Dancing with the Word

Good afternoon all,

I was going to write about the concept of vengeance in the bible, OT & NT, but got distracted by a blog from Heather “Move from this Mountain” and then dropped in on Stephen’s Space where he has taken all my questions in my second post in September 2011 and answered them for me. That’s lovely. 🙂 Thank you. Given the busy-ness of the beginning of January, when he did that, if he told me .. I have forgotten, sorry .. so it was lovely finding it today. I tried to comment on his site, about one or more things he had written, but the comment box won’t work for me .. nor is the link at the bottom of his message active .. it goes to a blank page .. so Stephen, I am hoping you see this .. I wonder what happened, and if you can fix it?

So .. let me answer here:

Question #1: What are God’s books?

Stephen said: Note/Fact: Then God’s books would be God’s word or what God said, when God said it, where God said it, who God said it to, and how God said the word. I am going to show two places in the bible one from the (OT) Old Testament and one from the (NT) New Testament where the bible states that it is ”the word of God“

1 Samuel 9:26-27 (OT) (AKJV)
26And they arose early: and it came to pass about the spring of the day, that Samuel called Saul to the top of the house, saying, Up, that I may send thee away. And Saul arose, and they went out both of them, he and Samuel, abroad.
27And as they were going down to the end of the city, Samuel said to Saul, Bid the servant pass on before us, (and he passed on), but stand thou still a while, that I may shew thee the word of God.

Me: I go to my NOAB and look up the translations. This is what I have for 1 Samuel 9:27 “As they were going down to the outskirts of the town, Samuel said to Saul, “Tell the boy to go on before us, and when he has passed on, stop here yourself for a while, that I may make known to you the word of God.

Make known .. he didn’t pull out his copy of the book. In the next verse (10:1) Samuel took a vial of oil and poured it on Saul’s head, and kissed him and said “The Lord has anointed you ruler over his people, Israel” and Samuel told Saul of various signs that would prove this to be true. There is no comment about writing it down, and given the time period, it was probably unlikely to have been written down, but joined the oral tradition.

Well, in my opinion, Samuel definitely showed Saul God’s word, or said them anyway .. but this is not the ‘bible’ stating itself to be the Word of God.

***

1 Thessalonians 2:12-14 (actually 2:12-13)

Stephen’s translation: (NT) (AKJV)

12That ye would walk worthy of God, who hath called you unto his kingdom and glory. 13For this cause also thank we God without ceasing, because, when ye received the word of God which ye heard of us, ye received it not as the word of men, but as it is in truth, the word of God, which effectually worketh also in you that believe.

Note/Fact: There were forty-five exact matches to the phrase ”the word of God” and as stated above it is the word of truth.

Me: NOAB 12 ” .. urging and encouraging you and pleading that you lead a life worthy of God, who calls you into his own kingdom and glory. 13 We also constantly give thanks to God for this, that when you received the word of God that you heard from us, you accepted it not as a human word but as what it really is, God’s word, which is also at work in you believers.”

I am not doubting there are 45 matches to the phrase “the word of God” but which one of them actually mentions a book – or the bible in its entirety, given that the Thessalonians were written a Letter by Paul hundreds of years before the Bible was put together. Add in, as Stephen says, that we now have the Dead Sea Scrolls to ‘add’ to what we know of as the books of God.

Question #2: What about the Torah, or the Quran?

Stephen: If they are the truth then “YES” they are the word of God, but if they are only part truth then “NO”.

Me: Fair enough, I agree. Only .. the Torah is the original five books of the Christian Bible .. I must admit I haven’t done a comparison of the modern Torah with our modern ‘first five books’ of the Bible, but Theologians acknowledge Christianity’s reliance on them for our foundations.

If they are only part true .. and what happens each time we find some mistake in our bible .. and it becomes ‘only part true’ .. do we turn a blind eye and pretend we didn’t find it .. which leads to ‘contradictions in the bible’ but we’ll get back to that later.

