August 8, 2014
We’ve been examining some of the more popular myths and theories used by Satan and his minions in an attempt to discredit and/or deny the resurrection of Jesus. However since these myths are in blatant opposition to the truth and the historical evidence of the resurrection, they tend to be improbable at best or ludicrous at worse.
We looked at two of them in the last post. This time we will examine one of the silliest, followed by one that could eventually prove to be the most dangerous of all.
Myth 3: The Swoon Theory
This one is my favorites – primarily because it’s the most ridiculous. This myth purports that Jesus didn’t really rise from the dead, because Jesus never actually died! The “Swoon Theory” states that Jesus didn’t DIE on the cross; He just fainted (swooned) due to the extreme pain. Because He was so weak and brutalized, the Romans mistook His fainting spell for death and plopped Him into the tomb. Therein, the cool air of the tomb revived Him. He then walked out of the tomb, retired from the ministry, shacked up with Mary Magdalene, and sired a whole bunch of children who went on to be the progenitors of the royal families of Europe.
No, I’m not making this up. My imagination is not that fertile.
So let’s look at all the things that are wrong with this idiotic theory. First of all, the Romans didn’t just start crucifying people the week before they hung Jesus on the cross. They were EXPERTS in this form of execution and they knew how to tell if their victim was dead. When a person dies, their blood separates into the red cell platelets and the relatively clear plasma. The soldier who stuck a spear in Jesus’ side at the end of the crucifixion wasn’t being sadistic; he was making sure Jesus was dead! When blood and “water” (plasma) came out, it proved His death.
As we saw a couple posts back, crucifixion has a devastating effect on the human body. The nerves in the hands and feet are irreparably damaged, the lungs fill with fluid, most of the major organs fail, and the heart ruptures. According to the Swoon Theory, not only did these injuries NOT kill Jesus, it only took the “cool air” of the tomb to heal him enough to hop out of His burial clothes. Then He managed to hobble over to entrance of the tomb on unusable feet, push the boulder out of the way with useable hands, sneak past the aforementioned Roman Guard, and go stud Himself off to Mary Magdalene.
It looks like people have been wasting their time in spas and clinics all these years. Apparently nothing heals and refreshes like cool tomb air!
So does anyone actually take this nonsense seriously? Believe it or not the answer is yes! In fact variations of the “Jesus wasn’t dead when they took him off the cross” variant is the prevailing theory in academia (and Islam) and has been popularized in such mainstream books as Holy Blood Holy Grail, and Da Vinci Code. And if that isn’t proof that contrastive thinking leads to brain damage, I don’t know what is.
Myth 4: The Pristine Corpse
This last myth is actually quite a bit different from the others. It is the most inconspicuous, and seemingly innocuous – but it has the potential to be the most harmful. It’s not a direct assault on the truth of the resurrection, and I’m not even certain that it comes from Satan (although he can and does make use of it where possible).
This myth is tacitly endorsed and encouraged by Christians, which likely makes it the most controversial and uncomfortable. In fact, I’ve never presented it to a Christian who did not find it disturbing if not offensive. It will be especially repulsive to any reader who is religious. The best way to present it is to examine a few post-resurrection narratives from the Bible:
As I wrote earlier, when Jesus rose from the dead, the first person to encounter Him was Mary Magdalene who had come to the cemetery to tend to the body. When she first encountered Jesus, she mistook him for the gardener and only seemed to know who He was when she fully recognized His voice. Later the disciples were out fishing when Jesus called them to shore for breakfast. They seemed to discern His identity only (apparently) because he miraculously produced fish for them, which is something he had done before. On another occasion, Jesus joined two of His followers on a 7 mile walk, and they just assumed He was a stranger visiting the area. It was only after they invited Jesus in for dinner and he broke the bread, did they know who He was (presumably because they saw the nail prints in His hands). Lastly, in the famous “Doubting Thomas” incident, Jesus abruptly appeared in a room full of disciples who thought He was a ghost! Only after He submitted to Thomas’ request to examine His hands and feet did they know it was Jesus.
Are you noticing a pattern here? It seems that after the resurrection, people have a difficult time recognizing Jesus. Why is that?
The popular theory is that the resurrected Jesus had such a “glorious” form, that even His closest companions were blinded by His heavenly appearance. This idea partially stems from our human tendency to disproportionately value physical appearance (which has its roots in comparative thinking).
But why would Mary mistake this “heavenly” figure for a cemetery gardener? The Jewish laws against touching dead things would relegate that job to only the lowliest of people. And why would a “glorious” Jesus scare the crap out of the disciples when he appeared?
While the “glorious” resurrection visage may be a possibility, I’m going to argue against it by looking at a couple verses that describe what Jesus suffered during the crucifixion.
The prophet Isaiah wrote that Jesus would have his beard torn off by His torturers. If you’ve ever known anyone who had a full beard and shaved it off, you know that they look quite different than before. In an even more disturbing prophesy, Isaiah, wrote that the beatings Jesus received during the crucifixion were so brutal that his face no longer looked human!
And now we come to the myth. The common assumption about Jesus’ appearance after the resurrection is that the only physical evidence that He retained from the crucifixion are the nail scars on His hands and feet, and the scar from the spear He took in His side. Other than that, He looked exactly the way He looked before Calvary (if not better).
But the reason for that assumption is NOT because the Bible says or implies that those are the only scars Jesus retained, but because those are the SPECIFIC wounds that Thomas required as evidence!
There is no logical or Biblical reason to think that Jesus didn’t retain ALL the scars from His suffering – Including the massive scar tissue from having his beard ripped off and some degree of facial deformity and additional scarring from the beatings.
If this is true, it would explain the reactions of His followers. It would make sense that Mary would think a disfigured man in a cemetery would be the gardener, and someone would such aesthetics would understandably make the disciples drop a brick in their robes if he suddenly appeared out of nowhere. And while part of the reason the men on the Emmaus road invited Him to dinner may have been a matter of middle-eastern hospitality, they also may have been taking pity on what they thought was an unfortunate stranger.
But why would Jesus choose to retain ANY physical evidence of His horrific death, let alone such disturbing ones? The answer may come from a story I once heard:
There was a little girl whose mother would drop her off for school every morning. However, the other school children would tease the girl about her mother, because the mother’s face had been badly burned.
One day the little girl asked her mother if she would start dropping her off a couple blocks from the school so that the children would not see the mother and the girl would be spared their teasing.
“I’ve never told you the reason I look like this have I?” The mother responded. “The accident that caused my burns happened when you were a baby, but I think you’re old enough to know now.”
“One day, after you had fallen asleep in your crib, I went outside to do some gardening. After a while, I smelled smoke. I looked up and noticed that the house was on fire! It turned out that there was an electrical surge near your bedroom that caused it, and it was burning out of control.”
“I rushed into the house in a panic. I could hear you crying so I knew you were still alive, but there was a wall of flames between me and your room. I covered myself a best I could and charged in. It was very difficult to get to you and my coverings and clothes began to catch on fire.
