20190514

Be pure-hearted!


God said to Avram: When Avram was 99 years old Adonai appeared to Avram and said to him, "I am El Shaddai [God Almighty]. Walk in my presence and be pure-hearted. (Genesis 17:1)

Jesus said to His Disciples: "How blessed are the pure in heart! for they will see God. (Matthew 5:8).

We need to work the purity of our heart if we want to walk in His presence and see (understand) what God is doing. 

With an impure heart you will stay blind, clueless, lost, hesitant and you will walk in circles on a desert, your life will be empty.

Say NO to eroticism, pornography, dirty thoughts and lust. Satan sends his impurity through the TV set, smartphone, computer, Internet, outdoors...never was so easy to get exposed to impurity. 

Do not be mistaken, the devil does not want to give you pleasure, he wants to blind you and derail you from your high destiny. Please God, keep yourself pure.

(The Scriptures on this post are from the Complete Jewish Bible).

20190511

Genesis 1:3-5 - When The Brightest Light was created


Then God said, "Let there be light"; and there was light.  God saw that the light was good; and God separated the light from the darkness.   God called the light day, and the darkness He called night. And there was evening and there was morning, one day. Genesis 1:3-5

Then God said, "Let there be light"; and there was light.

The Hebrew word for light is אוֹר , it is pronounced "orr" and  it means illumination in a spiritual sense, happiness, brightness, clarity. It is not referring to an object that reflects light as the Sun or a lamp do. The light created at this moment is an essential element with a strong spiritual meaning.

“The first thing created by the divine Word was light, the elementary light, or light-material, in distinction from the lights, or light-bearers, bodies of light, as the sun, moon, and stars, created on the fourth day, are called. It is now a generally accepted truth of natural science, that the light does not spring from the sun and stars, but that the sun itself is a dark body, and the light proceeds from an atmosphere which surrounds it. Light was the first thing called forth, and separated from the dark chaos by the creative mandate, -Let there be- the first radiation of the life breathed into it by the Spirit of God, inasmuch as it is the fundamental condition of all organic life in the world, and without light and the warmth which flows from it no plant or animal could thrive.” (a)

God saw that the light was good; and God separated the light from the darkness.  

The Hebrew word for separated is בָדַל , it is pronounced "bah-dahl" and means to be split, segregated, separated, isolated, detached, differentiated, to be set apart. 

Here we can learn a constant action made by God that repeats all along the Bible. God splits off, separates, isolates, detaches, differentiates light from darkness. He puts apart what is dedicated to Him. This is the definition of holiness: to be set apart for God, who is the only one holy as we read in Leviticus 19:2  "Speak to all the congregation of the sons of Israel and say to them, 'You shall be holy, for I the LORD your God am holy. 

God reveals in our hearts our spiritual darkness, bringing illumination to our understanding. He causes a reaction of separation, detaching us from the darkness of sin. He brings us under the beneficial influence of His light. When we are in sin, we live in spiritual darkness and we ignore our real situation. We know that something isn’t right inside us, some already know what kind of sin is dominating the soul, some are so deep wrapped in a selfish attitude looking only for pleasure to relief the inner pain, that live clueless about the darkness that are involved.

When someone has a real experience with the only God (the God of the Bible), and decides to believe and obey Him, the consequence is to get separated from the ones who do not believe God. It happened with Abraham, with the Hebrews and with the followers of Jesus Christ, or Yeshua Hamashiah. This separation is what God calls to be holy, to be set apart, to be dedicated exclusively to God.

My personal experience with the light of God:

As we read in Genesis 1:3, suddenly in an act of love and mercy, God calls the light over our life and we find a path to turn to God. In my personal case, I was a young man living under the pain of deception and poor choices. I was hurt by the divorce of my parents and bad sentimental experiences. Under a heavy stress and without helpful direction, I decided to take out my life.

On a sad sunset I went back to my home, came into my bedroom, close the door and turned off the light of the room. I walked to the window, opened it and knelt on the edge of the window. I began to move my body forward to jump from the fifth floor. In that moment the light of my bedroom turned on. I thought that my mother or my sister came in and when I turned my head to watch behind me, nobody was there. The light turned on by itself. I left the window weeping, thinking of the madness I had almost done and thinking of God. 

It was the first time in my life that on my knees I prayed to God. After that incident, I gave my life to Jesus Christ, who changed myself in a new person. Jesus healed my sadness, depression and deception. My life took a completely new path as a follower of Christ. 

