Friday, June 29, 2018

Ruin and Reconstruction

In order to "reconcile" evolutionary theory with Genesis 1, some Christians attempt to "create" (sorry!  Genesis pun!) millions of years of geologic time in between Genesis 1:1 and Genesis 1:2.  Back in the late 1970s, even the chancellor of my very religiously conservative alma mater said from the pulpit he subscribed to this.  (At the time, I had never heard of it...)

This belief, which began to be propagated in the 1800s by men such as G.H. Pember (Earth's Earliest Ages), is sometimes called "The Gap Theory" or "The Ruin and Reconstruction Theory".  It essentially says that God initially created all things (Genesis 1:1), a "primitive creation" so called.  This process lasted an untold period of time, during which the fossil record was established.  And then a cataclysm of some sort caused all of that creation to be utterly destroyed.  Some theologians place the fall of Satan and 1/3 of the angelic host within this "gap period". The cataclysm is often referred to as "Lucifer's War", in that it resulted in all of creation becoming "null and void".  Genesis 1:2, then, is said to be essentially a literal 6-day "re-creation", and the beginning of the modern era (the last 6000-7000 years).  This position is an imposition of outside ideas onto Scripture, even though I can certainly understand the lure.  I mean, if God has always existed, is it reasonable to believe that He created nothing until about 6000 years ago?  Still, we must stick to God's written revelation, since that is the information He has given to us on this topic.

1In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth. 2The earth was without form and void, and darkness was over the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God was hovering over the face of the waters.
Genesis 1:1-2 (ESV)

Those who subscribe to this Ruin and Reconstruction belief use as proof the Hebrew language itself.  They claim that the first word translated "was", at the beginning of Gen. 1:2, would more accurately be translated "became".  Here is what respected mechanical engineer and Christian apologist, Bodie Hodge, has to say on that topic:

Actually, recognized grammarians, lexicographers, and linguists have almost uniformly rejected the translations “became” and “had become.” It is a basic exegetical fallacy to claim that because Strong’s Concordance lists “became” as one of the meanings of haya, it is legitimate to translate it this way in the particular context of Genesis 1:2It is simply grammatically impossible when the verb haya is combined with a waw disjunctive—in the rest of the Old Testament, Waw + a noun + haya (qal perfect, 3rd person) is always translated, “was” or “came,” but never “became.”

Indeed, most Bible translations yield the Hebrew "haya" as  "was".
The earliest Greek translations of the Old Testament around 250 BC (The Septuagint) reject this translation of these two verses; "was" was accepted as "was" until the 1800s.

There is an even bigger problem with the gap theory.
It concerns when sin entered into the world.

In order to support the gap theory, one must believe that sin and death occurred prior to the Fall of Man in the Garden of Eden.  This is directly contrary to Scripture, which describes all that God created in Genesis 1 as "very good".  A specific characteristic of that "very good" is found in Genesis 1:29-30, where we learn that before the Fall of Man, all animal life was vegetarian.  😳
Yeah.  So, there's that.

Furthermore, if the gap theory were true, carnivores, sin and death would have had to existed before the supposed "Satan's War", since death is a result of sin and since carnivores and death are firmly established in the fossil record.  Who would have been responsible for that death over millions of years?  God?!  It supposedly occurred before the fall of Satan..... An additional problem is that, if all creation were destroyed in "Lucifer's War", would not that fossil record have been totally wiped out too?  For that matter, what about Noah's flood?  Would it have left virtually no trace in the fossil record?  So, in this way, this position completely nullifies the point it is trying to prove. 

From 1 Corinthians 15 and Romans 5:12 we are reminded by Paul that Adam was the first man created and that it was because of his (and Eve's) sinful disobedience that sin and death entered into the world.  As we will explore in more depth in the coming days, things got so bad God had to utterly destroy the world of Noah by a global flood, which laid down the intriguing, mysterious fossil record so clearly observed by scientists and historians today.

The approach gap theorists and others who seek explanations contrary to Scripture adopt is to extrapolate the past from viewing the present...believing the observable present is the undisputed key to the past.  One facet of this is to believe that the rate of decay and fossil formation observed today have remained constant over time, commonly called "uniformitarianism".  It says that the layers of the earth formed at an even, regular rate, over millions of years.

There is ample evidence for a young earth - - evidence which gap theorists and secular scientists studiously ignore.  Some of those phenomena are:  the activity within the earth's magnetic field, the behaviors observed in spiral galaxies, the amount of salt in our oceans, to name a few.  There are many more.

Today's post has only scratched the surface of this flawed explanation of creation.  I invite you to study it more on your own, if you have the interest.  I find it sobering to note that this line of reasoning began in the 18th century, in order to harmonize with secular scientist's faulty "discoveries" in that age.  When students schooled in "gap theory" began to realize its logical inconsistencies, they went with the only other "intellectual" alternative, evolution, even though there are many flaws with evolutionary theory (the most notable being the more recent discoveries about DNA, which were not known in Darwin's day).  The point is this - - when you begin to compromise, add to, read into, "stretch" God's word a little bit, you open the door for future generations to further expand the apostasy. 

