Trials Have a Purpose?

Trials have a purpose

Do trials have a purpose? Well, that is what I believe. But, being honest,  I wonder how many of us have at times thought of the following scripture and said, “God thinks I can bear more than I think I can.”

There hath no temptation taken you but such as man can bear: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation make also the way of escape, that ye may be able to endure it.
 Corinthians 10:13 (ASV)

How many of us seek, but cannot see, the way of escape promised in that scripture.

Trials fascinate many writers and musicians

I watched a video clip of an interesting song. ‘Before the morning’ – I will link to the clip at the end.

It begins with questions about why ‘you’ are suffering if there is a loving God Who cares. Questions like this are quite common.

Remember the old song “I never promised you a rose garden’? Well God does not promise us a life without pain and trials if we accept the sacrifice His Son made for us.

In book three of the Apostle John series, I wrote about the trials of a background character who moved to the foreground. Then someone who left in book two, Grow in Grace, makes a re-entry. In the third book, The Light of Truth, things are moving toward another arrest of the Apostle John. (There are another two books in the series, making five in all and trials abound in them, because they abound in life.)

So why am I talking about these books? Why mention the song ‘Before the Morning?’ Because, although my book series is fiction, my primary resource book has been the Bible, and in writing this series I learnt a great deal about why things happen. Sometimes we just have to wait and trust.

Take for example Jesus’ words...

These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.”
John 16:33

Many people are told that because Jesus said ’,“Be of good cheer, I have overcome the world, that He has done it all for us. Not so.

Look at the lives of those first disciples… only John survived into old age. The others, according to legend, all martyred. Also, according to legend, John was put in boiling oil. That does not sound like ‘Jesus did it all’ to me.

And what about these encouragements about trials

Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds,
James 1:2

In this you rejoice, though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been grieved by various trials
1Peter 1:6

Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer.
Romans 12:12

These writers, who were Apostles, make it clear that we will have trials, and as we plod through them, our faith and trust in Him grows.

Have you read this one?

Knowing this, that the trying of your faith worketh patience. But let patience have her perfect work, that ye may be perfect and entire, wanting nothing.
James 1: 3, 4

The trust in His Father that Jesus had to exercise in every stage of his walk on earth must have been enormous, and another scripture says

He learned obedience through the things He suffered. Heb 5: 8

Our trials are horrendous to us.

Sometimes all we can do is ask God for help. Standing still sometimes is trusting God for relief.

You might enjoy this song if you are going through a painful trial…

Thinking

Susan

Did Jesus Break the Sabbath

Hedge around the Sabbath

If Jesus broke the Sabbath then He sinned and there is no Savior. Yet some scriptures are quoted to back up the assumption that He broke the Sabbath.

One of them is a story from the Bible that most people who have been to church, or Sunday School, would have heard…

John 5:5-18 “And a certain man was there, which had an infirmity thirty and eight years. … 8 Jesus saith unto him, Rise, take up your bed, and walk. 9 And immediately the man was made whole, and took up his bed, and walked: and on the same day was the Sabbath. … 15 The man departed, and told the Jews that it was Jesus, which had made him whole. 16 And therefore did the Jews persecute Jesus, and sought to slay him, because he had done these things on the Sabbath day. 17 But Jesus answered them, My Father worketh hitherto, and I work. 18 Therefore the Jews sought the more to kill him, because he not only had broken the Sabbath, but said also that God was his Father, making himself equal with God.”

Verse 18 says that Jesus ‘broke the Sabbath’ – is this true?  The Greek is different.

Does it say Jesus broke the Sabbath?

No. According to an online Greek/English Interlinear translation ‘broke’ is translated as ‘loosed.’

Jesus loosed the Sabbath, Greek

Another Greek Interlinear says that Jesus ‘untied’ the Sabbath.

Jesus untied the Sabbath, Greek

Loosed? Untied? From what. Perhaps the answer is in another place.

