Wednesday, November 20, 2013

The Cherubim Removed

When Adam and Even sinned, Cherubim were put in place to guard the Garden. Adam and Eve could no longer enter because they were unclean. The unity they once had with God in the Garden was gone.
He [God] drove out the man, and at the east of the garden of Eden he placed the cherubim and a flaming sword that turned every way to guard the way to the tree of life. (Genesis 3:24)
The Flood likely destroyed the Garden, but that doesn't mean the Cherubim were left jobless. The Flood did not change the nature of humankind. People were still fallen and unable to approach God as Adam once did. The Cherubim were still needed.

When the law was given to Moses, the Cherubim reappear. It's an easy detail to miss because it appears in the instructions on how to build the temple:
And you shall make a veil of blue and purple and scarlet yarns and fine twined linen. It shall be made with cherubim skillfully worked into it... And you shall hang the veil from the clasps, and bring the ark of the testimony in there within the veil. And the veil shall separate for you the Holy Place from the Most Holy Place. (Exodus 26:31,33)
The Cherubim stood as guards in the temple. They stood watch on the curtain covering the Holy of Holies, which was the place where God's presence dwelt. Only one man could enter the Holy of Holies each year. The author of Hebrews explains it like this:
...into the second [the Holy of Holies] only the high priest goes, and he but once a year, and not without taking blood, which he offers for himself and for the unintentional sins of the people. (Hebrews 9:7)
The role of the Cherubim changed with the coming of the Messiah. Recall what happened when the sacrifice at the cross was complete:
And Jesus cried out again with a loud voice and yielded up his spirit. And behold, the curtain of the temple was torn in two, from top to bottom. (Matthew 27:50-51)
Imagine the shocking look on the faces of the priests as the curtain guarding the Holy of Holies, as if by magic, ripped itself from top to bottom. Before their very eyes, the temple opened. And with its opening, the Cherubim were no longer needed. The Man who would crush the head of the serpent had come (Genesis 3:15). The curse was finally beginning to be reversed.

No longer do the Cherubim stand as a barrier between believers and their Creator. Imagine Adam, perhaps gazing into the distance; see him dreaming of somehow being able to sneak past the Cherubim, back into the Garden where he had full communion with God. If you are a Christian, you don't need to dream of such a thing. Christ has removed the Cherubim for you! Your relationship with your Creator has been restored! And though you do not yet live in a world like the Garden of Eden, there is a much better world to come— a world that will be far superior to what Adam had in the Garden.

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Friday, August 02, 2013

Announcing the Launch of The Greek Alphabet Game for Android™

I've been doing a lot of writing lately; not essay or article writing— but a different kind of writing. I've been busy coding away, writing a new app to help people learn Greek.


Android app on Google Play

After over a month of hard work, I'm pleased to announce the launch of a new (and my first ever) app: The Greek Alphabet Game. Here's a short description of it:
Test your knowledge of the Greek Alphabet with this fun, yet educational app! Even if you don't know the Greek Alphabet at all, this game is still for you! Included in the app is a training mode, which will teach you the Greek Alphabet (lowercase and uppercase) in order.

Two different Greek Alphabet game modes will send letters flying at you, testing your visual and audio recognition. In one game, your job is to grab the letters in alphabetical order. In the other game, your job is to grab the letters in whatever order they're called. For bonus points, any incorrect letters can be shot down!

This game is designed for anyone new to Greek. It will be especially useful if you are planning on studying, or if you are just starting your studies in Koine Greek (Biblical Greek), Ancient Greek, or Modern Greek. This app could also come in handy if you are in a mathematics class, physics class, or some other class that makes heavy use of the Greek alphabet.
Here are the places the app is currently available: Google Play (Free), Google Play (Full Version), Amazon (Free Version), and Amazon (Full Version).

At this moment, the app is available only for Android. If I received sufficient funding for licencing purposes, I could easily (relatively speaking) deploy it to iOS.

I designed this app especially for anyone just beginning their studies in Koine Greek (Biblical Greek). Learning the alphabet is the first challenge most first year Greek students face. Students who are slow in completing this first challenge quickly fall behind. With this app, that first challenge becomes a fun, addicting game.

Even if you already know the alphabet, this app could serve as an entertaining way to review both the lowercase and uppercase Greek letters. The oldest biblical manuscripts are written in all uppercase letters. Ironically, I've noticed that many people (myself included) are less familiar with the uppercase Greek letters. With this app you can easily change the settings and play with only the uppercase letters.

I don't know if this will be the first of many apps that I write, or the last. I have a lot of ideas about new apps I could make to help people learn Koine/Biblical Greek. Such apps would delve beyond the alphabet and help the user internalize the Greek language. How awesome would it be to ditch the rote memorization of paradigms, opting instead to internalize the many intricacies of Greek verbs by playing a game?

