is God’s first creation (Colossians 1:15; Revelation 3:14) and that he is the only begotten Son of God, born of the virgin Mary. God, the Father, is the only Almighty God, before him there is no other gods (Exodus 20:3). The Father is the Creator of all things.

 

Such belief does not in any way diminished Jesus Christ, who as the Son of God rightly deserves to sit on the right hand of God ((Mark 16:19, see also Acts 7:56). Jesus Christ is our Lord, he had been appointed to such a position by God. “God hath made the same Jesus, whom ye have crucified, both Lord and Christ” (Acts 2:36). He has been exalted and at the warring phase of its second return, he will be declared to be “KING OF KINGS, AND LORD OF LORDS” (Revelation 19:16). Nobody, other than Jesus, the Christ, will ever deserve to wear such titles.

 

Let’s follow Christ’s example and be faithful to the apostolic teachings. The Word of God, the Scriptures, is the final authority, as it has been to all who belong to this wonderful Church purchased by Jesus Christ and His precious blood. Amen.

Published by Sabbath Keeper - in Trinité -Trinity
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September 26 2013 5 26 /09 /September /2013 15:38

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Article written by Schalk and Elsa Klee at Set Apart People


To cover or not to cover…that is the question. Is it commanded by Scripture for women to wear head coverings?

 

I personally believe that I should do so and it has since made a difference in my life. It is a blessing to me. I experience it to be proper respect to YHVH when I pray to Him, when I teach my children about Him and when I talk about Him – the Creator and King of the universe. YHVH deserves our respect and fear even in something that might seem so trivial or unimportant.

 

I have studied Scripture and have read many different articles on the subject. You can certainly reason for – or against it by interpreting Scripture in different ways. I am going to attempt to show it to you from my point of view. You may agree or disagree with me, it doesn’t matter. I am writing this because I would like others to enjoy the blessing I enjoy in being obedient to this Biblical instruction.

 

Can we say that wearing a head covering is Biblical instruction? If we believe that all Scripture is given to us for our instruction in righteousness, then yes, it is.

 

2 Timothy 3:16–17 (NASB95)16 All Scripture is inspired by Elohim and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness; 17 so that the man of Elohim may be adequate, equipped for every good work.

 

Let’s now have a look at the specific part in Scripture that covers the topic of head covering.

 

1 Corinthians 11:1–15 (NASB95)1 Be imitators of me, just as I also am of Messiah. 2 Now I praise you because you remember me in everything and hold firmly to the traditions, just as I delivered them to you. 3 But I want you to understand that the Messiah is the head of every man, and the man is the head of a woman, and YHVH is the head of  Messiah. 4 Every man who has something on his head while praying or prophesying disgraces his head. 5 But every woman who has her head uncovered while praying or prophesying disgraces her head, for she is one and the same as the woman whose head is shaved. 6 For if a woman does not cover her head, let her also have her hair cut off; but if it is disgraceful for a woman to have her hair cut off or her head shaved, let her cover her head. 7 For a man ought not to have his head covered, since he is the image and glory of YHVH; but the woman is the glory of man. 8 For man does not originate from woman, but woman from man; 9 for indeed man was not created for the woman’s sake, but woman for the man’s sake. 10 Therefore the woman ought to have a symbol of authority on her head, because of the angels.11 However, in YHVH, neither is woman independent of man, nor is man independent of woman. 12 For as the woman originates from the man, so also the man has his birth through the woman; and all things originate from YHVH. 13 Judge for yourselves: is it proper for a woman to pray to YHVH with her head uncovered? 14 Does not even nature itself teach you that if a man has long hair, it is a dishonor to him, 15 but if a woman has long hair, it is a glory to her? For her hair is given to her for a covering.

 

Are these Paul’s instructions or YHVH’s?

 

1 Corinthians 14:37–38 (NASB95)37 If anyone thinks he is a prophet or spiritual, let him recognize that the things which I write to you are the Master’s commandment. 38 But if anyone does not recognize this, he is not recognized.

 

We can also see that he is not speaking to the Corinthians only because of him saying “every man and every woman” in 1 Corinthians 11:3-5.

 

A physical covering

 

When Paul uses the word `covering` (Strongs nr 2619 and 177) he means a physical covering. The Greek word κατακαλύπτω katakaloopto means cover in a physical way and akatakalooptos means uncover in a physical way.