Question #3: But why, if their foundations remain the same?

Stephen quoted: Zechariah 12 (OT) (AKJV) Hebrews 1:9-11 (NT) (AKJV)
NOTE/FACT: The Lord laid the foundation of the earth, so I know who laid the foundation of the earth. That is who I believe. The same Lord that laid the foundations of the earth also spoke to Israel ( God’s people.) Their foundations can be considered the same if they are the truth and if they are the word of the Lord God.

Again I agree, but why do you doubt they are? “If” .. see my answer to question 2.

Question #4: Stephen has written a very good answer – which shows we all interpret words differently. The Mystery of God’s books, for me, is why there are so many things that contradict themselves within it, and yet people still consider it the ultimate and only ‘Word of God’.

Stephen said: The exact phrase or question (the mysteries of God) is found only one time in the (AKJV) of the bible, as stated above. The word mysteries was found five times. Based on I Corinthians 4:5 The Lord (God) when he comes will bring to light (make known) the hidden things of darkness, (the mysteries) then we will have praise of God. And according to Matthew 13:11 the answer to the disciples was that it was given to them to know the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven, (God’s Kingdom).

Note/Fact: Then the answer is that God will reveal the mysteries to those who do not know, or to those to whom the mysteries have not been revealed when the Lord comes. The hidden things of darkness and the counsels of the hearts will also be made manifest (known),and then every man will have praise of God.

Lovely! Thank you Stephen.

Question #5: Who actually wrote them? Why people continue to think God wrote them when we have proof that people did?

Stephen said:
Genesis 1:3 God said, Let there be light: and there was light.

Me: It’s a great pity he didn’t invent pen and ink, or carving in stone, at that time. Given He is God, we could have had computers. 🙂

Stephen: The author (Moses) that wrote Genesis is the person that wrote this down, and I can not find any place where God wrote this book or any book in the bible. This does not change the truth that the words recorded here were spoken by God. Men chosen by God were the means by which we receive the word from God.

Me: This is one of the reasons why I like you. 🙂 You can admit there’s a problem. I’ll add to it. We don’t know that Moses existed, because there are no records of him at all, while we have other records of the time period he lived in. If he did exist, and led the Israelites out of Egypt, and Pharaoh, who chased them, died in the sea .. why do we have his mummy in the British(??) museum? He should have been washed far away by the return of the sea. Perhaps the sea gave him back?

Stephen: Note/Fact: The exact quote = ”Let there be light” God said this and it is the part considered the Word of God. God did not write this down, but the fact that the light that still exists today is evidence that there is light. This action is proof that a miracle took place, or an action that no man can duplicate.

Can man duplicate making Light? The first spark .. I agree, I also believe that only God did that. Now we have electricity and splitting the atom.

Question #6: What are the contradictions within them?

Stephen: This is very controversial, so you can say that it has contradictions and therefore you can’t believe that it is the word of God or you can declare that it is the word of truth from God and believe all that it contains about God and what God said. ( AKJV ) The other versions and other religions contradict or omits parts of this version of the bible. I find this version the most accurate translation available.

Me: Start with this – http://skepticsannotatedbible.com/contra/by_book.html I know its a site by skeptics but its not the only one, and they don’t just have a go at Christianity.

To me, because God is perfect, if this book was written by God, without the interference of humanity, it would have no contradictions. There would be no confusion. We would not need to edit, nor re-translate (just look at the difference between the various bibles available today, and your belief in your bible as the best translation, and mine being so different .. bought by me at Theology College as the best translation available to date), nor argue over bits and pieces of it, and have people invent things and adapt it .. which has been proved over the centuries. It seems to me that a person who declares their particular version of the bible as perfect, which I am sure mine isn’t, is covering their eyes with their hands and refusing to accept what has been proved to be fact. A book that contradicts your bible, or omits parts, might be because what was translated in yours was wrong to start with.

Question #7: What are the messages?

