Friday, October 29

Was Jesus a Vegetarian?

Did Jesus eat meat? For many people, you are probably wondering what any of this has to do with us. A good and dear friend of mine had questions about this sort of thing, and once I did a bit of research, I noticed that there was an interest in this subject. Therefore, it is a valid topic, and ought to be covered, given the context we are going to look at it in. The question goes a bit like this, and a valid question it is indeed: "In Genesis, God tells us that man and creature alike did not eat meat, in God's perfect world, but plants and vegetation. To be a good Christian, ought we follow this? Also, since Jesus is God, did he eat meat when he was on the earth?"

I think it best to look at this first, in its narrative. In the first chapter of Genesis we read, "I give you every seed-bearing plant on the face of the whole earth and every tree that has fruit with seed in it. They will be yours for food. And to all the beasts of the earth and all the birds in the sky and all the creatures that move on the ground - everything that has the breath of life in it - I give every green plant for food." (Genesis 1:29-30) Later, following the flood narrative, "God blessed Noah and his sons, saying to them, 'Be fruitful and increase in number and fill the earth. The fear and dread of you will fall on all the beasts of the earth and all the birds in the sky, on every creature that moves along the ground, and on all the fish in the sea; they are given into your hands. Everything that lives and moves will be food for you. Just as I gave you the green plants, I now give you everything." (Genesis 9:1-3)
That being said, is it wrong for us to want to eat meat, should we, as Christians, be vegetarian? You can be, but God provided us with more food sources, and all depending on personal preference, there is nothing biblically wrong with eating meat.The question was also asked, "Did Jesus Eat Meat?" If the Son of God did not eat meat, it would mean we ought not to also. However, that is not the case. Take John 21, for example. After his resurrection, Jesus had his disciples cast out, and when they caught fish, and returned to shore, there he was, ready with a fire for cooking. We are told that they ate the fish - which is meat. Another instance would be Passover.

Passover has not changed its traditions since the Exodus. Traditionally, Jews took a lamb or goat and ate them during Passover dinner. We are told that Jesus kept the Passover laws, and as such, he ate lamb, or goat - which is also meat. Passover is a Holy day which celebrates the Exodus of the Israelites from Egypt. It was a commanded assembly. You can find the full regulations are detailed are given in Exodus 12. In basic terms, on Passover, a lamb was killed and roasted. Exodus 12:3,5 says, "Speak to all the congregation of Israel, saying, In the tenth of this month they shall take to them each man a lamb for a father's house, a lamb for a house... Your lamb shall be without blemish, a male of the first year. You shall take from the sheep or from the goats."

While yes, it is true that what Jesus and his disciples ate could have been a goat or even a sheep, it was most likely a lamb. The celebration of Passover for Jews is still in effect - unlike much of the Ceremonial Law found the first five books of the Bible, when Jesus died, Passover was still in effect. His death and resurrection did not negate the importance of the Passover. In fact, Exodus 12:14 says, "And this day shall be unto you for a memorial; and you shall keep it a feast to the LORD throughout your generations; you shall keep it a feast by an ordinance forever. You must celebrate this day as a religious festival to remind you of what I, the LORD, have done. Celebrate it for all time to come."

The long and short of it is, yes, Jesus did eat meat - even if he did not have lamb, goat, or sheep, he ate fish. However, if he did not eat at Passover, he would be breaking the Passover laws, and we are told that these he kept. We can come to the logical conclusion that Jesus was not a vegetarian. It is from this that we can understand that Christ is our Passover lamb. 1st Corinthians 5:7 says, "You must remove the old yeast of sin so that you will be entirely pure. Then you will be like a new batch of dough without any yeast, as indeed I know you actually are. For our Passover Festival is ready, now that Christ, our Passover lamb, has been sacrificed."

Jesus ate Passover lamb, he was our lamb, and he is the Lamb of God, who takes away the sins of the world. He can take away our sins if we only confess with our mouth, "Jesus Is Lord," and if we believe in our heart that he is risen from the dead, we will be saved. Pray for forgiveness of sins daily, as we sin daily, and try to spread truth wherever possible, just as Jesus commissioned us. (Matthew 28:16-20Another dear friend had pointed out Romans 14. Here is the text, take from it what you will, dear reader. "Accept those whose faith is weak, without quarreling over disputable matters. One person's faith allows them to eat everything, but another person, whose faith is weak, eats only vegetables. The one who eats everything must not treat with contempt the one who does not, and the one who does not eat everything must not judge the one who does, for God has accepted that person." (Romans 14:1-3)

