Archive for the ‘Shroud of Turin’ Category

Clear communication is difficult, and when it’s concerning a difficult subject that people have strong feelings about, then it can become nearly impossible. People start trying to shut each other up. At the tower of Babel, God divided man’s one original language into several (Genesis 11:1-9). It seems a strange thing for God to have done, but language barriers have made it more difficult for dictators to control the world’s population (ref. The Tower Code, my post of Oct. 12, 2014).

For us to have a real understanding of one another, and of God, we must have freedom of speech, even if we must begin with different languages. The first amendment to the U.S. Constitution recognizes the necessity of the freedoms of Religion, Speech, Press, Peaceable Assembly, and Petition. Without these things, there is no forum for reason, but only for fear and war. Yet today, all around the world by use of force and intimidation, terrorists seek to suppress basic human rights and freedoms.

If they could do so, by deception, violence, or whatever means, terrorists and dictators would silence all testimony of Jesus Christ. That will be a priority for Antichrist when he rises to power. Regardless of their claims, those who silence others by force are not following God’s example. Love and understanding cannot find full expression without freedom. These are things that God seeks to teach us that cannot simply be forced upon intelligent beings.

Man doesn’t want to play by the same rules, however. One of the most deceptive effects of man’s interpretations of good and evil (Genesis 3:1-13), is that we mistakenly come to believe we can readily distinguish between the two. In reality, only God can clearly do so. Evil often does not recognize itself as evil, and the only hope for its enlightenment is God, therefore God seeks depth of communication, and the freedom to reason (Isaiah 1:18) with man. The living God seeks to reveal himself to a lost world, while the world endeavors to shroud that revelation in secret.

Because of the confusion of languages at the tower of Babel, and due to the fact that languages evolve, as well as devolve, there is much confusion over the identity of God. What is his name, and what is his son’s name, if you can tell (Proverbs 30:4)? What if God were to visit the earth as a man (ref. “Immanuel,” Isaiah 7:14, & 9:6)? What if he told us his name beforehand, but over time it became confused?

My mention of the name of Jesus isn’t intended to offend anyone, but is an attempt to offer a helpful line of reason. In prophecy, the name “Jesus” is associated with “the righteous Branch,” (ref. Septuagint translation, Zechariah 6:11-12). Where does a branch grow? What if the world didn’t recognize God, and we killed him by nailing him to a tree.(Psalm 22:13-31, Isaiah 53)?

God, in the form of a man, didn’t have to turn the other cheek to man of course, but that’s what the Old Testament predicted would happen, and history records its fulfillment. Information on the fulfillment of these prophecies by Jesus is primarily recorded in the New Testament, but also in other religious writings of the era, as well as in a few secular records.

Mostly in the corrupted form of myths, much of the ancient world remembered the promise of God to send a deliverer. Most of the world did not, and does not however, accept that Jesus is that deliverer. Connected with a prophecy in Amos 6:10 (RSV), is the statement, “Hush (Shhh)! We must not mention the name of the Lord.” I don’t fully understand that particular prophecy, but it seems to me to contain an allusion to the Jewish practice of not speaking the personal name of God (YHWH) aloud, but saying “Lord” (Adonai) instead. My post, “Yud Heh Vav Heh, The Secret of YHWH,” in my November 2011 archives, is very important to the understanding of this present post, as well as those intended to follow.

In some areas of the world today, just as in the days of Rome (Revelation 6:9-11), Christians may be beheaded for confessing the name of Jesus. In the academic world, you might only encounter ridicule and censorship. “Shame,” is a Hebrew word that means “name,” but it’s ridiculous for the world to be ashamed of Jesus. That is like being ashamed of love, or of good behavior.

Relating to God, and to life, there is more confusion to be found in the present babble of propaganda and opinion, than in the multitude of languages. In the interest of freewill (Luke 2:25-35), God is allowing “the thoughts of many hearts to be revealed,” but someday, God will speak again. The thoughts that we dwell upon, other thoughts that we suppress, the words that we speak, and all our actions, have consequences. Whether for better, or for the worse, these things change the world that we live in. Many of these things serve to shroud the truth in mystery.

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I had not heard of the Shroud of Turin until I was in my late twenties. A greater percentage of people probably know of its existence now, but I suspect the overall percentage remains low. It’s been two or three years since the Carbon-14 dating was proven wrong, but I only recently learned of that myself.

I don’t think there’s a huge conspiracy to keep the Shroud quiet, though I do believe there’s a devil. I think it’s mainly a fear factor that exists within human nature that keeps people from informing others. People could fear the shroud for different reasons. The image is of an unclothed, crucified man. Though the nakedness is hidden, the picture is a brutal one, like those we sometimes see on the news. A while back, I warned my family about the video from the tsunami in Japan, before turning the news back on. There are some things that you must see, even though you really don’t want to.

Some Christians fear that as a physical object, the shroud could become the focus of worship, and lead to idolatry. That can be the case with practically anything though. Some Atheists fear that it could be real. Some point out that even if it is authentic, it doesn’t prove Jesus was resurrected. It does point in that direction though.

