Sunday, March 27

Who Was Balaam And What Is His Importance?

In the third book of the Hebrew Bible, Numbers, chapters 22-25 (and briefly in 31) convey the account of a man named Balaam son of Beor. (Hebrew: בִּלְעָם, Standard Bilʻam Tiberian Bilʻām) Balaam was summoned by Balak son of Zippor, who was the king of Moab, to come and put a curse upon the Israelites. Thrice he tried to curse, yet all three times God used Balaam to bless Israel. This individual is mentioned in other parts of Scripture, and has both a prophetic and archaeological importance - archaeology which confirms his existence and veracity of the biblical account. *Note: This entry is double-length. (Photo credit: Rembrandt van Rijn, 1626; Livius)

The main account we have concerning Balaam occurs during the sojourn of Israel on the plains of Midian near the close of the forty years of wandering, just before the death of Moses. By this time, the Israelites have defeated Sihon of the Amorites and Og, King of Bashan. Balak, King of Moab sends ambassadors to Balaam, to ask for him to put a curse on Israel. When the elders of Moab and Midian came to Balaam, they stayed the night, and the following morning, after having been visited by God in a dream, Balaam conveys that he cannot go.

God had said to Balaam, "Do not go with them. You must not put a curse on those people, because they are blessed." (Numbers 22:12, NIV) The officials returned, but Balak sent "other officials, more numerous and more distinguished than the first." (Numbers 22:15) Again, Balaam sought the counsel of God at night, and God said to Balaam: "Since these men have come to summon you, go with them, but do only what I tell you." (Numbers 22:20) Balaam left in the morning with the officials on his donkey.

From Numbers 22:21-41 we can easily glean that God wanted to make a point to Balaam. God sent the Angel of the Lord, (who is often identified as the pre-incarnate Jesus Christ) to stand in front of Balaam. Numbers 22:21-25 says, "When the donkey saw the angel of the LORD standing in the road with a drawn sword in his hand. it turned off the road into a field. Balaam beat it to get it back on the road. Then the angel of the LORD stood in a narrow path through the vineyards, with walls on both sides. When the donkey saw the angel of the LORD, it pressed close to the wall, crushing Balaam's foot against it. So he beat the donkey again."(See entry: "Who Is 'The Angel of the Lord?'", "The Holy Trinity (Part Two)")

The donkey would not be swayed. Note that Balaam did not yet see the angel (messenger) of the Lord. Numbers 22:26-28 continue, "Then the angel of the LORD moved on ahead and stood in a narrow place where there was no room to turn, either to the right or to the left. When the donkey saw the angel of the LORD, it lay down under Balaam, and he was angry and beat it with his staff. Then the LORD opened the donkey's mouth, and it said to Balaam, 'What have I done to you to make you beat me these three times?'"

Ordinarily, if one were to ride on a donkey, and all of a sudden that donkey turns and begins to speak, you think you would be frightened or taken aback! No such awe was seemingly found in Balaam. "Balaam answered the donkey, 'You have made a fool of me! If only I had a sword in my hand, I would kill you right now.' The donkey said to Balaam, 'Am I not your own donkey, which you have always ridden, to this day? Have I been in the habit of doing this to you?' 'No,' he said. Then the LORD opened Balaam's eyes, and he saw the angel of the LORD standing in the road with his sword drawn. So he bowed low and fell facedown." (Numbers 22:29-31)

From: Rembrandt van Rijn, 1626
Skeptics love to point out passages of Scripture like Jonah in the belly of a huge fish (Jonah 2, Matthew 12:40) and the talking donkey to illustrate the "ridiculousness of Scripture." Quite the opposite. This passage simply illustrates for us another clear example of God's control of all creation: even speaking through a donkey. There are a few ideas on whether or not it was the donkey that actually spoke or the LORD, but it was likely God using the donkey to make a point to Balaam.

In fact, Peter elaborates on this as a historical event in 2nd Peter 2:15-16, "They have left the straight way and wandered off to follow the way of Balaam son of Bezer, [also called Beor] who loved the wages of wickedness. But he was rebuked for his wrongdoing by a donkey - an animal without speech - who spoke with a human voice and restrained the prophet's madness." The angel of the Lord proceeded to speak to Balaam:

"The angel of the LORD asked him, 'Why have you beaten your donkey these three times? I have come here to oppose you because your path is a reckless one before me. The donkey saw me and turned away from me these three times. If it had not turned away, I would certainly have killed you by now, but I would have spared it.' Balaam said to the angel of the LORD, 'I have sinned. I did not realize you were standing in the road to oppose me. Now if you are displeased, I will go back. The angel of the Lord said to Balaam, 'Go with the men, but speak only what I tell you.' So Balaam went with Balak's officials." (Numbers 22:32-35)

Josephus, first century Jewish historian, writes in The Antiquities of the Jews 4.6.3, "but when his ass, upon the angel's continuing to distress her, and upon the stripes which were given her, fell down, by the will of God, she made use of the voice of a man, and complained of Balaam as acting unjustly to her; that whereas he had no fault to find him in what he was now going about, by the providence of God. And when he was disturbed by reason of the voice of the ass, which was that of a man, the angel plain appeared to him, and blamed him for the stripes he had given his ass; and informed him that the brute creature was not in fault, but that he was himself come to obstruct his journey, as being contrary to the will of God."[1]

Balaam was asked thrice by Balak to curse the Israelites, and thrice God told him to bless Israel. Though Balaam was a corrupted and false prophet, God still used him. Numbers 24:1-2 reveals, "Now when Balaam saw that it pleased the LORD to bless Israel, he did not resort to divination as at other times, but turned his face toward the wilderness. When Balaam looked out and saw Israel encamped tribe by tribe, the Spirit of God [Holy Spirit] came on him." Balaam proceeded to give five more prophecies.

Perhaps one of the most important was the fourth message that he gave (the second after receiving the Holy Spirit), found in Numbers 24:17a, "I see him, but not now; I behold him, but not near. A star will come out of Jacob; a scepter will rise out of Israel." (cf. Matthew 2) This prophecy has been used in the context of the Star of Bethlehem that heralded the birth of Jesus Christ, the Messiah, around 1400 years after this prophecy was given. (For more, see entry: "Prophecy And The Birth of Christ")

Balaam's final message, the seventh (fifth after receiving the Spirit), conveys, "Ah, who can live when God does this? Ships will come from the shores of Cyprus; they will subdue Ashur and Eber, but they too will come to ruin." (Numbers 24:23b-24) This prophecy has been interpreted a few different ways, the most prominent of which say that the prophecy refers to the Sea Peoples who some scholars allege invaded Cyprus, or the interpretation which says that Alexander the Great (356-323 BC) is the one who led this invasion.[2]

Sadly, Balaam showed Balak how to seduce the Israelites. "While Israel was staying in Shittim, the men began to indulge in sexual immorality with Moabite women, who invited them to sacrifice to their gods. The people ate the sacrificial meal and bowed down before these gods. So Israel yoked themselves to the Baal of Peor. And the LORD's anger burned against them." God was angry with good reason. The Israelites had violated the covenant made with God on Mount Sinai not forty years prior. 

