Paul, Epimenides and Acts 17

There was a time when I thought that the Apostle Paul’s speech to the Athenian council at the Areopagus was a failed attempt at being “relevant” to a Gentile audience. He reached very few people and seemed to have to leave the city very quickly. 

Of course, that probably had more to do with my displeasure at modern attempts at “relevance” that seem to leave out important parts of the gospel.

It turns out that Paul’s reference to the altar “to an unknown god” was far more deeply relevant to the people of Athens than most modern Christians have realized. It is a story that goes back some roughly 600 years before Paul preached.

The people of Athens had promised amnesty to a band of rebels, then killed them when they turned themselves in. Later, a devastating plague hit the city, killing about one third of its inhabitants and looking like it would kill the remainder. 

The  inhabitants suspected that their perfidy with the rebels had angered the gods and offered sacrifices to their many gods to try to stem the plague – to no avail. None of their gods was either willing or able to stop it. The next step was to call on the Oracle at Delphi, who told them to send to Knossos in Crete for the Philosopher/Prophet Epimenides, who would show them how to stop the plague.

As Epimenides arrives, he notes how many idols the Athenians have, and finds out that they have all been invoked. He reasons that there must be some god they do not know who is both powerful enough and kind enough to do something about their suffering.

In a dream he is shown a flock of sheep and is told to follow them until they lie down, then sacrifice the ones who stopped grazing to lie down. The next morning, when the sheep are hungriest, he does as the dream told him, making an altar dedicated “to the unknown god” on each spot.

The plague ends within two days, and Epimenides is hailed a hero. (He is later highly spoken of by philosophical luminaries such as Aristotle and Plato for his other contributions to philosophy, Greek unity and public hygiene.)

When Paul comes across the altar he tells the council that he is there to announce that this “unknown” God is none other than Jesus Christ, who was God, became human, died and was resurrected to a place on the heavenly throne. He is the God who “winked at their ignorance” (in words similar to Epimenides’ own) 600 years before, but who now calls on them to repent and believe.

This was actually a very powerful testimony. So why did so many disbelieve?

They were philosophers, the elite intellectuals of the day. This was their religious council, analogous to the Jewish Sanhedrin, which also was full of unbelievers. Even now it is difficult to convince the highly intellectual about a God who became man and who died and now lives.

Perhaps we just have to dig deeper for relevance to properly witness about Jesus.

Some sources for this message can be found on the Christians in Crete website. or this YouTube presentation. Here also is the story as told by Diogenes Laertius in the 200’s AD.

 

 

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Miracles of the Day of Atonement

 

As I was researching the Day of Atonement I was struck by a memory of information from a previous unrelated search that relates to events that happened on the Day of Atonement in history.

A while back I had tried to determine the year and date Jesus died according to our modern (Gregorian) calendar. I looked up research done recently and found several lines of evidence pointing to April 6, 30 A.D. One of the lines of evidence for the year involved some strange events surrounding the priesthood and Temple for the 40 years after Jesus died.

Four miracles concerning the Second Temple in Jerusalem are mentioned in the Babylonian Talmud and at least two of them are relevant to the meaning of the Day of Atonement. The first one is somewhat of a two-part miracle.

On the Day of Atonement two nearly identical goats are brought before the priest. He draws lots to choose which goat is “for the Lord” and which is “for removal” (azazel in Hebrew). The goat “for the Lord” is sacrificed to cover the  sins of the people of the land of Israel. The goat “for removal” has Israel’s sins pronounced upon its head and is sent into the wilderness, never to return (basically into exile).

By the time of Jesus it was considered a bad sign if the lot for the Lord came up in the left hand of the priest several times in a row.

The first part of the two occurred prior to Jesus’ ministry. There had been a particularly righteous high priest named Simeon who apparently functioned in the role for forty years. For every one of those years, on the Day of Atonement, the lot came up in Simeon’s right hand. This made the people of Judea confident that God had forgiven their sins for the year.

After his death the lot randomly came up in the following priests’ left or right hands.

The second part occurred once Jesus died. For the final forty years before the destruction of the Temple the lot comes up on the left hand of the high priest every year. Needless to say the confidence in the effectiveness of the sacrifice to cover their sins was not high.

The odds against either of these occurrences are astronomical.

The second miracle mentioned by the Rabbis is also of two parts and parallels the first, in that righteous Simeon and the death of Jesus are also involved. Another part of the ceremony as practiced in the Second Temple era had a red cord tied to each of the goats. If, at the end of the ceremony the cord remained red the sacrifice was considered ineffective for covering and removing of the sin. If by miracle it turned white, God was pleased and the sin was forgiven.

