Disclaimer

Disclaimer: I am not a Biblical scholar. All my posts and comments are opinions and thoughts formulated through my current understanding of the Bible. I strive to speak of things that can be validated through Biblical Scriptures, and when I'm merely speculating, I make sure to note it. My views can be flawed, and I thus welcome any constructive perspectives and criticisms!

Saturday, January 17, 2015

Let Charlie Hebdo Teach Us How to Rebuke with Love

How Charlie Hebdo Became A Top Terrorist Target
From the January 12, 2015 eNews issue
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Some would say, “Charlie Hebdo” was “asking for it.” They have had a history of holding many groups up for satire. Not only Muslims, but Roman Catholics, homosexuals, left wingers, right-wingers, no one was safe.

It was in recent times though that Islam came increasingly the object of their ridicule.

In February 2006 Charlie Hebdo published a series of 12 cartoons depicting the Prophet Muhammad which had been featured in the Nordic daily “Jyllands-Posten” the previous year. The Danish publication triggered anti-Danish protests across the Muslim world. It was the start of the story that would ultimately lead to the magazine becoming a prime terrorist target.

Depictions of the prophet are strictly taboo in Islam. The French Council of Muslim Faith (CFCM) and the Grand Mosques of Paris and Lyon had unsuccessfully attempted to sue Charlie Hebdo to prevent publication of the images on the grounds that they were offensive to France’s Muslim community.

Their failure, however, led to much more serious repercussions.

As the debate over the publication of the images intensified in France, a group of 12 prominent writers including Salman Rushdie and Bernard-Henri Levy published an article in Charlie Hebdo speaking out against Islamic “totalitarianism”.

They wrote:
”Like all totalitarian ideologies, Islamism is nurtured by fear and frustration… Islamism is a reactionary ideology that kills equality, freedom and secularism wherever it is present.”

By publicly denouncing Islamism, the magazine became a target of threats forcing some staff to be placed under police protection. But the attempt at intimidation failed. In fact, it had the opposite effect, emboldening the magazine’s staff.

In 2011, the magazine named the Prophet Muhammad as its “editor-in-chief.” The cover once again carried a cartoon depicting him saying, “One Hundred lashes if you do not die of laughter.”

This time, however, the response was not just threats. A day after its publication the offices of the magazine were firebombed and its website hacked. Fortunately, no-one was injured.

Stephane Charbonnier, the magazine’s editor-in-chief, responded as robustly as ever.

He said: “If we can poke fun at everything in France, if we can talk about anything in France apart from Islam or the consequences of Islamism, that is annoying.”

In response he set out to publish the most controversial editions yet. They produced an issue with a cover showing a Muslim man in a wheelchair pushed by an Orthodox Jew under the title “Untouchables 2”, an imaginary sequel to a recently released French film. The pair are saying (rough translation) “You must not mock us!”.

The publication was condemned by the French foreign minister Laurent Fabius as a “provocation”. The French government was so concerned about the possibility of a backlash in Muslim countries, following the response to the 2006 cartoons, that it decided to temporarily close 20 embassies as a precaution.

Yet Charlie Hebdo was not done yet. In 2013 the magazine went further still, publishing what it called a “halal” comic book on the life of Islamic prophet Mohammad. The book was created with the help of a Islamic Franco-Tunisian sociologist and Charbonnier claimed, somewhat implausibly given his experiences, that there was no reason why anyone would take offense.

Even those who have defended the magazine’s right to publish have admitted the articles have been crass. But Charbonnier told Al Jazeera in a 2012 interview, that his argument has always been that free speech must be upheld and cannot be bounded by what will and will not cause offense.

Today, the Charlie Hebdo story took a gruesome turn as two gunmen burst into its offices and shot dead at least 12 people. They shouted “we have avenged the prophet!” according to Sky News.

While Christ teaches that we are to forgive our transgressors seventy seven times (Matthew 18:22), it should not surprise anyone that Islam not only condones violence but actually commands it.

In the Quran, Muslims are told:
Fight and slay the pagans [i.e. infidels] wherever ye find them, and seize them, beleaguer them, and lie in wait for them in every stratagem of war.
— Sura 9:5

What are Muslims supposed to do to the people who resist Islam? 
Their punishment is — execution, or crucifixion, or the cutting off of hands and feet from the opposite sides, or exile from the land.
— Sura 5:33

The differences between Islam and Christianity are clear and obvious.

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My thoughts: 

Over the last few weeks, I'm sure we've heard plenty of outbursts from all perspectives. Some use this to bash against all Muslims, and hateful words can be heard all around -- even out of the mouths of Christians, who are supposedly the light of the world.

Agape. This is the Greek word for "love," used to describe the kind of fatherly, selfless love that God has for us. We are told to love God and love others as ourselves. And no other commandment is greater than these (Mark 12:31).

As Martin Luther King Jr. Day approaches, it's only appropriate to learn from how he led about great, impactful changes by promoting God's love for all, promoting love and peace -- even when opponents fought against his message with brutal hatred and violence! 

2 Corinthians 5:20
Now then, we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God were pleading through us: we implore you on Christ's behalf, be reconciled to God.

Because God is righteous, sin cannot exist. Hate the sin, not the sinner. So often we just lump the sin and the sinner together and release what we think is our righteous anger. Let me be clear, each one of us is a sinner. And as long as we reside in our fallen body, not one of us can ever have righteous anger. Only God and God alone can express righteous anger because only He is perfectly just and sinless.