Mark 7:9
“And he said unto them, Full well ye reject the commandment of God, that ye may keep your own tradition.” KJV

There are 613 Sabbath commandments. Whether all of these were in effect in Jesus’ day is not clear but He confronted them on the subject of washing pots, and handwashing before eating.

Mark 7:3
Now in holding to the tradition of the elders, the Pharisees and all the Jews do not eat until they wash their hands ceremonially.
Berean Study Bible

You have disregarded the commandment of God to keep the tradition of men.”
Mark 7:8

Some examples of the Sabbath commandments can be found here…

https://www.chabad.org/library/article_cdo/aid/95907/jewish/The-Shabbat-Laws.htm

There are more in the Code of Jewish Law.

Could it be that Jesus ‘loosed the Sabbath’ from the traditions of Judaism?

What is Judaism?

The history of the Jews and Judaism can be divided into five periods: (1) ancient Israel before Judaism, from the beginnings to 586 BCE; (2) the beginning of Judaism in the 6th and 5th centuries BCE.

Later periods are not relevant to the time of Christ.

A common belief is that Judaism is the Law of Moses. (The written law was the Law of God, not Moses.)

Back to Judaism.

American rabbinical scholar Stephen S Wise has said, “The Jews’ return form Babylon marked the end of Hebrew-ism and the beginning of Judaism.”

In their defence I need to add that the beginning of Pharisaism was to prevent the breaking of the law which had led Judah into captivity. However, the rules designed to prevent people breaking the law became a hedge around the law.

In Jesus’ time these traditions are more  than likely what he meant about rejecting the commands of God for the traditions of men.

Some of the rabbis admit that Judaism is not based on Scriptures but on the so-called Oral Law.

It is a huge subject, and one which I had to research thoroughly to accurately portray the background of the Apostle John Series, and the companion novellas.

As far as I can see, Jesus loosed or untied the Sabbath from the traditions of men.

Just thinking,

Susan

Get Behind Me Satan

Get behind me Satan

Why did Jesus say to Peter ‘Get Behind Me Satan?’ Could it not have been that Peter was simply being protective of Jesus?

Yes and no.

At that stage, although the disciples had travelled with Jesus throughout His ministry, up until this point, they did not understand His purpose. The disciples were Jewish and had the Jewish expectation of the Messiah. You can read various views on this subject here – https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Messiah_in_Judaism

However, bear in mind the Talmud was not begun to be written until the 2nd century, AD and completed in the 5th century, AD.

The expected Messiah

At the time of Christ, the Jewish people expected the Messiah to be born of the line of David and drive the Romans out of Israel.

Basically, they expected a warrior king.

Jesus served.

Jesus knew the reason He had been born. So, at the time He said this to Peter, He was beginning to prepare them for what lay ahead. His capture, suffering and crucifixion. Perhaps they only saw all His good works… the healings, the deliverances from demon possession and the miracles He performed.

This was not Jesus’ purpose. These were signs of Who He was.

The Spirit of the Lord is on Me, because He has anointed Me to preach good news to the poor. He has sent Me to proclaim deliverance to the captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to release the oppressed, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.” Then He rolled up the scroll, returned it to the attendant, and sat down. The eyes of everyone in the synagogue were fixed on Him.
Luke 4: 18-20 Berean Study Bible.

This was when His ministry commenced. Since then He had been training His disciples and now He needed to warn them. 

disappointment (text)

He disappointed that He had to say it?
Perhaps.

“And having turned, He said to Peter, “Get behind Me, Satan! You are a stumbling block to Me. For your thoughts are not of the things of God, but the things of men.”
Matt 16:23 Berean Literal Bible

Why Did Jesus say get behind me Satan?

The clue is in “For your thoughts are not of the things of God, but the things of men.

Yes, Jesus was a servant-King, but His purpose was not simply for that generation. He had come to die for the sin of mankind.