The rabbis tell us that during Simeon’s reign as high priest the cords always turned white. Following him, it sometimes turned white and sometimes remained red. By this time you have probably figured out what happened during the last forty years of the temple. They always remained red.

While a few thousand Jews accepted Jesus as their Messiah the majority refused to do so. For forty years they saw evidence that their sacrifices were no longer accepted and still refused to believe in Jesus for their salvation.

Forty years parallels Israel’s testing in the wilderness, but this time they started in the promised land and ended in the “wilderness” of destruction and scattering throughout the Roman Empire. In this instance the Day of Atonement served as a sign of God’s displeasure at their rejection of his Son, their Messiah and Lord.

Even so, there is a special place in God’s heart for the children of Abraham. God has promised to personally redeem Israel from its enemies in many places in the Hebrew Scriptures that we Christians somewhat inaccurately call the Old Testament.

Like the Apostle Paul in Romans 9 and 10, I look forward to a time when God personally returns to redeem his people Israel. What will surprise the modern Jewish people is just how personally God will do so.

 

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Atonement and the Great High Priest

On the evening of Sept. 18 we gathered to commemorate one of the days God set before the people of Israel as a holy day. While Christians are not required to observe these days, we recognize their prophetic significance in God’s plan of salvation in Jesus Christ.

We have spent many years studying significance of the two goats of the Day of Atonement ceremony in Leviticus 16. Did one goat represent Jesus while the other represent Satan? Or was it more like the parable of the sheep and goats, with one representing those whose names were written in the book of life and the other those consigned to the second death? Ah, the mystery of it.

For me this may have been a case of tunnel vision – of being too interested in the mystery to look at the obvious.

The book of Leviticus is somewhat different from the other books written by Moses. Its audience was not necessarily the general population of Israel, but rather the priesthood: the family of Aaron.

Leviticus was intended to be the operational manual of the priestly work in Israel. While it is good for the general public to know what the priest is supposed to do, the instructions were intended to be carried out by the priesthood. The focus of the book is on priestly duties.

This means that the instructions in Leviticus 16 are about the duties of the High Priest in atoning for Israel. The focus is not on bulls or goats, but on the priest’s role in atoning for Israel.

The writer of the New Testament book of Hebrews understood this much better than I did, which is why he concentrates on on the difference between the prophetic role of the Aaronic high priest and that of Jesus.

The Passover pictures Jesus as a Lamb of God slain for the sins of the world. The prophetic picture of the Day of Atonement features Jesus in the role of High Priest using his own blood (!) to atone for the sin of all humankind.

Of course, that can only work if he is resurrected. The writer of Hebrews seems to have picked up on that, for he notes that Jesus’ priesthood is of a whole different order of magnitude higher than Aaron’s, “through the power of an indestructible life” (7:16).

He brings his blood to the heavenly tabernacle that Moses’ tabernacle was only an inferior copy of. In this heavenly tabernacle he enters the Holy of Holies with his blood to “purify our conscience from dead works to worship the living God.” (Heb. 9:14)

Jesus’ high priestly function on our behalf has already brought “good things” on our behalf (vs. 11) including the most important thing from our perspective, “eternal redemption” (vs. 12).

He also uses his blood to inaugurate a new covenant, a role that combines the prophetic roles of both Moses and Aaron (vs. 15-22, recalling the events of Ex. 24).

(Note: Remember that it was Moses who didn’t think he could do what God wanted  by himself, not God. Moses could have fulfilled both roles if he hadn’t tried to refuse God’s calling in Exodus 4:10-16. Instead, he angered God, who then appointed Aaron to help.)

The perceptive will notice that the sacrifices of Leviticus 16 are very similar to those of Exodus 24, at the ratification of the covenant with Israel. Every Atonement ceremony was a kind of refreshing of that covenant.

Jesus has done something much better. With one sacrifice on our behalf he has freed those who believe in him from sin and its eternal consequences. We are now free to come to God and worship with boldness that comes with a cleaned conscience. Jesus himself intervenes on our behalf at God’s throne as our High Priest.

Remembering who Jesus is, what he has done, what he is doing and what he has promised yet to do can help us to retain our boldness in following him.

Speaking of what he will do, there are interesting scenes in the book of Revelation that resemble the priestly function of the Day of Atonement. In Rev. 8:1-5 the Lamb gives a great quantity of incense to an angel, who burns it in the incense altar before the throne. It generates a great deal of smoke that combines with the “prayers of the saints.” It is as though Jesus is “hearing” the martyred saints asking to be avenged. (Of course at this point Jesus is on God’s side of the curtain.)