What are we taught to do instead? Forgive (Matthew 6:14-15; 18:21-22). LOVE THE SINNER. Help him or her see the love of Christ -- Never push him/her down and rub his/her face in the dirt!

When we proclaim to be followers of Christ, recognize that we represent His name. The world looks at us and will judge Christ based on our representation. Jesus is our God of LOVE -- His love is so great, He wants ALL to be saved and have not one perish (2 Peter 3:9). As we spread the Gospel around the world, be careful that we do not misrepresent Him or taint His Message of Love and Peace.


--

Related Articles

Charlie Hebdo attack: Suspects identified after 12 killed; manhunt in Paris
— CNN

Paris Attack on Charlie Hebdo Story Unfolded (Video)
— ABC

Charlie Hebdo terror attack
— The Mirror

Gun attack on French magazine kills 12
— BBC

The Attack on Charlie Hebdo
— The New Yorker


Bible study update

Thank you for your caring thoughts and prayers for the last few weeks! I am doing well -- just have been overwhelmed with work! I am extremely humbled and blessed by God that I am able to be a vehicle for His Word. It pains me to not be able to donate more time to sharing His Word!

I have not yet had the time to do additional in-depth study of Leviticus or Numbers, so I have decided to refrain from just posting my simplistic answers to the BSF study questions. I remain completely open to dialogues about these studies though! So, feel free to leave comments to stir up a discussion ;)


In the mean time, I'm trying to get back on track with my personal Bible study, through the Book of Genesis. I hope to consistently post my notes and thoughts of this study on a weekly basis!


I was reading through Matthew a few days ago and came upon the following passages that brought me great encouragement -- Hopefully, it'll do the same for you all as well:


Matthew 6:19-20

Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal; but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. 

Matthew 6:25

Therefore I say to you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink; nor about your body, what you will put on... Is not life more than food and the body more than clothing?

It is difficult to see past the needs and wants of our flesh, but it is so, so, so critical that we fully grasp that life is far more than what we eat, what we wear, and what we have. As Christians, we ultimately have a kingdom to lead with Christ as Kings and Priests -- So, no matter the difficulty, the hardship, the sorrow, remember Paul's encouragement: 

Hebrews 12:1-2

... Let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.

Matthew 6:33

Seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you. 

God bless!


Genesis 1:24-31

Bible study with Dr. Chuck Missler

Day 6 (Genesis 1:24-31)

Major Topics: 
Animals and Man
Land Animals
Fallacies and Frauds
Evidences of Design 
Architecture of Man


Genesis 1:24-25
And God said, Let the earth bring forth the living creature after his kind, cattle, and creeping thing, and beast of the earth after his kind: and it was so. And God made the beast of the earth after his kind, and cattle after their kind, and every thing that creepeth upon the earth after his kind: and God saw that it was good.

Living creatures point to the existence of DESIGN
Each animal species is digitally defined, with evidences of unique specific design in each species of animal.

Example: The Giraffe needs a unique circulatory system for survival
A giraffe can stand 19 ft tall, weighs about 2500 lbs, can run 36 mph, and eats 201 lbs/day; 16-20 hrs/day is spent eating. It sleeps about 20 min/day and can go without water for months at a time.

Blood pressure in a giraffe’s aorta is about 220 mm of mercury when the animal is standing. This pressure would be dangerously high in a human, but is necessary in a giraffe to lift blood up the animal’s long neck to its brain. To accomplish this, the giraffe’s heart is about 2 1/2 ft long.

However, when bending down to drink water, the pressure is more than enough to burst the blood vessels in its brain. So, valves in the arteries in the neck begin to close; blood beyond the last valve is shunted under the brain into sponge-like vessels (called the “rete mirabile”). Upon raising its head, the “sponge” squeezes its oxygenated blood into the brain, and special valves in the vein facilitates the equalization of pressure.

How could this mechanism possibly have evolved? Without this mechanism in full function, the giraffe would die. And well, as we have beat it to death in the previous lesson, dead giraffes don't evolve.

Genesis 1:26-27
And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness: and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth. So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them.

A hint at the Trinity
Notice the plurals: “us” and “our.” (Genesis 1:26; 3:22; 11:7; Isaiah 6:8).

How does one reconcile the “One God” of the Old Testament (Deut 6:4-5; Ex 20:3) with the three “Persons” of the New Testament Trinity (Mt 28:19; 2 Cor 13:14; John 14-17, etc.)? The Sh’ma of Deuteronomy 6:4-5 clearly emphasizes the singularity of God, which is also reconfirmed in the Ten Commandments (Exodus 20:3), etc. Yet the
New Testament clearly proclaims a three-person Godhead (Mt 28:19, 2 Cor 13:14, John 14-17, etc.).

Perhaps the concept of a PERFECT unity of multiple persons is difficult for us to grasp because we humans have yet to develop such a perfect unity?

Exchanges among the Godhead show how the Trinity exhibits the perfect unity of plurality
(Ref. Gen 3:22; 11:7; Isa 6:8; 48:12, 13, 16; Ps 2:7; 45:7; 110:1; Mt 11:27; Jn 8:42; 17:24)

Every major event is attributed to each person of the Godhead:

The following are just some examples, by no means exhaustive.

