Monday, November 30, 2009

A Watered Garden

And the LORD shall guide thee continually, and satisfy thy soul in drought, and make fat thy bones: and thou shalt be like a watered garden, and like a spring of water, whose waters fail not.
Isaiah 58:11

"Watered gardens to which, for their wealth of fruitfulness and beauty, the prophets afterwards likened their happy life in the glorious coming age: “Their soul shall be like a watered garden(Jer 31.12; see also Isa 58.11).

The burning rainless heat for six months running, from the end of April to the end of October, makes it impossible to have a garden of any value in Palestine unless it is thoroughly irrigated once a week; and possible, when thus supplied with “the water of life,” to have one that is green and fruitful all the year round, yielding no less than four crops, and the varied products of almost all temperate and tropical climes!

In these “watered gardens” the labourers, all of whose limbs are naked, work almost as much with their feet as with their hands. The ground is divided into little plots about 12 feet square, surrounded by tiny trenches, and, when turning the rills from the main stream into each of these, the gardener kicks a hole with his foot into the trench through the lightly turned-up soil, and after sufficient water has run past he stops up the breach in the same easy fashion.

Hence, when Moses, speaking of Egypt, says to Israel, “Thou wateredst it with thy foot, like a garden of green vegetables(Deut. 11:10- an excellent 'weird scripture'), he simply alludes to the important fact, that, in the rainless land of the Pharaohs, farm-culture needs irrigation, natural or artificial, in the same way as garden-culture requires it in the more favoured climate of Palestine, where sufficient rain falls to raise the main crops."

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

Friday, November 27, 2009

The Poor in Scripture

"The Spirit of the Lord GOD is upon Me, Because the LORD has anointed Me To preach good tidings to the poor; He has sent Me to heal the brokenhearted, To proclaim liberty to the captives, And the opening of the prison to those who are bound;
Isaiah 61:1 NKJV

“The term ‘poor’ is explained by a whole series of parallel expressions. The following phrases alternate with it: ‘the broken-hearted’, ‘the captives (to guilt?)’, ‘those who are bound’ (v. 1), ‘those who mourn’ (v. 2), ‘those who are of a faint spirit’ (v. 3). This makes it certain that the ‘poor’ are those who are oppressed in quite a general sense: the oppressed who cannot defend themselves, the desperate, the hopeless.

[Hebrew term] is also used elsewhere in prophetic preaching in this comprehensive sense. Originally a designation for the desolate, in the prophets the word embraces the oppressed and the poor who know that they are thrown completely on God’s help. Jesus used ‘the poor’ in this wide sense that the term had acquired in the prophets. Certainly all those in need, the hungry and thirsty, the unclothed and the strangers, the sick and the captives, belong to the ‘least’: they are his brothers (Matt. 25.31-46).

But the circle of the ‘poor’ is wider. That becomes clear when we collect the designation and imagery with which Jesus characterizes them. He calls them the hungry, those who weep, the sick, those who labour, those who bear burdens, the last, the simple, the lost, the sinners.”

(Jeremias, Joachim. 1971. New Testament Theology. New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons., pg 113)

Thursday, November 26, 2009

The Cry of Lot's Daughter

this wast the iniquity of ... Sodom: Pride, fulness of bread, and abundance of idleness was in her and her daughters, neither did she strengthen the hand of the poor and the needy. Ezek. 16: 49

But the height of their wickedness lay not in the activities of individual transgressors but in the fact that such iniquitous behavior was clothed with a cloak of legality, raised to the level of a social norm, as the Midrash seeks to underline:

They issued a proclamation in Sodom saying: Everyone who strengthens the hand of the poor and needy with a loaf of bread shall be burnt by fire.

Their wickedness was not committed in secret, as something to be ashamed of, nor was it the product of a spontaneous outburst of the populace provoked by irresponsible elements. It was rather the law of the land, and whoever violated this savage law, and performed a good deed, prompted by his own instincts of pity, was condemned to be burnt at the stake.

Pelotit the daughter of Lot was wedded to one of the magnates of Sodom. She saw a certain very poor man in the street of the city and her soul was grieved on the account. What did she do? Every day when she went out to draw water she put in her pitcher all kinds of provisions from her house and she sustained that poor man.