Another “priestly” scene involves Rev. 15:5-16:1. The temple/tabernacle in heaven is opened and seven angels dressed as priests prepare to send the seven last plagues on the earth. The temple/tabernacle becomes filled with the smoke of God’s glory and nobody can enter it until the final plagues are unleashed upon the unrepentant. God’s voice proceeds from the temple/tabernacle and orders them to pour out the plagues.

This highlights another role of the priest: judgment. This explains why the writer of Hebrews laces his message with several warnings about falling short of “entering” the “promise.” Some of these are found in 4:1, 6:4-6, 10:26-31 and 12:25-29.

Indeed, the “word of God” in Heb. 4:12-13 is none other than Jesus Christ, “the one to whom we must render and account.” He is sharper than the flaming sword that prevented access to the Garden of Eden. It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of God.

The point is this: follow Jesus. Follow him even into the valley of the shadow of death. He will make sure you come out the other side better than you were. He will be there to pronounce blessing, not curse. Life, not death. Just follow.

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With a Blast of Trumpets

This post is based on a message given at Wascana Fellowship on September 16, 2018. This service took place on the day the NIV version of the Bible translates as “a sacred assembly commemorated with trumpet blasts.” This post also provides background that the original participants had heard on previous occasions.

One of the ancient uses of trumpets in the Old Testament was to announce the coronation of a new king. Examples of coronations announced this way will appear below.

Many prophecies in the Bible speak of a time when God himself intervenes on behalf of his people by extending his dominion over the earth. For example, Daniel 7: 13-14 states, “In my vision at night I looked, and there before me was one like a son of man, coming with the clouds of heaven. He approached the Ancient of Days and was led into his presence.  He was given authority, glory and sovereign power; all nations and peoples of every language worshiped him. His dominion is an everlasting dominion that will not pass away, and his kingdom is one that will never be destroyed.

Another prophet who echoes this theme is Zechariah, who poetically describes the return of Israel’s true King, their own God, in passages like Zech 9:9-10, 14. Mixed in with the theme of God as their King is the sounding of a trumpet announcing his return, such as in verse 14, “Then the LORD will appear over them; his arrow will flash like lightning. The Sovereign LORD will sound the trumpet; he will march in the storms of the south.”

There are also many psalms depicting God’s sovereignty over the earth. They include Psalm. 2Psalm. 45, and Psalm 47 . Psalm 47 is considered an “enthronement psalm” and it joins a group of similar psalms between Psalm 93 and Psalm 99. A brief description can be found on this post. Ps. 47:6 associates God’s rule with trumpet blasts,  “God is gone up with a shout, the LORD with the sound of a trumpet.

 

According to Andre Hendricks there are 4 parts to coronation ceremony:

1)      Giving of decree – Ps. 2:6-7Gen. 49:10Heb. 1:8

2)      Ceremony of taking the throne – 2 Sam. 5:31 Ki. 1:34 (note the trumpets)

3)      Acclamation by the subjects: Long live the King! – 1 Ki. 1:392 Ki. 11:12;

4)      Subjects pledging their allegiance – Ps. 50:4-6Ps. 102:13-22.

Source: Andre Hendricks on Youtube.

 

Revelation 5 introduces the worthy heavenly candidate for rulership of the earth as the Lamb of God who was slain. Note the acclamation by everyone in heaven and earth in verses 13 and 14.

Rev. 11:15-19 appears to present a scene of coronation of Jesus in the heavens, prior to coming to earth. At the end of the ceremony, the gates of heaven are opened and the heavenly throne-room is opened up to the earth. I believe this is the preliminary to Jesus’ return to take possession of his Kingdom on earth. Chapter 19 describes Jesus’ descent and the war of conquest he wins to take over his rightful territory. This is followed by what seems to be a coronation ceremony and throne-taking (and sharing!) in Chapter 20:1-6.

[This is where the new material begins]

]In ancient times a city might face a formidable army intent on conquest and decide to surrender before the attack. A scene similar to this occurred at Jerusalem during the conquest of the world by Alexander the Great. It is described in the following excerpt from Flavius Josephus’ Jewish antiquities 11.317-345. (The quote itself comes after an introduction by the site’s historian.)

There is usually a procession out of the city, led by the leaders and elders. They have left their weapons behind, making themselves vulnerable as a sign of submission. They meet the attacking general or king and formally surrender, pledging allegiance.