Stephen: The bible is a spiritual message to God’s people, a message from God, and the message is a message of Salvation, Comfort, Spiritual Guidance, Protection, Courage, Peace, Spiritual Strength, Warning, and Forgiveness.
Psalms 19:7 The law of the Lord is perfect, converting the soul: the testimony of the Lord is sure, making wise the simple.

Me: You list all the uplifting parts of the bible. How about people going to hell for one transgression, whether they try to be good Christians or not; Saul being tormented by an angel sent by ‘God’; Moses being banned from the promise land because he didn’t do exactly what he was told .. I can list much more. God help all of us – how many of us do exactly what the bible tells us to do .. have you taken your son up a mountain to sacrifice him to Jehovah yet? What would you do if God demanded it of you today? What would your son do? And what about the treatment God allowed of Job and his family? There’s one that’s hard to explain. But I’ve written about that just recently on my blog.

Question #8: Is Revelation a reality, or a well constructed slap at Nero for his treatment of the Christians during the persecutions?

Stephen: Note/Fact: Revelation is without a doubt a reality: Chapter #1 verse #1 God gave the Revelation of Jesus Christ to show his servants the things that must come to pass, and he also sent the Revelation by his angel to his servant John.

Me: I guess we’ll find out at end times, in the meantime .. 666 is the Gematric number (the sum total of the numbers of the letters of its name) for Nero, not the devil. The devil’s number is 616. Since the bible lists the devil as 666 .. there’s been a error somewhere.

Question #9: When did Christianity step outside the Jewish Laws, including diet and the Ten Commandments?

Stephen quoted from Romans, 1 Corinthians, and Galatians .. but left it to question 10 before partly quoting the words I would use to answer this question. He was quoting Paul, not Jesus. Given a choice of whose words to follow, which person will ‘save’ us?

Stephen said: Note/Fact: The Christian is not under the law, but under grace. The Christian should not sin, because they are not under the law. The Jewish law was to make a sacrifice for sin, but the sacrifice of Jesus Christ for all sin has been made. The Christian should keep the commandments of God.

I agree about most of the commandments … I’ve also blogged about that. Paul made it easy for the Christians, slipping them out of the laws, by only keeping the bits that suited him. Jesus said:

Matthew 5:17-19 “Do not think that I have come to abolish the law or the prophets; I have come not to abolish but to fulfill. For truly I tell you, until heaven and earth pass away, not one letter, not one stroke of a letter, will pass from the law until all is accomplished. Therefore, whoever breaks one of the least of these commandments, and teaches others to do the same, will be called least in the kingdom of heaven; but whoever does them and teaches them will be called great int he kingdom of heaven”.

In question 10 even you agree that heaven and earth have not passed away yet. Was Jesus lying, or did Paul simply change the rules for himself?

Question #10: Has heaven and earth passed away, and what does it mean for Revelation?

Stephen: The answer to question ten is NO and there is no effect on Revelation.
Note/Fact: Only God (he that sat upon the throne) can make all things new. Heaven and earth shall pass away, and Satan is cast into the lake of fire, and there will be a new heaven and a new earth, but God’s word shall not pass away.

I agree the old will be replaced by the new, sometime in the future. I have research this question again because I have forgotten what it is about?

Question # 11 What is the war in heaven, and is it real?

After quoting various bits of Revelation Stephen said:

Note/Fact: The war in heaven was to cast Satan and his angels out, and the events are as real as the word of God. As above the word is true and faithful.

Me: .. so below “.. we wish it was”. Blind faith will not help us at the ‘accounting’. “I did what you said” will not save us when what we did turns out to be another man’s reinterpretation of the “Word”. Just look at situations like Waco.

The war in heaven is continuous, and manifests among the people (as above, so below), through real wars and personal battles within ourselves, with our families and friends, with entities we cannot see or touch, but they can touch us, and those who are criminally insane. We should stand steadfast within the faith of God, but not with blinkers on. If following the bible to the letter is the only way into heaven, we are all damned.

