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Archive for the ‘Death’ Category

Much of the meaning is shrouded in mystery. Who has slain the Lamb? Who has murdered innocence? Man is wearing the bloody clothes, but in one way or another, all things have been twisted around to make it sound like God is to blame for everything. Theists get it turned around, and Atheists get it turned around, but God himself is the Lamb (Acts 2:22-24, Revelation 22:3, John 1:1-3, 1:14, & 14:6-10).

Many Atheists make use of the theistic teaching of “predestination” to turn people against God. Some of them have personally objected to the way I read the Script, telling me that I am misinterpreting the Bible. That is because it weakens their argument to consider that God is good, and that the Bible can be shown to make sense.

We can truly understand God only in the light of the Lamb (Revelation 21:23). There is nothing else in all the history of creation that reveals God in his true colors as does his suffering on the cross. It is the only way that he can reach us, touch us, change our hearts and minds (John 3:16, Genesis 3:21).

Man gets everything turned around when he eats of the tree of knowledge, makes his own moral judgements, and reinterprets all matters for himself (Genesis 3:5). It is this alienation of mankind from God, and the blame which man places upon him that slays the Lamb. I have read the atheist’s proclamation, “God is dead, we killed him,” but we are all just as guilty. Our rejection of him is the murder weapon. Some of us, having understood this are filled with regret. We become repentant, and are glad that he is back alive.

The English word “repand,” from the Latin word “repandus,” means bent backward. To feel sorrow and regret is considered a “secondary” meaning of the word “repent,” but being sorry is primary to the process of changing from our bent (or bias).

Contrary to what you may have heard preached, God took no pleasure in the suffering of Christ; it’s his own skin. That doctrine is an example of misinterpretation due to the multiple meanings that words have come to have. Because of multiple meanings, the correct interpretation of many Bible verses is not the first thing that comes to mind when it is read. That is one reason why it is so critical for us to trust God. It is similar to the need for us to trust one another in order for understanding to exist.

The literal meaning of the word translated as “pleased” in Isaiah 53:10, (It pleased the Lord to bruise him) is “to bend.” A secondary meaning is “incline.” “Pleased,” is a figurative meaning. There are other meanings but “pleased” is the most commonly used. The Septuagint, the ancient Greek translation of the Hebrew Old Testament, translates Isaiah 53:10 to indicate the Lord’s pleasure is not in the suffering and death, but in the great deliverance from it. “The Lord also is pleased to purge (to remove) him from his stroke.”

The same Hebrew word (in its original spelling) is translated as “purpose,” in Ecclesiastes 3:1, “To everything there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven.” God takes no pleasure in our pain, or death (Ezekiel 18:32). Death is an enemy (1st Corinthians 15:26). Multiple meanings of words are often used by the Lord’s enemy to cause misunderstanding and rejection of God.

The thing that pleases God is that some of our hearts are won by what he has endured, and that is a great comfort to him. Despite the suffering of this world, some of us no longer reject God, even if we don’t understand parts of the Bible. We can begin to see what our mistrust has done to God and our fellowman. Who has slain the Lamb? Man’s DNA is at the crime. Our DNA was in Adam, when he dressed himself in leaves and hid among the trees.

We still have that reaction to God. We need a long walk in the Light. It is God’s desire to walk with people (Genesis 3:8); to live in them, to find them where they are (Mark 2:15-17), and help them. He wants to be born in them, and we never know who will become his child. That is his great desire, his primary will, though he must allow us freedom even when our paths become painful.

People call this God’s “permissive” will, but it is not something that he desires. There we encounter more words with multiple meanings, but I don’t think we should think of that type of thing as “God’s will.” That is like saying that a student’s misbehavior is the teacher’s will when she steps out of the room, or that it is the will of the policeman for us to break the law when he isn’t around.