As supernatural (surprise! God!) as it sounds, the book of Genesis is very clear and straightforward.  It is time for the Church to return to the authority of, the amazing truth of, God's Word, to firmly plant our feet there, to become knowledgeable of the many proofs for a young earth and to, like Martin Luther, say "here I stand".

{Hey, if you have read this far, I hope it is because you get a blessing from my blog.  If that is true, please go to my blog page and click "like" and "follow".  Then, if you will on a regular basis, and if you are a Facebook user, do the same for my Resplendent Daughter Facebook page.  Any comments you make on that page give it more exposure and help to give my scriptural expositions wider audience.  Thank you!}


Pember, G.H., Earth's Earliest Ages, 15th ed., 1942.

Fields, Weston.  Unformed and Unfilled, Burgener Enterprises, 1997.

Saturday, June 23, 2018

What Difference Does It Make?

The past couple days I was at the lovely Callaway Gardens, spending quality time with a distant cousin who is also one of my best friends.  One of the sights there is the Cecil B. Day Butterfly Conservatory, which is celebrating its 30th year.  (Mr. Day, who died relatively young at age 44, started the Days Inn motel chain.)  I had not visited for the amazing conservatory for several years.  One new feature is sort of a "butterfly nursery", where they have scores of chrysalides in a glass case, for our viewing.  Over time, the butterflies emerge.

First of all, the difference in the appearances of the chrysalides is stunning.  Then, to see butterflies emerging and drying their wings...well, I just can't even find the words.  I'm posting both a pic of the nursery as well as a short vid of a gorgeous specimen inside the conservatory proper.

A few years ago my pastor made this statement from the pulpit.  He said, "Whatever sin you dabble in, your children will wallow in."  In other words, if we take a casual attitude toward any sin in our lives, our children will take that as permission to go further with it, and will be at peril for enslavement to it.  At the time, I found that to be a startling thought.  Since that time, I have often observed this to be true, though not always, of course.  Sometimes, thankfully, parents are "a cautionary tale".  More commonly, specific sins appear to be "inherited", that is, the predisposition toward those sins is either in the DNA of the children, or it is taught.  

The same principle applies to taking a casual attitude toward the authority of the Bible.

Have you ever started a non-fiction book and discarded the reading of it because you discovered some major fallacy of reasoning or fact, some information that completely derailed or discredited the entire presentation?  Secularists have realized that if they can discredit the Creation Story they can then cast doubt upon the remainder of the Bible.  If the Bible can be discredited, then its gospel message can be ignored, allowing mankind to gleefully, permissively worship the god of Self.
So, the reality, the literalness, of Genesis 1-11 are vitally important, fantastical though they may appear.  They are not "just a good story".

I ran across a great and easy-to-digest article this morning from (again) Answers in Genesis, about the importance of this point.  

Here is the link, if you care to read it.  Have a blessed day and weekend!

Wednesday, June 20, 2018

B'reshit - - When WAS "The Beginning"


As if the idea of God speaking all-that-is, seen and unseen, into existence were not contentious enough in the academic/scientific world, we must confront the concept of "the beginning".

Genesis 1:1 states that God created the heavens and the earth "in the beginning", if you adhere to the Greek translation (the Septuagint).  If you go with a Masoretic vocalization (how the Masoretes used hundreds of years of oral tradition to apply vowel sounds to ancient Hebrew), you get "In a beginning", which some believe indicates this is the account of "this" beginning, but that it was one of many "beginnings" God performed.  I suppose it is reasonable that an infinite God with no beginning and no end COULD have created other universes.  But, if so, the Bible does not tell us about them, and it would be inappropriate for us to speculate on that.  Goodness knows, we have our hands full simply trying to understand the written revelation He HAS given us.  I only mentioned the "a" beginning interpretation because it appears in some writings on the subject. 

Still others place Wisdom present at creation, based on other scriptures, and translate b'reshit as wisdom, since b'reshit was used as a synonym of the word "wisdom".  Several first century Aramaic translation of Genesis 1:1 open like this: "With wisdom did God create and perfect the heavens and the earth."  I wrote on this topic about 10 months ago, after studying Proverbs 8, a proverb of King Solomon, where he personified Wisdom and proclaimed Wisdom as the first creative act of the Creator God, whom John 1 and Hebrews tell us was Jesus Christ himself.  You can read that blog post here:

However, I made one possible mistake in that post by claiming that Genesis 1:1 does not mention "wisdom" as being the first created entity.  If, though, you embrace the Aramaic translation, the presence of Wisdom is implied.  Very interesting....Seems even the Jews themselves can't fully agree on the very first word of Torah (b'reshit).  Our God is mysterious!

