Friday, February 26, 2016

What is truth?

This is a famous, perhaps rhetorical question asked by Pilate a long time ago recorded in John 18:38.
Why did Pilate say this?  Perhaps things are not so different now as they were back then.

Today we live in the so called “information age” with the advent of the internet, maybe it should be dubbed the “disinformation age”.  What frustrates me about this supposed great resource is that it can be hard to find truth.  For just about every topic researched there is conflicting and often contradictory information found. This brings doubt and confusion.  Even things we may have been taught since childhood come into question if one looks into it.  We are trained to accept any and everything taught from those in “authority” without questioning it.  But when someone does question these things, if we don’t just first outright reject what is said but listen to the evidence, it can bring confusion to what the actual truth of the matter is.  (Prov 18:17)

There are many examples I could list from small to great, try research almost any historical topic and see for yourself.  Don’t just read one article or source or only ask one person but dig a little.  It won’t take very long to find contradictory results.

Why is this so?  Why does disinformation, conspiracies, hoaxes and scams abound?  I recently watched this YouTube video which states everyone lies, multiple times a day and makes it seem normal, common and vogue.  This perspective breeds more of the same and does not encourage integrity but results in mistrust and contempt which undermines community.

We know from the Bible that Satan is the father of lies.  What this means is that if we lie we are following his example and bear the likeness of Satan himself.  Do we consider that liars are children of Satan?  Rev 21:8 tells us that the final destination for liars (among other unsavory folks) is the lake of fire.

We should examine ourselves, for if we are truthful, would we be found liars?  If so is there any hope then?  There is only one way out of this pit.  That way is Yeshua (Jesus)!  We must follow Him because he is Truth.  Let’s examine the two preceding verses to Pilots question for some insight:

John 18:36-37 Jesus replied, “My kingdom is not from this world. If my kingdom were from this world, my servants would be fighting to keep me from being handed over to the Jewish authorities. But as it is, my kingdom is not from here.” Then Pilate said, “So you are a king!” Jesus replied, “You say that I am a king. For this reason I was born, and for this reason I came into the world – to testify to the truth. Everyone who belongs to the truth listens to my voice.”

So to be people of integrity we must listen to and obey Yeshua (Jesus), for only in Him do we find Truth.  As we follow Him, we will be like Him and belong to the truth.  We will end the confusion of this world and no longer be deceived by the father or children of lies.

John 14:6 Jesus said unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man comes to the Father, but by me. 

Week 8 Bible Reading Review

Week 8 Numbers 16:1 to Numbers 33:1

Num 16 Korah’s rebellion.  Another example, like Miriam and Aaron of men trying to appoint / exalt themselves.  This is not acceptable in God’s kingdom.

Num 16:40  Again God instructed a sign to be placed to remind the people to not step outside their calling and be consumed.

Num 16:42 The people rebelled instead of humbled themselves, the result was more death.  Moses and Aaron again interceded to stop the plague.  Being humble before God instead of complaining and rebelling is a better approach in my opinion.

Num 20:3 How quickly we can forget.  So not having water makes them wish they were dead?  Did they forget their lot was to die in the wilderness already?  Did they forget complaining brought more death?

Num 20:8 Moses was to speak to the rock yet God tested him and said to take his staff.  Moses then struck the rock as he had done before. V10, Moses not only deviated from God’s instruction but claimed the result for himself, “must we bring water?”.  This resulted in Aaron and his entry to promised land denied.

Num 21:8 God provides an antidote to His own plague with the bronze serpent.  This later is correlated to Messiahs crucifixion in John 3:14-16

Num 22:12 God forbids Balaam to go with the men.
v20 God gives permission for Balaam to go with the men.
v22 The Angel of the Lord is sent to oppose Balaam for going.
v35 The Angel would have killed Balaam if not for the donkey, but now tells Balaam to proceed.
Why this discrepancy and flip flop?  My take on this is that Balaam had an idol of riches in His heart.  Using the Ezek 14:4 passage I am drawing a conclusion that in verse 20 Balaam is hearing incorrectly through an impure heart and receives a response according to his idol.  This is something that can easily happen to us.  We need to examine our hearts daily and remove all idols before approaching the Lord.

