Thursday, March 29, 2012

The Tower Of Babel: Setting The Scene - Genesis 11:1-2 Bible Commentary


The Flood was not a permanent solution. It did not eliminate evil from the earth. The eight survivors who found shelter in the ark shared something in common with those who drowned: they had a sinful nature.1 Even if they were all at peace with God when they died, that was no guarantee that their children would follow in their footsteps. God Himself said after the flood that "the intention of man's heart is evil from his youth" (Genesis 8:21).

Setting The Scene: Sin In The Post-Flood World

Noah saw God's flooding wrath towards sinners. He listened as God told him of the new, rainbow covenant. Then Noah fell into the sin of drunkenness. If the man who built the ark and witnessed the flood could fall into such sin, what would his descendants be like?

If we assumed the best, we might believe that later generations were obedient to God's command to fill the earth [geographically] (Genesis 9:1). But as you've probably already gathered, that didn't happen. Noah's descendants didn't just fall into drunkenness. They didn't merely fall into sin. They were worse, much worse. They planned their sin and dove into it.

Rising Action: One World Language

Moses begins his account of the Tower of Babel like this:
Now the whole earth had one language and the same words. And as people migrated from the east, they found a plain in the land of Shinar and settled there. (Genesis 11:1-2)
Moses' emphasis here is on unity. The descendants of Noah were united in the way they spoke. Just as the same sun warms the whole earth, so too the same language filled the earth. Nobody was in the dark when it came to understanding the language of their fellow countrymen.

Such a reality is hard to imagine. Today there are thousands of languages. Think about what the world would be like if that wasn't the case; the advantages would be endless! All the hours people spend learning different languages could be redirected to other fields. Human society would advance more quickly. There would be fewer cultural misunderstandings. The world would be more unified.

Yet despite how splendid one world language might seem, Moses is about to show us why we would not want this.

Coming Soon! The Tower Of Babel: United In Sin - Genesis 11:3-4

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  1. ^ Though Noah was righteous (Genesis 6:9) and made in the image of God (Genesis 1:26), he was also made in the image of Adam (Genesis 5:3) and was by nature a child of wrath (Ephesians 2:3). Like believers today, Noah had to continue battling against his sinful tendencies as long as he lived (sometimes he won this battle, and sometimes he lost, as is evident from Genesis 9:20-21).

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Quote of the Day #202 - William Gurnall


A quote from William Gurnall on the narrowness of the path that leads to life:
Many people say a person can be saved in any religion if he just follows the light. It does not matter, they say, what you believe as long as you believe something. But their imagination is making as many roads to heaven as Scripture tells us there are ways to hell. This humanistic rationale may sound good but the end of it does not lead to Christ, who says there is no other way to life but by Him: 'I am the way, the truth, and the life' (John 14:6). John declares that anyone who will not hold the one true doctrine of Christ is marked eternally as a lost man. And he who will not take God before he dies, the devil will take as soon as he dies.

No matter how much kindess and logic and religion a man mixes in to corrupt true doctrine, he is an obstinate sinner in God's sight and will receive the same condemnation at Christ's hands as the unrepentant drunkard or murderer.
~William Gurnall (The Christian in Complete Armour Volume 2, Chapter 1, Part 1).

This quote was taken from the book The Christian in Complete Armour Volume 2 - A modernized abridgement of the Puritan Classic by William Gurnall, published by Banner Of Truth.

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Wednesday, March 21, 2012

The Footsteps Of Death - The Gospel (Part 10 of ∞)


Do you hear it? Do you hear the footsteps approaching?

Death is coming for you.

Every day, death draws nearer and nearer, and there is nothing you can do to delay its arrival. You may feel that you are in control of your life. You may have a great mind or a great body. You may be in good health. But such things have no power to stop death. Try as hard as you can, you will not succeed in adding even one hour to your life (Matthew 6:27).

Death takes both the poor and the rich, both the wise and the foolish. It will take you, just as it took those who came before you.