The Hebrew word b'reshit (or bereshit) has as its root the word "rosh" (as in Rosh Hashanah, for example - - head of the year, beginning of the year - - Rosh Hashanah is the Jewish New Year....).  Rosh means "head, chief, summit". B'reshit begins with the Hebrew letter "Bet", which alone means "house" and is composed of 3 Vavs (see graphic above).  Added together, the 3 Vavs equal 18, the same value associated with "chai" (L'chaim) or "life".  The first letter of the word (Bet), and the last letter together form the word "covenant".  The four letters in between form the word "fire".  This connotes within the word b'reshit that the act of creation by God was a covenant of fire.

The scientists who debate the age of the universe can be divided into "Old Earth" scientists and "Young Earth" scientists.  If you interpret Genesis 1-11 literally, as do I, you would subscribe to the belief that our universe (not just the Earth) is quite young, between 6000-7000 years old.  I ran across two interesting scholarly articles which cite several proofs (in addition to the Bible) of this "Young Earth" position.  Here are the links:

Fascinating stuff!

Additional Sources:

Monday, June 18, 2018

Some Thoughts on Creation and Science

The Bible is a supernatural book.  It begins with a "bang" (if you'll pardon the "origins of the universe" pun).  Right out of the gate, we are confronted with what many deem "the preposterous".... a Triune God, speaking the universe into existence.

Originally (there I go with the puns again), "science" meant "knowledge".  Traditional science and faith are largely incompatible.  Here's why:
Observational Science operates on the premise that, if something can't be proven (tested and repeated), it can't be fact.  Usually, scientific proof is derived through the "scientific method" (on the face of things not a bad way of doing things), which depends heavily on observation via use of the five human senses and other observational tools.  "Preconceived notions" or "prior knowledge" are not allowed unless that information has been similarly proven.  Specifically, because some "god" declared truth - - that information is irrelevant to most traditional scientists.  Faith is considered to these people a liability because it works against "objectivity".

Another kind of science is Historical Science, that is, science which deals with the past and so can't today be directly tested or observed.  Historical Science must be "discovered" or "interpreted" according to a person's worldview, because it extrapolates current rates and processes, back into the past.  Christians who are also historical scientists begin differently than do traditional scientists.

Christian scientists (not the denomination) begin with the declarations of God, found in Scripture.  They then interpret natural phenomena in light of God's written revelation.  They have found a remarkable amount of congruence, as technology has progressed, as additional discoveries have been made, etc.  Obviously, this method of deciphering our physical world is diametrically opposed to the traditional method in many ways.  However, Christian scientists also apply the scientific method, using their five senses, where applicable.  They believe that, properly applied, the scientific method supports the biblical account.

Creationism, or Creation Science, is the belief system, founded on the Bible, which asserts that God created all, living and non-living.  One of the most contentious aspects of science is when and how life originated.  Answers in Genesis, a historical scientific organization promoting Creation Science, calls origin of life the "holy grail" of traditional scientists seeking to explain how life "randomly emerged out of nothing". The theories and models of Creation Science are based on beliefs and suppositions which stand in opposition to evolutionary assumptions.  (Note:  assumptions, not "facts" because we are talking about historical science here).  Creationists deem the Bible as the basic, irreplaceable source of information, adopting that information as the key to understanding our natural world.

When interpreting the Bible, it is best to interpret it literally.  The Jewish rabbis have a methodology called PRDS (pronounced "par-des").
  • P stands for P'shat, the plain, clear meaning of God's Word, the literal meaning.  
  • R stands for Remez, which takes into account the phenomenon of "precedent".  In other words, where was the concept or truth first mentioned?  What was the context?
  • D stands for Drash - - the application level.  "How do I apply this in my life?"
  • S stands for Sod, the more obscure level, sometimes even the hidden level, where symbolism is present; the deepest level of meaning
Notice in all the above that "literal" interpretation is first.  When a literal meaning is present, it should be respected and embraced.  

There is nothing in the biblical account of creation that argues against a literal interpretation.  Some would argue that it is just too incredible to be taken literally - - that the infinite, triune God could somehow not create all that is in six, 24-hour days.  Others would argue that "it really doesn't matter".  The following quote is quite relevant to this point:

"The same scientific majority that denies all of Genesis 1-11 also insists that science shows that virgins don't and can't have babies, and dead men don't and can't rise from the dead.  All those biblical accounts rise or fall together."  - - Mortensen

Some Christians think that the biblical account can be reconciled with evolutionary theory if the "six days" are viewed figuratively, instead of literally.  However, when followed through in detail, the order of events in Genesis 1 do not line up with the order of events put forth by evolutionists.  It is not just a matter of how much time passed during creation; the order of events are divergent between the two belief systems.

Therefore, I will choose God's Word over all others.  In this ongoing exposition of Genesis, the literal, six days of creation account will be embraced as utter, complete Truth.

