Now that I have come to see that God is in control of ALL things, I have also become convinced that I should be thanking God for ALL things, not just the things that I perceive to be good.
While this may seem obvious to most Christians, often our actions betray a lack of application of such beliefs.
So strong has this new application of my belief become, that I often actually feel guilty now when ever I thank God for only the things that I see as good, it's like saying to Him "thanks heaps God, but about time you turned up, where have you been?"
Despite the fact that we constantly attribute things we see as 'bad' to satan or luck and chance, our actions need to be dictated by KNOWING that God works ALL things to our benefit (Romans 8:28), not just the few things that we recognise as good. It must feel like such an insult to God when we only thank Him for what we see as good, He must feel like saying "but my child, I love you, why do you doubt that I have your best interests in mind? Trust me, haven't I already proven my fidelity?"
It feels so liberating now to praise God when things don't go my way, because I know that things have actually gone His way!!!! To KNOW that God is working things to my benefit even when they seem bad to my woefully corrupt eyes.... now that is the faith that I'm after! That is the child-like faith that God so desires!
Thursday, October 4, 2012
After reading Psalm 27:4 "One thing have I desired of the Lord, that will I seek after; that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, to behold the beauty of the Lord, and to enquire in his temple." it made me think about what I want to achieve in life. In the past I would have had the same response as most people; pay off mortgage, career, travel......all mere worldly ambitions. But now my ambitions are more in line what the above verse describes, and probably should be for anyone who is a follower of Christ.
It's interesting how easily duped and deluded we can become by worldly secular influences, even when the bible clearly teaches something to the contrary!
It's interesting how easily duped and deluded we can become by worldly secular influences, even when the bible clearly teaches something to the contrary!
at 10:21 PM
Saturday, August 25, 2012
While no one that I know actually prostrates themselves before carved idols and national demi-gods as in ancient times, I have always been aware of how relevant the first commandment still is in today’s Western society. We would all probably agree that this commandment is applicable to anything that relegates God to a position of lower priority in our life, but I was never aware of how much of our life that God seems to wants us to dedicate to Him.
It’s one thing to go to church Sunday morning, read the Bible once a week, say a prayer before bed, all the while spending the largest portion of the day at work, the rest of the day watching TV and the weekend engaged in sport. But it’s something entirely different to sincerely focus and dedicate one's life to God as Scripture teaches.
“Blessed is the man …. his delight is in the law of the Lord; and in his law doth he meditate day and night.” Psalm 1:1-2
“Honour the Lord with thy substance, and with the firstfruits of all thine increase” Proverbs 3:9
“My soul, wait thou only upon God; for my expectation is from him.” Psalm 62:5
The closer that God draws me to Him, the less imperative that the rest of life becomes. Sure, I still have my hobbies and pursuits, but the focus on my Father is central and dominant in my new life. All other things are peripheral and merely complimentary. And that is how I now see that God wants our lives to be.
It’s not just that God takes a higher priority in my life, but that the portion of my life that I give to Him is equal to what I give to all other pursuits combined, 50/50. 50% to God and 50% to the world, well that’s the ideal anyway, I’m not quite there yet. But what I’ve noticed is that the more of God that I get, the less of worldly pursuits that I want. The less fulfilling these worldly pursuits actually are.
Is it wrong to want to spend all my time in pursuit of God alone? Is that just an unrealistic fantasy, something impossible and even irresponsible in this hectic modern world? What is the right balance between the world and God? Does God actually want us focused on a career which the modern world considers all-important? Whether that career is a mundane labouring job, or serving others in social welfare or as a pastor; it seems to me that our main goal in life should be our personal relationship with God. This may sound like a platitude to modern Christians, but how many from within the church actually practice it? Many people even make the same mistake that the Pharisees made in worshipping and serving the church rather than God Himself.
Even marriage is discouraged because it takes our focus off of God:
“But he that is married careth for the things that are of the world, how he may please his wife. There is difference also between a wife and a virgin. The unmarried woman careth for the things of the Lord, that she may be holy both in body and in spirit: but she that is married careth for the things of the world, how she may please her husband.” 1 Corinthians 7:33-34
I have always been fascinated as to why God’s chosen people,
never really seemed to achieve much. History holds no special place for them. They
never conquered the world like the Romans, they didn’t build magnificent
structures like the Egyptians, they never produced amazing trade products like the
Far Eastern lands, they never explored the furthest parts of the planet like the
English or French. Surely being God’s people they should have left an awesome
mark on history commensurate with the awesomeness of their God? Israel
But I realised that these things are only great in the eyes of humans, God wants something more, something greater than merely worldly achievement. God only wants a relationship with us, and this is was what the Israelites were better at than anyone else. They were a priestly people, a people dedicated to their God alone. In fact God designated them as a nation of priests for the whole world; “ye shall be a peculiar treasure unto me above all people: for all the earth is mine: And ye shall be unto me a kingdom of priests, and an holy nation.” Exodus 19:5-6
God didn’t want
to waste their time focused
on pursuing worldly achievements, rather He wanted them to be focused on Him
alone. And only when they did, then did God richly blessed them with the wealth
of the world: “So king Solomon exceeded all the
kings of the earth for riches and for wisdom…..And the king made silver to be in Jerusalem as stones, and
cedars made he to be as the sycomore trees that are in the vale, for abundance.”
1 Kings 10:23,27 Israel
Looking at all the things that humans have achieved in modern history, I wonder what God thinks? We understand the mechanics of the planets, the workings of the biological cell, we have put man on the moon, built magnificent structures, designed amazingly complex computer systems; but is this of any significance to God? I tend to think that God sees all our pursuits as nothing more than detrimental distractions from our real purpose as humans; to know God.
Maybe the Amish have it right in their rejection of technology?
I see now that worldly achievement isn’t to be our focus, but rather God alone. It is only then that God will bless us with wealth and the things that the world desires above Him. Seek God first, and richness will follow. In fact Jesus stated this principle perfectly: “But seek ye first the
and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.”
Matthew 6:33 kingdom of God
So when God asks us not to serve any gods other than Him, He is asking more than just belief in Him, more than spending Sunday morning worshipping Him, more than a prayer before bed. He seems to be asking for something that is antithetical to our modern life, something that the first Christians joyfully did; solely focus on God:
“And they continued stedfastly in the apostles' doctrine and fellowship, and in breaking of bread, and in prayers…. And sold their possessions and goods, and parted them to all men, as every man had need. And they, continuing daily with one accord in the temple” Acts 2:42-46
Maybe I’m just turning into a hippie! A Christian hippie!
at 8:46 PM
Saturday, July 7, 2012
Well it seems that the timing of my study into prophecy was rather ‘prophetic’ itself! A couple of days ago my church hosted a preacher who is touted as having prophetic abilities, some were actually referring to him as a prophet.
