Reasoned Faith – The Author of Life

The Big Bang

The Big Bang (Photo credit: ToniVC)

According to a Fox news article, “Americans put a big question mark on the concept” of the universe beginning with a “Big Bang.” This comes from an Associated Press-GfK poll. Of course, those scientists that take the theory of a Big Bang as fact, dismiss this out of hand. Those of us who believe in the bible as the inerrant word of God have to wonder and marvel at this.

Last week, I was watching a re-run of the movie “Mission to Mars.” It had been so long, I did not remember how it turned out exactly. But at the end, they discovered that Mars had been inhabited millions of years ago (of course, everything has to involve millions of years, doesn’t it?) And now, because of some high-tech communication they had left behind for humans who would find it (a sort of 3D holographic movie), the secret of life was revealed.

Millions of years ago, when their planet was dying, this super-advanced race had prepared to jet away to other worlds in spacecrafts. Not earth, the closest one, mind you. But some had chosen to send the building blocks of life to earth. We are shown that progression, as these building blocks (whatever they represented), went through the entire progression that evolutionists insist had happened over the course of  — you guessed it — millions of years. And voila! Here man is today. It all makes sense now.

It just amazes me that absolutely ANYTHING is more palatable to such unbelievers than belief in the true author of life, our heavenly Father.  If we instead believe that a long dead race of ancient aliens created life out of practically nothing, then, of course, we are not accountable to anyone.

For this they willingly are ignorant of, that by the word of God the heavens were of old, and the earth standing out of the water and in the water (2 Peter 3:5)

(This year’s reading plan for Luke, Acts, and 1 and 2 Chronicles averages just 15 verses per day – 5 days per week!)
Schedule for this week

/Bob’s boy
___________________
some images © V. Gilbert & Arlisle F. Beers

All of my comments in this blog, however, are solely my responsibility.  When reading ANY commentary, you should ALWAYS refer first to the scripture, which is God’s unchanging and unfailing word. Reading schedules, as well as a link to the site where you can get the reading plan that I’m currently following for yourself can be found on the “Bible Reading Schedules” page of my website at http://graceofourlord.com.

Advertisements

Elect Exiles – 1 Peter

Cappadocia was the largest province of Asia Minor, located in what is today eastern Turkey. It became more easily accessible to points south, including Jerusalem, after the Romans constructed roads through the Cilician Gates in the Taurus range. Despite the Roman empire's disdain for Christians, these roads actually helped the Gospel to spread.

Cappadocia was the largest province of Asia Minor, located in what is today eastern Turkey. It became more easily accessible to points south, including Jerusalem, after the Romans constructed roads through the Cilician Gates in the Taurus range. Despite the Roman empire’s disdain for Christians, these roads actually helped the Gospel to spread.

Peter’s first letter begins with him declaring his authorship, and it was accepted as such by the early church fathers. It is addressed to the “elect exiles of the Dispersion in Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia…” These are all in an area of Asia minor which is now northern Turkey. Because Peter speaks to them as “exiles of the Dispersion,” some have taken that to mean that Peter is addressing Jews that have scattered to these lands.

But it is clear from many passages in the letter that Peter is addressing all Christians – and probably Gentiles in particular – in this letter. One such example is 1 Peter 1:14, where Peter urges them not to “be conformed to the passions of your former ignorance,” which is indicative of Gentiles. Obviously, he refers to a more symbolic form of exile and dispersion, as he says they are exiles according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, in the sanctification of the Spirit, for obedience to Jesus Christ.” The best explanation is that these Christians, who will dwell in heaven, are in a strange land – this world is not our home. “The foreknowledge of God” refers to the fact that God always knew that the Gentiles would be part of the kingdom, as evidenced in many passages, all the way back to, and including, Genesis 12:3, where God tells Abraham that in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed.

English: Political map of Asia Minor in 500 BC

English: Political map of Asia Minor in 500 BC (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Several references in the text indicate that Peter probably wrote this letter before the persecutions by Nero began, putting it about 62-63 A.D. It is also indicated that he wrote it from Rome. The mention of Babylon in 1 Peter 5:13 is believed by most scholars to be a figurative reference to Rome. The order of the churches addressed in that opening section of chapter one is thought by many to be the actual order in which the letter would have been delivered. 1 Peter 5:12 states that it was to be delivered by Sylvanus (another name for Silas). If coming by way of the Black Sea, a logical port for a starting point would be Pontus. Then a counter-clockwise circuit through the other cities would end up at Bithynia.

