Thursday, March 31, 2011

A Symbolic Testimony

The likeness of any thing that creepeth on the ground, the likeness of any fish that [is] in the waters beneath the earth:
Deut. 4:18

Is there any Jewish evidence of the fish being used as an identifying symbol among believers? How does one address the verse in Deuteronomy, you shall make no image of a fish?

Yes, the early church writings show that early believers used a symbol of a fish as an identifying mark. The Greek was Ichthus, and it stood for an acronym meaning, in Greek, “Jesus Christ, Son of God, Savior.”

The prohibition in Deuteronomy against making images of anything, whether it is a fish or otherwise, was not against making images, per se. Within the Mosaic Law itself, you have God commanding the Jews to make images.

For example, for the Tabernacle, they were commanded by God to make two images of cherubs overshadowing the Mercy Seat. Moses was also told to make a brazen image of a serpent and put it on a pole. What this shows is that God did not negate the making of images, but only forbade the making of images for the purpose of bowing down to them. The early believers did not worship the fish symbol, they just used it as a sign to identify fellow believers so that did not violate any commandment.


Wednesday, March 30, 2011

David's Doglike Foes

They come at night, snarling like vicious dogs as they prowl the streets. Psalms 59:6 NLT

Most people who live in the West today have little appreciation for the role of the numerous wild dogs of an ancient Eastern city. For us, dogs are usually pets–or at least guard dogs that patrol are but are not allowed to roam wild. It was not like that in the East.

Occasionally people may have had small dogs as pets. Jesus’ words to the Canaanite woman seem to imply this: "It is not right to take the children’s bread and toss it to their dogs" (Matt. 15:26).

But generally the dogs of an Eastern city were wild scavengers that roamed in packs, particularly at night when they searched the streets and alleys for garbage or other food that may have been discarded by the citizens. [A] nineteenth-century writer, [Charles Spurgeon] describes what it was like during a visit he made to Constantinople:

The whole city rang with one vast riot....The yelping, howling, barking, growling, and snarling were all merged into one uniform and continuous even sound, as the noise of frogs becomes when heard at a distance. For hours there was no lull. I went to sleep and woke again, and still, with my windows open, I heard the same tumult going on; nor was it until daybreak that anything like tranquility was restored.

I imagine as I read this that, having lived in a major Western city for twenty-seven years, I would probably not have found the noise of the dogs as overwhelming as that. This Englishman was probably raised in an English village or on the downs.

Still, it gives us an idea of what such packs of dogs were like and how aptly David applies the image to the soldiers who were prowling about his village seeking to kill him. Should he be afraid of these “dogs”? Hardly, since the Lord his God was laughing at them. These vile creatures are no threat to God; and if they are no threat to God, they are no threat to the one protected by him.

The idea of God laughing at his foes takes us back to Psalm 2:4 (“The One enthroned in heaven laughs; the Lord scoffs at them”) and Psalm 37:13 (“The Lord laughs at the wicked, for he knows their day is coming”).

(Boice, James Montgomery. 1995. Hearing God When You Hurt. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books., pgs 113-114 [Psalm 59:6])

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Lazarus and the Compassionate Dogs

Now, to soften the poor image of dogs given yesterday, here is a positive insight for "man's best friend."

As Lazarus lay there longing for scraps from the rich man's table, the dogs would come and lick his open sores. Luke 16:21 NLT

Dogs in the Biblical and rabbinic traditions are almost as unclean as pigs. Both the Hebrew and Greek scriptures are clear witnesses to this. Dogs are kept as guard dogs (Isaiah 56:10), never as pets. Only those who feed them dare approach them. A rich man needs such dogs because they are his “home security system.”

The story assumes that the guard dogs are fed the scraps Lazarus longs to eat (cf. Matthew 15:27). Lazarus goes hungry. The dogs are fed.

Yet, those wild guard dogs, whom no one but their handlers dare approach, realize that the weak, sick man by the gate is their friend. They lick his wounds. The saliva of a dog’s mouth is sterile.

The ancients discovered that when a dog licks a person’s sores or wounds, healing occurs more rapidly. Archeologists in Aschelon, Israel have recently uncovered a center where 1300 dogs are buried in individual plots. The site has been identified as a Phoenecian semi-religious center where the sick could go, pay a fee and have trained dogs lick their wounds as medical treatment.

In this parable the master refuses to help the poor sick man outside his gate – but his wild guard dogs will do what they can. They will lick his wounds. Their master will not help Lazarus. They will. Lazarus’ quiet gentle spirit breaks through their violent hostility to humans and they care for him knowing that he cares for them.