The men of Sodom said: How does this poor man live? When they ascertained the facts they brought her forth to be burnt by fire. She said: Sovereign of all worlds! Maintain my right and my cause at the hands of the men of Sodom! And her cry ascended before the throne of glory. In that hour the Holy One blessed be He said: "I will go down and see whether they have done altogether according to her cry which is come unto me"–and if the men of Sodom have done according to the cry of that young woman, I will turn her foundation upwards and the surface downward..."

There was no remedy for such a society but total destruction. ...the cry of Sodom is great...and their sin is very grievous.

(Leibowitz, Nehama. 1974. Studies in Bereshit (Genesis) in the Context of Ancient and Modern Jewish Biblical Commentary. Jerusalem: W.Z.O. Dept.for Torah Education., pgs 173-174)

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Names as Symbols

Individual names are the most obvious use of symbols in the book [of Ruth]. Elimelech means "may kingship come my way" or "God is my king." Both are possible understandings, since Elimelech was of the tribe of Judah, the tribe of monarchy. The sages say that Elimelech was a man of means, and therefore the term ish [lit. "a man"] is used, which usually denotes a man of stature.

The name Naomi comes from na'im [pleasant]. She is the heroine of the story together with her daughter-in-law Ruth.

The most blatant symbolic names are those of Elimelech's sons Machlon [sickness] and Chilyon [decimation]. Who calls their children by such names? Even if we translate these names as "forgiveness" and "expectation," the second name seems forced and the first should be "Mechilon."

Were these their real names or did the author change their names to make a literary value statement turning their names into symbols? The latter opinion is congruent with the talmudic opinion. This can be confirmed from the Book of Chronicles. In describing the family of Judah, the Book of Chronicles refers to Yokim and Cozeba and Yoash and Saraph who married Moabites and returned to Bethlehem (1 Chronicles 4:22).

Were Yoash and Saraph the real names for Machlon and Chilyon? If so, were the names changed for symbolic reasons?

Ruth and Orpah are the next names to investigate. Ruth embraced the commandments and Orpah turned away from them. "Orpah" is derived from oref [the back of the head], and le-hafnot oref is "to turn away." She turned away from Naomi and the Israelite people and went back to Moab; Ruth embraced the commandments. The Talmud (BT Bava Batra) says that her name hints at this deed. The Hebrew letters of resh-vav-tav [Ruth] add up numerically to 606. If you add to this sum the seven laws of the Sons of Noah, which are incumbent on all the nations, you reach the number 613, corresponding to the commandments.


Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Behold the Man!

Pontius Pilate had great interest in gladiators, having himself received training in hand-to-hand combat. And so, he was an avid follower of the Olympic Games.

Out of each annual Olympics held in Rome, a victor emerged, a gladiator slave whose challenge it was to win each day’s mortal combat, and somehow manage to survive the 10-day ordeal. On the final day, he was proclaimed the winner, or "Ecce Homo" (the Latin and Italian words for "Here is the Man"). Once the Emperor had placed a garland of olive branches on his head and pronounced him the new "Ecce Homo", he was a free man, and engaged as an officer in the Emperor’s royal guard.

At the trial of Jesus, Pilate twice pronounced him "Not Guilty" but the Jews loudly protested and threatened rebellion. Pilate, on probation from Tiberius Caesar for having allowed rebellion on two prior assignments, knew he could not afford to allow a third.

Under his threat, he descended the 12 steps of Roman Law to a landing halfway down, where he could look more closely at the prisoner before pronouncing judgment. Seeing the broken, bleeding body of Jesus and the garland of thorns circling his head, he was obviously reminded of all the Roman gladiators of the past who had triumphed and been crowned victors.

As Pilate looked at Jesus, once again there were wrung from his lips the words, "Ecce Homo"—"Behold the Man!" In this ironic and totally spontaneous way, Jesus at last received the acknowledgment he deserved.

Penrod, Everett. 2002. Pilate: Victor or Victim? Kearney, NE: Morris Publishing.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Sanctifying the Name of God

I love these historical anecdotes because they illustrate the effects of our actions as a positive witness to those who do not share our beliefs. What a wonderful way to give glory to our Father in Heaven. We surely "hallow" His name in this way.