The letter is full of encouragement for those who are suffering, and reminders of the suffering and resurrection of the Lord, Jesus. There is much encouragement to remember the hope they have of their inheritance of an eternal home (1 Peter 1:3-9); and they admonished to live righteously, abstaining from fleshly passions (1 Peter 2:11; 1 Peter 3:7). But the most famous passage in this letter might be the one that has become synonymous with the area of apologetics (1 Peter 3:15), which says:

“But in your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect…”

(This year’s reading plan for Luke, Acts, and 1 and 2 Chronicles averages just 15 verses per day – 5 days per week!)
Schedule for this week

/Bob’s boy
___________________
some images © V. Gilbert & Arlisle F. Beers

Please note: I did not design the reading plan that I am following in my blog.  All of my comments in this blog, however, are solely my responsibility.  When reading ANY commentary, you should ALWAYS refer first to the scripture, which is God’s unchanging and unfailing word. Reading schedules, as well as a link to the site where you can get the reading plan that I’m currently following for yourself can be found on the “Bible Reading Schedules” page of my website at http://graceofourlord.com.

Enhanced by Zemanta

It’s the Camel Fallacy (Again!)

If one has studied apologetics for a considerable length of time, the recent news stories about the camel bones proving the Bible wrong might very well lead one to react by saying “again? seriously?” The whole thing has been answered quite thoroughly many times already. And not so surprising is the glaring fact that only when disputing the Bible would a conclusion based upon a logical fallacy be so widely reported in the media.

Camel_220214In case you haven’t seen any of the stories, here is a brief summary. The Bible first begins to mention camels as domesticated (in the sense of someone possessing them, rather than simply being in the wild) in Genesis 12:16. Abram and Sarai have come to Egypt, and it is Pharoah that has them, among his other livestock. But we find Abraham himself, Isaac, and Jacob all in possession of the humped animal as well; and the time period is generally accepted as being from 2000 – 1500 BCE.

The source of the dispute is the fact that researchers from Tel Aviv University have studied the bones of camels found at the site of ancient copper mines near the Dead Sea. Through radiocarbon dating, they have determined that the camels were used in those operations around the end of the 10th century BCE. In fairness to these learned researchers, it should be pointed out that (despite what the news stories say) these researchers only wrote one thing in their report that is related to the “patriarchal narrative” (that would be the word of God, folks):

“This together with the depiction of camels in the Patriarchal narrative, has generated extensive discussion regarding the date of the earliest domestic camel in the southern Levant.”

This seal shows a divine couple sitting on the two humps of a Bactrian camel, one of the earliest images of this animal. Above them hovers a winged rosette, which is a protective emblem. A smaller figure holding a bow stands on the head and neck of the camel. A winged female deity, stands off to the side, facing a contest between a man and a beast. The surrounding space is filled with a variety of animals, including a lion, scorpion, bull, and gazelle. 1800-1650 BC (Syria II-III)

This seal shows a divine couple sitting on the two humps of a Bactrian camel, one of the earliest images of this animal. Above them hovers a winged rosette, which is a protective emblem. A smaller figure holding a bow stands on the head and neck of the camel. A winged female deity, stands off to the side, facing a contest between a man and a beast. The surrounding space is filled with a variety of animals, including a lion, scorpion, bull, and gazelle. 1800-1650 BC (Syria II-III)

That’s it. All of the other titles in articles (some we list below) contain things that these researchers did not say. Okay, so now that we have covered that, what is the big deal? Well, since no bones of camels have been found in Israel at sites known to be older than that date, that has led others to the conclusion that there were no domesticated camels in Israel prior to the 10th century BCE. This would mean that the writers of the Old Testament books had to have just inserted camels into the narrative mistakenly because they didn’t exist there at the time they were writing about.

The headlines of the fore-mentioned news stories range from simply misleading and erroneous to downright irresponsible, outlandish, and even insulting. The Huffington Post’s headline reads “Major Discrepancy in the Bible.” The New York Times article proclaims “Camels Had No Business in Genesis,” and writes: “These anachronisms are telling evidence that the Bible was written or edited long after the events it narrates and is not always reliable as verifiable history.” The “Fashion Times” article headlines the “trending news” “Historical ERROR in Bible’s Old Testament, REVEALED.” We’re still mystified as to what camels and the Bible (error or no error) could possibly have to do with the world of fashion, but we digress.

The logical fallacy here is one known by several names:  “argumentum ad ignorantiam,” “appeal to ignorance” or “absence of eveidence.” One common comment about this is that “absence of evidence is not evidence of absence.” This is certtainly true. But in Todd Bolen’s article at BiblePlaces.com (“The Domestication of the Camel: Observations from Heide”), he quotes the following – more aptly put:

A camel in the Haran area, Turkey, known as Charran in ancient Mesopotamia.

A camel in the Haran area, Turkey, known as Charran in ancient Mesopotamia.