Monday, March 28, 2011

Dogs in Scripture

The Bible invokes the image of the dog often, but rarely in a positive light. The Israelites were familiar with dogs, not as cherished pets, but as members of packs that fed at the town dump and roamed the streets at night howling (Ps 59:6). Because of their scavenging function, dogs became synonymous with garbage. “Do not give what is holy to the dogs(Mt 7:6) means do not throw it out. Cattle killed by wild animals shall be “thrown out for the dogs (Ex 22:3).

The practice of dishonoring foes by denying burial made dogs, among other animals (1 Sam 17:44; Jer 8:2; 16:4), the de facto undertakers who “licked the blood” of many (Naboth, 1 Kings 21:19; Ahab, 1 Kings 21:24; 22:38; Jeroboam, 1 Kings 14:11; Baasha, 1 Kings 16:4). To fulfill the prophecy, Jezebel’s body does become dung on the face of the field, but only after the dogs have digested it (2 Kings 9:10, 36). The dogs may lick Lazarus’ wounds as a foreshadowing of his death and interment in them (Lk 16:21).

The dog’s regurgitation reflex, useful for transporting food to their pups in their former wild state, served to cement their label as unclean (Prov 26:11). The logical connection between a dog’s diet of refuse and its unclean habits further supported the belief that what enters in through the mouth does defile one.

The struggle for survival at the town dump and a semi-wild existence did not produce friendly dogs. Dogs seemed to know nothing of obedience and were dangerous to pet (Prov 26:17). The fear of being eaten by such dogs is real (Ps 22:16-17).

In return for a begrudging toleration they provided watchmen services, and they were even believed to sense spiritual dangers. The absence of a dog bark during Israel’s exodus indicates that God miraculously silenced either the departure of the Israelites or the dogs so that they did not alert the Egyptians (Ex 11:7).

The prophet likens his defenseless nation to a pack of lazy watchdogs that could not bark anyway (Is 56:10).

ed. Leland Ryken, James C. Wilhoit, Tremper Longman III, Dictionary of Biblical Imagery, Inter-Varsity Press, Downers Grove, Illinios, 1998, pg 29

Friday, March 25, 2011

The Raven

And it shall be, that thou shalt drink of the brook; and I have commanded the ravens to feed thee there. . . .And the ravens brought him bread and flesh in the morning, and bread and flesh in the evening; and he drank of the brook. 1 Kings 17:4,6

He giveth to the beast his food, and to the young ravens which cry. Psalms 147:9

Consider the ravens: for they neither sow nor reap; which neither have storehouse nor barn; and God feedeth them: how much more are ye better than the fowls? Luke 12:24

The raven is the first bird specifically mentioned in the Old Testament (Gen. 8:7), where it is referred to in connection with Noah and the ark. It is included among the unclean birds in Lev. 11:15 and Deut. 14:14, where the term embraces the whole family of CorvidÅ“—crows, rooks, jackdaws, etc. It has eight species in Palestine.

The raven lives generally in deep, rocky glens and desolate places (comp. Isa. 34:11). Its habit of commencing its attack by picking out the eyes of its victim is alluded to in Prov. 30:17. The figure of the raven is used illustratively where references are made to the care with which God watches over His creatures (comp. Ps. 147:9). Ravens are said to have provided Elijah with food (I Kings 17: 3-6). Source: Jewish Encyclopedia

Someone asked me whether I thought a raven was a positive or negative symbol in scripture. They thought it was negative because it was listed as an unclean bird under the law of Moses. Here are my thoughts:

When you consider that the birds in the Garden of Eden were all pure and harmless, I have no problem with its later designation as unclean for eating. Eagles come under the same ban, yet they are an extremely positive symbol in scripture. Lions, horses, elephants, bears and other animals are also "unclean", whose natures in a telestial sphere are associated with warlike nations, yet in the restored millenial Eden to come, we are told that they will return to their previously harmless state.

Symbolically, ravens could also represent unclean (Gentile) peoples--yet the Lord loves them and uses them to bless Israel. Think of Rahab. They are adopted into Abraham's line and receive all the blessings pertaining to it commensurate with their faithfulness.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

The Biggest Quail Hunt in History

And the people stood up all that day, and all that night, and all the next day, and they gathered the quails: he that gathered least gathered ten homers: and they spread them all abroad for themselves round about the camp. Numbers 11:32

The people killed quails for 2 full days and 1 night—until the least that gathered had 10 homers (v. 32). Each homer contained 10 baths or 10 ephahs (Ex. 45:11) which would be 10 times 1 bushel and 3 pints (the measure of 1 ephah) or nearly 10 1/2 bushels. One person killing 10 such homers then, would heap himself about 105 bushels of the birds.