Was Jesus beginning to be apprehensive? Possibly. Therefore, He needed His mind fixed on His main purpose, and to look ahead. He did not need one of the leading disciples to try to distract Him from that purpose.

Crucifixion of Jesus, the Christ

There is a lot more to the story, most people know that, but this morning that phrase ‘jumped out’ at me.

God bless,

Susan

Straight to heaven or wait for a resurrection?

resurrection

Is my husband in heaven? I don’t think so. I studied many scriptures and decided ‘resurrection.’ You must make your own choice. My choice is firm, I had inscribed on his niche marker, “Awaiting his resurrection.” You see, as a result of my extensive studies, for my faith and for my novels, I had – still have – a question.

If people go to heaven what purpose a resurrection?

I know many people who believe one or the other, and some who are confused about what happens after death.

A friend who is unsure of what to believe quoted,
“We are confident, I say, and willing rather to be absent from the body, and to be present with the Lord.” (2 Cor. 5:8)

She took it to mean when a person dies he or she is immediately with ‘the Lord.’

It is a popular interpretation, but it is seemingly contradicted by the following scriptures…

1 Corinthians 15:23
But each in his own turn: Christ the firstfruits; then at His coming, those who belong to Him.

Revelation 20:5
The rest of the dead did not come back to life until the thousand years were complete. This is the first resurrection.

resurrection angel

And this from the Contemporary English Version…
With a loud command and with the shout of the chief angel and a blast of God’s trumpet, the Lord will return from heaven. Then those who had faith in Christ before they died will be raised to life.
1 Thess 4: 16

These are only some of the scriptures, but they fulfill the ‘by the mouth of two or three witnesses a matter shall be established.’ You can look up more here
https://bible.knowing-jesus.com/topics/Resurrection,-Of-The-Dead

So, heaven or resurrection?

I came across this
https://www.truthaccordingtoscripture.com/documents/death/absent-from-the-body.php#.XEPSbGlS-po

“Absent From The Body”
Pastor Stephen Bohr explains that 2 Cor. 5:8 is speaking of the resurrection not death

It is interesting, if a little long, so in summarizing, one of the things stated is “Paul knew that if he did die, the next conscious moment would be his resurrection at which time he would then be with Christ.”

Quoted are excerpts from “Thou Shalt Surely Die”