In Numbers 31:8, we find out the fate of Balaam. "Among [the Israelites victims in the fight with Midian] were Evi, Rekem, Zur, Hur, and Reba - the five kings of Midian. They also killed Balaam son of Beor with the sword." In verse 16 we read, "They were the ones who followed Balaam's advice and enticed the Israelites to be unfaithful to the LORD in the Peor incident, so that a plague struck the LORD's people." Thus ended the life of Balaam. He is, however, mentioned elsewhere in Scripture.

Deuteronomy 23:4 reads, "For they did not come to meet you with bread and water on your way when you came out of Egypt, and they hired Balaam son of Beor from Pethor in Aram Naharaim [Northwest Mesopotamia] to pronounce a curse on you." From this verse we can glean that Balaam was from Pethor in Aram. Joshua 24:9-10 says, "When Balaak son of Zippor, the king of Moab, prepared to fight against Israel, he sent for Balaam son of Beor to put a curse on you. But I would not listen to Balaam, so he blessed you again and again, and I delivered you out of his hand."

Micah also makes reference to Balaam. Micah 6:5a says, "My people, remember what Balak king of Moab plotted and what Balaam son of Beor answered." We can also look at Jude 11, when Jude is referring to false teaching. Jude 11 says, "Woe to them! They have taken the way of Cain; they have rushed for profit in Balaam's error; they have been destroyed in Korah's rebellion." Also, Revelation 2:14 makes reference to Balaam: "Nevertheless, I have a few things against you: There are some among you who hold to the teaching of Balaam, who taught Balak to entice the Israelites to sin so that they ate food sacrificed to idols and committed sexual immorality."

Balaam was obviously a conflicted man. As elaborated in the Oxford Companion To The Bible, "On the one hand, Balaam is often portrayed as an example of an evil diviner who would sell his prophetic powers to the highest bidder, often in conflict with God's will (Num. 31.8, 16; Deut. 23.4-5; Josh. 13.22; 24.9-10; Neh. 13.2; Mic. 6:5; 2 Pet. 2.15; Jude 11; Rev 2.14)... On the other hand, Numbers 22-24 as a whole portrays Balaam in a favorable light. When the Moabite king Balak hires Balaam to curse his enemy Israel as they cross his territory on the way to the Promised Land, Balaam replies piously that as a prophet he can speak only the words God gives to him (Num. 22.18; see also Num. 24.13)."[3] As noted, we can clearly see in Balaam's character internal conflict.

Philo, a biblical philosopher, described Balaam as a great magician, and of "the sophist Balaam, being," symbolizing "a vain crowd of contrary and warring opinions" and again as "a vain people." Both of these were based on a mistaken etymology for the name Balaam, yet regardless, Philo recognized the historicity of the existence of Balaam when referring to him.[4] The name Balaam means "Lord of the people; foreigner or glutton, as interpreted by other."[5] Early in the entry, it was mentioned that Balaam not only had a prophetic importance (the prophecy concerning the star which heralded Christ's birth) but also an archaeological importance. Let us now take a look at the archaeological evidence for Balaam, son of Beor.

In 1967, in Deir Alla, Jordan, an archaeological dig found an inscription made in red and black in on plaster walls. "It described a prophecy from something called the book of Balaam. Balaam was described as the son of Beor, as is the Balaam we read about in the book of Numbers, In this prophecy, however, he is further described as a prophet for Shamash, the sun god worshiped by the Babylonians and Sumerians."[6] Three times in the first four lines alone, Balaam is called the "son of Beor." 

The Deir Alla Inscription (Credit: Livius)
According to Bryant G. Wood, "The remarkable text found at Deir Alla consists of 119 fragments of plaster inscribed with black and red ink. It was among the rubble of a building destroyed in an earthquake. It seems to have been one long column with at least 50 lines, displayed on a plastered wall. According to the excavators' dating, the disaster was most likely the severe earthquake which occurred in the time of King Uzziah (Azariah) and the prophet Amos in about 760 BC (Amos 1:1; Zec 14:5). The lower part of the text shows signs of wear, indicating that it had been on the wall for some time prior to the earthquake."[7]

By referring to the "Book of Balaam," it is evident that the mentioned document was a pre-existing document, likely around a while before the inscription. Kyle J. McCarter Jr. translated and reconstructed part of the inscription as follows:

"(1) [VACAT] The sa]ying[s of Bala]am, [son of Be]or, the man who was a seer of the gods. Lo! Gods came to him in the night [and spoke to] him (2) according to these w[ord]s. Then they said to [Bala]am, son of Beor, thus: Let someone make a [ ] hearafter, so that [what] you have hea[rd may be se]en!" (3) And Balaam rose in the morning [ ] right hand [ ] and could not [eat] and wept (4) aloud. Then his people came in to him [and said] to Balaam, son of Beor, "Do you fast? [ ] Do you weep?" And he (5) said to them, "Si[t] do]wn! I shall inform you what the Shad[daying have done]. Now come, see the deeds of the g[o]ds!. The g[o]ds have gathered (6) and the Shaddayin have taken their places in the assembly and said to Sh[ , thus:] 'Sew the skies shut with your thick cloud! There let there be darkness and no (7) perpetual shining and n[o] radiance! For you will put a sea[l upon the thick] cloud of darkness and you will not remove it forever! For the swift has (8) reproached the eagle, the voice of vultures resounds. The st[ork has ] the young of the NHS-bird and ripped up the chicks of the heron. The swallow has belittled (9) the dove, and the sparrow [ ] and [ ] the staff. Instead of ewes the stick is driven along. Hares have eaten (10) [ ]. Freemen [] have drunk wine, and hyenas have listened to instruction. The whelps of the (11) f[ox] laughs at wise men, and the poor woman has mixed myrhh, and the priestess (12) [ ] to the one who wears a girdle of threads. The esteemed esteems and the esteemer is es[teemed. ] and everyone has seen those things that decree offspring and young. (15) [ ] to the leopard. The piglet has chased the young (16) [of] those who are girded and the eye ....'"[8]

There are several parallels and similarities between the Deir Alla Inscription and Numbers 22-24. For one, the events described in Numbers took place in the general area that the Inscription was found. As is clearly shown by the biblical text, Balaam was known as a "cursing prophet," as this is reason Balak summoned him. The Deir Alla text clearly shows this as well. There are other general similarities, but most importantly, it is well agreed upon that this archaeological find confirms the existence of Balaam son of Beor.[9]