Sometimes, there seem to be no perfect words to use, for all the words have taken on unfortunate meanings. It isn’t completely right to say that God tolerates, or allows evil, or that he is permissive, assenting, or consenting. God’s momentary silence doesn’t mean that he condones our behavior. “Forbearing” is probably one of the best words to describe God.

He “endures” our world (2nd Peter 3:9), temporarily not fully enforcing that which is right (ref. The Lost Child of Freedom, in my August 2012 archives). The longer that God simply endures us, the harder we become. The Greek word “endurece(r)” is the origin of our word “endures.” It is translated as “hardens” in nearly all English versions of Romans 9:18. That is another verse often taken out of context and misunderstood.

God either endears us, or he endures us. We should all be endeared to God, but if he must only endure us, then there is good reason for it. Time will tell. Anyway, to the extent that God does not intervene, bad things may happen to anyone. That doesn’t mean that it is “God will.”

The paths that we choose in difficult circumstances are often not what we desire, but are influenced by other factors. It is the same way with God. Nevertheless, God is deeply involved in the intricate details of our lives, and our desires and prayers influence certain outcomes in ways that we can’t conceive. We should remain thankful.

In (or through) everything give thanks, for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you (1st Thessalonians 5:18). The first word of that verse, “in,” is one of many words that could have been used. According to The New Strong’s Expanded Dictionary of Bible Words (for the KJV), the Greek word “en,” is translated as “by” (141 times), “with” (134 times), “among” (117 times), “at” (112 times), “on” (46 times), “through” (37 times), other miscellaneous words (321 times), and “in” (1874 times).

In spite of our circumstances, it is the desire of God for us to find things to be thankful for. I thank God that he is with us through all these things. Though man has slain the Lamb (Acts 2:22-24), I am thankful that he loved us enough to bend to save us. I thank God that we can still make sense of the Bible, in spite of (or sometimes, because of) the multiple meanings of words. I pray that we all have a happy Thanksgiving.

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On a wooded hilltop overlooking a farm where my family once lived is an abandoned graveyard. Most of the markers are just flat stones with nothing written on them, dug up from some field nearby. Trees had already grown amongst them when I was a boy. I remember looking at the dates on a few of the stones which are carved, but I have no recollection of reading anything else.

Recently, when some of my family revisited our old farm, we stopped by the graveyard, but a particular epitaph yet went unnoticed. For some reason however, I took some digital photos of the markers. Looking through them later, I noticed the writing and was able to read it. It is on the marker of a child who was born in 1866, and died in 1872. The dates are etched very deep.

There is no name, for the top of the stone has broken off, but in faint, weathered writing below the dates are the words, “Earth has no sorrow that heaven can not heal.”

That saying is from a song by Thomas Moore (1816). David Crowder does a modern revision of the song. Leaning against this marker, setting upon what is probably the fragment with the missing name, is the broken top from another stone. All I can read from this stone is, “Born Sept. 2, 1846.”

The stones are shaped the same, and I have to wonder if someone has set the top from the marker of the mother, or another family member, against that of the child. The dates would be right for that. The good Lord knows. Life is not always good, and death is not good, but God has not forgotten those graves on the hill.

There was a time when death did not exist, but the possibility existed, for God warned the first humans of it. Now, it may appear as if there is no escape from it, but according to the Bible, Jesus holds the keys. God was telling the truth in Genesis 2:17, when he warned Adam, and he is telling us the truth in Revelation 1:18.

If we could experience life and creation without the devolution that has since occurred in this world, it would be easier to understand that God is good. Genesis 1:31 tells us that God made everything good. Then, according to Genesis 3:1-5, the first humans believed the lie of a fallen angel (ref. all posts in my Dec. 2011 archives).

The lie was that we would not “surely die,” but that by knowledge we could “become like gods,” interpreting all knowledge, and answering all moral questions for ourselves. The implications were that man would no longer need God, and that God should not be trusted to make all moral judgments. This rethinking of all things has progressed to the extreme that “educated” people can now believe that life evolved from lifeless matter, which in turn evolved out of absolutely nothing.