There’s always a temptation to avoid controversial subjects, especially if you don’t know much about them. It’s easier to do that than it is to learn something about your subject. To avoid controversy, and fit in with the world, many churches accept evolution and whatever else comes down the pike. They reinterpret the Bible to fit current opinions and trends. Other churches become so authoritarian in their doctrines that those who have honest questions hesitate to ask them.

You find much hostility toward Creationism in the churches for these same reasons. People fear what they don’t understand. Even some Creationist groups don’t accept the shroud as authentic. Those who reject it, usually do so based upon some traditional interpretation of Scripture they’ve been taught. We need to take another look at the Shroud. The Bible can be interpreted to support it just as easily as not, and the logic of those who support the Shroud is sound.

If you were Peter, or John, or another of the disciples, and you found the shroud in the empty tomb of Jesus, wouldn’t you have kept it. I certainly would have. I would have folded it up, and tried to keep it hidden in a safe place. The image could possibly have formed slowly, and might not necessarily have been visible at the time. If it was, and the Lord’s enemies learned of it, it would have been targeted for destruction. Attempts have been made to destroy it during its known history.

Jesus Christ is a controversial character, which is partly why he was crucified. The Bible, the main source of information about him, is a controversial book. Creationism is a controversial interpretation of the world around us. The Shroud of Turin fits right in with these other things. They are always right in the middle of the battle, but the closer they are tested, the stronger the case for them becomes. From time to time, they may seem to suffer some set-back, but it’s always temporary.

The Catholic Church became the owner of the Shroud in 1983. Until that time, it had been owned by various individuals, though it had been kept in a church for several centuries. The transfer of ownership to the church might not have been the best thing. The church had the shroud cleaned in 2002, calling it a restoration. That may have rendered it impossible for science to obtain a good Carbon-14 dating. If another sample were retested, and a first century date were obtained, that dating would be contested because of the cleaning. Something else that everyone should know is that Carbon-14 dating can be influenced by many factors. Contaminants, as well as cleaning can affect its accuracy.

Vials of the stuff vacuumed from the shroud are said to have been kept for study. I assume that would include particles of dried blood from the cloth. No doubt, the blood will be studied. They will try to determine if it’s any different from other human blood.  Scientists have insisted that the blood on the Shroud is far too degraded for cloning. Other scientists have said the same thing about cloning a wooly mammoth, yet a team of Japanese scientists plan another attempt soon.

I doubt there’s enough dried blood from the Shroud for Carbon-14 dating of the blood, or for cloning either one. If by some miracle of science, a clone of the man in the Shroud could be created, it wouldn’t be Jesus. We know from the Bible, that is not the way he will return. I think that most often, a study of the Shroud of Turin draws us into a deeper study of Jesus, and that’s a good thing.

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Who was the first to use the expression, “Holier than thou?” Isaiah 65:5 in the KJV says these words have been spoken to God, “Don’t come near me, for I am holier than thou.” This is primarily speaking of religious people who have established standards that conflict with those of God, but it applies to every human being. If God appeared in his glory, man would fear to say something like that, but they said it when he came as a man (Jesus).

When Adam and Eve took from the tree of knowledge, they were taking it upon themselves to decide right from wrong. In essence, they were thinking to become like gods, or like God (ref. my page, the Tree of Knowledge). They no longer trusted God to teach them. When he stopped by to visit them afterward, they tried to hide from him. By the time God entered into the family of man, our understanding of right and wrong had become so distorted that many thought Jesus was the one in the wrong.

That has pretty much become the standard thinking in our day. The thing about the tree of knowledge is that people can reach an infinite number of conflicting conclusions because of it. That’s because much of what people think they know is based on their own training and experience. Everyone has their own standards. We’ve heard the expression about honor among thieves. Such a thing exists. Atheists and Evolutionists have their standards, as do Islamic people, Communists, Republicans, Democrats, Christians, all factions of all the above, plus endless unmentioned others.

The ignorance in the world doesn’t absolve us of guilt however, because the Bible teaches that we could have known better if we really wanted to. Besides that, sometimes we each violate our own principles when they become inconvenient for us. Problems that arise from multiple standards affect the whole world. They separate us from each other, and they separate us from God. The strong seek to impose their standards by any means possible upon those weaker than themselves. You can look at the Shroud of Turin as evidence of man’s inhumanity toward man.

I’m not going to try to write a book on the shroud, but it has much to teach us. It shows us how the Romans maintained control of their empire. Pathologists who have studied the shroud say that besides bruises from fists, the Shroud shows wounds on the victim from 60-120 lashes with a Roman flagrum. The flagrum was a short whip with three cords. The cords had pieces of metal or bone attached to their ends. The linen shroud shows wounds that appear to have been caused by a crown of thorns, and nails through the wrists and feet. Yeah, the Romans maintained law and order, but it was their law, and their order. They twisted things around until God was made out to be an outlaw.

For the Hebrew people, there was an Old Testament prohibition against wearing a garment of linen and wool combined. I’ve read of several possible reasons for this, and most of them are just common sense. Linen is cooler than wool, and easier to clean, and so on. The reason that makes the most sense is that moths and other insects that destroy wool cannot digest linen fibers. If you wanted a fabric to last, you would not mix wool with it. If you wanted a burial shroud such as the Shroud of Turin to last for ages, you would use linen.

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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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