“Proving that something did not exist at some time and place in the past is every archaeologist’s nightmare because proof of its existence may, despite all claims to the contrary, be unearthed at some future date.” (p. 337, Heide, Martin, 2011 “The Domestication of the Camel: Biological, Archaeological and Inscriptional Evidence from Mesopotamia, Egypt, Israel and Arabia, and Literary Evidence from the Hebrew Bible”).

We recently underscored that point when we wrote in this previous post about the fact that skeptics claimed for a very long time that the Hittites were a figment of the Bible writers’ imaginations because no evidence had ever been found of their existence. That is, not until such evidence was found. Then it was discovered that they were a vast empire that dated back to the 14th century BCE.

We could easily be persuaded to believe that the camel was not widely used for domestic purposes by the common people until after the 10th century BCE in Israel, which would be one possible explanation of why a plethora of camel bones from earlier periods has not been found. We should remember that Pharaoh and yes, even Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob had been men of considerable wealth (Genesis 13:2, Genesis 26:12-13, Genesis 30:42-43). Many have suggested that Abraham brought his camels from Egypt, and that is certainly possible. But we should also remember that he had been in Mesopotamia – Haran (Genesis 12:4), and Mesopotamia’s ancient domestication of camels is just as well-documented.

So these wild leaps of unwarranted conclusions give skeptics and scoffers fodder to fan the flames of their frivolous fancies. And we find the unbelievers saying “well of course,  the Bible is not an accurate historical record” (a statement already proven time and again to be so absurd that it hardly deserves comment). And many of those who know that the Bible is the word of God – just wait for the truth. And if perchance convincing physical evidence is found in our lifetimes that categorically dates camel bones in Israel much earlier, you can be sure that the news will be relegated to a small blurb in a very inconspicuous place in most publications.

As for us, we know that Proverbs 30:5 is right: “Every word of God proves true.”

If you want to read the truth about what we know outside of the Bible concerning this subject, we suggest the following articles as examples:

“Abraham’s Camels” – ApologeticsPress.org
“The Annual Camels-Disprove-the-Bible Story” – Todd Bolen, BiblePlaces.com
“The Latest Challenge to the Bible’s Accuracy: Abraham’s Anachronistic Camels?”- ChristianityToday.com
“Bronze Age Camel Petroglyphs In The Wadi Nasib, Sinai” – BibleArcheology.org
“The Domestication of the Camel: Biological, Archaeological and Inscriptional Evidence from Mesopotamia, Egypt, Israel and Arabia, and Literary Evidence from the Hebrew Bible” – Martin Heide

(This year’s reading plan for Luke, Acts, and 1 and 2 Chronicles averages just 15 verses per day – 5 days per week!)
Schedule for this week

/Bob’s boy
___________________
some images © V. Gilbert & Arlisle F. Beers

Please note: I did not design the reading plan that I am following in my blog.  All of my comments in this blog, however, are solely my responsibility.  When reading ANY commentary, you should ALWAYS refer first to the scripture, which is God’s unchanging and unfailing word. Reading schedules, as well as a link to the site where you can get the reading plan that I’m currently following for yourself can be found on the “Bible Reading Schedules” page of my website at http://graceofourlord.com.  

A Year in Luke’s Writings! – 2014 Reading Plan

Father reads the Scriptures from a scroll to his family as the mother prepares food to eat.

Father reads the Scriptures from a scroll to his family as the mother prepares food to eat.

Once again, this year we will be following someone else’s reading plan, and once again, it is singularly special! It was not finished at the time of this writing, but I will post the schedule on the “Schedules” tab as soon as I get it.

Here is what I can tell you about it. We will be spending the entire year studying the Book of Luke and the Book of Acts.  The plan’s designer appropriately calls it “Cause and Effect.” We will be reading at the pace of a chapter a week. An easy schedule? Perhaps, but some of the chapters are quite long, and there is no shortage of material to study.

First, 24 chapters of Luke – all focused on the life, death, burial, and Resurrection of the savior, Jesus the Christ. And 28 chapters of the Book of the Acts of the Apostles – from the first gospel sermon ever to the imprisonment of Paul in Rome. It is going to be another great year in God’s word, I can  promise you! And we will start tomorrow!

Science museum, Vancouver

Science museum, Vancouver

But, as our regular readers know, since our reading plans are 5 days per week, we have always done something different on Sundays. And 2014 will be no exception. We will still be writing on various subjects and about several different books of the Bible throughout the year. But we will be doing two things on a fairly regular basis.

First, we will have more frequent articles centered on the subject of Apologetics- articles designed to help the christian strengthen his or her faith in God’s word, and hopefully, help prepare to comply with 1 Peter 3:15: “…always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect…”

Throughout the wilderness journey, Moses talked to the Lord, often begging Him for help in leading the Israelites.

