Monday, January 24

Do the Dietary Laws of the Hebrew Bible Still Apply to Christians?

The claim is sometimes made that we cannot eat certain foods like pork or shrimp because of the the Ceremonial Law found in Leviticus. Is there any truth to this, and does the New Testament actually give us an answer on the common question, "which foods are we allowed to eat?" This controversy is similar to the early Jewish Christian argument over whether or not circumcision was required of Gentiles. St. Paul took the position that baptism was a kind of spiritual circumcision (of the heart), and that God no longer asked individuals to be circumcised. But this very issue divided the early communities, leading to the first council - the Council of Jerusalem around AD 50. St. James, bishop of Jerusalem, commented that Gentiles should not be required to follow these dietary laws. Thus, it was at this council that it appeared settled: Gentiles did not need to adhere to Jewish law. But did this settle the matter for Christians who were converted Jews? In Leviticus 11, God commands the Israelites not to eat creatures such as: camels, hyrax, rabbit, pig, sea creatures that do not have fins and scales, (such as shrimp) eagles, vultures, red kite, ravens, certain owls, hawks, heron, all flying insects that walk on all fours, weasel, rat, monitor lizard, wall lizard, skink, chameleon, and others (Also found in Deuteronomy 14:1-21; Photo credit to: InfoRochester).

If this is so, should these creatures not still be outlawed for consumption? Would we, by eating shrimp, pork, and other unclean foods, be sinning against God, breaking his law? The purpose of the dietary law was to separate Israel from other nations, these laws did not and do not apply to any other nations. Another reason is the functional purpose of the laws. People often wonder about why there is so much war and so many laws in the Hebrew Bible. Consider this: if Israel did not strike down the surrounding nations, would they not have been stricken down themselves, therefore wiping out the bloodline of the Israelites? If they did not have laws to follow, such as abstaining from unnatural sexual impurities, unclean foods, and many other such things, the bloodline would have been polluted even further, and it also may have led to deaths.

God had a reason for all these laws and wars between Israel and its surrounding nations. What was it all for? What end would it meet? Protection. Not just protection for the nation of Israel, but protection for the future birth of King David. If the Israelites did not destroy surrounding nations and did not follow the laws, they would have been wiped out, and King David never born. Consequently, King David was the ancestor of Jesus Christ. If King David was never born, Jesus would have never been able to fulfill prophecy, Jesus would have never been born into the royal line, not born in the City of David, and Israel would have been wiped out, therefore, the Romans would not have had Judea under Roman control, there would not have been Pharisees nor Sadducees, and Jesus would never have shed his blood.

In other words, these laws and wars were for the protection of the bloodline so that Jesus could enter into Creation to die for all of humanity's past, present, and future sins. Had Israel not had guidelines, had the nation been wiped out, we would be without a Savior, without hope. That was the purpose for the many wars of the Hebrew Bible, for the many laws. Now that we understand this, we may also understand that when Jesus died and rose again, he initiated the New Covenant. In fact, God himself declared in the Hebrew Bible that a New Covenant would arise. Jeremiah 31:31-32, "'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 out of Egypt, because they broke my covenant though I was a husband to them,' declares the Lord."

Jeremiah 31:33 concludes, "'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.'" The New Testament reveals several times (for example, Acts 11:18) that this New Covenant was offered not only to the Jews, but to the Gentiles as well: to all of humanity, if we only accept Jesus as Savior. (See entry: "Covenants: Old and New") But what about unclean foods? Does the New Testament reveal the New Covenant's law on foods? Indeed it does. Acts 10:9-16 says, "About noon the following day as they were on their journey and approaching the city, Peter went up on the roof to pray. He became hungry and wanted something to eat, and while the meal was being prepared, he fell into a trance. He saw heaven opened and something like a large sheet being let down to earth by its four corners. It contained all kinds of four-footed animals, as well as reptiles and birds. Then a voice told him, 'Get up, Peter. Kill and eat.' 'Surely not, Lord!' Peter replied. 'I have never eaten anything impure or unclean.' The voice spoke to him a second time, 'Do not call anything impure that God has made clean.' This happened three times, and immediately the sheet was taken back to Heaven."

God has made all foods clean. However, there are those who may not believe that this passage is referring to this. It is not the only reference we find in the New Testament. Mark 7:17 certainly gives us the answer to this question. It says, "...In saying this, Jesus declared all foods clean." The Bible is very clear: Jesus fulfilled the Old Covenant when he initiated the New. (Romans 10:14, Galatians 3:24-26) Under the New Covenant, all foods are clean, including, for example, pork and shrimp. Romans 14 reveals that not everyone is mature enough in faith to believe that all food is clean. Romans 14:20, "All food is clean, but it is wrong for a person to eat anything that causes someone else to stumble." There are those who argue that "God hates shrimp," in the same manner that some argue, "God hates [homosexuals]." Actually, nowhere in Scripture can this be found. The alleged basis for the argument is found in Leviticus, but the argument by both parties is fallacious.

Since Christ fulfilled the Old Covenant, including the Ceremonial Law, those laws no longer apply. (The Ten Commandments still apply, as seen clearly throughout the New Testament.) However, as evident from Romans 1:26-27 and 1st Corinthians 6:9, God does not hate homosexuals..Both the God Hates [Homosexuals] movement and the GodHatesShrimp.org movement are fallacious and demonstrate a lack of understanding in regard to Scripture and the Covenants. The God Hates Shrimp movement was formed to mock Christians who use Hebrew Bible's Mosaic Law to try prove a point about sexuality, when instead we need to look at the entire context. The overall point? Jesus declared all foods clean, so for Christians, we may infer that the Mosaic dietary laws no longer apply.

Troy Hillman

Thursday, January 20

The Destruction of Jerusalem in AD 70

Throughout the Bible, especially in the Hebrew Bible, we see that dispersion of people as a common motif. It occurred at the Tower of Babel, it occurred when Abraham and Lot parted ways, it occurred in 722 BC with the Assyrians and Israelites, and so forth. We also find that the Jewish nation has become enslaved and captured many times - their time in Egypt before the Exodus, the Babylonian Captivity in 586 BC - and we see the dispersion of the Jewish nation in AD 70. The term "dispersion," (Greek diaspora) was used in reference to Jews who live outside of Palestine. Now, by the time of the New Testament, it is believed that more Jews lived outside of Palestine rather than in it. In fact, there was an estimated one million Jews in Egypt alone.[1] (Photo credit to: David Roberts, 1850. Wikipedia)

Egypt as well as elsewhere began to have issues with the Jews. The non-Jewish relations became strained, and anti-Jewish riots were common. Most main cities in the areas surrounding Palestine at least had its own synagogue - which is how St. Paul and other Christian missionaries were able to have so many contacts in different cities such as Ephesus and Corinth.[2] These Jews of the dispersion are sometimes called "Hellenistic Jews." Hellenism is term used to refer to Greek culture and idea(s) from the Mediterranean world which followed conquest by Alexander the Great (300s BC). For those who were away from Jerusalem, Jews more readily adapted to Greek ways of life. Indeed we find that later Jewish writings, such as the writings of Philo were heavily influenced by Greek philosophy.[3]

The Jewish Dispersion of AD 70, however, was a significant event in Jewish history - and has a larger role in history than some realize. The Siege of Jerusalem lasted from March-September AD 70. Future Emperor Titus and his second-in command, Tiberius Julius Alexander, led the siege. Although the zealots had been able to hold off the Roman forces before, they were beginning to snap, and having issues with one another.[4] After putting pressure on the city, Titus sent in Flavius Josephus, the Jewish Historian, from whom we find confirmation of many biblical events, to negotiate with the defenders. Josephus was wounded by an arrow, but did not die (he died ca.AD 100). The defenders struck and Titus was nearly captured, but they did not prevail.[5]