Till today, more than forty years later, I see my lovely wife, my dear daughters and sons in law, the man that I became, married for 32 years to the same woman, a beloved father, a successful professional, pastor and I am thankful for that light that miraculously turned on interrupting my suicide, and specially for the spiritual light that illuminated my heart and guided me to repent and turn to God by Jesus Christ, my savior. Then I dedicated my life to Him, and I learned to live consecrated, separated for God.

God called the light day, and the darkness He called night.

God made a clear distinction between light and darkness. We do not have power neither rights to redefine this spiritual truth.

As the Rabbi Rashi said “But according to the plain sense explain it thus: He saw that it was good, and that it was not seemly that light and darkness should function together in a confused manner.” (b).

Currently we see people in darkness trying to modify God’s principles, but even that they are shouting loud, even they are creating sinful laws defying God's word, at the end God will show that nobody may defeat Him. Christ is coming back, first to rapture His church and finally to stablish the Kingdom of God on the Earth.

Some may think that God created the darkness, lets read this explanation from Augustine of Hippo: “And God divided the light and the darkness, and God called the light day and he called the darkness night.” It did not say here “God made the darkness,” because darkness is merely the absence of light. Yet God made a division between light and darkness. So too we make a sound by crying out, and we make a silence by not making a sound, because silence is the cessation of sound. (c)

And there was evening and there was morning, one day.

When you read in the Bible, Old and New Testament, about the period of one day keep in mind that a new day starts with the first three stars shine in the evening.
The Jewish people in biblical times and today, do not consider that a day ends at midnight as the other nations do.

Know your Bible!


References:

(a) Keil and Delitzsch Commentary on the Old Testament.
(b) Rabbi Shlomo Yitzchaki, known as Rashi (1040-1105 C.E), Commentary on Genesis.
(c) 13 November 354 – 28 August 430 AD)[1] was a Roman African, early Christian theologian and philosopher from Numidia whose writings influenced the development of Western Christianity and Western philosophy. He was the bishop of Hippo Regius in north Africa and is viewed as one of the most important Church Fathers in Western Christianity for his writings in the Patristic Period. 

20190502

Genesis 1:1-2. And this is just the beginning!


These series of posts are about the book of Genesis with references to selected studies from Jewish sages, Church’s Founding Fathers, serious theologians and personal findings.

(Genesis 1:1) In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth.

This is all that God considers necessary for us to know: He created all.

As the Bible teacher Tom Bradford* explained, God works by patterns. One of the divine patterns that we need to understand is that God divides, elects and separates individually and collectively.
In this case, the verse 1 of Genesis divides the readers in two main groups: the ones who believe and accept from the ones that distrust and reject the divine truth. This blog is for the first group, who desire to grow in knowledge and union with God, therefore it is not intended to raise discussions and arguments with the second group because I do not dare to challenge God neither His word. I decided to believe God many decades ago and I found that was the best decision of my life.
So, those who trust in God accept Genesis 1:1 and those who argue and reject it are putting themselves in a place of unbelief toward God, who according His Word will take the pertinent actions with them.

Serious scientists today do not believe anymore in random events that by chance ended into organized systems of life. The modern scientists accept that there are patterns in the microcosmos, in living beings, in the universe out of this planet and in every place that they can do scientific observations. The patterns show clearly an intelligent order presuming some sort of higher intelligence behind all. We know by Genesis that the higher intelligence behind the creation is God.
Many still live under the influence of philosophies inspired in outdated science of decades ago.
Modern science does not take seriously Darwinism. Groups who follow atheistic agendas believe in evolution without God. It’s remarkable to verify that is necessary faith to believe Darwin’s theories because Darwinism is not scientifically proven. Being clear that is a matter of faith, I prefer to put my faith in God’s word rather than in unstable human theories.
Many things that science considered true one century ago are not any longer valid, science premises change all the time, but God’s word is eternal.

(Genesis 1:2) And the earth was without form, and void; and darkness was upon the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters.

Darkness, from the Hebrew חֹ֖שֶׁךְ  is pronounced hoh-shek: this term refers to an spiritual darkness and not to the darknes as the absence of physical light coming from a light bulb or the sun. The darkness referred in Genesis 1:2 is associated to lacking of goodness, lacking of understanding. The definition of this darkness is  figuratively misery, destruction, death, ignorance, sorrow, wickedness.

God intervened to cast out this kind of darkness because is inappropriate for the form of life that we know.