(Dake, Finis Jennings., Dake’s Annotated Reference Bible, Dake Publishing, Inc. Lawrenceville, Georgia, 1999, pg 327)

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

A Figure of Divine Compassion

"Jerusalem, Jerusalem, how often would I have gathered thy children together as a hen gathereth her chickens under her wings, and ye would not" Matt. 23: 37

The hen with her chickens is a figure of Divine compassion, which moves every one by its beauty and tenderness.Yet this word of Jesus has a far deeper meaning than he who merely admires it imagines. Truly it speaks of protection and compassion, for this is the purpose here of the gathering together. But there is more in it than this.

It also implies that the chickens belong with the mother-hen; and that nothing else than return to her can render them safe against the dangers of cold, and prowling vermin. It also contains the striking figure that by nature the chickens are appointed a hiding place close by the mother-hen, and that they find shelter and protection of life only in the immediate nearness of the mother-life, under the outspread wings that will embrace and compass them.

Thus, this striking saying of Jesus is taken bodily from Old Testament imagery and in turn is explained by it. When in Psalm 91 it is said. "He that dwelleth in the secret place of the Most High, shall lodge under the shadow of the Almighty, " we deal with the selfsame figurative representation. It is the epitome of what the Psalmist elsewhere expresses (61: 4).. "I will make my refuge in the covert of thy wings." It is the same thought that was expressed by the wings of the cherubim over the mercy-seat of the ark of the Covenant.

It is ever the one idea: God created a fowl that gathers her brood under her wings and with these wings covers and cuddles them; and now this richly suggestive picture is held before us in order that our soul might seek refuge under the shadow of the Almighty and hide in the covert of His wings. Not from what moves in the waters nor from what creeps or prowls on the ground and hardly ever from four-footed beasts is this imagery borrowed; but, in the main, only from winged creatures that can lift themselves above the earth and, as it were, live between us and heaven.

Angels before God's Throne are pictured with wings as Seraphs. With the descent of the Holy Ghost upon the Son of man, there is mention of the form of a dove. That it might have wings to fly upward is the secret prayer of the soul that is bound to the dust.

And so it conforms to the order of creation, it corresponds to the Divinely ordained state of things, and it therefore appeals to us as something that is entirely natural that in order to express the tenderest and most mystical kind of religion, the winged creature is held up to us as a symbol. and that boldest imagery serves to picture to us what it is "to be near unto God," to make it, as it were, visible to our eyes and perceptible to our feelings.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Hissing For the Bee

And it shall come to pass in that day, that the LORD shall hiss for the fly that is in the uttermost part of the rivers of Egypt, and for the bee that is in the land of Assyria. Isaiah 7:18

"It is not rare to find 20,000 working bees in a hive...The opening of a...hive gives passage to 100 bees a minute, which makes...morning till...evening, 80,000 re-entrances, at 4 excursions per bee..." (Fighier, Louis. The Insect World. New York: Appleton and Company, 1872, p. 319-320)

Pinney indicates that as late as the middle part of this century at least, there were still swarms of wild bees in the region:

“..The wild bees of this region are especially noted for their ferocity in attack. The virulence of their venom increases in warm weather. They build their hives and nests on precipitous rocks or in hollow trees hard for man or animals to reach...”

Even today much of the honey in this region is collected from these wild bees...Some years ago the people of the region let a man down the face of the rocks by ropes. He wore protective clothing that completely shielded him from the attacks of the bees and gathered a large amount of honey. However, he was so intimidated by the great swarms of angry bees he could not be persuaded to repeat the adventure.

(from Pinney, Roy. The Animals in the Bible. Philadelphia: Chilton Books, 1964, p. 182-183)

Monday, March 21, 2011

Bear Power

Two versions of Hosea 13:8:

I will meet them as a bear that is bereaved of her whelps, and will rend the caul of their heart, and there will I devour them like a lion: the wild beast shall tear them. KJV

I will rip you to pieces like a bear whose cubs have been taken away. I will tear you apart and devour you like a hungry lion. NLT

From biblical times until World War II, the golden Syrian bear roamed wiled in the forests of the Middle East, menacing farmers and travelers. A symbol of power in biblical lore, it was especially noted for its ferocity.

The young David boasted that he would slay Goliath as he had single-handedly slain the bear and the lion that had once threatened his flock. David himself was later compared to an enraged she-bear, “as desperate as a bear in the wild robbed of her whelps.” The prophet Hosea used the same image to describe God’s wrath against the wayward Israelites: “like a bear robbed of her young.”

In later writing, the bear became a symbol of Persia, the most powerful kingdom in the period of Daniel. In a vision, Daniel sees a “beast, which was like a bear but raised on one side, and with three fangs in its mouth among its teeth.”

The rabbis extended this image to describe the Persians themselves who “eat and drink like the bear, are fat like the bear, are hairy like the bear, and are restless like the bear.” Hence, the bear is associated with Purim, the holiday celebrating the Jewish triumph over Persian persecution.