This is probably the imagery of 1 Thess. 4:15-18, as all believers (dead or alive) rise to meet the descending Jesus in the air. He is returning to earth, and his followers do exactly that – follow!

A list of people who enter the “rest” of Jesus appears in Hebrews 11. Along with it the “encouraging” statement in verse 13-14, “All these died in the faith without having received the promises, but from a distance the saw them and greeted them. The confessed that they were strangers and foreigners on the earth, for people who speak in this way make it clear that they are seeking a homeland.” [NRSV]

Of course, there will be a futile resistance by those opposed to Christ’s rule. They are quickly despatched. The mightiest fighting forces in all of human history will be swept away with virtually no effort by the true King of Kings and Lord of Lords.

Jesus came to set up what the Gospels call “The Kingdom of God” and “The Kingdom of Heaven.” His return as King of Kings and Lord of Lords is essential for the redemption of the creation as Paul mentions in Romans 8:16-25.

May we be faithful, and then rise to meet him in joyful acclamation as he comes to establish his rule over the Kingdom.

 

 

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New Atheists’ Complain: “God is a Moral Monster” and the “Weird Laws of the Bible”

Most of the information in this post comes from Paul Copan’s book Is God a Moral Monster: Making Sense of the Old Testament God.  It is an excellent resource for connecting the Old Testament with God’s justice and mercy in the New Testament.

The main complaint about our God by the new generation of atheists is that the God of the Old Testament is a harsh, unforgiving tyrant who is quick to anger and has a desperate need for praise and worship. He engages in genocide of the Canaanites and the Amalekites, for example, by telling Israel to wipe them out. Not only that, he even gives Israel weird, harsh and abusive laws to live by. These appear to be laws that endorse slavery and abuse women, among other things. All this to appease a God’s megalomania, believe the critics.

What that tells us is that they don’t know the Bible and they certainly don’t want to know God. Let’s leave aside for the moment the fact that God created humankind and the universe we live in and that therefore he owes us nothing.

 

“Genocide”

 Let’s find out how quick-tempered and harsh God is to the Canaanites by turning to Gen. 15:13-16. Deut. 9:5

By Abraham’s time the Amorites, the leading tribe among the inhabitants of the land known as Canaan, were already marked as great sinners. God was willing to give them an additional 400 years because their sinfulness was not sufficiently bad to do something about it. The Apostle Peter explains God’s reason for waiting before intervening in2 Pet. 3:9.

By the time Israel moved in the people of the land were so corrupt that, for example, many would burn their own babies alive as a sacrifice to a god known as Molech. I think I can see why this might irritate the God who told mankind to “be fruitful and multiply.”

Exodus 17 describes the reaction of the Amalekites to the appearance of Israel close to their border. Israel went around the Edomite lands after Edom’s leadership refused permission for entry to Israel. The Amalekites (an Edomite tribe) attacked a people who had no army without provocation. Amalekites were closely related to Israel through Esau, Jacob’s brother. The obvious undying hostility of this people to Israel so many centuries later is why God declares holy war.

 The so-called genocidal side of God is much more tempered and reasonable than the critics will allow themselves to admit. Of course, this does not make those who wish to live as though God does not exist very happy, because there is eventually a Judgment on their actions. And that judgment is based on God’s rules, not our own human ideas.

Harsh Laws?

 What about the laws of the Old Testament. Aren’t they harsh and abusive? It depends on what you are comparing them to.

We tend to look at the Old Covenant law as out-of-date, crude and morally bankrupt, but we are actually missing the point. The point is that society at large in Old Testament times was already even more morally bankrupt, and that the law was intended to point Israel from where they were toward a better way of living.

 The key is that change is hard. Imagine the Soviet Union, with all of its military might, trying to enlighten the “backward” tribes of a place like Afghanistan with Marxist doctrine, for example. Oh, right. They utterly failed and got their proverbial backsides handed to them in the process. Of course, a rapid imposition of American-style democracy is much more likely to succeed, right?

Of course not. If it happens at all, it takes time and a great deal of goodwill.

So how about Israel? How do you change an Egyptian-enculturated people to an entirely God-oriented, creationally-restored state in less than one generation?

You don’t. You try to do it incrementally – a bit at at time. You start from where they are and make improvements along the way.

For example, because of hardness of heart, God didn’t outlaw divorce. He allowed it in order to protect the life of a wife from a hard-hearted man in a society organized along patriarchal lines. He also prevented remarriage to the same man if the man had married someone else in the interim – to prevent a woman from being further abused by that man. In addition, unlike other nearby cultures he allowed the woman to remarry, since a divorced woman had few other options for making a living.