"Who are you to judge someone else's servant? To their own master they stand or fall. And they will stand, for the Lord is able to make them stand. Some consider one day more sacred than another; others consider every day alike. Everyone should be fully convinced in their own mind. Those who regard one day more sacred as special do so to the Lord. Those who eat meat do so to the Lord, for they give thanks to God; and those who abstain do so to the Lord and give thanks to God. For we do not live to ourselves alone and we do not die to ourselves alone." (Romans 14:4-7"If we live, we live to the Lord; and if we die, we die to the Lord. So, whether we live or die, we belong to the Lord. For this very reason, Christ died and returned to life so that he might be the Lord of both the dead and the living. You, then, why do you judge your brother or sister? Or why do you treat your brother or sister with contempt? For we will all stand before God's judgment seat. It is written: ' As surely as I live,' says the Lord, every knee will bow before me, every tongue will confess to God.' So then, we will all give an account of ourselves to God." (Romans 14:8-12)

"Therefore let us stop passing judgment on one another. Instead, make up your mind not to put any stumbling block or obstacle in the way of a brother or sister. I am convinced, being fully persuaded by the Lord Jesus, that nothing is unclean in itself. But if anyone regards something as unclean, then that person is unclean. If your brother or sister is distressed because of what you eat, you are no longer acting in love. Do not by eating destroy your brother or sister for whom Christ died." (Romans 14:13-15"Therefore do not let what you know is good be spoken of as evil. For the kingdom of God is not a matter of eating and drinking, but of righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit, because anyone who serves Christ in this way is pleasing to God and receives human approval. let us therefore make every effort to do what leads to peace and to mutual edification. Do not destroy the work of God for the sake of food. All food is clean, but it is wrong for a person to eat anything that causes someone else to stumble. It is better not to eat meat or drink wine or to do anything else that will cause your brother or sister to fall." (Romans 14:16-21); "So, whatever you believe about these things keep between yourself and God. Blessed are those who do not condemn themselves by what they eat, because their eating is not from faith; and everything that does not come from faith is a sin." (Romans 14:22-23) This chapter is a good passage to refer to when issues food-related arise.

Troy Hillman

Saturday, October 23

God and Simple Logic

Are there any specific logical conclusions that we can make about God, merely by using examples and logic alone? Yes, there is. There are many logical reasons to believe in the Creator God, and in this entry, I will not only give scriptural references to his creation, and the defense of this creation, but logical debates, if you will, that some do not think of.

Understand, of course, that these may seem odd or even silly to seem, yet at the same time, mean the world to others. God gave us his word to teach us, correct us, help us. "For everything that was written in the past was written to teach us, so that through endurance taught in the Scriptures and the encouragement they provide we might have hope." (Romans 15:4)

I have often found myself in situations wherein people ask such questions as, "How Do You Know God Exists?" Or statements such as, "God could not exist, because I have never seen him, heard him, or touched him." Such things as these, if thought about long enough, are not good arguments to make. In the modern society, many Christians do not know how to answer the first. I trust that many of these entries on the blog have helped you to answer such questions.

Let us begin with an example. One of your friends comes up to you and says, "God must not exist, I have never seen him, touched him, or heard him. Therefore, he cannot exist." *Side-note: merely because he has not made himself known to you does not mean he does not exist.* A good, logical response would be, "Have you ever seen George Washington?" "Well, no. But we have historical documents of him." Our reply? "We have historical documents of God." We agree with what we read in Historical Textbooks because of documents and accounts that have been around for a long time. Why is this not the case with God's Word?

Point being, not one of us alive today has ever seen, heard, or touched George Washington. We have never seen, heard, or touched King George III. Yet there is not doubt that they existed. There is enough evidence to prove the existence of God, our Intelligent Designer.Where else can you go from there?

Say, for example, that someone comes up to you and says, "I don't believe in air, because I can't see it, hear it, or touch it." Our response should be, :Do you believe in love?" "Why of course, what a silly question." Then we say, "Have you ever seen it, heard it, or touched it? No, you have not. But we have FELT it. In the same way, I have FELT air." Also in the same way, many people have FELT the presence of God. I have personally FELT God, just as I have FELT love, though "God is love." (1st John 4:8)

Natural law is another thing. We all have laws that we cannot break - the law of gravity, for example. No matter how many times you jump up, you will always fall back down due to the gravity of the planet. But when we take a look at Moral Law such as knowing the difference between right and wrong. If one is old enough to be able to read this entry and understand it, then they know of the Moral Law, or know of its existence.

The Moral Law contains truths such as not lying, not lusting, not committing adultery, not murdering, honoring your father and mother, among others. But unlike the Law of Gravity, we have a choice whether or not to follow this law. It did not merely develop within our minds over time, but is something we are born with, engraved on our hearts and minds by our creator - God. If God did not exist, then we would not have a Moral Law, and would have no need to follow it, for then we would merely be chemicals fighting each other in survival. The law is written on our hearts. (Romans 2:14-15)

Consider the tilt of the Earth. Using logic, I can determine that the tilt of the Earth, the position of the axis, all of it, the oxygen, the oceans, the land, it is all near-perfect conditions for life.