These two incredible points, usually lie buried and ignored beneath countless pages of evolutionary propaganda, but if “something” existed to begin with, where did that “something” come from? An atheist may as well admit the existence of God, as to think that in the beginning, “something else” existed. The idea that “nothing” must suddenly have become “something,” is equally inconceivable. It’s certainly no more difficult to believe the Bible than to believe in evolution, unless you just don’t like thinking about God.

The theory of evolution allows human beings to view themselves as gods, the highest form of intelligence in existence. Man was created with freedom of will. So were the angels, and the possibility of the creation of a lie would inherently exist in the mind of intelligent creatures. Freedom is good, but the abuse of freedom is not. The deception was framed in such a way that Adam and Eve did not think it all the way through.

How could they? The tree of knowledge continually grows, and only God could foresee the consequence of each thought and action. Adam didn’t suddenly “just know” all right from wrong, but he began to think that he could make that determination. Eve, of course, didn’t always agree with Adam’s every moral judgment, and argument was born.

If that sounds like a stage that all cognizant human beings now go through, I think that it is. Life, with all its moral struggles, now forces us into that state. Not everyone may remember making a conscious decision, but when I was around 11 years old, I clearly remember thinking, “this is my life. I will decide right and wrong for my own self.”

That sounds fair, but the problem is that we make many mistakes which involve other lives around us. Ripples from the wake of our lives flow onward affecting events that we may not see. I don’t think this would have become a forced issue if it were not for man’s original choice, but now we must decide what is good, and who is good. We must decide between things which we hardly know anything about, and that are much bigger than we are.

Who is lying? Who is mistaken? Is John 8:44 true? Are we really as smart, and as good as we think? Does science possess omniscience? Who, or what, are we going to believe?

We don’t have forever to make these decisions. I think it’s wise to call on the good Lord to help us. If the good book is telling us the truth, all the enemy must do to defeat us is cause us to wait out the clock. If we had forever to “make up our minds,” wouldn’t most of us take forever? Wouldn’t most of “forever” be wasted?

Though we turn it into an endless struggle, our freewill is actually evidence that God is good. He wants more for us than a robotic existence. He must eventually judge our abuses of freewill, but God is not the tyrant that man is. It is a good thing for God to be fair, and to establish justice in the earth. Rulers like Hitler can’t hide in death and escape judgment (Isaiah 28:18&20).

We encounter a problem there because none of us are always good, not even those who live the most sacrificially, and sometimes terrible tragedies stem from small indiscretions. We should also take into account the fact that some people are born into more difficult circumstances. Some lives are not as easy as others. It is a good thing that God is merciful, because ultimately, justice cannot save us. Though we may not yet understand or admit our need for forgiveness, God’s offer of mercy is evidence of his goodwill toward us.

I have given a lot of evidence for God in my writings, but it would do us little good to prove the existence and identity of God if we didn’t also understand that God is good. I hope to find time to write a little more about this.

We must not allow a world that is devolved from the perfection of its created state to fool us. “Earth has no sorrow that heaven can not heal.” Except for the precious hope of heaven, the lives of the mother and father of that child may have been utterly ruined in the year 1872. Someone who loved that child yet believed in the good Lord, or that writing on the stone would not be there. God has given us this hope.

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Don’t let this discourage you, but sometimes the answers to our prayers are affected by the desires of other human beings. There are not only the immediate effects of those near us, but also the long-term effects, both physical and spiritual, of mankind upon the whole ecology of the earth. We interact with each other, with our environment, and with God. We influence each other, and we often hinder the desires of God (1st. Thessalonians 5:19).

Although he could easily do so, God doesn’t often override the freewill of either human beings, or the angels. I don’t mean that he doesn’t resist us. If he didn’t, then tyrants would have destroyed the world long ago. The Bible (1st. Peter 5:5) says that God “resists the proud, and gives grace unto the humble.”