 

2619 κατακαλύπτω[katakalupto /kat·ak·al·oop·to/] Three occurrences; AV translates as “cover” three times. 1 to cover up. 2 to veil or cover one’s self.

Strong, J. (1996).

 

177 ἀκατακάλυπτος[akatakaluptos /ak·at·ak·al·oop·tos/] adj. From 1 (as a negative particle) and 2619 a derivative of a compound of 2596 and 2572; GK 184; Two occurrences; AV translates as “uncovered” twice. 1 not covered, unveiled.

Strong, J. (1996).

 

κατακαλύπτω Gn 38,15; Ex 26,34; 29,22; Lv 3,3.14 
A to cover with [τί τινι] Ex 26,34; to cover [τι] (of a cloud) Ez 38,9; to cover, to flood [τι] (of pers.) Nm 22,5; id. [τινα] (of water) Hab 2,14; id. [τινα] (of dust) Ez 26,10; to cover [τι] (metaph.) Jer 28 (51),51M to disguise 2 Chr 18,29

 

κατακεκαλυμμένη she who is covered, she who wears a veil SusTh32; τὸ στέαρ τὸ κατακαλύπτον τὴν κοιλίαν the fat that covers the belly Ex 29,22; κατεκαλύψατο τὸ πρόσωπον αὐτῆς she had covered her face, she was wearing a veil Gn 38,15; κατακεκαλυμμένα τὰ προστάγματα the words are to remain hidden DnLXX12,9. 


Lust, J., Eynikel, E., & Hauspie, K. (2003). A Greek-English Lexicon of the Septuagint

 

In 1 Corinthians 11:15 Paul uses a different word: περιβόλαιον peribolaion. This can be translated as covering but more in the sense of a garment.

 

4018 περιβόλαιον[peribolaion /per·ib·ol·ah·yon/] n n. From a presumed derivative of 4016; GK 4316; Two occurrences; AV translates as “covering” once, and “vesture” once. 1 a covering thrown around, a wrapper. 1A a mantle. 1B a veil. Strong, J. (1996).

 

Let us try and understand this:

 

Firstly Paul used a different word, thereby implying a different meaning. If you look at the Hebrew word that could have been used if this was written in Hebrew (according to the Septuagint) it suggests a garment.

 

Secondly if Paul was saying that long hair was meant instead of a covering; how can we explain the act of covering and uncovering in 1 Corinthians 11:5-6. How can a woman then pray or prophesy uncovered? It would imply that she either has no hair or short hair. In this view only long hair would be permitted. We know it is not so. Long hair was given as a woman’s glory because it gave visible expression to the differentiation of the sexes. This was Paul’s point in noting that long hair was given to her as a covering.i This does in my opinion not take away from what he said before about praying and prophesying with a head covering.

 

A physical sign of YHVH’s authority structure

 

1 Corinthians 11:3-5 also makes it clear as to why it is expected of us as women to wear a head covering. Head covering is a sign of YHVH’s authority structure. In YHVH’s Kingdom there is only one authority structure and it is called theocracy. Unlike democracy we do not get to say how things should be done; we do not have a vote. YHVH has a very specific way He expects us to do things. It does not always make sense to us as to why or how, but it is not for us to reason the why or how, we as His servants are to do things His way.

 

This is YHVH’s structure of authority or theocracy:

 

YHVH is the head (authority over) Y’shua and Y’shua over man and man over woman.

 

YHVH’s glory is made manifest in and through Y’shua Who was made flesh and dwelled among us. Y’shua in His physical form was under YHVH’s authority.

 

John 5:19 (NASB95)19 Therefore Y’shua answered and was saying to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, the Son can do nothing of Himself, unless it is something He sees the Father doing; for whatever the Father does, these things the Son also does in like manner.

 

It is also said that man is the glory of YHVH, woman the glory of man and that a woman’s glory is her hair.

 

In the covering of the head of the woman when praying and prophesying both the glory of man and her own glory -her hair- is covered, thus only YHVH’s glory can be seen.

 

He chose the woman to wear a sign of this authority on her head. A head covering is also a sign to the angels. This “sign to the angels” part is difficult to understand. Could it be as a means to remind the angels that we as mere mortals choose to obey YHVH and submit ourselves by choice under His authority? Some angels like haSatan wanted that authority for himself. He didn’t want to submit to YHVH’s authority. We can also think of what happened in Genesis 6:2-4.