(Frankel, Ellen, and Betsy Platkin Teutsch. 1992. The Encyclopedia of Jewish Symbols. Northvale, NJ: Jason Aronson Inc., pgs 17-18)

Friday, March 18, 2011

The Industrious Donkey

Even the animals—the donkey and the ox—know their owner and appreciate his care, but not my people Israel. No matter what I do for them, they still do not understand." Isa.1:3 NLT

Along with the horse, its stalwart relative, the donkey (ass, or in a variant breed, burro) has been a long-time friend, companion, hard worker, and passenger conveyer to humanity. Perhaps it is time to recognize it as also a noble creature.

Unlike their sometimes negative reputations, donkeys are friendly, loyal, eager to please, and affectionate. They have been known to warn their human comrades of danger and to rescue their human comrades from dangerous situations. On occasion, a male donkey may mate with a mare and produce a mule, an oddly hybrid creature that seems to exhibit the best characteristics of both animals, excepting perhaps the swiftness of a horse. (Donkeys and mules also seem less inclined than horses to charge into the fray of battle; some might see the horse as more valorous; others might be inclined to accord a degree of higher intelligence to the smaller equine).

However, donkeys and mules are sure-footed animals and can often traverse with confidence terrain that horses would rather shy away from. ... It is not true, as a general rule at least, that donkeys and mules are stubborn. In actuality, in most cases, they are industrious. Once they understand what is being asked of them, they will set about the task with diligence. ... In the biblical text, all of these characteristics are exhibited.

(Schwartz, Donald Ray. 2000. Noah's Ark: An Annotated Encyclopedia of Every Animal Species in the Hebrew Bible. Northvale, NJ: Jason Aronson Inc., pgs 90-91)

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Ants Are Like People

The ants are a people not strong, yet they prepare their meat in the summer; Prov. 30:25

Go to the ant, thou sluggard; consider her ways, and be wise: Proverbs 6:6

People are distinguished from all other creatures and are so called because of their superior creation, intelligence, wisdom, manner of living and method of labor. They are well organized and are able to understand each other. Their manner of communication, ability in providing for themselves and possessing foresight, excels that of all other creatures.

For these reasons the ants are called “a people,” because they possess like qualities. In all the natural qualities which human people possess, the ants come nearer in possessing them than any other creatures in all the world. The life of the ant is superior in intelligence to that of any insect or animal.

Men are called “people,” the ants are called “people.”

Men live in colonies and cities; the ants do the same.

Men have foresight, make plans and lay up for the future, but in this we have nothing over the ants.

Men carry on agriculture, plant seeds, cultivate crops, harvest and store up food and grain. All of these things are done by the ants.

Men build cities and in some they construct sky scrapers, making several stories underground and many above the ground, but even in this, they do nothing new for the ants do the same.

Men possess servants, house and feed them; the ants also do the same.

Men have cows, milk them, herd their cattle, feed them well and raise more, but strange to say, in this they do no better than the ants.

Men wash, brush and comb; the ants do also and that many times every day, for they are very particular in being clean.

When one man is not able to do some work he solicits the help of others to get it done and sometimes he cannot get the help he needs. If one ant cannot accomplish what she sees is possible she can immediately obtain all the help she solicits.

When men meet one another they generally speak and greet each other; again we learn the ants do the same.

Men practice courtesy and good manners, but the ants are far more courteous than men.

Men have cemeteries outside their cities where they bury their dead and the ants do too.

People build roads and tunnels and travel in these roads; the ants also make roads tunnels and bridges.

Men make war and subdue other tribes to be in subjection to them and the ants do the same.

Men manifest an interest and exercise a care over animals and plants. The dealings of ants with other insects and with plants, is above that of all lower creatures and in this they are “a people,” and like man.

Six thousand species of ants have been discovered and these have been classified by scientists into eight classes for the sake of convenience. Each of the different six thousand species possess their own regulations, habits, manner of living and working, and have individual characteristics; this is so with the human race.

There are hundreds of different tribes of people in the world. Some are red, others black, brown, yellow or white. Some are tall, others short and some are dwarfs. This distinction is manifest in the ant world. Men, too, as among the ants, possess different tribal habits, characteristic features, mode of living and doing things.

One of the remarkable and interesting characteristics of the ants, which is rarely found among other creatures, is the great love and care they manifest to their mothers. When we consider their relation, not merely that of parents and offspring, but that of attitude, conduct and deeds, we cannot help but acknowledge the wise design of an Almighty Creator. The worker ants take the best and kindest care of their queens or mother. They will escort her about from place to place, guide her and carefully guard her all the time. She is fed by them and that very bountifully. Never does she lack for any good thing. The workers daily wash her, brush her many times and bestow many caresses on her.