Num 30 A husband may “cancel” his wife's vow.  I see this as a way to protect her from making an inappropriate vow, but if he says nothing then he is supporting her decision.

Week 9  Numbers 33:1 to Deuteronomy 15:1

Saturday, February 20, 2016

Week 7 Bible Reading Review

Week 7  Numbers 1:1 to Numbers 16:1

Num 4:15 The command to not touch the Holy objects during transportation or they will die was later executed on Uzzah during the time of David.  4:20 however says death by just looking. Perhaps God was merciful that more did not die later?

Num 5:4 Were those sent outside the camp because of uncleanness allowed to take family and animals?  Were they able to collect the manna?  It could be an easy division to cause permanent separation.  Did some remain outside the camp indefinitely or even leave entirely?

Num 5:6 committing a sin towards another = being unfaithful to God.

Num 5  The jealousy ritual is a strange ceremony.  This was done in the case of no witnesses.  The commentary in the HCSB indicates that if the woman was guilty she would become barren.  Something that wasn’t immediately obvious.

Num 6  What is the purpose for one making a Nazarite vow?  It mentions more of what they are not to do then what they are to do.

Num 9 They followed the cloud, this is one thing they did not mess up.  Do we follow God’s leading in our lives?  If only it were as obvious as the cloud!

Num 11:16 Moses was over burdened by the people. God gave Moses a support team of 70 elders.  We can ask God for help with His assignments.

Num 11:21 Even Moses could not understand how God would provide the meat, even after seeing Him do this same provision in Ex 16-13. Can we keep faith even when there is no apparent solution for our problems?

Num 11:29, Moses was not jealous or wanting to “hoard” God’s presence for himself.  He wisely knew that if all had God’s presence in their lives, his job would be much easier.

Num 11:34 The “grave of craving”.  This is the destination of the “gotta have it” mindset.  It is lack of self-control and devoid of the fruit of the Spirit.

Num 12:8  Moses was very humble (v3) and God exalted him.  He also demanded much of him.  This is a huge endorsement.  This passage should cement to us not to disdain God’s chosen or to exalt ourselves.

Without faith it is impossible to please God. (Heb 11:6)  Numbers 13 and 14 show the deadly consequences of living without faith in God and what He has done and promised to do.  The scouts reported literal giants (13:33) which put fear in their hearts and minds.  Are we any different today?  Perhaps our “giants” are of another kind of impossibility in our minds.  The people’s understandably natural yet faithless response to the spies' report got them what they cried:  “If only we had died in the wilderness” as God pronounces punishment on the Israelites for 40 years to wander in the wilderness (14:35). The Israelites tried to take matters in their own hands, not falling on their faces in repentance.  This did not work for them as their attempt was defeated (14:40).  God was again ready to wipe them out but God pardons their lack of faith as Moses requested (14:20).  Joshua and Caleb stand out as an example for us of faith, looking beyond the physical (14:9) and being of a different spirit (14:24)  Oh that we would live by faith and not by sight!

Num 15:25 Unintentional sin must be atoned for, but (v30) defiant sin is not acceptable or forgiven. This command soon follows with an example of the defiant man gathering wood on the Sabbath.

Num 15:37+ God institutes tassels to help people remember to follow His commands and not their own ways.

Next Reading:  Week 8  Numbers 16:1 to Numbers 33:1


This is an article I wrote some years ago and I thought it appropriate to post here again as this week’s reading was from the book of Numbers.  I hope you find it beneficial.