Using simple logic, we can determine this: logic dictates that creation must have a creator. Therefore, by using logic alone, we can determine that something had to have created this energy, this matter. But who, or what, created the matter? The Christian tradition would declare that the Lord God Almighty created the Universe (Genesis 1-2, Exodus 20:11, 31:12, etc.).

Troy Hillman

Tuesday, October 12

Covenants: The Old and the New

Have you ever heard of the Old Covenant and the New Covenant? Perhaps you may have, perhaps not. The basic concept is that the Old Covenant was the Covenant made between God and Israel at Mt. Sinai, whereas the New Covenant was made between God and the whole of humanity, through his son Jesus Christ. In this entry, we will be taking a look at both. We need to understand that there are not merely two covenants found in the entirety of the Bible. There were covenants made between God and Abraham, (Genesis 15:18) God and Jacob, with groups of people, such as the descendants of King David (2nd Samuel 7:12-16), and like the New Covenant, there were some made with all of humanity, such as the promise that God would not flood the whole earth ever again. (Genesis 9:17-18(Photo Credit to: Seeking Jesus)

Jeremiah the prophet spoke of the Old and New Covenants. Jeremiah 31:31-33, "'The days are coming,' declares the Lord, 'when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah. It will not be like the covenant I made with their ancestors when I took them by the hand to lead them out of Egypt, because they broke my covenant, though I was their master, declares the Lord. 'This is the covenant I will make with the house of Israel after that Time,' declares the Lord. 'I will put my law in their minds and write it on their hearts. I will be their God, and they will be my people.'" By stating that there would be a new covenant, there is an implied difference between and old and a new - two separate covenants. St. Paul speaks of this new covenant several times. Romans 7:6, "But now, by dying to what once bound us, we have been released from the law so that we serve in the new way of the Spirit, and not in the old way of the written code."  

2nd Corinthians 3:13-16 says, "We are not like Moses, who would put a veil over his face to prevent the Israelites from seeing the end of what was passing away. But their minds were made dull, for to this day the same veil remains when the old covenant is read. It has not been removed, because only in Christ is it taken away. Even to this day when Moses is read, a veil covers their hearts. But whenever anyone turns to the Lord, the veil is taken away." St. Paul tells us in Galatians 3:17, "What I mean is this: The law, introduced 430 years later, does not set aside the covenant previously established by God and thus do away with the promise." In Hebrews 8:6-7, we read, "But in fact the ministry of Jesus has received is as superior to theirs as the covenant of which he is mediator is superior to the old one, since the new covenant is established on better promises. For if there had been nothing wrong with the first covenant, no place would have been sought for another. But God found fault with the people..." 

The text goes on the show the prophecy from Jeremiah 31. Hebrews 8:13 ends, "By calling this covenant 'new,' he has made the first one obsolete; and what is obsolete and outdated will soon disappear." God gave the Old Covenant to the Israelites at Mt. Sinai. Bear in mind that it was God who gave the covenant, not man. This is what God said to them: (Exodus 19:3-6"This is what you are to say to the house of Jacob and what you are to tell the people of Israel: `You yourselves have seen what I did to Egypt, and how I carried you on eagles' wings and brought you to myself. Now if you obey me fully and keep my covenant, then out of all nations you will be my treasured possession. Although the whole earth is mine, you will be for me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation.' These are the words you are to speak to the Israelites." Moses, after receiving the Covenant, along with the Ten Commandments, went down to the elders of Israel and spoke with them. They readily agreed to do all God had asked of them. After formalizing the covenant, Moses returned to the Mt. and was told by God to write down the following laws. You can find these laws in the books of Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy.

When Moses passed, God communicated with Israel through various means - the Urim and the Thummim, Prophets such as Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, Daniel, Hosea, Zechariah, Jonah, Malachi, and many others. About 1,440 years after the Old Covenant was initiated, there was a baby born in Bethlehem. This baby grew up, working alongside his Mother's husband as a carpenter in the town of Nazareth. When he reached the age of 30, he began a 3-Year Ministry across Israel, from Judea to Galilee, and the like. Between 31-33 AD, he was arrested, and taken to the Roman Governor. After a visit between the King Herod and the Roman Governor, the Israelites called for the man to be crucified for his supposed crimes. So this man was taken to a hill, named Golgotha, and was crucified on a Roman Cross, one of the worst forms of Roman Punishment. A few hours later, the man was dead. When he died, "the curtain of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom. The earth shook, the rocks split, and the tombs broke open. The bodies of many holy people who had died were raised to life." (Matthew 27:51-52, For more on that, see here) But the journey of this supposed criminal was not over. Three days after his crucifixion, he arose from the dead. His name? Jesus of Nazareth. The Messiah.