Ok, next post . . . B'reishit (really!)  ;)


Thursday, June 14, 2018

B'reishit Bara Elohim (Genesis #4)

What is the first line of your favorite book?  Can you recall?

Moby Dick:  "My name is Ishmael."
A Wrinkle in Time:  "It was a dark and stormy night."
A Tale of Two Cities:  "It was the best of times, it was the worst of times..."

English nerds say the opening lines are of utmost importance, and I agree.  We are going to examine the opening words of Genesis 1 which, of course, are also the opening words of the greatest book ever written.

The title of today's post is an English transliteration of the Hebrew for "In the beginning God created".

At those simple words the secular world flips out.  Game on.  God inserts Himself into the consciousness of mankind by declaring He is responsible for starting it all.

Let's begin with the word, Elohim.  Elohim is a plural word. One of the names for God, it represents the Trinity:  Father, Son and Holy Spirit, all of whom were present at "the beginning" during the creation of the universe, of all that IS.

1In the beginning was the Word. The Word was with God, and the Word was God.
2He was with God in the beginning.
3All things were made through Him, and apart from Him nothing was made that has come into being.
4In Him was life, and the life was the light of men.  
John 1:1-4 TLV

So, there is Jesus (Ben Elohim), the Son, the Logos, the Person of the Godhead who made all things.  He is called by John "the Word", because He spoke all things into existence.  In addition to John's testimony, we have Paul's as well in Colossians 1:15-17 (TLV) - - -

15He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation.
16For by Him all things were created— in heaven and on earth, the seen and the unseen, whether thrones or angelic powers or rulers or authorities. All was created through Him and for Him.
17He exists before everything, and in Him all holds together.

We find the Holy Spirit in Genesis 1:2, where He is called in Hebrew the Ruach Elohim (Spirit of God).

So, Elohim - - Father, Son, Holy Spirit - - Three-in-One, holy perfection!

Elsewhere in Genesis, God gives us a glimpse into the interactions of the Trinity, when He reveals conversations the three Persons had with each other.  The clue is the word "us".

Then God said, “Let Us make man in Our image, after Our likeness! 
Genesis 1:26a (TLV)

Then Adonai Elohim said, "Behold, the man has become like one of Us, knowing good and evil."
Genesis 3:22a (TLV)

And then, at the Tower of Babel . . . 

Come! Let Us go down and confuse their language there, so that they will not understand each other’s language.”
Genesis 11:7 (TLV)

Here are other passages in scripture where the word "Creator"/"Maker" would be more accurately translated  "Creators"/Makers:  Ecclesiastes 12:1, Isaiah 54:5 and Deuteronomy 6:4.  You may recognize that last scripture reference as The Shema, which Jews recite as the bedrock foundation of their faith.  They do so to affirm the "one-and-onlyness" of Jehovah.  But, this is quite curious... Here is the entire Shema from the Tree of Life version, a Messianic Jewish translation, publ. 2014:

Shema Israel, Adonai EloheinuAdonai Echad
4“Hear O Israel, the Lord our God, the Lord is one .
5Love Adonai your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength.
6These words, which I am commanding you today, are to be on your heart.
7You are to teach them diligently to your children, and speak of them when you sit in your house, when you walk by the way, when you lie down and when you rise up.
8Bind them as a sign on your hand, they are to be as frontlets between your eyes,
9and write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates.
Deuteronomy 6:4 (TLV)

When examining the Hebrew of this verse, it appears that a wrong word was used for "one".  The word God used here is from the Hebrew root "echad", which means "to collect", "to unify", a "united one".  A more appropriate Hebrew word, to signify "one, and only one God", would have been the Hebrew "yachiyd".  But, that is not the word God inspired Moses to use.   This has troubled many orthodox Jewish rabbis over the centuries.  Some of them, in fact, have called this a scribal error! Smh... no error!  Rather, it is a testimony to the Triunity of Adonai Elohim!

One of my favorite hymns is "Holy, Holy, Holy".  It was written, based on the spoken testimony of praise given by the angelic beings called seraphim, who surround the throne of God and call out night and day "Holy, Holy, Holy is the LORD of Hosts; the whole earth is full of His glory!" (Isaiah 6:3)
Ever wonder why Isaiah witnessed them crying out "Holy" three times in succession like that?  Could they be praising each holy Person of the Triune God?  It would seem so.

Here's another mystery, though, as if the Trinity were not mystery enough.

