Friday, October 30, 2009


Because that Abraham obeyed my voice, and kept my charge, my commandments, my statutes, and my laws. Genesis 26:5

Blizzard further states, “The idea of law in Hebrew is not something that, if transgressed, is going to get you zapped. Torah is instruction that, if followed, will enrich one’s life; if ignored, will diminish it. In the biblical text, Law is frequently viewed as that which God has commanded.

The Hebrew word translated commandment is mitzvah, which comes from the root tzava, and actually means to lay charge upon, or to give charge to. A mitzvah is a charge or a commandment.

According to Blizzard, commandments, when performed, designate the individual as moral and ethical, benefitting all involved and pleasing God.

Moseley, Ron. 1996. Yeshua: A Guide to the Real Jesus and the Original Church. Ebed Publications., pg 55

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Peter's List of Virtues

And beside this, giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue; and to virtue knowledge; And to knowledge temperance; and to temperance patience; and to patience godliness; And to godliness brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness charity
. 2 Peter 1:5-7

Try reading 2 Peter 1:5-7 like this:

"Add to your faith the virtue of Joseph; and to virtue the knowledge of Solomon; and to knowledge the temperance of Samuel; and to temperance the patience of Job; and to patience the godliness of Daniel; and to godliness the brotherly kindness of Jonathan, and to brotherly kindness the charity of John."

(Booker, George., By The Way, ChristadelphianBooksOnline, Section I)

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Education and Consecration

And Abraham took the wood of the burnt offering, and laid it upon Isaac his son; and he took the fire in his hand, and a knife; and they went both of them together.
Genesis 22:6

Abraham and Isaac are called upon to tread the path of supreme sacrifice, yet Scripture records of father and son, “And they walked both of them together.” Is there similar unity of heart and soul between you and your child?

Education is the shibboleth of the hour; but in Judaism the word for “education” is the same as for “consecration’.” Is your child being consecrated for a life of beneficence for Israel and humanity?

The object of education is not merely to enable our children to gain their daily bread and to acquire pleasant means of recreation, but that they should know God and serve Him with earnestness and devotion.

(Hertz, Dr. J.H., The Pentateuch and Haftorahs, 2nd Ed., Soncino Press, London, 1992, pg )

Tuesday, October 27, 2009


And Moses returned unto the LORD, and said, Oh, this people have sinned a great sin, and have made them gods of gold. Yet now, if thou wilt forgive their sin; and if not, blot me, I pray thee, out of thy book which thou hast written.
Exodus 32:31-32

APOSIOPESIS: Breaking off as if unable to continue, stopping suddenly in the midst of a sentence, or leaving a statement unfinished at a dramatic moment. A striking effect is produced by breaking off a statement, and leaving it to be finished by the hearer.

We find Biblical examples of aposiopesis in the Hebrew Bible verse above, in which Moses doesn't even dare to complete his sentence when he challenges God's decision to destroy the Israelites for their sin.

Hebrews 3:11 is another powerful example: “If they shall be entering into My stopping—!” Others are found in Mark 8:12; Luke 13:9; 19:42; John 6:62; Acts 23:9.

Using the primary definition above (Breaking off as if unable to continue), think about the double power of this verse from modern scripture:

Which suffering caused myself, even God, the greatest of all, to tremble because of pain, and to bleed at every pore, and to suffer both body and spirit—and would that I might not drink the bitter cup, and shrink— Nevertheless, glory be to the Father, and I partook and finished my preparations unto the children of men. Doctrine and Covenants 19:18-19


Monday, October 26, 2009

Terrible as an Army With Banners

Who is she
that looketh forth
as the morning, fair as the moon, clear as the sun, and terrible as an army with banners? Song of Solomon 6:10

In the verse above, Solomon is making comparisons to his bride's beauty. It is interesting that this question is answered in modern scripture D&C 109:73:

That thy church [Zion] may come forth out of the wilderness of darkness, and shine forth fair as the moon, clear as the sun, and terrible as an army with banners; .