“When I finally got to you, I covered you as best I could and shielded you with my body as I ran out. I could barely see due to the smoke so I had to keep my face uncovered. By the time I made it outside, I had third degree burns over most of my body, especially my face. But it didn’t matter, because you were safe. Saving you was all that mattered.
From that point on, the little girl was no longer ashamed of her mother’s looks. In fact, they became a point or pride and comfort. Because now, every time she looked at her mother’s face, she saw the evidence of how much she was loved, and how much someone was willing to sacrifice to save her.
It could be same for that those who choose Salvation and the Meaning of Life. If so, they may spend eternity looking at the face that shows evidence of how much they are loved and how much was sacrificed for their redemption.
But why do I consider this myth so dangerous? On the surface, the worst outcome would simply be the fact that we embrace an incorrect physical image. The problem is that any level of delusion, especially in regards to Jesus and the importance of His redemptive work, can open the door to Satan’s favorite tactic – deception!
In this case, it’s the deception of idolatry – a deception that could eventually cause the LOSS of the Meaning of Life! I’ll explain more in the next post…
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July 28, 2014
The resurrection of Jesus is the most important event in Christian history. The Apostle Paul himself states that if the resurrection didn’t happen, then Christians are even bigger fools than atheists think we are.
Fortunately for Christianity, there is a great deal of documented evidence of the resurrection from eye witnesses, historians, and even from the enemies of Jesus. Christ’s victorious death and resurrection are a matter of historical and spiritual fact. Satan can’t change that. The Meaning of Life WILL happen. The only thing he can do is try to keep as many people as possible from accepting salvation.
Satan and his assorted Mystics throughout the ages have engaged in great feats of logical acrobatics in futile attempts to convince the world that Jesus did not rise from the dead. Their alternate theories to explain away the empty tomb range from the improbably to the downright silly. We’ll look at a couple of them and this post, and two more next time.
Myth 1: Jesus’ Disciples Stole the Body
This myth states that the distraught disciples wanted to save face and/or comfort Jesus’ other followers after His death, so they faked the resurrection by stealing Jesus’ body after it was buried. They then spread the rumor that Jesus supernaturally rose from the dead. Supposedly, this “lie” became so popular and pervasive that is spawned the movement we call Christianity.
The seeds of this myth were actually started by the local mystics (Pharisees) before Jesus was even buried. They knew Jesus said He would rise again three days after His death (something the disciples themselves seemed a little slow to pick up on) and they figured the disciples would try something sneaky so they encouraged Pilate to set up a Roman Guard to watch over the tomb.
This is where this myth falls apart. A Roman guard is no joke. It consists of 16 soldiers who sleep in shifts of four. So at any time, Jesus’ tomb was guarded by 12 very alert, well trained, well-armed military men. Furthermore, since the tomb was under Roman guard, the 2 ton stone that would have sealed the tomb would have had a roman seal in the crease. If that seal was broken (by someone moving the stone), the penalty was death for the perpetrator. Moreover, if the guards failed in their duty, ALL of them would be executed!
So the proponents of this myth would have us believe that a group of 11 distraught fishermen (and a tax collector) managed to sneak by 16 of the best trained soldiers on the planet (who were motivated by the death penalty to do their job), roll away a gigantic stone – the act of which would mean their execution – and abscond with Jesus’ dead body, thus accidentally causing the spread of the greatest spiritual movement in history.
Sound feasible to you? Me neither, but the Pharisees didn’t let something as irrelevant as “logic” get in the way of a good myth.
Myth 2: The Disciples Made the Whole Thing Up
This theory picks up on the one above but goes to the extreme of virtually denying the Jesus of the Bible. This view was embraced by secular academics beginning around the time of the “Age of Enlightenment” in the 17th century and is still taught to some degree today. The theory states that there was probably no historical person called Jesus of Nazareth. And even IF there was such a person, he bears no resemblance to the guy in the Bible.
In all likelihood, “Jesus” was just one of many itinerant backwoods preachers wandering ancient Judea futility speaking out against the lapsed morality of the Jews and corruption of the clergy. He was little more than a first century version of the crazy guy on the corner holding a “The End is Near!” sign.
It was his disciples that invented the “Son of God” mythology. They created or greatly embellished the narratives of Jesus’ life, mission, miracles, and divinity.
Why would they do this? Fame and fortune of course!
They knew that there are few better ways to gain wealth and power than by inventing a nutty religious cult, get the masses to buy into it, and set yourself up at the top of the spiritual pyramid! (Basically the disciples were L. Ron Hubbard’s inspiration).
But this myth has some very serious problems. First of all, Jesus’ life is one of the most well documented in history. Not just by the Bible, but contemporary secular sources as well. Flavius Josephus, the official regional historian in the first century appointed by the Roman Empire, wrote extensively about Jesus – including His supernatural attributes. Rome was antagonistic to early Christians (that antagonism expressed through three centuries of persecution), so there was no benefit in them sanctioning the documentation of the “myth”. Same with the Babylonian Talmud, another contemporary historical document, this one written by orthodox Jews (who shared Rome’s position on Christianity) that confirmed the life of Jesus.
Secondly, if the disciples made up the narrative of Jesus in the Bible to convince people to join a fraudulent religion, they seem to have gone out of their way to make it a tough sell. I mean if you want people to follow a religion, it’s probably not a good idea to tell them it will make their lives more difficult, that it will alienate them from their families, that it will make them hated everywhere they go, and they’ll probably get killed for it.
Also, if you are going to spread a story about a guy improbably rising from the dead, it’s probably best not to say that a woman was the first eyewitness (women were not allowed to be legal witnesses at the time). It’s also pretty convenient that EVERYONE who saw Him post-resurrection happened to be His close followers.
Lastly, if the disciples WERE just con-men looking to make a quick buck off a fake religion, they were REALLY bad at it. None of them became wealthy, and any fame they gained was not what they’d have wanted. The Jewish leadership (and later the Romans) persecuted Christians furiously in the first century and beyond. But all disciples they had to do to avoid imprisonment, torture and death was simply deny Christianity. If they just said “Hey, sorry folks, we made the whole thing up”, they could have lived. Yet all the disciples willingly endured persecution, and all (with the possible exception of John) were gruesomely executed by beheadings, stoning, being boiled in oil, and even crucified upside down! Why would con-men be willing die for something they knew wasn’t true?
The obvious answer is – they wouldn’t.
The sad thing is that the two myths above are actually the most “reasonable” counter arguments against the resurrection. The rest are even more preposterous. We’ll look at one of the more ludicrous theories in the next post, as well as one of the most subtle and insidious ones – a resurrection myth so seemingly innocuous that it is almost universally accepted and endorsed by Christians! Next time…
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July 6, 2014
Having failed to prevent the advent of Jesus as the Redeemer and meeting defeat when he tried physical and spiritual tactics to defeat his enemy, Satan turned to his pet Mystics as a second line of defense against the Great Invasion. But after they were met with utter defeat, Satan and his minions finally turned to the ultimate evil – they sought to kill Jesus.