"Bara" ("created and keeps on creating") is a singular verb, occurring 46 times as a verb in the Old Testament.  When seen in scripture this verb is always found with God as its subject, implying only God can "bara".  Would you not expect a plural verb, for the three Persons of the Godhead?  But no!  We worship One God, who makes it apparent from the opening words of His book that He is a plural being.  Hallelujah!  "Bara" is singular, because it conveys the Oneness, the perfect unity of the only true God.  Furthermore, and this is amazing also - - every time Elohim is used as God's name in scripture, it is paired with a singular verb.  In other words, the pairing is grammatically incorrect, although it is spiritually correct!
It is assumed by many evangelicals that Elohim created "creation" out of nothing.  But, implicit in the word "bara" is an opening up, a filling up, more like populating or bringing into tangible existence.  "Populating from what or where?", you might ask, and rightly so.  From Elohim, of course, from the Everlasting One, from The Alpha and the Omega (The First and the Last), who SPOKE the worlds into existence (again, the Word, John 1:1-4).  We see this use of the word "bara" in 1 Samuel 2:29.  The phrase "making yourselves fat" or "fattening yourselves" (depending on the translation you are using) is lə·haḇ·rî·’ă·ḵem, related to "bara".  (See reference.)

So, we see that God (Adonai Elohim) opened Himself and spoke all creation into existence, both seen and unseen.  To believe otherwise contradicts the laws (not the theories) of Science as well as the nature of the (3) Creator(s).

Astounding.  Incomprehensible.  Stunning.

In the next post....b'reishit.


Monday, June 11, 2018

The Centrality of History and 'Place'

Ruins of the Essenes, those meticulous monastic Jewish scribes, who inhabited Qumran during Jesus' day
Throughout the 7000-or-so year history of man, God has written His story onto the hearts of His people.  He has been in total control of each holy writing, bearing witness to the majesty of His incomparable name.  His sovereignty has governed every chisel mark, every brush stroke, every jot and tittle of the Hebrew, every character of the Greek, every hiding of His Word into the human heart.

Moses was one such God-inspired, magnificent historian.  Because of his writing, we have record of God's creation work, plus hundreds of years of human history.  As mentioned in a previous post, there were written records, Jehovah's statutes, themselves divinely inspired, from the time of Abraham.  In Genesis 26:5, these are called "my (Jehovah's) charge, my commands, my statues and my laws".  The Hebrew word, "chuqqim" means "statutes", which comes from a root, meaning "to engrave".  The Bible is not clear as to who kept track of these written records, most likely engraved on clay tablets.
Some scholars theorize they were preserved down through each generation, passed from each era to the next, and that these were the "source materials" Moses used, under divine inspiration, to compose Genesis. 

Why do you think it was important to give the Israelites the book of Genesis?  Genesis 45:4-6; 47:9 tell us the family of Jacob dwelled in Egypt for 215 years, with most of that time spent enslaved.  Over that period, God's people began to lose their sense of history and their national culture.  Had the people remained in that condition, there would be no Jews today, no nation of Israel either.  Once they were freed, their lack of identity was revealed at Mt. Sinai.  (We'll examine that debacle in a later post.)  God gave Moses the Holy Spirit-inspired ability to craft Genesis initially so that His chosen people could re-capture their place in world history, so that their collective, national identity could be re-embraced.  This was crucial for a people coming out of a lengthy period of enslavement in a foreign land.  Knowing and understanding the toledot linked them and their offspring to the great heroes (and villains) of their spiritual inheritance.  The toledot taught them, not only what God had done on their behalf, but how He was sure to honor His future promises made to them through Adam, Noah, Abraham and others.

At this point, you are probably asking, "What is this toledot she keeps mentioning?"
Often in the book of Genesis, you encounter the word "generations".  (In some versions, it's translated "accounts", "history", or "record".)  The Hebrew word used in those instances is "toledot" or "toldot".  The Greek Jews who translated the Hebrew scriptures into Greek chose "Genesis", which is a derivation of the word "toledot".  These scribes evidently believed the concept of toledot so important, they chose it as the title of the first book of the Old Testament.  Toledot is the plural of "toledah", but the word always appears in the plural form in the Hebrew scriptures. Toledot refers to eras, of both genealogies, plus the stories that occurred in each epoch. 

Here are the eleven toledot of Genesis:

– Creation – Genesis 1:1 - 2:4 
– Adam – Genesis 2:5 - 5:1a  
– Noah – Genesis 5:1b - 6:9a; 10:1 
- Shem, Ham, Japeth (Noah's Sons) – Genesis 6:9b -10:1 and 10:2 - 10:32 (Two toledots, one of which is commonly known as The Table of Nations)
Shem - Genesis 10:33 - 11:10a
– Terah – Genesis 11:10a - 11:27a
– Isaac – Genesis 11:27b - 25:12
            Ishmael - {parenthetical} Genesis 25:12-18 
– Isaac – Genesis 25:13-19a***
– Jacob – Genesis 25:19b - 35:29
               Esau - Genesis 36:1-8; and 9-43
– Jacob – Genesis 37:1-2a***
Joseph - Genesis 37:2b - Genesis 50

The toledot were Moses' way of "citing his sources", perhaps?  Those reliable, eyewitness accounts?

Now, here are some things I don't fully understand.  Perhaps some other Bible scholars can provide helpful information. 