He was a great preacher no doubt, and his message was impeccable. Afterwards he called up a number of people from the crowd to deliver messages which he felt God was telling him (he termed these messages as ‘words of knowledge/wisdom’or something to that effect), and I was one of them.
Most of what he spoke of was from my past and present, telling me things that he couldn’t have known himself, and it was all spot on. There was only once piece of information which dealt with the future, and it was that I would have my own business, which is something that I had indeed been wanting to set up. So this was great confirmation for me, and has given me extra impetus to persue this path.
So ultimately the whole experience was positive for me, I tend to believe that the things which he said really were from God, but the experience did raise many questions in my head. First of all, I wonder whether any of this should be called ‘prophecy’, which I see no biblical basis for as my previous post details. In fact he was upfront enough to admit that his ‘prophecies’ are at best only 30-40% accurate, which rang alarm bells in my ears! God made it abundantly clear that if a prophet is wrong even once then he is a false prophet. I think that the things he was saying should be best classified as ‘revelations’.
In the end almost the entirety of the church came forward to receive a ‘word of knowledge’ from him. So it wasn’t just that God gave him a revelation for only a few select people, but rather he all too easily gave a revelation to every single person that came forward. This seemed rather curious to me, I would have expected him to draw a blank for some people and say “I’m sorry, but God isn’t revealing anything to me about you”.
Another thought that was running through my mind was how strikingly similar the whole thing is to what a fortune teller does. It’s odd that as Christians we are so defiantly opposed to mediums and fortune tellers (and rightly so), yet we are so quick to openly embrace our own version of it (in fact, other than the preacher getting his revelation from God and the medium from a spirit, it is all exactly the same thing!).
I also haven’t seen any biblical basis for this kind of thing. Where in the Bible are the prophets going around telling everybody their future on demand? In fact the only people who did these things were described to as mediums and witches!! I’m not at all suggesting that this is what these modern ‘prophets’are, but when you look to God’s Word for guidance on such matters one is left furiously scratching one’s head!
It may be said that I’m being overly critical, but I would rather be a little over critical than under critical, which would be just plain dangerous! One will be sucked into all sorts of heretical teaching by failing to test the claims of teachers.
Do all these failed predictions mean that he is a false prophet? I don’t know. My compassionate side tends to think of him as slightly misguided, and simply changing his title from ‘prophet’ might be sufficient correction. But my better instinct tells me that anybody who claims to be a prophet, but their prophecy does not come to pass is a false prophet, Scripture is crystal clear about this.
It also might be said that I am getting far too caught up in what ultimately is nothing more than an issue of semantics, that it is ‘revelation’not ‘prophecy’. But there is great power in the Word, and the words that the Word uses, if you follow what I mean!
“ For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any twoedged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart” Hebrews 4:12 KJV
It then follows from this that this power and sharpness will certainly be diminished by careless use of the Word. Many Christians in their zeal for God go out evangelizing and preaching but have failed to gain an adequate knowledge or understanding of the Word. Not only is this frowned upon in Scripture (Prov 19:2 Rom 10:2), but also is a guaranteed way to limit the efficacy of your work. I know from person experience that my lack of firsthand knowledge of the Scriptures has severely cumbered my work, this is something that I am now furiously working to rectify. The simple fact is that we need to test the words of man by the Word of God.
Ultimately I don’t have a big problem with what this guy was doing, and I feel that it is from God, I guess I just feel a little uneasy with it because it is essentially the same things as what a medium will do! Except a medium will charge a fee for the service!
at 10:44 PM
Tuesday, June 26, 2012
Having been in self-imposed excommunication from the church for seven years, my reintroduction was bound to introduce me to various new themes floating around in Christian culture. One of the most prominent themes that I hear thrown around is ‘prophecy’. I have heard a number of people being flippantly referred to as prophets, and even more people claiming to ‘speak words of prophecy’, or having had such prophetic ‘words’ spoken over them. The common use of term ‘prophecy’ in the today’s parlance seems to be conveniently pliant and hopelessly confused and vague.
But just what is prophecy, and what function did the prophet play in history? Like usual, Scripture gives quite clear answers.
The Bible describes the prophet as having a very precise purpose and function, prophets were not people who just predicted the future as is commonly thought. To use a modern analogy, they were basically God’s ‘prosecuting attorneys’, whose specific purpose was to bring God’s lawsuit against both God’s people and the nations that surrounded
So just as a modern prosecuting attorney will represent the government in charging
a criminal for an alleged crime, God also sent His prophets to charge His
people with a particular crime. Israel
At the start of Ezekiel’s prophetic mission, God enunciated a very clear definition of what prophecy exactly is:
“When I say to a wicked person, “You will surely die,” and you do not warn them or speak out to dissuade them from their evil ways in order to save their life, that wicked person will die for their sin, and I will hold you accountable for their blood. But if you do warn the wicked person and they do not turn from their wickedness or from their evil ways, they will die for their sin; but you will have saved yourself.” Ezekiel 3:18-19.
Here we see four clear attributes of a prophecy: 1) identification of sin, 2) dissuasion from sin/call to repentance, 3) pronouncement of punishment for unrepented sin, 4) accountability of the prophet to his task.
So while a prophet would certainly pronounce a future punishment, this was only a small part of the prophet’s purpose. It is important to note that the prediction of the future was always contingent on repentance. If the offending people did repent of their sin, then God’s punishment would be revoked. We see this in Jonah’s prophecy of the destruction of
prediction of their destruction did not come to pass because the people did
heed God’s warning and repented. Nineveh
So the primary purpose of the prophet was not to warn the people of God’s impending wrath, but rather to persuade them to cease their sinful ways and turn back to God. It is God’s love that motivates the prophecy, not wrath.
1 Corinthians 14:3-4 gives another good general guide to what the effect of prophecy is; “everyone who prophesies speaks to men for their strengthening, encouragement and comfort”, and “he who prophesies edifies the church”. These verses should not be misconstrued to mean that the prophecy of the New Testament should be solely positive and feel-good. One only has to look at the prophecy in the book of Revelation where the seven churches are addressed to see that quite a lot of harsh words were said of them. Also, while the Old Testament prophecy contained a lot of harsh rebuke, it also contained much encouragement and comfort too (Hos 11:14, 14, Joel 3:17-21, Amos 9:11-15, Mic 7:8-20). And what would be a more effective way to edify the church than for it’s sins to be made known? Progress can not be made unless one’s stumbling blocks are known.
So we see that prophecy also contains encouragement and comfort in tandem with warnings of God’s wrath. Both are integral parts of prophecy.