The narrative of Jesus’ arrest, trials, and execution is a familiar one. First Jesus was betrayed by his disciple Judas -who, despite being an eye witness to three years of the most profound teaching and amazing supernatural feats in history – sold Jesus out for what in today’s money would be the equivalent of an iPad (worst student EVER!). He was then arrested by the temple soldiers, subjected to three illegal Jewish trials, and was finally sentenced by the Roman Governor to a brutal beating and execution by the most torturous method known to man at the time.
All in all it seemed like a very dark time for the good guys, and it appeared that Satan may finally have gotten his long awaited victory.
Yet, as has been the case every time the former light bearer has seemed poised to win, his supposed victory is just the precursor to a devastating defeat.
Even in the narrative of Jesus’ execution, we can already see signs that something’s amiss.
If we do a close examination of the events, it becomes clear that in spite of appearances to the contrary, it’s actually Jesus who is in control of the situation, and He is the one directing everyone’s actions!
Jesus is the one who commands Judas to complete the act of betraying Him! Thus it is Jesus who is in control of when and where He would be arrested.
When the temple soldiers arrived to take Him, Jesus questioned THEM! He made them state their will that they were sent to arrest Him, and when He identified himself, His words made the soldiers fall to the ground! He then commanded them to take Him and leave His disciples alone, and they obeyed!
The Mystics shuffled Jesus around to three different Jewish trials because He kept exposing the fact that they had no valid reason for arresting Him! Jesus forced them to logically defend THEIR rationale for their actions (and there’s nothing brain damaged people hate more than logic and reason).
When the Mystics went to Pilate to try to get Rome to do their dirty work, Jesus let the Governor know who really had the power in that situation.
It’s clear that Jesus was not the helpless victim of Satan’s clever machinations to have him killed.
Moreover, it was Jesus’ mission to be executed for man’s sake. His unjust death wasn’t a cruel surprise, or an unfortunate tragedy. It was the planned end-game that had been strategized by the Trinity from the beginning. Everything that was done to Jesus was according to scripture, down to the exact details of the death process. Among other things,
(There are a bunch more in this post)
Most incredible of all, the Bible gives a detailed description (in first person) of the crucifixion 200 years before crucifixion was even invented by the Persians! (and 500 years before the Romans perfected it). This is more proof that God transcends time and knows the end from the beginning.
But even with all that said, it doesn’t take anything away from the magnitude of the suffering Jesus endured. Crucifixion is possibly the most agonizing form of execution ever invented. In fact, the Latin word for it, “crux”, is the root from which we get the English work “Excruciating”.
The effects of crucifixion on the human body are truly devastating. The nails in the hands and feet irreparably deform the limbs, and the position that the victim is forced into results in catastrophic system wide organ failures. The cardiac stress of the ordeal eventually causes the victim’s heart muscle to rupture!
Thus as He hung on a cross, being mock and ridiculed by the very people He came to redeem, Jesus of Nazareth literally died of a broken heart.
Jesus’ mission on earth had all lead up to this. As I wrote earlier, His death was part of the end game that had been planned from the beginning. It was a major key to fulfilling the Meaning of Life.
But how did Jesus’ death redeem man? How did His death allow us to have eternal life?
It all comes down to justice!
Of all the men who ever (and would ever) live, Jesus was the only man who NEVER deserved to die!
Like Adam, Jesus was born alive (connected to God). But unlike Adam, He never did anything to lose that connection. Jesus never sinned, thus he should never have lost his life – so His death was unjust!
However since God is always and completely right and just, He had to do several things to balance the scales of righteousness and justice.
- Jesus had to be “repaired”. Life is the ability to repair. Jesus’ life was taken unjustly. Justice demanded that His physical life be restored/repaired.
- Jesus had to be resurrected in a form that was no longer subject to physical death. Not only did Jesus not sin, he proved that He would NEVER sin. Satan tempted Him at ALL points and He didn’t succumb, so Satan gave up! Then human Mystics gave it their best shot and failed so miserably that they stated their will that they wouldn’t try anymore! Having overcome the worst that His enemies could throw at Him, Jesus showed that He was beyond external influence to sin and since He only did what God told Him to do, He was beyond internal influence all well. So He justly deserved a body beyond physical death.
- Jesus had to be given everlasting life. Since Jesus proved that He would never deserve death, He technically should live forever. He has infinite (everlasting) life. Since He possesses an infinite amount of “life”, He could grant it to whomever He wanted without ever running out. He could offer all men everlasting life!
And that is what “Salvation” is all about!
God loved man so much that He sacrificed Himself and died in our place so that we could justly have access to the infinite/everlasting life that He currently possesses, and we could choose to be with Him and take part in the Meaning of Life!
This is how God is able to get what He wants despite the fact that we are not born with His nature. If we choose to accept this gift, we are given a new heart. We become reconnected spiritually to God. We become spiritually alive eternally. And like Jesus, when we die physically, we will be resurrected with incorruptible bodies. But unlike Jesus we don’t have to live a perfect life (He did that for us and any vain attempt to do it on our own is religion). All we have to do is choose this gift ourselves. This is salvation.
When Jesus walked out of His tomb, He had all power over death (infinite life) and all power over evil (infinite repair of destruction).
WE choose whether or not to accept the gift of Salvation. WE choose whether we are going to live or die eternally. WE choose between everlasting life and everlasting destruction. WE choose whether we will be Redeemed or perish.
We are going to examine the ramifications of Redemption when we look at the 6th Dispensation, but we will begin our wrap up of the 5th Dispensation with a series on some of the many myths surrounding Jesus’ life and mission- beginning with the resurrection – next time
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May 31, 2014
We’ve been looking at the advent and incarnation of The Redeemer from the perspective of His spiritual enemies. From the point of view of Satan and his minions, Jesus was a hostile force who had come to conquer them and take their territory.
As we’ve seen in previous posts, Mystics are individuals or small groups who claim to have and hold secret/hidden knowledge, and they use this knowledge (or the perception thereof) to rule over people.
Religious Mystics specifically claim (and sometimes actually have) special knowledge and/or power from spiritual entities.
Since their beginning, Mystics have found their way into every society and culture – and God’s nation of Israel wasn’t spared of their contamination. The priests of ancient Israel were often guilty of mixing God’s Law with the surrounding pagan practices – starting with the very first priest of Israel!
As with other Mystics, the Jewish religious leaders began to modify and add to God’s Law. The promoted themselves as the only ones who truly knew, understood (and therefore could interpret) the actual meaning of the Law. Thus, as the true “authority” on the Law, the people should follow them instead of actually learning the Law for themselves.
During Jesus’ time, these Mystics were called “Pharisees” (but Jesus had a more accurate name for them).
After Jesus had been baptized and anointed by God to begin His mission, He charged right into the flank of Satan’s second line of defense by doing something that the Pharisees would consider the most vicious frontal attack possible – Jesus taught people the Bible!
Not only did He teach the Bible, He taught it with authority! Jesus’ first major doctrinal sermon was a detailed lesson that amplified and clarified the Law. He juxtaposed the traditions that the Pharisees had ingrained in the people over the years with the true spirit of the Law. And it was brutal!
