Down the rabbit hole with the Bible

I was looking up one verse, which referenced another, which referenced another. Let’s see where we end up. I was using the Tree of Life version, which I’m coming to like better than the Holman Christian Standard Bible. This isn’t for everyone because there are a lot of Hebrew words in it.
I think it is interesting to note that the Christian Bible is a translation from the very beginning – that the New Testament was written in low Greek (common, everyday Greek) but the people who are being quoted were speaking in either Aramaic or Hebrew. It was written in Greek to appeal to the most people – to try to reach the majority of people with the message, but in order to do this, it was a translation.
Feel free to follow along in whatever translation you like, and to read these in context. The “Bible Gateway” website is very helpful for this because it has hyperlinks to the additional verses at the bottom of each page.

This is where I started –
Psalm 2:7
I will declare the decree of ADONAI.
He said to me: “You are My Son—
today I have become Your Father.

Which referred to this –

MT 3:17 (This is just after Jesus is baptized by John)
And behold, a voice from the heavens said, “This is My Son, whom I love; with Him I am well pleased!”

Which referred to this –

Prov. 30:4
Who has gone up into heaven, and come down?
Who has gathered the wind in the palm of His hand?
Who has wrapped the waters in a cloak?
Who has established all the ends of the earth?
What is his name and what is the name of His son—if you know?”

Which then refers to three different places – (JN 3:13, Eph 4:8 and Rev 19:12, in that order. I’ve changed the order because there are verses mentioned with the Ephesians verse. I’ve also expanded the Ephesians reference to give it context.)

JN 3:13 (This is Jesus speaking)
No one has gone up into heaven except the One who came down from heaven—the Son of Man.

Rev 19:12
12 His eyes are like a flame of fire, and many royal crowns are on His head. He has a name written that no one knows except Himself.

Eph. 4:7-10
7 But to each one of us grace was given in keeping with the measure of Messiah’s gift. 8 Therefore it says, “When He went up on high, He led captive a troop of captives and gave gifts to his people.” 9 Now what does “He went up” mean, except that He first went down to the lower regions of the earth? 10 The One who came down is the same One who went up far above all the heavens, in order to fill all things.

Eph. 4:8 refers to Psalm 68:19
You went up on high.
You led captivity captive.
You received gifts from humanity,
even from the rebellious—
so that God might dwell there.

And Eph. 4:10 refers to Isaiah 44:23
Sing, O heavens, for ADONAI has done it!
Shout, depths of the earth!
Break forth into singing, mountains,
forest, and every tree in it!
For ADONAI has redeemed Jacob
and will be glorified through Israel.

And relevant to all of this is the entire first chapter of Paul’s letter to the Hebrews –

At many times and in many ways, God spoke long ago to the fathers through the prophets. 2 In these last days He has spoken to us through a Son, whom He appointed heir of all things and through whom He created the universe. 3 This Son is the radiance of His glory and the imprint of His being, upholding all things by His powerful word. When He had made purification for our sins, He sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high. 4 Thus He became as far above the angels as the name He has inherited is more excellent than theirs.
5 For to which of the angels did God ever say,
“You are My Son.
Today I have become Your Father”?
And again,
“I will be to Him a Father,
and He will be to Me a Son”?
6 And again, when He brings the firstborn into the world, He says,
“Let all the angels of God worship Him.”
7 And regarding the angels He says,
“He makes His angels winds,
and His servants a flame of fire.”
8 But regarding the Son He says,
“Your throne, O God, is forever and ever,
and a scepter of uprightness is the scepter of Your Kingdom.
9 You have loved righteousness and hated lawlessness;
therefore God, Your God, has anointed You with the oil of gladness above Your companions.”
10 And,
“In the beginning, ADONAI,
You laid the foundation of the earth,
and the heavens are the works of Your hands.
11 They shall pass away, but You remain.
And they will all wear out like clothing.
12 And like a robe You will roll them up,
and like clothing they will be changed;
but You are the same,
and Your years shall never end.”
13 But to which of the angels has He ever said,
“Sit at My right hand,
until I make Your enemies a footstool
for Your feet”?
14 Are they not all ministering spirits, sent out for service to those about to inherit salvation?