The Bible makes it clear that there are just as many false prophets as true prophets, so we need to be discerning when listening to anybody who claims to be speaking prophecy. The two most effective methods for identifying a true prophet from a false prophet are: 1) to see if the specific prophecy comes true. “If what a prophet proclaims in the name of the Lord does not take place or come true, that is a message the Lord has not spoken. That prophet has spoken presumptuously” Deuteronomy 18:22. 2) “By their fruit you will recognise them.” Matt 2:15,16. The fruit of the spirit is of course a reference to Gal 5:22-23, which is in contrast to the works of the flesh Gal 5:19-21, which would be manifest in the false prophet.
Also prophets are always described as spreading their message on the streets to all the people concerned with total conviction and a desperate vehemence. Prophets do not timidly whisper their message in a church corner.
So in summery we find a number of principles in the Bible for discerning between true and false prophets. These are the characteristics that the Bible describes of a true prophet:
1) The prophet must be prophesying directly to the people concerned
2) Specific sins will be identified
3) The prophet will call the offending people to repent
4) Specific punishment will be identified for unrepentant sin
5) Specific blessings with be identified for repentance
6) The prophecy must identify a path to edification
7) The prophecy must come true
8) The fruit of the prophet must be of spirit, not of the flesh
It is obvious from all this that prophecy isn’t the mere prediction of calamity or blessing- this would be better defined as ‘revelation’- but instead true prophecy will include the above biblical principles. Also it is a quite poignant note that an extremely high responsibility is upon the shoulders of the prophet to do his job properly. This should serve as a dire warning to anybody who wishes to call their words prophecy; it is not a risk-free and glamorous job, and it is also your life that is on the line. So people should be extremely cautious that their compulsion to call their words prophecy is not in anyway a whimsical or self-aggrandizing compulsion. God takes prophecy extremely seriously:
“Woe to the foolish prophets who follow their own spirit and have seen nothing!”, “My hand will be against the prophets who see false visions and utter lying divinations” Ezekiel 13:3, 9.
“But the prophet who presumes to speak a word in My name, which I have not commanded him to speak, or who speaks in the name of other gods, that prophet shall die.’” Deut 18:20
The whole modern understanding of ‘prophecy’ seems to be based on a confusion between ‘prophecy’ and ‘revelation’. If someone is only stating what will happen in the future, then this is revelation, NOT prophecy. The two are categorically different things.
Wednesday, June 20, 2012
In coming to grips with the realisation that God controls the bad stuff in my life as well as the good, a friend made the comment that far too many people fall into the trap of placing God’s love one category and then placing the suffering and discontent in their lives into a separate category. This idea is disabused by the simple example of God willing the suffering and crucifixion of His beloved Son.
It is so often assumed that God is responsible for the good things, and that Satan is responsible for all the bad things. But this type of thinking seems to me to be deeply flawed because it relies on the persons own definition of what is good and what is bad. In this logic, it is assumed that humans are capable of correctly determining whether something is or isn't God’s will.
But this surely has to be a false assumption. How can we puny humans fully know what is good and what is bad, and surely it is a little arrogant to suggest that we have the ability to read God’s mind like that.
I can think of numerous examples from within my own life where what I thought was the right course of action ended up being wrong, and the ostensibly wrong direction that God took me was actually the right course.
For example, I might think that it is a good thing for me to get all the green traffic lights on the way to my destination, but actually getting all red lights may save me from being in the truck accident that occurred further down the road.
Getting sick might seem like a bad thing, until you hear the news that on the day that you had off work, the Fukushima nuclear power plant where you work has blown up in a nuclear meltdown.
How many stories like these have we either heard of, or have personally experienced?
While the good outcomes in these examples may seem obvious, it is only in hindsight that you notice that the outcomes are in fact good and not bad as it first seemed. But just think about the amount of bad things that occur in your life in which you simply fail to notice the good that actually comes in the end.
God is looking out for us and He “works out everything for his own ends.” Prov 16:4
at 2:48 AM
Tuesday, June 19, 2012
Ever since my ‘Spiritual rebirth’, God has been showing me small snippets of another way of living, a relationship with God that transcends the material world. This is a type of spirituality which seems to remarkably accord with the type of spirituality that the Bible describes the first Christians living in.
My first ‘spiritual' experience of the Holy Spirit’s immediate presence occurred back in March. That first experience of the intimate love of God opened my eyes to what it is like to be totally detached from the material world, and I was introduced to a spiritual realm where the only focus is one’s relationship with God, very similar to my perception of Heaven really.
Unfortunately the whole experience occurred at work, which forced me to restrict the emotional extent of the experience, but it was still extremely intense. It’s so hard to put into words, but I distinctly remember thinking that the whole world could disintegrate around me and I wouldn’t care. In fact, in the emotion of the experience I really didn’t have a care for anything else, everything faded into total insignificance; all the troubles at work, depression in my personal life, financial stress etc; the only thing that seemed to be of any importance was holding onto that raw, deep and unfettered love from God. During the experience I turned wholly apathetic towards the work colleagues who were causing me grief, and I felt that neither my possessions nor any of my life goals held any value, in fact these things seemed to be a distinct hindrance to being able to hold onto this spiritual high.
It was a stunningly liberating experience, and also the most amazing high! Completely dream-like to be honest. The only way to actually live out this type of spirituality would be to sequester myself away from the world in some kind of remote monastery, in a manner similar to the ancient desert ascetic monks like Saint Antony.
And yesterday I experienced something similar again. Although it was far less intense, it’s application to my life was much broader. Also, after having spent a few months cogitating the revelations that God was imparting on me, I felt that the experience yesterday made far more sense to me, it seemed to be a far more practical ‘spirituality’ to adapt to my normal life.
There were two prominent revelations that were in my mind. Firstly all material things totally lost it’s allure, and mammon held no more temptation. I felt a neutral response to material stuff, whereas before material things took on a more negative attribute.
Secondly, a deep and humble love for those around me manifested, even for those who held animosity towards me. Whereas before I felt apathy, this time I felt positive ‘love’. This love was so powerful and real that I even desired for people to show me hostility or acrimony just so that I could show them the Christ-like love that was welling inside me. The cessation of feeling animosity towards those who hurt me was utterly liberating.
These spiritual experiences presented a type of living that was categorically different to the way that I once lived. It feels like a different ‘level’ of living, where you can only be in one, either the spiritual or the material. The two seem mutually exclusive. But having said that, I feel that my current grasp on this spiritual level is only partial, and I find myself slipping back to the material level from time to time. But whenever I do slip, God always rescues me and hits me with another wave of His love which immediately elevates me back to the spiritual.