So what should you do? What should you do in light of the fact that you are going to die?

You should recognize why death exists. There are a lot of people that would tell you that death exists because it's just how nature works. But it's not just how nature works. Death exists for this reason:

Sin.

Let that sink in deep. Death exists because of sin. You will die because you have sinned.

In light of the inevitability of death, be sure that you know that death is not the end. It may be the end of your life here on earth, but it is not the end. When you die, oh Christian, you will enter the presence of God! There the footsteps of sin and Satan will never again be able to reach you! It is on this future bliss that you are to set your hope!

Oh Christian, if you truly love Christ, you are prepared for death. The blood of Jesus Christ has covered all your sin! Therefore, cling to Him all the tighter while you still have breath, for He is your only hope. You can find joy in Him. And though the footsteps of death may crush you once (taking you out of the miseries of this fallen planet), they will never crush you again. For you will spend all of eternity basking in the presence of God, pondering His graciousness in granting you everlasting life for all of eternity!

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Friday, March 16, 2012

The City of God - Augustine - Book Review

Imagine for a moment a disaster of unspeakable proportions. You wake up, check the news, and to your horror, you learn that New York City, London, Washington DC, Paris, and many other major Western cities have been taken over. The Western World as you've always known it will never be the same again.

That honestly sounds like a good blurb for a science-fiction book. But the thing is, something similar has already happened in Western history.

The year was 410 AD. The date was August 24th. On that day, the city of Rome was invaded and sacked for the first time in over 700 years. At the height of its power, Rome had ruled the world. Now the city had dwindled into insignificance.

Here's where a man named Augustine comes into the picture. Augustine began writing The City of God shortly after Rome was sacked. Thus, Rome is one of the main subjects Augustine focuses on in his book.
The Heavenly City outshines Rome, beyond comparison. There, instead of victory, is truth; instead of high rank, holiness; instead of peace, felicity; instead of life, eternity. (City of God (Penguin Classics), 1984, Book II, Chapter 29)
For the first several sections of the book, Augustine defends Christianity in light of Rome's fall. The pagans of his day had been arguing that Rome fell because of Christianity. Their argument went something like this:
  1. Before Christianity, Rome flourished and did not lose battles.
  2. After Christianity, Rome declined and was ultimately sacked.
  3. Therefore Christianity was the cause for the fall of Rome.
One way Augustine refutes this argument is by showing that Rome did lose battles in its Pagan-run days. In fact, Rome was even sacked once in its Pagan days. Throughout the first half of the book, Augustine refutes this argument in many other ways, reasoning from both history and theology.

The second half of The City Of God addresses a vast range of other subjects. Although Augustine covers many differing topics in the first half, he jumps from one subject to the next with more freedom in the second half, often with little transition.

When I say that Augustine jumps from subject to subject, I really mean it. If I had to sum up the entire book in one sentence it would be this:

The City Of God is about everything.

Really, it is. After defending Christianity against Pagan attacks, Augustine launches into a commentary on the entire Bible. His comments concerning the early parts of Genesis are very thorough. As he continues, his comments tend to be less thorough.

If there was one thing that I liked the most about reading The City Of God it was seeing how much Augustine treasured the Scriptures. The Bible was his source of authority. Did he sometimes give wild interpretations of certain passages? Yes. In spite of that, his beliefs were primarily based on Scripture. Clearly, the idea of the Scriptures being the authority is not a new idea, but an idea as old as Christianity itself.

In conclusion, I would recommend reading The City of God if you're interested in deepening your understanding of Church (or Roman) History. If you tend to only read modern Christian literature, reading this book (or at least parts of it) is a good idea. It will show you that Christian doctrine, for the most part, has not undergone any changes. Have there been refinements? Yes. Clarifications? Sure. But none of it is totally new.

If you decide to read The City of God, know that it is probably not one of those books that you can sit down and read for a few hours. It's not an overly entertaining read, but it is a helpful read.