According to Josephus, some soldiers grew tired of the tactics of Titus and set fire to a building adjacent from the Temple, and the fire spread throughout, destroying the Temple. Many historians, however, believe that Josephus may have noted this to appease those above him, effectively covering up real motivations.[6] Josephus noted, "Now as soon as the army had no more people to slay or to plunder, because there remained none to be the objects of their fury (for they would not have spared any, had there remained any other work to be done), [Titus] Caesar gave orders that they should now demolish the entire city and Temple, but should leave as many of the towers standing as they were of the greatest eminence; that is, Phasaelus, and Hippicus, and Mariamne; and so much of the wall enclosed the city on the west side. This wall was spared, in order to afford a camp for such as were to lie in garrison [in the Upper City], as were the towers [the three forts] also spared, in order to demonstrate to posterity what kind of city it was, and how well fortified, which the Roman valor had subdued; but for all the rest of the wall [surrounding Jerusalem], it was so thoroughly laid even with the ground by those that dug it up to the foundation, that there was left nothing to make those that came thither believe it [Jerusalem] had ever been inhabited. This was the end which Jerusalem came to by the madness of those that were for innovations; a city otherwise of great magnificence, and of mighty fame among all mankind. "[7]


He continues, "And truly, the very view itself was a melancholy thing; for those places which were adorned with trees and pleasant gardens, were now become desolate country every way, and its trees were all cut down. Nor could any foreigner that had formerly seen Judaea and the most beautiful suburbs of the city, and now saw it as a desert, but lament and mourn sadly at so great a change. For the war had laid all signs of beauty quite waste. Nor had anyone who had known the place before, had come on a sudden to it now, would he have known it again. But though he [a foreigner] were at the city itself, yet would he have inquired for it."[8]

Stones thrown down by the Romans
Josephus also claims that there was about 1,100,000 people killed during the siege at Jerusalem, most of which were Jewish, and that 97,000 people were captured and enslaved.[9] Ever since, during the ninth of Av (Tsiah B'Av), both the destruction of the First and Second Temples at Jerusalem are mourned, for on the ninth of Av both were destroyed, though centuries apart. There has been different commemorations and memorials of the event, from Romans to others.[10] For example, one of the major pieces connecting the temple to the end of days is found in Luke 21:24, which says, "They will fall to the sword and will be taken as prisoners to all the nations. Jerusalem will be trampled on by the Gentiles until the times of the Gentiles are fulfilled." (NIV) The Jews most certainly were taken as prisoners and were dispersed.

Another prophecy regarding this event is found in Luke 21:6, "As for what you see here [the Temple], the time will come when not one stone will be left on another; every one of them will be thrown down." (NIV) There are several other distinct prophecies regarding the destruction - and rebirth - of the nation of Israel. In essence, the prophecies are stating that from that time, the Temple would be destroyed, and before Christ's return, the nation of Israel would be reborn. It can be argued that the rebirth of Israel did take place - on May 14, 1948.

However, despite the rebirth of Israel, the land continues to be fought over through injustice and violence. It is unfortunate that the occupation of Israel in some sense continues, just as it always has. Throughout history, it was occupied by the Canaanites, the Babylonians, the Persians, the Greeks, the Romans, the Muslims, the Turks, and others. Part of the reason for this is the strategic position in which Israel is located, between Egypt and the greater part of Europe and Asia. It serves as a trade-route which many cultures sought to own. Today, it is hoped that these struggles of the past do not remain the struggles of the present, and that although the Jews of today continued to be dispersed and spread across the globe, we work together through dialogue and love to forge new relationships and remember not to repeat the injustices of the past - a past in which a people were besieged, scattered, and dispersed.

Troy Hillman 

Sources
[1] Various. "Zondervan Handbook To The Bible." 3rd ed. 1. Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1999. 753. Print.
[2] Ibid.
[3] Ibid.
[4] Various. "Siege of Jerusalem (70)." Wikipedia. Wikimedia, 27 Dec 2010. Web. 20 Jan 2011. < http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fall_of_Jerusalem,_AD_70#Destruction_of_Jerusalem >
[5] Ibid.
[6] Ibid.
[7] Flavius Josephus. The Wars of the Jews or History of the Destruction of Jerusalem. Containing The Interval Of About Three Years. From The Taking Of Jerusalem By Titus To The Sedition At Cyrene. Book VII. Chapter 1.1
[8] Flavius Josephus. The Wars of the Jews or History of the Destruction of Jerusalem. BOOK VI. Containing The Interval Of About One Month. From The Great Extremity To Which The Jews Were Reduced To The Taking Of Jerusalem By Titus.. Book VI. Chapter 1.1
[9] Josephus, The Wars of the Jews VI.9.3
[10] Ibid, [4]

Monday, January 17

What Is Passover?

Each spring, Jews all around the world celebrate the Passover. The Passover appears several times in The Bible, beginning with its origins, and linking the importance to Jesus Christ during Passover. What is Passover? How and when did it begin? Why is celebrated, and what connection does Passover have with Jesus? We will examine these questions in this entry of, "The Truth." (Photo credit to: JesusISLord a Worshipping Christian's Blog, Wikipedia)

The Passover began c.1440s-1200s BC in Egypt. After suffering nine plagues, Pharaoh still would not allow the Hebrews to leave Egypt with Moses. God said to Moses, "I will bring one more plague on Pharaoh and on Egypt. After that, he will let you go from here, and when he does, he will drive you out completely." (Exodus 11:1) Moses conveyed to the people the rest of God's message.

God told Moses that he would "passover" Egypt about midnight, and that the firstborn males of Egypt would die, including Pharaoh's son. Though some believe this sounds harsh, you would think that snakes, frogs, blood-filled Nile, burning hail, darkness that can be felt, locusts, boils, what have you, would grab Pharaoh's attention and that he would let the Hebrews goes. He refused each time.

Then God said to Moses, "This month is to be for you the first month, the first month of your year. Tell the whole community of Israel that on the tenth day of this month each man is to take a lamb for his family, one for each household. If any household is too small for a whole lamb, they must share one with their nearest neighbor, having taken into account the number of people there are. You are to determine the amount of lamb needed in accordance with what each person will eat." (Exodus 12:1-4)

After giving Moses specific instructions on how to prepare the lamb, God said, "This is how you are to eat it: with your cloak tucked into your belt, your sandals on your feet and your staff in your hand. Eat it in haste; it is the Lord's Passover. On that same night I will pass through Egypt and strike down every firstborn of both people and animals, and I will bring judgment on all the gods of Egypt. I am the LORD. The blood will be a sign for you on the houses where you are, and when I see the blood, I will pass over you. No destructive plague will touch you when I strike Egypt." (Exodus 12:11-13)

Then God commanded the Hebrews (also called Israelites) "Obey these instructions as a lasting ordinance for you and your descendants." (Exodus 12:24) The Israelites obeyed. "At midnight the LORD struck down all the firstborn in Egypt, from the firstborn of Pharaoh, who was in the dungeon, and the firstborn of all the livestock as well. Pharaoh and all his officials and all the Egyptians got up during the night, and there was loud wailing in Egypt, for there was not a house without someone dead." (Exodus 12:29-31)

When this had passed, Pharaoh let the Israelites go, and the Exodus took place. Those who were once captives in a foreign land were now free. This took place to fulfill what the Lord had said to Abraham over 300 years before. "Know for certain that for four hundred years your descendants will be strangers in a country not their own and they will be enslaved and mistreated there. But I will punish the nation they serve as slaves, and afterward they will come out with great possessions.... in the fourth generation your descendants will come back here..." (Genesis 15:13-14, 16)

As put in the Zondervan Handbook to The Bible, "A new feast instituted, and a new (religious) year has begun. (The time is March/April) The Passover lamb or kid, barbecued over an open fire in a pit, speaks of God's protection and provision for his people - Israel is God's firstborn. The bitter herbs remind them of all their suffering in Egypt. The flat unleavened bread recalls the haste of their departure (no time to use yeast, 'leaven,' and wait for the bread to rise)... But they do not go empty-handed. The years of slavery are in some measure paid for by the clothes and jewelry heaped upon them by the Egyptians, now only too anxious to see them go."

The first Passover, which took place around March/April, occurred as a plague in Egypt, but a protection for the Israelites. The lamb's blood protected them, and after this, the captives were let go, and were finally free from their bonds. Passover is considered the most important event in Judaism. It is celebrated over a period of eight days, with no bread, nor cake, only matzah, which is flat, crisp slices of tasteless unleavened bread - in remembrance of their time in Egypt.

There are compensations, for example, the first night, Seder (meaning Service) is a celebration of God-given freedom. Many believe this was the setting of the Last Supper in Jesus' day. The service lasts around four hours. It revolves around a book called the Haggadah (the telling), which recounts the story of the Passover. Each major festival is celebrated using red wine, which is placed at the table. Typically, four cups are drank. The child asks four questions, each about the Passover, in regards to why it is celebrated - the remaining time is taken by the reading.