The second experience that I described above is a practical type of spirituality that I could implement into my life, and in hindsight He has been preparing me for it in the last few months. In fact it seems remarkably similar to the spirituality that David and Solomon sung about, and that which Christ taught and which the first Christians embraced.
It seemed so foreign to me before, but makes so much sense now. It’s like what they say about love songs, that love songs only really hit you and make total sense once you yourself are in love. It’s seems to be the same with spirituality, the following verses now make so much more sense to me, they really speak to my soul.
“O God, thou art my God; early will I seek thee: my soul thirsteth for thee, my flesh longeth for thee in a dry and thirsty land, where no water is” Psalm 63:1
“there is none upon the earth that I desire beside thee” Psalm 73:25
“Blessed are those who find wisdom, those who gain understanding, for she is more profitable than silver and yields better returns than gold. She is more precious than rubies; nothing you desire can compare with her.” Proverbs 3:13-15
“My fruit is better than fine gold; what I yield surpasses choice silver” Proverbs 8:19
“Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God” Matthew 4:4
Those verses describe a yearning for God in which all other material pursuits dim into the background. Nothing else matters. That is what I have been experiencing, material stuff seems to be little more than an annoyance and even hindrance. It’s not a hatred of material stuff, but more so an apathy toward it. Below are just a few verses which teach a detachment from the material world.
“go, sell your possessions and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me” Matthew 19:21
“Those who want to get rich fall into temptation and a trap and into many foolish and harmful desires that plunge people into ruin and destruction.” 1 Timothy 6:9
“No one can serve two masters. Either you will hate the one and love the other, or you will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money” Matthew 6:24
“All the believers were together and had everything in common. They sold property and possessions to give to anyone who had need. Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts.” Acts 2:44-46
“For everything in the world—the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life—comes not from the Father but from the world.” 1 John 2:16 NIV
While I certainly had always seen the truth of the verses above and paid lip service to them, the fact is that I was not living in the manner that they describe. My attachment and desire for material possessions and pursuing financial stability were the focus of my life. This was evidenced by frustration at things braking, and stress over financial matters. I was simply not trusting that God was in control.
I found that it was one thing to say that I served God and not money, but it was another thing to actually live that way. The simple fact was that I was blindly pursuing mammon, and I was only letting God fill the gaps.
I can be sure that I have now mostly detached from the material level because I rarely stress and fret about things, no matter what happens. It feels so good now that all my actions are dictated by my faith that God has things in control, the following verses perfectly echoes how I now trust God:
“Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes? Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they?
Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life?
“And why do you worry about clothes? See how the flowers of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you—you of little faith? So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them.
But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.” Matthew 6:25-34
I have heard many Christians describe the stage that I am now going through as an ‘intimacy stage’ of Christianity, and that mature Christians grow out of this intense passion, love and zeal. To be brutally honest, this sounds to me like nothing more than a copout from ‘mature’ Christians who have simply chosen to let go of the intimacy. This may or may not be true, but as far as I am concerned, I will not let go of this intimacy with God, and forever I will praise Him, lifting up my hands to Him in prayer! He truly satisfies me more than the richest feast! I will always praise Him with songs of joy! It is a little emasculating to admit this; but I couldn’t help but read Psalm 63 with without tears rolling down my eyes. My own heart’s desires are so perfectly echoed by the Psalms. It's such an amazing change from my old self.
Tuesday, June 12, 2012
In writing the last post in regards to God actually causing evil rather than just being impartial to it, I noticed how careful I was in using the word ‘evil’. While the Scriptures clearly teach that God has no qualms about visiting evil on people (Exodus 32:12,14 Isaiah 45:7, Amos 3:6, KJV), I wanted to make sure that I didn’t impugn His name because of a careless use of the word ‘evil’.
So how is evil defined in the modern world? Wikipedia describes it in a way that I think most people would agree with; “Evil is the violation of, or intent to violate, some moral code. Evil is usually seen as the dualistic opposite of good [….] evil is commonly associated with conscious and deliberate wrongdoing, [….], and acts of unnecessary or indiscriminate violence.”
This description is certainly in accord with the common understanding of evil, but no Christian would dare to use such words to describe God! After some probing from a friend, it became obvious that the revulsion of modern Christians to the idea that God causes evil is because the modern definition of the word seems to be quite different to how it is used in Scripture.
A simple question will illustrate this; would you call Satan evil? I certainly would have. But seeing the verses where God Himself is described as causing evil made me second guess this assumption. So I looked up every verse that refers to Satan, and guess what? Not once is the word ‘evil’ mentioned in conjunction with Satan! Satan is never called evil, and more importantly he isn’t credited as causing evil either. It is clear from these facts that our understanding of how the word ‘evil’ is used in Scripture is quite errant.
So what then is the Scriptural definition of evil? The Hebrew word evil is רָע, or ‘ra’, which predominately means adversity, affliction, calamity, distress, sorrow or trouble. These things are the typical tools that God uses to deal with wayward humans, and I don’t think many Christians would have a problem with God causing these things. But the most import thing to note is that these definitions are categorically different to what the modern definition of evil is, as exemplified in the Wiki definition above.
But it seems that the most important thing in figuring out what Scripture means by the word ‘evil’ is the context that the verse in found in.
In Exodus 32, God is described as being angered that the Israelites built an idol to worship after only having just been miraculously rescued from Egypt; “Now leave me [God] alone so that my anger may burn against them [the Israelites] and that I may destroy them.” Now Moses was distressed at this idea, so he beseeched God, and actually demanded that God “repent of this evil against thy people [….] And the LORD repented of the evil which he thought to do unto his people.”
The context makes it clear that the “evil” that God wished to visit on the Israelites was not some kind of arbitrary and woeful injustice, but rather it was a just punishment for a blatant sin. So the evil that God wishes to cause is; adversity, affliction, calamity, distress, sorrow and trouble.
The context of Amos 3:6 is similar. The chapter starts out with a statement of Judgement “therefore I will punish you for all your iniquities”. So again, the evil that God wishes to cause as punishment is; adversity, affliction, calamity, distress, sorrow and trouble.
The context of Isaiah 45:7 does not mention any kind of punishment for sin. Instead the context of the chapter is to demonstrate God’s supreme control over every part of His creation. Not only does God “form the light, and create darkness”, but His infinite control means that the evil is his creation is under His control as well; “I make peace, and create evil: I the LORD do all these things”. But as the Scriptural definition shows, this “evil” is not some kind of violation of a moral code, or wrongdoing or act of unnecessary or indiscriminate violence as the common definition of evil is, because we know that God is just (Deut 32:4; Job 37:23; Psa 99:4; Luke 18:7-8) and righteousness (Isa 51:6; Psa 89:14; Jer 23:5-6; 1 Cor 1:30).