Troy Hillman

Sources
[1] Josephus, Flavius, translated by William Whiston. Josephus: The Complete Works. 1st ed. Nashville, Tennesse: Thomas Nelson, 1998. 129. Print.
[2] "Alexander the Great." History of Macedonia. History of Macedonia.org, 2003. Web. 27 Mar 2011. .
[3] Dennis T. Olson, et al. The Oxford Companion To The Bible. 1st ed. New York City, New York: Oxford University Press, 1993. 72-73. Print.
[4] Philo, The Life of Moses.
[5] "Balaam." Web Bible Encyclopedia. Christian Answers Network, n.d. Web. 26 Mar 2011. .
[6] Stan Campbell, Stephen Clark, et al. "A Donkey Talks." Inside The Mysteries Of The Bible: New Perspectives On Ancient Truths. 2010: 74-75. Print.
[7] Wood, Bryant G. "Is there any evidence to prove the existence of the prophet, Balaam?." Christian Answers Network. Christian Answers Network, 1995. Web. 26 Mar 2011. .
[8] P. Kyle McCarter Jr., The Balaam Texts from Deir 'Alla: The First Combination", Bulletin of the Schools of Oriental Research 237 (1980): 49-60
[9] Ibid, [7]

Tuesday, March 22

Why Does God Seem Absent Or Silent In Our Lives At Times?

There are times in an individual's life where it seems as if God is silent, or even absent. "Why have you abandoned me," the individual inquires, with no audible response. At these times, we wonder, "Lord, where are you? Why are you silent?" Does God's Word offer answers... and is God truly silent, or are we simply not listening hard enough? (Photo credit: Captiol Columns)

In 1st Kings 19:9-10, we read an account concerning the prophet Elijah. Let us first examine the account. "And the word of the LORD came to him, 'What are you doing here, Elijah?' He replied, 'I have been very zealous for the LORD God Almighty. The Israelites have rejected your covenant, torn down your altars, and put your prophets to death with the sword. I am the only one left, and now they are trying to kill me too.'"

Verses 11-13a continue, "The Lord said, 'Go out and stand on the mountain in the presence of the LORD, for the LORD is about to pass by." Then a great and powerful wind tore the mountains apart and shattered the rocks before the LORD, but the LORD was not in the wind. After the wind there was an earthquake, but the LORD was not in the earthquake. After the earthquake came a fire, but the LORD was not in the fire, And after the fire came a still, small voice."

Here, we determine that Elijah's fallible ideas fell flat. Elijah had believed that God had abandoned him, that God was silent. Then, God showed up - not in the wind, not in the earthquake, not in the fire - but in a still, small voice. God revealed to Elijah that he was not alone at all in 1st Kings 19:18, "Yet I reserve seven thousand in Israel - all whose knees have not bowed down to Baal and whose mouths have not kissed him." (Baal was a pagan god.)

In the same way, sometimes it seems as if God has abandoned us, that He is absent or even silent. Bear in mind, God is never silent. It is whether or not we take the opportunity to listen to the "still small voice" of God. That is not to say that God does not have a loud, audible voice, but sometimes, He speaks to us through other means, not a loud, audible voice. This can be related to what Jesus said concerning parables:

"In them is fulfilled the prophecy of Isaiah: 'You will be ever hearing but never understanding; you will be ever seeing but never perceiving. For this people's heart has become calloused; they hardly hear with their ears, and they have closed their eyes. Otherwise they might see with their eyes, hear with their ears, understand with their hearts..." (Matthew 13:14-15a) God is never silent, but sometimes we simply do not take the time to listen, or we do not listen hard enough.

God is active in every part of our life. He knows the number of hairs on our head (Mark 10:30; Luke 12:7), He is with us always (Matthew 28:20), He helps us through life (Isaiah 41:13), He establishes our plans (Proverbs 16:3), His eyes "saw [our] unformed body, All the days ordained for [us] were written in [His] book, before one of them came to be." (Psalm 139:16)

God also speaks to us through His Word. We need to be mindful of this. Consider Isaiah 55:8-11. "'For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are my ways your ways,' declares the LORD. 'As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts. As the rain and the snow come down from heaven, and do not return to it without watering the earth and making it bud and flourish, so that it yields seed for the sower and bread for the eater, so is my word that goes out from my mouth: It will not return to me empty, but will accomplish what I desire and achieve the purpose for which I sent it."

When it appears as if God is silent or absent in our life, perhaps what we ought to consider is if we are silent or absent toward Him. Are we listening hard enough, are we still listening for His voice? We need to block our the white noise of the world and listen to the glorious voice of the King. It is not God who is never-faithful, it is the individual.

Consider the words of Psalm 146:6, "He is the Maker of heaven and earth, the sea, and everything in them - He remains faithful forever." Indeed, even John confirms this, "If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness." (1st John 1:9, emphasis added) God is ever-faithful, ever-present, ever-loving. But are we returning the faith? Are we returning the love?

How then can we recognize the voice of God? In 1st Samuel 3:1-10, we read the infamous account of Samuel, Eli, and God. God calls to Samuel three times, and twice he thought it was Eli, until Eli told him that if the voice called again, to say, "Speak Lord, for your servant is listening." (1st Samuel 3:9) In another instance, Gideon, who was one of Israel's Judges, asked for a physical sign though he had just spoken with God, and doubted: three times. (Judges 6:17-22, 36-40)

Bear in mind that we have something that neither Samuel nor Gideon had: the Word of God. When we wonder about certain things in life, seek first what God has to say about it via His Word. All too often, we ask God questions which He has already answered through the Bible. As Titus 1:2 reveals, "in the hope of eternal life, which God, who does not lie, promised before the beginning of time;" from this we can glean that God does not lie, it is against His very nature. His nature is perfect, and lies and perfection cannot mesh, they are mutually exclusive.

Jesus conveyed in John 10:27, "My sheep listen to my voice; no one will snatch them out of my hand." How do we hear God's voice? Those who belong to Jesus hear His voice, not those who have not accepted Him. Generally, we hear His voice through a myriad of ways: careful prayer, time spent in God's Word, the like. God speaks through God the Spirit (The Holy Spirit), directly to our consciences, and also speaks through His Word.

While it is possible to hear the audible voice of God, He generally speaks to us through our conscience or through His Word. Be sure to spend time in prayer. Prayer is crucial and vital to the life of every believer. Note Colossians 1:9-10, which state, "For this reason, since the day we heard about you, we have not stopped praying for you. We continually ask God to fill you with the knowledge of God." Go and do likewise.

Why does God seem absent or silent in our lives at times? Perhaps we are not paying attention to what is important. Perhaps we are not listening close enough to hear His "still small voice,", and when it seems like we cannot hear Him, to believe by faith.