By G. Marsh Hilbourne & Michael T. Wark

~~~~~

Death is the end of our human lives. Grieving is part of coping with death. I guess I will go to my grave grieving over the people I have ‘lost.’ But on the other hand, being grateful to have had such love in my life. I look forward to seeing them all again. Perhaps you are too.

It might be a long wait

If you are grieving, accept what is happening. There is no specified order like it says in the books about death and loss.
Sometimes you might flip from one to another in a matter of hours.
It’s a roller coaster, it will eventually slow down and become acceptance.

There is no ‘getting over’ losing a child, or a spouse, and generally we only have one set of parents. We become used to being without them in our lives, but in losing that person, we have lost part of us… The person who created us, or the person we created, or the love of your life and best friend.

There is no right or wrong… there is ‘your way.’

Tread softly, vulnerable people are easily crushed.

Susan

 

Better to Marry than to Burn

Better to Marry than to Burn

Who said that it is better to marry than to burn?
The Bible.

However, if you cannot control your desires, you should get married. It is better for you to marry than to burn [with sexual desire].
1 Cor 7: 9 God’s Word Translation

‘With sexual desire’ as it is above is in brackets, or ‘with lust’ as in some other translation,s is in italics – which indicates those words are not in the original Greek, but have been added by the translator to clarify.

But what if the translator is wrong?  I am not saying this is true, just sharing some thoughts because there is another scripture that might apply.

But first…

If not burning with lust (as one translation puts it) I have a question.

Why is it better to marry than to burn?

Could it be that suppressed sexual desire will cause problems?

Celibacy of Roman Catholic Priesthood.

Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger (later Pope Benedict XVI) in Salt of the Earth saw this practice [celibacy of priests] as based on Jesus’ words in Matthew 19:12: “Some are eunuchs because they were born that way; others were made that way by men; and others have renounced marriage because of the kingdom of heaven. The one who can accept this should accept it.” He linked this celibacy “because of the kingdom of heaven” with God’s choice to confer the Old Testament priesthood on a specific tribe, that of Levi, which unlike the other tribes received no land from God, but which had “God himself as its inheritance” (Numbers 1:48–53).

 

Something is out of focus. Levitical priests COULD marry. In fact, how could the priestly line have continued it they had not?

Levitical priest


“They must not marry women defiled by prostitution or divorced from their husbands, because priests are holy to their God. Regard them as holy, because they offer up the food of your God. Consider them holy, because I the Lord am holy—I who make you holy.

Lev 21: 7, 8

Sexual abstinence

Sexual abstinence such as those of the Encratites sect of Christians was only one aspect of ascetic renunciation, and both natural and unnatural asceticism have been part of Christian asceticism.

Those second century AD Christians were not the only ones who practiced abstinence. Some of the other branches of Gnostic believers also believed similarly.

Sexual Sin

Better to marry than burn in the lake of fire
There is a Lake of Fire!

Sadly, there have been many reports about sexual abuse in the Roman Catholic Church, and many victims, both male and female.

Sexual abuse of a young person is not something they recover from. Many commit suicide later in life, some become abusers themselves, others learn to live with their damaged past.

Nothing can replace a lost childhood, or undo the memories they live with.

There is a long list of abused children in Western Australia. Below is a section of an article by ‘Broken Rites’ – you can find information on the organization here http://www.brokenrites.org.au/drupal/node/246

·        By a Broken Rites researcher, article updated 11 June 2018

Broken Rites has researched the career of Catholic priest Father Adrian van Klooster. He started his priestly career in New South Wales but, after offending there, he was transferred across the continent to work in parishes in Western Australia. He was jailed in 2003 for sexual crimes against W.A. children. After van Klooster’s bad publicity, the Catholic Church chose not to appoint him to any more parishes. On 8 September 2017, Van Klooster was jailed again in W.A. for recent child pornography offences.

Celibacy is not ‘working’ for these men. It has led them to sexual sins. And here is where the other scripture I mentioned at the start comes in…

