Where is God? Has He gone?

Where is God in what is happening in the world

Where is God many wonder, others don’t believe in the God of the Bible.

Just to be clear, I do. In my opinion God is where He always has been. In heaven.

Where is God in all that is going on now?

Same answer, where he always has been.

It goes back to the beginning. When God created humankind, He gave free choice to humans. And men and women have been exercising that choice since Eve took the fruit from the tree of knowledge of good and evil. That decision affected human nature, she chose to be her own ‘god’ and Adam decided to choose the way of human nature also. They chose to determine their own lives, and we inherited that propensity.

Where is God in the Garden of Eden
Public domain via Wikipedia

However, we all retain our God-given gift of choice. We are not robots.

The Old Testament, (now commonly called the Hebrew Bible) documents the choices and consequences of major ‘players’ in the history of Israel and Judah.

Where was God in the lives of the patriarchs?

Abraham, formerly Abram, was a practising pagan, who although called by God didn’t always respond as quickly, or as truthfully as we would expect. However, God gave him time to change. And change he did, so that he is now venerated by Jewish people, Christians, and Moslems.

Moses – well, he decided to give God a helping hand. In other words to tell God how (and when) to free the Hebrew slaves. It didn’t work, and God did it His way, and freed them around forty years later, after Moses had learned to look after sheep on ‘the back side of the mountain.’

David – ‘a man after God’s own heart’ was humble before God, but made a great many mistakes. When he realized what he had done… or was confronted with the error, he repented.

They chose to do as God called them to do.

Jumping forward many centuries…

In the New Testament…

The disciples Jesus called had to make choices. They had been brought up in Judaism, something Jesus taught against because the traditions were replacing God’s law.

The gospels are full of the stories of the often difficult choices they and the early believers made. It cost them dearly… homes, families, and positions. Have you heard of the ‘rich young ruler?’ The cost was too great for him,  and he chose his possessions.

And Jesus Himself had to make choices to walk through all the challenges and tests without sinning. And then submit to being whipped and crucified for our sakes.
(The description of what he looked like after the whipping is in Psalm 22:17, and also in Isaiah 52: 4)

Where is God now?

Does He know what is going on? Is He indifferent to the Covid-19 virus and pandemic? And what about the fires, the hurricanes, cyclones, tornadoes, has He noticed.

I believe He is closely watching.

Why watching?

Could it be that He is progressively removing the protection around His people and the nations? Is he looking for something? Perhaps… probably.

Where is the repentance for all the wrong choices we have made? Are we inheriting, and amplifying the errors our choices have led us to make.

I am not young, and can see the world is a vastly different place to the one I grew up in. Nevertheless, I still have the choice in how to respond to all that is going on around me.

I can be part of the problem, and rage, and choose to disobey rules. Rules, by the way, that God gave to nations to rule their citizens and make life fair for them. Well, many of those rulers have not done a good job, but rarely was their a good king or ruler over our predecessors.

As King Solomon said in Ecclesiastes – ‘there is nothing new under the sun…’ 

However, what rules we have is better than the chaos that currently seems to be dominating so many of our countries. Or… I can choose to be different, and although that makes me an oddity, I choose to be different.

We all have the choice in how we react… it is a God-given privilege, one we need to think about and appreciate.

Musing again,

Susan

It Started Way Back in Eden.

In Eden, the serpent and temptation

It started way back in Eden.

What did?

Choice. 

Whether or not you believe in God, you have to admit humans have choice. Something no other ‘species’ have… and something we do almost without noticing. Choosing that is. Even when we decide we are not going to make a choice… that is a choice. It’s complicated.

By the way, I believe we were created.

So, what started in Eden?”

We were created with the ability to choose, and many of us have been making wrong choices throughout the centuries ever since. But, like Adam and Eve, we don’t like taking responsibility for those choices, so we put the blame on someone else. And this post is after watching a video clip where an atheist said that if there was a God, He was to blame for all the wrong in the world. Really?

There are some terrible things in this world, but most of those are caused by the choices of mankind.

Let’s look at what happened in Eden.

It was after Creation week when Adam was placed in the Garden to ‘tend and keep’ it and given instructions about the ‘tree of knowledge of good and evil.’ He was not to eat of it.