There are a few examples in the Bible where God temporarily altered the thinking process of some person by some scientific means of interference (ref. Saul, 1st. Samuel 10:9-11), but that doesn’t create a permanent change in the heart of that person. God can change our hearts, and longs to do so, but we must be persuaded to willingly accept that change (2nd. Corinthians 8:12). God is sovereign, but rather than control every move that we make, in his sovereign will, God has chosen to allow us freewill.

The rulers of this world have often attempted to control the thinking of their subjects, usually by deception, but God is the author of liberty (Galatians 5:13,14). He desires that we choose to live our lives in such a way that he would have no need to intervene.

So, for many reasons, our prayers aren’t always answered in the time and way that we desire, but I don’t want to sound discouraging. My purpose is to explain why things don’t always work out right away, and to encourage us to not give up. One very difficult lesson is to not let things that go wrong stop us from trying, or from praying. Just as those who love us desire time with us, God wants us to pray. Prayer helps to open a line of communication, and to establish a relationship between God and man.

Prayer also gives us something to do when we can do little else about the cares of life. Atheists have many of the same desires as we. They have hopes and dreams, and they may do what they can to make things work, but until something changes their mind, the true atheist has no desire for God. When we are not accusing, or trying to silence God, but actually trying to communicate with him, he will respond to us; usually in a very still small voice that is only heard in the heart. Sometimes good ideas come from that communication, and sometimes things happen that we’re not even aware of.

The common phrase “prayer warrior,” should warn us that the field of prayer is a battlefield. If we were to follow the scientific method in a study of prayer, we would have to question why that is. Is there an enemy, that we can’t see, who uses every possible distraction and diversionary tactic to keep us from praying? The answer to that question seems obvious. All kinds of negative ideas may come into our thoughts, and we may have to repetitively ignore them as we talk to God.

We could learn a lot about prayer from the experiences of the Ararat explorers. Encountering a bad snowstorm on Mount Ararat, John Morris saw a member of his party temporarily seek shelter from the wind behind a large rock. A little earlier, Morris had seen lightning strike that very rock. He hurried to warn his friend, and there at the rock he thanked God for protecting them. Their fellow climber had joined them, and just as he finished his prayer, he and the other two climbers were struck by lightning.

Morris, and Roger Losier, were instantly thrown downhill, while John Bultier (J.B.), the man sitting against the rock, was momentarily held by the current before he was likewise thrown. Morris’ legs were temporarily paralyzed. He had no feeling in them except for a burning pain. J.B. was laying twenty feet away. He was also unable to get up. Both legs seemed paralyzed, and he feared one leg was broken. Roger was laying in the snow farther down the slope with his head bloodied.

Many people would consider the lightning strike to be a very negative, and final, answer to John’s prayer. It could definitely make you feel “not blessed.” Though death seemed inevitable for all of them, as Morris continued to pray, he was reminded of Bible verses which gave him hope that he could live. He began to rub his legs, and after about an hour, he was able to stand. Steadying himself with his ice axe, he moved to help J.B. get to his feet.

Roger had been the first to rise, but he had amnesia and didn’t know who, or where, he was. He didn’t know his friends, and the only thing he would do for them was to bring their ice axes. They had a difficult time persuading him not to go back to the “shelter” of the rock. Little by little, his memory returned to him, and they finally made their way off the mountain.

To be fair, it’s dangerous to be caught out in the open in a storm, and mountain storms can be especially dangerous. Then also, for some strange reason, there are people who seem to attract lightning. A Park Ranger in Virginia, Roy Sullivan, was struck by lightning eight times during his lifetime. Seven of the strikes were documented, and he is in the Guinness World Records as being the person experiencing the most lightning strikes.