A cultural and Hebraic perspective on this verse adds additional insight. In Everyman's Bible Commentary, Paige Patterson tells us:

"Solomon asked, "Who is this that looks forth as the dawn or the morning?" "Looks forth" is literally "to bend forward" and hence "to look down," like the rays of the sun that look down on the earth in the early hours of the day. The reference is to her radiance. "Fair as the moon" (beautiful) and as "clear" or pure "as the sun." "Terrible" (Hebrew: 'ayom) also means "formidable"- an influence that must be exercised with responsibility."(pgs.95-96,99)

In terms of Zion being the Lord's Church and therefore his Bride, I love the consistency of this verse:

And it shall be said among the wicked: Let us not go up to battle against Zion, for the inhabitants of Zion are terrible; wherefore we cannot stand. D&C 45:70

From these three verses combined, we learn that the Lord's Church (Zion) is not only radiant, beautiful, and pure, but that she has a formidable power that causes the wicked to flee. It is the shining power of goodness and purity.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Depressing Story Corrected by Joseph Smith

Thankfully, this depressing (and distressing!) story in the Bible was corrected by Joseph Smith:

KJV Genesis 19:5-10

5 And they called unto Lot, and said unto him, Where are the men which came in to thee this night? bring them out unto us, that we may know them.
6 And Lot went out at the door unto them, and shut the door after him,
7 And said, I pray you, brethren, do not so wickedly.
8 Behold now, I have two daughters which have not known man; let me, I pray you, bring them out unto you, and do ye to them as is good in your eyes: only unto these men do nothing; for therefore came they under the shadow of my roof.
9 And they said, Stand back. And they said again, This one fellow came in to sojourn, and he will needs be a judge: now will we deal worse with thee, than with them. And they pressed sore upon the man, even Lot, and came near to break the door.
10 But the men put forth their hand, and pulled Lot into the house to them, and shut to the door.


9 And they said unto him, Stand back. And they were angry with him.
10 And they said among themselves, This one man came in to sojourn among us, and he will needs now make himself to be a judge; now we will deal worse with him than with them. 11 Wherefore they said unto the man, We will have the men, and thy daughters also; and we will do with them as seemeth us good.
12 Now this was after the wickedness of Sodom.
13 And Lot said, Behold now, I have two daughters which have not known man; let me, I pray you, plead with my brethren that I may not bring them out unto you; and ye shall not do unto them as seemeth good in your eyes;
14 For God will not justify his servant in this thing; wherefore, let me plead with my brethren, this once only, that unto these men ye do nothing, that they may have peace in my house; for therefore came they under the shadow of my roof.
15 And they were angry with Lot and came near to break the door, but the angels of God, which were holy men, put forth their hand and pulled Lot into the house unto them, and shut the door.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

The Body of This Death

Warning: This post is not for the squeamish. I think the word picture contained in this verse is one of the grimmest portrayals regarding the effects of sin in all of Holy Writ. This perspective greatly increased my appreciation for the Atonement

O wretched man that I am! who shall deliver me from the body of this death? Romans 7:24

O wretched man that I am,...” This affecting account is finished more impressively by the groans of the wounded captive. Having long maintained a useless conflict against innumerable hosts and irresistible might, he is at last wounded and taken prisoner; and to render his state more miserable, is not only encompassed by the slaughtered, but chained to a dead body; for there seems to be here an allusion to an ancient custom of certain tyrants, who bound a dead body to a living man, and obliged him to carry it about, till the contagion from the putrid mass took away his life!

Virgil paints this in all its horrors, in the account he gives of the tyrant Mezentius. AEneid, lib. viii. ver. 485.

What tongue can such barbarities record, Or count the slaughters of his ruthless sword? 'Twas not enough the good, the guiltless bled, Still worse, he bound the living to the dead: These, limb to limb, and face to face, he joined; O! monstrous crime, of unexampled kind! Till choked with stench, the lingering wretches lay, And, in the loathed embraces, died away!

Roasting, burning, racking, crucifying, etc., were nothing when compared to this diabolically invented punishment. We may naturally suppose that the cry of such a person would be, “Wretched man that I am, who shall deliver me from this dead body?”

And how well does this apply to the case of the person to whom the apostle refers! A body—a whole mass of sin and corruption, was bound to his soul with chains which he could not break; and the mortal contagion, transfused through his whole nature, was pressing him down to the bitter pains of an eternal death.