Numbers 11
  • People complained, fire burned among them, and consumed some
  • Lust for flesh, loathe manna
  • Moses complains: people are too heavy a burden
  • Quail provided by YHVH (the LORD), people died in a very great plague
Numbers 12
  • Miriam and Aaron rebel against Moses
  • Miriam put out of the camp
Numbers 13
  • Spies return from Promised Land with ill report, people complain.
(Num 14:11-12) And YHVH said unto Moses, How long will this people despise me? and how long will it be before they believe me, with all the signs which I have shown among them? I will smite them with the pestilence, and disinherit them, and will make of you a greater nation and mightier than they.
  • Israel sentenced to 40 years wandering, a death sentence
  • Plague kills spies with ill report
  • Israel rebels, tries to enter promised land, loses the battle
Numbers 16
  • Rebellion of Korah, Dathan, and Abiram
  • Earth opens up and swallows them.
  • Fire consumes 250
  • People complain against Moses and Aaron
(Num 16:44-45) And YHVH spoke unto Moses, saying, Get away from among this congregation, that I may consume them as in a moment.
  • 14,700 killed in plague
Numbers 17
  • Aaron’s rod buds to quell rebels
Numbers 20
  • People complain for water
Numbers 21
  • People complain for being led to die in the wilderness, plague of fiery serpents.

BALAAM and BALAK, A new lesson?

(Num 22:11-12) Behold, there is a people come out of Egypt, who cover the face of the earth: come now, curse them for me; perhaps I shall be able to overcome them, and drive them out. And YHVH said unto Balaam, You shall not go with them; you shall not curse the people: for they are blessed.

(Num 23:7-12) And he took up his oracle, and said, Balak the king of Moab has brought me from Aram, out of the mountains of the east, saying, Come, curse for me Jacob, and come, denounce Israel. How shall I curse, whom YHVH has not cursed? or how shall I denounce, whom YHVH has not denounced? For from the top of the rocks I see him, and from the hills I behold him: lo, the people shall dwell alone, and shall not be reckoned among the nations. Who can count the dust of Jacob, and the number of the fourth part of Israel? Let me die the death of the righteous, and let my last end be like his! And Balak said unto Balaam, What have you done unto me? I took you to curse my enemies, and, behold, you have blessed them altogether. And he answered and said, Must I not take heed to speak that which YHVH has put in my mouth?

(Num 23:18-24) And he took up his oracle, and said, Rise up, Balak, and hear; hearken unto me, you son of Zippor: YHVH is not a man, that he should lie; neither the son of man, that he should repent: has he said, and shall he not do it? or has he spoken, and shall he not make it good? Behold, I have received commandment to bless: and he has blessed; and I cannot reverse it. He has not beheld iniquity in Jacob, neither has he seen perverseness in Israel: YHVH his God is with him, and the shout of a king is among them. YHVH brought them out of Egypt; he has as it were the strength of a wild ox. Surely there is no enchantment against Jacob, neither is there any divination against Israel: according to this time it shall be said of Jacob and of Israel, What has God wrought! Behold, the people shall rise up as a great lion, and lift up themselves as a young lion: he shall not lie down until he eats of the prey, and drinks the blood of the slain.

(Num 24:1-9) And when Balaam saw that it pleased YHVH to bless Israel, he went not, as at other times, to seek for enchantments, but he set his face toward the wilderness. And Balaam lifted up his eyes, and he saw Israel abiding in its tents according to its tribes; and the spirit of YHVH came upon him. And he took up his oracle, and said, Balaam the son of Beor has said, and the man whose eyes are open has said: He has said, who heard the words of YHVH, who saw the vision of the Almighty, falling into a trance, but having his eyes open: How lovely are your tents, O Jacob, and your tabernacles, O Israel! As the valleys are they spread forth, as gardens by the river's side, as aloes which YHVH has planted, and as cedar trees beside the waters. He shall pour the water out of his buckets, and his seed shall be in many waters, and his king shall be higher than Agag, and his kingdom shall be exalted. YHVH brought him forth out of Egypt; he has as it were the strength of a wild ox: he shall eat up the nations his enemies, and shall break their bones, and pierce them through with his arrows. He crouched, he lay down as a lion, and as a great lion: who shall stir him up? Blessed is he that blesses you, and cursed is he that curses you.

