Sunbeams over the Grand Canyon, photo credit: Nate Loper

The Book of Jude and Genesis

[First published May, 2012] I’m way behind in a Precepts Bible study of the book of Jude, but yesterday I got to the end of the first week. They even recommended that we find a way to share what we were learning about the book with others!
I’ve been a fan of this tiny book snuggled up against Revelation for a long time and I’m excited to share what Jude tells us about Genesis.Sunbeams over the Grand Canyon, photo credit: Nate Loper

Jude’s book is only 25 verses long, so it’s a great way to impress people with your ability to read very quickly. “Mom, I read a whole book of the Bible this morning!” Or something like that. 😀 He has only a few points to make focusing on how easy it is to lose the truth we have been given in the Bible and warning us of ungodly men who use religion to cause all kinds of wickedness.

The first time Jude mentions ancient history is something that we only get in tiny bits and pieces through the Bible: the fall and punishment of angels who followed Satan.

6 And the angels which kept not their first estate, but left their own habitation, he hath reserved in everlasting chains under darkness unto the judgment of the great day.

There must be two classes of demons, because we know that there are still lots of them on the loose in the world [Matthew 8:28,29] even though the ones mentioned here are already bound.

Next, Jude moves on to the cities of the plain of Jordan which is now under the Salt (Dead) Sea.

7  Even as Sodom and Gomorrha, and the cities about them in like manner, giving themselves over to fornication, and going after strange flesh, are set forth for an example, suffering the vengeance of eternal fire.

Jude assumes that the events recorded in Genesis 19 are actual historical events. Since the valley of the Salt Sea isn’t still smoking, the “eternal fire” must be talking about what happened to the people of these cities after they died.

9 Yet Michael the archangel, when contending with the devil he disputed about the body of Moses, durst not bring against him a railing accusation, but said, The Lord rebuke thee.

I’ve always liked this verse. If angels are very careful how they interact with wicked beings, we humans had sure better humbly depend on God’s power rather than our own.

11a Woe unto them! for they have gone in the way of Cain,

Now we’re at the beginning of time! Do you remember what the “way of Cain” was? Just before Easter I wrote about Cain and what he chose to do to his righteous brother. This verse tells us that anyone who rejects the truth of the Bible and follows their selfish desires is following in Cain’s footsteps.

11c and perished in the gainsaying of Core.

This is talking about the time in the wilderness when his cousin Korah didn’t want to follow Moses’ leadership [Numbers 16]. God was very upset about this, so although Moses begged God not to destroy the whole people, he did ask for the ground to swallow Korah and his friends up [v 31-33]. That was one crazy earthquake! Jude also accepts this as a historical fact without question.
BTW, not all of Korah’s family died then, apparently at least one of his sons, Assir [I Chronicles 6:22-24], decided to stay close to Moses rather than his dad!

13b wandering stars, to whom is reserved the blackness of darkness for ever.

It took some searching to find out what this is talking about. Turns out the name “wandering stars” is the old term for the known planets.  This is a possible explanation, as Barnes’ notes points out that sailors can’t rely on them to guide them accurately.
There is another possibility as well. Jude might be talking about meteors which only shine for a moment before being extinguished forever. This wouldn’t be the first time God used one sentence to say more than one thing!

14-15 And Enoch also, the seventh from Adam, prophesied of these, saying, Behold, the Lord cometh with ten thousands of his saints, to execute judgment upon all, and to convince all that are ungodly among them of all their ungodly deeds which they have ungodly committed, and of all their hard speeches which ungodly sinners have spoken against him.

Now we finally come to some of the coolest stuff that Jude talks about! He makes no excuses for believing that the list of our forefathers in Genesis chapter 5 is complete and accurate. There are people who want to say a bunch of people were left out of this chapter, making the time of Adam and Eve much farther back in time. But Jude doesn’t even allow this as a possibility.

Then, we get a brief glimpse into what Enoch was like. All we know from Genesis 5:24 about his character is that he “walked with God”. It is nice to find out here that part of his job was to be a prophet of God’s judgment on the wicked.

We can also learn more of Enoch’s character from the meaning of his name. Enoch means “dedicated,” which tells us that his parents wanted him to be special for God. (Cain also named his son this, but he was dedicating him to something completely different!) 