Creation of the Universe
• Father: Psalm 102:25.
• Son: Colossians 1:16; John 1:1-3
• Spirit: Genesis 1:2; Job 26:13
• [All three in Elohim, Gen 1:1]

Creation of Man
• Father: Genesis 2:7
• Son: Colossians 1:16
• Spirit: Job 33:4
• [Plurals: Ecclesiastes 12:1; Isaiah 54:5]

Incarnation
• Father: Hebrews 10:5
• Son: Philippians 2:7
• Spirit: Luke 1:35

The Death of Christ
• Father: Psalm 22:15; Romans 8:32; John 3:16
• Son: John 10:18; Galatians 2:20
• Spirit: Hebrews 9:14

The Atonement
• Father: Isaiah 53:6, 10
• Son: Ephesians 5:2
• Spirit: Hebrews 9:14

The Resurrection of Christ
• Father: Acts 2:24; Romans 6:4
• Son: John 10:17, 18; John 2:19
• Spirit: 1 Peter 3:18; Romans 8:11

The Resurrection of All Mankind
• Father: John 5:21
• Son: John 5:21
• Spirit: Romans 8:11

The Inspiration of the Scriptures
• Father: 2 Timothy 3:16
• Son: 1 Peter 1:10,11
• Spirit: 2 Peter 1:21


Genesis 1:28-29
And God blessed them, and God said unto them, Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth, and subdue it: and have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over every living thing that moveth upon the earth. And God said, Behold, I have given you every herb bearing seed, which is upon the face of all the earth, and every tree, in the which is the fruit of a tree yielding seed; to you it shall be for meat.

This is the divine mandate for doing good science!

“Dominion”
The dominion of man was lost to Satan in the Garden of Eden, by the First Adam. It will be regained and won by the Last Adam, Jesus Christ, in Revelation 5.

“...every herb bearing seed...”
Plants are just one example of the complex design of living systems; they produce both the free oxygen as well as a surplus of sugar to provide food for the animals. Animals burn this energy, producing the CO2 needed by the plants. How could this highly complex interdependency between the animal and the plant kingdoms all happened “simply by blind, unaided, random chance”?! The only thing missing from nature is randomness!

Randomness
Randomness lacks symmetry, periodicity, evidence of design or order of any kind.

The Fibonacci Sequence
• In 1180, Leonardo Fibonacci (“Leonardo of Pisa”) published the Fibonacci Sequence in his book, Liber Abaci.
• 1,1,2,3,5,8,13,21,34,55,89,144,233 -- This is NOT a random string of numbers.
• The ratio of any adjacent numbers is about 1.618

The Fibonacci ratio is used in the Golden Rectangle
• The longer side is to the shorter side as the sum of the two sides is to the longer side: L/x = (x + L)/L.
• This ratio is found in the Parthenon in Greece, the Great Pyramid, the United Nations Building, credit cards, playing cards, postcards, light switch plates, writing pads, 3x5, 5x8 index cards, etc.

The Fibonacci ratio is employed in classic art 
Leonardo da Vinci, Van Gogh, Vermeer, John Singer Sargent, Monet, Whistler, Renoir, Mary Cassatt, Giotto, Durer.

The Golden Rectangle yields a dynamic symmetry—in contrast to static symmetry—it reflects growth, power, and movement, giving animation and life to an artist’s work.

Hundreds of years later, the Fibonacci Sequence was recognized in the DESIGN of nature!

Floral Arrangements
• Lily, 3 petals
• Yellow violet, 5 petals
• Delphinium, 8 petals
• Mayweed, 13 petals
• Aster, 21 petals
• Pyrethrum, 34 petals
• Helenium, 55 petals
• Michaelmas Daisy, 89 petals

Phyllotaxis is the study of the spiral arrangement of leaves around a plant’s stem
– Elm, set circumference as a ratio of 1
– Beech, Hazel 1/3
– Apricot, Oak 2/5
– Pear, Poplar 3/8
– Almond, Pussy Willow 5/13
– Pines 5/21 or 13/34
• 434 Angiospermae, 44 Gymnospermae – all with Fibonacci numbers in their design.
• This maximizes exposure to sunlight and air without shading or crowding from other leaves.

Seeds
• Rows of bracts on Pinecones: 8, 13
• Pineapples: 8, 13, 21
• Optimum divergence angle: 137.5 degrees produces the best packing; that’s why you see Fibonacci spirals in the seed heads (sunflowers, etc.)

The Golden Spiral
The is the only spiral that does not alter its shape as it grows. As you might have guessed it, this spiral is found in the nature: Chambered Nautilus, hurricanes, spiral seeds, rams’ horns, a sea-horse tail; growing fern leaves, the DNA molecule, waves breaking on the beach, tornados, galaxies, tail of a comet around the sun, whirlpools, and the seed patterns of sunflowers, daisies, and dandelions. It’s also found in the ears of all mammals and the cochlea of the human ear.

The Fibonacci design isn't just FUNCTIONAL but also BEAUTIFUL. The Fibonacci design is ALL AROUND US -- and some would accredit all of this beauty to random chance?! No. The Fibonacci sequence is evidence of DESIGN, not randomness! God is so amazing that His Work not only functions optimally but also is a masterwork of beauty!

Music
* The most beautiful chords found in music are the major and minor sixths.
* Musicians like Bach, Beethoven, Bartok, etc., would divide musical time into periods based on the same “golden” ratio (1.618) to determine the beginnings and endings of themes, moods, texture, etc. Randomness is cacophony; only design leads to masterpieces. If the complexity of Beethoven's symphony is attributed to design, how can we possibly attribute the complexity of all living things around us to randomness?

The Human Body: Beauty is defined by the Fibonacci ratio
• The distance from foot-to-knee x 1.618 = distance to the navel.
• 0.618 navel-to-chin = length of face
• Chin-to-lips, tip of nose to pupils, pupils to top of head, etc. -- 1.618 yields the distances to facial parts.
• Since man is made in the image of God, it is not surprising to find our beauty be defined in God's harmonious proportions!