Moses is not mentioned in the story. Later on, after singing Psalms 113-114 and a second cup of wine, bitter herbs are eaten. A special guest is given the bitter herb first, as a dish containing a mixture of nuts, apples, and wine is passed around. Jesus gave this first to Judas Iscariot. After this, men wash their hands (likely when Jesus washed his disciples feet), and dinner ensues. After dinner, singing follows, and ends with the fourth cup of wine. 

There is also a "Second Passover." (called Pesach Sheni) It takes place on the fourteenth of Iyar, mentioned in Numbers 9:6-13. It is a make-up day for those people who were unable to offer a pesach sacrifice at the appropriate time due to "ritual impurity," or distance from Jerusalem. As it is on the first Pesach night, it is prohibited to break bones from the second Paschal offering (see Numbers 9:12) or leaving meat over until morning. (see Numbers 9:12)

Matzo (Unleavened bread)
It is nearly impossible to ignore the parallels between the Passover and Jesus. Indeed it was important that Christ died during Passover. The third cup used during Passover is the third cup, the "cup of blessing." "The cup of blessing which we bless, is it not sharing in the blood of Christ?" (1st Corinthians 10:16) This is likely the cup which Jesus used to represent his blood. This, however, is not necessarily the most prominent parallel. Consider the Passover during Moses' day. The Passover occurred so that Pharaoh would free the Israelites (the captives). 

Lambs were consumed; their blood was shed and used for protection. God passed over His people, and what occurred that night over 3000 years ago allowed His people to be free. Now consider this: Jesus died and was raised during Passover. Jesus is equated to a lamb several times in the New Testament. His blood was shed for all people, for protection - and salvation. Through the Lamb of God, his death led to our salvation.

When Christ died, he allowed us, by accepting him, to be free from our bonds, free from Satan - captives under Satan. During the Passover of Moses day, a lamb was used - both the lamb and the Lamb of God, Jesus Christ, shed blood. Both were used for protection - yet Jesus' blood was also used for salvation, and is how we are saved. Both occurred during Passover, and through the chain of events surrounding both occurrences, the captives are led into freedom.

Passover is celebrated because of the God passing over the Israelites, leading to their freedom from Egypt over 3000 years ago. It is usually celebrated in March/April. In 2011, it is celebrated from the sunset of April 18 to nightfall of April 25/26. In 2012, it is celebrated from the sunset of April 6 to nightfall of April 13/14. Jesus is linked to the Passover in several ways: He died and rose again during Passover, He was the lamb that was slain, he set the captives free.

Troy Hillman

Sources
Various Authors. "Zondervan Handbook To The Bible." Zondervan, 1999. 1st ed. Print. 164, 574-575.

Various Authors. "Passover." Wikipedia, 2011. Web. < http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Passover#Second_Passover >

Sunday, January 16

Book Overview: 2nd Kings

The Book of Kings, which was originally one book and not two separate books, picks up the history of Israel. It begins where 1st Kings ended, and it covers up to the Fall of Jerusalem at the hands of the Babylonians in 587/586 BC. The book itself contains 25 Chapters, and includes the many famous historical accounts - such as Elijah's "translation" into Heaven, Elisha and the floating axhead, Naaman and his leprosy, and Hezekiah's reverse day. (Photo credit to: Christian Blessings, Ancient Mesopotamia War Room, Answers In Genesis)

This is the eleventh 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 Kings.
Title: 2nd Book of Kings (English), Sefer melakhim, ספר מלכים (Hebrew)
 
Authorship/Written: Traditionally, Jeremiah is credited as the author of 1st and 2nd Kings. There are many similarities in the style of writing used in 1st and 2nd Kings compared to the Book of Jeremiah. The Book of Kings was written while the First Temple still stood. (1st Kings 8)  Jeremiah lived before the Babylonian Captivity of Israel which began in 587 BC, but survived the captivity. (Some say 586 BC)

This is also indicated by the phrase, "to this day." (1st Kings 8:8; 12:19; etc) Kings is written from a prophetic view, putting emphasis on the idolatry and immorality that brought the judgment of God upon Israel. 2nd Kings 24:18-25:30 is the same as Jeremiah 52. Jeremiah, inspired by God the Spirit, who worked in and through him as he did with all authors of his word, was given what we would call "source material." 

2nd Kings 2:1-18
He used the Acts of Solomon (1st Kings 11:41), the Chronicles of the Kings of Judah (1st Kings 15:7), and a possible source in Isaiah 36-39, as large portions appear in 2nd Kings 18-20. He also used the Chronicles of the Kings of Israel. (1st Kings 14:19) In regard to the date of composition, ChristianAnswers.net states the following, "The date of its composition was some time between B.C. 561, the date of the last chapter (2 Kings 25), when Jehoiachin was released from captivity by Evil-merodach, and B.C. 538, the date of the decree of deliverance by Cyrus." The book was written between 561-538 BC.

Summary: "2nd Kings also tells of the kings of Israel, but it focuses more on the prophets sent to warn the kings and people of the impending judgment they faced if they refused to repent of their sins and return to God. 2nd Kings reveals the importance of making God the ultimate leader in our lives. 2nd Kings ends with the nations of Israel and Judah destroyed and led into captivity." (From the NIV)


Overview: 
2nd Kings 2 - Elijah Conveyed into Heaven by a Chariot of Fire (ca. 852 BC) 
2nd Kings 4 - Oil of the Widow and Elisha feeding a hundred people (Elisha performs miracles) 
2nd Kings 5 - Naaman is Healed of Leprosy 
2nd Kings 6:1-23 - Army of God protects Elisha 
2nd Kings 6-7 - The Floating Axhead, Israel's capital under siege 
2nd Kings 8:1-15 - Petition to the King, Elisha's prediction and fulfillment of task 
2nd Kings 12 - The temple repaired by Joash (835 BC) 
2nd Kings 17 - Hoshea, the last king of Israel, the exile of Israel (732 BC) 
2nd Kings 18-20 - Hezekiah's reign, Hezekiah's "reverse day" 
2nd Kings 22 - The Book of the Law is found 
2nd Kings 23 - Josiah renews the covenant with God 
2nd Kings 25 - The Fall of Jerusalem (537/536 BC) 
2nd Kings 1-17 covers the deterioration of Israel and Judah 
2nd Kings 18-25 covers the deportation of the Southern tribes


2nd Kings contains the history of Israel and Judah from Ahab to the Babylonian captivity, which is a period of about 300 years. The first half of the book is largely taken up with Elisha's account, concerning his ministry of 66 years. We find 16 miracles of Elisha's, whereas we find that only eight of Elijah's were recorded. It is interesting to note that Elisha, before Elijah was taken up to Heaven, had asked for a double-portion of Elijah's spirit - and in turn, performed double the amount of miracles. 

2nd Kings also deals with Israel's treatment of God. From ignoring God, to God derided, followed by His anger then compassion - then fierce wrath, for the Israelites continued to do evil in the eyes of the Lord. The reason God was so "strict" with the Mosaic laws was as follows: if the Davidic line was destroyed, Christ would never have been born into it, therefore he never would have been able to come. That is the reason for the wiping out of the surrounding nations during the times of Moses and Joshua - to protect the bloodline of Christ. 


In 2nd Kings, there were 19 kings in Israel, not one good. Judah had 19 kings and one queen, eight of whom were good.


Points: 1st/2nd Samuel and 1st/2nd Kings are sometimes regarded as the "four books of Kingdoms," as they deal with the history of the Jewish monarchy from its beginning with Saul up to the Babylonian captivity of 587 BC. All four books follow the line of the Kings, even with the Northern Kingdom, though the line of kings in the North disappeared in 722 BC. 