Some of the strikes occurred in areas where he should have been safe. He was even struck while driving his truck. He committed suicide in Dooms, Virginia in 1983. That is a sad story. According to Wikipedia, “after the fourth strike, he began to believe that some force was trying to destroy him…” I hope that he didn’t blame God for the unusual circumstances of his life.

Searching for Noah’s ark on Mount Ararat, Richard Bright admitted to wondering at times whether “the enemy (Satan) is that strong.” He said he chose to believe however, that it must not be God’s time to reveal the ark. That may well be true, but it’s also true that the battle is sometimes fierce, and survival is a victory in itself. The last enemy that will be overcome is Death (1st Corinthians 15:26, Revelation 20:14).

One of Bright’s most fervent prayers on Ararat was simply “Jesus, I need you now!” He had scrambled to a rock rising only about two foot out of the ground, and dropped facedown behind it as an avalanche of huge boulders tumbled around him. When it was finally over, he stared in stunned amazement at his only injury; a cut on one finger from a broken shard of rock.

Pray, and don’t give up, no matter what thoughts come to mind. In spite of the circumstances of life, find something to thank God for. Keep the faith, for faith affects all things. Don’t start thinking negatively if your prayers don’t seem to be answered right away. An answer to a prayer of the prophet Daniel was delayed for twenty-one days. That information was given to Daniel straight from the Lord’s mouth (Daniel 10:5-14).

I have heard some say they feel closer to God high in the mountains, and I have felt that myself, but we often need to pray regardless of how close that we feel. I don’t believe that 1st. Thessalonians 5:18 is telling us to thank God for evil things that happen, as is sometimes preached, but rather to find things to be thankful for in spite of evil circumstances.

It’s nearing Thanksgiving, and I know some people who have suffered losses that could leave them feeling thankless. I wish I could help them, but I don’t know of anything to do except to pray. I think we should always determine to count the blessings that remain. It isn’t easy, but if we don’t, we can quench our own spirit, that of those around us, and the Spirit of God (1st. Thessalonians 5:18,19).

This is added as a postscript.  I pray that the Lord help us not to dwell too long on the reasons why things happen as they do, but for him to touch us, strengthen us, and help us to stand, as he helped Daniel (Daniel 10:10-11). I pray that he help us never to forget that hope, by its very definition, is often something that cannot be seen very clearly (Romans 8:24). I pray for him to help us live for him, for each other, and for tomorrow.

I’m off from work today, but I had to get out fairly early to take my oldest son to work. He’s saving up for a car. I was surprised by the amount of snow we have, and barely had time to sweep the auto a bit. When I got back home and parked, I was thinking that I wasn’t enjoying the snow as I once would have.

There’s only one shy little girl, about seven years old, who lives close by,  but she had a friend visiting. They rushed around some parked cars, ready to throw snowballs at me. When they hesitated momentarily, I realized they wanted my permission, so I told them to go ahead. I didn’t think about adding, “make my day,” but that’s what they did. They had such fun that they turned the snow into a blessing.

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I don’t think Noah would have needed to define each species, or determine which individual animals would be the best to preserve. I don’t believe that he had to gather the animals, but that they came to the ark instinctively. Some translations of the Bible say that the animals went to Noah (Genesis 7:9,15,&16), and others say that the animals came to him.

Animals, especially birds, often cover great distances during migration, but most of the animals wouldn’t have needed to travel very far. Polar bears didn’t have to come from the Arctic, or kangaroos from Australia. Though animals have preferred habitats, the ancestors of all animals may not have lived far from the ark. Both evolutionists and creationists believe that Australia, along with all the continents, once formed part of a single landmass that scientists call Pangea.

At any rate, the construction of Noah’s ark may have taken around a century, and animals would have had ample time to drift toward the area. It’s also possible that at that time in history, wild animals didn’t the same natural fear of man as they have today. I intend to write more about this fear later. Just as God brought the animals to Adam when they were given names (Genesis 2:19-20), they were later brought to Noah’s ark to be preserved.