When Jesus instituted the Eucharist, he also initiated the New Covenant by his body and blood. In fact, this was spoken of throughout the Hebrew Bible (Hosea 2:18, Jeremiah 31:31-34; Ezekiel 16:61-62). The following table is a overview of the New Covenant, and how it applies to us. (Original Table - credit to: Dan and Melinda Harrison, edited by Troy Hillman)
The Characteristics of the New Covenant
(Jeremiah 31:33-34; Hebrews 8:10-12)
Prophecy of New Covenant How it Applies
"I will put my law in their minds and write it on their hearts." (Jeremiah 31:33b) Emphasizes the spiritual life, rather than ceremonies and offerings. The covenant appeals to the intellect, will, emotions, and to the conscience.
"I will be their God, and they will be my people." (Jeremiah 31:33c) Any who partake in the new covenant have a close and personal relationship with God. They do not need to be a priest to be close to God any longer.
"No longer will a man teach his neighbor, or a man his brother, saying, `Know the LORD,' because they will all know me, from the least of them to the greatest." (Jeremiah 31:34a) No one can become part of the new covenant without already knowing God, and entering into the new covenant through both faith and obedience.
"For I will forgive their wickedness and will remember their sins no more." (Jeremiah 31:34b) Under the new covenant, forgiveness is given by God through his son, Jesus, who was the "final sacrifice," so that no more offerings had to take place.

We need to understand that both Covenants cannot be in effect at the same time. Jesus came to fulfill the Old Covenant and put into place the New. He fulfilled the Old when he died for us. (John 19:28-30) The purpose of the Old Covenant has been achieved and is therefore no longer needed. It was put into place to prepare the Israelites for the coming of the Messiah. Once Christ's death and resurrection occurred, the old was gone. (Galatians 3:24-25Now, some will take all this to mean that the Ten Commandments are not legally and eternally binding. Not so. They are still binding - St. Paul and Christ clearly state this more than once. Yes, it is true that when Jesus died, the law was removed. But that does not by any means show that the Ten Commandments are not still in place. The law of Christ is the same as the Commandments. Christ now has all authority under Heaven. (See Matthew 28:18, Ephesians 1:20-23) See the below table for clarification. (Original Table credit goes to Dan and Melinda Harrison, edited by Troy Hillman)
The Ten Commandments and the New Covenant Law
The Commandment Law under the New Covenant
"You shall have no other gods before me."(Exodus 20:3) There is only one God, do not put anything before God. (Ephesians 4:6)
"You shall not make for yourself an idol." (Exodus 20:4) Idolatry is to be avoided (1st Corinthians 10:14; Galatians 5:20)
"You shall not misuse the name of the LORD your God." (Exodus 20:7) Only wholesome speech is to be used, do not take the Lord's name in vain, do not swear or curse. (Ephesians 4:29, 5:4; James 1:26, 3:5-10)
"Remember the Sabbath day by keeping it holy." (Exodus 20:8) There is no specific corresponding law. However, we are told to live each day for God, and to set aside one day for worship.
"Honor your father and your mother." (Exodus 20:12) Honor your parents. (Ephesians 6:2-3)
"You shall not murder." (Exodus 20:13) Murder is forbidden, any who have ever been angry are guilty of breaking this commandment. (Romans 13:9; Matthew 5:21-22) Bear in mind that it says, "Do not murder." Most misunderstand it to say not to kill. Killing may sometimes be necessary in self-defense situations, though I would not condone killing.
"You shall not commit adultery." (Exodus 20:14) Sexual immorality is forbidden. Do not lust, for lust is like committing adultery in one's mind. (Matthew 5:27-28; 1st Corinthians. 6:18; Galatians 5:19)
"You shall not steal." (Exodus 20:15) Do not steal, no matter how small, large, significant or insignificant something is. (Ephesians 4:28)
"You shall not give false testimony against your neighbor." (Exodus 20:16) All lying is forbidden, be it a "white lie," or a "big lie." (Colossians 3:9; Revelation 21:8)
"You shall not covet."- (Exodus 20:17) Greed is forbidden. Do not want what others have, be it a girl/guy, object, or other such things. (Ephesians 5:3; Colossians 3:5)
As you can see from the above table, The Commandments are still in place, under the New Covenant. For more on the Ten Commandments, see here. What was the Old Covenant? The Old Covenant was between God and Israel, involving many sacrificial laws, among others. The Old was removed when Christ died on the cross. That is when the New Covenant, between not only Israel, but the Gentiles - all of humanity, was put into effect. It remains that way to this day. Jesus, at the infamous last supper, gave his disciples bread and "fruit of the vine." He said, "This is my blood of the new covenant, which is poured out for many. Truly I tell you, I will not drink again of the fruit of the vine until that day when I drink it new in the kingdom of God." (Mark 14:24-25) After he had said this, when his death and resurrection passed, the New Covenant was in effect. That is why Christians, to this day, drink and eat "In remembrance of" Christ.