Thank you, God for giving us not only what we need to understand how you work in the world, but even little bits about our shared history! It’s going to be awesome meeting this man who has been walking with you since just after the dawn of time.

Sun Rays, WikiMedia

Light before the Sun

Sun Rays, WikiMedia

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

There are some Christians who don’t believe that God meant Genesis chapters 1 and 2 actually happened as God tells us. They believe that God was just writing beautiful poetry to express His Evolutionary creation.

One of the reasons some say the days of creation couldn’t have happened the way God tells us is because light was created on Day One, but the sun wasn’t created until Day Four. They can’t believe that God would be able to produce light without a natural source.

But is this the only time God talks about light without sun or fire?

And the LORD went before them by day in a pillar of a cloud, to lead them the way; and by night in a pillar of fire, to give them light; to go by day and night: Exodus 13:21

This was no ordinary fire. There was nothing under it that was being burned up. After the Tabernacle was put up, the pillar spent all its time right above the Tabernacle, but it was never harmed (Exodus 40:38).

Pen and Ink drawing Moses and 10 CommandmentsAnd it came to pass, when Moses came down from mount Sinai with the two tables of testimony in Moses’ hand, when he came down from the mount, that Moses [knew] not that the skin of his face shone while he talked with him. Exodus 34:29

This verse tells us a very interesting thing about what happens to people when they spend time around God. Their exposed skin glows! Later in the chapter Moses tells how he covered his face so he wouldn’t scare the people around and it took some time (days or even weeks) for his skin to get back to normal.

There are people who think this probably happened with Adam and Eve before the Fall as well. My dad believes this, and so do the people making this movie (at least that’s what it looks like in the preview). Either way, we know people can shine without the sun, just from being near God.

As the appearance of the bow that is in the cloud in the day of rain, so was the appearance of the brightness round about. This was the appearance of the likeness of the glory of the LORD. Ezekiel 1:28

God Himself glows like a rainbow. There are four verses in the Psalms that talk about God shining on His people (Ps 67:1; 80:3,7,19). Daniel prayed that God would shine on His sanctuary in chapter 9:17. If anyone still doubts that God meant to give us the idea that He glows very brightly have a look at this passage:

And the city had no need of the sun, neither of the moon, to shine in it: for the glory of God did lighten it, and the Lamb is the light thereof.  And the nations of them which are saved shall walk in the light of it: and the kings of the earth do bring their glory and honour into it.  And the gates of it shall not be shut at all by day: for there shall be no night there. Revelation 21:23-25

Unless you are willing to say that the New Jerusalem that lasts forever is just a beautiful poem trying to describe what God actually meant, this is plain as day. Only a small, weak god would need to first create a sun before it could make light. Just like only a small, weak god would have to use something so painful and wasteful as Evolution to make the world we see around us.

Thank God He is actually great and mighty. His power is without limits. All Jesus had to do was speak the word and it was. Light, land, life are all perfectly planned from His mind straight to being real around and in us!

See now that I, even I, am he, and there is no god with me: I kill, and I make alive; I wound, and I heal: neither is there any that can deliver out of my hand.  For I lift up my hand to heaven, and say, I live for ever. Deuteronomy 32:39,40

open Bible

Science in the Bible: Magic Part 1

Magic Hat and BatonA repost, but the Bible hasn’t changed since 2012!

Someone asked what I thought about magic on facebook last week.  There was no way to fit a  response into 2 or 3 sentences, so I saved my answer for today.

The KJV Bible doesn’t even use the word “magic” or “magical.”  It does call certain people “magicians” in the Egyptian and Babylonian culture (more on them next time).  But the Bible does have a lot to say about this type of thing.

Magic, n.: 1. the art of producing illusions as entertainment by the use of sleight of hand, deceptive devices, etc.; legerdemain; conjuring: to pull a rabbit out of a hat by magic.

2. the art of producing a desired effect or result through the use of incantation or various other techniques that presumably assure human control of supernatural agencies or the forces of nature.

We’ll start with God’s power:Man doing a Card Trick

 

Can you tell me any place in the Bible where God Himself, or one of His servants did “sleight of hand” or “deceptive devices”?  The Scriptures tell us over and over that such things are completely opposed to God’s character.

In hope of eternal life, which God, that cannot lie, promised before the world began; Titus 1:2

God doesn’t need to do anything fake to prove He’s powerful.  He IS powerful.