J.S. Mill
"Penetrate into nature wherever the scientist may, thought has been there before him."

“Monkey Men” Frauds
As a scientist, I'm not saying science is invalid. However, it is a discipline that when objectivity is NOT diligently maintained, false truths are spread around the world. Below are examples of past scientific theories of how man evolved from monkeys have been PROVEN to be FALSE:
• Heidelberg Man, 1907 – Built from a jawbone.
• Nebraska Man, 1922 – Henry Osborn built model from just one tooth. This tooth was later confirmed to be from an extinct pig.
• Piltdown Man, 1912 – Charles Dawson built this model from a jawbone of modern ape. In 1953, it was proven to be a deliberate fraud. The jawbone was filed, treated with iron salts to make it look "old."
• Peking Man, 1921 – The evidence of this model "disappeared," an outright act of fraud.
• Neanderthal Man – This was found in a cave in the Neander Valley near DuΓΌsseldorf. Int’l Congress of Zoology in 1958 showed that it was of an old man suffering from arthritis.
• Java Man, 1922 – The model includes 1891 skull cap; 50 ft. femur (thigh) bone. The evidence was concealed, and the teeth were of an orangutan.

The “Mind” is not just the organ of the “Brain”
The Human Brain has 10^10 nerve cells, each with 10^4 – 10^5 connecting fibers. This approaches 10^15 connections, which is equivalent the following totals: 50,000 leaves/tree; 10,000 trees/sq. mile; 2 million square miles = A forest the size of the USA!

The Human Brain Network
This network is a highly organized network of uniquely adaptive communication channels; if only 1% of the connections were specifically organized pathways, it would still represent a greater number of connections than the entire communications network on the Planet Earth.

How do our brains process information, form creative thoughts, develop and recall memories? All of these questions remain mysteries, despite decades of research. 


The Architecture of Man

1 Thess 5:23
And the very God of peace sanctify you wholly; and I pray God your whole spirit and soul and body be preserved blameless unto the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.

“... Spirit and soul and body...” -- Could this be the trinity of man?

The Hebrew word, "nephesh" means soul
Soul, self, life, creature, person, appetite, mind, living being, desire, emotion, passion... The term occurs at least 751 times in the Bible.

Brown, Driver, & Briggs, A Hebrew Lexicon of the Old Testament, highlights three primary meanings of nephesh:

1) Physical Life. An animal is called a nephesh as long as it is living. A dead animal is never called a nephesh because its body would be devoid of the life principle. It is used this way 150 times in the Old Testament. Adam’s body was complete yet unanimated until God placed in it “the spirit of life” (Gen 2:7).

2) Figurative Usage. A synecdoche for the whole person Gen 36:6, etc. A synecdoche is a figure of speech in which the specific is used for the general: “Give me a hand”; “lend me an ear”; “fancy wheels, man”; “nice threads”; etc. [In this sense, the Jews were prohibited from touching dead people (Lev 21:1, 11).]

3) The Soul. The Inner Being, the transcendent self, which departs at death and returns with life at the resurrection (Gen 35:18; 1 Kgs 17:21, etc.). That to which is attributed reason, emotion, will, and worship.

Rabbinic literature understood the soul to be invisible and immortal. [Babylonian Talmud (Ber. 59, AZ 21), Midrash (Gen 409, 516, 549; Num 733; Ecc 83, 229); et al (Morey, p.50).] All Jews except the Sadducees believed in the immortality of the soul [Josephus, Wars of Jews II, 154-159, 1632, 166].

The Hebrew word, "ruach" also means soul
The term occurs 378 times in the Bible.
• Breath, wind.
• God’s Spirit, the Holy Spirit
• Angels, good and evil.
• Life in men.
• Disembodied spirits.
• Disposition or attitude.
• Seat of the emotions, mind and will.

"Psuche"
• The LXX translated "Nephesh" as "Psuche" in 785 out of 810 cases.
• The Greek word for physical life was never used as the equivalent of Nephesh, to deliberately avoid equating the soul with mere physical life.
• “Psychology” is derived from psuche.

Psuche's definition: breath; the breath of life, of animals, of men; that in which there is life; a living soul; the seat of the feelings, desires, affections, aversions; the soul as an essence which differs from the body and is not dissolved by death.

"Pneuma"
• A movement of air; the wind; breath of nostrils or mouth; [Cf. “pneumatics” etc.]
• The spirit, i.e. the vital principal by which the body is animated; the rational spirit, the power by which the human being feels, thinks, decides; the soul.
• A spirit; i.e., a simple essence, devoid of all matter, and possessed of the power of knowing, desiring, deciding, and acting.
• A spirit higher than man but lower than God, i.e. an angel; used of demons, or evil spirits, as inhabiting the bodies of men.
• The 3rd person of the Trinity, the God the Holy Spirit.

The Greatest Commandment: We are instructed to “love God with all of our heart, soul, strength and mind.”

What does this really mean? How do we love with our heart? How do we love with our soul? How do we love with our mind?

We cannot determine the architecture of software by external means; we need the designer’s manual! For example, if we want to know how a computer software works, we cannot figure that out just by looking at the computer itself. To understand the language used to program the software, we need the code the designed used to create the software! 

"Ye are the Temple of God"
In the Bible, seven times it was declared, “Ye are the Temple of God” (1 Cor 3:9-17; 6:19; 2 Cor. 6:16; Eph. 2:20,21; Heb. 3:6; 1 Pet. 2:5; 4:17).