But to the cowardly and unbelieving and abominable and murderers and sexually immoral and sorcerers and idolaters and all liars, their place will be in the lake that burns with fire and sulfur. This is the second death.”
Revelation 21: 8

Many people, even those who study the Bible, miss the Book of Revelation out. ‘It’s too confusing’ or it’s ‘too scary’ are some of the comments I have heard.

Just because we choose not to read something does not make it go away. That’s like a child closing his or her eyes and declaring, “You can’t see me.”

Do you think it better to marry than to burn?

The evidence seems to suggest that some people have low sexual desire and would be able to handle celibacy…

“Hypoactive sexual desire disorder (HSDD) and sexual aversion disorder (SAD) are an under-diagnosed group of disorders that affect men and women.”
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2695750/

Sadly, there is much evidence that celibacy is not a natural state for many who attempt it.

Somber musings,

Susan

What Did Jesus Write on the Ground

Judgment, death by stoning

Over the years I have heard many suggestions about what it could have been that Jesus wrote in the gravel on the stones of the temple. Some say that He listed all their sins. Recently, I heard in a sermon something that made a bit more sense. To me anyway.

The incident I am talking about is the one mentioned in the gospel of John, Chapter Eight.

He (Jesus) came again into the temple, and all the people came to Him; and He sat down and taught them. Then the scribes and Pharisees brought to Him a woman caught in adultery. And when they had set her in the midst, they said to Him, “Teacher, this woman was caught in adultery, in the very act. Now Moses, in the law, commanded us that such should be stoned. But what do You say?”
Jo 8: 2 -5

Question – how did they ‘catch her in adultery?’

Continuing…

But Jesus stooped down and wrote on the ground with His finger, as though He did not hear.
Jo 8: 6b

What did Jesus write?

Background:
In the time of Jesus, the Jews did not have the authority to execute sinners. If Jesus had said to stone her, the scribes and Pharisees could have taken Him to the Roman authorities. If Jesus had said not to stone her, before all the people following Him and listening to His teaching the scribes and Pharisees could have accused Him of not keeping the Law.

brought to Jesus for judgment
Sketch by Rembrandt - PD-1923}} – published anywhere before 1923 and public domain in the U.S.

Other than the fact the scribes and Pharisees were trying to find a cause to accuse Him, what was the law they were talking about?

It can be found in Leviticus 20, verse 10.

‘The man who commits adultery with another man’s wife, he who commits adultery with his neighbor’s wife, the adulterer and the adulteress, shall surely be put to death.”

Question: Where was the man? The law they were referring to, above, clearly says both shall be put to death.

There is another scripture involved here…

At the mouth of two witnesses, or three witnesses, shall he that is worthy of death be put to death; but at the mouth of one witness he shall not be put to death.
Deuteronomy 17: 6

Question: Where were the witnesses? The scribes and Pharisees did not ‘see’ the act of adultery. They had been on duty in the temple.

Herod's Temple as imagined in the Holyland Model of Jerusalem. By Berthold Werner [Public domain], from Wikimedia Commons

Was what Jesus wrote something to do with these questions?

If so, it was, as the preacher I heard, say… a mistrial.

And when Jesus lifted Himself up and saw no one but the woman, He said to her, ‘Woman, where are your accusers? Did anyone condemn you?’ And she said, ‘No one, Lord.’ And Jesus said to her, ‘Neither do I condemn you…
John 8: 10, 11

Note: Jesus said He did not condemn her, He did not say He forgave her.

The rest of verse 11 is “go and sin no more.”

Just thinking again,

Susan

Kingdom Thinking

Kingdom thinking, salt and light of the world

It was a tease… an interaction with a good friend. This friend is a fiercely loyal citizen of his city and said that it was the centre of the world. (It is not the city I live in by the way.) But I teased my friend saying that God probably considered Jerusalem as the centre of the world at least at one time, and it would be again. While my friend considered a reply, I said, “You need Kingdom thinking, not personal thinking.”

It set me thinking.

How many of us need to develop Kingdom thinking? Most of us. Remember, even the disciples did not understand much of what Jesus was talking about at first. They believed he was unique, different from anyone they had ever known. When Peter said, “You are the Christ, the Son of the Living God,” he did not understand how different his own life would become.

It isn’t enough to believe that Jesus is extraordinary, or even to believe that he is the divine Son of God

So, what is Kingdom thinking?