Colorful Ice Cream ConesAs for definition #2, I’ve heard of people who think saying “in Jesus’ name” works like a magic spell, but does it really?  If you say, “God, give me 200 ice cream cones right now, in Jesus’ name!”  Is there any hope that He will answer such a demand?  Not a chance.

God isn’t a genie in a lamp who has to give us three wishes.  There’s no way He’s going to bow to anyone and jump to obey.

There’s also the idea of using some sort of magical object to get power.  Although the church in the middle ages was obsessed with relics (bits of stone, bone, or wood) did they really help? Does God listen better when you clutch a cross or pray in front of a saint’s tomb than He does otherwise?

There is one odd thing in the Old Testament that seems like magic: the Urim and Thumim.Clickr Question Mark Graphic

And [Joshua] shall stand before Eleazar the priest, who shall ask counsel for him after the judgment of Urim before the LORD:  Numbers 27:21

David used this unknown way of asking God questions several times.  You can see how this worked for yourself in I Samuel 23:6-12.  But all it seemed to do was say yes or no when God felt like answering.  When God was fed up with King Saul, He refused to answer with this system (I Samuel 28:6).

But this was so rare you probably never heard about it in Sunday School.  But what do we learn about God doing?  Miracles, wonders, and signs.

Yesterday, I read II Kings chapter 4.  This one chapter includes a lot of the types of miracles God does:

English: Wedding at Cana (top), Resurrecting t...

Wedding at Cana (top), Resurrecting the son of the Widow of Nain (bottom)

  • stretched existing food to meet the need (both the oil jug and the barley bread)
  • gave a woman a baby when it was naturally impossible
  • raised the dead (be sure to notice it was not any special action that made God decide to bring the boy back, it was Elisha’s passionate begging)
  • removed poison so people weren’t harmed

Other ways God showed His power:

  • Told people what cannot be known naturally (who Saul would be and where his dad’s donkeys were I Samuel 9:15,20; plus hundreds (thousands?) of future predictions throughout the Bible)
  • Hide/protected people from their enemies (Judges 7:10-15; I Samuel 26:11; II Kings 12:14-19; Acts 12:7-9)
  • Gave fire from the sky to establish God’s reality and approval (Leviticus 9:24; I Chronicles 21:26; II Chronicles 7:1; I Kings 18:38)
  • Sent plagues to punish and show His power over God’s enemies (Exodus chapters 5-12; Numbers 12:10, 16:49; I Samuel 6:19; Isaiah 37:36; Acts 5:5,10)
  • Made water do unnatural things (split: Exodus 14, Joshua 3:16, II Kings 2:8; hold people up while not frozen: Matthew 14:29)
  • Healed diseases (Numbers 12:14-16; II Kings 5:13,14; II Kings 20:7; all thru the Gospels and Acts)Whirl-fire
  • Burnt up people who were disobedient, rebellious, or servants of the wicked (Leviticus 10:2; Numbers 16:35, 26:10; II Kings 1:10,12 [note that the 3rd captain humbled himself and was spared])
  • Protected His own people from being burnt/eaten (Daniel 3, 6)
  • Rained “stones from heaven” Joshua 10:11.  This isn’t the word for hail, it’s the word for rocks.  God seems to have sent meteorites to help Joshua’s army.  But that was small compared to…
  • Made the earth stop spinning or go backwards a little (Joshua 10:12-14; Isaiah 38:8)

Oh, boy, I’m getting long.  Do you see a pattern here?  God cares about people’s needs and can supernaturally meet them, but He uses real things.  He knows the future as well as He knows the past.  He occasionally does dramatic things to prove He really is powerful, usually at the beginning of some new era.

He never does pointless, useless things just to make people’s jaws drop.

God is not under any person’s control, but He does listen when we beg Him for help.

Fear not, neither be afraid: didn’t I tell you back then, and announce it? You are my witnesses. Is there a God beside me? yes, there is no other god; I don’t know of any. Isaiah 44:8 

Wash your hands!

Science in the Bible: Hygiene

Wash your hands!