Troy Hillman

Wednesday, March 16

Book Overview: 1st Chronicles

The Book of Chronicles, which was originally one book and not two separate books, covers the genealogy of King David all the way back to Adam, it deals with the reigns of King Saul and King David, instructions on the Temple, and details the reign of King Solomon. 1st Chronicles contains 29 chapters, and while 1st and 2nd Samuel (as well as 1st and 2nd Kings) concern both the Northern and Southern Kingdoms of Israel and Judah, the Book of Chronicles only deals with the kingdom of Judah. (Photo credit: 2nd Chronicles 7v14 Ministry)

This is the thirteenth 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 1st Chronicles.
Title: 1st Book of Chronicles (English), Dibh're Hayyamim - דברי הימים (Hebrew), Paralipomenon - Παραλειπομένων (Greek) In the Masoretic Text, it appears as part of the Tanakh, specifically in the Ketuvim. (Meaning, "Writings") However, generally, the Book of Chronicles is split into two books: 1st and 2nd Chronicles. This is because of the order found in the Septuagint. They appear directly after 1st/2nd Samuel and 1st/2nd Kings, rehashing the general points of those four books, a bit like a summary with added details. 

As noted, in Hebrew it is called Divrei Hayyamim (also Dibh're Hayyamim), meaning "the matters [of] the days," based on "sefer divrei ha-yamim le-malkhei Yehudah" as well as "sefer divrei ha-yammim lemalkhei Israel," meaning "book of the days of the kings of Judah" and "book of the days of the kings of Israel," respectively. The Book of Chronicles was originally assumed to be the source material from which the Book of Samuel (1st/2nd Samuel) and the Book of Kings1st/2nd Kings) were composed. In Greek, as aforementioned, Chronicles is called Paralipomenon, meaning, "that which has been left out or left to one side."

There is a Chronicles-Ezra-Nehemiah theory which states that Chronicles contains material that was set aside from the rest of the book of Ezra, which was canonized before Chronicles. Though heavily debated, some scholars believe that Ezra, Nehemiah, and 1st/2nd Chronicles were originally part of one work. It ought to be noted, however, that this view is not held by all, and many scholars believe this is highly improbable.

Authorship/Written: 1st Chronicles was likely written ca. 450-425 BC. Tradition holds that Ezra is the author of both 1st and 2nd Chronicles, though not all scholars agree. Some believe that 1st and 2nd Chronicles were written by the Priestly Order, while others still hold that Ezra wrote it. 2nd Chronicles ends with Cyrus' proclamation that the Jews were able to return to their land. (539 BC) Also, 1st Chronicles 3:17-24 lists six names after Zerubbabel. These names could represent six successive generations proceeding Zerubbabel, covering about 100 years. (525-425 BC) However, it has also been suggested that these names represent the sons of Zerubbabel and not successive generations.

As aforementioned, the Book of Chronicles bears continuity with Ezra and Nehemiah, which were probably written by Ezra. (Although some believe Nehemiah was written by Nehemiah) 2nd Chronicles ends with the same verse which Ezra begins with, and both speak from the same vantage point. Note that the Jewish Talmud ascribes Chronicles to Ezra. Ezra, as the leader of the remnant, was probably a chronicles of the returnees. In 2nd Maccabees 2:13 we read that Nehemiah, the governor, "founded a library and collected books about the kings and prophets and the writings of David..." Now, if this is true, then this indicates that Nehemiah's close associate, Ezra, would have had access to these sources when compiling and composing the Book of Chronicles. There are several sources noted in both 1st and 2nd Chronicles
-The Chronicles of Samuel the Seer (1st Chronicles 29:29)
-The Chronicles of Nathan the Seer (1st Chronicles 29:29)
-The Chronicles of Gad the Seer (1st Chronicles 29:29)
-The History of Nathan the Prophet (2nd Chronicles 9:29)
-The Chronicles of Shemaiah the Prophet and Iddo (2nd Chronicles 12:15)
-The Story of the Prophet Iddo (2nd Chronicles 13:22)
-The Book of the Kings of Judah and Israel (2nd Chronicles 16:11)
-The Chronicles of Jehu, recorded in the book of the kings of Israel (2nd Chronicles 20:34)
-The Chronicles of the Kings of Israel (2nd Chronicles 33:18)

Summary: "1 Chronicles documents the family tree of David, and it summarizes the highlights of the kingdom of Israel's history. 1 Chronicles teaches that God needs to be the center of our lives, and that he is the only way to eternal peace." (Source: NIV)

Overview: 1st Chronicles 1-10 - contains, for the most part, genealogical lists, which conclude with the House of Saul, paving the way for the House of David.
1st Chronicles 11-29 - A History of King David's reign.
1st Chronicles 10 - The Death of Saul
1st Chronicles 11 - David Becomes King
1st Chronicles 13 - Moving the Ark
1st Chronicles 15 - The Ark is brought to Jerusalem
1st Chronicles 17 - God's Promise to David
1st Chronicles 22 - Preparing the Temple
1st Chronicles 29 - Solomon acknowledged as King, David's death

The Genealogy can be split up into the following categories:
  • The primeval period (1a)
  • The patriarchal period (1b-2a)
  • The national period (2b-10)
To break down the book a little farther, we could separate it into four sections: Genealogies, Saul, David, and the Temple. 

Points: As noted by author and apologist Normal L. Geisler, "There are two dominant Christological themes in Chronicles, one more explicit than the other: first, there is the obvious recording of the Davidic kings and their descendants through whom the Messiah was to come (cf. Matt. 1 and Luke 3). Second, there is the less explicit but highly important testimony concerning the typological significance of the Temple as it points to Jesus Christ, who said, 'I tell you, something is greater than the temple is here' (Matt. 12:6). John added of the New Jerusalem, 'And I saw no temple in the city, for its temple is the Lord God the Almighty and the Lamb' (Rev. 21:22)."

Many Bible readers and students tend to agree that in 1st and 2nd Chronicles they find little to bewilder or attract them. However, we need to bear in mind that if this ever occurs with a Biblical book, when the book seems dry and uninteresting to us, it is merely because we have not found the right key to study it. Here's an example. When I first began reading the Hebrew Bible several years ago, I enjoyed reading Genesis and Exodus, but for the most part, most of it was dry and uninteresting to me. I was more interested in the New Testament. It was even recommended to me that I skip the Hebrew Bible! I did not, however, and read through to Revelation. But when I began studying the Hebrew Bible, it became a lot more interesting to me. Why? It is because I began to study the books in a different light - and now I tend to spend a lot of time in the Hebrew Bible, and understand that without the Old, we would never have the New.

1st Chronicles 1:1-4 is very important: "Adam, Seth, Enosh, Kenan, Mahalalel, Jared, Enoch, Methuselah, Lamech, Noah. The sons of Noah: Shem, Ham, and Japheth." This single verse establishes these people as historical figures. Adam was the first human, whom God created in His image on day six of Creation Week. (Genesis 1:24-2:7) The verse also establishes Noah and his sons as historical figures. Noah, his wife, his three sons and their wives  - eight people, along with all of the "kinds" of creatures (not including aquatic life) were saved via the Ark. Noah built the Ark as per God's instructions to escape from the Global Flood. (Genesis 6-9; Isaiah 54:9; Matthew 24:37-39; Luke 17:26; Hebrews 11:7; 1st Peter 3:20; 2nd Peter 2:5, 3:5-7) Though this would be considered textual evidence from centuries later, nevertheless, that does not negate that the authors of the Bible that the Holy Spirit wrote through believed in a literal Genesis 1-11.