More questions? Oh yes .. I have questions. I have lots of questions. LOL

Thank you Stephen. I am sorry if I have not seemed kind, but I do appreciate very much that you took the time to answer my questions.

Love & Peace
Ama

Advertisements

Judas, my hero!

Morning all,

I went through my blog looking for mentions of Judas. I’m amazed that I haven’t mentioned him at all, because he is one of the puzzles of the story of Jesus, and so many people see him as a true villain. I even know a lady whose husband believes he is the reincarnation of Judas and has gone into a deep depression because of what he was supposed to have ‘done’ .. without, of course, ever reading the story in a decent translation of the Bible and thinking through the concepts .. so he is punishing himself for nothing, and even if he ‘is’ the reincarnation of Judas, I doubt the man would come into a new life so covered in guilt and shame, for the good his act brought to all of us means he does not deserve any.

So, what actually happened? Let me quote the gospels:

In Matthew the name of Judas Iscariot doesn’t appear until 10:4 where it is quoted as “the one who betrayed him”. In 26:14-15 we learn that Judas went to the chief priests and said, “What will you give me if I betray him to you?” They paid him 30 pieces of silver. 26:16 And from that moment on he (Judas) began to look for an opportunity to betray him (Jesus).

Jesus, of course, was in on the plot – at the passover meal he said 26:21 “Truly I tell you, one of you will betray me”. 26:23 “The one who dipped his hand into the bowl with me will betray me. The Son of Man goes as it is written of him, but woe to that one by whom the Son of Man is betrayed! It would have been better for that one not to have been born.” Was Jesus looking at Judas when Judas answered “Surely not I, Rabbi?” Jesus replied, “You had said so.” ..

And so the questions start .. Did Jesus know exactly who was going to betray him, because every person ‘dipped their fingers’ into the ‘bowl’ of shared food, which was the custom of the people at the time? And what did he mean when he said, to Judas, “You had said so”. Judas had said what at that stage? Has something been edited out here in the far past, because that little sentence doesn’t seem to make sense in the context it is in?

Then Jesus broke bread and shared it and the wine with all his disciples, so if he did know Judas was about to betray him, was he angry about it, or simply accepting? Had Jesus forgiven Judas before the process even began, since that was Jesus’ nature?

And then all his disciples betrayed him, not just Judas – 26:31 “You will all become deserters because of me this night ..”. How did they desert – He asked them to stay awake while he prayed, and when he returned they were all asleep, twice. 26:40 & 43. When he needed their help, even in his quiet prayer, they were not there. And then there was specifically Peter ..

But back to Judas – 26:47 “While he was still speaking, Judas … arrived; with him was a large crowd with swords and clubs, from the chief priests and the elders of the people”.

You know, I just struck another puzzle. Judas had to kiss Jesus (26:49) to show the ‘crowd’ which man they should arrest. If Jesus was that famous for being a troublemaker, you would have thought at least one of them, other than Judas, knew which man Jesus was. And a kiss is a common practice among the men of their culture .. so how did it become a sign of betrayal? They still do this in modern times .. are they constantly saying they will all betray each other these days?

And lastly .. why did Jesus say “Friend, do what you have to do here” (26:50) to Judas, knowing what was about to happen? Did he still think of Judas as his friend? I don’t think he was being sarcastic.

Let’s go next to Mark:

Judas’ betrayal of Jesus is obviously a very important part of Mark’s gospel, given that he’s mentioned only three times? The first is the same as Matthew 3:19 “Judas Iscariot, who betrayed him”. 14:10-11 is the same story as Matthew, but briefer – “Then Judas Iscariot, who was one of the twelve, went to the chief priests in order to betray him to them. When they heard it, they were greatly pleased, and promised to give him money. So he began to look for an opportunity to betray him”.

