May 29, 2011

Touched by an Angel

Posted in The Dispensations tagged , , , , , at 12:30 PM by E. M.

fallen angels

THIS IS HOW IT BEGAN

The Second Dispensation failed because the people of that time justified themselves over God by choosing to rely on their own knowledge instead of God.  They did not have faith, so they did not believe in God.

God ended the dispensation by sending the Great Flood which destroyed all the people and land animals of that time except for Noah’s family and a representative sample of earth’s animal life.

At first glance, this seems just a teensy bit extreme.  When the First Dispensation failed, Adam and Eve got an eviction notice, but they were allowed to live out their lives.  Why did the people of the second dispensation have to be exterminated?  And what was it about Noah and his family that made them exempt?

The answers to this dilemma involve one of the strangest and most controversial narratives in the Bible.

To be honest, this isn’t a subject that I wanted to get into right now.  Not because of the controversy, but because the explanation necessarily touches on certain subjects that have not yet been fully defined and that I hadn’t planned on introducing for a while, and one of the goals of  this blog is to do a systematic examination of new subject matter.

However, if I just moved on to the Third Dispensation without giving a reasonable explanation for what, on the surface, looks like (and to a certain degree was) genocide,  I would be doing a disservice to the readers as well as the spirit of this blog. So here we go.

The first 8 verses of Genesis chapter 6 give the reasons for the liquidation (pun intended) of the “human race” in the second dispensation (the quotes I put around the words “human race” will make sense in a bit).

1 And it came to pass, when men began to multiply on the face of the ground, and daughters were born unto them,

 2 that the sons of God saw the daughters of men that they were fair; and they took them wives of all that they chose.

 3 And Jehovah said, My spirit shall not strive with man for ever, for that he also is flesh: yet shall his days be a hundred and twenty years.

 4 The Nephilim were in the earth in those days, and also after that, when the sons of God came unto the daughters of men, and they bare children to them: the same were the mighty men that were of old, the men of renown.

 5 And Jehovah saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually.

 6 And it repented Jehovah that he had made man on the earth, and it grieved him at his heart.

 7 And Jehovah said, I will destroy man whom I have created from the face of the ground; both man, and beast, and creeping things, and birds of the heavens; for it repenteth me that I have made them.

 8 But Noah found favor in the eyes of Jehovah. – Genesis 6:1-8 (ASV)

Because the passage is short relative to its impact, and because the language is not terribly obvious at first glance, people tend not to pay much critical attention to what’s going on here in a casual read.  But the events are significant. The key that unlocks this passage is the definition of the “sons of God”.

Although it’s quite common to hear the self-affirming (or self-apologetic) bromide that “we are all God’s children”, that phrase is just a euphemism without any Biblical backing.  Nowhere in the Bible does God refer to the sundry whole of humanity as “His children”.

Lest we think this means that God has more unwanted children than Shawn Kemp, it’s important to note that, Biblically speaking, the only beings that can be accurately considered children or “sons” of God are those who are either direct creations of God, or those whom He has made His legal heirs.

In the first category are Adam and the angelic beings.  In the second category are Jesus, Covenant Israelites, and Christians.  (No one is “born” a child of God; however we can become children of God via adoption in the Sixth Dispensation).

So which of the above are the “sons of God” of Genesis 6?

They can’t be Christians or Jews, because they didn’t exist yet.  It isn’t Adam because “sons” is plural. And it can’t be Jesus because Dan Brown didn’t write the Bible.  That leaves Angels.

Aside from the process of elimination, there are Biblical references to the idea that angelic beings with dubious intentions left Heaven and committed acts of evil on earth in Jude 6-7, and 2 Peter 2:4-5 (which relates these events directly to the Flood.)

Another proof point is the existence of the beings referred to as “the Nephilim” in verse 4, which were the results of the union between the sons of God and human women. “Nephilim” means “the fallen ones”.  Whatever they were, they were something beyond normal humanity.