"Simeon b. Shetah [80 BC] was occupied with preparing flax. His disciples said to him, ‘Rabbi, desist; we will buy you an ass, and you will not have to work so hard.’ They went and bought an ass from an Arab, and a pearl was found on it. They came to him and said, ‘From now on you need not work any more.’ He said, ‘Why?’ They said, ‘We bought you an ass from an Arab, and a pearl was found on it.’

He said to them, ‘Does the owner know of it?’ They said, ‘No.’ He said to them, ‘Go and give it back to him.’ They said, ‘But did not R. Huna, in the name of Rab, report that, even according to him who said that no profit may be made [by a third party] from that which is stolen from a heathen, yet all the world agrees that, if you find something which belonged to a heathen, you may keep it?’

He said, ‘Do you think that Simeon ben Shetah is a barbarian? No, he would prefer to hear the Arab say, "Blessed be the God of the Jews," than to possess all the riches of the world.’

It is also proved, from the story of R. Hanina, that lost property should be restored for the sake of the sanctification of the Name. For once, some aged Rabbis bought a heap of corn from some soldiers, and they found in it a bundle of denarii, and they returned it to the soldiers, who said, “Blessed be the God of the Jews."

(Barrett, C.K., ed. 1987. The New Testament Background: Writings from Ancient Greece and the Roman Empire that Illuminate Christian Origins. San Francisco: Harper-Collins Publishing., pg 191)

Friday, November 20, 2009

Good Samaritan

Jesus painted portraits of 3 different people: a priest, a Levite, and a Samaritan.

The priest apparently feared the man was dead. To touch a dead man would make him unclean and ban him temporarily from temple worship. The priest’s priority was worship before charity.

Then there was the portrait of the Levite. A Levite assisted the priest (1 Chronicles 23:3-5). But the Levite was under a different cleanliness code than priests; he could touch dead bodies.

Possibly, the Levite’s concern was different. Outlaws frequently used set-ups in their trade. One member played the victim, while others waited for some passerby to take the bait. If the Levite had some such concern in mind, he apparently opted for discretion. His priority was safety before charity.

Finally, there was the Samaritan. Making the Samaritan the hero of his parable would have certainly shocked Jesus’ hearers. Jews regarded Samaritans as heretics.

The rift between the two groups had it roots in Assyria’s conquest of northern Israel (Samaria) in 722 B.C. Those northerners who survived the disaster intermarried with foreigners brought in by the Assyrian conquerors. This shocked Jerusalem Jews. The rift continued to widen with time.

In Jesus’ day, Samaritans were banned from the temple and from all synagogues. Their religious contributions were refused, and their testimony in courts was unacceptable.

Samaritans were also hostile to Jews. They made common cause with Jewish enemies, often not letting Jews into their towns (Luke 9:52).

Jesus chose a Samaritan as his hero to teach the people that love has no boundaries. Neighborliness was not limited to neighborhoods. This is why Jesus reworded the lawyer’s question: “Which of the three was neighbor to the man?

Jesus shifted the discussion from “defining” a neighbor to “being” a neighbor. A neighbor was not the object of one’s love, but the one who loves. Furthermore, a neighbor never considers love an obligation, but only a privilege.

Morality in the kingdom of God cannot be guided by a law inscribed in stone, but only by a spirit alive in the heart. Jesus echoed what the prophets had taught: morality can’t be written on tablets of stone, only on tablets of flesh (Jeremiah 31:33).

(Link, Mark S.J., The Seventh Trumpet, Tabor Publishing, Allen, TX, pg 118)

Thursday, November 19, 2009

First Christians

Condemned to be thrown to the beasts to entertain spectators, a Christian (Ignatius of Antioch [c. A.D. 100]) wrote:

I am God’s wheat
and shall be ground by the teeth of wild beasts,
so that I may become God’s pure bread.
Pray to Christ for me….
The time for my birth is close at hand.