The enemies of God try to lure humans to inquire and get close to this darkness. You may see in pagan religions and in atheism the shadow of this darkness bringing misery, destruction, sorrow and wickedness. Observe the unhappiness of the individuals and nations that welcome witchcraft and or atheism in their lifestyle. And I say shadow because even being destructive to the human being, is weaker than the original darkness that God modified in the moment of the creation. You may think that God created something destructive, but the raw material of the creation described here is inappropriate for the human life existence.. 

The raw material of God’s creation was formless and empty for our human understanding but was rich and full of potential for God point of view. After God’s intervention it became a unique piece of creation. Only God can deal with darkness, formless and emptiness in such way that turns into illuminated, beauty and full purposed life.  

Those raw materials weren’t appropriate for the existence of human life before God’s intervention and our minds are not powerful enough to understand that state of things. We couldn’t live there, and we can’t grasp what really was in there, only the Creator was able to deal with that former state of things. God telling us how the universe was before His intervention is a huge act of kindness and mercy, because we are incapable by ourselves to figure it out that reality.

Spiritually speaking, our life is formless and empty before we accept God’s will by believing in the salvation provided through Jesus Christ. Away from God, human life lacks purpose and often is in a path of self-destruction. After the person accepts humbly God’s call and conditions, a miracle happens in this person rerouting his life to a new way of life, that the apostle Paul calls new creation.

John 1:1-5 reveals to us that Jesus Christ was in the very beginning of the Creation:

“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. The same was in the beginning with God. All things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that was made. In him was life; and the life was the light of men. And the light shineth in darkness; and the darkness comprehended it not.”

And Jesus said about himself: “I am come a light into the world, that whosoever believeth on me should not abide in darkness.” (John 12:46).

Know your Bible!

*Tom Bradford - Genesis:the Book of Foundations (at Amazon.com - Kindle book at location 2262)

20190408

Dubious teachings and the power of the original Scriptures


The Bible has several opponents since immemorial times but there is one particular people who has worked hard to preserve the Holy Scriptures: the Jewish nation. But curiously, if there is someone who could have strong reasons to destroy the Bible, is the Jewish nation!
I think that this only reason is enough to prove that there is indeed someone superior behind the preservation of the Holy Scriptures: God.

Anyone who have the chance to erase the evidences of his unfaithfulness and wrong doings would do it immediately! The Bible is a solid document that testifies against the Jewish nation and instead of destroying it, this nation made copies of it for centuries using all the available ways: by handwriting, printing and currently making it available on line.

As I said in a previous post, we owe the Holy Scriptures to the Jews. The Old and the New Testament was written by Jewish writers.

The Jewish Messiah, Jesus of Nazareth, said in Matthew 5:17-19: “Do not think that I came to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I did not come to abolish but to fulfill. For truly I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not the smallest letter or stroke shall pass from the Law until all is accomplished. Whoever then annuls one of the least of these commandments, and teaches others to do the same, shall be called least in the kingdom of heaven; but whoever keeps and teaches them, he shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven.”

I recalled Jesus' words in a study of the original Hebrew of the book of Genesis. I learned about an important issue related to a small symbol that represents the conjunction “and” in the first two verses of Genesis 1, the Hebrew letter Vav וְ (it is highlighted in red in the following Hebrew verses).
The Hebrew Bible says:
א בְּרֵאשִׁ֖ית בָּרָ֣א אֱלֹהִ֑ים אֵ֥ת הַשָּׁמַ֖יִם וְאֵ֥ת הָאָֽרֶץ:
ב וְהָאָ֗רֶץ הָֽיְתָ֥ה תֹ֨הוּ֙ וָבֹ֔הוּ וְח֖שֶׁךְ עַל־פְּנֵ֣י תְה֑וֹם וְר֣וּחַ אֱלֹהִ֔ים מְרַחֶ֖פֶת עַל־פְּנֵ֥י הַמָּֽיִם:

Only the English King James version preserved the original conjunction of the Hebrew text.
Let’s compare some of the versions (please check other versions not listed here):

King James
(1)  In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth.
(2)  And the earth was without form, and void; and darkness was upon the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters.

New American Standard Bible:
(1)  In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.
(2) The earth was formless and void, and darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was moving over the surface of the waters.

New International Version:
(1)  In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.
(2) Now the earth was formless and empty, darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was hovering over the waters.

Holman Christian Standard Bible:
(1)  In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.
(2) Now the earth was formless and empty, darkness covered the surface of the watery depths, and the Spirit of God was hovering over the surface of the waters.