There is archaeological evidence supporting 1st Chronicles, as there is with much of the Bible. For example, Saul's head and armor were put into two temples at Beth-Shan. Both the Philistine and the Canaanite temples have been found. The Biblical record was endorsed, even when the endorsement seemed unlikely and criticized by secular scholars. (See 1st Samuel 3:9-10 and 1st Chronicles 10:10)

There are also several non-biblical evidences found only in Chronicles, and have been archaeologically attested. For example, the Egyptian Shistak's campaign which occurred in the late 10th century BC (see 2nd Chronicles 12:2-4), as well as Hezekiah's preparation and safeguarding of Jerusalem's water supply prior to the Assyrian attack in the late 700's BC. (see 2nd Chronicles 32:3-4) While these do not occur in 1st Chronicles, noting that both 1st and 2nd Chronicles are part of a whole denotes that there are certainly historical evidences in the Book of Chronicles as a whole. 

If the author was indeed Ezra, then through Nehemiah he not only had access to the sources mentioned above, but also biblical books. One such example is 1st Chronicles 1-9, which appear to stem directly from the Pentateuch and Joshua, along with other books. There are also several quotations from the Psalms and also recurring references to the books of Isaiah, Jeremiah, as well as Ezekiel

It is interesting to note that Satan first appears by name in 1st Chronicles 21:1, "Satan rose up against Israel and incited David to take a census of Israel." Satan's first real appearance is in Genesis 3, when he appears to Eve in the body of a serpent and deceived our ancestors, thus having of all creation fall to sin. (cf. Revelation 12:9, 20:2) The next chronological appearance after the Fall of Man would be in Job 1-2, in which Satan and his angels appear before God. But because of the order which 1st Chronicles is found in the Bible, technically, this verse is the first appearance of Satan in name (see entry: "Can Satan Still Enter Heaven?").

The angel of the Lord (whom many believe to be the pre-incarnate appearances of Jesus Christ) appears in 1st Chronicles 21:12, 15, 18, and 30 (see entries: "Who Is The 'Angel of the Lord?'", "The Holy Trinity (Part Two)").

1st Chronicles 17 is parallel to 2nd Samuel 7. In this, God makes a promise to David. Part of the promise is as follows: "He is the one who will build a house for me, and I will establish his throne forever. I will be his father, and he will be my son. I will never take my love away from him, as I took it away from your predecessor. I will set him over my house and my kingdom forever; his throne will be established forever." Compare this to Psalm 2:2-7, Psalm 110:1, Isaiah 9:6-7, Daniel 7:13-15, Revelation 20-22. While it is clear that Solomon, David's son, built the Temple, God is clearly referring to someone greater than Solomon here. "I will establish his throne forever... my son... never take my love away from him... set him over my house and my kingdom forever; his throne will be established forever." This is clearing referring to Jesus Christ, and the future reign.

1st Chronicles is a fascinating historical document. While it tends to focus more on Temple Worship in the second half than the Book of Samuel and the Book of Kings do, it nevertheless provides crucial details regarding the Davidic kingdom and genealogy. King David was the ancestor of both Joseph and Mary, who was the mother of Jesus. Jesus, the Messiah of mankind. David, despite his downfalls, was one of the better kings that Israel had, and, as many interpret prophecy, David will once again be in the royal house - but this time as prince, second to the King: Jesus. This is set to occur during the 1000 year reign of Christ.

Next Book Overview: Book of 2nd Chronicles
Previous Book Overview: Book of 2nd Kings

Sources: 
Geisler, Norman L. A Popular Survey of the Old Testament. 2nd ed. Grand Rapids, Michigan: Baker Book House, 1978. 147-151. Print. 

Various. "Zondervan Handbook To The Bible". Zondervan, 1999. 3rd ed. 308-315. Print.

Kohlenberger III, John R. "Read Through The Bible In a Year." Moody Publishers, 1986. 22-28. Print.

Wilson, Clifford and Ham, Ken. "The New Answers Book 1". 12 ed. Master Books Books, 2006. 311. Print.

Lee, Robert. "The Outlined Bible." London Pickering & Inglis LTD. 1st ed. 13. Print.

Various. "The Oxford Companion to the Bible". Oxford University Press, 1993. 1st ed. 113-116.

"Book of Chronicles." Wikipedia. Wikimedia, 18 Jan 2011. Web. 16 Mar 2011. .

Sunday, March 13

Interview With Author C.W. Eddy

In this entry, we interview author, ordained minister, building contractor, faith based counselor, and missionary CW Eddy. Eddy recently wrote a book, The Power Of I Will: It Will Change Your Life. Having personally read his book, I found it enjoyable, enlightening, helpful, and life-changing. I recommend it to all. (Words by Troy Hillman, images courtesy of CW Eddy)

Troy Hillman: Thank you for taking the time to conduct this interview, Mr. Eddy. Always a pleasure. Your book, The Power of I Will, is a wonderful book, certainly one we recommend to the reader. Now, what led you or inspired you to write this book?

CW Eddy: Hey Troy-- Can I call you Troy?  And maybe you can just refer to me as CW?  I guess I would have to answer both of your questions by saying that the Lord led me and inspired me to write this book.  Before you think that just a spiritual answer, let me say that it was some of the frustrations with other believers and my own ill health that gave me the time to write.  You see, I have had some major back problems for years as well as some other physical issues that have diminished my ability and drive to continue on in the construction industry.  Then a friend of mine all but promised me a new career path with his business that I thought must be an answer to my prayers regarding purpose and finances.  Well - that proved to be a false or vanishing promise.  I was faced with disappointment and lots of time on my hands. Some of what I put in the book comes from sermons I have preached and some of it comes from information I picked up in course work on my way to a Doctorate in Ministry.  It has been a neat adventure building a book.  I am glad you found it stimulating Troy.

TH: Of course, CW, and yes, Troy works. Succinctly put, what would you say sets Christianity apart from any other religion?

CW: Well Troy-- since you asked me and not a Google search and you want it succinctly I might answer as follows. We are creatures that eat to fuel our engines and please our palates. Hence there are countless styles of cooking and preparation to satisfy that basic facet of our makeup.
C.W. Eddy
  In a like manner we humans are spiritual in design.  It should not be surprising that there are many, many styles and flavors so to speak trying to satisfy that basic facet of our makeup.  Probably each of us has a style or two that we really love but also have tried some dishes or diets that are repulsive to our taste.  But I cannot ever recall wars being fought in the history of mankind over eating.  Something we all do several times every day... and yet we pretty much live and let live.  How is it that religion, on the other hand elicits such strong opinion?  We are spiritual beings; we have countless "recipes" for how to satisfy that basic need.  Yet, that is something that wars have indeed been fought over. 