——- Which itself has many references within it. You may feel that you are getting drawn into a maze – but know that you aren’t getting lost. At the center of that maze is the One who calls you, who knows you by name.

Offended by Jesus? (a meditation on Matthew 11:6)

There’s a line in the Gospels that I’ve wrestled with for a long time. It is in Matthew 11:6. It reads – “And if anyone is not offended because of Me, he is blessed.” (HCSB)

This has not made sense to me until now.

Here it is in context –
Mt 11:2-6 (HCSB)
2 When John heard in prison what the Messiah was doing, he sent a message by his disciples 3 and asked Him, “Are You the One who is to come, or should we expect someone else?” 4 Jesus replied to them, “Go and report to John what you hear and see: 5 the blind see, the lame walk, those with skin diseases are healed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, and the poor are told the good news. 6 And if anyone is not offended because of Me, he is blessed.”

Here is the rendition I put together for the Condensed Gospel, using HCSB, TLB, NRSV and NIV –

John’s disciples brought him reports about everything that Jesus was doing when John was in prison. John sent two of them to Jesus to ask him “Are you the one we have been waiting for, or should we keep looking?” Jesus was healing many people of physical and mental illness at this time. He answered their question “Report back to John everything that you have seen and heard – the blind are able to see, the lame can now walk, skin diseases are cleared up, the deaf can now hear, the dead are raised back to life, and the good news is preached to the poor. Also tell him this – anyone who is not outraged by who I am is happy.”

And yet this still isn’t enough.

I now know about a Messianic Jewish translation of the Bible that is called the Tree of Life. Here is that same section in that version –

2 Now when John heard in prison about the works of the Messiah, he sent word through his disciples 3 and said to Yeshua, “Are You the Coming One, or do we look for another?” 4 Yeshua replied, “Go report to John what you hear and see: 5 the blind see and the lame walk, those with tzara’at are cleansed and the deaf hear, and the dead are raised and the poor have good news proclaimed to them. 6 Blessed is the one who is not led to stumble because of Me.”

For further study, the TLV cross references with the verses in Isaiah that Jesus is referring to. They are these – 35:5-6; 26:19; 29:18-19; 61:1. They prove that Jesus (Yeshua) is fulfilling the prophecies of Isaiah, which for John would be enough to know that this means that Jesus is the One that they had been awaiting – the Messiah.

As an aside, I think it is important to note that Jesus never came out and said that he was the Messiah (which is the charge leveled against him by the Sanhedrin – a charge he was innocent of). He simply pointed people towards the prophecies – the signs of what to look for and then pointed to what he was doing. Do they match? If so, there is your answer.

But verse 6 in Matthew 11 is the focus right now – “Blessed is the one who is not led to stumble because of Me.”

Jesus often talks about how important it is that religious leaders teach their students how to follow in the correct path. He often railed against the Pharisees who made up extra rules for people to follow and in so doing caused them to ignore or even violate the commandments of God. He often said that to cause anyone to be led astray is a huge offense.

It is important to understand that God’s commandments are not really laws, but a way of life. The word “Halacha” which is translated as “Jewish Law” means something so much deeper. It really means “Walk”. It is a way of living that makes you holy. It is a path towards and with God.

What Jesus is saying here is related to the idea of “You will know a tree by its fruit”. Look at those who follow him and see what they do. They are doing good deeds and living correctly. This is proof that his teaching is valid. Those who follow his teachings are blessed, because they have not been made to falter in their walk. He teaches correctly, and his followers are blessed because of it. They are not harmed by him, like so many other people’s followers are, but blessed and strengthened.

What’s in a name?

Around late Advent, just before Christmas, it is common to have this reading from the Gospels:

Matthew 1:18-23

18 The birth of Jesus Christ came about this way: After His mother Mary had been engaged to Joseph, it was discovered before they came together that she was pregnant by the Holy Spirit. 19 So her husband Joseph, being a righteous man, and not wanting to disgrace her publicly, decided to divorce her secretly. 20 But after he had considered these things, an angel of the Lord suddenly appeared to him in a dream, saying, “Joseph, son of David, don’t be afraid to take Mary as your wife, because what has been conceived in her is by the Holy Spirit.  21 She will give birth to a son, and you are to name Him Jesus, because He will save His people from their sins.” 22 Now all this took place to fulfill what was spoken by the Lord through the prophet: 23 See, the virgin will become pregnant and give birth to a son, and they will name Him Immanuel which is translated “God is with us.”