An atheist might very quickly dismiss this idea as depending upon the supernatural and therefore not scientific, but should we think of things that we don’t fully understand as being “supernatural.” I don’t think so. Scientific investigation begins with the belief that more is to be learned about everything. I believe that we should think of the word “supernatural” as only referring to a scientific reality beyond the scope of our present knowledge.

The strange behavior of migrating animals sometimes seems to border on the supernatural. The migration of animals is usually connected to seasonal changes and the search for food, or to breeding cycles, but that doesn’t explain some of  the extreme things that they do. Migrating animals often follow established routes, and sometimes travel much farther than would seem necessary.

The lifespan of most insects is short, and Monarch butterflies reproduce during migration. There are generations between those which travel one direction, and those that later return to the point of origin. That’s very strange for it indicates that knowledge of the routes and destinations are passed along to successive generations. There is probably something designed into nature that triggers the steps of their migration, but either way, we can think that God is calling to a generation of butterflies, “It’s time to go farther south,” and to another, “Let’s go back to the north.”

Pantala dragonflies cross the ocean between Africa and India. Why would they do that, and what tells them that they can? Do some convince others to undertake such a journey, or do all of them suddenly just get the same strange notion.

Being the skeptic that I am, I checked multiple sources to verify the following information on the Bar-tailed Godwit, a bird that holds the record for non-stop flight. According to Wikipedia, these migrating birds don’t reproduce during their stay in New Zealand. Some of the birds were tagged in 2007, and tracked by satellite as they flew non-stop for distances in excess of 6000 miles to China, Korea, and Alaska. There they mated, reproduced, and later returned to the south.

One female bird flew non-stop, more than 8 days, 7,258 miles from Alaska to New Zealand. That is hard for me to believe, but science says it is so. There are many things within the scope of our knowledge that are every bit as strange as some of the things that we read in the Bible.

The Bible teaches that many of our “realities” are symbolic of a deeper and greater reality. In the butterfly emerging from the chrysalis, God has given us a picture of the resurrection (ref. “Crystal, Chrysalis, and Christ” in my July 2010 archives). Noah’s ark was real, but it is also symbolic of Jesus and the even greater rescue effort that he is undertaking.

I also think that animal migration offers a picture of the resurrection and “rapture” of those who trust Jesus. I believe that Jesus is trying to save us for a better world, and that he must take us across an ocean that we cannot cross alone.

P.S.  I posted “Dawn of the Rising Son,” in April 2011 because many people, both Pagan and Christian, believe that “Easter” began as a pagan celebration. I think my post explains why we should associate Easter with the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus.

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We sometimes experience things that cause physical pain without actually touching us. As I witnessed the birth of my sons, I felt so helpless that it hurt. I wanted to comfort my wife. I wanted to help the doctor, and the baby being born. I wanted to be somewhere else, yet there’s no way I would have missed it. Even after you’ve witnessed childbirth, it’s still hard to believe what you’ve seen.

When one of my sisters was in labor, her husband suffered such sympathy pains that he repeatedly doubled over clutching his stomach. I don’t remember if he was allowed in the delivery room. The expectancy that you feel when a child is being born puts a strange twist on the pain. It’s as if you’ve chosen to go through the pain to hold the child in your arms. That is what God has chosen.

As children learn from us, both good and bad, we learn a lot about ourselves also. We can never quite foresee how great the pain may be. If we knew, we might choose another road, but we’d miss something that God thinks is worth our journey. God knew we’d make him sorry for creating life, and yet he chose life.

The suffering that precedes death is different from that of birth. It’s an end, yet not the final end, of something precious. I was with my dad when he died of cancer. That last moment with someone as they leave this world is very tender. It’s something you don’t forget. If someone has suffered greatly, it can feel like a kind of release, especially if you’re confident you’ll see them later in a better world.