 You asked me what makes Christianity different than other religions.  I think, in its sweetest and purest sense, it is supposed to be a relationship and not a religion.  The first Adam had a relationship with his God (and I hesitate to say 'his God' only because there are no other Gods) Adam knew nothing of religion.  The second Adam-- Jesus Christ walked in relationship with the Father.  You might say that he did practice religion, and yes that is true that he was perfect in the practice of religion.  But when asked what were the two most important tenants (commandments) he framed them in the context of love and relationship.  Furthermore, the litmus test for all he did was not found in any of the religious requirements... no - he stated that he only did that which he heard or saw his Father doing.  Two things we might conclude.  We have a God who cannot be reached by religious practice and we have a God that wants fellowship with us.  Certainly I see those two among many things that make Christianity different from other religions.    

TH: Thank you, CW. I certainly agree. I've been asked before, "Don't all roads lead to God," and I generally go into my long response, but a very simple of putting it would be this: Even if all roads led to the same door, the door is locked and there is only one key that will open the door. Christ is that key. Christianity is the only religion which features a resurrection, the only religion that offers a solution to the sin problem, and the only testable religion.
TH: Can you explain, for the reader, the cover of your book?

CW: Troy- I like that remark about the door and key. If not copyrighted-- I would like to borrow it.  As for my cover design, I looked over many images from Stockphoto, but most seemed to be something one might see on a magazine cover or some, with hands reaching, have been overdone.  Of course I live in the Northeast, and so I am quite used to seeing flocks of geese migrating along the river corridor where I live.  I liked the geese background for several reasons.  We humans are on migration toward our eternal home.  This is true whether we believe the same or not or even believe at all.  I think we are eternal beings who get the privilege of choosing where we will spend eternity. 
 That explains the backdrop to some extent.  As for the wording, part of it is the title of course and part of it is a hook meant to draw someone into some sort of reaction.  But I mean no false advertising.  I do absolutely believe that our "I Will" can and will change our life.  I also believe the phrase at the top about 'Ultimate Power' is true and not a hook.  If indeed what we believe affects our eternal home as well as the course for our life down here... I can think of no greater power.  Humankind is the apple of God's eye and his masterpiece of His creation and our relationship with Him and our destiny depends on what "I Will" does with His gift.  That to me is more interesting than the Civil War, gizmos; spy thrillers or even where the "talking heads" think our country is headed!

TH: CW, by all means, this is one of those analogies that ought to be used. I certainly agree, "I Will" is very important. I can only imagine how many times Christ said or thought that phrase with all of us in mind. Words are very important - God gave us His written Word, the Bible. Jesus is referred to as "The Word." God spoke the Universe into existence, and as we are made in His image, so too we have the ability to speak. "I Will" is a very important thing to think - and speak.
TH: To use one of the questions you pose, do you personally believe that the Bible is inerrant, reliable, and historically accurate?

CW: Troy- Yes I believe the Bible is inerrant, reliable and historically accurate.  I will leave it for apologists such as yourself to use archaeological proofs that historical cities or people groups did indeed exist, as well as certain kings reigned during time periods mentioned.  I will also let mathematicians prove statistically how remote the probabilities of certain events or prophecies happening might be. 

TH: In your book, you talk about upward mobility. Could you describe that a bit?

CW: Sure.  Well, upward mobility, strictly speaking, simply implies the capacity or facility for rising to a higher social or economic position.  There are other definitions to that talk about ability or desire to move to higher social classes, or attain more power or greater wealth.  As i said in my book, there is nothing intrinsically wrong with any one of these goals. It is just that we humans have such a hard time keeping our motives pure or even knowing our motives for that matter. Troy- I think that one of the basic struggles facing us for most of our journey through this life deals with this issue. There is something wired within us (some would say it is our sin nature) that constantly strives for upward mobility. The Bible might say we struggle with the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eye, and the boastful pride of life. It can be so subliminal and sinister.  Sometimes it is very hard to discern whether we are doing something out of true and pure motives or if it is somehow to better our position, status, image and more. I think this starts way before the corporate boardroom. It can start in the schoolyard and some of our very early childhood experiences. 
One of the reasons I wrote my book in a conversational tone is that I desire my readers to engage with each topic.  More than that I would welcome their comment and feedback as we wade through some of these issues. 

TH: You also refer to a worldview early on in your book. Could you briefly explain, for the reader, what a worldview is?

Credit to: 1106 Designs
CW: Troy - yes I did mention 'worldview'.  I also said that everyone has one whether they are an "egghead" or a "crackhead".  I think that everyone has a frame of reference for how they think, behave and react to or interface with life.  We each try to make sense of what happens to us and around us as filtered through the lens we might call worldview.  How life (parents, employers, dictators, etc.) have treated us is how we perceive reality.  I must also say that it may not even have to be based on fact or truth.  You may have heard the phrase that 'perception is reality'?  Something may have so colored or affected my experience that even if it is not true it becomes my worldview and thus how I respond.  It really is a fascinating study just in itself.  It can affect if we take chances in life from everything from educational goals, business aspirations, or our concept of true love.  I have a worldview.  It is my hope that it lines up with the truth of scripture and an accurate view of my heavenly Father. 

TH: Do you currently have any plans for another book, in any particular topic?

CW: Another book? I do have the framework and topic for another book. I don't have the energy to tackle it right now. There are also certain goals I want "The Power of I Will" to accomplish or reach that are for me some signal that I should put one more collection of thought on the market. My wife tells me I should write it now--- kind of like 'if you build it, they will come.' I don't wish to divulge the topics or title but can say I think the premise of the book will be controversial, needed, and rather unpopular.  By the way- I look forward to your first book and want to help you in any way that I can.

TH: Interesting. I look forward to it. Regarding my book, I hope to work more on it during the summer.
TH: Thank you for taking the time to conduct this interview, CW. Is there anything else you wish to convey to the reader?

CW: Thank you more Troy. What a privilege - to be asked about something I am passionate about. I do hope that anyone who reads my book will truly engage with it, and I welcome feedback. I want to rejoice and share with people responding to the will of the Lord. May the Lord bless and lead you in the particular place he has called you to in the Kingdom. 

Be sure to purchase a copy of CW’s book, The Power Of I Will, which you can find here. A portion of the proceeds from the book are used to support the ongoing mission work with the orphans and the needy in India. Visit afmindia.org for more information on that.

Thursday, March 3

Who Is "The Word Of God?"