Dietrich_Bonhoeffer - Kingdom thinker

It is a process, well, that is my opinion. It is a process where we learn to live like Christ. For some that has already meant death. In Dietrich Bonhoeffer’s famous book, The Cost of Discipleship, Bonhoeffer comments that “When Christ calls a man, he bids him come and die.” Although Bonhoeffer died in a Nazi concentration camp, not everyone is called to die physically. We have to learn to die to self. This is why I said it is a process.

Apostle John series, all 5 cover images

Review comments from some of the people who read the books in the Apostle John Series …

“We are so lucky to be able to worship as we wish or choose not to without being persecuted.”

“It really makes you think deeply about the level of Christian commitment in the tense and troubling times of the first century church and wonder if it would be matched should we ever face similar circumstances.”

“Life in the early years of the Christian Church, when believers lived under Roman rule and faced tests on every side? Really made me think of how I would act in similar circumstances.”

To be honest, when I researched them, I wondered the same thing.

Jesus preached the ‘Kingdom of God.’

Judaism-v-kingdom-thinking.

Matt 5 – When Jesus said ‘You have heard it said – He was talking about the teaching of Judaism.

v 21 “You have heard that it was said to those of old, ‘You shall not murder, and whoever murders will be in danger of the judgment

v 22 But I say to you that whoever is angry with his brother without a cause shall be in danger of the judgment.

v 27 “You have heard that it was said to those of old, ‘You shall not commit adultery.

v 28 But I say to you that whoever looks at a woman to lust for her has already committed adultery with her in his heart.

v 43 “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’v

v 44 But I say to you, love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you,

To successfully develop ‘Kingdom thinking’ we have to be committed to living as if fully  in the Kingdom of God now, not discouraged by our failures, ready to repent when we have done something wrong, and to encourage others.

Remember we are called to be ‘salt’ and ‘light’ (Matthew 5: 13, 14) That is why I chose the top image.

Plodding,

Susan

God Still Chooses…

God chooses and sometimes is's a puzzle

God still chooses. (Although to us it is often a puzzle why.)

This is the second part of ‘From Moses to Donald Trump.’

In last week’s post we ‘skipped’ through the Old Testament looking at the way God chose leaders… and not always what we would call ‘good’ ones, at least not by our standards.

In the New Testament, God showed He was still in charge of the affairs of men.

God chooses Elizabeth

Who is she, you might ask. Elizabeth was the mother of John the Baptist. Like others before her, Elizabeth was barren. (In those days, being unable to bear a child  was a shame to a woman.)

God, intervened.

He had chosen a couple from the priestly line, Elizabeth and Zechariah to be the parents of the one who would announce the birth of the Messiah.

In the time of Herod king of Judea there was a priest named Zechariah, who belonged to the priestly division of Abijah; his wife Elizabeth was also a descendant of Aaron. Both of them were righteous in the sight of God, observing all the Lord’s commands and decrees blamelessly. But they were childless because Elizabeth was not able to conceive, and they were both very old.
Luke 1: 5 – 7

Before he had been born, God had chosen John the Baptist for this special purpose… to prepare the way for the coming Savior, Jesus Christ.

God chooses Mary

Mary was given the news that her elderly cousin Elizabeth was pregnant when the angel Gabriel came to her to announce that she had been chosen to bear the Savior.

(Mary’s reaction to that is recorded in the Bible. Luke 1: 34 – 38)

Mary visited the couple immediately after receiving this revelation that she, would miraculously conceive a son.

God chooses Mary and Elizabeth

Historical records are mostly silent about Jesus’ young years, with a couple of exceptions – that He grew in grace and stature and wisdom Luke 2: 40 as well as the incident when He was twelve years old and remained at the Temple after Passover and the Feast of Unleavened Bread, causing Mary and Joseph to worry. Luke 2: 46 – 48

The disciples are chosen, and trained.

I do nothing on My own initiative,
John 8: 38 (part)

So, Who was it chose the disciples? Did Jesus choose them on His Father’s guidance?
The Bible does not answer directly, but gives examples of times Jesus said He ‘always did the Father’s will.’

As He walked the country announcing the ‘good news of the Kingdom of God,’ He was also training the disciples.

Even so, they still expected the Messiah to be the conqueror who would drive out the Romans and restore Israel. It took the resurrection of Jesus and His opening the scriptures (Old Testament) for them to understand.