Jesus’ teaching amazed people because it stripped away everything that the Pharisees had piled onto God’s word (or took away from it) and reduced back to the original intention of the Law – to prove man’s nature and depravity and his need for a redeemer.
As His popularity grew, Jesus went from being an annoyance to a major threat in the eyes of the Pharisees – a threat that had to be dealt with. Unfortunately, the Pharisees thought they were just dealing with a street preacher from the sticks instead of the Son of God.
Their first tactic was to reinforce their authority by challenging Jesus’ understanding and observance of the Law. But they didn’t realize they were confronting the person who embodied the Law. Again and again Jesus showed His superiority to the self-proclaimed experts.
Since Jesus popularity was due to His knowledge (granted, the miracles didn’t hurt), the Pharisees next tactic was to show that He wasn’t the smarty pants that everyone thought He was. The Pharisees came up with one conundrum after another in an attempt to outwit Jesus, but when you challenge someone who has access to all the knowledge in existence, your chances of victory are pretty low.
Not only did Jesus answer every challenge, He gave them a taste of their own medicine by presenting them with a conundrum so challenging that they completely abandoned any future attacks!
But Jesus didn’t just play defense against the Pharisees, He directly confronted them and their errant teachings personally! Jesus called them out for being the deceptive, destructive hypocrites that they were and publicly admonished them for the damage they were doing in the “name of God”. If anyone believes that God categorically endorses someone just because they stand up and claim to be a “Man of God”, they have never read Matthew 23.
It was obvious that the Mystics could not defeat Jesus. With each successive public humiliation, Jesus’ stature grew and the Pharisees’ diminished. They only had one alternative left to preserve their illegitimate status. They had to commit the ultimate evil – They had to kill Jesus.
Looking at the narrative of Jesus and the Pharisees begs one huge question – if these Mystics were experts on the Old Testament, and the Old Testament contains over 300 prophesies that Jesus continuously fulfilled, then why didn’t the Pharisees recognize who He was?
The Pharisees spent their entire lives studying the scriptures and Jesus was the long awaited fulfillment of the Law. They should have been Jesus’ greatest supporters and most sincere disciples, not His greatest adversaries and erstwhile murderers.
Why did they reject Him?
The conflict is that in the 300+ prophesies of the Redeemer, there is a significant distinction in how Jesus is presented. In some of them, He is depicted as the suffering servant who is depised and rejected by men; the Lamb of God who must die a torturous death for man’s sins.
How are these distinctions reconciled? The descriptions seem to contradict each other, but we know that contradictions don’t exist. Contrastive thinking would lead to the resolution that since there are two distinct descriptions and missions prophesized, then there must be two district advents of the Redeemer! Once as a suffering servant, and another as a conquering King.
When confronted with the two distinct advents of the Redeemer, instead of trying to reconcile them contrastively, the Pharisees decided to ONLY accept the advent they liked and completely ignored the less appealing one! They only embraced and taught the idea of their Messiah as a conquering King!
The result of this brain-damaged thinking was that the Jewish Mystics and the people who followed them were completely blind to the first advent of the Redeemer even though the Bible gave the exact date!
Jesus’ enemies were now ready to enact their final and seemingly most effective strategy to defeat Him – murder. But as has been the case throughout this war, apparent victory for the enemy would lead to great defeat. Next time
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April 10, 2014
We’ve been looking at the advent of the Redeemer from the perspective of His (and our) spiritual enemies. In the last post, we saw that as God revealed more details of how man’s Redeemer would arrive, Satan and his minions focused their war efforts to prevent the invasion. But despite their best efforts, they always met progressive defeat.
Once Jesus was born however, Satan was able to put all of his energy into preventing Christ from completing His redemptive work.
As the time of the Redeemer’s prophesized victory grew closer, Satan worked to lay down a political mine field to keep Him from fulfilling his role as King of the Jews. Since the Babylonian captivity, Israel was occupied by the powerful and demonically energized empires of Persia and Greece. By the time of Jesus’ birth, the most powerful world empire- Rome – held an iron grip on the area. Worse, Israel was a contentious buffer state between Rome and the similarly powerful Parthian empire to the east, filled with disgruntled nationalist Jews. So Christ’s potential kingdom was a backwater political albatross stuck between two hostile super powers.
It was during this low point in national history that God decided to give the Virgin Mary the good news that she’d been chosen to carry the savior of the world (who would be considered a bastard since she got pregnant before she was married).
Now the honorable thing for Satan to do would be to wait until the kid grew into an adult and then take Him on man to man (or Man to Devil). But while Satan can be accused of many things, “honorable and fair” are not on the list. To him, even an infant is fair game.
At the time of Jesus’ birth, the Roman Caesar got the bright idea to have everyone in the empire travel to their home town for a census. By the time a very pregnant Mary and her betrothed, Joseph arrived in Bethlehem; there was no place for them to stay other than a local stable. Thus the Savior of the world; the Redeemer of man; God in flesh, was born in an animal feeding trough in a barn filled with said fragrant animals.
But as I wrote previously, from the perspective of Satan, the ubiquitous manger scene of Christmas card fodder was nothing less than D-Day; a hostile invasion of his territory by an enemy force. Jesus come to size Satan’s kingdom, and was taking the fight directly to him on his turf.
Satan’s first counter-offensive was to have the local rulership command that all the newly born males in the area be killed. But that tactic failed – just like the last time he tried it. But remember, Satan is incapable of original ideas. All he can do is trot out the same stuff he’s tried before and hope to still get mileage out of it (kind of like a Hollywood movie producer).
Seeing that direct physical force wasn’t an effective way to stop his enemy (Hey, it only took him 3000 years to figure that out. Progress!) Satan move on to his next favorite strategies, manipulation and compromise.
After Jesus reached adulthood and was officially anointed by God to begin his redemptive mission, Satan finally came in for a face to face confrontation with his foe (of course he waited until Jesus was physically and mentally compromised due to starvation because, well, Satan’s an a-hole).
Satan started by appealing to the physical desire by tempting Jesus to sate His extreme hunger supernaturally. But as a man, Jesus ONLY did what God told Him to do, and God did NOT tell Him to turn stones into bread. If Jesus had obeyed Satan, He would have made that decision on His own – as a man – to satisfy His physical desires. He would have made the same mistake as Eve!
Jesus 1, Satan 0
Satan then attacked man’s other major weakness – Pride. Satan challenged Jesus to prove His divinity and position with God.
[Begin dramatic license]
Satan – Oh, so you’re pious huh? Not going to feed yourself because “God’s word didn’t tell you to”? Is that why you claim to be the “Son of God”? Well the Bible also says that if you throw yourself off this building, Angels will rescue you. So go ahead, show me you’re the Son of God!”
Jesus – Seriously? You’re actually going to misquote my own words to me? Try this one – “you are not allowed to test your creator!”
Satan – Grrrrrrr!
[End dramatic license]
Jesus 2, Satan 0
Finally, Satan brings out his most effective weapon against man – Compromise. Satan showed Jesus all the kingdoms of the world and told Him that he would bequeath them all if Jesus would give him worship.