I thank you for taking the time to read this entry of "The Truth." I trust it has proven both helpful and insightful, and that you come away with a clearer and better understanding of the Old and the New Covenant. 

Troy Hillman

Monday, October 11

Book Overview: 2nd Samuel

Following up as the second part of the Book of Samuel, 2nd Samuel gives the account of King David's reign as King, the acts that he committed, the good works - and bad works. The infamous stories of David and Bathsheba, Absalom, and others, are found in this book.

This is the ninth Book Overview in a series of 66 Books. These overviews are written so that it may provide readers with details about the book, things that they may have missed, and will hopefully peak your interest so that you will read the book, the entire Bible in fact, as God wants us to do. Now, onto the Book of 2nd Samuel.

Title: Books of Samuel [2nd Samuel] (English), Sefer Sh'muel ספר שמואל (Hebrew) The two books of Samuel were originally written in Hebrew, as one collective work. However, the books were split into two separate works, since by different authors.

Authorship:Traditionally, the authors of these two Books of Samuel are said to be Samuel, Gad, and Nathan. Samuel is believed to have written the first 24 chapters of 1st Samuel. Whereas Gad, who was the companion of David (1 Samuel 22:5), is believed to have continued the history from that point, and Nathan is believed to have completed the Books of Samuel, and was probably the one who arranged the two books in the form that we now have. (1 Chronicles 29:29).

Written: Sometime between 1043 BC - when Saul was crowned King, and just before 1004 BC - when David captured Jerusalem from the Jebusites. It was written between 1043-1004 BC.

Summary: "2 Samuel documents the life and reign of David as Israel’s king. David committed numerous and despicable sins, yet God calls him a man after his own heart (1 Samuel 13:14). 2 Samuel shows that although we humans are full of sin, we can lead a godly life." (NIV)

Overview: 2nd Samuel 1-10 - David's lament; David recognized as King
2nd Samuel 6 - Ark of the Covenant Comes to Jerusalem
2nd Samuel 6; 12 - Abner and Ishbaal
2nd Samuel 7 - God's promise of a dynasty lasting forever
2nd Samuel 11-18 - Rejection of David; Bathsheba 
2nd Samuel 12 - The prophet Nathan
2nd Samuel 21 - Account of Rizpah
2nd Samuel 19-24 - David's Restoration to the Throne

While 1st Samuel covered the life of the prophet Samuel, the life of King Saul, and the early years of David, 2nd Samuel continues where 1st Samuel left off - and David is in exile and is given news of the King's death. King David was called "a man after God's own heart," referring to his active skill as a Psalmist.

The first part of 2nd Samuel describes how David came to be king, whereas the second part shows how court life and sparks between family members made a chaotic order out of his happy life. The book ends with David giving an offering to stop a plague. 1st Kings picks up with David making Solomon King.

Points: As we have discussed in previous overviews, you can find multitudes on the different facts, aspects, and insights into these books from different authors and sources. The intention is only to provide a few points, to show things you may or may not have known.

David became King around 1004 BC
A very important footnote is 2nd Samuel 7:12-16. It is a prophecy concerning Jesus Christ, though the first part can be taken in such a way that it refers to Solomon - but not the entirety.. "When your days are over and you rest with your ancestors, I will raise up your offspring to succeed you, who will come from your own body, and I will establish his kingdom. He is the one who will build a house for my Name, and I will establish the throne of his kingdom forever. I will be his father, and he will be my son. When he does wrong, I will punish him with a rod wielded by human beings, with floggings inflicted by human hands. But my love will never be taken away from him, as I took it away from Saul, whom I removed from before you. Your house and your kingdom will endure forever before me, your throne will be established forever."

Going along with the above passage, it is true that, while David did not live on this Earth forever, when Jesus returns to set up his 1,000-year reign, followed by his Eternal Reign, Jesus, descendant of David (human-terms) will be reigning. Certain scriptures scholars have taken to mean that when Jesus returns, and the saved return with him, that David will be the Prince, whereas Jesus will be King.

Absalom, son of David, is prominently featured in this book. He may not share the fame of Solomon, but this wicked son is still there, as you can see in the text. Absalom committed many heinous crimes - sleeping with his father's women, plotting a conspiracy to kill his father, other such things. When Absalom was pursued, his hair caught in a tree, where Joab went with his man and stabbed him to death with three javelins.