Jesus chooses Saul of Tarsus

A more unlikely person would be hard to find. Saul, who was renamed Paul, was a Pharisee. He persecuted the followers of the Way, as Christians of that time called themselves. But he was the one chosen to take the good news to the Gentiles. Jews did not like Gentiles, and the hierarchy of Jews in Jerusalem hated Paul and tried to kill him.

The people God chooses can be puzzling to us.

In the last century there have been some ‘good’ leaders and some terrible leaders. In our day, we in Western countries believe that we choose the leaders. Do we?

In Britain currently the country is divided in opinion about the leadership.

In Australia – another Prime minister has been replaced while in office.

In the US – I have never seen a US President so disliked, as the current president, Donald Trump.

God chooses Donald Trump

Yet, if we believe that God chooses…
By him times and years are changed: by him kings are taken away and kings are lifted up: he gives wisdom to the wise, and knowledge to those whose minds are awake:
Daniel 2: 21 (Bible in Basic English)

Then we have to believe that God is still on His throne and as it says in Daniel 4: 17 that ‘the Most High God rules in the kingdom of men, and give kingship to whoever He wants.’

It’s not only in the Old Testament…

Let everyone be subject to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God.
Romans 13: 1 NIV

The Most High Rules

Just a small observation… it does not say they have to be worthy of the position.

Continuing to consider the time and seasons

Susan

From Moses to Donald Trump

God chose to open a way

From Moses to Donald Trump, and all those in between, God chose them. Why do I say that? Because it is in the Bible. (More than once.)

This decision is the decree of the watchers, the verdict declared by the holy ones, so that the living will know that the Most High is ruler over the kingdom of mankind, and gives it to whom He wishes, setting over it the lowliest of men.’
Daniel 4: 17

All the peoples of the earth are counted as nothing, and He does as He pleases with the army of heaven and the peoples of the earth. There is no one who can restrain His hand or say to Him, ‘What have You done?’”…
Daniel 34: 35

And in the New Testament…

Let everyone be subject to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God. Consequently, whoever rebels against the authority is rebelling against what God has instituted, and those who do so will bring judgment on themselves.
Romans 13: 1, 2

God chose... Moses

God chose to open a way

When? When He saved him as an infant? When he was brought up in the house of Pharaoh? After forty years tending sheep?

Does it matter when God chose him, Moses was the one God chose to do a task… be the promised ‘deliverer’ from Egypt.

God chose… Abraham

It would not have been easy for Abraham to obey an unknown God. Ur was a city of many gods, as was the land in which he lived.

God chose Abraham to leave the ziggarat worshiping city

Anu – Sometimes called An, Anu was the god of the heavens and king of the gods. The city associated with Anu was Uruk.

Enlil – The god of air, wind, and storms, Enlil held the Tablets of Destiny. These tablets gave him control over the fate of man and made him very powerful. He wore a crown with horns. He was associated with the city of Nippur.

Enki – Enki was the shaper of the world as well as god of wisdom, intellect, and magic. He invented the plough and was responsible for making plants grow. He is drawn holding Zu, the storm bird. He was god of the city of Eridu.

Utu – The god of the sun as well as justice and the law, Utu is drawn holding a saw like instrument. Mythology says that Utu travels across the world each day in a chariot.

Inanna – Inanna was the goddess of love and war. Her symbol is a star with eight points. Her primary city was Uruk, but she was also prominent in the city of Babylon.

Nanna – Nanna was also called Sin. He was god of the moon. His home was the city of Ur.

Abraham came from a family who worshiped idols.

And Joshua said to all the people, “This is what the LORD, the God of Israel, says: ‘Long ago your fathers, including Terah, the father of Abraham and Nahor, lived beyond the Euphrates and worshiped other gods.
Josh 24: 2

Perhaps Abraham was too – but God chose him and made him great.

Moving on…

God chose…David

He was the ‘least’ of his brothers, the sons of Jesse.

When they arrived, Samuel saw Eliab and thought, “Surely the Lord’s anointed stands here before the Lord.” 
But the Lord said to Samuel, “Do not consider his appearance or his height, for I have rejected him. The Lord does not look at the things people look at. People look at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.”