1.  Why is there no toledah for Abraham, arguably the most important of the Jewish patriarchs?  Why Isaac and Ishmael instead? 
Here we must examine the term "colophon", which was a statement occurring usually at the end of or on the "spine" of ancient clay tablets, giving authorship and other important info.  Some scholars believe they were part of an ancient "Dewey Decimal System", used to catalog and enable users to locate the tablet desired in ancient libraries or collections, much as the Dewey has been used in America in recent years.
So, if that is true, then a verse such as Genesis 5:1a, would indicate that Adam was the author of that toledah.

This is the book of the generations of Adam.
Genesis 5:1a

Incidentally, the word translated "book" here is the Hebrew word "sepher", which means . . . "scroll" or "tablet".  Pretty intriguing, wouldn't you say?

2.  Oh, you are wondering about the *** next to Isaac's and Jacob's toledot?  I doubt many (if any of you, unless you are an extreme Bible Nerd) went to the trouble to look up each of the listed toledah.  If you did, you'd have found that they all conform to the pattern I've described about the colophon recording the authorship of the section...except for two.  Ishmael's toledah is actually embedded in Isaac's section, and it breaks the pattern, because his colophon comes at the beginning of his section.  So, Ishmael's toledah is Genesis 25:12-18, whereas, Isaac's actually runs from Genesis 11:27b through Genesis 25:19a, with Ishmael's six short verses being a parenthetical within a larger whole.
A similar occurrence is seen in the Jacobean toledah, which contains two parenthetical, embedded Esau toledot (Genesis 36:1-8 and Genesis 36:9-43.)  And, as with Isaac's interrupted toledah, the Esau toledot are introductions to what follows, as opposed to summations, colophons or end points.

4.  And, why is there not a toledah for Joseph's section?  Chapters 37:2 - all of chapter 50 tell the story of Joseph and his role that led up to his family (including his brothers - - all Jacob's offspring) coming to dwell in the land of Egypt, how that all came about.  BUT, though there is no colophon at the end of Genesis 50, we discover that Exodus 1:5-6 provides one of sorts.  I mentioned in a previous post that Exodus is a continuation of Genesis, with it's first word being a linking or continuing word, "now".  Here, then, is Exodus 1:1-6 (NAS)

1Now these are the names of the sons of Israel who came to Egypt with Jacob; they came each one with his household: 2Reuben, Simeon, Levi and Judah; 3Issachar, Zebulun and Benjamin; 4Dan and Naphtali, Gad and Asher. 5All the persons who came from the loins of Jacob were seventy in number, but Joseph was already in Egypt. 6Joseph died, and all his brothers and all that generation.7But the sons of Israel were fruitful and increased greatly, and multiplied, and became exceedingly mighty, so that the land was filled with them.

We have to remember that chapter and verse designations in scripture are not always the best markers for dividing up the Word of God. They were not divinely inspired, nor were they part of the original manuscripts.  In some cases, the various landmarks add more confusion than clarity. 

Toledot appear many other times in the Old Testament, and almost always they are introductory statements to the passage that follows.  But, elsewhere, the canonical books in which they appear are singular, straightforward accounts by the eye-witness authors, not (as is the case in Genesis) a compilation of several ancient, divinely-inspired sources.

So, I present this to you, not to convince you of how God led Moses to author Genesis, but mainly to explain to you how Genesis is laid out.  It is a lengthy book, an amazing one.


Thursday, June 7, 2018

The Healing Balm of Confession

Church of St. John the Baptist, Ein Karem, Jerusalem

Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person is very powerful in its effect.
James 5:16 (CSV)

Several weeks ago, I was having a conversation with a friend about Protestant Christians in general, sort of like...talking about one's family to another family member.  One of the observations we agreed on is that almost 100% of the time the Church has this "perfection complex" that works against its effectiveness in the kingdom of Jesus Christ.  Here's how it goes:

The Church lives in mortal fear of making a mistake.  This fear makes the Church operate so timidly and conservatively that its effectiveness is terribly diminished.  THEN, when a mistake is made, it is covered up.  We do not, as a general rule, "confess our sins to one another".  We are afraid to do that, lest anyone think that we are less than perfect.  Pride, people...spiritual PRIDE!  Also, though, we think (wrongly) that if we appear less than perfect it will drive people away from the Savior.  The truth of the matter is that our phony pretense of perfection drives unbelievers away.  They look at the sham and think either
1.  "I can never be that good."  or
2.  "They can't possibly be that good."

Holiness was never meant to be a lie.  The resplendent walk is not linear.  None of us is "that good".  All Christians sin.  They slip, they slide, they fall back.  But, they also allow God to pick them back up, forgive, clean and restore them, in order to get them back into the spiritual fight in which they were wounded in the first place.  We can fall in our Christian lives, but faith gets back up.