The Word of God can be identified as two things. The Word of God is another name for the Bible comprising the Old and New Testament, but the Word of God, or the Word of the Lord, is also an individual being. The Word of God appears all through the Old - and especially the New - Testaments. Who is "The Word of God?" (Picture credit to: Urban Asprines, Oneil)

The Greek word logos, (λóγος) which means "word", "discourse" or "reason" is also used to identify this being. So who is the logos, the Word of God? John 1:1-5 gives us the answer we seek. "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. Through Him all things were made; without Him nothing was made that has been made. In Him was life, and that life was the light of all people. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it." 

John 1:14, 17-18 continues, "The Word became flesh and made His dwelling among us. We have seen His glory, the glory of the one and only Son who came from the Father, full of grace and truth... For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ. No one has ever seen God, but the one and only Son, who is himself God and is in closest relationship with the Father, has made Him known." Who is the Logos, the Word of God? Jesus Christ, the Messiah is the Word of God.

Often in the Hebrew Bible, we read, for example, "Then the word of the Lord came to Jehu son of Hanani concerning Baasha," (1st Kings 16:1) "Then the word of the Lord came to Elijah the Tishbite." (1st Kings 21:28) The phrase "the word of the Lord" appears all throughout the Old and New Testament. More often than not, the phrase simply means that God was conveying a message through Word to someone, but there are certain instances where it appears that the Word of God in the Hebrew Bible is a being.

Since John identified the Word of the Lord as Jesus, it is easy to see that He truly did appear quite often in the Hebrew Bible. In previous entries we have identified the pre-incarnate appearances of Jesus as the "angel of the Lord" ("angel" means messenger, in some cases), and have noted that Jesus is in much prophecy, the prophecies of Isaiah are one example. (See entries: "Who Is 'The Angel of the Lord?'", "The Holy Trinity (Part Two)")

"Logos" is Greek for "Word," "Reason," or "Discourse."
One such appearance "In my vision at night I looked, and there before me was one like a Son of Man, coming with the clouds of heaven. He approached the Ancient of Days and was led into his presence. He was given authority, glory and sovereign power; all nations and peoples of every language worship him. His dominion is an everlasting dominion that will not pass away, and his kingdom is one that will never be destroyed." (Daniel 7:13-14)

Put succinctly as possible, the Son of Man is God the Son: Jesus. Psalm 33:6, 9 says, "By the word of the LORD the heavens were made, their starry host by the breath of His mouth... For He spoke, and it came to be; He commanded, and it stood firm." The Greek logos is again used for "word." Many scholars have noted just how close the Greek for breath, pneuma, and logos indicate a personality. 

Luke 1:2 says, "just as those who from the beginning [arche] were eyewitnesses and ministers of the word have delivered them to us." (ESV) Note again the usage of logos - word. Luke is describing the beginning - and the Word. 1st John 1:1conveys, "That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen our eyes, which we have looked at our hands have touched - this we proclaim concerning the Word of life." (NIV)

Once again, John goes on to note that Jesus is just that: the Word of life. Jesus is the Logos. We know that Jesus is the Creator. Hebrews 1:1-3 tells us, "In the past God spoke to our ancestors through the prophets at many times and in various ways, but in these last days He has spoken to us by His Son, whom He appointed heir of all things, and through whom also He made the universe. The Son is the radiance of God's glory and the exact representation of His being, sustaining all things by His powerful word. After he had provided purification for sins, He sat down at the right hand of the Majesty in heaven."

Here, the author of Hebrews is conveying that the Word is "powerful." Whether it be God's spoken Word, or Logos (Jesus Christ), the Word is powerful. In fact, we read in Hebrews 4:12 that "the word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart." In other words, God's Word - the Bible, is "alive and active." It has power, it has substance. Speaking the Word of God has purpose and power.

Ephesians 6:17 confirms this, "Take the... sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God." Also note that Colossians 1:15-17 says, "The Son is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. For in him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things have been created through him and for him. He is before all things, and in him all things hold together." Jesus is the Creator, as aforementioned.

Jesus himself says, "Very truly I tell you... before Abraham was born, I AM!" (John 8:58) This was a significant claim that someone could make. Why? In the Hebrew Bible, the Angel of the Lord (or rather, the Messenger of the Lord) appears to Moses in the Burning Bush. (Exodus 3) The messenger declared, "I am the God of your father, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac and the God of Jacob." (Exodus 3:6) Here, this is significant because the Angel of the Lord is actually claiming to be God. 

In Luke 20:37, Jesus (who we know is also God) confirms the historicity of this event. Now, Exodus 3:13 conveys, "Moses said to God, 'Suppose I go to the Israelites and say to them, 'The God of your fathers has sent me to you,' and they ask me, 'What is his name?' Then what shall I tell them?' God said to Moses, 'I AM WHO I AM. This is what you are to say to the Israelites: 'I AM has sent me to you.'" So when Jesus claims, "...before Abraham was born, I AM!" (John 8:58), Jesus is claiming to be the messenger of the Lord, and the messenger of the Lord claimed to be God!

There are many other important things to note that give evidence and credence to the angel of the Lord being the pre-incarnate appearances of Jesus on Earth, as well as the Commander of the Lord's Army (Joshua 5:13-15), appearing to protect three Israelites who had been thrown into the furnace (Daniel 3:25), appearing to speak with Sampson's parents (Judges 13) and to inform Gideon that he was to defeat the Midianites (Judges 6), and other important things.

Jesus, as the "angel" of the Lord (not an angel Himself, but a messenger, we have established His identity as Logos and Creator) also appears to Hagar in the desert (Genesis 16), Jesus spoke to Abraham when Abraham was tested via Isaac (Genesis 22), He appears in the account of Balaam and the donkey (Numbers 22:21-41), He appeared to Israel at Bokim ca. 1380 (Judges 2:1-4) and he also appears to the prophet Zechariah several times. (Zechariah 1:9-21; 3:1-10; etc)

God spoke the universe into existence. "Let there be light," and there was light. (Genesis 1:3) By the Word of the Lord, when God spoke, He created. God spoke, the Spirit acted, and the Son created. Jesus, the Word, Created. Justin Martyr, an early apologist (ca. 150 AD) argued, "I shall give you another testimony, my friends, from the Scriptures, that God begot before all creatures a Beginning, [who was] a certain rational power [proceeding] from Himself, who is called by the Holy Spirit, now the Glory of the Lord, now the Son, again Wisdom, again an Angel, then God, and then Lord and Logos."[1]

So who is the Word of God? Jesus is the Word of God. Jesus is the Logos. God's self-expression with the Greek concept of "reason" (logos) behind everything is clearly evident in this. Jesus had to become incarnate, or rather, to use John's words, Jesus "became flesh" (John 1:14), "And being found in human appearance as a human being, He humbled himself by becoming obedient to death - even death on a cross!" (Philippians 2:8).

Troy Hillman

Sources:
[1] Justin Martyr, Dialogue with Trypho, Chapter 61.