Then Jesse called Abinadab and had him pass in front of Samuel. But Samuel said, “The Lord has not chosen this one either.”
Jesse then had Shammah pass by, but Samuel said, “Nor has the Lord chosen this one.”
Jesse had seven of his sons pass before Samuel, but Samuel said to him, “The Lord has not chosen these.”
 So he asked Jesse, “Are these all the sons you have?”
“There is still the youngest,” Jesse answered. “He is tending the sheep.”
Samuel said, “Send for him; we will not sit down until he arrives.”
So he sent for him and had him brought in. He was glowing with health and had a fine appearance and handsome features.
Then the Lord said, “Rise and anoint him; this is the one.”

Samuel 16: 8 – 12

David triumphant
Matteo Rosselli [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

To be continued next week: New Testament until today.

Sorry not to be able to continue. There is too much information for one post. However, perhaps this will give evidence of what is said… “God chooses.”

God bless,

Susan

Mention Jesus’ birth and people think Christmas

Old Testament scroll,

However, Jesus’ birth  is not what I want to ‘talk’ about in this post. A Biblical newsletter I have subscribed to since first researching the background of the Apostle John Series poses some questions. The following are some…

  1. Was Jesus conceived by Mary and someone other than her husband Joseph or the Holy Spirit?
  2. Could a Roman soldier have been involved?
  3. What were the cultural norms of the time about pregnancies out of wedlock?

Mary was a betrothed wife. That meant she had accepted Joseph as a husband, probably drunk from a betrothal cup (since that was the custom). Then he would have gone home to ‘prepare a place’ while she remained with her family. No sexual contact happened between the betrothed couple before the husband until he returned to claim her – usually a year later, but this could vary depending upon circumstances. Once the betrothal had taken place they were legally married, and it could only be dissolved by divorce. This could have been what Joseph considered when the news of Mary’s pregnancy came to him.

And her husband Joseph, being a just man and unwilling to put her to shame, resolved to divorce her quietly. Matt1: 19 ESV

‘Just’ in some versions is translated ‘righteous.’

Perhaps, though, ‘just’ is appropriate too, because he could have publicly broken off the marriage on the ground of the apparent guilt. The consequences were ‘dire.’

“then they shall bring out the young woman to the door of her father’s house, and the men of her city shall stone her to death with stones, because she has done an outrageous thing in Israel by whoring in her father’s house. So you shall purge the evil from your midst.”
Deuteronomy 22: 21 ESV

However, Joseph ‘being unwilling to put her to shame’ had the option of a “writ of divorcement,” which did not necessarily specify the ground of repudiation, except in vague language implying disagreement.

This answers questions number 1 and 3, what about number 2?

Jesus' birth was the result of an ‘affair’ with a Roman soldier?

That is what it could seem to imply. However, the Bible has a different answer…

“In the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent from God to a city of Galilee named Nazareth, to a virgin betrothed to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David. And the virgin’s name was Mary. And he came to her and said, “Greetings, O favored one, the Lord is with you!” But she was greatly troubled at the saying, and tried to discern what sort of greeting this might be. And the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God.
Luke 1: 26 – 30 ESV (Bolding mine.)

Does this sound like a woman who would have an affair with a Roman soldier?

God had chosen the one to give birth to His Son.

Since His Son would be the Messiah, God would not have chosen a ‘vessel’ that was not pure.

If you think that is a ‘fantasy’ and God did not ‘father’ Jesus – consider how many miracles he performed. There are also a long list of prophecies fulfilled – between 300 and 400 according to some sites. A clear list can be found at  
https://www.simplybible.com/f986-prophecies-fulfilled-by-christ.htm

Or, does the reference to a Roman soldier suggest she might have been raped?

In Biblical times women were veiled

 

Again, looking at the culture of the times, young women of good families did not go out unaccompanied. After a woman’s betrothal she was veiled.

Mary was of the house of David, the purity of the ‘line’ was important to God as well as to David’s descendants.

I prefer to believe the Bible on the subject of Jesus’ birth.

Traditional portrayal of Jesus' birth

traditional portrayal of Jesus' birth
Can you see the simple error?

Clue: Related to the custom of the day.

You can leave a comment below.

Have a safe week <smile>

Susan