Throughout the wilderness journey, Moses talked to the Lord, often begging Him for help in leading the Israelites.

Secondly, we will try to devote one Sunday article per month to the subject of prayer – the other half of our communication with the Lord. In doing so, it is our hope that we can improve our ability to pray more effective prayers that are pleasing to the Lord and beneficial to those we pray for – and pray with. With God’s help, we hope this will also be an aid to men who often are called upon to lead public prayers in church services and elsewhere.

We hope and pray that these new items on our agenda for 2014 will help us all to grow spiritually in the coming year. We hope you will join us in this effort!

/Bob’s boy

Job 39:1-15 – Is the Wild Ox Willing To Serve You?

Today’s study of the 39th chapter of the book of Job will be the first 15 verses. Whereas in the previous chapter, God put forth the questions to Job concerning His rule, supremacy, and governance over the world and creation itself, this chapter does the same with God’s care for each living creature.  And it does so in a way that seems strange at the outset. Verses 1-4 deal with His knowledge of even the smallest details of the breeding, mothering, and maturation of families of wild mountain goats.

ostrich_001In verses 5-8, the Lord focuses on the habits, freedom, and domain that He has given to the wild donkey. In verses 9-12, He turns to the wild ox, pointing out his strength, and usefulness – yet making clear his independence and power. This was so much the case that hunting this beast was the sport of royalty, much like we would years ago have considered the safaris that we saw depicted in movies and television. In verses 13-15, the Lord  has Job consider the majesty of the winged ostrich, and the careless way that she places and sometimes even scatters her eggs.

Each of these wild creatures represent scores of others that God has created, and in His wisdom understands as nobody else can. No single person can at the same time appreciate, understand, and maintain the balance in the lives of all of these creatures – and though man can put some of them to use for his purposes, he can never fully tame them (verses 9, 11, and 12).

Read or listen to audio of ESV version of this selection from this link.

/Bob’s boy
___________________
some images © V. Gilbert & Arlisle F. Beers

Please note: I did not design the reading plan that I am following in my blog.  All of my comments in this blog, however, are solely my responsibility.  When reading ANY commentary, you should ALWAYS refer first to the scripture, which is God’s unchanging and unfailing word. Reading schedules, as well as a link to the site where you can get the reading plan that I’m currently following for yourself can be found on the “Bible Reading Schedules” page of my website at http://graceofourlord.com.  For questions and help, please see the “FAQ” and “Summaries” pages there.

Job 38:22-41 – The Lord Answering Job

snow_002In this second half of Job 38, God is continuing His answer to Job. Let us begin by addressing the criticism by skeptics of scientific inaccuracies. One should keep in mind that though such is not the purpose of this book, it has demonstrated several examples of scientific knowledge beyond the times when it was written. Take, for example, the understanding of the hydrological cycle demonstrated in Job 26:8 and 36:27-28.

But when reading the Book of Job – even this chapter- it is good to remember two things. First, like all Scripture, this is the inspired word of God poured out by the Spirit. Secondly, just like the other chapters of the book, it is very poetic, and it should be taken as it was written. For example, one would therefore not take a literal meaning from such things as the “storehouses of the snow”and the “storehouses of the hail” in verse 22, or the places “where light is distributed” and “the east wind is scattered” in verse 23. God is simply communicating to Job, in terms he can understand, that there is more going on with creation and how “all things hold together” (Colossians 1:17) than what is seen in the world by man.

That is the point of this chapter, and it is driven home in the last three verses, where God points out His care for every living creature that is, after all, His creation:

“Can you hunt the prey for the lion,
or satisfy the appetite of the young lions,
when they crouch in their dens
or lie in wait in their thicket?

Who provides for the raven its prey,
when its young ones cry to God for help,
and wander about for lack of food?”

Read or listen to audio of ESV version of this selection from this link.

/Bob’s boy
___________________
some images © V. Gilbert & Arlisle F. Beers

Please note: I did not design the reading plan that I am following in my blog.  All of my comments in this blog, however, are solely my responsibility.  When reading ANY commentary, you should ALWAYS refer first to the scripture, which is God’s unchanging and unfailing word. Reading schedules, as well as a link to the site where you can get the reading plan that I’m currently following for yourself can be found on the “Bible Reading Schedules” page of my website at http://graceofourlord.com.  For questions and help, please see the “FAQ” and “Summaries” pages there.

Saving Nineveh – The Book of Jonah

God told Jonah to go to Nineveh, the capital of the Assyrian Empire. Many of Jonah's countrymen had experienced the atrocities of these fierce people. The last place Jonah wanted to go was on a missionary trip to Nineveh! So he went in the opposite direction. He boarded a ship in Joppa that was headed for Tarshish. But Jonah could not run from God.

