To paraphrase Andrew Wommack: If our lives aren’t supernatural, they’re superficial.
Through much of my life I didn’t believe that demons really existed. They made interesting characters in spooky stories, but from a superficial perspective psychology seemed to explain them away as personality disorders. That unbelief in them undermined, but it did not crash, my belief in the rest of the supernatural.
To counter that unbelief in demons and reaffirm a belief in the supernatural I remember reading M. Scott Peck’s People of the Lie on evil and Raymond Moody’s Life After Life on near death experiences. However, my grounding view of demons came more from movies like The Exorcist than the Gospels.
Sentimental New Age influences also crept in. The movie Labyrinth offered a view of the demonic that seemed simpler to cast out if only I could remember the magic spell. I began to realize it was easier to tell a demon he had no power over me than to actually stay free from demonic addiction. However much New Age spirituality invitingly plays with the demonic, it brings no authority with it to boss demons around.
Too often I forgot that it is only through exercising the authority of Yeshua (Jesus) that I had any hope of being victorious when facing a demon. Eventually I saw them manifest through their effects like addiction, anger, illness or sin on my life and the life of those around me.
As disciples of Yeshua we are sent to heal the sick and cast out demons among other things (Matthew 10:8). If we don’t know how to go about that, we could prayerfully start with ourselves. If Peter’s shadow is any indication of what is possible (Acts 5:15-16) we may not have to say a word before the demons scatter.
33 Again, ye have heard that it hath been said by them of old time, Thou shalt not forswear thyself, but shalt perform unto the Lord thine oaths: 34 But I say unto you, Swear not at all; neither by heaven; for it is God’s throne: 35 Nor by the earth; for it is his footstool: neither by Jerusalem; for it is the city of the great King.
Matthew 5:33-35 is the kind of passage that I’d likely skip over, because I didn’t understand it. Is Yeshua replacing the law of not swearing falsely in YeHoVaH’s name with not swearing at all?
Nehemia Gordon translated the problematic portion of verse 34, rendered by the KJV as “Swear not at all”, from the Hebrew manuscripts in The Hebrew Yeshua vs. the Greek Jesus, page 65, as “you must not swear by anything falsely”. George Howard translated this portion of the manuscript as “But I say to you not to swear in vain in any matter” (page 21).
The difference is between not swearing at all and not swearing falsely (or in vain) by anything, let alone by YeHoVaH’s name. The Hebrew text does not prohibit swearing, but swearing falsely. Now that I understand. It makes sense.
According to Gordon, Yeshua countered a Pharisaic teaching that permitted one to swear falsely as long as it was not in the name of YeHoVaH. Gordon writes, “This strange doctrine was based on an over-literalization of Leviticus 19:12, “you shall not swear falsely by My name.”” (page 65-66). According to Howard, this raised a striking contrast between the Greek and Hebrew texts: “In the Greek, Jesus appears to revoke the law; In the Hebrew, he internalizes and radicalizes the law, but does not revoke it.” (Hebrew Gospel of Matthew, page 213)
What this tells me is that we need these Hebrew manuscripts to better approximate what the original autographs actually said. It also increases my suspicions that the Greek manuscripts were translations from a Hebrew source since this Hebrew manuscript still makes sense.
After adding Jewish and Messianic Jewish parashah readings, I began studying the ancient biblical calendar assuming such a calendar even existed. This calendar would be different from the Christian calendars (Catholic, Protestant and Orthodox) with holidays like Christmas, Ash Wednesday, Good Friday and Easter (Pascha). It would also be different from the rabbinical calendar at Chabad.org with a time since Creation of only 5782 years that follows a mathematical 19-year (Metonic) cycle for leap years.
The appointed times of YeHoVaH are Passover, Unleavened Bread, First Fruits, Shavuot, Trumpets, Yom Kippur and Succoth from Leviticus 23 along with the weekly Shabbat. The biblical calendar needs to determine when to observe them so we can rehearse them as prophecies while remembering their fulfillments. There are also historical events which need to be dated, a year assigned to the Creation (or some other starting point), and an estimate when to expect the Messianic Kingdom.
I thought this would be an easy study, but I am still trying to make sense out of it. Here are three attempts to describe that biblical calendar that differ from both the modern Christian and Jewish calendars.
Navah’s The Reckoning of Time. He presents the evidence so clearly and in such great detail that I use this account as my baseline when reading others, keeping in mind that he might be in error.