So while God certainly causes evil, it is clear from all this that God certainly does not cause evil in the modern sense of the word.
“He is the Rock, his works are perfect, and all his ways are just. A faithful God who does no wrong, upright and just is he.” Deut 32:4 NIV
at 5:38 PM
Sunday, June 10, 2012
As soon as I started pondering the idea that God has complete control over absolutely everything, then immediately the first question to pop into my mind was how the existence of evil fits into His control.
The corollary of God having complete control over everything is that He is in control of evil as well as good. In fact, I have been coming to the conclusion that He may actually will evil just as much as He wills good. This idea seems to be an anathema to some modern Christians, but also seems to be an idea directly born out of the Scriptures itself (Isa 45:7, Amos 3:6, Job 2:3).
In fact the seminal event in God’s plan for us was predicated on evil; Christ’s death. There was no other way for our salvation to be fulfilled than for the Son to be crucified. Thinking hypothetically, salvation wouldn’t have been achieved if Jesus was recognised by
Israel as the Messiah and crowned as King, or
even if Christ started reigning the whole earth from itself. No, God willed His Son to be crucified, and evil was necessary for salvation. Rome
I remember in the past when I would experience my own personal evils of trials and suffering, and how I used to constantly question God as to why it is all happening; I just didn’t believe that it could be God’s will. That doubt produced all sorts of angst, sorrow, frustration and negativity. It just wasn’t a very pleasant way of dealing with things.
But I have been reading through the New Testament and seeing a totally different way of dealing with the trials of life. Scripture teaches that we are taught to rejoice in, and praise God, when going through suffering and even torture (Mat 5:11-12 Acts 5:40-41 2 Cor 8:2 Phil 4:4
1:11 Jam 1:2 1 Pet 4:12-13).
We aren’t instructed in Scripture to ‘beat
your chest and mournfully implore God for answers’, nor ‘join together and wail for the sorrows of
your trials’. What we do see in Scripture takes a far more positive and
joyful tone: Col
“Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds” James 1:2
“In the midst of a very severe trial, their overflowing joy and their extreme poverty welled up in rich generosity.” 2 Cor 8:2
“They called the apostles in and had them flogged. Then they ordered them not to speak in the name of Jesus, and let them go. The apostles left the Sanhedrin, rejoicing” Acts 5:40-41
“In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.” 1 Thessalonians 5:18
The only way I can see that it is possible for the apostles to praise God in their torture and for us to rejoice in our trials as the Scriptures teach, is if the suffering/evil itself is God’s will, and God’s will is always worthy of praise, even if we don’t understand it. Of course God doesn’t will evil flippantly, nor for His own amusement, but rather for a good purpose and our benefit.
Perhaps the most poignant example of praise for God over the trials in ones life would be found in the words of Job:
“At this, Job got up and tore his robe and shaved his head. Then he fell to the ground in worship and said: “Naked I came from my mother’s womb, and naked I will depart. The Lord gave and the Lord has taken away; may the name of the Lord be praised.” In all this, Job did not sin by charging God with wrongdoing.” Job1:20-22
at 8:10 PM
Friday, June 8, 2012
Now that I have been reading the Scriptures with fresh eyes, it is becoming more and more obvious to me how distant my spirituality is from what God teaches in both the Old and New Testaments.
The problem that we have in the Western world is that we have lost the dependence on God that the Israelites and early Christians so obviously had. We now put trust in things like technology to make us comfortable, trust the media to teach and inform us, trust the government to keep us safe, and trust ourselves to manage our lives. I had become dependant on almost everything other than God to help and sustain me. It’s no surprise that I had so much trouble trusting God! I actually trusted more in all those other things than in the God who has them all in His control! It’s equally no surprise why I was constantly left disappointed and frustrated when all those things failed to deliver. It is only God that has complete control, and is completely dedicated to my best interests. It is only God who is worthy of complete trust. This may all sound rather trite to most Christians, but the faith and trust of those first Christians seems to be a whole other world away:
“And all that believed were together, and had all things common; And sold their possessions and goods, and parted them to all men, as every man had need. And they, continuing daily with one accord in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, did eat their meat with gladness and singleness of heart, Praising God, and having favour with all the people. And the Lord added to the church daily such as should be saved.” Acts 2:44-47
"and when they had called the apostles, and beaten them, they commanded that they should not speak in the name of Jesus, and let them go.
And they departed from the presence of the council, rejoicing that they were counted worthy to suffer shame for his name" Acts 5:40-41
God desperately wants us to be dependant on Him, and Him alone (Psalm 6:27-9, 18; 44:5-7; 55:22; 118; 118:8-9; 146:3, Proverbs 3:5, Isaiah 31:1, 1 Tim 6:17). The more that I have been reading the Scriptures the more that this has becomes obvious to me. In order to fully trust in God it seems that I have to eradicate the errant Western worldview from my mind, and instead apply the principles for proper spirituality that that Scriptures teach.
at 7:22 PM
Wednesday, June 6, 2012
After spending years wondering why I couldn’t fully trust God in my mind, I realised it was because I wasn’t trusting God in my actions. As much as I desperately wanted to surrender all resistance towards God in regards to wholeheartedly embracing miracles or accepting the events that happen in life, there was a small part of me resisting Him which just wouldn’t go away.
As I explained in my previous post, the key was to realise that God actually does have total control over every single event in my life. But this wasn’t enough, I had to totally surrender my control of life to God. To do this I had to stop questioning why things happen and stop trying to fight against the events that happen in my life. Not just the big stuff, but the small as well, God has purpose in it all. Whether it is a storm that stops my outdoors plans, or if I drop my phone and break it, or even simply putting too much pepper in my dinner, it all has been sanctioned by God and therefore has a purpose. So I needed to stop questioning why things would happen if I knew that it is all willed by God.
The whole reason why someone questions why something has happened is based on the assumption that God either doesn’t have control of ones life, or that God hasn’t got ones best interests in mind. But we know from what God tells us in the Scriptures that these are false, and neither do Christians actually believe that they are true either, so the obvious solution was to just stop questioning why things happen! Does fret, don’t stress, things happen because God is looking out for us!
It's easy to say, and even easy to believe, but much much harder to actually do!
at 10:03 PM
Saturday, June 2, 2012
One of the many revolutions that are occurring in my life at the moment is my increasing attraction to the idea of predestination. Despite the ostensible mutual exclusivity of the two ideas of free-will and predestination, I tend to think that both being true is just one other example of a number of characteristics of God’s nature that is simply beyond the capacity for humans to grasp, the idea of the Trinity is an obvious one that comes to mind.
