Archive for July, 2011

Mankind has in its possession a swath of linen that was very likely “washed in the blood” of Jesus. The Shroud of Turin is believed by many to be the burial shroud of Jesus. My faith doesn’t depend upon it, but I believe it’s authentic. There’s just too much evidence in its favor to dismiss it as the work of a forger.

If you don’t already know, the shroud has the image of a man who has been crucified upon it. The man in the image has wounds matching those that Jesus received. The shroud could not have wrapped a body for very long, for there is no evidence of decay. Decay may leave smudges behind, but not an image such as is on the Shroud of Turin. The shroud is a photographic negative, and scientific investigation has failed to show how the image was formed.

The 1988 Carbon-14 test that indicated a younger age for the cloth has been proven flawed. The material tested was taken from an area that was patched in the middle ages, and not from the original cloth itself. The patch was practically invisible, and took scientific investigation to verify.

In a symbolic sense, the white linen that is the “righteousness of the saints,” (Revelation 19:8) are grave-clothes, washed in the blood of Jesus. That may sound dirty to the world, but we need to look at it differently. Love can’t always be the clean, wishy-washy thing that we might want it to be. Over the course of our lives we see some ugly things. If you’ve watched the news, you’ve seen people holding the bodies of loved ones bloodied by some terrible accident, or senseless violence. They are in anguish, and that is all they can feel. They’re not thinking of the blood upon them as dirty. It is the precious lifeblood of someone they love.

God feels that same thing at the blood of Jesus. Hebrews 10:29 speaks of those who think of the blood of Jesus as an unholy thing, but to God it is the life of his son. Zechariah 12:10 says, “They will look on me whom they have pierced, and mourn for him, as one mourns for an only son…” That is a strange sentence. They will look on “me,” and mourn for “him.” Both are wounded in the tragedy. Whether or not you’ve thought of it this way, to accept Jesus is to enter into the suffering of the Father and the Son, and to die in that death. That is what is known as the atonement (at-one-ment).

Joshua is a form of the Hebrew equivalent of the Greek “Jesus.” The prophet Zechariah, in 3:1-3 says that he saw “Joshua clothed in filthy garments.” The Septuagint, of course, uses the name “Jesus.” Isaiah 64:6 says that all our righteousness is as filthy rags (beged). Even when we appear to do good, our motives are seldom faultless. Jesus wears our “bad,” (ref. part 1) and we are washed in his blood (Rev. 1:5).

After he was crucified, Joseph of Arimathea and Nicodemus wrapped the body of Jesus in a linen cloth to bury. They had to hurry because of laws relating to the Sabbath, which began later that evening. On Sunday morning, Jesus was resurrected, and the linen gravecloth was left lying there. The smaller linen cloth that had been wrapped around his head was lying to one side.

In Revelation 19:8 the white linen “granted” to the “bride” is said to be the “righteousness of the saints.” Righteousness is not something the saints possess of their own right, but something they are “granted.” Typically, a thing that is “granted,” is something that has been desired, and requested in some fashion. A new body, that isn’t subject to the same physical laws as this one, must be granted to us before we can possess a complete fulfillment of God’s promise.

Jesus said in Matthew 5:6, “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled.” The ultimate fulfillment will be in the world to come, for you don’t hunger and thirst for something that you have (ref. the Elect Lady in my Sept. 2010 archives). Revelation 6:9-11 speaks of white robes being given to the souls of Christian martyrs. Even they did not possess the robes, but they are given to them. “In this is love, not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son…” We love him because he first loved us (1st. John 4:10 and 4:19).

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I’ve never liked to wear white because it shows dirt so bad. It’s kind of like the church. Behavior that is often celebrated outside the church looks much worse on the church. It’s understandable that we would want to hold people in certain professions to a higher standard. More is expected of law officers, politicians, teachers, and such, but the bottom line is that people don’t belong on pedestals. There is human weakness in the very best of us.

That’s not an excuse for anything, but it is the truth. We should set our standards high. We should grieve for any failure, and we all need the Savior. Another example of a double standard is the one men have traditionally tried to hold their wives to. Any excuse that’s good enough for the man should be good enough for the woman shouldn’t it? The truth is that no excuse is good enough. In the news, just every little bit, some loving wife is dragged through the mud because her man has strayed. Sometimes the reverse is true, but it’s more often the man. Children are always dragged into it of course. Teenagers are old enough to do some dragging themselves. They’re learning from their role models.