As you can see, the conjunction “and” was omitted in these versions except the King James version.
I am not advocating in favor of the King James version in detriment of the others, my favorite English version are the New American Standard Bible and the Holman Christian Standard Bible, but the point is about how a translation may provide opportunities to insert teachings that are based in the translation ignoring the original text.

There are people teaching that between the verse 1 and 2 there is a gap in the timeline that could explain theories like the existence of the dinosaurs or even the rebellion of Satan.
They see an interruption between the two verses because most of the English translations do not include the word “and”. 

Curiously, versions in other languages do include the conjunction “and”.


The original Hebrew Scripture shows this conjunction that gives continuation of the sentences without suggesting an interruption and a consequent a gap in the timeline.

We must be aware of strange teachings that ignore the original Hebrew Bible and find support in a way of translation.

I do believe that the Bible translators use their best abilities and good intentions to deliver good versions of the Bible but there are people that elaborate teachings on translations instead of looking for their foundation in the original Scriptures.

Perhaps this article arises questions about the validity of modern Bible translations. Maybe you are asking “Is this Bible of mine reliable?”

My recommendation is to stick to the version that you love which God uses to speak to your heart. Get very familiar with it and using your favorite version as a starting point, if you are interested then begin to study the original languages of the Bible.

There are also wonderful tools that will show to you the original text and the translation word to word. One of these tools is the website BibluHub.com.

As rule of thumb remember that if you are a born again Christian, the Holy Spirit resides inside you and He will teach you all the truth.

Jesus said in John 16:13-14  "But when He, the Spirit of truth, comes, He will guide you into all the truth; for He will not speak on His own initiative, but whatever He hears, He will speak; and He will disclose to you what is to come.  He will glorify Me, for He will take of Mine and will disclose it to you.”

When you hear about a dubious teaching, the Holy Spirit will turn on a red light in your heart, so research the originals and be humble to ask to your pastor or a knowledgeable Bible teacher in your Church about any teaching that may sound fishy. God is protecting you all the time against the lies of the adversary and if you are following Jesus in faith and obedience, He will preserve you.

Know your Bible!

20190402

Your Bible was entrusted to the Jews before it became available to you

The First Bible was the Jewish Bible, this means that it was a Bible without the New Testament.

When the Apostle Paul wrote: All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness in 2 Timothy 3:16, he wrote this about the Old Testament because there was not a New Testament when he wrote this statement. So Paul, the herald of the salvation by grace only by faith in Jesus Christ, believed that all the Old Testament is inspired by God and fully valid after Jesus Christ died in the cross and have resurrected, therefore the Old Testament continued to be valid. The important point is that the salvation comes from the faith in Jesus' sacrifice and the obedience to God's law is not a mean to get saved, but a lifestyle of holiness.

Today's day there is a general belief that Christianity just needs to follow the New Testament and that the Old Testament is only for Jews, that also the New Testament have invalidated the Old Testament. This is not true.

Jesus, Simon Peter, James, Paul and the other apostles (all Jews) had only the Old Testament to preach the Gospel! The first community of followers of Jesus, known as The Way, had only the Old Testament as Holy Scriptures.

If this is the first time that you see Christians were not called Christians, but they were called as the Way, here are some references for you: Acts 19:9; 19:23; Acts 22:4; Acts 24:14; Acts 24:22.

The Way was one of the four groups of the Judaism: the Pharisees, the Sadducees, the Essenes and the Way. Today's day we call the last group Messianic Jews.

When you hear pastors preaching about Saul persecuting the Church, actually they are speaking about one of the leaders of the Pharisees Jews who persecuted the Messianic Jews and it was an intense internal fight among Jews. There was not a gentile Christian Church in that period.

The Hebrew Bible, that today Christians know as the Old Testament, is divided by the Jews in three sections: The Torah (The Law of Moses, that are the first five Books of Moses also called Pentateuch or simply The Law), the Nevi'im (that are all the books of the prophets) and the Ketuvim (all the remaining books).

These three sections, Torah, Nevi'im and Ketuvim have a Jewish acronym: TaNaKh.
So, when a Jew speaks about the Torah, is referring to the first five books, and when he wants to refer to all the Old Testament, he calls it TaNaKh.

Even that we Christians have called it Old Testament for centuries, I think that the proper way to think about it is the Jewish Bible or the First Testament, because calling it old brings the wrong idea of something outdated and no longer valid, that is absolutely false. The Jewish Bible or the first 39 books of the Christian protestant Bible is valid and extremely important to understand the New Testament. If we don't understand the Old Testament is very probable that we will misunderstand the New Testament.