While it could be claimed that believing both are true is just pusillanimous fence-sitting, it seems to me that Scripture makes a convincing case that both are a reality.
The content of this post doesn’t deal with predestination specifically, but the theme of the post fits perfectly into it.
A recent revelation had exposed an interloper in my worldview. I realised that I had unwittingly adopted aspects of methodological naturalism, which is an atheistic concept that dominates every aspect of the Western world. I had fallen prey to naturalism despite the fact that I had spent the better part of the last decade furiously warring against this anti-theistic behemoth. I thought I knew it well enough to prevent it from invading my personal worldview, but it proved to be a far more insidious foe than I gave it credit for!
As keenly aware as I was of the atheistic worldview, I had no idea how deeply engrained it is into the thinking of the Western world, and also my own. My personal worldview was the result of having spent a great deal of time delving into the natural sciences. I noticed how everything in the universe ticked along like clockwork quite nicely (albeit clockwork that’s running down and malfunctioning) without the immediate presence of God; planets revolve, cells replicate, clouds precipitate, all without any supernatural action. All this logically led to the idea that natural events were random and devoid of any meaning or purpose, events like rain, earthquakes, celestial activity, bushfires, although God would most certainly use nature to bless or curse humans at will. Also, if natural events were random, what about stuff like kicking a toe on a rock, or winning two dollars on an Instant Scratchit, or a car pulling out of a park just in time for you? Are these types of things random as well? It’s a slippery slope. Once the principle of randomness is adopted, the simple fact is that there are no bounds to it’s ambit.
Randomness and purposelessness are simply NOT Scriptural concepts, but rather concepts that are wholly imported from the atheistic worldview of methodological naturalism which demands that everything must be purposeless and random if God does not exist. Many have unwittingly adopted this atheistic thinking into their Christian worldview to some degree.
While most Christians have no trouble believing that God is omnipotent, few are aware of what this logically leads to. God’s omnipotence, omniscience and omnipresence means that His dominion over His creation is total, He knows & sees all (1Jn3:20; Ps139; Pr5:21;15:3; Heb4:13; Isa46:10), and nothing is too hard for Him (Gen18:14; Job42:2; Jer32:17; Mt19:26). Even Satan and his minions are fully bound by the will of God, as the account of Job testifies. So if nothing happens without His knowledge, then absolutely nothing can happen without God’s approval; not a supernova explosion, not an earthquake, not a car crash, not a broken finger nail, nor even the flux of an atom in the atmosphere. God’s dominion is supreme.
God is described throughout Scripture, implicitly and explicitly, as conforming all things to His will. Everything does His bidding, and nothing can resist (Is 43:13; Rm8:28; Eph 1:11; Ps155:3,135:6; Dan4:35).
The picture of God that is painted in Scripture is a God of purpose and design. I can find absolutely no Scriptural reference, either explicit or even implicit, to randomness or purposelessness, it is totally alien. It is an interloper into the Christian mind, originating from an atheistic worldview.
So this puts things into a better perspective: If God has perfect control over the movement of even all the atoms, then it makes perfect sense that God would direct the motion of all things in the universe to accord to His will; the movement of the atoms, and molecules, and biological cells, and clouds, and the winds: Everything is in His control and is used to achieve his will. Thus not only does it seem nonsensical to me for a God who has total control over everything to allow random movements of things, I actually question if it would even be possible for there to be randomness if God has total control! It seems to me that this would be a logical contradiction, just like a ‘married bachelor’ or a ‘straight curve’. Since God is omnipotent, then He has control, so therefore in my mind there just can not be randomness in the world. Of course if nothing is random then nothing can be purposeless either.
at 10:38 PM
Monday, April 16, 2012
When I created my mirror blog called ‘Thirsting for Jehovah’, I did a little bit of research into whether I should use ‘Yahweh’ or ‘Jehovah’ in the title. Yahweh was my original choice, but I quickly found that ‘Yahweh’ is dangerously erroneous. I say dangerous because it seems that ‘Yahweh’ is a perverse creation of liberal atheist critics within Bible scholarship, and from what I’ve learnt these same scholars are responsible for some rather dubious translations in most modern Bibles, I highly recommend you explore this website for more about this.
Below is a composite article that I stitched together from two separate web-articles. I highly recommend reading the original full-length articles (links are at the bottom of this page) which are fully referenced and far more thorough. Alternatively there is a small summary version on my other blog.
You will notice that the two authors render the English translation of Hebrew name of God slightly differently, one uses JHVH and the other YHVH. The reason for this will become apparent in end segment of the article, but is inconsequential anyway.
"The Psalmist David proclaimed, “O LORD our Lord, how excellent is thy name in all the earth!” (Ps. 8:1). Certainly the Lord’s name is excellent, but what is this excellent name? Some state dogmatically that the Hebrew tetragrammaton JHVH was originally pronounced “Yahwe.” Others say that it should be rendered ‘Iabe or ‘Iao or Jaho. Orthodox Jews substitute the word Ha-Shem (“The Name”) into their commentaries to avoid taking the name of the Lord in vain. The Masoretic Hebrew Text behind the Authorized Version renders the vocalization of the tetragrammaton as Jehovah. This has been the accepted pronunciation of JHVH for at least the last four hundred years in the Western world. Scripture, translations, commentaries, prayer books, theological works, hymns and Christians at large have utilized this standardized pronunciation Jehovah.
Yet recently in scholarly circles the notion has been advanced that the pronunciation Jehovah should be replaced with Yahweh. Is it important that believers know the correct vocalization of the Lord’s special Old Testament name? How will believers “sing praise to the name of the LORD” (Ps.7:17), if they do not know how to pronounce it?"
Yet recently in scholarly circles the notion has been advanced that the pronunciation Jehovah should be replaced with Yahweh. Is it important that believers know the correct vocalization of the Lord’s special Old Testament name? How will believers “sing praise to the name of the LORD” (Ps.7:17), if they do not know how to pronounce it?"
"This popular movement to replace the name of God, Jehovah, with the name Yahweh is being pushed especially hard among those in the Identity and Christian patriot movements, and especially among the alternative news community prominent on the shortwave, which some Christians perceive of as being a source of more purer form of broadcasted Christianity. There are exceptions, but overall this is nonsense because the shortwave Christian broadcasts are frequently every bit as commercialized (just different products) and apostate as the "Christianity" that is broadcasted on TV.
"This movement to alter God's name with absolutely nothing that resembles scriptural, textual, or linguistic support, has misled huge numbers of Christians into denying the Bible and accepting the work of Bible-scoffing atheists who have dominated the academic field of biblical studies since the mid-nineteenth century."