God told Jonah to go to Nineveh, the capital of the Assyrian Empire. Many of Jonah’s countrymen had experienced the atrocities of these fierce people. The last place Jonah wanted to go was on a missionary trip to Nineveh! So he went in the opposite direction. He boarded a ship in Joppa that was headed for Tarshish. But Jonah could not run from God.

Jonah was a prophet during the reign of Jeraboam II around 750 B.C. According to 2 Kings 14 23-28, he was the son of Amittai, hailing from Gath-hepher. Gath-hepher (meaning “winepress of the well”) was on Zebulun’s border in ancient Israel. The Book of Jonah has been the subject of some debate and there are those who consider it allegory. But such is not the case. Jesus certainly spoke of the events of the book as historical fact; and Jonah’s adventure is mentioned in Matthew 12:38-41, 16:4, Luke 11:29-32, among other passages.

As for the most famous part of the book, many are quick to point out that the Bible does not say that it was a whale that swallowed Jonah. God in fact, it says, appointed “a great fish” for the deed. The truth is that the taxonomies we use today for classifying such creatures did not exist in their present form, so the distinction between fish and mammals is purely academic and relevant only today. True enough, a creature other than a whale could have been responsible (one such suggestion is a “Sea Dog”). And there have been reports in the past of people surviving after having been swallowed and regurgitated by such. One such incident was reported in “The Boston Post-Boy, October 14, 1771” about a man named Marshall Jenkins (see this article on Christian Evidences) It hardly matters. In any event, it was a miraculous feat completely orchestrated by God for a specific purpose – just as that of the worm (Jonah 4:7).

But this miraculous event aside, the most important aspects of the Book of Jonah lay elsewhere. The Book of Jonah shows us God’s boundless compassion in multiple ways. Any time the early Christians of the first century began to question whether Gentiles were to be part of God’s plan of salvation, they needed only to look at this book. God sent Jonah to give His message to the Ninevites to give them the chance to repent. They were not part of Israel by any stretch of the imagination. But God cared about them, just as He tried to teach Jonah in Jonah 4:1-10.  In God’s eyes, everyone is worth saving.

Jonah sat under a goard vine, waiting and hoping for God to destroy Nineveh. But God taught him an important lesson about forgiveness through the vine (Jonah 3-4).

Jonah sat under a goard vine, waiting and hoping for God to destroy Nineveh. But God taught him an important lesson about forgiveness through the vine (Jonah 3-4).

Jonah’s attempted flight from God shows us a couple of things. First, and most obviously, we cannot hide anything from our Creator. Even the “smallest” of our deeds is known to Him. Secondly, as is shown repeatedly in scripture, when God wants something done, it gets done. He sent His only son to sacrifice His life for us, and establish His kingdom. The misunderstanding some have that Jesus somehow failed at that the first time, but will try again later, is ridiculous.

Finally, Jonah’s attitude and God’s reaction in chapter 4 should give us pause to think about our own compassion for our fellow man. How often do we view others with disdain or even contempt? How concerned are we really about salvation for those outside God’s kingdom? Have we truly committed ourselves to Christ if we are not willing – yes and even eager – to help others to work out their salvation?

Though only 4 chapters, the Book of Jonah is a powerful and important book of prophecy and teaching. Do yourself a favor and read these 47 verses if you have not done so in a while – and do so with these things in mind. It will enrich you in your walk with the Lord.

/Bob’s boy
___________________
image © V. Gilbert & Arlisle F. Beers

Please note: I did not design the reading plan that I am following in my blog.  All of my comments in this blog, however, are solely my responsibility.  When reading ANY commentary, you should ALWAYS refer first to the scripture, which is God’s unchanging and unfailing word. Reading schedules, as well as a link to the site where you can get the reading plan that I’m currently following for yourself can be found on the “Bible Reading Schedules” page of my website at http://graceofourlord.com.  

Job 38:1-21 – The Lord Answers Job

A whirlwind in the ancient territory of Galatia, or modern Ankara, Turkey

A whirlwind in the ancient territory of Galatia, or modern Ankara, Turkey

Because of the length of chapter 38, we will examine it in two parts – the first of which in this blog will be verses 1-21. All throughout the book, Job has been requesting an audience with God, in order to plead his case. And God comes abruptly to him in this chapter. The first verse starts out -with Then the Lord answered Job out of the whirlwind and said:…” But it is the second verse that is the source of some debate.

The second verse reads “Who is this that darkens counsel by words without knowledge?” At first reading, it appears that in that sentence, He is referring to Job, and that seems to be the majority opinion. But some good arguments have been made that God is actually referring to the words of Elihu. As one commentator wrote, assigning these words to Job is a direct contradiction of Job 42:7-8, which clearly states that Job has spoken correctly of God. The debate goes on, and there are merits to both arguments (although some have even questioned the authenticity of the Elihu speeches, alleging that they were not part of the original text. We flatly reject that suggestion).