It admittedly sounds similar to many other ancient myths.  But I think that actually serves as another proof point.  Just about every ancient culture – Egyptian, Greek, Roman, Sumerian, Asian, Native American, etc. have in their mythology stories of how “gods” came down and had sex with human women who then birthed demi-gods.  Genesis 6:4 literally references the fact that the Nephilim were the objects of human legends!

As I said, this view is very controversial and it makes people uncomfortable.  So much so that many good scholars try to come up with various alternatives to who the sons of God were in order to try to make Genesis 6 more palatable.  Some say that the “sons of God” were Holy men who remained faithful to God during the second dispensation, or some type of God-ordained royalty or leaders.  They then contrast them with the “daughters of men” who were evil.

There are many problems with those views, not the least of which is the fact that they force you to read evidence into the text that isn’t there.  Furthermore, why would the idea of believers and non believers having children justify genocide? And if these guys were so holy, why did they mess around with the evil women in the first place?  (Were the holy women really ugly?) And if the sons of God were regular men, why would they have these strange offspring called Nephilim?

No, the only non-contradictory way to interpret this passage is the literal one.  Certain angelic beings (fallen angels obviously) took on human form (which they show the ability to do throughout the Bible), and had sexual relations with human women which resulted in the births of hybrids – the Nephalim.

Does that sound weird?  Hell yes!  But to use one of my least favorite modern clichés, “it is what it is”.  It’s what the Bible says happened.

Those who object to this view are quick to point out that Jesus Himself said that Angels do not marry nor are they given in marriage.  But it should be understood that the context of the verse is speaking of behavior, not ability.  Jesus gave that answer to a question about how people will relate to each other in Heaven.  He used how Angeles in Heaven relate to each other as an example to illustrate his answer. The question itself had nothing to do with the “biology” of Angels.

But even if we accept the idea that fallen angles used the earth as a pick-up bar in the second dispensation, we still need to know why they did it.

The main motivation of fallen angles (and the leader Satan) is to thwart the plan of God, and rule over creation. (The reason behind this constitutes the stuff I mentioned at the beginning of the post that I plan to examine in the future).

The redemption of man is a key part of Gods plan, and as we’ve seen, redemption requires the sacrifice of an innocent man to correct Adam’s mistake and pay the penalty of Original Sin.  The redeemer has to be born a human being like Adam.

What’s a good way to insure that no future human being born will be the redeemer, and that the inhabitants of the earth will be compliant to the rulership of fallen angels?

How about polluting the entire gene-pool of the planet with human/fallen angel hybrids?

It sounds crazy (really crazy), but it almost worked.  Genesis 6:9 points out that Noah was “perfect in his generation” – had an unaltered or unblemished lineage.  It’s strongly implied that after hundreds of years of interbreeding, Noah and his family were possibly among the few, if not the only “pure” humans left on the earth.

If this is true, it makes God’s decision to exterminate that population while preserving Noah and his family much more understandable.

So far, two dispensations have failed.  In the First Dispensation, innocence did not lead to man choosing God.  In the Second Dispensation, an abundance of knowledge and experience gained through extremely long lives did not lead to man choosing God. What if man’s lifespan was significantly reduced?  Would their impending mortality and increased sense of urgency lead men to seek God to help them answer “What’s the point”?  That’s the situation that is addressed in the Third Dispensation.

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May 5, 2011

Faith part 5: You Gotta Believe

Posted in Faith tagged , , , , , , at 10:01 PM by E. M.

UNBELIEF MAKES THINGS MORE COMPLICATED

The Second dispensation failed because the people of that era decided to only rely on the knowledge they had amassed during their lives.  They did not believe in anything that they did not have full knowledge of, therefore they did not believe in God.  They did not have faith.

The last few posts have dealt with the definition and application of faithreasonable faith is the willingness to rely on something that we do not fully know based on knowledge and experience. Now we need to look at the powerful result of faith – belief.