Memory palaces (click here for more info) are a good replacement for rote memorization, and I'm convinced that interactive games are another.

For the most part, many of my game ideas at this point are pipe-dreams. Writing an app is a major time investment. It's risky business; I'm not guaranteed to receive anything in return. After a month straight of coding, I have no idea if I'll sell 3 apps or 3000 apps.

Regardless of what happens, teaching myself to code an app was a great experience. Koine Greek and Java coding aren't two areas of expertise that commonly overlap, but I had a lot of fun combining them. For anyone who might download this app, I appreciate your support. And who knows? This might just be the first Greek app of many.

If you have any questions or comments, leave them below or send an email. If you're looking for a good place to go after learning the Greek Alphabet (or if you're looking for additional resources to accompany a traditional Greek grammar), then I highly recommend Randall Buth's Living Koine Greek Part 1 (click here to read my review of it).

Sunday, April 21, 2013

A "Painful Paradox" and the Defeat of Death

I recently came across this quote from Ernest Becker's book, The Denial of Death:
A person spends years coming into his own, developing his talent, his unique gifts... becoming mature, seasoned— finally a unique creature in nature, standing with some dignity... it takes sixty years of incredible suffering and effort to make such an individual, and then he is good only for dying. This painful paradox is not lost on the person himself— least of all himself." (268-269, The Denial of Death, 1973)
The quote is reminiscent of something that you might read in Ecclesiastes. Indeed, Solomon writes:
Then I said in my heart, “What happens to the fool will happen to me also. Why then have I been so very wise?” And I said in my heart that this also is vanity. For of the wise as of the fool there is no enduring remembrance, seeing that in the days to come all will have been long forgotten. How the wise dies just like the fool! So I hated life, because what is done under the sun was grievous to me, for all is vanity and a striving after wind. (Ecclesiastes 2:15-17)
It's hard work to master a skill, and once you do, death is all the nearer. If you live life for the advancement of self— if you live life merely to develop your talents so that you can stand with dignity, then what's the point? What are your accomplishments worth when you're dead? For the unbeliever, little answer can be given. It is indeed a "painful paradox". And that's the way it should be. What else could be the outcome of a life lived for something or someone other than the eternal Creator?

Becker's "painful paradox" only exists in the lives of those who try to pretend that God doesn't exist. With such a worldview, there is no hope. Death is final. For a person with such a mindset, a long life of suffering that leads to some sort of dignity is pointless. What hope is there that can be found? All that can be hoped in is the defeat of death.

We should be eager to listen to what Solomon has to say, for though he sees this paradox, he does not leave us in hopelessness. Solomon writes, "Remember also your Creator in the days of your youth, before the evil days come and the years draw near of which you will say, 'I have no pleasure in them'" (Ecclesiastes 12:1).

As Christians we put our hope in the eternal kingdom of God that is to come, in which death will be eliminated. The hope in the defeat of death is a good hope, but our secular culture today twists this hope; they put their hope in the defeat of death in this world. That is not the Christian hope. The Christian does not hope in a continuation of life in this sin-filled world. Instead, the Christian recognizes that this world is not home. There is a new Heaven and new Earth yet to come, and whatever "dignity" the Christian may accumulate in this life will be nothing compared to the joy of standing in the presence of Christ forever.

The Christian hope in the defeat of death is not founded upon medical advances or human ingenuity. Instead, it is a hope that we place in our Creator. We trust in the God who made all things, who "knows our frame" and "remembers that we are dust" (Psalm 103:14). We trust our mourning will one day turn to comfort (Matthew 5:4). We trust that "the last enemy to be destroyed is death". The day is coming when death will be "swallowed up in victory" (1 Corinthians 15:54). It is for this reason that you, if you are a Christian, will be able to look back at the end of your life and agree with Paul's conclusion that "in the Lord your labor is not in vain" (1 Corinthians 15:58).

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Saturday, April 13, 2013

Quote of the Day #228 - Charles Spurgeon

A quote from Charles Spurgeon:
If I had the power to do it, how would I seek to refresh in your souls a sense of this fact that you are “bought with a price”? There in the midnight hour, amidst the olives of Gethsemane, kneels Immanuel, the Son of God! He groans! He pleads in prayer! He wrestles—see the beady drops stand on His brow! Drops of sweat, but not of such sweat as pours from men when they earn the bread of life, but the sweat of Him who is procuring life itself for us!