He now finds that the law can afford him no deliverance; and he despairs of help from any human being; but while he is emitting his last, or almost expiring groan, the redemption by Christ Jesus is proclaimed to him; and, if the apostle refers to his own case, Ananias unexpectedly accosts him with–“Brother Saul! the Lord Jesus, who appeared unto thee in the way, hath sent me unto thee, that thou mightest receive thy sight, and be filled with the Holy Ghost.” He sees then an open door of hope, and he immediately, though but in the prospect of this deliverance, returns God thanks for the well-grounded hope which he has of salvation, through Jesus Christ our Lord.


Wednesday, October 21, 2009

A Beloved Benefactor

A lot of folks are struggling with concerns that are overwhelming right now. This insight has been a comfort to me and I hope it will encourage anyone else who needs it.

For I know that this shall turn to my salvation through your prayer, and the supply of the Spirit of Jesus Christ, Philippians 1:19

“I especially want you to notice the word “supply” in this verse. It is the Greek word epichoregeo. To those who read Greek, this word seems like a strange choice for Paul. However, after reflecting on the original usage of this word, it makes this verse very exciting. The word epichoregeo is an old word that literally means on behalf of the choir. I know this sounds peculiar, so let me explain where this word came from and why Paul uses it here.

Thousands of years ago in classical Greece, a huge choral and dramatic company practiced endlessly for a huge, important theatrical performance. After they put in a great amount of time, energy, effort, and practice, it was finally time for the show to go on the road. But there was one major problem-they ran out of money!

These people had given their lives to this production. They had committed all their resources to making sure the performance succeeded. But because they ran out of financing, it meant that the show was over-finished! They were washed up before the show ever officially got started. From all appearances, it was the end of the road for them and their dream.

At that exact moment, a wealthy man heard of their crisis, stepped into the middle of their situation, and made a huge contribution on behalf of the choir. This contribution “supplied” all they needed to get back into business again! In fact, the gift the man gave was so enormous that it was more than they needed or knew how to spend! This man’s contribution was excessively large, abundant, overflowing and overwhelming.

This is where we get the word “supply” in Phillipians 1:19 that now describes the enormous contribution of the Spirit that Jesus Christ wants to give to you and me. This means when you’ve run out of steam; when you’ve given your best effort and don’t feel like you have another ounce to give; when it looks like your resources are drained and you are unable to take one more step unless someone steps in to help you-that is exactly the moment when Jesus Christ steps in to become your personal benefactor. Like the wealthy man in the story above, Jesus steps into your life at that moment to donate a massive, overwhelming, generous contribution of the Spirit’s grace and power for your cause.”

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Christ as the Forerunner

Whither the forerunner is for us entered, even Jesus, made an high priest for ever after the order of Melchisedec. Hebrews 6:20

A forerunner is an extremely picturesque and evidently ancient calling. He may now be seen to the best advantage in the large towns of Egypt. When rich people drive or ride abroad, a servant attends them, called, a sais, or groom, whose duty it is to run on foot at some distance in front of his master’s horse or carriage.

They carry in their hands a long rod. It is their business to clear a passage for their master through the narrow crowded streets, to open gates, announce his coming, and wait upon him when his horse or chariot halts. As they run, uttering loud warning cries, they use the rod freely over the shoulders of all who obstruct the way. Their strength and powers of endurance are most remarkable. Men drive very rapidly in the East, yet the sais will run without stopping before his master’s carriage, however swiftly borne along, for a distance of a dozen miles!

The office of the sais is unquestionably that of the “runner,” or “fore-runner” of Scripture. Samuel’s warning as to “the manner of the king,” — “he will take your sons . . . and they shall run before his chariots (1 Sam 8.11),” is explained by this custom. So also is the conduct of Absalom and Adonijah when, each in turn conspiring against the throne, by way of assuming royal honours, had “fifty men to run before him (2 Sam 15.1; 1 Kings 1.5).” It throws a flood of new light on Elijah’s perfectly natural and chivalrous, though none the less miraculous proceeding, when the king’s runners being either absent at the moment, or purposely replaced by the prophet, he girded up his loins, and, as a sais, ran before the chariot of Ahab from Mount Carmel to the entrance of Jezreel, a distance of some twenty miles (1 Kings 18.44-46)!

