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Thursday, July 23, 2015
Last time we looked at this chapter I made the observation from verse 5 that we can actually give pleasure to the infinite Creator and Ruler of all reality by trusting (having faith) in him. Verse 6 takes it a step further and tells us that pleasing God is IMPOSSIBLE without faith!
Thursday, July 9, 2015
We know very little about Enoch. In the Bible he is mentioned only briefly in the Bible and usually as no more than a detail of genealogy or geography. In Jude 1:14 he is called “the seventh from Adam”, likely only because his name appears 7th in order in two Old Testament genealogies beginning with Adam. (Genesis 5, 1 Chronicles 1)
Jude, in talking about people who have entered the Christian community and warped the truth, said:
It was also about these that Enoch, the seventh from Adam, prophesied, saying, “Behold, the Lord comes with ten thousands of his holy ones, to execute judgment on all and to convict all the ungodly of all their deeds of ungodliness that they have committed in such an ungodly way, and of all the harsh things that ungodly sinners have spoken against him.” (Jude 1:14-15)
Jude is actually quoting “The Book Of Enoch” here. This non-canonical book has never been considered scripture by mainstream Judaism or Christianity. It's not a book that Jesus would have considered scripture. But authors of scripture occasionally quote non-scripture that contains an element of truth, which apparently this portion of the Book Of Enoch does.
So from this we can see that Enoch's faith involved an absolute sureness regarding the justice of God and his unstoppable plan to make right all the wrongs of the world, dealing with ALL sin, once and for all, and silencing all the voices that pridefully speak against God.
I really enjoy digging into the themes, virtues and philosophies being presented in geek entertainment. Creative types in all mediums, myself included, often inject their worldviews, intentionally or not, in the entertainment they create. Some of these themes are so thought-provoking to audiences that the creators themselves, and popular commentators, are given a platform to voice their opinion and teach or inform others regarding their beliefs and values. Entertainment is a useful and powerful tool!
However I go back and forth between being saddened and angered as I see these voices of geek entertainment neglecting or even boldly rejecting Jesus. I think about those who already reject Jesus and the encouragement this give them to continue in that. I think about those on the fence or close to it who are swayed further from the truth by these voices that are well-read with strong vocabularies who, despite these attributes, have chosen to selectively ignore truth.
I feel the urge to fire off a long-winded Youtube comment, dismantling their weak arguments and foolish assumptions. And maybe there's a place for that sometimes. But not without first remembering to have faith like Enoch, who knew that he didn't have to fix the world. Yahweh has a day for that. He's going to take care of that.
So my plans to rip apart the worldview of a popular Youtube voice in the comments change to a simple book recommendation and a “thank you” for the content they produced. Because God has a day set aside. And my defensive, anger-fueled attempts to save the world one person at a time on Youtube are more likely to muck things up than do any good.
We also see from Genesis 5:22 and 24 that Enoch “walked with God”. The Hebrew word for “walk” in these verses is often used to describe a manner of life. It was Enoch's way of life to just do things “with God”. He probably didn't compartmentalize his activities as “religious” and “non-religious” or “spiritual” and “non-spiritual”. He did life “with God” by default.
And apparently because of his faith or “by faith”, Enoch did not experience death, but was simply “taken” by God. (Hebrew manuscripts of Genesis do not necessarily imply this, but the Septuagint, the Greek translation quoted by Jesus and New Testament authors, more specifically suggests this, which the author of Hebrews confirms.) What an amazing reward for this man's unshakable trust in Yahweh!
If God has a “love-language”, it's trust. God loves us no less if we don't trust him. But consider for a second that we can give pleasure to the infinite God of all reality by trusting in him! He feels pleasure when we trust that he really is good and really will provide rescue from this world. Or when we trust his love for us enough to not become defensively angry when we feel attacked. Or when we trust that involving him in the details of our lives will ultimately bring more fulfillment and not less.
Saturday, July 4, 2015
A review of Terminator: Genisys, some discussion about CG in movies and a further look at "faith" in the book of Hebrews!
Friday, July 3, 2015
The word for “commendation” here is a bit elusive to me. The original Greek word means “to be a witness, to bear witness, i.e. to affirm that one has seen or heard or experienced something”. So some scholars say the idea communicated here is that these “people of old” had witness borne TO them because of their faith, the idea possibly being that because of their faith, these people experienced revelation of knowledge about God. However the English word often used to translate this word is “commendation” or something similar, implying that because of their faith they were in some way positively labeled by God.
The King James takes a middle road approach saying “they obtained a good report”, which could mean that they either heard a good report about God in the form of revelation, or that good things were reported about them because of their faith.
In the Hebrew language and writing style, it is often the case that multiple, non-contradictory meanings are intended, so this may be the case here in a book written by a Hebrew, for Hebrews.
The Greek word translated “the universe” here more literally means “the ages”. This seems significant to me, since it includes not just all that is and has been but time itself as a creation of God. Scientists have since come to agree that time itself has a beginning, which would seem to once again place the word of God ahead of the curve when it comes to our understanding of life and the realities around us.
In this immediate context, the author seems to be refuting an idea circulating in the first century that there was no God and yet there WAS some kind of “creation” event. The author affirms the creation event and identifies its source as God. This perception and understanding comes, as the author says, because of faith.
People often think of faith as something we hold on to when we don't understand something. And at times that's certainly true when life hits the fan. But as the author points out here, faith also facilitates understanding. For example, there are many scholars who subscribe to very late dating of the Old Testament books. But as we track down the specific reasons they give for dating the books these ways the logic is flimsy and the reasoning manufactured out of a seeming desire to deny the possibility of predictive prophecy and other miraculous events described in the Bible. But as faith allows for even the possibility of the miraculous, self-imposed mental barriers are destroyed and data comes together to reveal things that should have been more obvious before.
While Cain simply brought an offering of “the fruit of the ground”(Genesis 4:3) to give to Yahweh, Abel more specifically and sacrificially gave “the firstborn of his flock”(4:4). The very first “profit” Abel gained from his work as a shepherd he gave to God. By not protectively clinging to his first profits, Abel showed trust that God would provide for him. He also communicated something about the worth of God by giving something so precious.
Because Abel gave in this way, God considered him to be “righteous”, meaning that he was fulfilling the standards set forth by God. It wasn't the gift itself, but the trust and love it communicated that counted as “righteousness”. And this example of “faith” still speaks to us today.
Unlike the trends in sci-fi storytelling that present faith as a barrier to knowledge and discovery, faith in what God has revealed actually allows us to think and perceive more clearly, understanding reality better.
And although it may be a tendency among us geeks to keep a tight grip on our hobbies and comforts, faith also results in love and risk-taking sacrifice for God.