The giants first mentioned in Genesis, of the same kind that David killed in his youth (Goliath) are mentioned yet again. "In another battle with the Philistines at Gob, Elhanan son of Jair the Bethlehemite killed the brother of Goliath the Gittite, who had a spear with a shaft like a weaver's rod. In still another battle, which took place at Gath, there was a huge man with six fingers on each hand and six toes on each foot - twenty-four in all. He also descended from Rapha." (2nd Samuel 21:19-20)

The Angel (messenger) of the Lord, whom many believe to be Jesus pre-incarnate, makes yet another appearance in this book, though brief. 2nd Samuel 24:16, "When the angel stretched out his hand t destroy Jerusalem, the Lord relented concerning the disaster and said to the angel who was afflicting the people, 'Enough! Withdraw your hand.' The angel of the Lord was then at the threshing floor of Araunah the Jebusite." (See entry: "Who is The Angel of the Lord?")

David was the king who expanded Israel's borders. While David was told about God's Temple, due to his lifestyle choices, he was not allowed to build the Temple. That task was given to his son, Solomon.

I hope you have enjoyed this long-overdue book overview of 2nd Samuel. Be sure to keep an eye out for the next, on 1st Kings.

Next Book Overview: Book of 1st Kings
Next Book Overview: Book of 1st Samuel

Sunday, October 10

What is Love?

No, not the 1993 song by Haddaway. The dictionary describes "love" as "a profoundly tender, passionate affection for another person; a feeling of warm personal attachment or deep affection, as for a parent, child, or friend; a person toward whom love is felt; beloved person; sweetheart." But what is love? (Photo credit to: Women at the Cross)

Well, before I go any further, understand that I am not going as deep as I could, merely scratching the surface of this divine gift. Whether you choose to adhere to what is written here or not is your choice and yours alone, not mine. The verses about love are taken from God's Word. Verses on love are scattered throughout the Bible, and many verses imply love. If we were to go over each and every one, we may as well type up the majority of God's Word. Proverbs 15:17 gives a good example. "A bowl of vegetables with someone you love is better than steak with someone you hate." While this is merely a wisdom, love in many forms is talked about in the Bible.

Other such wisdom, Proverbs 17:9 for example, says "Love prospers when a fault is forgiven, but dwelling on it separates close friends." This is true. Solomon was one to speak often of love. In the Song of Solomon, 8:6-7, he tells us, "Place me like a seal over your heart, like a seal on your arm; for love is as strong as death, its jealousy unyielding as the grave. It burns like blazing fire, like a mighty flame. Many waters cannot quench love; rivers cannot wash it away. If one were to give all the wealth of his house for love, it would be utterly scorned."

St. Paul also often spoke of love. Ephesians 5:25, "Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her." He goes on in Ephesians 5:33 to say, "However, each one of you also must love his wife as he loves himself, and the wife must respect her husband." When St. Paul speaks of love as a virtue, he says, "And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity." (Colossians 3:14) Even the philosopher Aristotle once said, "Love is composed of a single soul inhabiting two bodies." I tell you that there is an overall point of this, but I am providing the Biblical definitions of love so that we may better understand what love truly is. We are told that, "Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins." (1st Peter 4:8) We are later told that God is love - "Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love." (1st John 4:8) There is also no fear in love, 1st John 4:18, "There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love."

Perhaps the most well-known and best passages that describe what love is and should be is found in 1st Corinthians 13:1-8;13. "If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. If I give all I possess to the poor and surrender my body to the flames, but have not love, I gain nothing. Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails... and now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love."

We also find in Galatians that love is one of the fruit of the spirit. But what is love, truly? 1st John 3:16 gives us that very answer. "This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers." Love is found in Christ! How many people throughout history, and even today, have found love in Christ? I know that I have. Jesus is love.

Christ's sacrifice, the Messiah himself humbling himself by putting himself "lower than the angels," (Psalm 8:5, Hebrews 2:7) is the ultimate show of love. For the love of his Creation, he gave himself. Psalm 33:5-6 says, "He loves righteousness and justice; the earth is full of the steadfast love of the Lord. By the word of the Lord the heavens were made, and all their host by the breath of his mouth."

God created the Universe, and in his love, created us, and though we fell from our proper place, we have a way to be reconnected with our Creator, to be with him after death: to accept Jesus, his one and only Son, as our savior, ask for forgiveness of our sins, and be saved from the penalty of the eternal fire. As said earlier, this involved theology, not mere philosophy or logic. Logically, if the Creator makes his creation, and it falls from grace, he provides a link so that it may come back to him. That link is Christ. God is love, and we shows us how to love through his Son and through his word. Love between a man and a woman, between friends, between people and their pets, between the Creator and the Creation, we can learn valuable things if we only take the time to stop, look, and observe.