The History of the Pronunciation of JHVH
"The traditional history for the pronunciation of the name for JHVH assumes that the original correct pronunciation was lost, if ever given. Some have claimed that God never inspired a pointed, vocalized original Hebrew text. Others, building upon this initial view, have posited that the Lord gave an oral tradition of vocalization for the unpointed consonantal text, but the vocalized pronunciation was lost. For instance, Oehler stated, “The Jews maintain that the knowledge of the true pronunciation of the name has been entirely lost since the destruction of the temple.” Josephus affirmed that the name was originally given to Moses (Ex. 3:14) and that he, Josephus, was not permitted to enunciate it. Maimonides (AD 1135-1204) averred that the sacred name was pronounced at blessings and by the high priest on the Day of Atonement during the early years of the Second Temple, but later was exchanged for ‘adonai’ after the death of Simon the Just (3rd century BC).
"The Bible is replete with the teaching that God will perfectly preserve His Words. The Lord has promised to preserve all of His inspired, canonical Words through His ordained institutions for all generations subsequent to the inscripturation of these Words. Therefore, He has preserved His OT Words, consonants and vowels, jots and tittles, including the inspired vocalization of His name, the tetragrammaton. Since The Lord God has preserved the proper pronunciation of JHVH, scholars have no need to restore their vocalization of it, and, as history, philology, and critical scholarship have demonstrated, they are incapable of restoring authoritatively the pronunciation of JHVH.
"In rejecting the preserved Words of Scripture, including the inspired vowel pointing for JHVH, critical scholars are left with several non-authoritative means to attempt to discern the “correct” vocalization of the Lord’s tetragrammaton. These means are historical documentation, comparative philology, and rationalism."
The Name Jehovah in the OT
"The preserved vocalization of JHVH is Jehovah as represented by the Masoretic Hebrew text. The Authorized Version (1611) and the American Standard Version (1901) translate the tetragrammaton as LORD and the Hebrew name ‘adonay’ as Lord, differentiating the two Hebrew words. The AV transliterates JHVH in Ex. 6:3, Psalm 83:18, Isa. 12:2 and 26:4 as JEHOVAH, with the last two references reading literally Jah Jehovah. David’s reference to Jah is transliterated JAH in Ps. 68:4. The writers of Scripture coupled both Jehovah and Jah with ‘elohim’ (God) in various places throughout the OT (cf. Gen. 2:4 and Ps. 68:18, respectively). The translators of the AV have given English speaking people a consistent presentation and biblical understanding of the vocalized tetragrammaton Jehovah."
Myth of No Vowels
"Now we must deal with the common myth and that is that there are no vowels expressed in the Hebrew text. This is a convenient line of nonsense for the scholars who want to change the text to fit their own views, but it is a dishonest line. Elaborate diacritic marks, called pointing by English-speaking Hebrew scholars, provide extensive information for vowels, doubled letters, stops, and other phonological features. Bible "correctors" are either ignorant of this fact or they pretend that they do not exist. Those who are aware of them and argue that they may be ignored because they were introduced into the text by the Massoretes at a later date are giving themselves free rein to alter virtually every word in the entire Hebrew Old Testament.
"Not only do these biblical detractors deny God's promise to forever preserve his word, every “jot and tittle”, but they open the door for Bible manipulation that has no other criteria than personal judgment or fancy. If we are to deny the Masoretic reading we can do no end of mischief to the text by inserting our own vowels, doubled letters, and stops. This allows us to change positives into negatives, passives into actives and vice versa, statement verbs into causative verbs and vice versa, to convert verbs into nouns and vice versa, and to even change the entire meaning of the verb itself. Many words could have several or even a dozen different varied meanings by toying with the pointing. Furthermore, some diacritics indicate different letters entirely. A dot over the right side of a shin indicates an SH, while a dot over the left side of it indicates an S. A dot inside of a vav is pronounce like a long U while a dot over the vav turns it into an O, so the removal or addition of such a dot is fair game to the Yahweh crowd.
"A number of other letters have similar features of changing their sounds according to the presence or position of a dot. If we are to ignore the vowel pointings, we are equally justified in changing S to SH and vice versa, or many other consonant changes, since the Massoretes were responsible for the consonant identifying diacritics as well. Suggestions to alter the text is a common method of attacking the Bible that has been employed by Bible-scoffing scholars in academia for over 100 years
"It is amazing to see this being done by people who claim to honor the Bible. Dr. G.A. Riplinger, in her tome, ‘In Awe of His Word’, points out that ignoring the vowel marks in the Hebrew allow Jews and atheists to remove future references to our Saviour from the Old Testament by toying with these vowels. For this reason vowelless Tanakhs (Hebrew name for Old Testament) are sometimes used. In fact, if the Masoretic diacritics are ignored, there is scarcely a word in the entire Bible, if there is any at all, that cannot be altered or changed completely. Why is it that alleged Bible-believers think that it is wrong to change words in the Bible into entirely different words, but it is alright to ignore the reading of the Hebrew text and alter the name of God without any evidence to support their altered reading other than the opinion of 19th century atheists? In fact, they are changing it when linguistic evidence shows that the pronunciation that they are using is wrong."
God, Lord and Jehovah
"We have to deal with the issue of why the KJV, and most ancient and modern versions of the Bible, do not translate this name as Yehova or Jehova in all but a few verses (Ex 6:3, Ps 83:18, Isa 12:2, Isa 26:4). In Jewish tradition the word for Lord, Adonai, is uttered wherever his name YHVH appears. The tradition of translating this occurrence as LORD in all caps is understood to represent YHVH, but is used to show respect for him as a superior. Wherever the actual word for "Lord" appears in a verse alongside YHVH, Elohim was uttered, hence the diacritics E-o-i. This is done so that he is not referred to as Lord Lord (as would be in Exodus 20:7).
"This practice should not be difficult to understand, but apparently in the modern day where etiquette and formality have been cast aside, it is not understood at all. We know God the Father's name, but that does not mean that is the name that we should use casually as we would an equal. Jesus did not even do that when he addressed God The Father. Nowhere do we find an occurrence of Jesus referring to God The Father by his personal name. We are supposed to be using Jesus as the model for our behavior, not 19th century atheist scholars and white supremist Identity cult members.
"At this point it should not be necessary to explain why the name Jehovah was used in these passages instead of LORD; God's name is purposely being identified in them. The Exodus passage above is where this name of God is introduced to the Israelites for the first time. The Psalm 83 is also mentioning that it is his name, and the Isaiah verses are referring to a name of God, Lord Jehova (YHVH is not pointed like Elohim as it is in other occurrences where the name is not being emphasized). These passages indicate how God might be introduced to someone who does not know him or recognize him as Lord; they are not invitations to address him by his name as you would an equal.