Of the threefold division of the Hebrew Bible - the Law, Psalms, and the Prophets, 2nd Kings is generally categorized under the Prophets. In fact, Jesus and his disciples quote the Book of Kings several times. (Matthew 6:29, 12:42; Luke 4:25-26, 10:4; compare 2 Kings 4:29; Mark 1:6; compare 2 Kings 1:8; Matthew 3:4)


Some have pointed out that Shakespeare may have found a bit of influence in 2nd Kings 8:7-15. Hazael is sent by Ben-Hadad, king of Aram, to see Elisha, for Ben-Hadad was ill. Hazael inquired as to whether or not the king would get better. Elisha replies, "Go and say to him, 'you will certainly recover.' Nevertheless, the Lord has revealed to me that he will in fact die." Elisha weeps because he knows the pain Hazael will cause, and after Elisha tells him why he is weeping, Hazael asks, "How could your servant, a mere dog, accomplish such a feat?" To which Elisha says, "The Lord has shown me that you will become King of Aram." When Hazael returned, he told Ben-Hadad that he would indeed get better, "but the next day he took a thick cloth, soaked it in water and spread it over the king's face, so that he died. Then Hazael succeeded him as king." In the same way, the Weird (Wyrd) sisters from Macbeth tell Macbeth that he will become King. He does not know how, since his king, Duncan, is honorable, but names his son Malcolm as King. In a chain of events, Macbeth himself kills Duncan in his sleep, and his son(s) flee, so that the blame is kept off of Macbeth until the end, where he "pays." Macbeth fulfilled the witches prophecy, Hazael fulfilled Elisha's prophecy - could Shakespeare have been influenced by this passage?
Babylonian conquest


The account of Elijah's translation into Heaven is found in 2nd Kings 2:1-18. Elijah and Elisha were on their way from Gilgal. Elisha, knowing that Elijah will be taken up to Heaven that very day, refuses to leave Elijah. Elijah performed a miracle. As they were walking, "Elijah took his cloak, rolled it up and struck the water with it. The water divided to the right and to the left, and the two of them crossed over on dry ground." After crossing the Jordan, Elisha asks for a double portion of Elijah's spirit. "As they were walking along and talking together, suddenly a chariot of fire and horses of fire appeared and separated the two of them, and Elijah went up to heaven in a whirlwind." Elisha inherited his spirit, and turning back, also divided the Jordan.

One of Elisha's miracles, the floating axhead, can be found in 2nd Kings 6:1-7. "The company of prophets said to Elisha, 'Look, the place where we meet with you is too small for us. Let us go to Jordan, where each of us can get a pole; and let us build a place there for us to meet.' And he said, 'Go.' Then one of them said, 'Won't you please come with your servants?' 'I will,' Elisha replied. And he went with them. They went to the Jordan and began to cut down trees. As one of them was cutting down a tree, the iron axhead fell into the water. 'Oh no, my Lord!' he cried out. 'It was borrowed!' The man of God asked, 'Where did it fall?' When he showed him the place, Elisha cut a stick and threw it there, and made the iron float. 'Lift it out,' he said. Then the man reached out his hand and took it." Though skeptics may call this account false, it only shows the glory of God: God can use a simple stick, which would have no effect on iron, which does not float, to allow an iron axhead to float, to show His glory to us.

Hezekiah's "reverse day" can be found in 2nd Kings 20:1-11. King Hezekiah of Judah was ill, and was talking to the prophet Isaiah. Hezekiah asks for a sign that God would heal him, and Isaiah asked, "Shall the shadow go forward ten steps, or shall it go back ten steps?" Hezekiah replies, "It is a simple matter for the shadow to go forward ten steps. Rather, have it go back ten steps." Isaiah called on God, and God made "the shadow go back the ten steps it had gone down." God made the moon go backwards in its cycle - and Hezekiah believed.

It is interesting to note Elisha's feeding the hundred. 2nd Kings 4:42-44 says, "A man came from Baal Shalishah, bringing the man of God twenty loaves of barley bread from the first ripe grain, along with some heads of new grain. 'Give it to the people to eat,' Elisha said. 'How can I set this before a hundred men?' his servant asked. But Elisha answered, 'Give it to the people to eat. For this is what the Lord says: 'They will eat and have some left over.'' Then he set it before them, and they ate and had some left over, according to the word of the Lord." Compare this event with Matthew 14:15-21, Mark 6:30-44, Luke 9:10-17, and John 6:1-15, where Jesus feeds more than five thousand people on merely five small barley loaves and two small fish - and even after everyone was fed, there were still twelve baskets left. Jesus performed this miracle again with four thousand later on. In all events, God is glorified. 

As pointed out by John R. Kohlenberger III, "The only noteworthy king of the northern kingdom (again noted only in Kings) in the final century of Israel's existence was Jeroboam II. His forty-year reign (793-753 B.C.) brought unparalleled peace and prosperity but also unparalleled greed and idolatry among the upper class. The self-centeredness of that generation spawned the strong prophecies of Hosea, Amos, and Jonah. In Judah, the good kings Joash, Amaiziah, Uzziah (Azariah), Jotham, and even Hezekiah and Josiah could not measure up to the standard set by David. And wicked kings such as Ahaz, Manasseh, and Amon pushed Judah over the edge, which led them into Babylonian exile in 586 B.C., following Israel's exile to Assyria in 722 BC."

An archaeological find, the "Black Obelisk" is a fascinating thing. This is the only monument which depicts Israelites bringing tribute to an Assyrian king. The text on the Black Obelisk record the triumph of an Assyrian king, Shalmaneser III, and mentions Jehu, the biblical King of Israel. Part of the inscription reads, "Yaua (Jehu) son of Humri (Omri)." The text reads, "The tribute of Jehu, son of Omri. Silver, gold, a golden bowl, a golden beaker, golden goblets, golden pitchers, lead, a royal staff, a javelin."

The Babylonian account of the capture of Jerusalem (not destruction, which was 587/586 BC) in March 597 BC seems to confirm biblical events. "In the seventh year, in the month of Kislev, the Babylonian king mustered his troops, and having marched to the land of Hatti, besieged the city of Judah, and on the second day of the month of Adar took the city and captured the king. He appointed therein a king of his own choice, received its heavy tribute and sent (them) to Babylon."

After the days of Jeremiah (Jeremiah 3:16), the Ark of the Covenant disappeared from history. Most believe that the Babylonians destroyed the Ark when they looted Solomon's Temple in 587/586 BC, as there was no Ark in the later Temples. Jewish tradition, however, says that Jeremiah hid the Ark in a cave on Mt. Nebo, while others say that King Josiah hid the Ark in a cave beneath Jerusalem. Ethiopian legend claims that the son of King Solomon and the Queen of Sheba took the Ark to Ethiopia, where it is allegedly now kept in a church in Aksum. (For more information, see entry, "The Ark of The Covenant")

For years, the historicity of Sennacherib's death was questioned. The death of Sennacherib (recorded in Isaiah 37:38 and 2nd Kings 19:37) was confirmed by the records of Sennacherib's son, Esarhaddon, later added to by his son, Ashur-bani-pal. Dr. Clifford Wilson found part of a pathway between Sennacherib's palace and the temple - where his sons had killed him. Once again archaeology confirmed the Biblical Account. The existence of King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon was also once questioned by critics. Prophecies regarding Babylon (Jeremiah 51-52) have been fulfilled. Nebuchadnezzar wrote that the walls of Babylon would be a eternal memorial to his name, yet Jeremiah said, "The broad walls of Babylon shall be utterly broken. (Jeremiah 51:58) Jeremiah's prophecy was fulfilled. Nebuchadnezzar's palace and library were uncovered.  

2nd Kings is indeed an interesting historical document, as it contains the accounts of Elijah, the kings of Israel and Judah, including King Joash, King Hezekiah, King Josiah, it also contains miracles and signs of God's glory, ranging from the division of the Jordan - twice, to Hezekiah's "reverse day" to a floating axhead. 2nd Kings ends with the Fall of Jerusalem, a solemn note - prophecy which Jeremiah had given years before was no fulfilled, and Israel had refused to listen, and were now in Babylonian captivity. 1st and 2nd Chronicles covers the Kings as well, and the events following the Fall of Jerusalem are picked up in the book of Ezra. More and more, the people longed for a Savior... a Messiah. 

Next Book Overview: Book of 1st Chronicles
Previous Book Overview: Book of 1st Kings

Sources:
Kohlenberger III, John R. "Read Through The Bible In a Year." Moody Publishers, 1986. 27-28. Print.

"Kings, The Books of ". ChristianAnswers.Net. Web. 16 Jan 2011.  

Various. "Zondervan Handbook To The Bible". Zondervan, 1999. 3rd ed. 293-305. Print.

Lee, Robert. "The Outlined Bible." London Pickering & Inglis LTD. 1st ed. 12. Print.

Various. "The Oxford Companion to the Bible". Oxford University Press, 1993. 1st ed. 409-413.