God Says

Remember when you were little and it was a bother to have to wash your hands before supper? That was before you learned about germs and diseases! When you study the scientific history of germs, you learn that we’ve only known about these little meanies for less than 200 years.  Although God didn’t tell the Israelites about the causes of diseases, He did show them how to protect themselves from them and gave them this promise:

e Coli bacteria

If thou wilt diligently hearken to the voice of the LORD thy God, and wilt do that which is right in his sight, and wilt give ear to his commandments, and keep all his statutes, I will put none of these diseases upon thee, which I have brought upon the Egyptians: for I am the LORD that healeth thee.  Exodus 15:26 

So, what did God tell them to do that would protect them from these diseases, or was it just a mysterious miracle?  I’m not going to go into a lot of detail on this stuff, because it gets really gross, but you’ll get the idea from these verses:

And the LORD said unto Moses, Go unto the people, and sanctify them to day and to morrow, and let them wash their clothes,  Exodus 19:10

There are 29 verses that tell the people to wash their clothes to be clean before God.

Washing hands (before shot)_0033

Washing hands (before shot)

And Aaron and his sons thou shalt bring unto the door of the tabernacle of the congregation, and shalt wash them with water.  Exodus 29:4

50 times washing with water and bathing is mentioned in the Law.  You might start to get the idea that He’s as picky as the tidiest mother!

Then there are the more disgusting things like:

Thou shalt have a place also without the camp, whither thou shalt go forth abroad:  and thou shalt have a paddle upon thy weapon; and it shall be, when thou wilt ease thyself abroad, thou shalt dig therewith, and shalt turn back and cover that which cometh from thee:  for the LORD thy God walketh in the midst of thy camp, to deliver thee, and to give up thine enemies before thee; therefore shall thy camp be holy: that he see no unclean thing in thee, and turn away from thee.  Deuteronomy 23:12-14

This passage always made me snicker when we read it during family devotions growing up (which wasn’t too often, but I sure remember the times we did!).  My favorite part is that God didn’t tell the Israelites that they would get sick if they disobeyed, He just reminded them that He didn’t want to have to step in poop when He came to visit them!

Model of bubonic plague bacteria - Smithsonian...

Model of bubonic plague bacteria – Smithsonian Museum of Natural History

Or if a soul touch any unclean thing, whether it be a carcase of an unclean beast, or a carcase of unclean cattle, or the carcase of unclean creeping things, and if it be hidden from him; he also shall be unclean, and guilty.  Leviticus 5:2

Then said Haggai, If one that is unclean by a dead body touch any of these, shall it be unclean? And the priests answered and said, It shall be unclean.  Then answered Haggai, and said, So is this people, and so is this nation before me, saith the LORD; and so is every work of their hands; and that which they offer there is unclean.  Haggai 2:13-14 

I picked the Haggai passage because it starts with the everyday law and goes on to show how gross our sin is.  They had been told many times (for all the details read Numbers 19:11-22) that touching a dead body was a very dirty thing.  The Law was very specific about the contamination that would happen to anything that touched these things.  If you couldn’t sterilize it, you had to destroy it! So, when God looked for the most disgusting thing to compare sin with, He chose dead bodies.  Haggai doesn’t really say how they could get rid of their sin except by turning back to God, but in a minute we’ll see how!

Speak unto the children of Israel, and say unto them, When any man hath a running issue out of his flesh, because of his issue he is unclean.  Leviticus 15:2

And the priest shall look upon him the seventh day: and if it be spread much abroad in the skin, then the priest shall pronounce him unclean: it is the plague of leprosy.  Leviticus 13:27 

Now, watch what Jesus does:

Jesus on Hollywood BlvdAnd, behold, a woman, which was diseased with an issue of blood twelve years, came behind him, and touched the hem of his garment: for she said within herself, If I may but touch his garment, I shall be whole.  But Jesus turned him about, and when he saw her, he said, Daughter, be of good comfort; thy faith hath made thee whole. And the woman was made whole from that hour. Matthew 9:20-22

 And Jesus put forth his hand, and touched him, saying, I will; be thou clean. And immediately his leprosy was cleansed.  Matthew 8:3

And he came and touched the bier: and they that bare him stood still. And he said, Young man, I say unto thee, Arise.  And he that was dead sat up, and began to speak. And he delivered him to his mother.  Luke 7:14,15

Jesus showed the people over and over again that He was stronger than the uncleanness the Law warned them about.  He has power over unseen germs just as He has power over our unseen sin.

But that ye may know that the Son of man hath power on earth to forgive sins, (then saith he to the sick of the palsy,) Arise, take up thy bed, and go unto thine house.  Matthew 9:6