A deeply interesting and significant meaning is thus given to the words, “Whither Jesus entered for us as a fore-runner,” occurring in that passage where the Apostle is speaking of the “strong consolation” of those who have “fled for refuge to lay hold upon the hope set before us (Heb 6.18-20).” He, who stooped to be amongst His disciples “as one who serves,” seems to Paul like the sais, or runner, who just precedes by a little the chariot of the prince, the believer — who in the coming age is to “reign in life” as a king (Rev 1.6; 5.10; 20.6) — to prepare his way, to enter into the gates of the palace, to take possession of it in his name, and to be ready with His own wonderful and Divine condescension to receive, wait upon, and serve him there (See Luke 12.37)! Viewed in this light we have indeed “strong consolation.”

Neil, Revd James., Peeps Into Palestine, Stanley Martin & Co. Ltd, UK, ~1913

Monday, October 19, 2009

Loving Our Enemies

"You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I tell you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be sons of your Father in heaven...Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect." (Matthew 5:43-44, 48)

Many critics have claimed that Jesus could not have mentioned the words referring to the hatred of enemies, as no such injunction is found in the Old Testament or in the Jewish literature.

[Donna: It is obvious that Jesus wasn't quoting a scripture that referred to hatred of one's enemies because he said, "You have heard..." Whenever he quoted a scripture, he always said, "It is written" or "Is it not written?]

The Manual of Discipline from the Dead Sea Scrolls, however, advises the Qumran community members to "love all that God has chosen and hate all that He has rejected" , and also to "hate all the children of darkness". It is thought nowadays that Jesus was referring to the Essenes, who were his contemporaries.

Love for one’s enemies is, however, contained in the OT ordinances. In Exodus 23:4-5 we read: "If you come across your enemy’s ox or donkey wandering off, be sure to take it back to him. If you see the donkey of someone who hates you fallen down under its load, do not leave it there; be sure you help him with it."

Santala, Risto. 1992. The Messiah in the New Testament. Jerusalem: Keren Avah Meshihit., pgs 172-173

Friday, October 16, 2009

Kindling the Sparks

I am of the opinion that information that helps us understand Isaiah is always a good thing. Pillai's explanation of customs is so helpful here. It adds another layer of understanding that enhances Isaiah's warning to trust in God's light rather than the arm of flesh if we don't want want to "lie down in sorrow" at the end of our days.

Behold, all ye that kindle a fire, that compass [yourselves] about with sparks: walk in the light of your fire, and in the sparks [that] ye have kindled. This shall ye have of mine hand; ye shall lie down in sorrow.
Isaiah 50:11

" In the East, the farmers get up early and build a fire to warm themselves. When they are ready to start to the fields, they take a heavy rope and put the end of it into the fire. They blow on this burning rope to send out sparks ahead of themselves to light the way so that they will not step on a scorpion or snake with their bare feet.

The verse is saying, we must have the light of God to illuminate the way; we cannot walk safely through the sparks that we have kindled ourselves. We will not stumble in God’s light."

Pillai, K.C. Light through an Eastern Window, pg. 117

If you would like an excellent reference book that illustrates many of the verses in Isaiah with beautiful photographs, get Visualizing Isaiah by Don Parry, It's a favorite of mine and perfect for teaching young people.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Small Gifts of Light

For [ye are] set to be a light unto the world, and to be the saviors of men; D&C 103:9

An excerpt from a talk:

The quote I am using is from a little book, At the Master’s Feet, published in India in 1922. It relates the experiences of Sundar Singh, a young Hindu man, who despite threats and great opposition, converted to Christianity.

Like the young boy Samuel, who heard the voice of the Lord, Sundar heard and recorded an insight that the Lord had given him about the importance of the seemingly small gifts we have to offer and how those gifts can bless others.

"There are little creatures far inferior to man, like the firefly, with its flickering light, and certain small plants among the vegetation in the Himalayas, which by their faint phosphorescent radiance illuminate as far as they can the dark jungle where they live. Tiny fish also that swim in the deep waters of the ocean give forth a glimmering light which guides other fish and helps them to elude their enemies.

How much more ought My children to be lights in the world (Matt 5:14) and be eager in self-sacrifice to bring into the way of truth, by means of their God-given light, those who by reason of darkness are liable to become the prey of Satan."

The phrase, “those who by reason of darkness are liable to become the prey of Satan,” applies especially to our youth who are inexperienced and sometimes naive regarding Satan’s tactics as a spiritual terrorist bent on the destruction of all we hold dear.

Several years ago, before the events of September 11th, I read a newspaper account of a kindergarten teacher who had taken her class on a field trip to the World Trade Center. It was on that same day that a car bomb was exploded in the basement. The explosion shook the building, plunging it into darkness; and sent choking dust and smoke up to the 34th floor where they were.