Wednesday, March 2

Interview With Author Kirk Hastings

In this entry, we interview author and apologist Kirk Hastings. Hastings has authored several books, such as The Infinity Man and What Is Truth?. A former skeptic, he has studied topics such as Christianity for over thirty years, coming to conclusion that it is the only religion grounded in reason, unbiased scientific evidence, and verifiable history. (Words by Troy Hillman, images courtesy of Kirk Hastings)

Troy Hillman: In your book, What Is Truth, you cover a plethora of topics, tackling the big questions. In a nutshell, what ultimately led you to write the book?
Kirk Hastings: There are many lengthy, detailed books out there that deal with the problems with Darwinian evolution, the historical evidence for the reliability of the Bible, the historical evidence concerning Jesus and His resurrection from the dead, etc. But I thought back to when I had once been a new Christian, and pictured the kind of book I would have liked someone to have handed me back then to get me off to a good start in the Christian faith -- a fairly short book, easy to read, that covered ALL the basic evidences for the Christian faith in one place. Since I knew of no book exactly like that, I decided to write one myself, using reliable sources that I had gathered in over 30 years of reading and studying!
Kirk Hastings

TH: Now, there are those who make the claim that Jesus never actually existed. What evidences do we have to prove the existence of Jesus, and did He actually rise from the dead?
KH: A whole book could be written on this subject -- and many have been! I devote a couple of chapters to it in my book as well. In 1968, writer Otto Belz stated that "No serious scholar has ventured to postulate the non-historicity of Jesus". That statement still holds true today. Modern critics (such as members of the "Jesus Seminar", who claim to be scholars but do not use scholarly methods in either their research methods or in forming their conclusions) who claim Jesus wasn't a real person, or that the historical evidence that he rose from the dead isn't adequate, promote shallow, biased personal opinions instead of scholarly conclusions based on solid historical evidence. A famous journalist named Frank Morison wrote a book in 1930 called "Who Moved The Stone?", where he asserted that the legal evidence for the resurrection of Jesus Christ would win any case brought against it in a modern courtroom easily. (He started out trying to disprove the resurrection using modern legal methods, but ended up accepting the historical evidence for it once he studied it!) In the same vein, respected jurist (and founder of Harvard Law School ) Simon Greenleaf wrote a book in 1846 called "The Testimony of the Evangelists: The Gospels Examined by the Rules of Evidence", where he applied the rules of evidence administered in courts of justice to demonstrate the validity of the Gospels as trustworthy and authoritative historical accounts. They more than passed. They still do.

TH: Agreed, any serious historian cannot question the existence of Jesus. There are some who question such things, asking for non-biblical historical sources that mention Jesus. Thankfully, we have several. What are some of the non-biblical sources that confirm the life of Christ?
KH: There are actually quite a few:
  • Cornelius Tacitus (circa 55-120 A.D.). Famous Roman historian
  • Lucian of Samosata (second century A.D.), Greek satirist
  • Suetonius (first century A.D.), Roman historian and court official under the emperor Hadrian
  • Pliny the Younger (first century A.D.), Roman governor of Bithynia , in Asia Minor (modern Turkey )
  • Thallus (first century A.D.), Roman historian
  • Phlegon (first century A.D.), historian
  • Mara Bar-Serapion (first century A.D.), philosopher
  • Josephus ben Mattathias (first century A.D.), Jewish historian
There are also a number of references to Jesus in the Jewish Talmud (a collection of Jewish writings from the first few centuries A.D.), as well as in the writings of Trajan, Hadrian, Antonius Pius and Marcus Aurelius (all Roman emperors). 

TH: What makes Christianity different than any other religion?
KH: No other religion deals with the problem of human sin, and how we can be reconciled to God despite it. Whereas all other religions describe man's attempts to discover God, Christianity is about God reaching down to men  in order to reveal to us who He is (divine revelation). The Bible is also a completely unique book; there is no other book like it (this includes all other so-called "holy" books). There is also no other religious figure like Jesus Christ. All other religions center around so-called "holy" men who try to tell us who God is, or how we should live. Christianity centers around Jesus Christ, a Man of history who claimed not just to be a messenger from God, but to be God Himself, manifested as a man in order to walk among His own creation. And His life, teachings, miracles, and resurrection from the dead back up Jesus's claim. No other religion features a person anything like this.


TH: Are you planning on or currently writing another book?
KH: Yes, I'm planning another adventure novel. I'm working on the character and plot now.
TH: Why was the Scopes Trail so significant?
KH: In terms of historic Christianity, it wasn't that significant. In terms of the concept of Darwinian evolution catching the attention of the general public, it was extremely significant. It was a huge propaganda victory for Darwinism and the ACLU (yes, it was their first major national case!). The problem is, it was a complete set-up from the very beginning. The people from the New York City chapter of the ACLU who put the trial together were determined to do everything they could to make Biblical Christianity look bad and Darwinism look good, and they succeeded in that goal. But they had to use a great deal of deceit, animosity, and manipulation in order to achieve it. And they had the complete cooperation of Clarence Darrow (an outspoken agnostic and enemy of organized religion) and H.L. Mencken, a caustic, but famous, critic for the Baltimore Sun newspaper. What little the trial actually achieved has been both magnified and grossly distorted over the years by our mass media and the enemies of religion (particularly Christianity).

TH: Is the typical portrayal of "science vs. religion" accurate?
KH: As portrayed by our modern mass media? In a word, NO. As far as today's mass media talking heads are concerned, "science" equals anything that reflects the idea of naturalism (i.e., there is no supernatural, and anything we cannot see must not be real), and thus constitutes "reality", and "religion" equals anything that concerns the supernatural, and thus constitutes "fantasy". Most "science" today consists of broad assumptions, theories and personal interpretations concerning basic undeniable facts that are based on little more than a pre-existing bias against the idea of God and/or the supernatural. Up until about 150 years ago, this was not the case. In the past, science constituted any knowledge that objective, unbiased observation of the evidence might lead us to. Unfortunately, no more.


TH: Thank you for your time, Mr. Hastings. Is there anything else that you would like to say to - or share with - the reader?
KH: I devote a whole chapter of my book to "propaganda", and how almost all of our media outlets today grossly slant information and/or evidence in order to support their own personal anti-God, anti-religion, and anti-Christianity point of view. If I were to caution your readers about any one thing, I would say to them: don't believe everything you read or see or hear. Take the time to seek out real experts on the topics you are interested in (including the Bible, and Christianity!), and see what they have to say. And objectively review evidence from both sides of any argument. This will give you a much more accurate viewpoint on things, and will help you to understand what truth really is. As legal scholar Phillip E. Johnson has said, "Learn to tune up your personal Baloney Detector!"

You can hear Kirk Hastings as a recurring co-host on the Evidence 4 Faith podcast. Be sure to purchase a copy of Kirk's book, What Is Truth?, which you can find here. Thank you for reading this entry of "The Truth." Visit our facebook or our Ministry homepage, email vexx801@yahoo.com or thetruth.ministryweb@gmail.com, or comment below - yet please remain civil. God bless, dear reader.