It is blood, it is crimson blood—great globs of it are falling to the ground. O Soul, your Savior speaks to you from Gethsemane at this hour, and He says—“Here I bought you with a price.” Come, stand and view Him in the agony of the olive garden, and understand at what a cost He procured your deliverance! Track Him in all His path of shame and sorrow till you see Him on the Pavement. Mark how they bind His hands and fasten Him to the whipping-post. Look, they bring the scourges and the cruel Roman whips. They tear His flesh. The plowers make deep furrows on His blessed body, and the blood gushes forth in streams—while rivulets from His temples, where the crown of thorns has pierced them—join to swell the purple stream.

From beneath the scourges He speaks to you with accents soft and low, and He says, “My child, it is here I bought you with a price.” But see Him on the Cross itself when the consummation of all has come—His hands and feet are fountains of blood—His soul is full of anguish even to heartbreak. And there, before the soldier pierces with a spear His side, bowing down He whispers to you and to me, “It was here I bought you with a price.” O by Gethsemane, by Gabbatha, by Golgotha—by every sacred name collected with the passion of our Lord! By sponge and vinegar, and nail and spear, and everything that helped the pang and increased the anguish of His death—I plead with you, my Brothers and Sisters—to remember that you were “bought with a price,” and “are not your own!”
~Charles Spurgeon (Bought With A Price 1004)

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Saturday, April 06, 2013

Quote of the Day #227 - F. W. Krummacher

A quote from F. W. Krummacher:
Heaven must fall, the order of the divine government be annihilated, and Christianity be forever destroyed, if the Holy Scriptures compel us to regard the cup which Jesus drank, as essentially the same as that of which Job, Jeremiah, Paul, and many others partook. Jesus’ cup contained something far more dreadful.
~F. W. Krummacher (The Suffering Saviour, Chapter 13)

This quote was taken from Samuel Jackson's translation of F. W. Krummacher's book The Suffering Saviour: Meditations On The Last Days Of Christ.

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Saturday, March 30, 2013

What We Have Heard, Seen, and Touched - 1 John 1:1-4 Bible Commentary

That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we looked upon and have touched with our hands, concerning the word of life— the life was made manifest, and we have seen it, and testify to it and proclaim to you the eternal life, which was with the Father and was made manifest to us— that which we have seen and heard we proclaim also to you, so that you too may have fellowship with us; and indeed our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son Jesus Christ. And we are writing these things so that our joy may be complete. (1 John 1:1-4)
The world was dark, filled with shadows. Though fire could be summoned, it still required fuel to burn, one that had to be bought or gathered. Though the sun, free to all, would certainly rise, darkness was just as sure to follow.

Night and the darkness it brings is a universal human experience. Night is when the thief comes. It's when the normal sounds of day become suspicious. Mysterious and unknown, darkness is a veil, beyond which the eye cannot see.

In the introduction to his gospel, John writes of Jesus that He is the "true light, which gives light to everyone" (John 1:9). It is this light that John saw. He didn't merely see Christ illumined by the sun's rays, but he saw Christ fully illumined. In a spectacular display that we cannot fully grasp with our understanding, John saw Christ in his glory on the mount of transfiguration.

Sight is just one sense. John also writes that he heard Christ. Not only that, but John says that he touched Christ with his hands. This is something more intimate. There is light, and there is darkness; but there is something even deeper to the human experience. There is the cold shunning, and there is the warm embrace. John had reclined upon the bosom of Christ in that final hour before Golgotha (John 13:23). He had not merely heard the Saviour, nor merely seen Him, but he had come into direct contact with God Himself, condescending in human flesh.

It is the message of this Christ, whom John, fully aware of in every human sense, proclaims in his letter. The One who was with the Father Himself— who is the word of Life— it is the message of that King whom John seeks to set before us. And why does John do so? "So that you too may have fellowship with us; and indeed our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son Jesus Christ" (1 John 1:3).

John came into contact with Christ, and though we cannot travel back in time to see our Saviour in His incarnation, we can experience what John experienced through his writings. We too can hear the words of our Saviour. We too can look upon our Saviour. And though we may not be able to touch our Saviour with our hands, we can come into contact with Him in a way John never experienced during Jesus' earthly ministry— through the Spirit who has been given to us.

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Saturday, March 23, 2013

Quote of the Day #226 - Richard Sibbes

A quote from Richard Sibbes:
God is glorified in making us happy, and we enjoying happiness, must glorify God... A heavenly soul is never satisfied, until it be as near God as is attainable. And the nearer a creature comes to God, the more it is emptied of itself, and all self-aims. Our happiness is more in him, than in ourselves. We seek ourselves most when we deny ourselves most. And the more we labour to advance God, the more we advance our condition in him.
~Richard Sibbes (The Soul's Conflict and Victory Over Itself By Faith, Chapter XXVI)

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