Now, the Catholics have applied this verse to requiring members of that church denomination to periodically "go to confession".  What happens is that the person goes into a booth, similar in some respects to the one pictured above, and confesses his or her sins to a priest, who then "forgives them".

Nowhere in Scripture are we told that a human person has the power to forgive our sins.  James 5:16 was not written to intend or convey that.  Only Jesus Christ, our Savior and High Priest (Hebrews 3:1, 1 Timothy 2:5) is our Mediator who can forgive our sins.  James 5:16 does not command us to confess to one another in order to obtain forgiveness, but instead to speed along our spiritual healing from the sins we committed.

Confession may or may not be public.  There is nothing in James 5:16 which specifies one is better than the other.  Pretty much - - the confession should fit the situation being confessed, wouldn't you agree?
I'll tell you this, though.  If you, as a Christian, have a fellow Christian to whom you can confess your deepest sins, you are most blessed.

Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ.
Galatians 6:2 (ESV)

If you do have such a one, thank God!  If you don't, pray to God to send you such a "friend and a brother (or sister)" because we are all going to fall down at one time or another.  It is a huge burden to carry the pain of a sinful fall alone.  Pray to God to let you BE that person to someone else!

Of course, Jesus waits for us at His throne of grace.  But, Christian friends, He admonished us through His half-brother, James, for a reason.  It's not that He is not "enough".  It's just that He knows in our times of deep, deep pain we need "Jesus with skin on".

Some of you reading this are VERY lonely Christians, carrying your burdens of pain all alone.  Jesus never intended the Christian walk to be that way.

Can I get an "amen"?


Wednesday, June 6, 2018

How Genesis was Written

Good morning!
I apologize for my rather "lengthy" (by my usual custom) absence.  Had I known in advance the events of the past several days, I would have postponed my first Genesis post.  This second in the line-up has been delayed by a combination of personal illness as well as death in my sister-in-law's immediate family, in addition to some unyielding deadlines related to volunteer work.

Today, we are going to explore in more depth how Moses wrote the book of Genesis.  There are a few theories as to how this occurred, although none of them can be definitively proven as "the one".  I present them to you for your consideration and will then tell you the one to which I subscribe.

1.  Oral Tradition
This theory declares that the material in the first five books of the Bible (The Pentateuch) was passed down from father to son, priest to priest, orally ... only.  It puts forth that Moses was the first of God's men to generate an written record.

2.  Direct Revelation (only)
It is pretty clear from scripture that God wrote with His finger the 10 Commandments on the tablets of stone, and that afterwards Moses descended from the mountain (Sinai) with them, to present them to the people of Israel.  We find this miracle recorded in Exodus 31:18 (ESV).

And he gave to Moses, when he had finished speaking with him on Mount Sinai, the two tablets of the testimony, tablets of stone, written with the finger of God.

In Exodus 24:12 and Deuteronomy 9:10, it seems that more than just "the 10" were given in this very direct, divine manner. much more?

12The LORD said to Moses, “Come up to me on the mountain and wait there, that I may give you the tablets of stone, with the law and the commandment, which I have written for their instruction.”
Exodus 24:12 (ESV)
(This took place just before Moses ascended to the peak of Mt. Sinai, where he remained for 40 days and 40 nights.)

And the LORD gave me the two tablets of stone written with the finger of God, and on them were all the words that the LORD had spoken with you on the mountain out of the midst of the fire on the day of the assembly.
Deuteronomy 9:10 (ESV)
(This was Moses' testimony, after the fact, after his 40 days/nights on the mountain.)

What about the rest of the Pentateuch?  Was it, as some claim, given to Moses by direct divine revelation, while he was on Sinai or during the time he lived/worked in Midian (before the Burning Bush incident), or why the Israelites wandered for 40 years in the desert?  Moses WAS on Sinai for 40 days and 40 nights, you know.  In all that time, could it be that God gave him by direct revelation ONLY the information in Exodus 24-31?

3.  Combo
This theory to explain Moses' writing of the Pentateuch is that he received some of it by direct revelation (see above), and that to codify the rest he was led by the Spirit of God to use other primary source materials from eye-witnesses (divinely-inspired texts unknown to us today yet) available to him in that day, over a period of time.  By this theory, he compiled the writings of other men of God, along with the direct revelation God gave to him.  As the apostle Peter testified (1 Peter 1:16-21 ESV)

16For we did not follow cleverly devised myths when we made known to you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but we were eyewitnesses of his majesty. 17For when he received honor and glory from God the Father, and the voice was borne to him by the Majestic Glory, “This is my beloved Son,i with whom I am well pleased,” 18we ourselves heard this very voice borne from heaven, for we were with him on the holy mountain. 19And we have the prophetic word more fully confirmed, to which you will do well to pay attention as to a lamp shining in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts, 20knowing this first of all, that no prophecy of Scripture comes from someone’s own interpretation. 21For no prophecy was ever produced by the will of man, but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit.