World’s Last Chance: Yah’s Calendar. This calendar maintains that the biblical day extends from sunrise to sunrise, not sunset to sunset, that the Sabbath always occurs on the 8th, 15th, 22nd, and 29th day of the month, and that the first of the month is a special day of rest.
Sometimes we use words that subtly undermine what we value without our realizing it. I am trying to identify these words so I can avoid using them.
For example, when we say parents are we undermining the differences between fathers and mothers by lumping them under one term? Is the word gender similarly undermining the differences between the sexes, men and women? According to Owen Strachan they do.
In this post I want to focus on (1) mutation, (2) evolution and (3) natural selection. With a biblical creationist worldview, should I be using or avoiding these words? If I choose to avoid them, what alternative words should I use to reinforce rather than undermine my values?
Mutations in DNA is the only one of the three that has usefulness from an operational scientific perspective because it represents something that can be measured which could falsify an hypothesis. Random mutational changes in DNA allow us to look back into our past. Measured rates of mutations allow us to anticipate future mutational meltdown through genetic entropy.
Random mutations do not support evolutionary change from something simple to something more complicated. Like other mechanisms found to operate in the natural world it is a measure of decay or entropy. It can only reduce what is complicated to something simpler. Since this does not go against my values I have no need to look for an alternative.
However, when I use the word evolution indiscriminately for any kind of observable change I reinforce the idea that alleged unobserved Darwinian evolution is possible when I would claim it is not. A safe alternative for observable changes is simply to say change.
There are no random mechanisms in the natural world that could account for the kinds of unobserved changes needed to go from non-life to life or from slime mold to mankind over any time period. We would not be here today without an act of creation if we relied only on random, natural processes.
Is it safe to use natural selection to describe the changes that occur within kinds of creatures through random mutations? Charles Darwin created the term natural selection to try to project agency onto nature where no agency exists. The goal was to replace the Creator from Genesis with a mindless nature that somehow could make selections.
In the video below Lauren Pennington interviews Dr. Randy Guliuzza to first show the problem with the term natural selection and then to propose an alternate way of describing change in living creatures.
If you know of other words that we should think twice about using, let me know in the comments.
15 And ye shall count unto you from the morrow after the sabbath, from the day that ye brought the sheaf of the wave offering; seven sabbaths shall be complete: 16 Even unto the morrow after the seventh sabbath shall ye number fifty days; and ye shall offer a new meat offering unto the Lord.
The sheaf of the wave offering comprised a dry measure of barley called an omer. Along with the Passover this counting is a remembrance of the Exodus and the time it took the Israelites to reach Mount Sinai to receive the Torah.
The morrow after the sabbath begins on Saturday evening and extends to Sunday evening. That is the time of the wave sheaf offering. That first day of the week is counted as Day One. The next day is counted as Day Two. This counting continues until we reach the forty-ninth day which is the seventh sabbath. The fiftieth day is Shavuot an appointed time of YeHoVaH (מוֹעֲדֵ֣י יְהוָ֔ה) on the biblical calendar. Since the wave sheaf offering does not always align with Easter, Shavuot can become obscured with the focus on Pentecost (fifty days after Easter) in the solar, liturgical calendar most of us use today.
In both Shavuot and Pentecost there is a receiving from YeHoVaH. At Shavuot the Israelites received the Torah, the instruction, at Mount Sinai. At Pentecost the early Messianic believers received the Holy Spirit during the appointed time of Shavuot in Jerusalem. Before Yeshua’s fulfillment of the Passover as the perfect sacrifice and His fulfillment of Unleavened Bread as the first fruits, wave sheaf offering after His Resurrection, Shavuot was a remembrance of that past event of receiving the Torah and a rehearsal for receiving the Holy Spirit.
Now that Shavuot has also been fulfilled it remains an appointed time for remembrance of both events. Keeping these appointed times reminds us where we are in the story of redemption, a story that had been laid out before us in advance and reinforced through the yearly appointed times of the biblical calendar.
The difference between cyclic pagan calendars and this forward directed biblical calendar is the story of redemption from the Exodus to Yeshua’s Resurrection to the coming of His Messianic Kingdom. That story is not something that can be derived from human experimentation and reasoning nor from New Age nature sentimentality.
As I see it, this story comes only through biblical revelation which makes the biblical calendar unique. However, if you think there is some other competing world narrative worth considering, let me know in the comments.