[Note: The website below has the longer talk and would make an excellent topic for homeschool]


Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Gehenna, or Hell-fire

I think it is useful to know the historical background of commonly held perceptions.

Charles Welch wrote:

Gehenna is translated “hell” and “hell-fire” in Matthew as follows:

“shall be in danger of hell fire” (Matt. 5:22)

“Thy whole body should be cast into hell” (Matt. 5:29,30).

“Able to destroy both soul and body in hell” (Matt. 10:28).

“Having two eyes to be cast into hell fire” (Matt. 18:9).

“Twofold more the child of hell than yourselves” (Matt. 23:15).

“How can ye escape the damnation of hell?”(Matt. 23:33).

It is evident that gehenna is not an English word, and before we can rightly understand any of these references to it we must have some knowledge of the place intended.

Gehenna is the name of the “valley of the son of Hinnom” that lay W. and S.W. of Jerusalem. We learn from 2 Kings 23:10 that Josiah: “defiled Topheth, which is in the valley of the children of Hinnom, that no man might make his son or his daughter to pass through the fire to Molech”.

Speaking of this awful practice the Lord said: “And they have built the high places of Tophet, which is in the valley of the son of Hinnom, to burn their sons and their daughters in the fire; which I commanded them not, neither came it into My heart(Jer. 7:31).

In passing, we might note the strong figure used by the Lord, “neither came it into My heart”, and also realize that the teaching concerning the eternal conscious suffering of human beings necessarily places in the heart of God something infinitely more terrible. Tophet, however, means destruction, as a reference to Isaiah 30:33 will show, and the statement that “the breath of the LORD, like a stream of brimstone, doth kindle it”, links it with 2 Thessalonians 1:8,9, which results in “everlasting destruction” and not “everlasting torment”.

In order to stop the abominable rites of Molech, Josiah “defiled Tophet” by “filling it with the bones of men(2 Kings 23:14). From that time forward it became the common cesspool and rubbish heap of the city. Into this valley were cast the carcasses of animals, and of criminals who had been denied burial. Fires were kept burning to prevent pestilence from spreading, and what escaped the destruction of fire and brimstone was eaten of worms. To this the prophet Isaiah refers in 66:24 : “And they shall go forth, and look upon the carcasses of the men that have transgressed against Me: for their worm shall not die, neither shall their fire be quenched; and they shall be an abhorring unto all flesh”.

Charles H. Welch Hell or Pure From The Blood Of All Men THE BEREAN PUBLISHING TRUST 1928 London

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Keepers At Home

[To be] discreet, chaste, keepers at home, good, obedient to their own husbands, that the word of God be not blasphemed. Titus 2:5

Charis Hart writes:

"In Titus 2, Paul instructs the elder women to teach the young women to be “keepers at home”. What does this mean? The Greek word translated “keepers at home” (KJV) or “homemakers” (NKJV) is oikouros. This compound word is from oikos- house, household, family; and ouros a guard, guardian, a watcher, a warden.

Let this thought sink in for a moment: the word oikouros translated “keepers at home” carries the meaning of “watching the house, of a watchdog”

The commission to “keep” was first given by God to Adam in Genesis 2:15: “And the LORD God took the man, and put him into the garden of Eden to dress it and to keep it.” In this case, we are looking at the Old Testament and a Hebrew word.

The Hebrew word in Gen 2:15 (Adam’s assignment) is shamar, translated as keep , observe, heed, preserve, beware, watchman, wait, watch, regard, save. The next occurrence of the word shamar is in Genesis 3:24 where “Cherubims, and a flaming sword which turned every way, to keep the way of the tree of life.”

Can you see similarity in meaning of the Hebrew word shamar translated “keep” and the Greek word “ouros” translated “keeper”? The “keep” commission of Gen 2:15 and Titus 2:5 are about protecting, watching, guarding.

From what danger do you suppose Adam was supposed to “keep” the garden? (Remember, he was given this assignment before the fall: before thorns, weeds, thistles and decay.) Is this “keep” directed to Adam a mere calling to domestic servitude as a gardener? The Titus 2 admonition to be “keepers at home” is no more a reference to domestic servitude than was God’s "KEEP" commission to Adam.

Fulfilling God’s commission to “keep” is a way in which male and female reflect the image of God who is referred to in scripture by a Greek word which means “keep above all”.

1 Peter 1:5 in several versions:

“Who are kept by the power of God through faith unto salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.” KJV

“who, in the power of God are being guarded, through faith, unto salvation, ready to be revealed in the last time” YLT

“who through faith are shielded by God's power until the coming of the salvation that is ready to be revealed in the last time.” NIV

“who are protected by the power of God through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.” NAS

The Greek word for each of the highlighted translations above is a conjugation of phroureo: oureo=watcher/keeper ; phr= before; above"


Monday, March 14, 2011

Speaking of Context....