The Jewish version of the Bible has 24 books because Judaism classifies the same books in a different way, but in essence, the 39 books in the Old Testament of the Protestant Bible and the 24 books in the Jewish Bible are the same.


Hebrew Bible
Protestant
Catholic
Tanakh
Old Testament
Old Testament
(24 books)
(39 books)
(46 books)
Torah
Pentateuch or the Five Books of Moses
Bereishit
Genesis
Genesis
Shemot
Exodus
Exodus
Vayikra
Leviticus
Leviticus
Bamidbar
Numbers
Numbers
Devarim
Deuteronomy
Deuteronomy
Nevi'im (Prophets)
Historical books
Yehoshua
Joshua
Joshua (Josue)
Shofetim
Judges
Judges
Rut (Ruth)
Ruth
Ruth
Shemuel
1 Samuel
1 Samuel (1 Kings)
2 Samuel
2 Samuel (2 Kings)
Melakhim
1 Kings
1 Kings (3 Kings)
2 Kings
2 Kings (4 Kings)
Divrei Hayamim (Chronicles)
1 Chronicles
1 Chronicles (1 Paralipomenon)
2 Chronicles
2 Chronicles (2 Paraleipomenon)



Ezra–Nehemiah
Ezra
Ezra (1 Esdras)
Nehemiah
Nehemiah (2 Esdras)


Tobit (Tobias)
Judith
Esther
Esther
Esther


1 Maccabees (1 Machabees)
2 Maccabees (2 Machabees)

Ketuvim (Writings)
Wisdom books
Iyov (Job)
Job
Job
Tehillim (Psalms)
Psalms
Psalms



Mishlei (Proverbs)
Proverbs
Proverbs
Qoheleth (Ecclesiastes)[
Ecclesiastes
Ecclesiastes
Shir Hashirim (Song of Songs)
Song of Solomon
Song of Songs (Canticle of Canticles)


Wisdom
Sirach (Ecclesiasticus)
Nevi'im (Latter Prophets)
Major prophets
Yeshayahu
Isaiah
Isaiah (Isaias)
Yirmeyahu
Jeremiah
Jeremiah (Jeremias)
Eikhah (Lamentations)
Lamentations
Lamentations


Baruch
Yekhezqel
Ezekiel
Ezekiel (Ezechiel)
Daniel
Daniel
Daniel

Twelve Minor Prophets
The Twelve 
Hosea
Hosea (Osee)
or 
Joel
Joel
Trei Asar
Amos
Amos

Obadiah
Obadiah (Abdias)

Jonah
Jonah (Jonas)

Micah
Micah (Michaeas)

Nahum
Nahum

Habakkuk
Habakkuk (Habacuc)

Zephaniah
Zephaniah (Sophonias)

Haggai
Haggai (Aggaeus)

Zechariah
Zechariah (Zacharias)

Malachi
Malachi (Malachias)


The Catholic Bible includes some extra books in the Old Testament that Jews and Protestant Christians do not consider as inspired books but only records of Jewish history left out of the holy Cannon. This deserves another post in the future.

The apostle Paul said that God entrusted to the Jews the responsibility of His Word and if the Jews do not consider these extra books as inspired, the gentile Catholic Church has not authority to declare any other book inspired by God. "The Jews have been entrusted with the very words of God."
Romans 3:2 - NVI.

The Old and the New Testament were written by Jewish people.

In the same way as the Old Testament, the 27 books of the New Testament were also written by Jews. The Jews who wrote the New Testament were Messianic Jews, or Jewish people who identified and accepted Jesus of Nazareth as the Jewish Messiah. The first generations of followers of Jesus were mainly Jews.

Jesus Christ was a faithful Jew, a recognized rabbi and His public life revealed the special characteristic of being the Anointed One, the Messiah, or as we Christians call, The Christ.
Jesus, or Joshua, was the important prophet announced by Moses, the main leader of the Judaism, in Deuteronomy 18:15 "The LORD your God will raise up for you a prophet like me from among you, from your countrymen, you shall listen to him." 

It is very important to be aware of the Jewish roots of our faith. Jesus Christ is not the God of the gentiles (non Jewish people). Jesus Christ is the Messiah sent by God father to the Jewish and the Gentiles for their salvation through faith in Him.

So if you love God and you love the Holy Bible, be grateful to the Jewish people and pray for them. Pray for peace in Israel and for a revival of faith among the Jewish nation.