Our soul is the software; our body is our hardware. No one can get to know our true self just by looking at us from the outside. The only way for even ourselves to know our true self is to learn from God's manual -- His Word!

Software Characteristics
• Operating System (Windows, etc.): The Superprogram managing all the internal resources. This makes all the internal resources independent of the specific hardware environment
• User Interface: This controls all interactions with the external environment: I/O, etc.
• Memory Management: This allocates locations, finds what’s necessary, etc.
• Software includes self-modifying codes.
• Software is generated from high level language layers into “machine code.” Its architecture cannot be inferred from its external behavior.
• Software has no “mass.” It can be transmitted through the airwaves. It has no time dimension.

The Physics of Immortality
Frank J. Tipler, Professor of Mathematical Physics, Tulane University (a major theoretician in the field of global general relativity, that rarefied branch of physics created by Stephen Hawking and Roger Penrose). In pursuing a mathematical model involving the end of the universe, Tipler (a professed atheist) came to two conclusions.

Using the most advanced and sophisticated methods of modern physics, demands “in exactly the same way physicists calculate the properties of an electron” arrived at two conclusions about God and immortality:
1) He discovered proof of the existence of God.
2) He also now believes that every human being who ever lived will be resurrected from the dead.


Genesis 1:30-31
And to every beast of the earth, and to every fowl of the air, and to every thing that creepeth upon the earth, wherein there is life, I have given every green herb for meat: and it was so. And God saw every thing that he had made, and, behold, it was very good. And the evening and the morning were the sixth day.

All creation up to this point is apparently vegetarian. This was changed after Flood; Gen 9:3.

Creation Completed
“The 6th Day”: "THE" is the definite article used for the first time; it stresses completion.

In the Onkelos Translation (known as “The Translation,” because this version was so venerated), it translated this definite article as, “It was a unified order.”

Study Questions
1) What peculiar design problems does a giraffe present, and how do they refute evolution as a source of design? Why couldn’t these have been resolved by random processes?
2) What are the main references to the Trinity in the Bible? (Include those in the Old Testament.)
3) How is photosynthesis a refutation of evolution?
4) How is the co-dependency of plants and animals an evidence of skillful design?
5) How is the role of symmetry in nature a refutation of randomness as a source of “design”?
6) What are Fibonacci numbers and why are they significant? 1) What do they reveal about our Creator?
8) List the historical “monkey men” and the basis of regarding them as frauds.
9) List at least 8 complex interdependent systems of the human body and explain why they represent substantial design problems of their existence. What are the main features of the human anatomy that refute accidental unaided chance as an explanation for our origin?
11) How does the architecture of the Temple facilitate our understanding of our own architecture? What is the basis?
12) How does Einstein’s Theory of Relativity impact our understanding of immortality?


Sunday, December 14, 2014

Exodus 35-40

THE PEOPLE BUILD THE TABERNACLE (Exodus 35-40)

Remember the Sabbath

Exodus 35:2
Work shall be done for six days, but the seventh day shall be a holy day for you, a Sabbath of rest to the LORD.

Moses reminded people of the Sabbath, that work should be done for six days only, but the seventh day should be reserved for the Lord. The Sabbath isn’t just a day of rest but a day to be spent with the Lord, so that we can nurture our individual relationship with the Lord.  

God is stressing here that despite the world and the associated needs, we are to continue to build our relationship with God. Yes, the Tabernacle will be built, but not at the expense of our continual building of our relationship with God. Our lives are not to cut into the personal time we spend with God.

As God’s people, we are called to live apart from the world (cf. Exodus 4:23; 10:3, 7; 12:31; 25:8). We are to live in this world (to spread the Gospel with non-believers) but not be of this world. As we live in this world, we are taught to be shining the light of Christ. 

God provides
God was the ultimate supplier of the talent and the materials to build the tabernacle.

For example, God gave the artisans the talent to build the tabernacle (Exodus 35:10). Similarly, God put it in our heart to provide the materials needed to build our lives according to His will.

Exodus 35:5
Whoever is of a willing heart, let him bring it as an offering to the LORD.

God always wants a willing heart. He never wants to force anyone into anything. God only wants from us what we're willing to give, cheerfully (cf. Exodus 35:24; 36:2).

God also chose the lead craftsmen. 

Bezalel was filled with the Spirit of God, in wisdom and understanding, in knowledge and all manner of workmanship, to design artistic works, to work in gold and silver and bronze, in cutting jewels for setting, in carving wood, and to work in all manner of artistic workmanship.

Aholiab was skilled to do all manner of work of the engraver and the designer and the tapestry maker.

Exodus 36:2
… and every gifted artisan in whose heart the LORD had put wisdom, everyone whose heart was stirred, to come and do the work.

For all those with a willing heart, they received more than enough to complete the work of God.

Exodus 36:5
They spoke to Moses, saying, “The people bring much more than enough for the service of the work which the LORD commanded us to do.”

And the people built the Tabernacle exactly as God had commanded. 

James taught us that we need to be doers of His word, not just hearers. These next few chapters show us exactly what that means: When we receive instructions from the Lord, it is not enough that we just hear it -- but do it as well.

God instructs Moses to set the Holy of Holies in place first
The Holy of Holies is the most important part of the tabernacle (cf. Exodus 25:22; Leviticus 16:14-16), because this was where God’s presence rests.

Once the tabernacle was fully assembled, the glory of God filled the tabernacle (Exodus 40:34). This event is an example of how God’s promise to always dwell among us is kept (Exodus 25:8) and is ultimately fulfilled with the birth of Christ (Acts 2:1-12). Today, with Christ defeating death and ascension into Heaven, the Holy Spirit now dwells within us and fills us 24/7, a phenomenon foreign to the Old Testament Israelites!