(Link, Mark S.J., The Seventh Trumpet, Tabor Publishing, Allen, TX, pg 5)

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Jesus in the Manna

Exodus 16; same type found in John 6:30-58

There are many similarities between the wilderness manna and the Lord Jesus Christ. For example, Manna came down from heaven; Christ is the bread which cometh down from Heaven. Manna is miraculous and mysterious; Jesus is supernatural and mysterious. The word “manna” comes from the word meaning “What is it?” (Man-Hu). They did not understand what it was. Neither did the Jews understand the Messiah when He came. They used the same word to ask of Jesus, “Who is this?” They didn’t have to understand the manna; all they had to do was gather and eat. All we have to do is repent and accept Christ; we don't have to completely understand everything about Him.

Four word are used to describe the manna. They are:

1. Small – indicates His humiliation.

2. Round – indicates His deity - It is without beginning and without end. All heavenly bodies are spherical. Roundness is the symbol of eternity.

3. White – indicates purity. From cradle to cross His path was unsullied.

4. Sweet – indicates peace and satisfaction that comes through Him.

Manna descended in the dew; dew is typical of the Holy Spirit who brings Christ to the sinner. The manna had to be gathered while the dew was on the ground. Dear friend, if [one] is to come to Christ, he must come while the dew is on the ground, while the Holy Spirit is dealing with his heart revealing his sinful condition and opening his eyes to eternity!

The making of manna into bread reveals the suffering of Christ on the cross when He faced the wrath of God. The Manna had to be beaten in a mortar, indicating the bruising of Christ of Isaiah 53. Manna lying on the earth was lifted up in a golden vessel and taken into the presence of the Lord – indicating the resurrection. The golden pot indicates deity. Manna rested on the earth only a little while; the thirty-three years of Christ’s life are brief in the face of eternity.

Manna was a free gift of God, and it couldn’t be bought; Salvation was God's free gift through Christ. Manna was provided for all, within the reach of all, but if man didn’t want it, he didn’t have to take it; so, salvation is provided for all, and if man isn’t saved it’s because he doesn’t take it. Man had to go on and get the manna; so we must appropriate Christ. While the children of Israel were gathering the manna, they had to kneel to get it off the ground. When we accept Christ, our hearts must kneel in humiliation before the King of Glory. The children of Israel murmured. We are filled with murmurings, and complain when we should be rejoicing in Christ.

O the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! how unsearchable are his judgments, and his ways past finding out! Romans 11:33.


Tuesday, November 17, 2009

The Genealogy of Jesus part 2


"Just to understand how unique these properties are try to design a genealogy-even from fiction that meets the following criteria:

1) The number of words must be divisible by 7 evenly (In each of these constraints, it is assumed that the divisions are without remainders.)

2) The number of letters must also be divisible by 7.

3) The number of vowels and the number of consonants must be divisible by 7.

4) The number of words that begin with a vowel must be divisible by 7.

5) The number of words that begin with a consonant must be divisible by 7.

6) The number of words that occur more than once must be divisible by 7.

7) The number of words that occur in more than one form must be divisible by 7.

8) The number of words that occur in only one form shall be divisible by 7.

9) The number of nouns shall be divisible by 7.

10) Only 7 words shall not be nouns.

11) The number of names in the genealogy shall be divisible by 7.

12) Only 7 other kinds of nouns are permitted.

13) The number of male names shall be divisible by 7.

14) The number of generations shall be 21, also divisible by 7.

There are even more features in the numerical structure of the words themselves. As you may know, both the Hebrew and Greek use the letters of the alphabet for numerical values. Therefore, any specific word in either Hebrew or Greek- has a numerical value of its own by adding up the values of the letters in that particular word. The study of the numerical values of words is called gematria. The 72 vocabulary words add up to a gematrical value of 42,364, or 7 x 6,052.

The 72 words appear in 90 forms-some appear in more than one form. The numeric value of the 90 forms is 54,075, or 7 x 7,725. Exactly. It becomes immediately obvious that hidden below the surface are aspects of design that cannot be accidental or just coincidence. There are words in the passage just described that occur nowhere else in the New Testament. They occur 42 times (7 x 6) and have 126 letters (7 x 18).