How would we speak of Israel in this situation? If we were privy to what was happening in the camp, probably pretty negatively. We learn from the story of Balaam that YHVH spoke well of them to others, DESPITE their behavior.

When dealing with people, there should be no coddling for sin, but how do we speak about others?

Consider the parallel of Yeshua (Jesus) considering Israel his "bride". Do we speak well of our spouse to others?

We should examine our motives in speaking about others? Are we only interested in speaking "the naked truth"? Or even worse yet, "hear say"?

(Prov 11:13) A talebearer reveals secrets: but he that is of a faithful spirit conceals the matter.

Notice the contrast of this same verse in 2 different Bible versions, they can both be true at the same time.
  • (Prov 18:8) The words of a talebearer are like tasty morsels, and they go down into the innermost parts of the body.
  • (Prov 18:8) The words of a tale-bearer [are] as self-inflicted wounds, And they have gone down [to] the inner parts of the heart.
(Prov 20:19) He that goes about as a talebearer reveals secrets: therefore associate not with him who flatters with his lips.

(Prov 16:27) An ungodly man digs up evil: and in his lips there is as a burning fire.

Be concerned with what YHVH wants said. Speak life and blessing?

(Prov 16:21) The wise in heart shall be called prudent: and the sweetness of the lips increases learning.

(Prov 16:23) The heart of the wise teaches his mouth, and adds learning to his lips.

(Prov 16:24) Pleasant words are as a honeycomb, sweet to the soul, and health to the bones.

(Jas 3:10) Out of the same mouth proceeds blessing and cursing. My brethren, these things ought not so to be.

Summary Verse

(Matt 5:44) But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them who despitefully use you, and persecute you;

Friday, February 12, 2016

Week 6 Bible Reading Review

Week 6  Leviticus 12:1 to Numbers 1:1

Lev 14  The priest performed ceremonies for a person having skin diseases cleansed that are similar to those for sin.  This shows a correlation between physical and spiritual.

Was there significance of remaining unclean until evening? Evening (sunset) is the beginning of the next day.

Many of the instructions are also good health advice.

Lev 19:10 Not a handout mentality, the poor and foreigners still needed to do some work to get the benefits from the farmers’ fields.

Lev 19:19  Just say NO to GMO!

Lev 22:9  A very strict death penalty for priests for not following God’s instructions.  God demands more from those closer to Him.

Lev 25 the seventh year and jubilee land rest still allowed for eating of what grows on its own in that year.  One could plant and leave select crops in the preceding year(s) and potentially have much to pick from in the seventh and eighth.

With some understanding of crop cycles and after reading through this portion multiple times and discussing with Shannon, I have a different perspective.  I had in the past only considered that there would be such a great harvest in the 6th year that it would be stored up and sustain till the 8th.  Perhaps a fuller understanding of “I will appoint my blessing for you in the sixth year, so that it will produce a crop sufficient for three years” can also mean that a crop will continue to produce, either by self-seeding or multiyear production to provide during the time of rest.  There is prohibition for “reaping” and “harvesting” which I conclude is heavy work.  This prohibition may also include not storing up or selling of “rest” produce.  It is supposed to be restful, for the land and man and beast, an enjoyable eating by hand experience of what grows on its own at peak freshness. This would also leave some seed in the field to remain and produce the next year.  The land rest traditionally begins in the fall so this could allow self-seeding for the spring.  Matt 12:1 shows an example of Yeshua / Jesus with the disciples picking and eating on the Sabbath in a leisurely way which I would consider an example for the year of land rest. Just like the manna, God provides our needs daily.