And the Lord God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul. Gen 2: 7 KJV

After this, Adam named all the animals. Then in verses 20 to 22 we have the creation of Eve…

And Adam gave names to all cattle, and to the fowl of the air, and to every beast of the field; but for Adam there was not found an help meet for him.  And the Lord God caused a deep sleep to fall upon Adam, and he slept: and he took one of his ribs, and closed up the flesh instead thereof; And the rib, which the Lord God had taken from man, made he a woman, and brought her unto the man. KJV

Still in Eden

Chapter three of the book of Genesis starts with… “Now the serpent was more subtil than any beast of the field which the Lord God had made. And he said unto the woman, Yea, hath God said, Ye shall not eat of every tree of the garden?” Gen 3:1  KJV

It looks as if there is no passage of time between the end of chapter two and the start of chapter three. So, we could be left with the thought that God was unfair leaving these two newly created beings at the mercy of the most ‘subtil’ of all the creatures.

I don’t think so.

Did God walk with them in the evenings?

“And they heard the sound of the LORD God walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and Adam and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the LORD God among the trees of the garden” Genesis 3:8.

For a discussion on this verse, and God walking with the Israelites check out https://www.epm.org/resources/2010/Mar/29/gen-38-sufficient-establish-god-was-habit-visiting/

When asked if they had eaten of the tree of knowledge of good and evil. Adam blamed Eve, but it was an indirect blaming of God. “The woman you gave me.” Eve blamed the serpent.

The blame game is still going on. Read a newspaper, or scroll through the news on any of the Internet sites https://www.bbc.com/news/world

It started in Eden, and still continues

Look at the world around us. So many fingers pointing at someone else.

Sometimes we are blamed for something we have no control over. Back in the post about  my fragrance sensitivity I gave a couple of examples of this.

https://www.susanprestonauthor.com/fragrance-sensitivity-is-a-real-condition/

Just a thought, God didn’t assign blame in the Garden of Eden, He let them bear the consequences of their actions.

Something to think about.

Susan

Who is the God of the Old Testament?

God of the Old Testament, creation

So… who is the God of the Old Testament? Traditionally, we have been taught it is ‘the Father,’ or the One who became known as the Father at the conception and birth of Jesus Christ. But does the Bible give different clues?

Did the God of the Old Testament create mankind?

If so, Who was He? Interesting question. One I used to think was a no-brainer. Then I started writing the Apostle John Series. https://www.susanprestonauthor.com/apostle-john-series-2/

Have you ever read, properly read and taken in what the beginning of the Gospel of John says?

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.  The same was in the beginning with God. All things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that was made.
John 1: 1-3 KJV

Verse 3 says, All things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that was made.

That verse had me pondering, and researching. Why? Because if we accept that Jesus is the Word, this verse says that He was the one Who created everything, not the one we call the Father.

So, what about the God of the Old Testament?

What does the beginning of the Bible say?

In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.
Genesis 1: 1

Genesis 1:1 refers to God as a plural Being

By Chuck Missler (From his Book “The Creator Beyond Time and Space”)

“In Beginning Elohim”

Within the pages of Scripture we find it clearly stated that there is indeed, only one God.1 This is a fundamental belief of Judaism and Christianity. However, there are indications in the very first verse of Genesis that God is a plural Being.

In the beginning God, created the heavens and the earth” Genesis 1:1

The word used for God in Genesis 1:1 is “Elohim,” which is a form of the word “El.” In the context of Genesis 1:1, there can certainly be no doubt as to who is doing the creating. In the Hebrew language the “im” ending imputes plurality. Therefore, “Elohim” is the plural from of the word “El.”
http://xwalk.ca/elohim.html

Was Jesus the God of the Old Testament?

This has to be an interesting study, and one which brings forth many questions…

  • Who was the One who met Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden in the cool of the day?
  • Who appeared to Abram, later called Abraham? And Who changed his name, and the name of his wife from Sarai, to Sarah?
  • Who brought the Hebrews out of slavery in Egypt?
God of the Old Testament, the Exodus
By David Roberts - Usenet, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=10293374
  • Who instructed Joshua how to defeat the city of Jericho?
  • Who led so many of the Old Testament battles?

This research could continue a long time, but the question goes back to the beginning… Who was the God who created the world and everything in it?

With the help of a Hebrew/English Interlinear translation, this is an interesting study.

My research journey

Hold the Faith by Susan M B Preston, cover image

Hold the Faith on Smashwords  
(free until 31 July, 2020)

The research for this first book in the series took almost a year. However, the results of that research made it easier to write the next four books in the series; there was a foundation on which to base them.

I hope this encourages you to search out your answers.