Some liken love unto God. Say you are a skeptic of God. "God does not exist because I have never seen him, heard him, or touched him." My response would be, "Do you believe love exists?" To which the skeptic replies, "Of course love exists." "Have you ever seen, touched, or heard love?" The skeptic thinks for a moment, "No. But I have felt it." In the same way, I, among so many others, have felt God's presence, felt his love. God is love, and we can feel love. We can feel his presence. The philosopher Plato was correct when he said, "He whom love touches not walks in darkness." Those whom God loves, and they love back, will not walk blind in darkness, but will know that light, for the light of the world has come. (John 1:4-5) Will we ever truly experience true love? There is only ever one way to experience it: we must accept the sacrifice made for us.

I thank you for taking the time to read this entry of "The Truth." If you have an questions, comments, or concerns, feel free to comment below, email, or visit the facebook page. Take care, dear reader, and may God bless. Troy Hillman 

Monday, October 4

Did Jesus Really Sweat Drops of Blood?

While this question may not be the most prominent in our minds, and some may have never noticed, it is nevertheless something I feel ought to be discussed, and so we shall. You may have seen Mel Gibson's Passion of the Christ, and the scene in the Garden where he sweats drops of blood. Did Jesus really sweat drops of blood? Let's investigate. (Photo Credit to: Passion of the Christ, 2004)

Luke 22:44 says, "And being in anguish, he prayed more earnestly, and his sweat was like drops of blood falling to the ground." (NIV) Jesus was praying in the Garden before his crucifixion. Luke, the writer of this gospel, was a earnest and trusted physician, and would probably know what he was talking about.

Dr. Henry M. Morris put it in these words, "Luke is also the only gospel writer to mention the bloody sweat, possibly because of his interest as a physician in this rare physiological phenomenon, which spoke eloquently of the intense spiritual agony Jesus was suffering…" This medical condition is called "hematohidrosis." While it is a rare condition, it is well-known, and there are several documented cases.

What happens is, around the sweat glands you find multiple vessels that are in a net-like shape, and under pressure, say stress for example, the vessels constrict. As Anxiety passes, the blood vessels "dilate to the point of rupture," and the blood proceeds to go into the sweat glands. Since the glands are producing a lot of swear, blood is pushed towards the surface, and the drops come out as blood mixed with sweat.

I apologize if that sounds disturbing, but it is the truth - Jesus was under great emotional and physical stress. He was in intense agony - he knew every precise detail of what was about to happen to him, and that caused him a lot of stress. He knew that he was about to face one of the most grueling and agonizing forms of punishment ever. 

Since he was using human form, he would feel all of it. But the real reason for the stress probably wasn't because of physical pain, but because of sin. Even Aristotle and Theophrastus made mention of this medical condition. This is what the scholar Henry Alford had to say: "The intention of the Evangelist seems clearly to be, to convey the idea that the sweat was (not fell like, but was) like drops of blood;—i.e., coloured with blood,—for so I understand the hosei, as just distinguishing the drops highly coloured with blood, from pure blood…."

"To suppose that it only fell like drops of blood (why not drops of any thing else? And drops of blood from what, and where?) is to nullify the force of the sentence, and make the insertion of haimatos not only superfluous but absurd (1874, 1:648, italics and parenthetical items in orig.; cf. Robertson, 1934, p. 1140)."

Jesus never sinned - keep that in mind. However, due to the knowledge that within mere hours he would have all of the sins of humanity - ever sin that has been, is being, and will be committed would be placed upon him during those hours of agony. Since what he would endure was the equivalent to a form of hell for the lost souls, he knew God the Father would have to briefly turn his back on him.

This all happened so that what was written about him by the prophet Isaiah would be fulfilled: "He was oppressed and He was afflicted, Yet He opened not His mouth; He was led as a lamb to the slaughter, And as a sheep before its shearers is silent, so He opened not His mouth.” (Isaiah 53:5,7 ) This was fulfilled.

So were the drops of sweat explainable by medical means... or was it something supernatural? We may never know, but what we can tell is this: if the drops were not some supernatural occurrence, it can easily be tested through medical research. I trust that, while this has been short, that at the same time it has been informative and insightful. God bless, and take care. Troy Hillman

Saturday, October 2

God and Government: The Separation of Church and State (Part Two)

In the previous entry, we covered a bit of history regarding the separation of church and state, documentation, and other such things. We left off talking about the 14th Amendment, which provides that no state shall "deprive any person of life, liberty, or property." Before I go any further, I feel inclined to mention that I am not giving my stance on the subject, merely facts that you may or may not have heard, and you may decide for yourself. (Photo credit to: Find Room 219)

The United States has a greater interest in religion than any other country in the world. Now, the US may not practice religion as much as others, but a lot of things in our society, economy, and political field deal with religion - especially in the fields of Creation Science, Theology, Logic, and Philosophy. James Madison once said, "Religion flourishes in greater purity, without the aid of the government." He was correct - for example, if you are trying to start a group for something, if you have an outside force that hinders growth, how then could it be beneficial? Several ways. Private schools provide courses in English, Social Studies, Science, Math, Foreign Language, and lastly, Biblical Principles and Doctrine.