Jesus came to earth to conquer Satan and take his kingdom by force (and as we’ll see in an upcoming post, it is a brutal and costly battle). But Satan offered a short cut – no fight, no suffering, no blood, no torturous death on a cross. Just make a simple pledge of fidelity, and the world is yours.
It was a stunningly attractive temptation. One accepted in various forms by otherwise strong and principled men. But not by this one. Jesus chose God’s way over man’s. He did what the first man could not, and thus proved Himself worthy and eligible to redeem Adam’s sin.
Jesus 3, Satan 0. Game over.
Satan lost a major battle, but the war was far from over. Satan took his best shot and came up short. It was time to call in reinforcements. If Satan couldn’t break Jesus, then maybe He could be broken by the people He came to save.
In the next post, Jesus faces the second front in Satan’s army – the mystics!
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February 10, 2014
The Advent and Incarnation of Jesus is the most important event that has occurred thus far in human history. Now that we have established his mission and identity, it’s time to examine the events of His actual time on earth.
The birth and life of Jesus is among the most well-known and celebrated biographies known. However we’re going to look at that life from a different perspective: that of his enemies.
When Adam failed in the First Dispensation, he not only lost his spiritual connection to God, he also lost his kingdom (and man has been trying in vain to reclaim it without God ever since). From man’s perspective, the coming of Christ is an amazing story of love, sacrifice, and triumph as Jesus fulfilled His mission to redeem man and reclaim the kingdom.
But to Satan and his minions – who usurped possession of the earth from Adam – the advent of the Redeemer was a military offensive!
Last year, we saw that the war between those who support God’s plan and those who oppose it represents the seed plot of all history. God promised that the coming Redeemer would herald the end of Satan’s dominion on earth and the ultimate destruction of his followers.
Of course that idea wasn’t terribly attractive to the bad guys, so they set about to prevent the Redeemer’s coming by every means at their disposal.
It’s interesting to take a journey through the Bible and watch how the spiritual war progressed. As God revealed more details about how the Redeemer would come, Satanic attack became more focused and intensified through the dispensations.
When God said that the “Seed of a woman” would be his undoing, Satan knew that the Redeemer would be a man (an offspring of Eve). When he got the first male born to Eve to kill the second (and get cursed by God), Satan seemed to be doing pretty well in the war…
Except Eve kept having children. Who in turn had children of their own, ad nauseam. Offing them one by one would be too inefficient, so the satanic minions came up with a better idea – corrupt the entire gene pool so there would be no “pure” men left. And they were amazingly successful! After over 1500 years of interbreeding, the Bible strongly implies that all the families of the earth were corrupted…
Except one. Of course the head of that family was a man named Noah, who built a big ol’ boat to preserve his family when God literally flushed Satan’s plans down the drain.
A couple generations later, God revealed that the Redeemer would be a descendant of a man named Abraham; specifically the 12 sons of his grandson Jacob. Once Jacob’s family was securely entrenched in Egypt, Satan and his local minions set about wiping them out. He influenced a new Pharaoh to enslave them for 400 years, then another Pharaoh had all their new born male children slaughtered…
Except one. That one child turned out to be Moses who was adopted as that Pharaoh’s daughter and lived right under his nose for 40 years. He then freed his fellow Jews from Egypt and brought them to the land God promised them during Abraham’s time.
But since Satan knew about the land promise of Israel, he had over 400 years to lay down land mines. He infested the land with Nephalim (a la the 2nd Dispensation). All the Israelites were afraid to enter the land and rejected God’s promises…
Except two. God promoted the two faithful guys into leadership, let the unfaithful generation die off, and their children took over the land and drove out the Nephalim.
When God let it be known that the Redeemer would be of the royal line of King David, Satan targeted his descendants. And again, he was largely successful. Of all the subsequent kings of Israel, only two of them – Hezekiah and Josiah earned God’s favor.
But the worst of the bunch was the last sovereign king of Israel, Jechoniah (AKA Coniah), who was so bad that God pronounced a “blood curse” on him saying that none of his blood descendants would ever be king.
This posed a serious problem. One of Jesus’ qualifications was that He be King of the Jews and a descendant of David. How could He be both if the royal line was cursed? At this point, Satan probably figured that he finally had his victory…
Except God took advantage of a technicality. A look at the genealogy of Jesus in the book of Luke shows that Mary was a descendant of David – but through his second son Nathan who was NOT a part of the royal line. The genealogy in the book of Matthew shows that Joseph, Jesus’ LEGAL father WAS a royal descendant of David (including the cursed Jeconiah).
Thus Jesus was legally of the royal line through Joseph and could make a claim to the throne, but He wasn’t subject to the curse because of his birth mother’s lineage.
I’m firmly convinced that God has a derisive sense of humor, and you can see traces of it in the way He has (and continues to) counter Satan’s machinations. Every time Satan seems close to achieving his goal, God snatches victory from the jaws of seeming defeat much the same way way Lucy always pulls the football away from Charlie Brown
Satan’s failure to stop the advent of the Redeemer didn’t end with the birth of Jesus. In fact, his war efforts escalated since he had a single person to focus on. In the next post, we will look at the life of Jesus from the perspective of the Great Invasion.
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December 20, 2013
The meaning of life is to spend eternity with God. In order to be with God, you have to be like God – you have to have God’s nature. The problem of course is that man is NOT like God. So how do we address than inequality?
Well, there are basically two ways to bridge this gap – either man can become more like God, or God can become more like man.
The possibility for us to “step up” into godhood is technically possible because man has free will and can choose to act outside of his nature by choosing to be always and completely right and just. God actually gives man that chance through the Dispensations. However, as we’ve seen so far, each dispensation has ended in failure as man has consistently chosen his own way over God’s way.
Moreover, Adam stacked the deck against man in the subsequent dispensations when he committed Original Sin in the First Dispensation. He died spiritually (severed his connection to God, the source of life), and all of his descendants (us) are born spiritually dead. Its hard enough to choose to be always and completely right and just when its not your nature, but its nigh impossible when you are also born without a connection to the source of right and just.
The other way to bridge the gap would be for God to “step down” to manhood. This solution is far less appealing to the practitioner than the first. After all, to go from being a man to being God is a net gain. However, for God to become a man involves an incredible amount of loss.
But that has been part of God’s plan from the beginning! God knew that that the only way to get what He desired was for Him to become a man and do for us that which we could not do for ourselves (live an entire mortal life always and completely right and just), and then offer that life to man as a gift. This was the mission of Jesus – the Redeemer.
As mentioned previously, in order to accomplish this task, Jesus would have to be both God and a man. But how could He be fully God AND fully man at the same time?
Some say that Jesus was both God and man because the virgin Mary (a human) was his mother, and God was his father. But technically, that would only make him half-man and half-God.
Other say that Jesus was born a regular man, but grew into Godhood by doing certain qualifying things (in fact, certain religions believe that is the way Godhood is achieved from the beginning, along with…other interesting stuff). But this would mean that man can become God on his own, and the Dispensations show that is not true.