Wilson, Clifford and Ham, Ken. "The New Answers Book 1". 12 ed. Master Books Books, 2006. 313-314. Print.

*Feel free to email vexx801@yahoo.com, thetruth.ministry@gmail.com, visit the facebook page or the Ministry homepage.

Wednesday, January 12

The Mythic City of Atlantis

The title may catch some off-guard. Understandably, when it comes to topics such as the fabled lost city of Atlantis, some turn their head the other way, believing it to be a mere myth, a legend. If you are a regular reader, you will know that whether something appears to be a myth or legend or not, I try to tackle it. Atlantis is the subject of hundreds, if not thousands, of books, articles, poems, movies, the like. (Photo credit to: NASA)

Has there ever really been an Atlantis, and is there any Scriptural basis for it? In other words, does the Hebrew Bible provide any reference to the events? To begin, we ought to learn a bit about this fabled city. The earliest account of Atlantis is found in Plato's Timaeus and Critas, written some 350-400 years before the birth of Jesus. Plato wrote that this island was destroyed, having been swallowed up by the sea. Plato goes on to say that Atlantis was named for Atlas, the oldest twin of Poseidon, son of Cronus, within Greek Mythology. The account continues that Poseidon owned an island, and named it after his son, Atlas: Atlantis. These Atlantians (variant: Atlanteans) had conquered parts of what is now Italy and North Africa, and were a threat to Egypt and Greece. The account tells us that many Athenians could have died fighting the Atlantians shortly before the destruction of Atlantis.

Put simply, Atlantis either existed: or it did not. If it did exist, then we should still find historical and geological evidence of such. If not, then the search is over. Understandably, since the story was handed down from Egyptians to Solon, Plato's ancestor, to Plato himself, there was more than likely some inaccuracies. If Atlantis was biblical, then it could be one of two things: Atlantis was destroyed during a volcanic eruption or local flood, and we would not find remains. Or, Atlantis was destroyed - but not completely - and we could expect to find some remains of the city. Let us take a look at the account given in Critas.

"... which had elapsed since the war which was said to have taken place between those who dwelt outside of the Pillars of Hercules and all who dwelt within them; this was I am going to describe. Of combatants on the one side, the city of Athens was reported to have been the leader and to have fought out the war; the combatants on the other side were commanded by the kings of Atlantis, which, as was saying, was an island greater in extent than Libya and Asia, and when afterwards sunk by an earthquake, became an impassable barrier of mud to voyagers sailing from hence to any part of the ocean."

Plato also refers to the Atlantic Ocean and the "pillars of Hercules." Most scholars believe Plato was referring to the Strait of Gibraltar - which is between modern-day Spain and Morocco. Plato, in referencing Libya and Asia, viewed them as a Greek in 500 BC - these post-Flood features and names are not what we think of today as Libya and Asia, but as how they view these places then. For example, Asia was originally viewed as part of modern-day Turkey.[1] In measurements called stadia, (about 600 ft each) Plato also gives the measurements for the island. The dimensions are given as 2000 x 3000 stadia. Modern-day measurement would show the island as 227 x 340 miles - an estimated 77,000 square-mile area. (About the size of Nebraska in the United States) This allows the "continent" to be much smaller than believed.

As put by Bodie Hodge of AiG, "descriptions given by Plato appear to place it outside of the Mediterranean in the Atlantic Ocean."[2] The latest it could have been destroyed was 400 BC, prior to Socrates, who had died around this time. However, taking into consideration that the account had been given to Solon, who had in turn gotten his account from the Egyptians, the latest date was likely a few hundred years before Socrates, say around 700/600 BC. Ranged at 1800's-600's BC. As put in Mystic Places, "Indeed, the very quantity and quality of information in Critas has given Plato's account much of its enduring plausibility. Critas's report is filled with architectural, engineering, and ceremonial detail that would hardly have been needed if all Plato had in mind was to create a parable or legend to help him make a philosophical point. Moreover, Plato laced the dialogue of Critas with uncharacteristic references to the tale as 'the realm of fact' and 'genuine history.' And Solon, who supposedly brought back the story to Greece, was a real person who had actually visited Egypt as a statesman. All in all, Plato took great pains to make his record of Atlantis seem credible to the readers of his time, and that tone of certainty has remained a challenge for more than 2,000 years."

Santorini
The continent set beyond Atlantis that Timaeus refers to is likely the Americas, so it could be ruled out, and it sill exists - it has not sunk into the sea. Some believe that the islands of Azores, Madeira, or Canary may be Atlantis. In 1669, Athanasius Kircher drew a map, placing Atlantis between Africa/Europe and the Americas. If Atlantis did exist, it likely was a post-Flood island not far from the Strait of Gibraltar.

As Plato wrote, "But at a later time there occurred portentous earthquakes and floods, and one grievous day and night befell them, when the whole body of your warriors was swallowed up by the earth, and the island of Atlantis in like manner was swallowed up by the sea and vanished; wherefore also the ocean at that spot has now become impassable and unsearchable, being blocked up by the shoal mud which the island created as it settled down."[3]

When we look at stories such as the Iliad that describes the city of Troy, up until 1873, the general concept of the story was believed to have been made up, when in fact, it was based on truth. Heinrich Schliemann, amateur archaeologist, set out to prove that the story described in the Iliad and the Odyssey, written by Homer around 700 BC, were based on some history. In the late 1860's, Schliemann decided that the town is Hissarlik in Turkey seemed to match the scene of the Iliad. He began to dig in 1871.[4] He found that there was truly a city beneath Hissarlik. The layers, which had been scorched by fire, seemed to depict Homer's Troy. One morning, in the summer of 1873, golden necklaces, earring, dishes, and more out of the ground was found. This discovery made Schliemann famous, and since then, archaeologists generally agree that the city he found is likely Troy. This find continues to fuel the search for Atlantis, showing that sometimes, stories do have some truth to him.

If Atlantis really did exist, why was it destroyed? "It was not long before Atlantis - gifted with wealth, strength, and internal harmony, began to extend its power outward. But at the same time, the divine and virtuous character of its populace had begun to weaken with the passage of years. 'Human nature,' Critas reported, 'got the upper hand.' The Atlanteans began to exhibit less seemly qualities: Uncurbed ambition, greed and ugliness grew among the citizens and their rulers as well. Perceiving that an 'honorable race was n a woeful plight,' Critas said, Zeus summoned the gods to determine what punishment to inflict on Atlantis. 'And when he had called them together he spoke as follows:' And this is where Critas breaks off. For unknown reasons, Plato ended his chronicle of Atlantis before he had given the details - only touched upon in the earlier dialogue of Timaeus."[5]

There is another point to consider. "It is known that the volcanic island of Thera, in the Aegan Sea, exploded in about 1470 BC. [A few decades before the Exodus in Israel] The 4,900-foot mountain erupted with such violence that the central portion of the island collapsed into the rapidly emptied chamber 1,200 feet below the sea. The surrounding area, now known as the island of Santorini, was covered in a 100-foot-thick layer of volcanic ash, and it is beneath this layer that relics of the Minoan Empire have been found."[6] 

Could Thera have been Atlantis? No, some argue. Yes, others insist. What if Plato had misinterpreted Solon's writings to mean that the destruction had actually occurred 900 years before the birth of Solon - not 9,000? This would place the event closer to the destruction of Thera. An island about 80,000 sq. miles would neatly fit into the Aegan Sea. Also, the Greek word for "greater than" is similar to their word, "midway." Was Atlantis actually midway between Libya and Asia, and not "greater than?" If this is true, and Atlantis is actually the island of Thera, then the mystery is solved.[9] Yet, doubt remains. Perhaps Atlantis was another story to tell around the campfire. Perhaps it was just a myth. However, if there is any truth to Atlantis, research seems to show that it is highly possible. Now, some may argue that because Plato's account states that Atlantis was swallowed up by the sea, that Thera could not possibly be Atlantis. Yet, if Atlantis was located in the central portion of the island, it would have sunk when the volcano erupted, around 1470 BC. Regardless of how many different angles we look at Atlantis, there seems to be a "reasonable doubt," allowing for further investigation, yet we may never know if Atlantis ever actually did exist. In short, is there a Scriptural basis for Atlantis? Atlantis itself is not mentioned in the Bible, but it may have existed as a civilization near the Strait of Gibraltar, and the story has served in some ways as a cautionary tale, similar to the the Genesis pericope of Sodom and Gomorrah.