Schools like St. Mary's are supported (in part) by public money from local, state, and federal governments. Local money pays for things such as bus rides to and from, federal funds pay for schoolbooks and money for remedial teachers for children who require more help. In one state, upwards of $10 Million alone is given to private schools, most of them church related, but not all. Understand that federal funds are used by religious schools to cover the costs of secular courses, and not religious courses. Now, Accomodists tend to argue that if the Government does not provide religious institutions with the funds that they need to survive, it will jeopardize the religious freedom of thousands, if not millions, of Americans, since a church's school is a vital part of the ministry.

Separatists argue that every dollar that is spend on religious education is a dollar lost from public education. They emphasize the 1st Amendment's opening words, "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, whereas Accomodists emphasize the second clause, "or prohibiting the free exercise thereof." Now, what of taxes? Local, state, and federal tax laws are designed in such a way that educational institutions such as schools and colleges are exempt from local property taxes. Churches are tax-exempt. Even charities, such as the Red Cross, are not subject to income tax. In a recent estimate, the United States has upwards of $80 Billion worth of untaxed church property. Some people have misused this tax-exemption, and even Christian leaders question the tax exemptions, hoping it will not lead to a riot against churches.

Church and the Medical field have often intersected as well. In July of 1980, 33-year old Charles Williams was shot in Detroit, Michigan, while cleaning paint brushes. Williams was rushed to a hospital, but less than seven hours later, even though his doctor had said there was a 90% chance of survival, Williams was dead. He had refused a blood transfusion based on his beliefs as a Jehovah's Witness, quoting Acts 15:20.

Acts 15:20 says, "Instead we should write to them, telling them to abstain from food polluted by idols, from sexual immorality, from the meat of strangled animals and from blood." Nowhere does it say you may not be given a blood transfusion to survive. The man who shot Williams got three years in prison for "careless and reckless use of a firearm," and was charged as such because the shot itself was not what killed Williams, it was because he refused blood transfusion. Is it moral for doctors to adhere to a patient's religious convictions when a life is in danger?

Take this for example: there is a two-year old with cancer. The patient's parents religious ideals do not allow them to receive medical care, and they do not believe he ought to receive it. Supposedly, Doctors could take the parents to court and gain temporary custody to treat the child, due to their "moral right," and if the parents refused and no action was taken the parents could be sued or even jailed for what could be perceived as murder - this is where rights come into conflict.

School seems to have the same issue. Christian students continue to lobby for the ability to pray freely and openly as they choose. Creationists say that Creation should be taught along with Evolution, so that the students may decide for themselves. However, again, rights come into play: some religious organizations do not even allow their children to pledge or salute to the American Flag. In the 1930's-1940's, this led to many court cases involving the Jehovah's Witnesses. The 1943 court decision allowed that no one had or has the right to force students to publicly display patriotism, especially the Pledge to the Flag. The same applies with military service, people who are religious cannot be forced (in the US) due to a decision of the Supreme Court. If people do not want to use, for example, birth control, that is their right. However, under the 1st Amendment, they do not have the right to compel others to do the same.

Most people assume that life is better in modern time because we are all connected. But is it? We see wives and children no longer submitting and obeying, we see Divorce, adultery, drug abuse, unmarried mothers, illicit sex, and ever-increasing violence. Court cases between religion and abortion, homosexuality, contraception, sex ed, evolution, and others, continue even to this day. 350 years ago, Roger William's experiment had protected the men and women of all religions. The adoption of the 1st Amendment liberated the Government from the laws of the former colonies, and to this day, no one church dominates the United States politically. Is it good that church and state are connected in many areas?

Laws that protect the rights of workers, including child labor laws, owe a great deal to religious groups, as do social service programs, slum clearance projects, educational programs, and the improved treatment of criminals and the insane. Our Constitution and the Bill of Rights do not forbid us to bring our religious ideals upon the affairs of the state, and from time to time, individuals use that to their advantage.

I trust this two-part series on the topic of the Separation of Church and State has provided the American reader with useful information, and the foreign reader with some insight into the U.S. Government. Take care, and may God bless you. Troy Hillman

Previous Entry: "God and Government: The Separation of Church and State (Part One)"