God bless,

Susan

The Apostle Paul and Law

Apostle Paul and Law

Letters from the Apostle Paul make up a large part of the New Testament. The following epistles/letters are generally attributed to him, although some doubt his authorship of the book of Hebrews.

Romans, 1 Corinthians, 2 Corinthians, Galatians, Ephesians, Philippians, Colossians, 1 Thessalonians, 2Thessalonians, 1 Timothy, 2 Timothy, Titus, Philemon, Hebrews.

https://www.gotquestions.org/how-many-books-did-Paul-write.html

On the subject of ‘law’ and ‘the Law,’ Paul’s writings sometimes seem contradictory. The Apostle Paul was a Pharisee before his conversion, so he should understand what he was writing and teaching. They had a whole ‘slew’ of laws that they kept.

(I included some of the laws of Judaism in the free series members of my VIP Readers’ Group received.  E.G.

Sample of the Code of Jewish Law

Apostle Paul and Law

The Code of Jewish Law is made up of four volumes and 221 Chapters which attempt to govern every aspect of the life of a Jew.

Chapter 3 deals with Dressing and Deportment.

“It is written (Micah 6: 8) “And to walk humbly with thy God.” Therefore it is the duty of every man to be modest in all his ways. When putting on or removing his shirt or other undergarment, he should be careful not to expose is body unduly. He should put it on or remove it while still lying covered in bed. He should never say to himself: “Lo, I am all alone in my inner chamber and in the dark, who can see me?” For the glory of the Holy One, blessed be He, fills the universe, and darkness and light are alike to Him, blessed be His name; and modesty and a sense of shame indicate humility before Him, blessed be His name.”

Chapter 4 deals with not thinking ‘holy thoughts’ in the lavatory.

Chapter 5 deals with the Cleanliness of Places Used for Holy Purposes.

There are many entries about not praying where there is excrement or urine… or bad odors

Was the Apostle Paul schizophrenic?

It can seem that way. Most of the teaching I received in church, or at Bible College held to the view that Paul said Christians did not have to keep the law.

Why then does he say…?

I do confess to you, however, that I worship the God of our fathers according to the Way, which they call a sect. I believe everything that is laid down by the Law and written in the Prophets,
Acts 24: 14.  Berean Study Bible

It was important to me to know because my readers deserve an accurate background to the Apostle John Series of books. Then I read something written by a minister which said the definite article was not in the Greek translations of the Bible.

So, wanting accuracy in my books, I checked.

The Apostle Paul knew what he was talking about

With the understanding of Paul’s background, could it be that he sometimes refers to the Pharisaic law (which became Judaism), and the Law of God other times? He had been brought up in the strictest sect, Phariaism, as he said himself. In order to ‘protect’ the people from breaking the law and going back into   captivity these laws were added. In fact, the opposite happened, the Law of God was stifled by these laws.  

This is what Jesus meant in Mark 7: 8 when He said,
Full well ye reject the commandment of God, that ye may keep your own tradition.

So who was wrong, the Apostle Paul or the translators?

Choosing to be kind, perhaps the translators did not understand the two ‘law’ references that the Apostle Paul understood.

Romans 2: 15 is the only scripture about ‘the’ work and ‘the’ law that is accurately translated from the Greek. The definite articles are present.

https://biblehub.com/interlinear/romans/2.htm

It is an interesting study into the writings of Paul to go through them in a reputable Greek/English Interlinear.

The Pharisaic works in Jesus’ and Paul’s day were indeed the heavy burden that Jesus referred to…

Apostle Paul and Law

They tie up heavy burdens, hard to bear, and lay them on people’s shoulders, but they themselves are not willing to move them with their finger.
Matt 23:4

But Jesus, who advocated keeping the commandments had a different view.

If ye love me, keep my commandments.
John `4; 15

“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble of heart; and you will find rest. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”
Matthew 11:25-30

One question leads to another LOL

God bless

Susan

Jew or Hebrew

Jew or Hebrew, lands allocated to the sons of Israel

 It’s either Jew or Hebrew. In a book I was re-reading recently the author used the terms interchangeably and it started to irritate me.

The book was about Joseph (of the coat-of-many-colours) and his position as prime minister under Pharaoh; the author called him a Jew.

Jew or Hebrew?

The father of Joseph was Jacob, whom God renamed Israel. 

Jacob, or Israel as God renamed him,  had twelve sons. Joseph was the eleventh son. Ultimately those twelve sons became the start of the twelve tribes of Israel. (Remember the name change?)