How was this organized? Even if Matthew contrived this characteristic into his Gospel, how could he have known that these specific words-whose sole characteristic is that they are found nowhere else in the New Testament-were not going to be used by the other writers? Unless we assume the absurd hypothesis that he had an agreement with them, he must have had the rest of the New Testament before him when he wrote his book. The Gospel of Matthew, then, must have been written last.

It so happens the Gospel of Mark exhibits the same phenomenon. It can be demonstrated that it would have had to be written “last.” The same phenomenon is found in Luke, John, Peter, Jude, and Paul. Each would have had to write after the other in order to contrive the vocabulary frequencies! You can demonstrate that each of the New Testament books had to have been “written last.”

There is no human explanation for this incredible and precise structure. It has all been supernaturally designed. We simply gasp, sit back, and behold the skillful handiwork of the God who keeps his promises.

By the way, the crucifixion of Jesus took place at Golgotha, elevation = 777 meters above sea level. What a coincidence. "

Missler, Chuck, Learn the Bible in 24 Hours, ( Thomas Nelson Publishers, Nashville, 2002).pg.166-168 plus other personal notes.

Monday, November 16, 2009

The Genealogy of Jesus part 1

"Ivan Panin was born in Russia in1855. Having participated in plots against the Czar at an early age, he was exiled and, after spending some years studying in Germany, he came to the United States and entered Harvard University. After graduation in 1882, he converted from agnosticism to Christianity.

In 1890 he discovered some phenomenal mathematical designs underlying both the Greek text of the New Testament and the Hebrew text of the Old Testament. He was to devote 50 years of his life painstakingly exploring the numerical structure of the scriptures, generating over 43,000 detailed, hand-penned pages of analysis.

The Heptadic Structure

The recurrence of the number seven-or an exact multiple of seven- is found throughout the Bible and is widely recognized. The Sabbath on the seventh day, the seven years of plenty, and the seven years of famine in Egypt, the seven priests and seven trumpets marching around Jericho, The Sabbath year of the Land are well-known examples.

Also, Solomon’s building the Temple for seven years, Naaman’s washing in the river seven times, and the seven churches, seven seals, seven trumpets, seven bowls, seven stars, and so on in the Book of Revelation, all show the consistent use of the number seven.

But it turns out to be much more below the surface. Ivan Panin noted the amazing numerical properties of the Biblical text – both the Greek of the New Testament and the Hebrew of the Old Testament.. These are not only intriguing to discover, but they also demonstrate an intricacy of design which testifies to a supernatural origin!

Look at the first 17 verses of the New Testament (The Gospel of Matthew) which deals with a single principal subject: the genealogy of Jesus Christ. It contains 72 Greek vocabulary words in these initial 17 verses. (*note; The verse divisions are man’s allocation for convenience, added in the thirteenth-century A.D.). We find the following Heptadic (7) structure throughout these original Greek verses.

1. The number of words which are nouns is exactly 56, or 7 x 8.

2. The Greek word “the” occurs most frequently in the passage:exactly 56 times,or 7 x 8.

3. Also, the number of different forms in which the article “the” occurs is exactly 7.

4. There are two main sections in the passage: verse 1-11 and 12-17. In the first main section, the number of Greek vocabulary words used is 49, or 7 x 7.

5. Of these 49 words, The number of those beginning with a vowel is 28, or 7 x 4.

6. The number of words beginning with a consonant is 21, or 7 x 3.

7. The total number of letters in these 49 words is exactly 266, or 7 x 38-exactly.

8. The numbers of vowels among these 266 letters is 140, or 7 x 20.

9. The number of consonants is 126, or 7 x 18-exactly.

10. Of these 49 words, the number of words which occur more than once is 35, or 7 x 5.

11. The number of words occurring only once is 14, or 7 x2.

12. The number of words which occur in only one form is exactly 42, or 7 x 6.

13. The number of words appearing in more than one form is also 7.

14. The number of 49 Greek vocabulary words which are nouns is 42, or 7 x 6.

15. The number of words which are not nouns is 7.

16. Of the nouns, 35 are proper names, or 7 x 5.

17. These 35 nouns are used 63 times, or 7 x 9.

18. The number of male names is 28, or 7 x 4.

19. These male names occur 56 times or 7 x 8.

20. The number which are not male names is 7.

21. Three women are mentioned-Tamar, Rahab, and Ruth. The number of Greek letters in these three names is 14, or 7 x 2.

22. The number of compound nouns is 7.

23. The number of Greek letters in these 7 nouns is 49, or 7 x 7.

24. Only one city is named in this passage, Babylon, which in Greek contains exactly 7 letters.

To be continued....