As 1st Corinthians 13:4 in the NKJV says, “Love suffers long.” Some versions say simply that love is patient, but “patient” is a very weak word for it. Love bears the hurt, and love wears the dirt, for there’s no other choice. In one way or another, all of us at times make the Lord look bad. We all reflect poorly upon Christ, from the atheist who intentionally devises fault, to the believer who is blind to his own faults.

Many of the Old Testament laws convey prophetic symbolism. As commanded by God through Moses, the priests wore linen garments. The most commonly used Hebrew word for linen is “shesh,” which I don’t have much to say about right now. Another word for linen is “bad.” This word was used primarily for a linen undergarment, and for the linen in a special vest called an “ephod.”

I think the most notable use of this word is in Daniel 10:5&6, referring to the “man clothed in linen.” The description of this “man” closely matches that of Jesus in Revelation 1:13-16. Many people believe Daniel saw a pre-incarnate appearance of Christ. This is also the word used in Daniel 12:6&7, and the book of Ezekiel, when speaking of “the man in linen.” To those of us who speak English, it would sound like the priests, and this man were dressed in “bad.”

I believe that little detail of language was planned by God, and symbolic of Jesus, who “wore our bad,” and died for our sin. This post is intended to be about the much-misunderstood Bible idea of “righteousness.” I haven’t gotten very far yet, but if we can better understand the concept of righteousness, then we can better understand God. First though, we need to understand a little more about love.

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Hallucinations are probably a lot more common than we might think, and there are all kinds of them. Not all hallucinations are unpleasant, but that doesn’t mean they’re harmless. According to the Bible, there are also such things as visions, which I would classify as extremely rare. Then there are dreams, most are which make little sense, yet some have deep underlying meanings. It can be difficult to tell one from the other.

I believe that God could sometimes use hallucinations to reveal something. I think that’s what happened the time I mixed the pills and alcohol. The drugs caused it, but God found a way to use it. God must work with us in the condition that he finds us. He strives to bring order out of chaos. Hallucinations are by their nature deceptive and dangerous, such as when our driver thought the road curved to the right, when it was actually straight (ref. part 1). Anyone who seeks some sort of revelation through drugs is opening the door to deception.

Even a good dictionary doesn’t always give the actual origin of a word. Sometimes the roots of words are also multi-faceted, and those who study such things may argue over them. It could be either this, that, or the other, or it could be all of them. Webster’s gives a Latin word that means “to dream,” as the origin for “hallucinate,” but it goes farther back than that.

I’ve said before that the word “hell” probably comes from the Hebrew name for the angel (Heylel) who became Satan (see part 2 of “Hell” in my Jan. 2011 archives). Lucifer is the Latin translation of the name Heylel. “Halo” is another member of this word family. The word hallucinate contains the roots of both the Hebrew name, and its Latin translation. I believe those names imply some sort of distortion, or twist of the light, rather than simply meaning “Light Bringer.”

Satan uses hallucinations to deceive, to kill, and sometimes simply to torment. One of my sisters died of cancer in her early thirties. When I dropped by to see her a few weeks before she died, she was holding her little girl very tightly. I could see she was treasuring every moment with her. She was on pain medication pretty heavy by that time, and she was in a state of fear. She thought she had seen demons who told her they were waiting to take her soul when she died. She tried to make her husband agree that he had seen them also. He didn’t argue with her, but I saw that he didn’t know what to say. I knew how the name of Jesus helped me when I had the hallucination back in Detroit. I said to her, “You’ve asked Jesus to be your saviour, and he is. If they come back, don’t be afraid, tell them that Jesus has your soul.”

There haven’t been many people in my life who have taken me at my word as she did. When I saw her a few days later, she was ecstatic. She said, “The demons came back, but I told them that my soul belongs to Jesus, and they just vanished.” Whether what she saw was real or not, it was real to her. She died very peacefully. Mom, Dad, and her husband were with her. One moment she was there, and she was gone in the next.

In the misty state of mind between this world and the next, God only knows exactly what is real. The stories you hear of near death hallucinations often contradict each other. I believe there’s truth and revelation in some of the stories, and deception in others, just as there is in all of life. While evil (Devil) is striving to deceive us, good (God) is working to gain our trust. I didn’t immediately accept Jesus when I had the experience back in Detroit, but I began to investigate the Bible in a more sober and unbiased way.

Mom told us that as her mother was dying, she thought she saw beautiful flowers and her young son who had died a few years before. Dad’s story seems pretty unusual also. His cancer had advanced to the point that he couldn’t sleep. When he would start to fall asleep, he’d begin to smother, and awaken as he struggled to breath. Sitting in an armchair the day before he died, he rested his head against my arms, and actually slept a few minutes. I had braced my arms in such a way that I could hold his head up awhile. Dad never wanted to go anywhere without Mom, and he was very dependent upon her. Sometime that day he told Mom that Jesus had come for him, and he asked her if she was going to go with him. She told him that she wasn’t ready to go just yet, and he said, “Well when he comes back, I’m going with him.” Dad and Mom had both grown closer to the Lord before they left this world.