God guides the Israelites through the wilderness
Manifesting as a cloud of glory, God guided the Israelites through the wilderness. Whenever the cloud lifted, the children of Israel traveled. Whenever the cloud stayed over the tabernacle, they remained in the camp and did not set out.

Physically, the cloud sheltered the children of Israel from their enemies: a cloud would prevent their enemies from seeing them; a cloud of fire would prevent their enemies from getting too close to them.

Today, God also guides us – not through manifestation of a cloud, but through the Holy Spirit and through His Word. If we seek Him, we shall have Him – This is the promise God has given us (cf. Psalm 25:5; John 8:12; Hebrews 1:1-3, James 1:5).

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Exodus 33-34

MOSES DESIRES TO FOLLOW GOD AND GOD ALONE (Exodus 33)

Exodus 33:7
Moses took his tent and pitched it outside the camp, far from the camp, and called it the tabernacle of meeting…

Moses put his tent far away because the sins of the people had desecrated the camp. This reinforces the idea that there are consequences for sins, that such sins prevent us from being in the full presence of God.

Exodus 33:7
… everyone who sought the LORD went out to the tabernacle of meeting which was outside the camp.

This shows that God discriminates between those who sin against Him and those who earnestly seek him. God will not condemn the whole group of people for the acts of a few.

To be a "friend" of God

Exodus 33:11
The LORD would speak to Moses face to face, as one speaks to a friend.

James 2:23
And the scripture was fulfilled that says, "A braham believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness," and he was called God's friend.

John 15:15
I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know his master's business. Instead, I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from my Father I have made known to you.

God shares His plans only with those who are in a relationship with Him.

Exodus 33:13
Now therefore, I pray, if I have found grace in Your sight, show me now Your way, that I may know You and that I may find grace in Your sight. And consider that this nation is Your people.

God told Moses that He would send an angel to guide Moses and his people to the promised land. However, here, Moses is basically saying, “I know you, God, but I don't know this angel. Therefore, please let it be You who leads us into the promised land.”

Moses' plea with God shows the tremendous amount of love he had for the Lord. He is basically saying, “I don't care about Canaan or milk and honey. I care about my relationship with you, God. That's what I signed up for, because you will be there with me. If you take that away, then I will not move an inch without you.”

And in response to Moses’ plea, God reassured Moses that He will lead the people into the promised land, as Moses as pleaded.

Exodus 33:20
But He said, “You cannot see My face; for no man shall see Me, and live.”

To see God in our fallen bodies would result in death.


GOD RENEWS HIS COVENANT WITH HIS PEOPLE (Exodus 34)

Despite the graveness of the sins they had committed, God still reached out and forgave the Israelites

Exodus 33:6-7
The LORD, the LORD God, merciful and gracious, long-suffering, and abounding in goodness and truth, keeping mercy for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin, by no means clearing the guilty, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children and the children’s children to the third and the fourth generation.

Upon hearing from the Lord, Moses immediately worshipped the Lord and prayed once again for grace and mercy for his people. God promised that He would make a covenant with His people, performing marvels that had not been done in all the earth, or in any nation. God repeated the laws in detail to remind them of the covenant they had previously formed, to remind them that God’s standards had never changed, that He is never-changing, to remind them of the faithfulness they need to maintain.

Knowing that they have been forgiven, the Israelites could move forward knowing their broken relationship between them and God was restored.

Our God is a jealous God (Exodus 34:14; 2 Chronicles 16:9; Isaiah 30:1-2; Joel 2:18) 
As humans, we are vehemently against infidelity. We cannot stand it when our spouse or significant other commits adultery and romantically loves another. Why then do we have difficulties understanding God’s jealousy? God is the one and ONLY true God. He does not want us to divide our love among false gods. His jealousy is not the simple jealousy we feel when we sense our love is shared; His jealousy is that of a great father’s, who protects our love from false worship. He wants to make sure that our love is spent toward only what is real, only what is authentic, and not be divided among false idols who are nothing but a figment of imagination.

Let God’s glory be reflected in our walk
Having met with God, Moses’ face remained radiant, because God’s glory was reflected upon his face (Cf. Exodus 34:33-35; 2 Corinthians 3:7-18).

Similarly, our walk should reflect the glory of God. Let us shine with Christ’s light as we walk in this world!

Saturday, November 15, 2014

Exodus 32-33:1-6

MOSES BREAKS THE TABLETS OF COMMANDMENTS… LITERALLY (Exodus 32)

Israel falls back into idol worship (Exodus 32:1-6)
The Israelites didn’t think Moses was coming back and fell immediately back into Egyptian idolatry.

During this ordeal, the people violated at least the first 3 commandments:
1. They bowed to another God – breaking the 1st commandment. 
2. They made an engraved image – breaking the 2nd commandment. 
3. They used the Lord's name in vain – breaking the 3rd commandment. 

Aaron's fall here is people-pleasing. Instead of rebuking them for their lack of faith, he caved in to the people’s requests and gave them what they wanted. We must never have a great fear of pleasing man than pleasing God!

We must not be people-pleasers. It may not be popular to do the right thing, but we are not put in this world to please people. We are put in this world to be a LIGHT to the people. We are here to show them how God’s people live. Are we serious about our walk with God, our eternal life with God? Or, are we really just interested in fulfilling the lust of our flesh with worldly comforts? Figure that out, and our choice to either be people-pleasers or God-pleasers will become very clear.