3 To whom also he shewed himself alive after his passion by many infallible proofs, being seen of them forty days, and speaking of the things pertaining to the kingdom of God: 4 And, being assembled together with them, commanded them that they should not depart from Jerusalem, but wait for the promise of the Father, which, saith he, ye have heard of me. 5 For John truly baptized with water; but ye shall be baptized with the Holy Ghost not many days hence.
This is a long post. It is more a set of notes to myself. You might want to skip it. If not, let’s go down the rabbit hole.
This is how I currently see the chronology of events represented by the traditions of Good Friday and Easter Sunday. You are welcome to set me straight in the comment section.
Yeshua (Jesus) fulfilled the sign of Jonah. He was in the tomb three days and three nights. (Matthew 12:38-41) That was the length of time Jonah was in the great fish. (Jonah 1:17) Hence we have a length of 72 hours, no more, no less. Clearly one cannot fit three days and three nights between Friday afternoon and Sunday morning. What we have are two full nights, one full day and two partial days.
The women went to the tomb on the first day of the week, Sunday, and an angel rolled back the stone showing them that the tomb was empty. (Matthew 28:1-8) I used to think Yeshua rose with the rising sun on Easter Sunday. What I understand now is Yeshua rose on the late Sabbath before sunset, 72 hours after His burial, prior to the morning of the first day of the week when the women looked for him but found the tomb empty.
In summary, Yeshua could not have been crucified on a Friday. He was crucified on the fourth day of the week (Wednesday) in the afternoon as the Passover lambs were being sacrificed. His Resurrection occurred three days and three nights later on the Shabbat (Saturday) afternoon before sunset. Celebrations of Resurrection Day should focus on the setting sun, not the morning sunrise.
The Church of God, one Christian group that seems willing to give the Bible priority over Church tradition, produced a detailed Timeline from Passover (the 14th of Abib (Nisan)) to the Wave Sheaf Offering on the first day after the weekly Shabbat. The chart shows the parallel between what happened in Exodus with what happened in the Gospels. The only part of their timeline I suspect may not be correct is the year of the Crucifixion and Resurrection. They claimed it occurred in 31 AD. I am more convinced by Navah’s view that it occurred in 28 AD.
Why does this matter?
The neglect of biblical feasts and the rejection of the Shabbat suggests a cultural anti-Judaism that goes back before the time of Constantine when it became institutionalized Church tradition justified by attacking Judaizers.
However, the use of an alternate pagan calendar also suggests a drift into idolatry through compromise. People attacking this compromise sometimes point out that there is no need to rename Yeshua to something that sounds like JeZeus except to indirectly focus on the Greek deity Zeus.
To see the idolatry connection, Michael Rood gave an account of where Easter came from in his teaching on the Book of Esther (“Easter”, as he called her) (about 34:00 to 38:00). He talked about the tale of Nimrod who became the sun god upon death and Semiramis, his wife, who was impregnated by that sun god to give birth to Tammuz on December 25th where the Julian calendar put the winter solstice. He included the reincarnation of Semiramis as Easter from an egg landing in the Euphrates along with rabbits and a reference to Playboy since this is all about pagan fertility worship.
For more details on this, mostly in agreement with Rood but from a Church of God perspective, see Christopher Eames’ article, Easter – In the Hebrew Bible?
When I wonder how the Israelites could have fallen into idolatry, I think about the deviation of the Christian liturgical calendar from the agricultural calendar presented in the Torah. I am equally puzzled how that could have happened. The Israelites had to obey their judges or kings, but when prophets came to correct them, I suspect many figured what they were doing was close enough in their own eyes to be acceptable to YeHoVaH (God). That’s probably what I would have thought were I one of them.
Today I ask myself something similar: Are Easter and Good Friday close enough to the Passover, the sign of Jonah and the Wave Sheaf Offering to be acceptable to Yeshua even though we lose the significance of the events evident to early Messianic believers and risk participating witlessly in pagan ritual practices?
Not everyone agrees with the above. For example, Jonathan Sarfati of Creation Ministries International presented a detailed opposing view. He asserted that Easter is not of pagan origin and tried to fit three days and three nights between Friday afternoon and Sunday morning by counting partial days as full days.