Yes, slavery was not abolished. It is important to note that Israel did not invent slavery, either. What God did in Israel was reinvent slavery – making it much more humane for Israelites who couldn’t make it on their own. You only got to “own” your slave for six years – after which you had to actually pay them out at the end of their term. (One might say that God invented the severance package.) God was subtly undermining the concept of slavery, turning into something more like our modern sense of paid employment. There was room and board for service, and payment at the end. It wasn’t perfect, but it was a lot better than what was practiced all around, and even in the American south.

 Yes, women did not own property: unless their father had no male heirs. This is an improvement over the nations around. (Women like this were highly desirable as mates, but at least one of their kids probably had to take her family’s name.) What this meant is that women had a higher standing in Israel than in other nations around.

 Yes, people, even youth, could be stoned to death for certain things, such as blasphemy, sabbath-breaking or even stubborn disobedience to parents. But there were rules to follow.

There had to be at least two witnesses and a fair trial in the case of blasphemy or murder. What the atheist fails to acknowledge is that the people had entered a covenant with God to worship, honor and obey only him. Blaspheming him certainly works counter to that covenant.

In many cases there had to be an element of blatant disobedience. Note that the context of the actual infractions immediately follows the spelling out of the command. God wanted Israel to understand that he is not to be trifled with. Blatant disregard of his instructions had to have consequences to establish a certain respect for God. Most parents understand how this works with children and youth. God was working on a national rather than individual scale. 

It is important to understand also that God wasn’t giving Israel a pass when it comes to following his rules. “Most favoured nation status” was not a “get out of jail free card” for Israel. They would have their turn at national destruction at God’s hands when disobedience and evil got to the level of the previous occupants of Canaan.

Weird Laws?

My personal favorite in the “weird laws” department is the jealousy law in Numbers 5:11-31. If a man is intensely jealous and thinks his wife is having an affair, without evidence, he must see the priest with his wife. The priest sprinkles some dust from the floor of the tabernacle into a glass of water and makes her drink it after pronouncing a curse on her if she has been unfaithful.  

If her womb shrivels up and she dies a horrible death he was right. End of problem.

 If nothing happens, he is never allowed to accuse her again and is never allowed to divorce her or abuse her in any manner.

 (Guys, if you want to get rid of her you have to get this one right the first time.)

Unlike other cultures around, he doesn’t just get to murder her. Unlike other cultures with a similar “test to the death” the mixture she drinks isn’t poisoned, which would require the gods to intervene to save her. You can imagine how often that happens. In this case Yahweh only intervenes if she is actually guilty. A definite improvement.

There are a couple of good angles from which you can approach the food laws of Leviticus 11.

Angle 1) Keeping within the kinds: Sea, Land and Air Animals. Don’t blur the categories.

Eating animals that are that are clearly of is symbolic of not mixing true and false religion by mixing with other nations. Why not eat unclean animals? God has limited himself to only one particular people, Israel. They limit themselves to serving God.

 Angle 2) Fall, death and abnormality (Gen. 3)

Abnormality in appearance or function is a departure from God’s perfect creation. So anyone in God’s direct service and any animal offered to him as sacrifice must be without blemish in appearance and must be physically healthy and without defect in structure or senses.

Avoiding certain animals in sacrifice or for eating was not unusual. For instance,  other Ancient Near Eastern cultures considered the pig an abomination, too!

What is interesting is to analyze the differences between “clean” and “unclean” animals. Some have noticed that Israel didn’t eat predatory animals, perhaps because they eat blood. We must respect the “life in the blood.” That’s why Jesus died via shed blood. (Lev. 17:14; Gen. 9:4; Exod. 22:31)

Don’t eat fish without scales and defenseless (hoofless) animals – victims of predation because they represent the alien, the widow, the orphan, the poor and the oppressed. Holiness and predatory activity (preying on the vulnerable of humanity) don’t mix. (Deut. 14:29; 16:11; Isa. 1:17)

In Paul Copan’s words, “Vaginal blood and semen are powerful symbols of life, but their loss symbolizes death.” Menstrual blood means a potential life has been lost. Spilled semen also represents the loss of potential life. Therefore to lose one of these fluids represented moving in the direction of death.

In the same way, cooking a kid in its mother’s milk is a mixture of life-giving milk with death of the kid this milk is supposed to keep alive. When you think of it, that is kind of disgusting. (Exo. 23:19) Similarly with killing a mother sheep or cow and its young on the same day. (Lev. 22:28)

Unlike other nations, Israel had certain restrictions regarding when they could have sex with their wives (not during their time of the month). This keeps wives from being entirely possessions to be used  exclusively for male pleasure.