Troy Hillman

Sources
[1] Hodge, Bodie. "Did Atlantis Exist?" Web. 11 Jan 2011. < http://www.answersingenesis.org/articles/aid/v5/n1/did-atlantis-exist >Ibid.
[2] Ibid.
[3] Timaeus 25c–d, Bury translation.
[4] Various Authors. "Mystic Places". 2nd ed. TIME-LIFE, 1987. 14-19. Print.
[5] Various Authors. "Strange Stores, Amazing Facts." 4th ed. Reader's Digest, 1976.60-61. Print.
[6] Ibid. 

Saturday, January 8

What Was The Scopes Trial?

Have you ever heard of the Scopes Trial? You more than likely have. Perhaps what you heard was related to the film Inherit the Wind, or perhaps you have read about the trial elsewhere. What was the original intention of the trial, what occurred during the trial, and how does it continue to affect us? In this entry, we will examine the Scopes Trial of 1925. *Note: This entry is double-length. (Photo credit to: HistoryNet, Law: Famous Trials,TN History for Kids)

The trial is sometimes referred to as "The Trial of the [20th] Century." It began with the passing of the Butler Act in Tennessee on March 13, 1925. The law was as follows:
"CHAPTER NO. 27
House Bill No. 185
(By Mr. Butler)
AN ACT prohibiting the teaching of the Evolution Theory in all the Universities, Normals and all other public schools of Tennessee, which are supported in whole or in part by the public school funds of the State, and to provide penalties for the violations thereof. 

Section 1. Be it enacted by the General Assembly of the State of Tennessee, That it shall be unlawful for any teacher in any of the Universities, Normals and all other public schools of the State which are supported in whole or in part by the public school funds of the State, to teach any theory that denies the story of the Divine Creation of man as taught in the Bible, and to teach instead that man has descended from a lower order of animals. 

Section 2. Be it further enacted, That any teacher found guilty of the violation of this Act, Shall be guilty of a misdemeanor and upon conviction, shall be fined not less than One Hundred $ (100.00) Dollars nor more than Five Hundred ($ 500.00) Dollars for each offense. 

Section 3. Be it further enacted, That this Act take effect from and after its passage, the public welfare requiring it."[1]

This act stipulated that evolution could not be taught in public school systems. 20 other states had already introduced similar laws. The ACLU (American Civil Liberties) set into motion a plan to have the law overturned, believing it to be an affront to "free speech." Putting out notices in different newspapers in Tennessee, the ACLU asked for someone to volunteer to be prosecuted under the Butler Act, as they would defend them. [2]

George Rappalyea, 31-year old geologist who managed local mines and a native of New York City, strongly disliked Christianity, so he responded as he felt necessary to the notice from the ACLU. Calling on his 24-year old friend, John T. Scopes, who was a mathematics and substitute teacher, he asked Scopes to teach the theory of Evolution in one of his classes. Scopes agreed. He urged students to turn him in, becoming increasingly willing to participate. Scopes was indicted in May 25, after being turned in by three students.

He was charged with having taught Evolution to a class on April 7, 1925, which was a violation of the Butler Act. Paul Patterson, owner of the Baltimore Sun, paid his bail. Rappalyea wanted to attract the major media, hoping for press coverage. He wrote to H.G. Wells, asking him to join the defense. Wells replied that he had no legal training in Britain nor America, so he declined. John R. Neal, law school professor from Knoxville, became Scopes' attorney.

William Bell Riley, a Baptist pastor and the founder and president of World Christian Fundamentals Association, called lawyer, three-time Democratic presidential candidate and leader of the Democratic party for over 25 years (as well as lifelong Presbyterian), William Jennings Bryan, to act as the organization's counsel. Bryan had originally been invited by Sue Hicks (subject of the Johnny Cash song, "A Boy Named Sue") to become an associate of the prosecution, and he had accepted, even though Bryan had not tried a case in over thirty-six years. Scopes pointed out, "After [Bryan] was accepted by the state as a special prosecutor in the case, there was never any hope of containing the controversy within the bounds of constitutionality."[3]


John T. Scopes
Clarence Darrow (1857-1938), who was a very outspoken and well-known agnostic, agreed to be prosecutor and volunteered his service to the defense. The trial was broadcast as "the Monkey trial." While Bryan well-informed about the evolution/creation controversy, corresponding with scientists such as Henry Fairfield Osborn on evidences for and against evolution - he also accepted geological evolution and an Old Earth, in other words, what we now call a Theistic Evolutionist.

Darrow was a very successful criminal lawyer who specialized in defending very unpopular people as well as radical causes, winning seemingly impossible and improbably cases. His convictions as an Agnostic led him to believe that the actions of a man were merely the result of organic chemistry, and that the concepts of good/evil held no water. Darrow explains in his autobiography, The Story of My Life, "My object and my only object, was to focus the attention of the country on the program of Mr. Bryan and the other Fundamentalists in America."

The trial commenced July 10, 1925 in Dayton, Tennessee before Judge John T. Raulston for a period of 12 days (July 10-21, including weekends, technically 7), and to us seems odd, since trials in modern times can take months or even years. The only legal issue here was whether or not John Scopes violate the Butler Act by teaching evolution in the classroom or not. But for Bryan and Darrow, the issue was not his guilt nor his innocence, but whether or not evolution should be taught in public school systems. [4]

Darrow wanted to have several evolutionists testify in the court about the"fact" of evolution, but this was not permitted because the evidence for evolution was, technically, not the issue - and Darrow refused to have his scientists cross-examined by the prosecution. Most of the testimony of scientists was written and filed in record - none of it had been heard by the jury. The judge allowed them to write written statements but not testify.

Day one was generally taken up by selecting jurors. Day two (which was the following Monday) had opening arguments from the defense and prosecution. On day three, Darrow had objected to the trial being opened with prayer, but he was overruled by the judge, who was ridiculed for having a seeming bias regarding Creation, having quoted Genesis and the Butler Act.

On the fourth day, Dudley Field Malone stated the following: "The narrow purpose of the defense is to establish the innocence of the defendant Scopes... The broad purpose of the defense will be to prove that the Bible is a work of religious aspiration and rules of conduct which must be kept in the realm of theology." He also asserted, "We maintain that science and religion embrace two separate and distinct fields of thought and learning." The prosecution did not buy their argument. [5]

On the fifth day, Darrow argued that eight "scientific experts" be allowed to testify, fulfilling his intention to make the trial "a national biology lesson." These "experts" were: Fay Cooper Cole, Winterton C. Curtis, Charles Hubbard Judd, Jacob G. Lipman, Kirtley F. Mather, Maynard M. Metcalf, Wilbur A. Nelson, and Horatio Hackett Newman - professors, zoologists, directors and chairmen, geologist and dean. [6]

The prosecution argued that this testimony had no relevance as to whether or not Scopes had violated the Butler Act, but the Judge was curious and allowed Dr. Maynard Metcalf (Zoologist) to take the stand with the jury was absent. On the sixth day, the Judge ruled that Metcalf's testimony the day before was inadmissible and that none of the alleged experts would be allowed to testify in front of the jury. Darrow grew angry and argued with Raulston, who cited Darrow for contempt.

Darrow apologized to keep him from contempt of court. Darrow and his defense team of lawyers knew little about evolution, and failed to establish why it was needed in school. They attempted to justify its relevance by equating evolution with human embryology. Even Dr. Maynard (alleged expert of John Hopkins University) confused evolution with human embryonic development - and the aging process.
Darrow and Bryan

After Darrow's apology, the Judge stated, "The Man that I believe came into the world to save man from sin, the Man that died on the cross that man might be redeemed, taught that it was godly to forgive and were it not for the forgiving of himself I would fear for man. The Savior died on the Cross pleading with God for the men who crucified Him. I believe in that Christ. I believe in these principles. I accept Col. Darrow's apology."[7]

On the seventh day, the trial was moved outside to bleachers on the front lawn of the courthouse, since the crowd had over 5000 people and the courtroom could not hold that many people. Darrow then called Bryan to the stand. Though the prosecuting attorney was not usually called to the stand in such a trial, Bryan agreed and took the stand. Darrow questioned Bryan about such things as Jonah and the "whale," Joshua's Long Day, Noah's flood, the age of the earth, the Tower of Babel, Eve being the first woman, the identity of Cain's wife, and others, in an attempt to make the Bible look unscientific. Darrow even asked questions about the population of China - which is not found in the Bible, to make Bryan look bad.