Some want to promote an even further compromise of Christianity with paganism. For example, Rudolf Steiner, an Austrian occultist, presented a description of Good Friday and Easter from a pagan perspective. Here Christianity is just another religion in a cyclic calendar going from springtime rebirth at Easter to autumn anticipation of death on All Saints Day (after Halloween). This sentiment seems typical of what C.S. Lewis called Pantheism in the “Christianity and ‘Religion’” chapter of Miracles.
The reason to present the occult views of Steiner is to see how the pagan cyclic calendar contrasts with the biblical calendar of Leviticus 23 that reveals a direction to history. The biblical calendar identifies the appointed times of YeHoVaH (מוֹעֲדֵ֣י יְהוָ֔ה). These appointed times are more than annual holidays. YeHoVaH gave them to us to remember what He had already done to move history according to His will. For example, on Passover we remember the Exodus and now also Yeshua’s redemptive sacrifice in the Crucifixion. YeHoVaH also gave them to us to prepare for future events such as the Second Coming and the Messianic Kingdom with the Feast of Trumpets, Yom Kippur and Succoth.
Having an annual calendar with a divinely revealed direction through the years and not just a birth-death-rebirth annual cycle of nature makes the Messianic story unique and something far beyond the imagination of pagan religions.
What about the Passover Seder?
I am grateful to Geri Ungurean, a Jewish Christian, for mentioning the video below on her blog. The Last Supper as recorded in the Gospels and reenacted by the early Messianic believers may be the origin for the Passover Seder. Such a ritual would be needed after the destruction of the temple. Those at the table in the video were discussing such a view from Israel Jacob Yuval in his paper, “The Haggadah of Passover and Easter“. For those who want to know more about Haggadah see chabad.org, a Jewish site.
As I see it the Last Supper occurred at the beginning of the 14th of Abib, the day of Passover after sunset. After the meal they went to the garden where Yeshua was arrested. Before the end of the day with the coming sunset, Yeshua died and was buried. Yeshua fulfilled the Passover by becoming the sacrificial lamb.
At the moment I am concerned with reconciling Matthew 26:17 withJohn 13:1. Did the Last Supper occur after Passover on the first day of Unleavened Bread (Matthew) or at the beginning of Passover (John), the day before that? Justin J. van Rensburg translates Matthew 26:17 asAnd a former day of Pesach[Passover], the talmidim came and said to him, “In what place do you want that we prepare the Pesach?” which would resolve my concern if the Hebrew manuscript he was using from the Vatican Library is an authentic copy of the original Hebrew autograph.
Weekly Parashah Readings Parashah: Passover Day 8, 22 Nissan, 5782 – April 23, 2022 Torah:Exodus 12:21-51; Numbers 28:16-25 Haftarah:Joshua 3:5-7; Joshua 5:2 – 6:1; Joshua 6:27 Brit Chadashah:Luke 22:7-20; John 1:29-31; 1 Cor 15:20-28 Resources:Chabad, Hebrew4Christians,Weekly Torah Readings, Calendar
If faith without works is dead, what are works without faith? Answers that come to mind are magic or manipulation. Rather than pitting faith against works perhaps we should aim to avoid both faith without works and works without faith.
That makes me wonder what the Greek word ἔργων or the Hebrew word מעשים might mean besides “works”, “deeds” or “actions”? Could one understand this as “faith without practice is dead” or “faith without exercising it is dead”?
Regardless, Audrey Mack compares faith to muscles. We all have muscles, but some of us are weaker than others. Muscles become stronger as we exercise them. So does faith.
David Pawson asked in the lecture below (about 12:00) why are believers so certain they are saved?
Is the basis for our assurance the Scriptures? Not completely. The Scriptures are too objective. Pawson explained, “It says there that whoever believes is certain of Heaven, but how do I know I am included?” (about 13:50)
Is the basis for our certainty our holiness? Again, not completely. Our holiness is too subjective. Pawson explained, “If my assurance is based on my living a Christ-like life in the world, then frankly I am going to be beset by a nagging doubt again, because there are times that I know that I have not lived a Christ-like life.” (about 15:30)
Where then do we find assurance? Pawson answered: “The thing that clinches it every time is neither the Scripture nor your own sanctity, but the Spirit.” (about 17:10) Through our mouths the Spirit overflows as we testify that Jesus is Lord and God is Father. That overflow with joy is our certainty.
If we can make that testimony with our mouths, then we have all we need for the gift of tongues. This gift allows us to pray to God in languages we do not understand which keeps our minds from getting in the way. We do this privately for personal edification. That prayer is between ourselves and God.