Matthew 1:23 refers to Isaiah 7:14.

Isaiah 7:14

14 Therefore, the Lord Himself will give you a sign: The virgin will conceive, have a son, and name him Immanuel.

(FYI – Immanuel is sometimes spelled “Emmanuel”.)

So is the prophecy fulfilled? A virgin did conceive and give birth to a son – but he was named Jesus, not Immanuel.  Does it matter?

Jesus is the Greek form of the Hebrew name “Joshua,” which means “The Lord saves” or “Yahweh saves.”

So his name doesn’t even mean the same thing – “God is with us” and “The Lord saves” are not the same.

It reminds me of the discrepancy with the death and resurrection – it wasn’t three days – it wasn’t even 48 hours – that Jesus was entombed.

Does it matter?

Is it a deal breaker?

And how come nobody else has pointed this out?

 

(All translations are from the Holman Christian Standard Translation)

Blessed is he who comes in the name of the LORD

Psalm 91:1-6
1 The one who lives under the protection of the Most High
dwells in the shadow of the Almighty.
2 I will say to the LORD, “My refuge and my fortress,
my God, in whom I trust.”
3 He Himself will deliver you from the hunter’s net,
from the destructive plague.
4 He will cover you with His feathers;
you will take refuge under His wings.
His faithfulness will be a protective shield.
5 You will not fear the terror of the night,
the arrow that flies by day,
6 the plague that stalks in darkness,
or the pestilence that ravages at noon.

Luke 13:34-35
34 “Jerusalem, Jerusalem! She who kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to her. How often I wanted to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, but you were not willing! 35 See, your house is abandoned to you. And I tell you, you will not see Me until the time comes when you say, ‘He who comes in the name of the Lord is the blessed One’!”

Psalm 118:8-27
8 It is better to take refuge in the LORD
than to trust in man.
9 It is better to take refuge in the LORD
than to trust in nobles.
10 All the nations surrounded me;
in the name of Yahweh I destroyed them.
11 They surrounded me, yes, they surrounded me;
in the name of Yahweh I destroyed them.
12 They surrounded me like bees;
they were extinguished like a fire among thorns;
in the name of Yahweh I destroyed them.
13 You pushed me hard to make me fall,
but the LORD helped me.
14 The LORD is my strength and my song;
He has become my salvation.
15 There are shouts of joy and victory
in the tents of the righteous:
“The LORD’s right hand performs valiantly!
16 The LORD’s right hand is raised.
The LORD’s right hand performs valiantly!”
17 I will not die, but I will live
and proclaim what the LORD has done.
18 The LORD disciplined me severely
but did not give me over to death.
19 Open the gates of righteousness for me;
I will enter through them
and give thanks to the LORD.
20 This is the gate of the LORD;
the righteous will enter through it.
21 I will give thanks to You
because You have answered me
and have become my salvation.
22 The stone that the builders rejected
has become the cornerstone.
23 This came from the LORD;
it is wonderful in our eyes.
24 This is the day the LORD has made;
let us rejoice and be glad in it.
25 LORD, save us!
LORD, please grant us success!
26 He who comes in the name
of the LORD is blessed.
From the house of the LORD we bless you.
27 The LORD is God and has given us light.

Isaiah 62:10-12
10 Go out, go out through the gates;
prepare a way for the people!
Build it up, build up the highway;
clear away the stones!
Raise a banner for the peoples.
11 Look, the LORD has proclaimed
to the ends of the earth,
“Say to Daughter Zion:
Look, your salvation is coming,
His reward is with Him,
and His gifts accompany Him.”
12 And they will be called the Holy People,
the LORD’s Redeemed;
and you will be called Cared For,
A City Not Deserted.