Friday, November 13, 2009


Hellenism (Greek
thought) was the dominant worldview in the first century, and it stands in stark contrast to the truths of God found in the Bible.


Human beings are the image of the Greek gods.

Biblical Perspective

Only God is God. He is Lord of the Universe, the Creator of mankind.

H: The human mind is the greatest source of wisdom.

BP: God is the ultimate source of all wisdom.

H: Human beings determine truth–what is right and wrong.

BP: God, the source of truth, has given us the standards to determine what's right and wrong.

H: Human accomplishment is the goal of life.

BP: The goal of life is to glorify and serve God.

H: The human body and what human beings create is the highest standard of beauty.

BP: Human beings create beauty because they are made in the image of God.


Thursday, November 12, 2009

Goliath's Armor

And he had an helmet of brass upon his head, and he was armed with a coat of mail; and the weight of the coat was five thousand shekels of brass. And he had greaves of brass upon his legs, and a target of brass between his shoulders. And the staff of his spear was like a weaver's beam; and his spear's head weighed six hundred shekels of iron: and one bearing a shield went before him. 1 Samuel 17:5-7

Today's post has the kind of information that boys especially like. This comes from my collection of things I'd use when I needed to get the attention of the 11 year old Blazer B class. I think it is fun to know these little tidbits.

"Goliath was armed to the max! Notice that the “coat of mail” he wore weighed “five thousand shekels of brass.” Remember, five thousand shekels of brass is the equivalent of 125 pounds! In addition to this helmet and this breastplate that weighed 125 pounds, he had greaves (shin guards) of brass and a target of brass between his shoulders! The staff of his spear was like a weaver’s beam — which means the long staff of his spear weighed at least 17 pounds.

Additionally, the scripture specifically says that the spear’s head weighed six hundred shekels of iron — which is the equivalent of 16 pounds. One scholar has speculated that the weight of all of these pieces of weaponry together — his helmet, breastplate, greaves, target of brass, spear, and shield — may have weighed in excess of 700 pounds!"

(Sorry, I didn't record the reference for this.)

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Inner and Outward Adorning Part 3

"Next Peter mentions the “wearing of gold.” This was another common practice that was considered very fashionable. The word “wearing” is from the Greek word perithesis and it describes placing an object such as a piece of jewelry around oneself. Greek and Roman women loved to drape many chains of gold around their necks, affix multiple solid gold bands around their upper arms, and wear many gold rings on each finger. They considered their appearance to be more impressive and beautiful when they were elaborately decked out in layers of gold.

Peter then discusses the “putting on of apparel.” The word apparel is the Greek word himation. It pictures the brightly colored, richly beaded, posh clothing that was popular with the Greek and Roman women of the first century. Women were so fashion conscious that they frequently changed their clothes during the course of a day. This means that they were constantly running in and out of their closet and looking at themselves in the mirror as they fine-tuned their outward appearance for the day’s different events.

Consider the many hours that women spent applying their cosmetics, fixing their hair, and draping themselves in gold. Now add the multiple times they changed their clothes in a day and all the time spent in front of a mirror adjusting their clothes after each change. When you take all this into account, you realize that these women spent a significant amount of their time—not to mention a large amount of their money—into maintaining their outward appearance."

Peter’s words are not a prohibition against trying to look the best you can in outward appearance, as some have interpreted them. He is simply stating that we need to spend as much time on our hearts as on outward appearance. The “ornament of a meek and quiet spirit” is not talking about a personality type but rather it means having an inner spirit that is responsive to spiritual promptings.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Inner and Outward Adorning Part 2

"Then Peter goes on to mention the “plaiting of hair.” By using this phrase, he is referring to a practice that was very common among Greek and Roman women of the first century. These women didn’t just pull out the blow dryer and spend twenty minutes preparing their hair for the day. Rather, they literally spent multiplied hours toiling with their hair! I say women “toiled” with their hair because it took a great deal of time to produce the fashionable hairstyles of that day. In fact, the word “plaiting” used by Peter is the Greek word emploke which describes the intricate, complex, and outrageously elaborate braiding of a woman’s hair.