There are some parts in the book that you will probably skip over, simply because they're not that relevant anymore. Augustine, for instance, spends time refuting some strange beliefs, such as the idea that the position of the stars at the time of your birth affects your destiny in life.

Some of the stuff Augustine discusses is so far removed from today's culture that you will be left wondering "What...?". So before you read this book, know that if you are not intensely fascinated by ancient history, you will be bored with some of the subjects (for example, Augustine discusses subjects such as whether or not it was reasonable to separate Janus and Terminus as two divinities, Nigidius the astrologer: his argument about twins, derived from the potter's wheel, and How Numa was fooled by hydromancy and a vision of demons).

A lot of the material Augustine discusses, however, is still relevant (especially the subjects that appear in the second half of the book). Augustine devotes space to topics that are actively discussed today, such as the problem of evil, textual criticism, Heaven, Hell, abortion, what our resurrected bodies will be like, and more.

If you decide to read The City of God, I guarantee that you will find something interesting in the book. After all, Augustine really does discuss everything.




For more book reviews click here.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

How Humans Track Time - Genesis 1:14-19 Bible Commentary


Time is a tricky subject. Throughout history, people have used many different kinds of calendars to keep track of it. Yet despite the differences, all of these calendars make use of the sun, moon, stars— or some combinations of them— to measure time.

For most of human history, it was impossible to use anything other than the lights in the heavens to keep track of time. Humans did not have accurate clocks that could carefully keep track of each passing nanosecond.

Only in recent times has it become possible to ignore the lights in the heavens and still accurately keep track of time. Computers are more than capable of keeping track of time without the need for the sun, moon, or stars. Yet even though we have this capability, the likelihood of starting such a practice is slim.

The rising and setting of the sun is too important of a part of who we are. If we arbitrarily decided to make each day thirty hours long, computers could keep track of the time, but it just wouldn't make sense. It wouldn't be practical. Imagine if the sun set at a radically different time each "day". Each "year", the seasons would arrive in different months. Everything would be a mess.

The calendar we use today, the Gregorian calendar, is more accurate than calendars of the past. The deeper understanding that we have of astronomy allows us to have leap days on a regular schedule (we even add in leap seconds sometimes). In spite of these advancements, a year is still the same length. It still takes roughly the same amount of time to go through spring, summer, fall, and winter as it did thousands of years ago.

Although our modern world has divided up every hour, minute, and second of the day, the sun still rises and sets. Time still passes, and the best way that there is to measure it is by using the lights in the heavens.

It has always been that way in human history. The lights in the heavens have always been the way humans have measured time. Why is this the case? Because that's how God ordained it to be. Take a look at this passage from Genesis 1:
And God said, "Let there be lights in the expanse of the heavens to separate the day from the night. And let them be for signs and for seasons, and for days and years, and let them be lights in the expanse of the heavens to give light upon the earth." And it was so. And God made the two great lights—the greater light to rule the day and the lesser light to rule the night—and the stars. And God set them in the expanse of the heavens to give light on the earth, to rule over the day and over the night, and to separate the light from the darkness. And God saw that it was good. And there was evening and there was morning, the fourth day.
Humans have always measured time using the lights in the heavens because God has designed the universe in such a way that it is the only way that makes sense. It is the only way that uniformity can be present in human society; for that reason alone, I think we can be sure that until the coming of Christ, humanity will continue to measure time in the same way they always have.

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Saturday, March 10, 2012

Quote of the Day #201 - Charles Spurgeon


A (blunt) quote from Charles Spurgeon:
There are preachers who care very little whether they are attended to [hold the congregation's attention] or not; so long as they can hold on through the allotted time it is of very small importance to them whether their people hear for eternity, or hear in vain: the sooner such ministers sleep in the churchyard and preach by the verse on their gravestones the better.
~Charles Spurgeon (Attention!)

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Wednesday, March 07, 2012

The History of the Human Diet According To The Bible

The earliest humans were hunter-gatherers. As civilization advanced, humans developed new methods to get food. Thus, practices like farming and keeping livestock were invented. This, in short, is one view of the history of the human diet. Such a view, however, is based on faulty evidence that relies on evolutionary thinking rather than biblical thinking.