Lev 25:23,55 God claims ownership of the land and people.

The regulations around the Jubilee made for some interesting commerce.

Lev 26 The blessings for obedience is great, but the curses for disobedience are progressively destructive.  I count 5 separate levels, as disobedience turns to hostility, God brings progressive punishment and destruction.  This allows for a change of course by the sinner.  Still after all of this God is merciful and allows for repentance and offers acceptance if one is humble before Him.

Next Reading:  Week 7  Numbers 1:1 to Numbers 16:1

Friday, February 5, 2016

Week 5 Bible Reading Review

Here are my comments / thoughts for this week’s reading.  Come along on the journey and leave your reading musings below.

Week 5  Exodus 33:1 to Leviticus 12:1

Ex 33:16 Are we different from the rest of the world?  Have we found favor in His sight? Does God go with us?

Ex 33:20 No one can see God’s face and live, yet Moses spoke with God face to face? (Ex 33:11)  Moses also had glowing skin at times.  (Ex 34:29) Perhaps there are degrees of revelation of His presence / glory.

Ex 36:1-7 God provided what was needed for the task at hand in both skill and materials.  If He gives us an assignment, we should be confident that He will provide as needed.

Lev 3:17 No eating of fat or blood perpetual command.  This will come into play later when Yeshua / Jesus says to eat His flesh and drink His blood, causing many to walk away.

Lev 6:13 Fire must be kept on the alter continually and not go out… This may seem an obvious point but I highly doubt that this included when they packed up and moved.  My point is that commands should not override all circumstances and that all things need to be taken under consideration.

There is a lot of detail and specific requirements for the temple service and offerings.  How was all of this kept straight?  The ceremonies and ordinances of the temple service and ordinations are very foreign.  If given in another context, I might mistake it for pagan rituals.  What can we learn from all of this?

Lev 9:24 Fire came down and consumed the burnt offering.  Did this happen on a regular basis?  This is an unmistakable “stamp of approval”.

Next Reading:  Week 6  Leviticus 12:1 to Numbers 1:1

Fruit of Complaining

One of the top lessons I get when reading about the Israelite's exodus from Egypt is God’s perspective on grumbling and complaining.  Time and again the children would complain about their hardships as they wandered in the wilderness.  Complaining does not gain them sympathy or compassion, but rather judgement and destruction.  Read Numbers 11 for an example of this.  These stories are written down for us to learn from.  Yet why do we still find it so easy to complain?

What is so appealing about it, why does it seem to make us feel better?  Is it by belittling others we make ourselves more important in our own eyes?  Is it for the hope of gaining a sympathetic ear, or possibly form a club of like minded complainers to validate one’s own complaints?

Complaining is a disease that is running rampant in the modern age of the internet.  The internet provides an outlet for people to spew their complaints to a larger and larger audience.  One doesn’t have to read many comments on social media sites like Facebook or YouTube to see the complaining rise to a new level of vile stench.

People are not just complaining, but it seems they go out of their way to attack and tear down other people, often with trash talk and demeaning language.  Are we not all created in His image? Do we not know that we will be held accountable for our words and deeds?

Matt 12:36 I tell you, on the day of judgment people will give account for every careless word they speak,

Pride is a common root to complaining.  God deplores it, just read the story of the Exodus. He will bring the proud low.  This is a promise.

Matt 23:12  For those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.

Perhaps for many our life has become too soft as we have spent our time pleasing ourselves and building our own kingdom.  Love HAS grown cold.  What happened to esteeming others better than ourselves?  Loving our enemies?  Has our conscience become so seared that this behavior does not shame us?

I believe that complaining is epidemic because it is the easy route.  The path of least resistance.  It has become commonplace and many just respond in kind.

Let this post be a reminder for us all to take the path less traveled.  The more difficult and challenging road.  Desire to remain humble, remain merciful, and pray for wisdom on how to handle each situation without complaint.

James 1:5 If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him.