Judah, the fourth son, is the one from whom Jews were named. Joseph, the eleventh son was not a Jew, although he was Hebrew. From Joseph came the tribes of Ephraim and Manasseh who were his sons.

All the other sons of Jacob/Israel had tribes named after them. You will find Jacob’s blessing of his sons, by name in Genesis 49.

So, Joseph was NOT a Jew.

Was Moses Jew or Hebrew?

This was another mistake the author made… calling Moses a Jew. Moses, like his brother Aaron and sister Miriam, was a Levite, from the tribe of Levi. (The third son of Jacob.)

It is easy to ‘lump’ them all together, and adding to the confusion is that the modern country of Israel would be comprised mainly of descendants of Judah. There are Levites, and some Benjaminites mixed in with the members of the tribe of Judah living in the land now called Israel.

If you are confused, don’t be concerned. In two years at a Bible Training Centre, I very much enjoyed the sessions on Biblical history, but found it hard to keep a track of the twelve tribes after Solomon’s death when the nations split into the Northern Kingdom and Southern Kingdom.

The ten ‘lost tribes’ of Israel never came back from captivity, the two and a half tribes making up Judah did return to their lands.

Does it matter?

To me it does… and to anyone who enjoys reading Biblical fiction/Christian historical fiction. And because I write in this genre I have so much research that a mistake screams at me.

It is also important when you need to follow the lineage as do the Levitical priesthood today, and the priestly families within the priesthood.

Suffice it to say that Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, those early ‘church fathers,’ were not Jews. They lived before the descendents of Jacob and the latter’s renaming as Israel

Jesus Christ however, as prophesied, came from the line of Judah.

The following links might help clarify – a Jew is a Hebrew, but not all Hebrews are Jews.

https://www.dictionary.com/browse/hebrew?s=t

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hebrews

And if you write Biblical/Christian Historical fiction this blog might help… https://www.susanprestonauthor.com/hints-to-writing-better-biblical-fiction/

Well, that’s it for another week, and my apologies for being absent for two weeks. Unfortunately I have been suffering from what the doctors call ‘an exacerbation’ of my medical conditions. It hasn’t been pleasant, but I am on the road to recovery now, even if it is at a slow pace.

God bless

Susan

What is Passover

Passover, blowing shofar

Passover is NOT the Exodus from Egypt as many are told.

According to the Bible – where the original instructions are – it is to be kept in remembrance of God ‘passing over’ the Hebrew slaves in Egypt.

“It will come to pass when you come to the land which the Lord will give you, just as He promised, that you shall keep this service. And it shall be, when your children say to you, ‘What do you mean by this service?’ that you shall say, ‘It is the Passover sacrifice of the Lord, who passed over the houses of the children of Israel in Egypt when He struck the Egyptians and delivered our households’.”
Exodus 12: 25, 26. (NKJV)

Following the Passover

The Exodus from Egypt was the following evening, after the people had gathered in Rameses and assembled themselves for the journey out of the land of their captivity.

These are the feasts of the Lord, holy convocations which you shall proclaim at their appointed times. On the fourteenth day of the first month at twilight is the Lord’s Passover. And on the fifteenth day of the same month is the Feast of Unleavened Bread.”
Leviticus 23: 4 – 6 (NKJV)

These are two distinct days. The fourteenth at twilight – Passover. The fifteenth at twilight – the Exodus. Those are GOD’S instructions. Yes, things have been changed over the centuries, but in trying to work things out – is it not better to go to the word of God, rather than man’s calculations, no matter how intelligent, or qualified they are.

Just a word of warning about that… by Jesus’ day the religious authorities had changed the original meaning. Therefore it is wise to go to the original instructions.

Original instructions

  • Sacrificed at home
  • Killed at twilight as the 14th day was beginning

In Jesus’ day…

  • Mainly a temple sacrifice, although some kept to the original instruction
  • Killed by priests on the 14th day at the time of the evening sacrifice – which was around 3 pm. (Although those who kept the original instructions, as Jesus did, had already eaten the Passover.)

A complication for us

In the 21st century we count time differently.

On a first read of the scripture, with my Western time frame – Passover is at evening time on the fourteenth.

Wrong! As a Scot and Australian I view time through the eyes of a person living under the Gregorian calendar.

The Hebrew slaves were Israelites and their time was as God had created it.