Matthew 21:1-10
When they approached Jerusalem and came to Bethphage at the Mount of Olives, Jesus then sent two disciples, 2 telling them, “Go into the village ahead of you. At once you will find a donkey tied there, and a colt with her. Untie them and bring them to Me.3 If anyone says anything to you, you should say that the Lord needs them, and immediately he will send them.”
4 This took place so that what was spoken through the prophet might be fulfilled:
5 Tell Daughter Zion,
“Look, your King is coming to you,
gentle, and mounted on a donkey,
even on a colt,
the foal of a beast of burden.”
6 The disciples went and did just as Jesus directed them. 7 They brought the donkey and the colt; then they laid their robes on them, and He sat on them. 8 A very large crowd spread their robes on the road; others were cutting branches from the trees and spreading them on the road. 9 Then the crowds who went ahead of Him and those who followed kept shouting:
Hosanna to the Son of David!
He who comes in the name
of the Lord is the blessed One!
Hosanna in the highest heaven!
10 When He entered Jerusalem, the whole city was shaken, saying, “Who is this?” 11 And the crowds kept saying, “This is the prophet Jesus from Nazareth in Galilee!”

Luke 20:9-18
9 Then He began to tell the people this parable: “A man planted a vineyard, leased it to tenant farmers, and went away for a long time. 10 At harvest time he sent a slave to the farmers so that they might give him some fruit from the vineyard. But the farmers beat him and sent him away empty-handed. 11 He sent yet another slave, but they beat that one too, treated him shamefully, and sent him away empty-handed. 12 And he sent yet a third, but they wounded this one too and threw him out.
13 “Then the owner of the vineyard said, ‘What should I do? I will send my beloved son. Perhaps they will respect him.’
14 “But when the tenant farmers saw him, they discussed it among themselves and said, ‘This is the heir. Let’s kill him, so the inheritance will be ours!’ 15 So they threw him out of the vineyard and killed him.
“Therefore, what will the owner of the vineyard do to them? 16 He will come and destroy those farmers and give the vineyard to others.”
But when they heard this they said, “No—never!”
17 But He looked at them and said, “Then what is the meaning of this Scripture:
The stone that the builders rejected—
this has become the cornerstone?
18 Everyone who falls on that stone will be broken to pieces, and if it falls on anyone, it will grind him to powder!”

(All verses are HCSB)

On marriage for priests.

There is heated debate these days on whether Catholic priests should be allowed to marry. Some priests have felt so strongly that they should be able to marry that they have left the Catholic church and become Episcopal or Lutheran. All Protestant denominations allow their ministers to marry, but these are the closest in ritual to Catholicism.

So, let us look at examples from the Bible, so that we don’t rely upon our own understanding (see Proverbs 3:5) Christians learned about God from the Jews, so it is fitting to look at the Hebrew Testament to see what Jews understood was God’s plan for their priests. Their traditions became the blueprint that the early Christian church started with.

The rules for what renders a person fit to be a priest are in Leviticus.  Among rules such as not touching a dead body except that of a close family member and not shaving the edge of his beard, we find these specific rules about who they aren’t allowed to marry –

They are not to marry a woman defiled by prostitution. They are not to marry one divorced by her husband, for the priest is holy to his God.” (Leviticus 21:7)

By spelling this out, we know that there are allowed to marry other people.

Then there are instructions about their daughters in 21:9.   We can logically infer from this that the daughter was legitimately conceived – hence the priest was married.

Verses 13-15 give more information as to who a priest is allowed to marry.   13 “He is to marry a woman who is a virgin. 14 He is not to marry a widow, a divorced woman, or one defiled by prostitution. He is to marry a virgin from his own people, 15 so that he does not corrupt his bloodline among his people, for I am Yahweh who sets him apart.”

This further proves that priests are allowed to marry.  Why say who they can and can’t marry if they aren’t allowed to?  Thus, marriage is appropriate and allowed for priests in Judaism.

These instructions are repeated and added to later in Ezekial 44:22.    “He is not to marry a widow or a divorced woman, but must marry a virgin from the offspring of the house of Israel, or a widow who is the widow of a priest.”

God does not want us to be alone.  It isn’t part of God’s plan for us. In Genesis 2:18 we read 18 Then the Lord God said, “It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper as his complement.”

One of Jesus’s early miracles was healing the mother-in-law of Simon Peter.  From this we must conclude that he was married – he wouldn’t have a mother-in-law otherwise.  Remember this is the person that Jesus built his entire Church upon (See Matthew 16:18).  He wouldn’t have chosen someone for so important a role that was doing something he thought was wrong.