The reason that people have a difficult time with this concept is because they do not have or embrace an objective, non-contradictory definition of both “God” and “man”. Fortunately we addressed this in the early days of the blog. Both God and man are spirit. Spirit is composed of principles that define one’s nature. So in order for Jesus to be God and man, He’d have to have a nature that is always and completely right and just, AND have free will. But the only way this would be possible is if He used his free will to ONLY choose to be always and completely right and just.
Here’s how it worked: the Second Person of the Trinity – The Son – was incarnated in the womb of Mary in a physical form that was a direct creation of God (like Adam). Since his physical body was a direct creation of God, as opposed to being a blood descendant of Adam (like us), Jesus was born with a connection to God (alive). And being God Himself, His nature was always and completely right and just.
Ok, so that takes care of the “God” part, but what about the “man” part? As a physical man, He had free will, which means He technically had the ability to choose to act outside of His nature.
That presents us with an incredible conundrum. If He act outside of His nature (always and completely right and just), He can’t be God. But since contradictions don’t exist, He cant be God AND not be God.
So how did Jesus resolve this? He did the only thing a person who is always and completely right and just would do with His free will choice – He chose to COMPLETELY give His will over to God (The Father)!
Jesus reversed Adam’s choice! Recognizing that He was now in a (temporarily) lower state of existence, He chose to defer completely to a superior being. For every decision in His life, for every moment in His life, He totally submitted Himself to God.
When you heard Him, you heard God, when you saw Him, you saw God. Because when you saw and heard Him, you saw and heard God’s nature and all the effects thereof – love, joy, peace, perseverance, gentleness, patience, humility, holiness, etc.
So was Jesus capable of sin? Well, He had arms and legs so He was technically able to grab a rock and bash somebody’s head in. But He wouldn’t ever do that. Why? Because He ONLY did what God told Him to do and God would (and could) never tell Him to do anything unrighteous or unjust!
An admittedly crude analogy would be that of a video game. In most contemporary video games (which I’m frankly not very good at), you interact with the game through a digital character, or “in-game personality” (as gamers call them) that you control.
This character is essentially your avatar in the game environment . The people who programed the game made it so that the character is capable of going anywhere and doing anything that the rules of the software allow. However, since you are in control, the character can only do what you command. Its “will” has been completely surrendered to you. It is your representative in the game environment. It expresses your nature. In a sense, its “you”.
As someone who only did what God commanded, Jesus was in a similar situation. So when He told people that He was one with God, and that seeing Him was the same as seeing God, is was being truthful in every practical sense.
As a being who was fully and and fully God, Jesus was able to bridge the gap between Gad and men. Through Jesus, man would gain the opportunity to receive the gift of life, the ability t to become like God, and spend eternity with God.
The physical advent of Jesus on earth conjures images of a gentle nativity scene, humble shepherds, rejoicing angels, and reverential wise men. But in the spirit word of Satan and his minions, it was quite a different story. In the spiritual battle for the souls of men and possession of the earth that began in Eden, the advent of Jesus was a military invasion by a hostile force! The nativity was not an idyllic barnyard motif, it was a beachhead established by the enemy they knew had come to defeat them and reclaim the earthly kingdom for God and man.
In the next post, we will begin to look at the advent of Jesus as the Great Invasion of Satan’s kingdom by exploring the spiritual battles that took place in man’s history as Satan and his forces attempted to thwart God’s plan and prevent the coming of the Redeemer.
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November 19, 2013
When I was a kid, I was in the car with my dad when I saw a billboard on the side of a building with the picture of a guy with a plastic looking hairdo and a vacant stare that read “Jesus the Christ is Here!” (followed by a phone number and an address in Florida).
I turned to my father and yelled, “Look dad! Jesus has returned, and He looks just like our plumber!” He looked over at me, shook his head and sighed (a frequent occurrence during my childhood).
Of course Jose-Luis de Jesus Miranda isn’t the Redeemer (I’m not even sure he’s real). Yet he is not alone in claiming to be the Christ. Many characters throughout history have made messianic claims. And although most of them are easily dismissed, some have been taken seriously enough to have gained significant and devoted followings (as the Bible predicted). So it would seem that we have an identity crisis. Or rather, an identity Christ-sis (see what I did there?)
In the last post, I ended my review of the Redeemer’s mission and attributes with the conclusion that Jesus of Nazareth was the Redeemer. This is of course the belief of mainstream Christianity as well. But the fact alone that this belief is shared by a majority does not make it true.
As with any other supposition, it has to pass the test of contrastive thinking. Only by proving that no one else could be the Redeemer can we know conclusively that Jesus is Him. How do we do this? By again taking the specific Biblical predictions (prophesies) about the Redeemer and seeing if they match anyone else in history.
There are over 300 specific prophesies written about the Redeemer before His advent. But how likely is it that these events and attributes could have also been fulfilled by someone else? Let’s play the odds with a few of them and see. And just to keep things as contrastive as possible, I’m going to give myself some handicaps with the figures below.
*BEGIN MATH ALERT*
Let’s assume that in the history of the planet, there have been 100 billion people who have lived and died (that is a VERY generous estimate, but as I said, I’m intentionally giving myself handicaps). What are the odds that one of them (other than Jesus) could have fulfilled only nine of the prophesies of the Redeemer?
The Bible says that the Redeemer would be born in Bethlehem (Prophesied in Micah 5:2, fulfilled by Jesus in Luke 2:4-5, 7). Bethlehem is a tiny city that has historically had a population well below 5,000. But let’s double that for our handicap to 10,000. What are the chances that a random person in history would have been born in Bethlehem? We’ll take our total population of 100 billion and divide by the historic Bethlehem population of 10,000, and we get 100,000 (one hundred thousand). So for our purposes, these is a 1 in 100,000 chance of someone being born in Bethlehem (this means that if we selected 100,000 people at random from everyone who has ever lived, one of them would have been born in Bethlehem.) So far so good? (Probably not but I’ll be more casual with my estimates from now on).
The Redeemer was born of a virgin (Prophesized in Isaiah 7:14 Fulfilled by Jesus in Luke 1:26-27, 30-31). How many people in history experienced a virgin birth? I’d estimate zero, but let’s be kind and say 1 person in every million (1,000,000) was born of a virgin.
The Redeemer will receive gifts from Arabian kings – (Prophesied in Psalms 72:10, fulfilled by Jesus in Matthew 2: 1-11). Let’s say 1 in 1000 people have been given gifts from Arabian royalty at their birth (Middle-Eastern hospitality and all).
He was rejected by the people who had been waiting for him for almost a thousand years – (Prophesized in Isaiah 53:3 Fulfilled by Jesus in John 1:11, Luke 23:14-18). Happens all the time, right? 1 in 10,000 chance.
He was betrayed by a friend for 30 pieces of silver (Prophesied in Psalms 55:12-13, Zechariah 11:12, fulfilled by Jesus in Matthew 26:14-15, 49-50). Who hasn’t had a friend like that? 1 in 10,000 chance.