After ascertaining that all the children were unharmed, the teacher faced the daunting task of calming the fears of her young charges and getting them safely out of the building. The only available light was the Day-Glo feature on a Timex™ wrist watch belonging to a man who was in the same area. While the man held up his arm and pushed the button on his watch to give its tiny green glow, the teacher had the children link together by holding hands.

Seeking to comfort and calm the little ones in the confusion and darkness, the teacher began singing the familiar refrain from the Barney© song:

I love you, you love me. We’re best friends like friends should be...

The song and the light gave the children (and many of the adults who followed behind them) the courage to proceed in a difficult and unfamiliar situation. They continued singing until they were safely outside. Another man who had heard them singing remarked that he had previously been annoyed by the song, but that day, Barney had never sounded more brave.

The fireflies, tiny fish, and the glowing watch face are examples of the scriptural truth, “ small and simple things are great things brought to pass (Alma 37:6).” We are surrounded by much darkness, but Heavenly Father has shown His confidence in us by comparing the saints to lights that shine in a dark world (D&C 103:9).

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Mothers and Daughters

For this Agar is mount Sinai in Arabia, and answereth to
Jerusalem which now is, and is in bondage with her children. But Jerusalem which is above is free, which is the mother of us all. Galatians 4:25-26

Cities in Hebrew are always feminine. Satellite settlements, or suburbs, of an urban center are, by Hebrew idiom, called "daughters." Psalm 9:14 refers to the "gates" of the daughter of Zion, clearly indicating a town of some sort (see also Psa. 48:11; 97:8; Isa. 10:32; Josh. 15:45,47: in the Joshua passages the word “towns” is the same Hebrew word as “daughters”). These "daughters" were dependent commercially, politically and militarily upon the "mother city" — a collateral concept echoed in Galatians 4:26 and Revelation 17:5, to cite two diametrically opposite examples.

A city king’s influence often extended beyond the city walls. Major cities, such as Gezer, had smaller villages, known as “daughters,” that cropped up outside the city walls. Unlike a city, these villages were not walled. They depended on the mother city for commerce, protection, and justice. To enjoy the protection and order of the city, “daughter” hamlets needed to be on good terms with the city’s king. To gain his favor, these villagers would pay taxes and remain loyal to the king. In return, the king extended his role of provider and protector to these outer villages as well. Jesus said, " '... Daughters of Jerusalem, do not weep for me; weep for yourselves and for your children' " (Luke 23:28). He may have been referring to both the women of Jerusalem and the small surrounding villages that received the initial fury of the Roman destruction that he predicted.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Zelph - Righteous Chief of Thousands

Karen Boren sent the following information to me and I was thrilled to get it. It is another witness that Joseph Smith-a man with only a 6th grade traditional education- was inspired and was a true prophet. Rich Kuchinski made the connection with the Hebrew.

In 1834, Joseph, along with a number of other men, came to some thick woods, and he stated that he felt that a great battle had taken place there. A short distance further, they came upon "a mound sixty feet high, containing human bones" (Joseph Smith 1976, 2:66).

Joseph also described what occurred about a month later, after they had crossed the Illinois River: "During our travels we visited several of the mounds which had been thrown up by the ancient inhabitants of this country--Nephites, Lamanites, etc., and this morning I went up on a high mound, near the river . . . . On the top of the mound were stones which presented the appearance of three altars having been erected one above the other, according to the ancient order; and the remains of bones were strewn over the surface of the ground. The brethren procured a shovel and a hoe, and removing the earth to the depth of about one foot, discovered the skeleton of a man, almost entire, and between his ribs the stone point of a Lamanitish arrow, which evidently produced his death. Elder Burr Riggs retained the arrow.