Now Theologians believe Mark is the earliest written gospel, on which the other gospels have been based, so someone had fun expanding the story in Matthew, and pretty much copying a lot of what was in Mark in doing so. But let’s move to the last time Judas is written of here. Aha .. back to the kissing again –

14:43-44 “Immediately, while he was speaking, Judas, one of the twelve, arrived; and with him there was a crowd with swords and clubs, from the chief priests, the scribes, and the elders. Now the betrayer had given them a sign, saying, ‘The one I kiss is the man; arrest him and lead him away under guard’.” Which he did, and they did ..

I wonder if the writer of Matthew wondered, as I have, why some ‘thugs’ from the scribes would be there – since he left it out of his story? And why don’t we have a more complete story of this event in Jewish history, since the ‘scribes’ were there? Perhaps the priests didn’t want it written down .. then why send scribes? Or did they make the story vanish afterwards?

And then all of Jesus’ followers deserted him and fled (14:50), more betrayal?

Luke:

The writer of Luke is actually kinder than the last two writers .. he blames Satan, but we first meet Judas much the same way –

6:16 ” … and Judas Iscariot, who became a traitor”.

22:3 “Then Satan entered into Judas called Iscariot, who was one of the twelve ..” and he went and saw the chief priests and officers of the temple police, and they also offered him ‘money’. (Neither Mark nor Luke specify what sort of money).

22:47 we are back to the kissing, only in this story he didn’t appear to actually do it – “He approached Jesus to kiss him’, then 22:48 “but Jesus said to him, ‘Judas, is it with a kiss that you are betraying the Son of Man?'”

And then we go to John:

Suddenly we have drama “6:70 Jesus answered them, “Did I not choose you, the twelve? Yet one of you is a devil.” The author then says 6:71 “He was speaking of Judas son of Simon Iscariot, for he, though one of the twelve, was going to betray him”.

And it gets worse .. suddenly Judas is not just a devil, a betrayer but also a thief 12:6 “he kept the common purse and used to steal what was put into it”.

Ok, from now on I have to decide whether Jesus and the other 11 disciples were all idiots or blind .. they could not tell that Judas was stealing and take the purse away from him ‘before’ he betrayed Jesus? That would have to include the author of John, if it was written by John. And yet if you go by Jesus’ actions in the other gospels, Jesus still treated Judas as a disciple and a friend. But back to John ..

13:2 “The devil had already put it into the heart of Judas son of Simon Iscariot to betray him”. Yes, we know.

Remembering that this book was written long after Mark .. let’s clear up the confusion about the ‘bowl’. 13:26 “Jesus answered (who would betray him), “It is the one to whom I give this piece of bred when I have dipped it into the dish”. So when he dipped the piece of bread, he gave it to Judas son of Simon Iscariot.

And here’s another bit to the puzzle – 13:27 “After he received the piece of bread, Satan entered into him (Judas). (So Satan was controlling Judas, it was not Judas’ actually doing anything?) Jesus said to him, “do quickly what you are going to do.”

We can then interpret that as saying that Jesus knew exactly what Judas was going to do, and gave him permission to do it. My next question has to be –

Where was the betrayal? Jesus knew what was going to happen, he talked about it among his followers, the person was selected, either by God or the devil .. but for something so vitally important to humanity itself, I think it was God doing the choosing, why would Satan do something to betray itself? Jesus certainly seemed to think it was God in his ‘your will not mine’ statements (Matt 26:39, Mark 14:36, Luke 22:42). How could Judas be the betrayer, when he was acting for God?

BTW, in 18:3 Judas is now leading a detachment of soldiers together with police from the chief priests and the Pharisees, and they came with lanterns and torches and weapons. In this case we have no ‘kiss’, Jesus gives himself up into their hands, after the soldiers argue with him? The author didn’t know about the kissing?

And then we have the last puzzle of this story of Judas. How did he die?

It seems there are two stories to the death of Judas. The first is in Matthew 27:3-10 where he repented of what he had done and returned the 30 silver coins to the priests, and went and hanged himself. The priests used the coins to buy the potter’s field as a place to bury foreigners.