He would be resurrected from the dead (Prophesied in Psalms 16:10, Psalms 30:3, Isaiah 26:19, fulfilled by Jesus in Mark 16:6-7). Not counting zombies, let’s say 1 in 100,000 people have come back from the dead.
Now remember, the Redeemer had to fulfill all of these prophesies, so we need the composite odds. We get that by adding up all the zeros (40) which gets us to 1040 (1 with 40 zeroes after it). Divided by our total historical population of 100 billion people (1011), gets us 1029
So the odds of any one in history other than Jesus fulfilling these nine prophesies is one chance in 1029. That’s a REALLY big number (here’s what it looks like – 100,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000).
How big is that?
Well, if the universe is 15 billion years old (and I’m not going to debate that right now), and we break that down into seconds, the universe is only 1017 seconds old!
If someone other than Jesus tried to randomly fulfill just nine of the 300 prophesies of the Redeemer once every second for the entire history of the universe (and then 1012 more seconds after that) they’d fail!
But wait, it gets worse! Let’s say we triple the prophesies to get the odds of someone other than Jesus fulfilling just 27of the prophesies (and lets also assume no decreases in likelihoods as an additional handicap), we’d have 1040 x 1040 x 1040 = 10120. Divide by our population of 1011, and we get 1 chance in 10109!
Now we have a bit of problem. This is a number so big, it’s virtually incomprehensible. How big a number is it?
Well, scientists estimate that in the entire universe, there are “only” 1082 atoms! So there is neither enough time in the universe nor enough matter in the universe to give anyone other than Jesus any chance to fulfill just 27 of the 300 prophesies of the Redeemer!
*END OF MATH ALERT. YOU MAY RETURN TO YOUR SEATS.
Math tricks aside, you can prove the historic identity of the Redeemer by looking at one spectacular and exacting prophesy found in the book of Daniel which gives the exact day that the Redeemer would present himself to Israel! :
“ Seventy weeks [of years]* are determined for your people and for your holy city, to finish the transgression, to make an end of sins, to make reconciliation for iniquity, to bring in everlasting righteousness, to seal up vision and prophecy, and to anoint the Most Holy.
Know therefore and understand, that from the going forth of the command
To restore and build Jerusalem until Messiah the Prince, there shall be seven weeks [of years] and sixty-two weeks [of years]…” – Daniel 9:24-25
According to this passage, when the order to rebuild Jerusalem was given (it had been destroyed by the Babylonians after Israel screwed up one too many times), the Messiah (Redeemer) would present Himself exactly 69 weeks of years [483 years** or 173,880 days] later.
It just so happens that the order to rebuild Jerusalem is a matter of historic record. On the 14th of Nisan [March/April of our current calendar] of the year 445 B.C. the Persian King Artaxerxes, commissioned the rebuilding of Jerusalem (Nehemiah 2:1-8). 173,880 days later is the 6th of Nisan, 32 A.D. This was the only day that the Messiah of Israel could present himself!
Jesus of Nazareth is the only one that was, is, or could be the Messiah of Israel and the Redeemer of humanity!
There is one final and very controversial aspect about Jesus that we will address in this series. If He was both mortal and divine, how come someone be fully man AND fully God?
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*Ancient Jews divided their years into groups of 7 (called a week of years) the same way we divide years into groups of 10, called decades.
**Jews used a 360 day calendar
November 9, 2013
From very early on in this blog (back when I actually had time to publish a post once a week (because I hadn’t yet gotten married or achieved an upper-management position, or adopted an overactive dog), I began to introduce and drop cryptic hints about “The Redeemer”. This Redeemer would bridge the gap between God’s nature and our own, allowing us to attain the meaning of life through God’s plan.
Of course its rather obvious to the sophisticated reader Who I’m speaking of when I use the term “Redeemer”. So why have I talked around His identity for so long? Because the purpose of this blog isn’t to “tell”, its purpose is to “prove” – and to provide that proof in a logical and systematic manner. I didn’t want to focus who and what He is, until the revelation of His identity and appearance fit the timeline of the dispensations.
With that in mind, it’s now time to focus on who the Redeemer is, by first focusing in on why He’s needed, what He needs to accomplish, and what He needs to do to accomplish it. This post will be a bit of a review and summary of much of what we have already examined.
God wants us to spend eternity with Him. In order to do that, we need to be like him. But we are not like him. However we can choose Him since we have free will. God set up the Dispensations as a contrastive way to allow man the opportunity to choose Him on our own.
In the First Dispensation, God created the first man and woman with an intimate spiritual connection to Him and gave them complete dominion over the earth. But the first man chose himself over God and broke his (and our) innate connection with Him. That was a pretty severe and high impact mistake. It cost Adam his kingdom. But the bigger consequence was death.
That broken connection with God resulted in man losing the ability to repair, which is life. Physical life is in the blood. And spiritual life is in our thoughts. When Adam sinned, he died spiritually, and his physical body lost the ability to repair and started to degrade. Furthermore, all Adam’s off spring are born dead (without that connection to life).
But since spending eternity with dead people probably isn’t a terribly attractive proposition to God, it would seem that Adam’s actions put God’s desire in jeopardy.
The problem is, death is a pretty permanent state. Its kind of hard to get over. But what if there was a way to reverse the curse? What if there was a way to undo what Adam did? How would this work?
What if we had a substitute who was willing to re-take the test Adam failed? What if He, like Adam, was born with perfect blood and a perfect though process (since He would be intimately connected to God)? He could fulfill the role that Adam could not. What if He was then willing to switch places with Adam and pay the penalty for his sin? What if He gave us the opportunity to choose to become His spiritual offspring and inherit His life instead of Adams death?
This person would literally redeem Adam – and us. The good news; the GREAT news; the GREATEST news ever – is that God anticipated, ordained and promised the advent of this Redeemer! The Bible speaks volumes (literally) about Him – much of it centuries before His advent so that His coming could be understood and anticipated. Here are some of His necessary attributes that are detailed in the Bible:
He had to be God. – Had to have the nature of God, to be always and completely right and just. Thus He’d have a perfect thought process.
Had to be experience death unjustly – as opposed to Adam who deserved it
Had to be resurrected – given new life that we could access
That’s a pretty lofty set of criteria to fill. But wait, its gets worse! The Bible also predicts the things that would happen to him by living (and dying) in a world of evil men who would be antagonistic towards Him because His nature was so different from theirs, and by spiritual forces who would hate Him because He is the embodiment of what they rebelled against and His ultimate goal is to usurp their kingdom and punish them for their deeds.
Because of this, He would:
Be considered a bastard (due to the virgin birth, not because He was an a-hole)
Good grief! Why would anyone endure all this to redeem a bunch of people who are naturally antagonistic to Him. Because He loves us! Because He wants us to spend eternity with Him! He literally considers the prospect of eternity with us as His bride a joy worth enduring a wretched life and a torturous death!
This takes a great Man and great love. A spousal Love beyond understanding. The Redeemer considers His sacrifice a joy, and I get annoyed if my wife asks me to go across the room to get her a glass of water (in my defense, she always asks during the really good part of a TV show).