What is reality? We each experience a different facet of it as it turns and changes. What is the ultimate reality? Jesus is the Word. “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. And the Word was made flesh and dwelt among us…” (John 1:1 and 1:14). Jesus is real, and he is reality. The world just doesn’t realize it yet.

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I hesitated to name this post as I did. I could just hear my Atheist friends saying, “Ah, that explains it,” but they need to read on. I have intended all along to write about some private experiences. That’s one of the reasons for an anonymous blog. Very few people who know me, know that I have this blog. That way I feel free to write about something personal without fear of hurting, or embarrassing someone. Most people don’t like to talk about private matters. That’s probably one of the reasons that life’s mistakes keep repeating themselves, but more about that some other time.

Mom was one of those people who remember everything, from all the birthdays, to the dates that people died. She knew that I wasn’t good at that sort of thing. She may have worked something out with the Lord to leave this world on a date I would remember. Since then I’ve thought of the 4th of July weekend as truly being Independence Day for her. I thought of it this year as I watched the fireworks display. It was a strange kind of feeling. Because of her love for people, Mom had a hard time saying no, and that lead to a lot of pain for her. She was a Christian, and now she is free from the oxygen tanks, and hardships brought upon her by other people. In my teens, I was one of those people, not that she ever stopped worrying about us.

I don’t know if my youth would have been different if she had taken a stronger stand as a Christian. Mom may have been restrained by her fear of offending us. There were other reasons also. I think my sisters and younger brother were more aware than I of what she believed. I went to church only a few times growing up, but they went more often. I think Mom would like to have gone to church, but Dad was against it. More about that some other time also. I was brainwashed by evolutionary propaganda very early in life, and wouldn’t have been able to see how anyone could believe anything else.

That’s one of the primary reasons I became disillusioned with life, and began using drugs at an early age. One thing I always knew though, was that Mom loved me. That didn’t keep me from taking the wrong road, but it helped me to turn around at a critical time. A friend of mine down the road gave me my first marijuana. I didn’t experience anything the first few times I smoked it, which isn’t that unusual. Later on, some of the pot we sometimes smoked caused hallucinations. We wondered if it was treated with some chemical or something, but we smoked it anyway.

Not everyone believes it, but marijuana alone can cause hallucinations, especially if it has high levels of THC. I was prone to see traffic signs that weren’t really there. I remember thinking that the driver was taking us up an exit ramp in the wrong direction. I plainly saw a Do Not Enter sign. This sort of thing happened multiple times. Our driver ran us into a ditch one night because he thought he saw the road curving to the right. Dangerous stuff, but it was mixing pills and alcohol that nearly cost me my life.

It may have been my idea to hitchhike to Detroit. Hitchhiking was a little safer back then, and you could survive in the cities working day-labor jobs if you wanted to. The year before, we had hitchhiked to Florida. That had been the idea of my friend (the one who gave me the marijuana). We thought we might stumble upon a decent job in Detroit. We worked some tough jobs through the weeks, and then forgot everything on the weekends.

I think we picked up some pills at a Rock concert. I took a couple along with three or four beers the next night or so. It wasn’t anything that I hadn’t done before. I didn’t know at the time that barbiturates can cause hallucinations, but I knew that too many can kill you. I learned later that I have sleep apnea, and I probably had it to a lesser degree even then. Sleep apnea, with the combined effects of alcohol and pills, could account for the reaction that I had. I just kind of drifted out, and I really think I would have died, if I had not experienced a terrible hallucination.

In my drugged state, I thought I was dying (which I probably was), and I saw the Devil standing over me laughing. At that moment, I realized clearly that I had been terribly deceived, and I don’t really know why I thought that Jesus might help me. It seemed to take all my strength to finally stutter the name of Jesus. When I did, I immediately became conscious, and my friend was standing there saying, “What’s the matter with you man? I thought you were dying.”

It’s strange that I remember the hallucination better than the events after I came out of it. I know I told him that I thought that I was dying, and that I saw the Devil. I think I said, “He was standing right where you are,” and I asked if he didn’t see him. I know that I saw a real look of fear in his eyes, when I said whatever I said. I was afraid to lay down again that night. I put on a coat, and walked up and down the street until dawn. Apparently, I had enough sense to not venture far from the apartment complex. We lived in a dangerous area.