Greek and Roman women were obsessed with turning their hair into intricate towers of curls and braids. If you visit a museum of antiquities and look at the statues of first- century women, it will amaze you to see the thousands of curls that were woven into women’s hair.

This hairstyle was considered beautiful, elegant, and fashionable in the first century. This fashion trend was imitated all over the Roman empire. As a result of this popular rage, women invested huge amounts of time and great sums of money to produce the desired effect."

Peter was not against women making their hair more beautiful. He simply didn’t want believing women to focus all their attention on their hair and forget about the condition of their hearts. (Continued)

Monday, November 9, 2009

Inner and Outward Adorning Part 1

Whose adorning let it not be that outward adorning of plaiting the hair, and of wearing of gold, or of putting on of apparel; But let it be the hidden man of the heart, in that which is not corruptible, even the ornament of a meek and quiet spirit, which is in the sight of God of great price.
1 Peter 3:3,4

Was Peter really saying that it was a sin for a wife or a woman to wear jewelry or cosmetics? Of course not. Instead he was telling them not to invest all their time solely in their faces and their outward appearance.

" Women in the first century, especially upper class Greek and Roman women were obsessed with their outward appearance. They were flamboyant in their hairstyles, spent vast amounts of money on cosmetics, arrayed themselves in luxurious jewelry, and prided themselves on the lavish clothing that they wore. Nothing was wrong with their desire to look nice—except that they were so consumed with adorning their bodies that they forgot to adorn their hearts.

The word “adorning” in 1 Peter 3:3 is the word kosmos, which is used 187 times in the New Testament. The word kosmos carries the idea of something that is ordered , or set in a certain arrangement. The word cosmetics comes from this word. This tells us that when a woman is applying makeup, she is trying to add order to her face.

The King James Version translates it adorning because the application of cosmetics not only beautifies a woman’s appearance, but also gives it a greater sense of order. " (continued)

Friday, November 6, 2009

A Double Portion of the Spirit

And it came to pass, when they were gone over, that Elijah said unto Elisha, Ask what I shall do for thee, before I be taken away from thee. And Elisha said, I pray thee, let a double portion of thy spirit be upon me. 2 Kings 2:9

Biblical Hebrew is a very simple language, with only 400 word stems. For this reason it contains many homonyms and strange expressions which we often find contain spiritual messages. A example follows.

Elisha asks his teacher, Elijah, “Let a double portion of your spirit be upon me (II Kings 2:9). There is of course no quantitative measurement of spirit, so these words might seem senseless, but among the Jews, the eldest son commonly received a double portion of inheritance. Thus Elisha’s words imply, “Make me your principal spiritual heir.”

(Wurmbrand, Richard., 100 Prison Meditations Cries of Truth from Behind the Iron Curtain, Living Sacrifice Books, Bartlesville, OK, 1982, pg 193)

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Bethinking Ourselves

if they shall bethink themselves in the land whither they were carried captives, and repent, and make supplication unto thee in the land of them that carried them captives, saying, We have sinned, and have done perversely, we have committed wickedness;
1 Kings 8:47

Bethink themselves occurs in 1 Kings 8:47 (= 2 Chronicles 6:37), "if they shall bethink themselves. . . , and repent, and make supplication unto thee . . . , saying, We have sinned. . . ."

The phrase is used here in a sense equivalent to "When he came to himself" in the parable of the Prodigal Son (Luke 15:17). One version translates the Hebrew more literally: "If they lay it to heart. . . , and repent, and make supplication to thee. . . , saying, 'We have sinned. . . .'" Other occurrences of the same Hebrew idiom are Deuteronomy 4:39; 30:1; Isaiah 44:19; 46:8; Lamentations 3:21.