The contemplation of the scenery around us produced peculiar sensations in our bosoms; and subsequently the visions of the past being opened to my understanding by the Spirit of the Almighty, I discovered that the person whose skeleton was before us was a white Lamanite, a large, thick-set man, and a man of God. His name was Zelph. He was a warrior and chieftain under the great prophet Onandagus, who was known from the Hill Cumorah, or eastern sea to the Rocky mountains. The curse was taken from Zelph, or, at least, in part--one of his thigh bones was broken by a stone flung from a sling, while in battle, years before his death. He was killed in battle by the arrow found among his ribs, during the last great struggle of the Lamanites and Nephites." (Joseph Smith 1976, 2:79-80)

The letter ‘Z' in the name Zelph, is the Hebrew letter Tsade and when it stands alone it means 'Righteous'. The Hebrew word ‘elph' is Strongs #0505 and holds a definition interpretation of ‘thousands of troops under one chief' as used in Numbers 1:34-35:

"Of the children of Manasseh, by their generations, after their families, by the house of their fathers, according to the number of the names, from twenty years old and upward, all that were able to go forth to war; Those that were numbered of them, even of the tribe of Manasseh, were thirty and two thousand and two hundred."

The name Zelph means ‘Righteous Chief of thousands'.

Monday, October 12, 2009

A Thorn in the Flesh

And lest I should be exalted above measure through the abundance of the revelations, there was given to me a thorn in the flesh, the messenger of Satan to buffet me, lest I should be exalted above measure. 2 Corinthians 12:7

I have read numerous interpretations about the scripture listed above. One scholar thought that Paul struggled against lasciviousness and another thought that he was burdened with arthritis or another painful health issue. Another writer assured his readers that Paul's 'thorn in the flesh' involved weight issues and that he had to live with continual frustration because no diets worked for him. I guess we all tend to project different maladies upon Paul, based on our experiences.

Recently I was reading in the Old Testament and came across several verses that gave me a new way to think about Paul's affliction. Here's one in particular:

But if ye will not drive out the inhabitants of the land from before you; then it shall come to pass, that those which ye let remain of them shall be pricks in your eyes, and thorns in your sides, and shall vex you in the land wherein ye dwell. Numbers 33:55

Maybe Paul had to put up with an individual who really tried his patience. Anyway, the rhetorical links support that as a possible conclusion. It's interesting to think about.

Friday, October 9, 2009

Thorns and Arrested Growth

And unto Adam he said, Because thou hast hearkened unto the voice of thy wife, and hast eaten of the tree, of which I commanded thee, saying, Thou shalt not eat of it: cursed is the ground for thy sake; in sorrow shalt thou eat of it all the days of thy life; Thorns also and thistles shall it bring forth to thee; and thou shalt eat the herb of the field;
Genesis 3:17-18

Adam was not cursed on account of the earth, which God had declared to be in itself very good; but the earth was cursed because of the sin of Adam, which again originated in the spirit of the Evil One. As a punishment for man's transgression the soil should be henceforth comparatively barren. It should no longer yield spontaneous abundance, but he should be compelled to force out of it, with heavy toil and in the sweat of his face, even the bare necessaries of life.

Nor would this be the end of the trouble. Earth should now be the parent of evil as well as good, and, teeming with thorns and thistles, should baffle and protract the labor of its tillers.

These noxious plants probably existed, though in very different condition, before the curse was pronounced; and then, owing to the sterility of the blighted earth, were no longer able to attain to their proper development and luxuriance, and so became what they are now found to be- abortions.

The following remarks of Professor Balfour will illustrate this.

In looking at the vegetable world in a scientific point of view, we see many evidences of the great plan upon which the all-wise Creator seems to have formed that portion of His works. At the same time there are many marks of what we may call, with reverence, incompleteness. Thus we see that there is in all plants a tendency to a spiral arrangement of leaves and branches, etc., but we rarely see this carried out fully, in consequence of numerous interruptions to growth and abnormalities in development. When branches are arrested in growth they often appear in the form of thorns or spines, and thus thorns may be taken as an indication of an imperfection in the branch.

[Donna:Regarding that last sentence, it is interesting that telestial-level people in the OT are also compared to thorns, briers, and noxious weeds.]

The curse which has been pronounced on the vegetable creation may thus be seen in the production of thorns in place of branches-thorns which, while they are leafless, are at the same time the cause of injury to man. That thorns are abortive branches is we'll seen in cases where, by cultivation, they disappear. In such cases they are transformed into branches. The wild apple is a thorny plant, but on cultivation it is not so. These changes are the result of a constant high state of cultivation, and may show us what might take place were the curse removed.

[When the curse is removed, plants (and humans!) will bring forth fruit instead of thorns.]