So who would and could possibly do all his? Who is the redeemer? Well obviously, the Redeemer is God! Specifically the member of God’s tri-unity known as The Son. The Son manifested Himself on earth as the man called Jesus of Nazareth.
But as I wrote earlier, this blog doesn’t just tell, it proves. In the next post we will look at some more of the specific things the Bible says about the Redeemer BEFORE His advent that not only prove beyond a reasonable doubt that Jesus of Nazareth was the Redeemer, but that the Redeemer COULDN’T have been anyone else! Next time.
October 25, 2013
We’ve been looking at some of the myths about the Law and the 5th Dispensation. In this final post on the subject we’ll discuss a set of myths that are both pervasive and controversial – the idea that God’s Law is meant to make us feel bad about stuff that makes us feel good.
The myth is that God is a cosmic kill joy who gets perverse pleasure out of telling us “Thou shall not…” And the perception is that all the stuff God doesn’t want us to do are things we find enjoyable. It’s almost like He set us up to fail by telling us not to do things we are naturally inclined to do. But is this true?
We’ve seen over the last two posts that the rules of the Law are not meant to be repressive or religious. But they actually have positive intentions – namely helping prepare the world for the advent of the Redeemer.
So where does this myth come from? Frankly, much of it is self-serving. Because of our nature and our tendency toward pride, we tend to desire things that are evil. Evil leads to destruction. God is not being repressive; He’s trying to protect us from destruction by identifying our evil tendencies and steering us away from them.
The myth is also acerbated by religion. Mystics heap up additional religious laws on men in order to stifle uniqueness and retain their power. But these superfluous rules aren’t from God. Worse, since people ascribe them to God (because they believe the mystics who claim to speak for Him), they begin to believe that in order to follow God they have to be in constant compliance with innumerable arbitrary rules.
Sometimes well intentioned non-mystics are guilty of this too. Ever hear your grandmother say things like “cleanliness is next to Godliness”, or “God helps those who help themselves”, or “an idle mind is the devils workshop”? Being tidy, self-reliant, and focused are nice attributes, but these rules didn’t come from God, and ascribing His name to them doesn’t make them Biblical.
But let’s focus on the area that has been the biggest source of the “God is a big ol’ prude” myth – Sexuality. The myth is, that generally speaking, God doesn’t like it when we have sex. It’s a low, dirty desire that we mammals are cursed with and He’d just as soon we not even speak of it. It should only be done for the express purpose of procreation. And even then, it should only be done in a locked room.
In the dark.
Completed as quickly and quietly as possibly.
And we should bath ourselves in bleach afterwards.
Honestly, the source of this myth is rooted in the very detailed sexual morality rules of the Law. Its clear that God only approves of sex in the marital relationship. BUT within the confines of marriage, sex is encouraged.
Sadly, well-intentioned (and some not so well-intentioned) people made the myth that “God hates sex” even more pervasive by going overboard in enforcing sexual morality and vilifying the sex act in any form.
So if this is a myth, how does God really feel about sex? I would contend that God thinks sex is pretty damn awesome! Why? Well, first of all he created it! He created it to feel good to us! And He created us to desire it!
After God created the first man and woman, He told them to “be fruitful and multiply”. He commanded them to have sex! He basically said “Adam, here’s your wife. Eve, here’s your husband. Now go get some!”
Moreover, the fact that the Song of Songs in even in the Bible proves that God delights in the joy of our sexuality. The entire book is about a bride and groom who physically desire one another and delight in sex. Here’s a snippet of the grooms description of his bride’s body.
How beautiful are your feet in sandals,
O prince’s daughter!
The curves of your thighs are like jewels,
The work of the hands of a skillful workman.
Your navel is a rounded goblet;
It lacks no blended beverage.
Your waist is a heap of wheat
Set about with lilies. Songs of songs 7: 1-2
To get the full impact of this passage, it’s worth mentioning here that the word “navel” is mistranslated due to the desire of the translators to be polite. Notice that he’s working his way UP her body in the description. There is an, ahem, “opening” on the female body between the thighs and the waist. . . but it ain’t her navel. I’ll just leave it at that.
But if God thinks sex is so awesome, why are we only allowed to do it with the person we’re married to, and them alone? That’s actually not a valid question. God doesn’t see sex and marriage separately. The “marriage ceremony” we do today is a man-made tradition. To God, sex isn’t something you do with the person you’re married to. The sex act is what makes you married!
Technically there is no such thing as “sex before marriage” because sex IS marriage. The act of sex is the consummation of the marriage covenant. So technically, in God’s eyes, you married the first person you had sex with (I’ll give you a moment to recover from the horror). And you are committing adultery with any person you have sex with subsequently. So you see why God wants us to take sex seriously?
God is strict about sex because of the tremendous value he places on marriage and what it symbolizes. The joy and ecstasy of sex is God’s earthly representation of what Heaven is going to be like! Kind of makes you anxious to get there, doesn’t it?
And as mentioned above, the rules of the Law are God’s way of protecting us from ourselves. Again our tendency is toward evil so we have strong desires to be sexually immoral. But the consequences of that immorality is destructive.
Promiscuity, infidelity, and adultery are emotionally devastating. They break hearts, break up families, and ruin childhoods. Sexual immorality can also lead to physical damage (disease) and physical dependency – the neurochemicals released during sex are identical to the ones released when addictive drugs are. God intended this function to bond you physically and emotionally to your spouse. But illicit sex leaves you empty and constantly in search of your next “fix”, be it at the local bar or in front of a computer screen.
Lastly, let’s tackle the big controversy (at least in the eyes of contemporary society) – homosexuality. I’m not going to sugarcoat the subject, because God doesn’t. God calls it an abomination. It’s listed as one of the effects of intentionally disregarding God and our inherent knowledge of Him. Is this because God “hates” homosexuals as some zealots proclaim?
No, it goes back to how important marriage is to God, and how He defines it. God defines marriage as the sexual covenant between a man and a woman. Period. And He considers anyone or anything that intentionally perverts that definition an affront to Him. I know that’s not politically correct, but I kind of doubt God is terribly concerned about popular opinion. The question is, should God conform to the whims of His creation, or should His creation conform to Him?
I won’t argue with someone who says they were born with a desire for someone of the same sex, any more than I would argue with someone who says they were born with a bad temper, or a predisposition to substance abuse, or even a desire for heterosexual promiscuity. The issue is not the desire. It’s what you choose to do with that desire. We are creatures with free will – AND the responsibility that goes along with it.
The bottom line is that homosexuality is a sin in God’s eyes – like every other sin we all commit. It has the same source, the same consequences, and the same remedy. Presenting it as anything more or less than that is misrepresenting God.
Now that we’ve addressed some of the major myths of the Law, it’s time to focus on the major outcome of the Law – the advent of the Redeemer. Considering the extraordinary and eternal impact of the event, it’s safe to say that the Redemption of man is the most important even in our history. Understandably, this advent is the most well described event in the bible. In fact, much of this description was detailed hundreds of years before He even arrived! We’ll begin to explore all this next time.
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