My friend wanted to stay in Detroit longer, but I was going home, even if I had to hitch alone. I felt like I had worried Mom more than enough, and I didn’t want to add my death to the trouble she already had. Except for legitimate medicine, I stopped taking drugs after that, but I didn’t become a Christian for another six years. I took the idea of God more seriously though, and I asked a lot of questions. I was an atheist so, why did I call for Jesus? Why did the name of Jesus break the spell of the alcohol and pills?

I don’t believe that I actually saw the Devil in person. I believe instead that God allowed me to have an hallucination that would shock me back to this level of consciousness. What I saw was the image of Satan that my mind would have conjured up at that time. It wasn’t “an angel of light,” as 2nd Corinthians 11:14 describes Satan. What I saw was more real than real. In the hallucination, I saw the hatred in Satan’s eyes, as he laughed at me. I can’t describe how clearly I realized my stupidity. I know that Satan was mocking me. That is real. He mocks all of us. I absolutely believe that Jesus intervened for me in that situation. I wouldn’t advise anyone to push it that far though.

I don’t know if my friend would have called for help. It would probably have been too late, and would have attracted the attention of the police. He was caught by surprise. He may actually have been standing over me laughing at first. In my mind, Satan’s image may have been superimposed over his. Sometimes hallucinations are like that. You may see something that’s actually there, but in the fragmented condition of your mind, reality is distorted, and you see it as something else.

You can always come up with an alternative explanation to fit some of the facts, but sometimes the best explanation is that things are just as they appear to be. It was Jesus that I called upon when I was in trouble. I was delivered out of that trouble, and it is Jesus that I thank.

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I’m not just retelling the story of Jonah that you’ve heard many times. Where the Bible is concerned, there is always more to the story. Inside the fish, Jonah was quoting bits and pieces of Psalms as he prayed. We don’t know how God enabled Jonah to survive there for three days. There have been other reports of animals, and a person or two, surviving a short time inside some sort of whale. I don’t think there’s enough evidence to prove any of the cases. It would be very hard to prove something like that, even if there were eyewitnesses.

So far as I can tell, we can interpret the Bible to mean either a whale, or a huge fish. The Bible says that God “prepared” this fish especially for the situation. In this instance, the Hebrew word translated “prepared,” is not the word most often used in the Bible. God doesn’t “prepare” every fish that swallows a person, or part of a person. He doesn’t “send” every storm, but he’s there to shelter us as much as possible (see “A Random World” in my Jan. 2011 archives).

Is it an actual relief to God when human beings turn to him? Jesus said there is joy in heaven over every “sinner who repents.” Does it comfort God when he isn’t forced to judge us? I don’t see how anyone could think otherwise. Jonah was so angry when the people of Nineveh repented, that he prayed for God to take his life. Jonah 4:6, says that the Lord prepared a gourd that provided shade for Jonah as he camped outside of Nineveh. When the gourd died, Jonah was so upset that he again felt like dying. Jonah could mourn the destruction of the gourd, but he couldn’t seem to realize what the destruction of Nineveh would have been like for God.

When he was inside the fish, Jonah had recalled bits of Messianic Psalms. He was trying to comfort himself by identifying with the suffering Messiah. David himself did this as he wrote many of the Psalms. Jesus called King David a prophet. David understood that the Messiah wasn’t to be simply a king and deliverer, but one who suffers with us. He suffers because of us, with us, and for us.

Jonah’s prayer inside the fish ended when he said a very interesting phrase. It is usually translated, “Salvation is of the Lord,” or something similar. Yeshuah, the Hebrew word for salvation contains the name Yeshua. “Yeshua” is the Hebrew form of “Jesus.” You can’t say “salvation” without saying the name of Jesus.

As soon as Jonah uttered the name Jesus, the Lord spoke to the fish, and Jonah was delivered out upon land. That reminds me of an experience I had when I had just turned eighteen. I think I’ll try to write about that experience next week. Jonah was Jewish, but his message had greater impact, at least at the first, upon Gentiles. Jesus was Jewish also. Anyone of Israel, when you find yourself being swallowed up by life or death, remember that Yeshua(h) is of YHWH. Remember the name, Jesus.

To study freewill, you must look at the interaction between God and individuals in the Bible. You must also study our interactions with each other. Sometimes things may seem contradictory when in reality, they are only true to life. When we study Jonah, we see that Jonah had freewill, but also that God must sometimes contend with us over some important matter. Not only life and death, but eternal life hangs in the balance (see part one of “the Blame Game” in April 2011 archives).

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