(The Bible Word Book, Bridges & Weigle, pg 41)

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Hebrew Root Meanings

"Thus, for instance, the usual term for “
meek” is derived from a root which signifies affliction. The usual term for “wicked” comes from a root that expresses the notion of restlessness. [Donna:Think of Isaiah 57:20] A “sinner” is one who misses the mark. To “delight” in anything is literally to bend down towards it. [A dear image when we think about of little children.]

The “
law” is that which indicated the mind of God. “Righteousness” is that which is perfectly straight.Truth” is that which is firm. “Vanity” that which is empty. “Anger” is derived from a root meaning to breathe, quick breathing being a sign of irritated feeling. [See May 18 post] To “trust” is to take shelter under, or to lean upon, or to cast oneself on. To “judge” is radically [as to its root meaning] to smooth or make equal.”'

(Girdlestone, R.B., Girdlestone’s Synonyms of the Old Testament, Hendrickson Publishers, Inc., Peabody, Massachusetts, 1983, pg 19)

Tuesday, November 3, 2009


"So Joshua fought the Amalekites as Moses had ordered, and Moses, Aaron and Hur went to the top of the hill. As long as Moses held up his hands, the Israelites were winning, but whenever he lowered his hands, the Amalekites were winning. When Moses' hands grew tired, they took a stone and put it under him and he sat on it. Aaron and Hur held his hands up - one on one side, one on the other - so that
his hands remained steady till sunset. So Joshua overcame the Amalekite army with the sword." Exodus 17:10-13 (NIV)

"The key phrase is found in verse 12: “And his hands remained steady...” (vay'hi yadaiv emunah). The word “steady” is actually the Hebrew word for faith, emunah. This important truth can easily escape readers in other languages.

Consequently, they miss the understanding that emunah (faith) fundamentally implies firmness, steadiness, steadfastness, persistence, fidelity or loyalty. In a word, the foundational Hebrew concept of faith is really “faithfulness.” Moses’ hands remained “firm” until the going down of the sun, and through his “faithfulness” Israel triumphed over her foes.

Faithfulness is the victory that overcomes the world (1 John 5:4). To the Hebrew mind, faith is more than belief in something; it is faithfulness to someone. Yes, emunah is related to the word for truth and it does imply trust or belief. But it is more than mental assent to truthful propositions or the confidence that comes from intellectual conviction. Faith is fully Hebraic only when it is fully faithful.

Perhaps we could render it this way: it is “faith/fulness.” Biblical faith is both trust and trustworthiness; both conviction and persistent determination. But it stands or falls on the foundation of faithfulness. “If you do not stand firm in your faith, you will not stand at all(Isaiah 7:9). To fail to see this is to fall short of the faith of our father, Abraham."


Monday, November 2, 2009

Days of the Week and The Sabbath

And he said unto them, This is that which the LORD hath said, To morrow is the rest of the holy sabbath unto the LORD: bake that which ye will bake to day, and seethe that ye will seethe; and that which remaineth over lay up for you to be kept until the morning.
Exodus 16:23

"The celebration of time re-creates meaning in human life. The ancient Romans knew this surely, as they patterned their weeks to honor the planets, thereby giving cosmological import to time. Their days ran: (Dies) Saturni, Solis, Lunae, Martis, Mercurii, Jovis, and Veneris. Their times were patterned to give the heavenly bodies their due; and their pattern is reflected in the Saxon usage: Sun’s Day, Moon’s Day, Tiw’s Day, Woden’s Day, Thor’s Day, Frigg’s Day, and Saterne’s Day.

For Israel, humanity had not shaped the Sabbath, but humanity was to be shaped by it. The Sabbath patterned and symbolized life, giving it pulse and purpose. The days ascended, like steps going up to Jerusalem. The days ascended, by number, one through five, to the sixth of preparation and the seventh of Sabbath, with each day beginning at sunset."

[Donna: The days of the Hebrew week used numbers to differentiate them. Only the Sabbath had a name.]

(Burkhart, John E. 2002. Worship: A Searching Examination of the Liturgical Experience. Eugene, OR: Wipf and Stock Publishers (reproduced with permission from the Westminster Press, pgs 56,57-58)