4.  Pious Men (JEDP Theory)
This theory purports Moses did not write the Pentateuch at all, but that it was compiled by a variety of nameless "pious men" who cobbled it together from Babylonian and Canaanite myths, from oral tradition, etc.  Those who subscribe to this explanation deduce, therefore, that the Pentateuch is a "pious fraud", as opposed to divinely-inspired Word of God.

The picture at the top of today's post is from the aforementioned voluneer work I'm currently helping with.  To achieve the desired outcome, I have taken 5 different texts on the same theme, and have cut them apart to group them according to their similarities/differences.  This work may be divinely appointed, but it is in no way divinely inspired, lol! 

So, how did Moses write the Pentateuch?
First of all, I agree that Moses IS the instrument God used to communicate His Holy Word to us in the first five books of the Bible.
Of the four theories above, I reject #s 1 and 4.  As for #1, it is implausible to believe that there were no written records from the earlier patriarchs, those prior to Moses.  (For instance, Genesis 26:5, which makes it clear Abraham had written laws of Jehovah, laws which he kept.) .
As for #4, that theory is downright heretical, as it emasculates the entire Penteteuch by rendering it nothing more than a collection of disparate myths.

After examining these various perspectives, I believe #3 is the most likely, keeping in mind that God Himself, through His Spirit as described by the apostle Peter, was in total control of His own written revelation to man.  But, I'm not going to be dogmatic about my viewpoint here.  It could have just as easily been done through #1, as described above.

Additional notes:  the Pentateuch is one continuous book.  The first word of the book of Exodus, for instance is often translated "Now" or "And", which naturally establishes the book as a continuation of Genesis.  The five divisions into "books" was done as a matter of organizational convenience. 
Most likely, as with earlier source materials, the Pentateuch was written on clay tablets.


Friday, June 1, 2018


Good morning!

We'll return to Genesis in the next post.  For the moment, I want to share with you what I have learned about the "brook of Kidron".

Looking out over Kidron Valley toward Old City
The Kidron Valley is a small valley which runs between the Mount of Olives and the Old City (as we call it now) of Jerusalem.  At the bottom of the valley is essential a sewage ditch, or used to be, that is.  All the sewage and offall run-off from the entire city flowed through that ditch and on down to its final destination in the Dead Sea.  We find this called "the brook of Kidron" in 2 Samuel 15:23, a seemingly innocuous detail in a sad, sordid tale.

And all the land wept aloud as all the people passed by, and the king crossed the brook Kidron, and all the people passed on toward the wilderness.

At this juncture, King David was going through some really tough stuff.  His beloved, young adult son, Absolom, had been discovered a treasonous traitor, who was threatening to wrestle the throne from his father by force.  As the story unfolds, King David is handling the situation, seeking counsel from God as he went along.

I think we often pass over (if you'll pardon the pun, which shall be obvious in a moment) certain geographical features in the Scriptures, not realizing their significance.  This is one.

David was moving a great number of people from Jerusalem up to the Mount of Olives, and to get there, everyone had to pass over this sewage ditch, not a pleasant experience. Furthermore, if I have my Levitical rules straight, passing through this valley would have made him (and the people who crossed with him) ceremonially "unclean".  The verse above emphasizes that even the KING had to do this.

In his commentary on this verse, Charles Haddon Spurgeon uses the brook of Kidron as a type for sorrow, pain, suffering, tragedy, loss.  The entire story of 2 Samuel 15 shows that King David was not immune to these.  Spurgeon goes on to point out that Jesus Christ was not immune to them either.
What do their examples teach us?

David was called, The Man After God's Own Heart.  Yet, his life had periods of intense affliction.  He was both God's Anointed (a type, forecasting Jesus Christ) AND God's Afflicted (again, prefiguring Christ).  As David was both, so Christ was both in His earthly ministry.

I began this post yesterday morning, but due to a very full schedule did not have time to finish it. On the way to my first engagement my mother called with the news that there had been a death in our extended family.  Several of my loved ones were yesterday propelled to the very banks of Kidron Creek.  I never cease to be amazed at how His Word ministers to us, seemingly coincidentally.  True believers know that there are no coincidences with God.  He holds us all in His hands.

Both King David and the King of Kings passed through their valleys and went on to triumph, through the power of God's Holy Spirit.  David returned eventually to his city as the rightful king, and Jesus triumphed over the bonds of Hell and Death.  (There is not much more awful or final than physical death, unless it is eternal spiritual death.  For those who know and trust Jesus Christ as Savior, we need never fear either of these enemies.  Hallelujah!)

What a precious promise and gift to those who are Jesus Christ's own beloved!

...let us then be of good courage, for we also shall win the day. We shall yet with joy draw water out of the wells of salvation, though now for a season we have to pass by the noxious streams of sin and sorrow. Courage, soldiers of the Cross, the King himself triumphed after going over Kidron, and so shall you.- - -