How do we do it? Breathe in. Open the mouth. Move the lips and tongue and make sounds even if they are very quiet, under one’s breath. Trust the Spirit will come up with the perfect words of prayer and praise in agreement with the Father’s will and not our own.
Someone might complain that anyone, even those without the Spirit, could fake praying in tongues if they wanted to. True. They could, if they wanted to, but who in their right mind would want to do that for very long without the joy, thanks and praise coming from the Holy Spirit?
Nor does this mean that one must pray in tongues if one has the Spirit. It’s a privilege. One gets to do this for long periods of time if one wants to. When some demon is messing with your mind trying to push you over a cliff of anger, lust or self-centeredness or whatever, start praying in tongues. The demon won’t have a clue what you’re saying. Then send that demon over the cliff if it hasn’t already jumped.
Not all Christians accept praying in tongues. Indeed, I suspect most don’t, but I also suspect with the growth of Pentecostalism that will change. For example, John MacArthur rejected tongues because he claimed it is easy to falsify and Greg Bahnsen made a theological claim that tongues have ceased. However, I find praying in tongues to be an effective exercise that keeps my heart on the Lord and strengthens my faith.
You are welcome to express your own views in the comments below.
Bob Sorensen used the phrase “dust-to-Darwin” to describe evolution. This phrase succinctly describes the mythopoetic rationalization underlying evolutionary speculations. It brings two contrary things to mind. First, the word dust brings to mind Genesis 2:7 where we have a “dust-to-Adam” creation by God. Second, the word Darwin brings to mind those who promote a mindless, deterministic/random evolutionary explanation of how we got here.
The dust-to-Darwin problem is the realization that the speculations attempting to replace Genesis are no longer plausible, if they ever were. The problem for atheistic speculations is that science never has been on the side of atheism in spite of it being institutionally force-fed. That’s because experimental science doesn’t sit still. Scientists, some of them witlessly, keep pushing down the atheist fencing, because that fencing doesn’t fit reality.
For example, although mutations in DNA might look like the driving force of evolution, look closer and they point to genetic entropy and single, recent male and female ancestors. Although the fossil column might look like it could be dated to be hundreds of millions of years old, look closer and that dating falls apart when scientists estimate the entire geologic record would be eroded away in a mere ten million years assuming measured rates of erosion. Experimental science measured this entropy and erosion. Those measurements undermined speculative philosophy’s attempts to justify atheism.
Even more fundamentally, the dust-to-Darwin problem is that the philosophy of atheism offers no plausible way for any kind of dust to get here in the first place without God. It presents no plausible explanation for how that dust came alive without God. It has no plausible way to explain why men and women are inhabiting earth right now without God.
But the most serious part of the dust-to-Darwin problem comes when normal, ordinary people realize that they have been deceived, fooled into filtering reality through atheistic mythology.
23 Then spake Jesus to the multitude, and to his disciples, 2 Saying The scribes and the Pharisees sit in Moses’ seat: 3 All therefore whatsoever they bid you observe, that observe and do; but do not ye after their works: for they say, and do not.
The oral Torah is part of the tradition of Rabbinic Judaism in addition to the written Torah of the Bible. Not all Jews accept this second Torah. Those who don’t are called Karaite Jews.
Nehemia Gordon, a Karaite Jew, described this oral Torah in the first half of the lecture below. Given Yeshua’s (Jesus’s) objections to the Pharisees he suspected Yeshua was an early Karaite Jew (although Christian and Messianic believers know He is much, much more).
Being also a Hebrew scholar who studied the Shem Tov Hebrew manuscript of Matthew as well as one who found other manuscript copies of it Gordon attempted to answer a question about Matthew 23:3 that has puzzled some. In spite of Yeshua’s objection to the oral Torah of the Pharisees why did He tell His disciples to do whatever “they bid you observe”?
Gordon observed that in the Hebrew manuscript of Matthew Yeshua told his disciples to do whatever “he” bid you observe where the “he” referred to Moses, not the Pharisees. If this section of the manuscript is more authentic, the puzzlement can be explained by a scribal error.
His explanation is in the second half of his talk starting about 1:15:50 in the video. For more details see his book, The Hebrew Yeshua vs. the Greek Jesus.
I am grateful to Benjamin Andreessen’s very detailed posts on this and similar topics in his MeWe group Hebrew Shalom.