"Here modern versions like the RSV really blew it with "I appeared to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob, as God Almighty, but by my name the LORD I did not make myself known to them." Numerous other modern versions make similar errors. The ever foolish NIV has: "I appeared to Abraham, to Isaac and to Jacob as God Almighty, but by my name the LORD I did not make myself known to them." It should be noted that these verses are serious evidence of the superiority and efficiency of the King James Bible translators. These occurrences of YHVH are different in the way that they are presented and the KJV translators and others before them recognized them as such. The RSV and other modern version "translators" had the KJV as a reference, which they all used, and they still failed to recognize it."
"Those who are opposed to the KJV and call God by name Yahweh are not only giving an erroneous pronunciation of his name according to the pointing of the text, but according to the pronunciation of the Hebrew itself. As Gail Riplinger astutely points out in her ‘Awe of Thy Word’, the Hebrew vav is pronounced as V not W. This error came about due to the misreading of German Hebrew grammars, which use W for the English V (note: the German V is pronounced like the English F). If these Bible "correctors" want to ignore the Hebrew text and pronounce his name as suggested by 19th century atheistic mythologists, they should use the name Yahveh so that at least they would appear less ignorant. It always puzzled me to hear atheistic scholars at Harvard pronounce the name as Yahweh when the same scholars would always pronounce the vav as a V every other place that they use it. Apparently this perversion of his name has become so well established within the Bible-scoffing and Bible-correcting communities that even those who know better mispronounce even the perverted variation of his name. It confused me that they would pronounce it as if it were an Arabic word instead of Hebrew word until I understood the purpose of the corruption, which is the subject of the next section."
Yahweh the Storm God
"Kittel, like most biblical scholars within the academic community today, was a believer in the storm god theory. Storm gods of Near Eastern and Vedic mythology were responsible for storms and disease. Riplinger quotes from an article that he wrote in The New Schaff:"The origins of Yahweh worship...it appears that this cult was established before Deborah...Thus Yahweh appears as an old deity of Sinai, revered in untold antiquity as a weather-god..."." Riplinger also points out theat the early perversion of the name of God was used by a Catholic in the fifth century who did not know Hebrew by the name of Theodoret who confused it with a Syrian Jabe. Later, prominent atheist scholars such as Driver of Brown, Driver and Briggs Hebrew Dictionary fame (the text that James Strong plagiarized for his concordance's dictionary), proposed connections with deities from Aramaic and Babylonian texts named Yaho, Ya-hu, or Yave. Riplinger also provides a list of reference of critics who proposed that the God of the Bible's name was derived from various Canaanite gods with names such as Yav.
"Many etymologies have been suggested for the meaning of the name YHVH. Another verb havah (spelled the same, but with a different set of meanings) means to blow. It could be theorized that the name YHVH means "he who breathes life into living things." An intensive meaning of this same verb means to blow furiously or to storm. This meaning can be used by modern scholars to support their storm god theory, which shows the possible mischief that can be created through imaginative etymologies. Riplinger refers to the suggestion of some atheist scholars that Yahwe means to destroy. This is in line with the storm god theory, that is that it comes from another similar Semitic root that means to destroy, hence they suggest that God's name means the destroyer.
"This is not the only example of God's name being perverted by modern atheist scholars. I was taught that a possible meaning of God's name of El Shaddai could be "god of the Mountains" being derived from an Ugaritic word meaning mountain. The common Semitic root shadd means to be mighty, powerful, violent, and the like. It appears in Hebrew and Arabic. In Ugaritic it appears that there is a word that means mountain that contains the same radicals. It could be an unrelated word, or it could actually mean volcano, which is a violent or powerful mountain, but in any event there is no reason to connect the Ugaritic meaning with the Hebrew word. The biblical word's meaning is very obvious by examining the Bible, and even the modern versions know that Almighty is the proper translation. A simple verse comparison is all that it is needed, since the Bible contains its own definitions of its words. Only scholars who want to reduce God to a tribal storm god like those of the Mesopotamian and Hittite cultures suggest El Shaddai is the name of an Ugaritic storm god. The same storm god that they also call Yahweh."
Y to J Issue
"The final issue that must be addressed concerns the conversion of Y to J. This is such an utterly silly and ignorant criticism that I find it embarrassing that there are actually Christians that present it as an argument. Y becomes a J in every name in English, French, and Spanish. In English the J is pronounced like J in
, while in French it is pronounced like S in pleasure, in Spanish it is pronounced like an H, in German it is pronounced like Y. This is a phonological and orthographical issue, not a theological one. There is no theological issue at stake in how one language interprets a certain phoneme. In every case of a name in Hebrew that begins with a yod (Y) it is pronounced with the appropriate phoneme for that language. This came about through phonological and orthographical changes in the developments of those languages. Even Hebrew itself went through huge phonological and orthographical changes in its long history. God's name is not a magic word to be chanted for power as the name cult seems to suggest for both the names of God and Jesus. My name comes from a Hebrew word meaning given by God, which begins with a Y in Hebrew. It is Jean (zhan) in French, Juan (hwan) in Spanish, Giovanni in Italian, Hans in German, Yani in modern Greek, Ivan (eevan) in Russian, Yahya or Hanna (with a heavy H) in Arabic, and other variations exist in other languages. They all translate as John and I have no trouble adapting to any of them within the respective cultures and there is no reason for me to be insulted by any of these names. On the other hand, being addressed by a made up name based on a pagan deity would insult me. Japan
"If these name cultists find the J so objectionable, why don't they refer to Elijah as Elaiyah, Jeramiah as Yeramaiyah, Jacob as Yakov, Jonathan as Yanatan,
as Yerushaleem, and so forth. For that matter why don't they use the Hebrew pronunciation for all of the names in the Bible, such as Dahveed, Moshe (Moses), Shmu'el (Samuel), Sha'ul (Saul), Shlomo (Solomon), and so forth, if they consider the issue to be so important. Since those who call God by a name that is not even Hebrew at all (Yahweh), and since they do so without a scrap of evidence to override the very solid evidence to the contrary, why do they have any constraints at all about inventing whimsical pointings for other names in the Bible? Why not call David Dahwid, Duwad, Diwad, or Deewud. Or how about Da'ud as Arabic pronounces it? Jerusalem
"Some may wonder why I know so much about these Bible-scoffing atheists of the scholarly community. It is because I used to be one of them. This familiarity is a byproduct of years of intense comparative religion study without the Holy Spirit to guide me. The Bible cannot be understood without spiritual discernment, no matter how deeply one studies philology, archaeology, history, and allied fields of scholarship."
at 3:00 AM