The Bible presents a different history of the human diet. This history can be divided up into these eras: pre-flood, post-flood, Mosaic, and post-Christ.

Humanity's Diet In The Pre-Flood

The first and second chapters of Genesis explain that the world God created was free of sin and death. There was no bloodshed in the beginning. All people and animals were vegetarians (Genesis 1:30).

Then, in Genesis 3, Adam and Eve were deceived into eating from the tree by the serpent. Humanity fell. Adam and Eve were ashamed of their nakedness, so God made garments for Adam and Eve out of animal skin. Thus, for the first time in history the blood of an animal was shed.

In Genesis 4, more blood is shed when Abel offers up an animal sacrifice to the Lord (Genesis 4:4). Human blood is then shed when Cain kills Abel.

By Noah's time, violence had filled the planet (Genesis 6:11). Human bloodshed was not a rarity in Noah's day, it was the norm. Still, even in the midst of the violence and bloodshed, God had not permitted humanity to eat meat.

Humanity's Diet In The Post-Flood World

God permitted people to eat meat for the first time after the flood ended. The only rule given was that meat could not be eaten raw (Genesis 9:3-4).

The Bible's view of man's dietary history contradicts current evolutionary views. While many of today's scientists claim that primitive humans were originally hunter-gatherers, Christians can be confident in claiming that early humans did not hunt. Furthermore, early humans were far from "primitive". Cain, the second man mentioned in Scripture, is said to have been a worker or tiller of the ground (Genesis 4:2). Agriculture was not a later development in human history, but a discovery made at the very beginning.

Humanity's Diet According To Mosaic Law

Over one thousand years passed before God again spoke about humanity's diet. In the law that God gave to Moses, He restricted the types of meat that the people of Israel could eat. A list of the forbidden animals can be found in Leviticus 11.

As a side note, it is possible that these animals had already been forbidden. People as early as Noah knew of a distinction between clean and unclean animals (Genesis 7:2). They might have, perhaps, assumed that this meant they were not to be eaten. Regardless, unclean animals were not explicitly forbidden by God until Moses' time.

Humanity's Diet In The Post-Christ World

About 1500 years after the institution of the Mosaic Law, God again spoke about the human diet. This time, God spoke to the Apostle Peter in a dream, telling him that he could now eat previously "unclean" animals. This news shocked Peter, and God had to repeat the dream two more times for Peter to believe it (Acts 10:9-16). Peter's reaction to this dream indicates how deeply the prohibition of unclean animals was rooted in the Jewish consciousness.

Today, Christians are free to eat of any animal, both unclean and clean. The only prohibition remaining is the one that God gave to Noah: not to eat animals raw (Genesis 9:3-4).

The Future of Humanity's Diet

There is a good chance that the prohibition against eating meat will return. In the New Heavens and the New Earth, there will no longer be any death— ever (Revelation 21:4). Therefore, no animals will be slaughtered, which means that no meat will be available (unless God provides a different, painless and deathless way to obtain it).

This change, however, should not be a cause for disappointment. Why? Because whatever we eat while living on the New Earth will surely be more satisfying than anything we've tasted on this fallen planet!
Then the angel showed me the river of the water of life, bright as crystal, flowing from the throne of God and of the Lamb through the middle of the street of the city; also, on either side of the river, the tree of life with its twelve kinds of fruit, yielding its fruit each month. The leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations. (Revelation 22:1-2)

Saturday, March 03, 2012

Quote of the Day #200 - Richard Sibbes


A quote form Richard Sibbes:
We are not disquieted when we put off our clothes and go to bed, because we trust God's ordinary providence to raise us up again. And why should we be disquieted when we put off our bodies, and sleep our last sleep, considering we are more sure to rise out of our graves, than out of our beds?
~Richard Sibbes (The Soul's Conflict And Victory Over Itself By Faith, page 235, 1635)

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