Again; thistles are troublesome and injurious in consequence of the pappus and hairs appended to their fruit, which waft it about in all directions, and injure the work of man so far as agricultural operations are concerned. Now it is interesting to remark that this pappus is shown to be an abortive state of the calyx, which is not developed as in ordinary instances, but becomes changed into hairs. Here, then, we see an alteration in the calyx which makes the thistle a source of labor and trouble to man. We could conceive the calyx otherwise developed, and thus preventing the injurious consequences which result to the fields from the presence of thistles.

I have thus very hurriedly stated to you what occurred to my mind as to the curse of thorns and thistles, and I have endeavored to show that the spines and hairs are abortive, and, so to speak, imperfect portions of plants. The parts are not developed in full perfection like what may have been the case in Eden, and like what will take place when the curse is removed.

Fit objects, then, are the thorn and the thistle to remind man of the curse. And keeping their origin in view we can see a deep significance in that awful scene when our Lord suffered Himself to be crowned with thorns, so that even His enemies set Him forth as the great Curse-bearer ; when He wore on His bleeding brow that which owed its very existence to, and was the sign of, the sin which He had come to expiate.

Lastly; man should no longer eat of the fruits of Paradise, but should henceforth find the staff of his fleeting life in the bread-producing herbs of the field, till he himself descended into that dust out of which he obtained his food: for dust he was, and unto dust he should return.


Thursday, October 8, 2009

The Well of Seeing

And it came to pass after the death of Abraham, that God blessed his son Isaac; and Isaac dwelt by
the well Lahairoi. Genesis 25:11

G. Fitzpatrick observed:

"Isaac dwelt in the south country west of Kadesh, by the well Lahairoi. The word Kadesh means "a place of separation". The word Lahairoi means "the well of the living seeing one", or "the well of the vision of life".

A well in the desert country of Palestine was the sign of wealth. It was also the sign of independence. Wells were dug by hand, and it took much time and much hard labor. Today if someone has need of a well, they call out the well driller and they drill down through the earth until they hit water. The well is then cased with steel casing.

In Abraham's day the wells were dug by hand through solid limestone. Sometimes steps were carved in the limestone and the people went into the well with their containers and carried the water out. Other wells used ropes and buckets, or waterskins to draw out the water. Some had water wheels where pitchers were attached to a rope that went down into the water and came up full of water.

Around the mouth of the well was built a low wall. This kept animals and people from falling into the well. Those who owned wells sold their water, or bartered with those who used the well. Wells were most important to the herdsmen in Palestine. Without wells the herds could not exist. Because of this, those who owned the wells generally became very important, wealthy men in the land.

Those who owned wells could maintain larger flocks of sheep. Sheep were also a sign of wealth. Abraham was very wealthy and he passed his wealth to Isaac. Wells are always signs of life. Oasis are planted around wells in the desert. These areas of green are always a contrast to the desolate desert around them.

Isaac dwelt by the Well Lohairoi, or the Well of the Vision of Life in the place of separation. As we view the typology of the Well Lohairoi, it is easy to relate it to the Word of God. The scriptures contain the vision of life and those who have separated themselves [from the world] and apply the Word to their lives become like the Word as Jesus became the Word.

Where there is no vision the people perish. Even those who are called by His name sometimes have no vision. If they are not drinking of the Well Lohairoi, the vision and words of life, they are perishing because they are not being nourished from the water of the well of life."

And as we freely partake of the waters of this well, we are like " a tree planted by the rivers of water, that bringeth forth his fruit in his season;his leaf also shall not wither; and whatsoever he doeth shall prosper."

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Dove's Dung

And there was a great famine in Samaria: and, behold, they besieged it, until an ass's head was sold for fourscore pieces of silver, and the fourth part of a cab (1 cup) of dove's dung for five pieces of silver.
2 Kings 6:25

Second Kings describes the siege of Samaria and its famine. While some believe the dove's dung in 2 Kings 6:25 is literally the waste of the bird, many others take it to be the bulb of the star of Bethlehem plant. Sadly, though, pigeons excrement has been eaten in times of desperate food shortage.

Easton tells us the Arabs apply the name "doves dung" to various vegetable substances like the seeds of millet, an inferior kind of vegetable pulse, and the root of "bird-milk." The bird-milk or star of Bethlehem plant grows on a stalk of about six inches and has long thin leaves. Its bulb is dried, roasted and eaten or made into a flour. Italians sometimes eat them like chestnuts. “For centuries Syrians used it for food. The historian Dioscorides writes that in his time this bulb was added to flour made into thin cakes”. 1 Cab (Hebrew - kab) is equal to 1.16 Quart. It was worth about 20 pieces of silver.