Arguments on both sides of this question are compelling, and although we lean toward the position that the Lord was indeed addressing Elihu, we must confess uncertainty. In the end, despite some truth, Elihu just got too much wrong (see previous posts on Chapters 35 and 37). Either way, the lessons of chapter 38 are the same, so the point is largely academic. That Elihu’s speeches add value to the book, is a concept we support for reasons listed in previous posts on those chapters.

earth003The Lord begins His dialog with Job, asking in several different ways where Job was when he gave birth to the universe, and what Job understands about the undertaking. Some take the statements about the earth’s foundation, where its “bases” were sunk, and the cornerstone being laid (verse 6) to mean that the Bible is assuming the world is flat. But like much of the “Wisdom Literature” the Book of Job is full of imagery; and like any poetry, one should consider that when studying these verses. Written long before mankind in general knew the word was round, many passages in the Bible demonstrate that God’s word was far ahead scientifically. For examples of passages about a round earth, see Job 26:10 and Isaiah 40:22.

Verse 7 speaks of the “sons of God” shouting for joy when God created the world. For this term, we can refer back to Job 1:6, which makes the same reference. See this previous post about chapter one for our comments about that. Keep in mind also that there is much we would like to know about many things not of this world, such as angels and demons, cherubim and seraphim, and urum and thummin that the Bible does not fully explain. God has His own reasons for what is included in the Scriptures and what is not. Such explanation is not necessary for salvation and instruction in same.

At first look at the remaining verse leading to verse 21, we may think that we know much more about some of those things than they did in Job’s time. But verse 17 reminds us that we know nothing about the experience of such things as death, and the state of our awareness in the immediate time afterward:

“Have you entered into the springs of the sea,
or walked in the recesses of the deep?
Have the gates of death been revealed to you,
or have you seen the gates of deep darkness?
Have you comprehended the expanse of the earth?
Declare, if you know all this.”

When we take up this chapter again, we will begin at verse 22.

Read or listen to audio of ESV version of this selection from this link.

/Bob’s boy
___________________
some images © V. Gilbert & Arlisle F. Beers

Please note: I did not design the reading plan that I am following in my blog.  All of my comments in this blog, however, are solely my responsibility.  When reading ANY commentary, you should ALWAYS refer first to the scripture, which is God’s unchanging and unfailing word. Reading schedules, as well as a link to the site where you can get the reading plan that I’m currently following for yourself can be found on the “Bible Reading Schedules” page of my website at http://graceofourlord.com.  For questions and help, please see the “FAQ” and “Summaries” pages there.

Proverbs 16 – Steadfast Love and Faithfulness

Albert Barnes commented on the first seven verses of chapter 16, saying that they “have, more than any other group, an especially religious character impressed upon them. The name of Yahweh as Giver, Guide, Ruler, or Judge, meets us in each of them” (Barnes, Albert. “Barnes’ Notes on the New Testament” Kregel Classics; 8th edition (June 30, 1962). And verses 5, 6, and 7, which we will examine here, do indeed refer to God as Ruler, Judge, and as Guide.

Isaac refuses to fight the Philistines for his wells -- Genesis 26:17-33

Isaac refuses to fight the Philistines for his wells — Genesis 26:17-33

In verse 6, Solomon tells us that “by steadfast love and faithfulness iniquity is atoned for, and by the fear of the Lord one turns away from evil.” One must understand that the first clause does not refer to the actions of man. The atonement by sacrifice that is referred to here (just like forgiveness of our sins through the blood of Jesus Christ) comes by the grace of God’s steadfast love for us, and His faithfulness to his promises.

Verse seven points out the truth that “when a man’s ways please the Lord, he makes even his enemies to be at peace with him.” This does not mean that the righteous will never be harmed by their enemies. But in general, living life according to God’s commands presents a different view to the world, and inspires trust and respect. A good example of this is given to us in Genesis 26:26-28, where Abimelech makes such a covenant Isaac.

Verse 5 states that “Everyone who is arrogant in heart is an abomination to the Lord; be assured, he will not go unpunished.” In fact, this very sin is the first in the list given of things that God hates in Proverbs 6:16-19.  This is just one of many examples of consistency in God’s word that exists in detail that is so great and widespread in such a long book. That is just one of many facts that reinforce the Christian’s faith in the Bible as the word of God. Obviously, that is the way God intended it!

Read or listen to audio of ESV version of this selection from this link.