Most of my family was present when Dad died, but only one of my sisters was with Mom. Some had stepped out of the room. I had gone home to do something. and to lay down a minute. Before I left, I told Mom I would see her in a little bit and she gave a barely perceptible nod. She knew I meant that I was assured we’d see each other again; if not here, then there. I wanted very much to be with her when she died, but it wasn’t to be.

Empathy and sympathy come in many forms. I’ve known people who faint at the sight of blood. I don’t faint, but I get a jolt of pain through my body. We’re not as detached from others as we might think. A man I once worked with developed mental problems after watching news of the destruction of the World Trade Center. The images of people, forced from windows high in the buildings by flames and smoke, affect me today just as they did then. The sight of a couple falling hand in hand to their death is haunting.

I’d like to forget some things I’ve seen and heard, but it doesn’t seem right to do so. We should remember the young Japanese man, captured by terrorists, begging for his life before being beheaded. Jesus spoke to his disciples of a time when men would kill them thinking they were doing God a favor. Much that applied mainly to the disciples can yet be true for others.

Evil exists. That’s one of the things said by the Connecticut doctor whose wife and daughters were raped and murdered a few years ago? The doctor had been beaten unconscious with a ball bat, his wife was strangled, and his daughters died when the attackers burned the house.

Only God is fully aware of the pain experienced in this world. He’s with the people who fall asleep in exhaustion, and wake up in anguish remembering what someone did to those dearest to them. How does God feel when he sees the evil of this world? Genesis 6:6 (KJV), “And it repented the Lord that he had made man on the earth, and it grieved him at his heart.”

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The genealogies of the Bible, with few exceptions, give the male lineage of fathers, stepfathers, father-in-laws, and grandfathers. I think that giving the name of only males, rather than both parents, is mainly for the purpose of simplification. Other reasons may lie behind the scenes in the actual physics of reproduction.

God is certainly not chauvinistic, and names of mothers are sometimes given for particular reasons (Tamar, Rahab, Ruth, Bathsheba). This methodology makes special situations such as that of Mary, the virgin mother of Jesus, more conspicuous. The genealogies of the Bible are continued in the New Testament by Matthew and Luke where they lead to Jesus.

Most interpreters believe the genealogy in Matthew 1:1-16, is that of Joseph, the stepfather of Jesus. This genealogy was probably given to establish Jesus as a legal heir of King David on the side of the stepfather Joseph. Mary was also descended from King David (Luke 3:23-38), so Pilate was correct when he posted a sign on the cross of Jesus identifying him as the “King of the Jews.”

Luke gives us the genealogy of Mary, and follows the genealogical patterns of the day by beginning with the name of Joseph, her husband. Then comes Mary’s father (the father-in-law of Joseph), then her grandfather, and so on.

In Luke’s genealogy, the word son is actually used only one time in verse 3:23-38. I think it’s significant that this genealogy is given immediately following the declaration of God in 3:22, that Jesus is his “beloved son.” Most English Bible translations then insert the word “son,” many times in Luke 3:23-38. Some print the word “son” in italics to indicate that it isn’t part of the original manuscript. For instance, the actual wording of Luke 3:38 is, “of Enos, of Seth, of Adam, of God,” and doesn’t have the word “son” before each name.

While God is, in a sense, the father of all mankind, Jesus is his “only begotten son” (John 3:16). In the genealogy given by Luke, and counting Adam as the first generation, Jesus is the seventy-seventh generation. I think that Luke recorded the complete human genealogy of Jesus (more about this later).

Though Jesus was human, I think it’s correct to say that he was a human much as man would have been before the fall. There would have been no mutations in the portion of his DNA inherited from the father (God). Mary had a paternal lineage, but the mechanism of heredity doesn’t function the same with the mother as with the father.