Every moment of our waking life is active.  We are constantly thinking, moving, acting, reacting, and making decisions.  When we act, we are performing that action based either on what we know, or what we don’t fully know.  There is no intellectual gap between knowing something, and acting on it.  However, when we don’t fully know something, the decision to act on it is based on what we believe about it.

Belief is the cognitive vehicle through which we act on that which we do not fully know. Belief, by definition, is based on faith.

Belief is absolutely necessary in order for us to live our lives because we do not know everything.  If we waited to have full knowledge of a situation before we acted on it, it would be impossible to ever get anything done.

If I want to go to the store to get some milk, I don’t know with 100% certainty that it is going to be a benign experience.  I don’t know that there is not a serial killer waiting outside my front door to lop my head off as soon as I step out.  There could be a three-car accident on the road to the store. The store may be cutting corners by getting milk from a herd with mad cow disease.

I’d need a Pentagon level of information and security details in order to try to have full knowledge of every possible contingency that could happen on my way to get milk.  But even that would not be enough.

It is not possible for us to know all the causes that could lead to all the possible effects, so I have to believe that the journey to get milk will be benign based on my previous milk buying experience and my knowledge that it is in the best interests of the store to provide me with an acceptable dairy product.

Why is belief so important?  The things you believe shape your mindset, your perspective, and your entire worldview.  They become the lens through which you view reality.  Belief is powerful because what we believe has a tremendous effect on who we are.

When we begin our lives as children, we have no knowledge or experience and (thanks to Adam and Eve) we have no connection to God.  Virtually helpless, we have nothing to rely on except irrational faith.  We believe everything we’re exposed to!

Generally the first thing of which we have we have real cognition is our parents and caretakers.  They are the first objects of our faith.  In an ideal environment, they would be our knowledge and experience guides, and would be there to mitigate our exploration of our new world.

But even the best parents are neither perfect nor omnipresent.  They will not always be there when we have a negative experience or get exposed to harmful knowledge.  In fact, they may be the source of much of the negativity.

What we believe during this time shapes our entire psyche.  Much of the science of human psychology is based on understanding and addressing the effects of these early beliefs.

If as a child you have a frightening experience with animals, water or heights (and no one is there to mitigate the fear), they could develop into life-long phobias and panic attacks because you will believe these things have inherent and omnipotent danger attached to them.  If your parents were unjust and contradictory in their behavior towards you, it could result in all kinds of relationship and personality disorders later in life.

It can get even worse as you grow up and begin to discover the philosophies that will shape your worldview.  Remember, beliefs are faith-based, which means if you have irrational faith, you will embrace irrational beliefs, which will result in an irrational worldview that will lead to you committing and justifying irrational actions and behaviors. (The preceding statement explains the existence of religion and political activists.)

But belief is also powerful because it is the key to healing all that psychological damage.

If the root causes of the damage to our psyche is wrong beliefs, then the solution is to replace those wrong beliefs with right (righteous) beliefs.  Its a matter of replacing your red jelly beans with blue ones.  Once again, it all comes back to contrastive thinking.

Remember, our psyche; the “real us” is spirit.  Replacing our wrong beliefs with righteous ones can heal and repair our spirit.  And where do we get the righteous beliefs to replace our wrong beliefs with?  From a source that is always and completely right and just.  God.

Belief in God can repair our spirits.  And since life is the ability to repair, belief in God can lead to eternal life.

The problem with the people in the second dispensation is that did not want to believe in God.  They wanted to believe that they could live without faith.  They believed that they could relay on nothing but their own knowledge.  They believed in themselves instead of God.  The inevitable result was death.

In the next post, we will wrap up our examination of the second dispensation by focusing on the famous event that ended it. What was the reasoning behind the Great Flood?  Why was it necessary to exterminate the entire population of the planet, save one family?  It’s a very controversial issue that we will take a look at next time.