/Bob’s boy
___________________
some images © V. Gilbert & Arlisle F. Beers

Please note: I did not design the reading plan that I am following in my blog.  All of my comments in this blog, however, are solely my responsibility.  When reading ANY commentary, you should ALWAYS refer first to the scripture, which is God’s unchanging and unfailing word. Reading schedules, as well as a link to the site where you can get the reading plan that I’m currently following for yourself can be found on the “Bible Reading Schedules” page of my website at http://graceofourlord.com.  For questions and help, please see the “FAQ” and “Summaries” pages there.

How do we know the Bible is God’s Word?

The following illustration of memory technique for this subject has been attributed to the “Stand to Reason” folks, e.g. Greg Koukl.  We’re not sure this is exactly correct, as the pretext has been passed around for many years, but we’re happy to make that attribution nonetheless.

handIf you are reading this blog, the chances are that you already believe that the Bible is the word of God.  But what about those times when the subject comes up with our friends and acquaintances that aren’t so convinced?  We know from 2 Timothy 2:16 that “All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness.” But the world is full of people who believe the Bible is little more than myths and fairy tales.

And rarely do we carry around for ready recollection a list of convincing arguments or evidences for what we ourselves know to be the truth of the matter.  And it’s true also that we are not likely to be able to do that even with the following memory aids.  But we should be prepared (1 Peter 3:15)  to present some general truths for which we can later provide examples in evidence in a meaningful manner; and it’s as plain as the hand in front of our face.

pinkySo let’s start with the pinkie.  When you think of this digit, thing “P” for prophecy.  The Bible has many examples of fulfilled prophecy.  And none other than Moses gave us the measure of how easy it is to know true prophecy (Deuteronomy 18:22).  How about some examples of those?  Take Daniel chapter 8, which was written around 550 B.C and accurately predicted the rise of several empires to Belshazzar in interpretation of his dream.  Validated as far as time goes by the historian Josephus, this prophecy predicted even the rise of Alexander the Great.  For an expanded dissertation, please see this article at ApologeticsPress.org.  Here’s more.  Read about Ezekiel’s stunningly accurate prediction of the fate of the city of Tyre in this article.  Here is an aerial photo of the site taken by the French military in 1934.800px-Tyre-aerial-photo-by-France-Military-1934  This aerial view of Tyre vividly shows the land bridge that Alexander the Great created. Much silt and sand has accumulated over the years to widen the area of the original causeway.

Then there’s Isaiah’s prediction written almost two hundred years in advance of Cyrus’ conquest of Babylon (539 B.C.) –  “The Prophecy of Cyrus.”

Paul was a prisoner in Rome, under house arrest, but he was free to preach the Gospel to many who came to listen (Acts 28:7-31).

Paul was a prisoner in Rome, under house arrest, but he was free to preach the Gospel to many who came to listen (Acts 28:7-31).

ring_fingerNext, we take the ring finger.  This represents the unity of the Scriptures.  Written over the course of thousands of years with diverse authorship, and in a variety of writing conditions such as battlefields, dungeons, prisons and caves, all showing pieces of the same puzzle and still when assembled together they all tell the same story of God’s plan for the salvation of mankind – none of which was fully even known by all of the authors.  Kings, tax collectors, physicians, servants, shepherds, and warriors were all guided by the Spirit of the Lord to record His word in amazing unity. A substantial portion of the new Testament was even written by Saul of Tarsus, who before his conversion, was known to have hated the Lord Jesus so much at one time, that he was responsible for the persecution and cruel murders of many of his disciples. It is impossible for anyone to truly read and study this entire book (for it is one book, in the end) in honesty of heart and open-mindedness without realizing that this cannot be the work of mere men.

big fingerLet’s not skip the big finger.  The Bible has the answers to the important epistemological, moral, ethical, and scientific questions of our age and any age.  No other religion and no other collection of writings can provide the answers to the big questions that have been on the minds of philosophers, educators, kings and yes, even clergy throughout the ages in the way that the Bible clearly reasons.  Genesis provides the answers to the great questions of where the universe came from, how man fits into that universe, how things such as love beauty, laws of logic and other universals are possible.

What makes something right or wrong?  Is it the mere acceptance of society concerning moral absolutes.  If so, why should one society’s view of those morality or right and wrong over truly that of another – like say that of Nazi Germany? The Bible gives us the answers to these and other truths, such as uniformity of nature.  We fully expect that scientific experiments can be repeated with accuracy because we know that certain physical things occur with expected results.  But what gives us the reason to know and believe that this will continue to be the case?  Our creator gives us the answers, as he has promised to “hold things together” (Colossians 1:17).  And why do we recognize human dignity, have funerals, etc? Could it be because we recognize that man was indeed created in God’s image?  To paraphrase the late Dr. Greg Bahnsen, without the Christian world view, whether you acknowledge it or not, you couldn’t make sense out of anything – you cannot provide the preconditions of intelligibility.   What are laws of logic anyway, and how can an atheist account for them?  They certainly are not just the way the human brain thinks because my gray matter is not the same as yours.  And if one claims that they are conventions, then I should be able to claim my own conventions, and be just as logical.