The law was designed to highlight the “holiness gap between Israelites and God. This placed them in a position to seek God’s grace and purification. Such was the role of animal sacrifice, which pictured an animal being sacrificed to substitute for the sinner. God, by grace, allows a substitute.

The same priciple applies in the story of Abraham being asked by God to sacrifice Isaac. They become a picture of God offering his own Son Jesus as the ultimate substitute for sin.

Copan notes that Richard Hess sees a pattern in the sequence of sacrifices in Leviticus:

  • First: purification from sin offering
  • Second: burnt offering indicating total dedication to God
  • Third: fellowship or ordination offering

Hess (and presumably Copan) sees a parallel with how one becomes a true Christian. The Christian life begins by confession of sin, then dedication to God, and then fellowship with God. Even though Christ has fulfilled this part of the law, what it teaches remains valid.

 One might even say that the New Covenant requires in reality what the Old Covenant required in symbol. That is why in Gal. 3:24-25 Paul calls the law a tutor to lead us to Christ. The law’s sacrifices, priesthood, even its holy days pointed forward to Christ as their ultimate fulfilment.

 Just as a side note: Passover and Pentecost have obvious fulfilment in the Gospels and Acts. I leave it to you to find the fulfilment of the fall festivals of Trumpets, Atonement and Tabernacles in Christ. (The book of Hebrews is a good place to start regarding Atonement. Others might not be so easy unless you are looking for Christ’s return.)

 The point of all this is that the objections of the New Atheists do not come from careful examination of the scriptures. It takes care and patience and study to understand the Old Testament and its several covenants. Yes, I said several. If you read carefully, you will see that God makes two covenants with Adam, one with Noah, at least two with Abraham (Ismael and Isaac), two with Israel, One with Aaron, one with Phinehas (Aaron’s grandson), with David, and with Solomon.

Jesus is the one that all of these covenants point to. Redemption in him is the goal they all 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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A Breakup and a Cooling Off Period

No, this post’s (deliberately misleading) title is not about romantic relationships.

We have lately been covering various aspects of a young earth creation by God and how a great deal of evidence points to a universe of only a few thousand years of age. That is roughly 6,000 years according to the chronology recorded in the Bible.

One gap in our coverage has been to explore the scientific finding that there was at least one ice age on earth. Since the Bible does not seem to specifically mention an ice age, evolution-minded scientists point to this as a weakness of the young earth creation model.

As it turns out, the standard models that try to explain multiple ice ages over about 2 million years are even weaker.

If we wanted to make an ice age, what would we need? The short answer is that we need warm water and cold land. Temperate regions such as New York state would need to be cooled by an average of 24 degrees Celsius on average to allow the land to retain ice coverage to accumulate.

No non-creationist model comes even close to this kind of cooling.

While the Bible does not specifically mention an ice age (the events are all located in the Middle East, after all), we may find a clue in Job 38, specifically in verses 22-23 and 29-30. Note that in verse 30 the “surface of the deep” is frozen. This seems to mean that even some seas end up frozen.

So how would God expect Job know about that kind of snow and ice unless he had seen it nearby or had visited glaciers? We do know that glaciers covered about 30% of the land surface at their farthest extent.

Remember that Job lived a very long time – long enough for him to father a second family of 10 adult children after his first set of adult children had died. He also lived to see the fourth generation of great-grandchildren before he died (apparently 140 years after the birth of his tenth child. This suggests that he may have been born relatively shortly after the Flood, when lifespans are recorded to have been longer than our current 70-80 year average.

For this reason creationists suspected that the ice age (the one and only) must have taken place shortly after Noah’s Flood. This and other observations eventually led to a new model of the mechanism of the Flood and its aftermath.

The creationist model of Noah’s Flood known as Catastrophic Plate Tectonics provides the initial conditions needed to make an ice age happen. As the “fountains of the deeps” break open, the crust of the earth shifts, allowing hot materials from underneath to contact the sea water, heating it up.

Meanwhile, aboveground volcanic activity spews unimagineable amounts of dust into the air, causing something akin to a nuclear winter that cools the land. By blocking a significant portion of the  sunlight from reaching the ground. The whole ice age lasted about 700 years according to this model.

You can find more detail at the Creation Ministries International web article What Caused the Ice Age?.

They also have an approachable YouTube video of the same explanation.

So there we have it: a breakup of continental proportions followed by a cooling off period of geologic proportions.

So why are we bothering with this kind of repudiation of what is commonly accepted scientific theory?