[Miles Coverdale was a 16th-century Bible translator who produced the first complete printed translation of the Bible into English.]

The words of Miles Coverdale are much to the point here:

‘It shall greatly help ye to understand Scripture, if thou mark

not only what is spoken, or written,

but of whom,

and to whom,

with what words,

at what time,


to what intent,

with what circumstance,

considering what goeth before,

and what followeth’.

Friday, March 11, 2011

Scriptural Number Symbolism

One of the Jewish rules for interpreting scripture is that if you want to know the highest definition of a word, you should pay attention to its first usage in the Torah. That is the rule that Bullinger is using here to understand the symbolic meaning of numbers.

One is associated with Deity (Gen 1:3,4). "God is light" (1 John 1:5).

Two is associated with Separation and Division (Gen 1:6-8), though afterwards it is associated with union in testimony (Deut 17:6; Rev 11:3).

Three is associated with resurrection in Genesis 1:9, when the earth rises up out of and above the waters; and fruit arises out of the earth.

Four is associated with the earth when (Gen 1:14-19) the Sun and Moon were established as light-holders, to "give light upon the Earth."

Five is associated with grace, in the gift of life, in the creation of living creatures; and in the production of life out of the waters of the great deep.

Six is associated with the creation of Man (Gen 1:26-31). Man was created on the sixth day; and hence six is man's "Hall-mark"; and, with its multiples, is stamped upon all that characterizes man as falling short of God; or in opposition to or defiance of God. Goliath was six cubits high; his spear's head weighed 600 shekels of iron; and he had six pieces of armour enumerated. Nebuchadnezzar was similarly marked. His image was 60 cubits high, and six cubits wide, while six instruments of music called for its universal worship. The Beast is marked by the threefold combination of 666 (Rev 13).

Seven is associated with Divine Blessing and Rest (Gen 2:1-3), and is thus the mark of the Spirit of God as "the author and giver of life," and blessing, and rest. Hence it is that this number is so frequent in Scripture, as being the "Hall-mark" of the Spirit's authorship of "the Word of life."

Eight is a new first and, like the Number Three, is associated with newness, especially in resurrection, which took place on "the first day of the week." It first occurs in Genesis 5:4 in the number of the years of Adam, the end of the first man. "The second man" began his resurrection life on the eighth day. Hence the association of the number with resurrection.

Nine occurs first in Leviticus 25:22, and is used of the end of full time. Inasmuch as the fulness of time issues in judgment for good or evil, so nine becomes the symbol or hall-mark of all that stands connected with judgment.

Ten is the great cardinal number, completing one order and commencing a new one. Hence it is used of ordinal perfection, and is so used in its first occurrence in Genesis 24:55.

Twelve is associated with service, rule, and Government. "Twelve years they served" (Gen 14:4). Henceforth we find 12 and its multiples connected with Government both in heaven and on earth. It is the factor in the heavenly Signs, Constellations, and Measurements. It is the factor in all earthly enumerations that have to do with government.

Thirteen first occurs in Genesis 14:4 also, "Twelve years they served Chedorlaomer and the thirteenth year they rebelled." So that ever after, in Scripture, the Number 13, and every multiple of it, is associated with rebellion, apostacy, and disintegration. It is universally a number of evil omen: but those who go back for the origin of anything never go back far enough. They go back, in their own imagination, to the Twelve Apostles and our Lord as making 13; but the first occurrence of the number takes us back to the Divine usage of the Word, Genesis 14:4.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Biblical Words That Have Gone Out of Use

In the English language certain words and expressions which were common in the seventeenth century have gone out of use altogether, and require explanation before they can be correctly interpreted. The following are examples of words and expressions which have become obsolete:—

All to brake (Judges 9:53) is the Anglo-Saxon tobrecan, which meant to smash. "All to brake," therefore, was used in the sense of to completely smash or break.

Away with (Isa 1:13), meant to tolerate.

Come at, meant to come near (Num 6:6).

Do to wit (2 Cor 8:1), meant make to know, to certify.

For to do, meant in order to do (Deut 4:1).

Full well (Mark 7:9), meant with full knowledge.

Go to (James 4:13), meant come now.

Trow (Luke 17:9), meant to suppose or imagine.

Wist (Luke 2:49; Mark 14:40), is the past tense of the Anglo-Saxon wit, to know.

Unwittingly (Josh 20:3), meant unknowingly.

Very (Gen 27:21; Prov 17:9; John 7:26, 8:4), meant true, real.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Who Is This Man?

"King of the Jews" (wise men from the east. Matt. 2:2).

"Mightier than I" (John Baptist. Matt. 3:11).

"Son of God" (demons. Matt. 8:29).

"A blasphemer" (certain Scribes. Matt. 9:3).