Story two is found in Acts, not the gospels. It seems Judas bought a field for himself with the 30 silver coins but instead of enjoying it he ‘fell headlong, burst open in the middle and all his bowels gushed out’ (Acts 1:18). And the field became known as the Field of Blood.

Where does that leave us?

Through the Grace of God, and the courageous acts of two men, we are Christian today, with all that it means for us .. those of us who are, of course. Can you see Judas as courageous? I can. Jesus certainly was.

Love & Peace
Ama

Job and God, slave and master

Morning all,

I’ve had a long break thanks to Christmas and a busy beginning to the year. Coming back to Job is a bit of a thud. I would rather not think of what God allowed to happen to this man and his family, if the story is true, which is unlikely, given its history and the knowledge we have of its creation (see my last blog).

Stop over a minute and pop over here to Heather Benson’s very good site Move from this Mountain. Her question sparked my comment on the page, which I have copied here:

“God speaks in the book? Where? Oh I know, at the end where he ignores everything he has put Job through, and Job’s family and servants, and starts pontificating about how wonderous ‘he’ (God) is. How does that help me to understand ‘him’ .. when I am stopped dead by the cruelty of the actions, the lack of love that he showed Job through all the torture, and everyone else by terminating their lives .. just to show the devil that Job ‘might’ remain faithful?

The human mind wants to find answers to everything, its how we were created. Trying to find a ‘good’ answer in all the “I am bigger stronger .. and yes, crueler, than all your little pipsqueaks” .. is not what I think the God of Jesus is about. Jesus taught ‘love everyone as I have loved you’ .. if Job’s God was our God, I think we better hide.

The Book of Job was written by three men, not one, and not God. Using it as a tool to ‘know’ God .. doesn’t work for me.”

She also commented on the Why did God hate Job? blog, asking “what do you make of Job’s final speech in chapter 42”. It’s a really good question. You can read our discussion there. Let me just reprint a bit of my answer:

“If I did (take the book literally) .. I have more questions. His repetence is to say that he didn’t understand the ‘wonderous’ things God was doing for him (42:3), and so he’s choosing to repent in dust and ashes, anyway”. I don’t understand the wonderous things either, I certainly don’t see any. Since no purpose of God can be thwarted (42:2), in my opinion Job was trying to protect himself from more of God’s wrath. Think what he went through, think of the emotional and physical torture of losing your children and all those illnesses (not to mention the criticisms by people who were supposed to be his friends?) .. Job, unless he was a miracle unto himself, was a wreck. You don’t bounce back from that very easily unless you are insane .. or blocking it all out, which is insanity in itself. Job said to God ‘Hear (me), and I will speak, I will question you and you declare to me,” in other words he’ll believe everything God tells him, regardless of whether it is true or not. Satan has broken Job with God’s permission, and in being broken, if we believe what is written here, Job finally actually ‘sees’ God. What does he see? A monster, thoughtless, uncaring, unkind .. and terrifying. Of course Job gives in and decides to despise himself, because God has proved that ‘he’ despises Job. (To be a true follower of God, what else can he do but do what God wants?) Where does the repenting get him? He gets given gifts, new children, more cattle .. new wife? The old one seems to have turned her back on God? Isn’t that the way the devil wins people, by giving them everything they want before destroying them?

The story of Job unsettles people’s faith in God, and makes them look for answers they cannot find in the book itself, instead they decide to focus on other bits .. the bits that say how wonderous God appears to be .. all the pomposity, and the fall back phrase ‘God works in mysterious ways’. The only mystery here is who was this being pretending to be God? Or why was this book even included in the bible? At least Satan was acting ‘in character’, you can trust him to try and destroy humanity, but .. here .. we have God also trying to destroy one man ‘just because’.

One last thought: why the title of this page – a person with no will of their own is a slave to the person, or being, that broke their will. Job’s will was broken, regardless of what God may have given back to him, his trust was also broken. People also serve in fear instead of Love.

Love & Peace
Ama