We believe that the accounts in the Bible are trustworthy history recorded by people who knew the eyewitnesses or were the eyewitnesses of the events described. More than that, Jesus and his Apostles recognized that the events described in the book of Genesis are accurate history. If we are going to understand the geologic record we need to compare it with reliable historical accounts instead of merely ignoring them to assume great ages that accommodate evolutionary theory.

Why is this important to us now? The Apostle Peter, who personally knew Jesus, wrote two letters to a large number of churches near the end of his life.  I encourage you to read his closing remarks in 2 Peter 3.

Look especially at what the scoffers are deliberately ignoring and at what the consequences are. I personally find it chilling. We ignore the warnings of judgment by that same Creator God at our peril.

This God is not someone to be trifled with.

 

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Freedom

[Note: The list of scriptures below describing what our freedom requires did not originate with me, but with another writer much wiser than me. All I did was connect it with the exodus of Moses and our own Second Exodus under Jesus.]

When God miraculously freed Israel from slavery in Egypt he brought them into a land of their own and promised that each family would have an inheritance of productive land. He also gave them a remarkable set of laws when they reached Mount Sinai.

He begins to tell them his law in his own voice, but that frightens them so much that they ask Moses to take notes and get back to them with the rest. Exodus 21 continues with Moses hearing the remainder of God’s law (everything after the Ten Commandments). Chapters 21-23 cover these regulations, which were included in the tablets Moses later brings down from the mountain.

The first six verses of Chapter 21, the beginning of the laws Moses brings, covers a strange subject for a newly-freed people.

Exodus 21:1-6 Why start the laws with regulations about slavery? And why would somebody agree to lifetime servitude?

Smarter people than me suggest that this is intended to be an analogy for how we might desire to obey and worship God himself. The benefits of serving God are so far-reaching that continuing is a no-brainer.

One lesson from Israel is that true freedom is very different from the Western notion of being allowed to do anything we want whenever we want.

The God who made us has specific plans for humanity – plans that require certain kinds of action and certain kinds of self-control.

For instance, he tells Israel in Exodus 24:7-8 that he brings them out of Egypt so they may worship and obey him alone. This implies that freedom also has responsibilities.

We Christians are in the midst of a Second Exodus (Jeremiah 23:7-8).

What freedom do we have now? The following is a list of passages that tell us about our freedoms in Christ.

1) Freedom to serve one another in love.
Gal. 5:13For you have been called to live in freedom – not freedom to satisfy your sinful nature, but freedom to serve one another in love.

2) Freedom to live to bring God glory
Eph. 1:7 In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace 8 that he lavished on us. With all wisdom and insight 9 he has made known to us the mystery of his will, according to his good pleasure that he set forth in Christ, 10 as a plan for the fullness of time, to gather up all things in him, things in heaven and things on earth. 11 In Christ we have also obtained an inheritance, having been destined according to the purpose of him who accomplishes all things according to his counsel and will, 12 so that we, who were the first to set our hope on Christ, might live for the praise of his glory.

3) Freedom to reflect God’s glory
2 Cor. 3:17 Now, the Lord is the Spirit, and wherever the Spirit of the Lord is, he gives freedom. 18 And all of us have had that veil removed so that we can be mirrors that brightly reflect the glory of the Lord. And as the Spirit of the Lord works within us, we become more and more like him and reflect his glory even more.

4) Freedom to start fresh
Col. 2:9 For in Christ the fullness of God lives in a human body, 10 and you are complete through your union with Christ. He is the Lord over every ruler and authority in the universe. 11 When you came to Christ, you were “circumcised,” but not by a physical procedure. It was a spiritual procedure – the cutting away of your sinful nature. 12 For you were buried with Christ when you were baptized. And with him you were raised to a new life because you trusted the mighty power of God, who raised Christ from the dead.

13 You were dead because of your sins and because your sinful nature was not yet cut away. Then God made you alive with Christ. He forgave all our sins. 14 He canceled the record that contained the charges against us. He took it and destroyed it by nailing it to Christ’s cross. 15 In this way, God disarmed the evil rulers and authorities. He shamed them publicly by his victory over them on the cross of Christ.