“As soon as they left the synagogue at Capernaum, Jesus and the disciples went into Simon Peter’s house. His mother-in-law was in bed with a high fever. They asked Jesus to help her. He went to her, and taking her by the hand, he rebuked the fever. Immediately she was healed and she began to wait on them. Later that evening, people began bringing those who were sick and possessed to him. He healed them by laying his hands on them and he drove out demons with a word. Those who were possessed had demons who were shouting “You are the Son of God!” But he told them not to speak because it wasn’t time yet for this to be known. What was spoken of by the prophet Isaiah was fulfilled with his actions. “He took up our infirmities and bore our diseases.” (Isaiah 53:4)”  (MT 8:14-17, MK 1:29-34, LK 4:38-41   Condensed Gospel)

Paul, in giving instructions to Titus, says in Titus 1:5-9
“5 This is why I left you in Crete, that you might amend what was defective, and appoint elders in every town as I directed you, 6 if any man is blameless, the husband of one wife, and his children are believers and not open to the charge of being profligate or insubordinate. 7 For a bishop, as God’s steward, must be blameless; he must not be arrogant or quick-tempered or a drunkard or violent or greedy for gain, 8 but hospitable, a lover of goodness, master of himself, upright, holy, and self-controlled; 9 he must hold firm to the sure word as taught, so that he may be able to give instruction in sound doctrine and also to confute those who contradict it.”

These elders become bishops – leaders over others. They are allowed to marry – but only once. But they are allowed to marry.

But – all of this is irrelevant.  Jesus didn’t want priests to be different from the congregation.  He wanted us to all be equal, like brothers.  To have any group of people separate from the rest of the Body of Christ is to go against Christ’s teaching.

Luke 22:24-27   24 Then a dispute also arose among them about who should be considered the greatest. 25 But He said to them, “The kings of the Gentiles dominate them, and those who have authority over them are called ‘Benefactors.’26 But it must not be like that among you. On the contrary, whoever is greatest among you must become like the youngest, and whoever leads, like the one serving. 27 For who is greater, the one at the table or the one serving? Isn’t it the one at the table? But I am among you as the One who serves.

 

 

 

 

 

 

(All Bible translations are from the Holman Christian Standard Bible unless otherwise noted)

Jesus’ family – on the lie of the ever-virgin Mary

Why does the Catholic Church insist on saying that Mary is forever a virgin? She was a virgin at Jesus’ birth, but did not remain so. The Gospels tell us that Jesus had brothers and sisters in many different stories – in one they are even named. These are not step-children. Joseph had not been married before, and he and Mary did not divorce. Thus, all of his brothers and sisters were the children of Mary.

Does the Church presume that all of his siblings were also immaculately conceived?

Do they presume that Joseph never had marital relations with Mary? Is that reasonable?

It is normal an in fact encouraged for Jewish families to “be fruitful and multiply”. Having many children is a mitzvah. In fact, a woman is looked down on if she does not have many children.

Why does the Catholic Church insist on perpetuating this lie? And perhaps more importantly, why do Catholics accept it?

If they will lie about something so easily verified by the text, then what else would they lie about?

Here are the places in the Gospel that refer to Jesus’ siblings.

Luke 8:19-21

The mother of Jesus and his brothers came to him but were unable to join him because of the crowd. He was told, “Your mother and your brothers are standing outside and they wish to see you.” He said to them in reply, “My mother and my brothers are those who hear the word of God and act on it.”

John 7:1-9
Jesus traveled in Galilee from then on. He didn’t want to travel in Judea because the Jewish authorities were trying to find a way to have him killed. The Jewish festival of Sukkot was approaching.
Jesus’ brothers said “You should leave here and travel to Judea in order that your followers can see the miracles you are doing. Nobody does something privately if he is seeking public acclaim. If you are going to do these works, you should do them so everyone can see.” Not even his brothers believed in his message.
He said “My time isn’t here yet, but yours is always present. There is no reason for the world to hate you, but it hates me because I speak up about it and its evil acts. Go up to the festival by yourselves. I’m not going yet because it isn’t my time.” He stayed in Galilee after he said this.