Then, Darrow suddenly requested the jury to find Scopes, his own defendant, guilty as charged, preventing Bryan from presenting his closing statement, and giving the defense the option of appealing to the Tennessee Supreme Court. The jury agreed. The ACLU paid the fine and Scopes was free. Five days after the trial, Bryan died in his sleep. The Butler Act remained on the books for 42 years until its repeal. Scopes never actually testified, partially because he himself said he was never actually sure if he taught evolution or not.

Later, the film Inherit the Wind is shown in many schools and many believe it to be a historical account of the events that transpired - it is not, it was made in response to growing McCarthyism. (For an examination of the differences between the historical event and the film, visit here.) [8]

The turning point truly came when Darrow raised the issue of a six-day creation. When Darrow asked, "Does the statement, 'the morning and the evening were the first day,' and 'the morning the evening were the second day' mean anything to you?" In response Bryan said, "I do not see that there is any necessity for constructing the words, 'the evening and the morning,' and meaning necessarily a 24-hour day."

When Darrow asked, "Creation might have been going on for a very long time? Bryan replied, "It might have continued for millions of years." When Bryan compromised creation, Darrow reached his goal of making the Bible subject to reinterpretation with the fallible opinions and speculations of man, despite the clear teaching of Scripture. When the trial took place, some probably wondered what the age of the earth, days of creation, and Cain's wife had to do with the trial. Darrow understood why.

Darrow during the Trial
It was when Bryan could not answer the question about Cain's wife and admitted that he did not believe in a literal interpretation of Genesis that the world believed a Christian could not defend the Bible and therefore many people rejected God's Word. Like Bryan, many Christians today have accepted secular teaching of the world's history. Over eighty years later, most of our generation rejects the morality found in Scripture - and is it any wonder as to why?

The point is, the Scopes Trial was highly influential in opening the door to man's fallible opinions of Scripture, going against the clear teaching and evidence. The Scopes Trial was instrumental in bringing about an onslaught of investigations which eventually lead to Evolution being taught in schools and Creation being outlawed, though it is taught in some states in the US.

Troy Hillman

Sources:
[1] "Tennessee Anti-Evolution Statues". Web. May 2010. < http://www.law.umkc.edu/faculty/projects/ftrials/scopes/tennstat.htm
[2] "Scopes Trial." Web. 01 Jan 2011. < http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Scopes_Monkey_Trial
[3] Ham, Ken and Dr. David Menton. The New Answers Book 2. 5th ed. 2. Master Books, 2008. 277-282.
[4] Ibid. 278-280.
[5] Hastings, Kirk. "What Is Truth?". 1st ed. Publish America. 2009. 127-145.
[6] Ibid.  130-131.
[7] Ibid [3]. 281.
[8] Ibid [5]. 134-136.

Friday, January 7

Is Jesus Really God?

Jesus, as discussed in a past entry, is the most influential person in all of human history. No other has had such an impact upon the entire world that Jesus has. New Agers think he is an enlightened master, Mormons think Jesus was born as the first and the greatest "spirit child" of the Heavenly Father and alleged "Heavenly Mother," and his spirit-brother Lucifer. Jehovah's Witnesses believe Jesus was created by the Father billions of years ago as the Archangel Michael, and is in their eyes not God. (Photo credit to: Newmarket Films, Mel Gibson, "Passion of the Christ," 2004, starring James Caviezel as Jesus Christ)

Others view Jesus as a mere historical figure, a "great teacher," a "moral teacher." Was He anything more... or was here merely a crazed man who had delusions of godhood? In this entry, we will attempt to show that Jesus Christ truly is God, and even if you do not agree, I entreat you to continue reading. Some people question that Jesus was an actual person. yet his historicity is a generally accepted fact - it is what he did during his life and who he was where people divide. For example, there were many historians who referred to or gave accounts on Jesus within less than 200 years. Phlegan, Thallus, Pliay the Younger, (Roman governor of Bithyuia), Mara Ben-Serapion, Cornelius Tacticians, Lucian of Samosata, Suetonius (Roman historian and court official under emperor Hadrian), Trajan, Hadrian himself, Antonius Pius, Marcus Aurelius, Josephus ben Matthais (also known as Flavius Josephus), and a number of other historians, philosophers, governors, and emperors all attested to and believed Jesus Christ to be a historical figure.[1]

The question probably began with a question Jesus himself asked his disciples, the infamous question, "Who do you say that I am?" (Matthew 16:15) Jesus claimed many times that he was God the Son, and that His Father was God. He also claimed that "I and the Father are one." (John 10:30) He also stated, "He who has seen me has seen the Father." (John 14:9, for more on this, see entry, "Has Man Ever Seen God?"Even the Pharisees knew he was claiming to be God. Jesus said, "'I have shown you many good works from the Father. For which of these do you stone me?' 'We are not stoning you for any good work,' they replied, 'but for blasphemy, because you, a mere man, claim to be God.'" (John 10:32-33) Jesus also claimed to have the ability to forgive sins. As Mark 2:7 states, "...who can forgive sins but God alone?" He claimed to be the only way. "I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me." (John 14:6)

Christian author and apologist C.S. Lewis (Chronicles of Narnia series, Screwtape Letters, etc) eloquently put it this way: "I am trying to prevent anyone from saying the really foolish thing that people often say about Him: 'I'm ready to accept Jesus as a great moral teacher, but I don't accept His claim to be God.' That is one thing we must not say. A man who was merely a man and said the sort of things Jesus said would not be a great moral teacher. He would be either a lunatic - on a level with the man who says he is a poached egg - or else would be the Devil of Hell. You must make your choice. Either this man was, and is, the Son of God: or else a mad man or something worse. You can shut Him up for a fool, you can spit at Him and kill Him as a demon, or you can fall at His feet and call Him Lord and God. But let us not come up with any patronizing nonsense about His being a great human teacher. He has not left that open to us. He did not intend to." (From: Mere Christianity, 1952)

If this is so, what if Jesus was a liar, or a con-man? Josh McDowell, in The New Evidence That Demands a Verdict, says the following: "If Jesus was a liar, a con man, and therefore an evil, foolish man, then how can we explain the fact that He left us with the most profound moral instruction and powerful moral example that anyone has ever left? Could such a deceiver - an imposter of monstrous proportions - teach unselfish ethical truths and live such a morally exemplary life as Jesus did? The very notion is incredulous." Indeed. His resurrection can also be attested to as well, though this will be covered in a later entry.

Just as the angel said, "He is not here, for he is risen, just as he said." (Matthew 28:6) If Christ was some lunatic, he would not have led the kind of life that the Bible and history show him to have. Let us, however, examine a few points about Jesus. Jesus has the names of God, which can only be attributed to Him. For example, Jesus is Yahweh, which means "Lord." Yahweh is used of God the Father many times in the Hebrew Bible, and is consequently used of Christ in the New Testament. 

The "angel" of the Lord (angel means messenger, or he who is sent) in Exodus 3 appears to Moses in the Burning Bush. It is not God the Father who is speaking to Moses here, as Exodus tells us - it is someone called "the angel of the Lord," who speaks as God. He claims to be God. Yet God himself, the Father, cannot be seen. (Exodus 33:18-23, John 1:18) Jesus tells a crowd, "...before Abraham was born, I AM." (John 8:58) Jesus is Kurios, which also means Lord. (Romans 10:9) Jesus is Elohim - Elohim is used of God in the Hebrew Bible 2,570 times, and used of Jesus many times in the New Testament. He is also recognized as both Yahweh and Elohim in the prophecy in Isaiah 40:3, and in Isaiah 9:6, which says, "For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace."[2]

Jesus is also referred to as Theos. Theos is the New Testament word (in Greek) for God. Theos is the Greek equivalent, or parallel, of the Hebrew Elohim. Jesus is addressed as such several times. For example, John 20:28, "My Lord and my God. [Theos]" Jesus is called Theos throughout the remainder of the New Testament. (Another example is Acts 16:31) But what about the other attributes of God? If Jesus is God, we would expect him to be eternal, all-knowing, ever-present, sovereign, sinless, and able to control Creation.[3]