“God called the light Day, and the darkness He called Night. So, the evening and the morning were the first day.”
Genesis 1: 5 (NKJV)

(See Biblical day for more information on the Biblical days.)

modern time, not as in the original Passover

We are used to the Roman clock where the day officially begins in the darkness of night time. Why they chose to have the day change as soon as it passed midnight is a mystery but the Roman calendar was not in use then. (The various Roman calendars are an interesting read. You will find all of them listed on Wikipedia. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Roman_calendar)

So, to answer the question posed in the title –

What is Passover?

It is a remembrance of God ‘passing over’ and sparing the households of the children of Israel, the Hebrew slaves, in Egypt.

(There is a great deal of information online about the New Covenant Passover celebration.)

Search page for New Covenant Passover

Some ‘food for thought’ –

Susan

Passover, food for thought

The Biblical Day Ended at Sunset

Start of the Biblical Day

The Biblical day ended at sunset and a new one started. This was the most difficult fact to ‘get my head around’ when writing the first few books in the Apostle John Series. After that, I became almost accustomed to it.

Almost… because I live in a world where the day begins at 00.00 or 00.01 hours. I think that’s one second after midnight. If you think about it… that’s odd. However, if you have known nothing else it is probably not something you even think about. But it is something that needs to be understood when writing Biblical fiction, or even in understanding the Bible.

Evidence for the start of the Biblical day

“Then God said, “Let there be light”; and there was light. And God saw the light, that it was good; and God divided the light from the darkness. God called the light Day, and the darkness He called Night. So the evening and the morning were the first day.”
Genesis 1: 3 – 5 NKJV

There is a footnote to verse 4 “Lit. And evening was, and morning was, a day, one.”

Sabbath keepers observe the Sabbath from sunset Friday until sunset Saturday.

Some other references…

Genesis 1:8 And God called the firmament Heaven. And the evening and the morning were the second day.

Genesis 1:13 And the evening and the morning were the third day.

Genesis 1:19 And the evening and the morning were the fourth day.

Genesis 1:23 And the evening and the morning were the fifth day.

Genesis 1:31 And God saw every thing that he had made, and, behold, it was very good. And the evening and the morning were the sixth day.

Leviticus 23:32 It shall be unto you a sabbath of rest, and ye shall afflict your souls: in the ninth day of the month at even, from even unto even, shall ye celebrate your sabbath.

Well, that is clearly God’s view and if you believe in the Bible, then God’s view is the correct view.

How did the start of the Biblical day change?

I found two theories.

  1. The reason a new day starts at 12:00 goes back to ancient Egypt when the day was measured using sundials. … Since the highest point of the day was noon, the opposite has to be midnight that was when the 12 started over again, so that’s why the day starts at midnight.
    https://www.vpr.org/post/why-do-days-start-12-oclock#stream/0
  2. The Babylonians developed midnight to midnight. Cyclopedia of Biblical, Theological, and Ecclesiastical Literature, Vol. 2, p. 702) This page lists several religions and their views of the start of the day.
    The Babylonians are also ‘credited with the ‘invention’ of the zodiac. They associated and created their beliefs around planets based on the nature of the god associated with it. … This gives reference to which gods the Babylonian astrologers associated to regions of the sky or space, and is an example of how the gods were associated with the stars and planets.
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Babylonian_astrology
start of Biblical day changed by Babylonians who also created the zodiac

Both are possibilities

Egypt

The Israelites (all 12 sons of Jacob, whose name was changed to Israel) lived in Egypt for several generations before they were made slaves. Much of their Hebrew heritage could have been lost as the new generations succeeded one another.
(Remember the ‘golden calf’ incident.)

Babyon

In 722 B.C.E., the northern half of Hebrew lands known as Israel was invaded and mostly destroyed by the Assyrians. The southern half, known as Judea, survived until around 597 B.C.E., when the Babylonians defeated the Judeans and carried most of them back as captives to Babylon.
More information here… https://www.britannica.com/event/Babylonian-Captivity

To understand the Bible

Whether for a better understanding of what you are reading, or to research it for a book or an article, find the time.

questions

Ask questions!

Why were the Hebrews (Israelites) slaves in Egypt? They did not go there as captives.

Why did the Israelites become two nations? And a related one… when did they become two nations?

When did the tribe of Judah go into captivity in Babylon? Why?

Synagogue worship and Judaism were ‘born’ during the Babylonian captivity, does this change your understanding of the Bible?

New Testament

All these background pieces of information, and many others, are some of the background of the 1st century believers.

As I have said before, it is like a treasure hunt.

But lots of fun

Susan