Besides simply fulfilling prophecy, there could also have been a scientific reason for Jesus to have been born of a virgin, though I don’t have any idea at this time what it might have been. At every unusual turn of the Script, there is usually some underlying scientific, or psychological truth. Often there is knowledge behind it that the people of that day could not have understood naturally.

Being a human much as man would have been before the fall, I don’t think Jesus would ever have died naturally. Most Christians would probably agree with that, but maybe they “might not know” about my next statement. It is possible that if Adam had not followed Eve’s example and eaten the forbidden fruit, the genetic damage that causes death might not have been able to pass to their offspring.

The contribution of the male parent to the human autosome and allosome makes that statement theoretically possible. “Autosomal” DNA is inherited from both parents, “Mitochondrial” DNA from the mother alone, and Y-chromosomal DNA from the father alone. I think it is important that a scientific mechanism “just happens” to exist for Jesus to be physically different from us; to actually be a new kind of man as 1st. Corinthians 15:21-26, and 15:45-53 tell us.

Hebrews 4:15, tells us that Jesus was tempted as we are, yet without sin, so there wasn’t only an inherited difference, but he also made the right moral decisions at every twist and turn. He didn’t fall as did Adam and Eve. The only sin that afflicted Jesus was our sin. Our family tree is his cross.

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There are other Hebrew words associated with the names of Cain and Abel that I didn’t mention earlier. “Qana,” can mean zealous, jealous, or envious. Cain wouldn’t have liked the idea of his brother getting the better of him in anything. He probably felt like he was a better man than his brother. Maybe he was in many ways, but better is a relative term.

Cain didn’t recognize his potential for evil. God had warned him that sin was waiting “at the door,” but Cain’s anger prevented him from listening. It lay on his mind until it ruled his life (ref. “Whispers in the Mind,” and “Nachash” in my Dec. 2011 archives). I don’t know whether he killed Abel in a fit of rage, or whether he planned it, but it was murder either way. In the things that we think, and in the stuff that we do, we can easily lose sight of things that really matter. We can lose ourselves in the process.

In my previous post, I mentioned the Hebrew word “abad,” which is translated as “tiller,” in Genesis 4:2. Another Hebrew word transliterated as “abad,” also applies to Cain’s life. The Hebrew letters “Aleph,” and “Ayin,” are both transliterated into English as an “a,” as well as other vowels. “Abad,” spelled with ayin instead of aleph, means to wander away, disappear, or to lose yourself. It’s often translated “destroy.”

“Abel” (Hebel), is spelled with the Hebrew equivalent of the letters h, b, and l. A different spelling of “Abel,” using “aleph,” b, and l, is the word for a meadow, and also means “mourn,” and “bewail.” No doubt it’s the origin of our English word bawl ( loud crying). I think of Adam and Eve searching for Abel, calling his name across the empty meadows where he had kept his flocks.

If you separate the name Abel into two words, “Ab,” spelled with an “aleph,” and a “b,” means “Father,” and “El,” is the shortened form of the word “God.” Cain lost his way, and the spirit of Abel returned early to the Father in heaven. God tried to reason with Cain, but have you ever tried to reason with an angry man?

If Cain had only thought of the pain that he would cause, he might not have let something that began as a small problem lead to sacrificing everything for nothing. I’ve seen that sort of thing happen over and over. He may have felt like some great principle was at stake that called for the sacrifice of brotherly love, but he had little feeling except for himself.

The empathy that we feel for other human beings depends a lot upon our own experience. We can’t understand something very well if we haven’t experienced it ourselves. That is true even of those we love. When we see loved ones hurting, our pain can be greater than theirs in some ways, but we’re still seeing from the outside. Our feelings, and our pain, can even mask that of others. I’m sorry, but sometimes I can’t see you crying because of my own tears.

Sometimes, we can be like Cain, hurting our own selves, and there may nothing anyone can do but suffer along with us. The best thing is to take God’s advice, and “leave it at the altar (alter),” and seek to be reconciled to our brother (Matthew 5:23-24).

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