5) Freedom to live a higher life in Christ
Col 3.1 Since you have been raised to new life with Christ, set your sights on the realities of heaven, where Christ sits at God’s right hand in the place of honor and power. 2 Let heaven fill your thoughts. Do not think only about things down here on earth. 3 For you died when Christ died, and your real life is hidden with Christ in God. 4 And when Christ, who is your  real life, is revealed to the whole world, you will share in all his glory.
5 So put to death the sinful, earthly things lurking within you. Have nothing to do with sexual sin, impurity, lust, and shameful desires. Don’t be greedy for the good things of this life, for that is idolatry. 6 God’s terrible anger will come upon those who do such things. 7 You used to do them when your life was still part of this world.
8 But now is the time to get rid of anger, rage, malicious behavior, slander, and dirty language. 9 Don’t lie to each other, for you have stripped off your old evil nature and all its wicked deeds. 10 In its place you have clothed yourselves with a brand-new nature that is continually being renewed as you learn more and more about Christ, who created this new nature within you. 11 In this new life, it doesn’t matter if you are a Jew or a Gentile,  circumcised or uncircumcised, barbaric, uncivilized,  slave, or free. Christ is all that matters, and he lives in all of us.

6) Freedom to pursue peace and forgiveness
12 Since God chose you to be the holy people whom he loves, you must clothe yourselves with tenderhearted mercy, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience. 13 You must make allowance for each other’s faults and forgive the person who offends you. Remember, the Lord forgave you, so you must forgive others. 14 And the most important piece of clothing you must wear is love. Love is what binds us all together in perfect harmony. 15 And let the peace that comes from Christ rule in your hearts. For as members of one body you are all called to live in peace. And always be thankful.

7) Freedom to minister to one another
16 Let the words of Christ, in all their richness, live in your hearts and make you wise. Use his words to teach and counsel each other. Sing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs to God with thankful hearts. 17 And whatever you do or say, let it be as a representative of the Lord Jesus, all the while giving thanks through him to God the Father.

8) Freedom to participate in freeing the world
Col. 4:3 Don’t forget to pray for us, too, that God will give us many opportunities to preach about his secret plan – that Christ is also for you Gentiles. That is why I am here in chains. 4 Pray that I will proclaim this message as clearly as I should.
5 Live wisely among those who are not Christians, and make the most of every opportunity. 6 Let your conversation be gracious and effective so that you will have the right answer for everyone.

2 Cor.5:16 – 6:12 In this passage the Apostle Paul calls us “Christ’s ambassadors,” which certainly suggests we have citizenship of an other-worldly superpower and are called to invite people to a sort of defection to Jesus’ Kingdom.

1 Timothy 2:1 I urge you, first of all, to pray for all people. As you make your requests, plead for God’s mercy upon them, and give thanks. 2 Pray this way for kings and all others who are in authority, so that we can live in peace and quietness, in godliness and dignity. 3 This is good and pleases God our Savior, 4 for he wants everyone to be saved and to understand the truth. 5 For there is only one God and one Mediator who can reconcile God and people. He is the man Christ Jesus. 6 He gave his life to purchase freedom for everyone. This is the message that God gave to the world at the proper time. 7 And I have been chosen – this is the absolute truth – as a preacher and apostle to teach the Gentiles about faith and truth.

9) Freedom to suffer unjustly in the world for the sake of Christ
1 Pet 2:12 Be careful how you live among your unbelieving neighbors. Even if they accuse you of doing wrong, they will see your honorable behavior, and they will believe and give honor to God when he comes to judge the world.

13 For the Lord’s sake, accept all authority – the king as head of state, 14 and the officials he has appointed. For the king has sent them to punish all who do wrong and to honor those who do right. 15 It is God’s will that your good lives should silence those who make foolish accusations against you. 16 You are not slaves; you are free. But your freedom is not an excuse to do evil. You are free to live as God’s slaves. 17 Show respect for everyone. Love your Christian brothers and sisters. Fear God. Show respect for the king. 18 You who are slaves must accept the authority of your masters. Do whatever they tell you – not only if they are kind and reasonable, but even if they are harsh. 19 For God is pleased with you when, for the sake of your conscience, you patiently endure unfair treatment. 20 Of course, you get no credit for being patient if you are beaten for doing wrong. But if you suffer for doing right and are patient beneath the blows, God is pleased with you. 21 This suffering is all part of what God has called you to. Christ, who suffered for you, is your example. Follow in his steps. 22 He never sinned, and he never deceived anyone. 23 He did not retaliate when he was insulted. When he suffered, he did not threaten to get even. He left his case in the hands of God, who always judges fairly. 24 He personally carried away our sins in his own body on the cross so we can be dead to sin and live for what is right. You have been healed by his wounds! 25 Once you were wandering like lost sheep. But now you have turned to your Shepherd, the Guardian of your souls.

As you can see, there is a great deal of responsibility within our freedom. Let us live freely in Jesus Christ as we follow him to our “Promised Land,” the Kingdom of God.

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