Satan never gives up. As long as Jesus has not yet return to claim His kingdom, Satan will try his hardest to take as many souls as he can. We thus need to be on our guard and always have on the Armor of God (Ephesians 6:10-20). When we feel that we are being tempted, we should pray for the protection and the guidance of the Holy Spirit, because we alone cannot successfully defeat Satan.

1 John 4:4
You are of God, little children, and have overcome them, because He who is in you is greater than he who is in the world.

With the Holy Spirit, we can have the confidence to know that we are well protected!

Live not as a hypocrite!

Exodus 32:6
Then they rose early on the next day, offered burnt offerings, and brought peace offerings.

The burnt offering is an offering that is completely consumed, representing our complete dedication to God. The peace offering represents fellowship with God.

Here, the people offered God these dedications yet their lives failed to line up with their offering!

We need to realize what we are doing when we worship. Are we just superstitious and want to believe in something, or are we serious about getting to know the almighty God who is very real? If we have come to know God, then approach Him the way He has taught us, not making up or copying paganistic rituals and think we’re honoring Him when we’re really just in great disobedience! 

Who would want to follow a God that could be made by human hands?!

Exodus 32:1
Come, make us gods that shall go before us; for as for this Moses, the man who brought us up out of the land of Egypt, we do not know what has become of him.

This shows that the Israelites have lost their relationship with God and needed to create something that would allow them to feel that connection again. Many of us fall into this trap as well. For example, when we feel like we need to sit somewhere in the church because that was where we have previously met with God, or we feel that when we are at the Wailing Wall, that is where God can hear us best, etc. We are closest to God when our HEART is one with Him. God’s presence is not limited to location – and if we want to feel His presence, we just have to open our hearts up to Him!

Sometimes, faith is just waiting for God to work, not only just making things happen. 
The Israelites had no idea how long Moses would be gone and did not want to wait long. Moses was gone for a mere 40 days… It sure didn’t take them long before they fell right back into idolatry! 

When God is patient in doing things, we must not become impatient to stand in way of God's timing.

The golden calf was a symbol worshiped in Egypt for power and fertility
The worst kind of idolatry is self-worship, where we take the gifts God has blessed us with, and instead of thanking Him and use those gifts to give Him the glory, we think our success is ours alone and that we are amazing because we alone are superior.

Moses intercedes for his people (Exodus 32:7-14)

Exodus 32:7
And the LORD said to Moses, “Go, get down! For your people whom you brought out of the land of Egypt have corrupted themselves.”

At this point in time, God did not claim the Israelites as His people because of their disobedience.

Upon learning that God was aggravated, Moses immediately began interceding for his people, showing the great love he had developed for them. 

1st reason (Exodus 32:11): God had already put into so much work for these people. 

2nd reason (Exodus 32:12): Others would misunderstand God's judgment on Israel, that God didn't save Israel from Egypt because Egypt was sinful but because Israelites were a people that needed to be destroyed, so God took them out into the wilderness to do so. 

3rd reason (Exodus 32:13): God made a one-sided covenant with the people. That is, the fulfillment of this covenant was dependent on God and God alone, not at all requiring the obedience of the people. (Aren’t we glad our salvation is not dependent on our perfection but God’s and God’s alone?)

God relented (Exodus 32:14)
Some would use this example as how prayer "changed" the mind of God. However, I think a more well-rounded perspective is to view this in the context of 1 John 5:14-15.

1 John 5:14-15
Now this is the confidence that we have in Him, that if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us. And if we know that He hears us, whatever we ask, we know that we have the petitions that we have asked of Him.

Moses' prayer was in line with God's wishes, and hence his intercession for his people was granted. 

Forty years earlier, Moses didn't have the heart to lead his people. But now, the above intercession is evidence of how God has cultivated Moses' heart as a shepherd for his people – Moses’ heart was now completely in line with God's call on Moses! This is how amazing God is when we are faithful in Him and allow Him to work through us! We may think we can’t; we may think the challenge is too great and that we simply are not qualified for the job. But, once we realize that we are not doing it based our own merits but based on God’s power, we will be able to relinquish control, allow God to be the driver of our lives, and see the amazing places He takes us!

Moses breaks the Tablets (Exodus 32:15-20)

Exodus 32:19-20
So Moses’ anger became hot, and he cast the tablets out of his hands and broke them at the foot of the mountain. Then he took the calf which they had made, burned it in fire, and ground it to powder; and he scattered it on the water and made the children of Israel drink it.

Imagine Moses' emotions here. This people had a great history behind them with a great future ahead of them. He leaves for 40 days and comes back to this? When he sees that many of the commandments had already been broken, breaking the tablets was a mere symbolism of what has already happened in their hearts. The commandments were not engraved on their hearts. What value is there then for the commandments carved on stones? Moses then had the people drink the water containing the destroyed idol, allowing them to bear the consequences of their sin.

Couple of lessons:

1. Moses is exposing the people to the folly of worshipping a false idol, where a mere man can come and reduce it to powder. How powerful can a god be if he can't protect itself from one man? How can such a god protect 2-3 million people? Again, we need to be fully aware of what we are worshiping. Are we worshiping God, the true Creator of the Universe, or do we just want to worship a figment of our imagination? What is the point of worshiping something that is not real? Why give such an idol our time, energy, and money for nothing, for no hope?