MT 12:46-50, MK 3:31-35, LK 8:19-21 (Condensed Gospel)
His mother and siblings came to him while he was speaking with a large crowd but they couldn’t reach him. They sent word that they wanted to speak with him. Someone in the crowd told him “Look, your mother and siblings are standing outside waiting to speak with you.” Instead of going out, he said “Who is my family?” Indicating his followers who were seated in a circle around him, he said “Here they are! Whoever hears and does the will of my Father in heaven is my mother and brother and sister.”

((This was the response of the congregation after Jesus declares that the words of the prophet Isaiah are fulfilled by him –

MT 13:54b-57a, MK 6:2b-3, LK 4:22 (Condensed Gospel)
They were amazed and said “How did he get to be so wise, and how is he able to perform miracles? Isn’t this Joseph the carpenter’s son? Isn’t his mother Mary, and isn’t he the brother of James, Joseph, Simon, and Judas? Aren’t all his sisters sitting here with us? Where does he get these ideas?” They were offended by what he said.

Dividing the waters

We tend to think of Moses being the only person who divided large bodies of water in the Bible, but there were three others.

The prophet Elijah at the Jordan:
2 Kings 2:7-8
7 Fifty men from the sons of the prophets came and stood facing them from a distance while the two of them stood by the Jordan. 8 Elijah took his mantle, rolled it up, and struck the waters, which parted to the right and left. Then the two of them crossed over on dry ground.

His successor, Elisha, at the Jordan:
2 Kings 2:13-14
13 Elisha picked up the mantle that had fallen off Elijah and went back and stood on the bank of the Jordan. 14 Then he took the mantle Elijah had dropped and struck the waters. “Where is the LORD God of Elijah?” he asked. He struck the waters himself, and they parted to the right and the left, and Elisha crossed over.

The famous scene with Moses:
Exodus 14:15-22
15 The LORD said to Moses, “Why are you crying out to Me? Tell the Israelites to break camp. 16 As for you, lift up your staff, stretch out your hand over the sea, and divide it so that the Israelites can go through the sea on dry ground. 17 I am going to harden the hearts of the Egyptians so that they will go in after them, and I will receive glory by means of Pharaoh, all his army, and his chariots and horsemen. 18 The Egyptians will know that I am Yahweh when I receive glory through Pharaoh, his chariots, and his horsemen.” 19 Then the Angel of God, who was going in front of the Israelite forces, moved and went behind them. The pillar of cloud moved from in front of them and stood behind them. 20 It came between the Egyptian and Israelite forces. The cloud was there in the darkness, yet it lit up the night. So neither group came near the other all night long. 21 Then Moses stretched out his hand over the sea. The LORD drove the sea back with a powerful east wind all that night and turned the sea into dry land. So the waters were divided, 22 and the Israelites went through the sea on dry ground, with the waters like a wall to them on their right and their left.

And last, Moses’ successor, Joshua at the Jordan.
Joshua 3:9-16 (HCSB)
9 Then Joshua told the Israelites, “Come closer and listen to the words of the LORD your God.” 10 He said: “You will know that the living God is among you and that He will certainly dispossess before you the Canaanites, Hittites, Hivites, Perizzites, Girgashites, Amorites, and Jebusites 11 when the ark of the covenant of the Lord of all the earth goes ahead of you into the Jordan. 12 Now choose 12 men from the tribes of Israel, one man for each tribe. 13 When the feet of the priests who carry the ark of the LORD, the Lord of all the earth, come to rest in the Jordan’s waters, its waters will be cut off. The water flowing downstream will stand up in a mass.” 14 When the people broke camp to cross the Jordan, the priests carried the ark of the covenant ahead of the people. 15 Now the Jordan overflows its banks throughout the harvest season. But as soon as the priests carrying the ark reached the Jordan, their feet touched the water at its edge 16 and the water flowing downstream stood still, rising up in a mass that extended as far as Adam, a city next to Zarethan. The water flowing downstream into the Sea of the Arabah (the Dead Sea) was completely cut off, and the people crossed opposite Jericho.

In spite of all these miracles, we have to remember that Elijah, Elisha, Moses, and Joshua did not divide the waters. God did. They were simply the people who God worked through to make these miracles happen. It is like when someone asks for prayers for healing, and they give credit to their pulling through to the people who prayed. We must always remember the One who answers prayers. We must pray, certainly, but it is important to remember the One we are praying to, the author of healing.