Jesus is eternal, (John 1:1, Hebrews 1:8-11) he is self-existent (John 1:3, Colossians 1:16, Hebrews 1:2), being "before all things," and in Him all things have been made (Colossians 1:17). Jesus is also ever present (Matthew 18:20, 28:20; Ephesians 1:23, 4:10; Colossians 3:11), He is all knowing. Jesus knew exactly where fish were in the water while the men on the boat, who had been fishing for a long time, could not catch anything. (Luke 5:4, 6; John 21:6-11), He knew which fish contained the coin he had sent Peter to retrieve (Matthew 17:27), He knew the future (John 11:11, 18:4) - and details about that future (Matthew 21:2-4), He knew, even from a distance, that Lazarus had died (John 11:14). He knows the Father as the Father knows Him. (Matthew 11:27; John 7:29, 8:55, 10:15, 17:25)

Also, Jesus is called sovereign. (1st Peter 3:22, Revelation 19:16) Jesus is also sinless. (John 8:46; 2nd Corinthians 5:21; Hebrews 1:9, 4:15, 7:26) Jesus is also worshiped as God - and accepted worship each time. He accepted worship from Thomas in John 20:28, the angels (Hebrews 1:6), from wise men (Matthew 2:11), from a leper (Matthew 8:2), from a ruler (Matthew 9:18), a blind man (John 9:38), an unknown woman (Matthew 15:25), Mary Magdalene, and his disciples. (Matthew 28:9, 17) We know that anything can be worshiped by man  - but both man and angels worship God - who is Jesus. (Exodus 34:14, Deuteronomy 6:13, Matthew 4:10)

But if Jesus was truly God, would he not demonstrate a control over His Creation? Indeed he did. He performed the Works of God. For example, he walked on water (John 2:7-8), demonstrated control of weather as he calmed the sea, fed over 5,000 men and their families, rose people from the dead, caused his disciples to catch a great many number of fish - and his Transfiguration showed his glory. (For more on his miracles, see series, "The Miracles of Jesus)

We also need to understand that it is only God who saves. (Isaiah 43:11) Jesus is referred to as "our great God and savior." (Titus 2:13) God asserts in Isaiah 44:24, "I am the Lord, who has made all things, who alone stretched out the heavens, who spread out the earth by myself." Jesus Christ claimed that He created "all things." (John 1:3, Colossians 1:16, Hebrews 1:2) The early Church Fathers once asked, if Jesus was God, would we not expect to find Him in the Hebrew Bible? For individuals such as St. Augustine of Hippo, we do, He appears many times, as does the Holy Spirit, or, "Spirit of the Lord." For Augustine, Jesus made pre-incarnate appearances as "the angel of the Lord," he also appeared several times in Daniel, (Daniel 3:25, 7:13-14, 9:25-26) He is referred to all throughout prophecy, is with the Trinity at Creation and at Babel, the like. Jesus performed similar ministries while he was incarnate as when he was the "[messenger] of the Lord." But He was never the archangel Michael (as taught by Jehovah's Witnesses and Seventh-Day Adventists; See also, "Who Is The Angel of The Lord?")
James Caviezel as Jesus Christ

Some claim that the Bible does not confirm the Trinity. On the contrary, it surely does. Scripture tells us that there is one True God (Deuteronomy 6:4, 32:39; Psalm 86:10, Isaiah 44:6), but we have many indications of the Trinity earlier on - with the Holy Spirit, or "Spirit of the Lord," appearing in the second verse of the Bible! (Genesis 1:2, indications of the Trinity in Genesis 1:26, 3:22, 11:27; Isaiah 6:8, 48:16) God's oneness is also emphasized throughout the New Testament. (Romans 3:29-30; 1st Corinthians 8:4; Galatians 3:20; 1st Thessalonians 1:9; 1st Timothy 1:17, 2:5; James 2:19; Jude 25)

Why did God not reveal his triune nature in the beginning? It is because as history has unfolded, God revealed more and more about himself, so that we may better understand him over time. (Matthew 28:19) The Father is called God, the Son (Jesus) is called God, and the Spirit is called God. (Titus 2:13, Hebrews 1:8, Acts 5:3-4). Some claim that because Jesus is also called "The Son of God" that he must be lesser than the Father. Among ancients, however, a meaning of the phrase "son of" is meant as "one who has the same nature as." Jesus, as the Son of God, also has the very nature of God. (See John 5:18, 10:30, 19:7) Jesus is not lesser, nor is he a lesser God, nor an angel who became higher. He is God. He was positionally lower than the Father from the aspect that he became a servant by taking on a human likeness (Philippians 2:6-11) but he remains God. Others argue that he cannot be God because he is called "the firstborn of creation." (Colossians 1:15) They believe that he is a created being, and is therefore not God. However, biblically speaking, Jesus was not created but is the Creator himself. (Colossians 1:16, John 1:3) The term firstborn, biblically, means "first in rank, preeminent," over the creation that God brought into existence.

Still yet others argue that because Jesus said that no one but the Father knows the day nor the hour of His return that he is not all-knowing and therefore could not be God. (Mark 13:32) We need to understand that, at the time when Jesus said this, it was speaking from the limited perspective of His own humanity. (Philippians 2:5-11) Had Jesus been speaking from His divinity, He would not have said this. As God, Jesus knows all things. (Matthew 17:27; Luke 5:4-6; John 2:25, 16:30, 21:17) The Father likely kept this from Jesus while he was on Earth, but not before nor after. 

Jesus knows when He will return, it is merely that He is willing to "tarry," to wait for even one more person to be saved. That is why. Author and psychologist said about Christ, "Jesus didn't just claim to be God - he backed it up with amazing feats of healing, with astounding demonstrations of power over nature, with transcendent and unprecedented teaching, with divine insights into people, and ultimately with his own resurrection from the dead, which absolutely nobody else has been able to duplicate. So when Jesus claimed to be God, it wasn't crazy. It was the truth." (From: The Case for Christ)

Jesus Christ is certainly God. He is God the Son. He created both Adam - and Eve, the first humans, who were made in His image. Jesus is the Creator of the Universe: The Intelligent Designer. "Through him all things were made, and without him nothing was made that has been made." (John 1:3) This includes the entire universe: stars, planets, the Earth, the sky, birds, creatures of the sea, land animals, plants, all of it: even angels. (Colossians 1:15-17) As author Paul S. Taylor puts it:

"The exciting truth is that Jesus is now also a man, and will remain so for all eternity. He humbled himself to become like one of his own creations. He chose to become a man to help us in an extremely important way. This amazing event happened about 2-thousand years ago. The results have changed the world forever. The part of God that is called the Holy Spirit created God's human body inside of a woman named Mary (Matthew 1:20). God went into this human body that grew inside of Mary. The baby was born and grew into a man. At various times in the past, Jesus had appeared to people in human form. One example is when he appeared to Abraham just before the judgment of the evil cities of Sodom and Gomorrah. But now, for the first time in history, God did not simply appear as man, he became fully human. Yet, he is still God. He is both God and man. One huge difference between this man and every other man and woman, or boy and girl, is that Jesus was (and still is) sinless. We humans are full of sin. We sin every day. Jesus never did anything wrong, not even once. No matter what temptations came to him, he refused to sin. He has always remained pure and perfect.

Taylor continues on to say, "As a man, God experienced the same temptations that we feel (Hebrews 2:18). He suffered the same kind of physical pains that we suffer with. He also experienced emotional pain. He even wept about the city of Jerusalem (John 11:35). He was ignored, unappreciated, unloved, misunderstood, and even despised—even though he did nothing wrong, and always loved everyone (1 Peter 2:23). Not only is Jesus Christ the greatest man that ever lived; he is our Creator. He deserved all glory and honor! I am sure that you have heard what people did to him. It was horribly painful and terribly unjust. He had the power to stop their torture and taunting at any time. His power is awesome beyond anything we can understand. Yet, he did not defend himself. He let himself be like a perfect, innocent little lamb that hurt no one, and was sacrificed for the sins of the people. He did this for us, because he loves us. 

Troy Hillman

Sources
[1] Hastings, Kirk. "What Is Truth?". 1st ed. Publish America. 2009. 94-104.
[2, 3] Ham, Ken and Dr. Ron Rhodes. The New Answers Book 2. 5th ed. 2. Master Books, 2008. 185-193.
[4] Taylor, Paul. "Is Jesus Christ a man, or is he God?" Web. 06 Jan 11. < http://christiananswers.net/kids/ednk-jesusgodorman.html >