 

YHVH chose the women to wear the sign of authority on her head as a constant reminder to her that she is to submit to YHVH’s authority and to her husband’s authority. A part of the punishment given to the woman in the garden after the fall was that her desire would be for her husband and he would rule over her.

 

Genesis 3:16 (NASB95)16 To the woman He said, “I will greatly multiply Your pain in childbirth, In pain you will bring forth children; Yet your desire will be for your husband, And he will rule over you.”

 

This doesn’t mean that women are inferior to men, but it does mean that the role of a woman from a Biblical perspective is different from the way things operate in the world.

 

Ephesians 5:22–24 (NASB95)22 Wives, be subject to your own husbands, as to YHVH. 23 For the husband is the head of the wife, as the Messiah also is the head of the assembly, He Himself being the Savior of the body. 24 But as the assembly is subject to the Messiah, so also the wives ought to be to their husbands in everything.

 

Ephesians 5:33 (NASB95)33 Nevertheless, each individual among you also is to love his own wife even as himself, and the wife must see to it that she respects her husband.

 

The woman is to respect her husband…

A head covering reminds a woman of her place in YHVH’s theocracy and her role toward her husband.

 

Titus 2:5 (NASB95)5 to be sensible, pure, workers at home, kind, being subject to their own husbands, so that the word of YHVH will not be dishonored.

 

Let us look at the word ὑποτάσσω (hupotasso).

 

5293 ὑποτάσσω[hupotasso /hoop·ot·as·so/] AV translates as “put under” six times, “be subject unto” six times, “be subject to” five times, “submit (one’s) self unto” five times, “submit (one’s) self to” three times, “be in subjection unto” twice, “put in subjection under” once, and translated miscellaneously 12 times. 1 to arrange under, to subordinate. 2 to subject, put in subjection. 3 to subject one’s self, obey. 4 to submit to one’s control. 5to yield to one’s admonition or advice. 6 to obey, be subject. Additional Information: A Greek military term meaning “to arrange [troop divisions] in a miliary fashion under the command of a leader”. In non-military use, it was “a voluntary attitude of giving in, cooperating, assuming responsibility, and carrying a burden”.

Strong, J. (1996).

 

The possible meanings of this word describes this attitude of submission really well: to arrange under, to subordinate, to yield to one’s admonition or advice and a voluntary attitude of giving in, cooperating assuming responsibility and carrying a burden.

 

Read it again and you will begin to understand YHVH’s heart in giving this instruction. All of the above will contribute to peace if not create peace at home. He thought it well fitting to help the wife remember how He wants her to conduct herself with regards to her husband and marriage. I have read an article by Myron Horst who herself grew up in a Mennonite church. She writes on the correlation between women wearing a head covering as is instructed in 1 Corinthians 11 and the divorce rate.

 

As the years have passed, many Mennonite churches dropped the head covering. I have observed that among those churches that viewed the head covering as no longer necessary or important and discontinued wearing the head covering, the divorce rate among church members has significantly increased. At the same time the Mennonite churches that continued to require the wearing of the head covering continued to have a very, very low divorce rate. The Amish, whose ladies also wear a head covering, have almost a zero divorce rate.” This is very interesting…

 

Quoting this, we do not support the doctrine of the Mennonite church or any other statements made by this author.

 

The head covering, a reminder to the husband

 

The head covering is also to remind the husband of his place in YHVH’s theocracy. You may ask – How so?

 

If you are submissive to your husband and wears the sign of YHVH’s authority on your head, surely it would be a reminder to your husband if he is disobedient to go back to YHVH’s way.

 

1 Peter 3:1–2 (NASB95)1 In the same way, you wives, be submissive to your own husbands so that even if any of them are disobedient to the word, they may be won without a word by the behavior of their wives, 2 as they observe your chaste and respectful behavior.

 

Head covering is a reminder to us of YHVH’s authority over us just like wearing tzit-tzit is a reminder to us that we are to keep His commandments. (Numbers 15:39-40).

 

Well if you look at what Scripture says and what a head covering symbolizes; could you still say it is just a cultural thing for a people in that time and it only applies to them?

 

We are set apart people to YHVH, should we follow the world and it’s culture or should we follow YHVH and His commandments?

 

Psalm 119:172 (NASB95)172 Let my tongue sing of Your word, For all Your commandments are righteousness.

 

References

i Walvoord, John F., Roy B. Zuck, and Dallas Theological Seminary. The Bible Knowledge Commentary: An Exposition of the Scriptures. Wheaton, IL: Victor Books, 1983.


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