pointerNext we have the index of the pointer finger that points the way to history, archaeology, and even scientific fore-knowledge (see  this article for that information).  Even scientists and archaeologists who do not believe the Bible is the word of God consult it when they want to know where to dig, and it proves itself historically time after time.  Just type in “archaeology” in the search box on this page, and you will be rewarded with one example after another of this truth.  If it is written in the Bible, and it is possible to validate or invalidate what is written, the bible has always been proven correct.  The Bible is the only book that can look to historical evidence to support its unique theological claims.  The New Testament documents are the best historical documents of the ancient world when approached using the standard cannons of historical research untainted by naturalistic presuppositions.  Time and again even in recent decades, the Bible has been proven correct in such controversies as who Pilate actually was, whether he actually lived and what his title actually had been – and much more.

thumb2Next, we move on to the thumb.  In olden times, an emperor would give a thumb up or thumb down to spare or condemn a man.  The Bible has the power to change lives no other medium, and no other way of life.  Those life changes do not occur because of something we’ve done.  God changes us in a way we never could change ourselves when we obey the Scriptures.  This experience is universal, is the same everywhere in the world in which it is taught. It transcends all economic, ethnic, and even geographical boundaries.

Finally, we have the fist.  The Bible is from God, who fights for us (the name of Israel actually translates “God fights”).  He has protected His word for centuries.  There are no “lost books” of the Bible.  We have copies today that are older even than those we had 100 years ago, and there are no substantive differences in any of them.    How does it compare with other historical manuscripts?  The works of Plato, for example, written 427-347 B.C . The earliest copy we have today is about 900 A.D. Tacitus wrote around 100 A.D, and the earliest copy is about 1100 A.D. Only about 20 manuscripts exist.  Homer’s “Iliad” was written about 900 B.C .  The earliest copy from about 400 B.C.  Number of manuscripts – 643.  The New Testament was written 40-100 A.D.  The earliest copy about 125 A.D.  Number of manuscripts – 24,000.  The Bible stands the test of time.

fistNo other book has been so thoroughly censored throughout the ages, yet it cannot be destroyed. Just as so-called “renowned” atheists of today disparage faith they cannot even comprehend, and make it their mission in life to destroy that faith in others, men throughout the ages have attempted to silence God’s word. Virtually all of the apostles were martyred for proclaiming the Lord Jesus crucified.  From A.D. 303-311, the Roman emperor Diocletian, during the empire’s bloodiest persecution of Christians, ordered every Bible burned, thinking he could destroy Christianity by executing anyone who was apprehended in possession of a Bible. Just 25 years later, the Roman emperor Constantine ordered that 50 perfect copies of the Bible be made at government expense, and Christianity became the empire’s officially preferred religion. The French philosopher Voltaire, a skeptic  who attempted to destroy the faith of many people boasted that within 100 years of his death, the Bible would disappear from the face of the earth. Voltaire died in 1728, but ironically, 50 years after his death, the Geneva Bible Society moved into his former house and used his printing presses to print thousands of Bibles.  William Tyndale was executed by strangulation and burned at the stake for heresy for his crime of translating the Bible from Greek to English.  Hundreds of years later, Joan Bridgman made the comment in the Contemporary Review that, “He (Tyndale) is the mainly unrecognized translator of the most influential book in the world. Although the Authorized King James Version is ostensibly the production of a learned committee of churchmen, it is mostly cribbed from Tyndale with some reworking of his translation.”

The Hammer and the Anvil

Last eve I passed beside a blacksmith’s door
And heard the anvil ring the vesper chime;
When looking in, I saw upon the floor,
Old hammers worn with beating years of time.

“How many anvils have you had,” said I,
“To wear and batter these hammers so?”
“Just one,” said he; then with a twinkling eye,
“The anvil wears the hammers out, you know.”

And so, I thought, the anvil of God’s Word,
For ages, skeptics blows have beat upon;
Yet, though the noise of falling blows was heard,
The anvil is unharmed – the hammers gone.

~ John Clifford

/Bob’s boy
___________________
image © V. Gilbert & Arlisle F. Beers

Please note: I did not design the reading plan that I am following in my blog.  All of my comments in this blog, however, are solely my responsibility.  When reading ANY commentary, you should ALWAYS refer first to the scripture, which is God’s unchanging and unfailing word. Reading schedules, as well as a link to the site where you can get the reading plan that I’m currently following for yourself can be found on the “Bible Reading Schedules” page of my website at http://graceofourlord.com.  For questions and help, please see the “FAQ” and “Summaries” pages there.