"Son of David" (two blind men. Matt. 9:27) (a woman of Canaan. Matt. 15:22).

"The carpenter's son" (His fellow countrymen. Matt. 13:55).

"John the Baptist" (Herod and others. Matt. 14:2; 16:14).

"The Son of God" (they that were in the ship. Matt. 14:33).

"Elijah" (some. Matt. 16:14).

"Jeremiah" (others. Matt. 16:14).

"One of the prophets" (some men. Matt. 16:14).

"The Christ, the Son of the living God" (Peter. Matt. 16:16).

"The Christ, the Son of God" (Martha. John 11:27).

"My beloved Son" (God the Father. Matt. 17:5).

"Good Master" (a certain ruler. Matt. 19:16).

"The prophet of Nazareth" (the multitude. Matt. 21:11).

"The carpenter, son of Mary" (many hearing Him. Mark 6:3).

"Thy salvation ... a light ... the glory" (Simeon. Luke 2:30, 32).

"Joseph's son" (all in the synagogue. Luke 4:22).

"A great prophet" (all witnessing the raising of the widow's son. Luke 7:16).

"A righteous man" (the Roman centurion. Luke 23:47).

"A prophet mighty in deed and word" (the two going to Emmaus. Luke 24:19).

"The Lamb of God" (John the Baptist. John 1:29).

"The Messias" (Andrew. John 1:41).

"The Son of God ... the King of Israel" (Nathanael. John 1:49).

"A teacher come from God" (Nicodemus. John 3:2).

"A prophet" (a woman of Samaria. John 4:19).

"Jesus the son of Joseph" (the Jews. John 6:42).

"A Samaritan" and having a demon (the Jews. John 8:48).

"A prophet" (the blind man. John 9:17).

"The King of Israel" (much people. John 12:13).

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

The Six Marys

It can be tricky to sort out all the Marys in the New Testament. Here Bullinger gives us some help.

"The name "Mary", when used of the Lord's mother, is always in Greek Mariam = the Hebrew Miriyam, as is Ex. 15:20. The other five are usually "Maria".

1. Mary the mother of our Lord (Matt. 1:16, &c). The context never leaves room for any doubt as to her identity.

2. Mary the mother of James the less and Joses (Matt. 27:56. Mark 15:40; 16:1. Luke 24:10). She is called "the other Mary" (Matt. 27:61; 28:1), and the wife of Cleopas (John 19:25).

3. Mary the sister of Martha, who anointed the Lord's feet (John 12:3),. She is mentioned by name only in Luke 10:39, 42 and John 11:1, 2, 19, 20, 28, 31, 32, 45; and 12:3.

4. Mary Magdalene, of Magdala (Matt. 15:39). She is always to be identified by this designation (Matt. 27:56. Mark 16:1, 9. Luke 8:2. John 20:18, &c); there is no authority whatever for identifying her with the unnamed woman of Luke 7:37-50.

5. Mary the mother of John Mark (Acts 12:12).

6. Mary, one of Paul's helpers. (Rom. 16:6)."

Monday, March 7, 2011

Bold Trust and Steadfast Belief

This week I am posting from E.W. Bullinger's material, so there will be some good stuff. The reason I liked this word study so much is because it adds additional value to the idea of both trusting and believing God and his promises. The bracketed words are added information I took from Strong's Concordance and Gesenius's Lexicon.

"In the Old Testament there are seven Hebrew words translated "trust", which itself occurs 155 times. "Trust" is the New Testament word "believe".

batah = to confide in, so as to be secure and without fear. [boldness in one's confidence]

This is the word rendered "trust" in 107 passages, viz. every passage except those given below.

hasah = to flee for refuge to, take shelter in. [to trust and have hope in God]

This is the word rendered "trust" in thirty-seven passages, viz.
Deut. 32:37. Judg. 9:15. Ruth 2:12. 2Sam. 22:3, 31. Pss. 2:12; 5:11; 7:1; 11:1; 16:1; 17:7; 18:2, 30; 25:20; 31:1, 19; 34:8, 22; 36:7; 37:40; 57:1; 61:4; 64:10; 71:1; 73:28; 91:4; 118:8, 9; 141:8; 144:2. Prov. 30:5. Isa. 14:32; 30:2, 3; 57:13. Nah. 1:7. Zeph. 3:12.