(We have the Star of Bethlehem growing in our yard and because of this verse, it always makes me think about food storage.)

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Wrestling Against Darkness Part 2

Yesterday's warning continues for this post.

For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places. Ephesians 6:12

Renner continues:

Wrestlers, too, often wrestled to the death. In fact, a favorite tactic in those days was to grab hold of an opponent around the waist from behind, throw him up in the air, and quickly break his backbone in half from behind. In order to make an opponent surrender, it was quite normal to strangle him into submission. Choking was another acceptable practice. So wrestling was another extremely violent sport.

They were tolerant of every imaginable tactic: breaking fingers, breaking ribs by a waistlock, gouging the face, knocking the eyes out, and so forth. Although less injurious than the other combat sports, wrestling was still a bitter struggle to the end. . .Wrestling was a bloody, bloody sport.

Then there were Pankratists. Pankratists were a combination of all of the above. The word “pankratist” is from two Greek roots, the words pan and kratos. Pan means “all,” and kratos is a word for “exhibited power.” The two words together describe “someone with massive amounts of power; power over all; more power than anyone else.”

This, indeed, was the purpose of Pankration. Its competitors were out to prove they could not be beaten and were tougher than anyone else!

In order to prove this, they were permitted to kick, punch, bite, gouge, strike, break fingers, break legs, and do any other horrible thing you could imagine. . . .There was no part of the body that was off-limits. They could do anything to any part of their competitor’s body, for there were basically no rules.

An early inscription says this about Pankration: “If you should hear that your son has died, believe it, but if you hear he has been defeated and retired, do not believe it.” Why? Because more died in this sport than surrendered or were defeated. Like the other combat sports, it was extremely violent.

Monday, October 5, 2009

Wrestling Against Darkness Part 1

Warning: This post and the one tomorrow are not for the faint of heart. They contain disturbing historical references.

For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.
Ephesians 6:12

Especially notice how Paul begins this verse. He says, “For we wrestle...” From the very outset of this verse, Paul makes a very strong, pointed and dramatic statement!

The word “wrestle” is taken from the old word pale (pa-le), and it refers to struggling, wrestling, or hand-to-hand fighting. However, the word pale is also the Greek word from which the Greek derived their name for the Palastra (pa-la-stra), a house of combat sports.
The Palastra was a huge building that outwardly looked like a palace; it was a palace of combat sports, dedicated to the cultivation of athletic skills. Every morning, afternoon and night you could find the most committed, determined and daring athletes of the day working out and training in this fabulous building.

Primarily three kinds of athletes worked out at the Palastra: boxers, wrestlers and pankratists. These were exceedingly dangerous and barbaric sports.

First, their boxers were not like ours today. Theirs were extremely violent — so violent that they were not permitted to box without wearing helmets. Without the protection of helmets, their heads would have been crushed.

Few boxers in the ancient world ever lived to retire from their profession. Most of them died in the ring. Of all the sports, the ancients viewed boxing as the most hazardous and deadly. In face, these boxers were so brutal and barbaric, they word gloves that were ribbed with steel and spiked with nails! At times the steel wrapped around their gloves was serrated, like a hunting knife, in order to make deep gashes in the skin of an opponent.

In addition to this, boxers began using gloves that were heavier and much more damaging. It is quite usual, when viewing the artwork from the time of the early Greeks, to see boxers whose faces, ears, and noses were totally deformed because of these dangerous gloves.

In studying the art of the Greeks, it is quite usual to see painting of boxers with blood pouring from their noses and with deep lacerations on their faces as a result of the serrated metal and spiked nails on the gloves. And it was not unusual for a boxer to hit the face so hard, with his thumb extended toward the eyes, that it knocked an eye right out of its socket.

Believe it or not, even though this sport was so combative and violent, there were no rules — except you could not clench your opponent’s fist. That was the only rule to the game! There were no “rounds” like there are in boxing today. The fight just went on and on and on until one of the two surrendered or died in the ring.

An inscription from that first century said of boxing: “A boxer’s victory is obtained through blood.” This was a thoroughly violent sport! Continued....