2. We must take immediate and drastic measures to drive out sin in our life. Very few of us commit murders. It is such a major sin, we know not to go near it – very much like how we know not to approach a burning building. However, the sins often ignored are the sins that “don’t seem so bad.” We therefore allow them to linger in our lives, not realizing how little by little, it eats away at our walk with God – very much like how frogs will be boiled alive if we put them first in cold water and then slowly increase the heat until the water is boiling. There is a saying, “Give a mouse a cookie, and it will ask for a glass of milk.” Satan is just like that mouse. We need to make sure we give him not one tiny, tiny hold to tug on our lives. If we do, it may start out as small, but he surely will increase it to enormous proportions. This is why Paul warned us to never give Satan a foothold (Ephesians 4:27)!

Aaron tolerates sin, while Moses eradicates sin (Exodus 32:21-29)
Aaron, in Moses’ absence, was supposed to be the leader of this people, to shepherd them in the ways of God. Instead, Aaron led the people straight into sin. Instead of coming clean when rebuked by Moses (Exodus 32:25), Aaron, like Adam, put a bunch of reasons between him and the sin he had committed (Exodus 32:22-24). 

Exodus 32:24
… and this calf came out.

First, Aaron blamed the people, then the gold, then the furnace, then the calf! Not once did he take the responsibility for his own actions. Instead, like Adam, Aaron portrayed himself as an innocent bystander. 

When we are confronted with our sin, we are to never lie or find excuses. Moses' intercession for Aaron was the only reason God didn’t strike Aaron dead on the spot – Just as how we are spiritually alive because Jesus continuously intercedes for us in front of the Father.

The sin Aaron had committed was already bad enough. If he had just taken responsibility, repent, and seek God’s guidance, the broken relationship between him and God could have been rapidly amended. It can be hard to acknowledge our sins and repent because of pride or shame or whatever. However, when we fail to take responsibility and lie and blame-shifts instead, we now have character issues that drag us farther into sin and prevent restoring our fellowship with God. But if we would just be honest about it and just spill it out to God, then the sin would not get bigger, and instead, the healing process could begin, restoring our relationship with God.

The worst excuses for us to use to justify our sins would be for us to tell ourselves, “Oh, it can’t be that bad. There are so many people who are worse than me. This is such a small sin compared to other much more serious sins.”

We are not God. Who are we to say what is “not that bad,” or how much we are better than others. God’s commandments are very clear. He tells us no idolatry. He doesn’t say, “Oh, money can buy you a lot of stuff, so yeah, go ahead, worship money. It’s okay. Compared to murder, worshiping is definitely way better off than murder.” No. God said no idolatry, no murder. That means either sin is wrong. Again, we need to be very vigilant about our walk with God. Satan loves to have a foothold on us and looks for every opportunity he can to grab on to our lives. “It’s not that bad,” is a very dangerous thought. This is how people lose their entire life-savings at a casino. And this is how we can lose our heavenly reward by allowing sin to continue to manifest in our lives.

Upon seeing the Israelites out of control, Moses took remedial actions
1. He broke the Tablets, symbolizing the Israelites had broken God’s commandments in their hearts.
2. He rebuked Aaron.
3. He rebuked the people.
4. He took actions to eradicate sin. 

Exodus 32:27
Thus says the LORD God of Israel: “Let every man put his sword on his side, and go in and out from entrance to entrance throughout the camp, and let every man kill his brother, every man his companion, and every man his neighbor.”

Even upon Moses' return, the people have not stopped worshipping the false god, still committing sexual immorality amidst their lewd dancing and partying. This was an open rebellion against God and His commands. 

These people were set aside not so that God could give them the Ten Commandments but so that He could bring the Savior into the world through them. 

Here, we see that the people only cared about satisfying the flesh, not at all concerned about abiding in the will of God. This is the kind of mentality – the sin, the leaven – that would spread through all people if not stopped. 

Sin is to be eradicated, holding God above man. Sin cannot be tolerated. Sin is the foothold Satan has on our lives. If we do not eradicate it, it will grow, pulling us further and further away from God.

Moses intercedes for his people, again (Exodus 32:30-33:6) 

Exodus 32:32
Yet now, if You will forgive their sin—but if not, I pray, blot me out of Your book which You have written.

Both Moses and Paul (e.g., Romans 9:1-3) exhibited great love for their people. They readily give up everything they have, sacrifice themselves completely, to ensure their people could be saved. They would readily die for the salvation of their people. Unfortunately, their blood is not good enough to wash away the sins of all people. As great as these men of God were, they were still sinners, and their blood could atone only for their own sins.

Jesus’ blood, however, could atone for the sins of the world (Matthew 1:21; Romans 3:23-26; Galatians 4:4-5; 1 Timothy 2:5-6; Hebrews 9:15). Because Jesus was of no sin, His blood was pure in perfect righteousness, therefore able to wash us all of our sins.

Moses leads his people out of Sinai (Exodus 33)

Exodus 33:3
… for I will not go up in your midst, lest I consume you on the way, for you are a stiff-necked people.”

Because of their great disobedience, God described the Israelites as stiff-necked people (Exodus 33:3). The righteousness of God would consume the sins of the people, hence God, showing grace, would not grant his presence. God cannot bless a rebellious people with the fullness of His people without having such a people be burned up in judgment.

Fortunately, upon learning of God’s rebuke, the people immediately repented (Exodus 33:6).

When we become aware that we no longer enjoy unbroken fellowship with the Lord, we should… 
1. Recognize we are wrong (confess).
2. Apologize (repent).
3. Fix the wrong (eradicate sin – It’s not enough to just say, “I’m sorry.” If we are truly sorry, then take action to fix the problem. Otherwise, the apology is just empty words!)