'aman = to put faith in; hence, to stay or rest on. [ verified steadfast continuance]

Rendered "trust" in six passages,
viz. Judg. 11:20. Job 4:18; 12:20; 15:15, 31. Mic. 7:5.

hul = to tarry, or wait for. [to be brought forth, to wait longingly]

once :
Job 35:14.

galal = to roll on, or devolve. [to commit your concerns to God]

once : Ps. 22:8.

yahal = to wait on, or for, with confidence. [to hope for a person or thing expectantly]

twice :
Job 13:15. Isa. 51:5.

rehaz = to rely on [to set one's trust on]

once: Dan. 3:28. "

Friday, March 4, 2011

The Priests of Baal

And they cried aloud, and cut themselves after their manner with knives and lancets, till the blood gushed out upon them. I Kings 18:28

Such ancient writers as Seneca, Lucian, Statius, and Apuleius, thus describes the processions of the strolling bands wandering about with the Syrian goddess:— "A discordant howling opens the scene. Then they fly wildly through one another, with the head sunk down to the ground, but turning round in circles so that the loose flowing hair drags through the mire; thereupon they first bite themselves on the arms, and at last cut themselves with two-edged swords which they are wont to carry.

Then begins a new scene. One of them, who surpasses all the rest in frenzy, begins to prophesy with sighs and groans, openly accuses himself of his past sins, which he now wishes to punish by the mortifying of the flesh, takes the knotted whips, and lashes his back, and cuts himself with swords, until the blood trickles from his mangled body."

Van Lennep gives illustrations of these practices which help in visualizing the Carmel scene. " Our modern dervishes indulge in these cuttings only on special occasions, as, for instance, when a procession is organised, and proceeds to the suburbs of a town to pray for rain, or for deliverance from some public calamity: they then exhibit some of their fanatical performances, calling upon God, and cutting themselves with knives and swords, so that the blood runs, or piercing their almost naked bodies with wooden or iron spikes, from which they hang small mirrors. They sometimes become so exhausted with pain and loss of blood as to faint away, so that they have to be borne off."

Sometimes those who are not dervishes are carried away by a similar impulse, and hope to render themselves acceptable to God by undergoing these voluntary tortures.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Noah "Perfect"

These are the generations of Noah: Noah was a just man and perfect in his generations, and Noah walked with God. Gen. 6:9

The Heb. word tamim means without blemish, and is the technical word for bodily and physical perfection, and not moral. Hence it is used of animals of sacrificial purity.

It is rendered without blemish in Ex. 12:5; 29:1. Lev. 1:3, 10; 3:1, 6; 4:3, 23, 28, 32; 5:15, 18; 6:6; 9:2, 3; 14:10; 22:19; 23:12, 18. Num. 6:14; 28:19, 31; 29:2, 8, 13, 20, 23, 29, 32, 36. Ezek. 43:22, 23, 25; 45:18, 23; 46:4, 6, 13.

Without Spot. Num. 19:2; 28:3, 9, 11; 29:17, 26.

Undefiled. Ps. 119:1.

This shows that Gen. 6:9 does not speak of Noah's moral perfection, but tells us that he and his family alone had preserved their pedigree and kept it pure, in spite of the prevailing corruption brought about by the fallen angels.

This quote is number #26 in the Appendix from The Companion Bible. The side notes and the appendixes were written by E.W. Bullinger.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Lifting Up The Hands In Prayer

I will therefore that men pray every where, lifting up holy hands, without wrath and doubting. I Timothy 2:8

This familiar Jewish attitude for praise and prayer (see Ps. 63:4; 134:2 ; Lam.3:41; Neh. 8:6, etc.) naturally passed over to the Christian Church.

Clemens of Alexandria, A.d. 192, is an early witness to the continued observance of the rite.
After defining prayer to be " converse with God," he proceeds to say that therefore, as if reaching up to Him, we " raise the head and lift the hands towards heaven."

Tertullian, his contemporary, " Worshipping with modesty and humility we the more commend our prayers to God, not even lifting up our hands too high, but with self-restraint and becomingly." Again, " We, Christians, looking upwards, with hands outspread, because free from guilt; with head bare, because we -are not ashamed; lastly, without a remembrancer [of the names of the gods], because we pray from the heart."

Origen, A.D. 230, says that among the many gestures of the body, we ought without doubt in prayer to prefer " the stretching forth of the hands, and the lifting up of the eyes;" and that when the devout man prays, he "stretches forth his soul towards God, beyond his hands, as it were, and his mind farther than his eyes."

According to Eusebius, Constantine had himself represented on coins and in pictures " looking up to heaven, and stretching forth his hands like one praying."

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Eyes to the Wind

And when the ship was caught, and could not bear up into the wind, we let her drive. Acts 27:15

"This expression literally translated would be, " Could not keep her eyes to the wind " and the allusion is to the figure of an eye which is either painted or carved on each side of the bows of many Oriental ships. So the ship resembled a great fish; " imagination gave life and sense to the craft, and it was supposed to peer into the storm, and press forward to its goal."

In ancient times mariners were almost entirely dependent on their eyes—their look-out—their observation of the coast-line, and the heavens, as they had no compass, and very imperfect nautical instruments."