Taking the Epistle

A biblical journey through the epistles

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God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control – 2nd Timothy 1:1-7

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God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control – 2nd Timothy 1:1-7 – 03/04/2016

Thank you for clicking on our page for the Pauline epistle which is called 2nd Timothy, the letter is authored by the apostle Paul to Timothy who was in the Ephesian church. This is called a Pastoral Epistle and gives many doctrines that we still use in both church structure and also for choosing leaders in the church. For other bible studies on other epistles please see our main epistle page or for others in 2nd Timothy please click on this link.

2nd Timothy 1:1 (ESV) Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God according to the promise of the life that is in Christ Jesus, 2 To Timothy, my beloved child: Grace, mercy, and peace from God the Father and Christ Jesus our Lord. Guard the Deposit Entrusted to You 3 I thank God whom I serve, as did my ancestors, with a clear conscience, as I remember you constantly in my prayers night and day. 4 As I remember your tears, I long to see you, that I may be filled with joy. 5 I am reminded of your sincere faith, a faith that dwelt first in your grandmother Lois and your mother Eunice and now, I am sure, dwells in you as well. 6 For this reason I remind you to fan into flame the gift of God, which is in you through the laying on of my hands, 7 for God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control.

When I set this blog up my intention was to explore the epistles and do the occasional bible study based on what I had studied and learned, what you are reading below is notes I have made. I have to confess that this bible study is basic in its content and is not prepared by a pastor and I have to admit I have no theological training; my hope in prayer is that someone will be blessed by the notes below.

Let’s start in verse one of the first chapter of Second Timothy.

V1 Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God according to the promise of the life that is in Christ Jesus,

Paul starts with a typical Pauline greeting calling himself and apostle of Christ Jesus and I doubt there would be many who would argue this fact, but what he said next is what makes the declaration interesting, he states that he is an apostle “by the will of God” and not according to self-ambition or some man declaring that he should take that position. God placed Paul in that ambassador role in order to eventually reach the Gentile world. The mere fact that you are reading this webpage is a continued fruit of that work.

Remember John 3:16? God so loved…the world! Paul was the guy who was going to be the missionary to take the gospel of Jesus beyond the traditional borders of the Jews. He as a Roman citizen had license to travel anywhere within the Roman Empire and this facilitated travel in a way that could not have been possible if that Empire was not still at large.

What are you doing “…by the will of God” What is your role? Are you a worship leader? Chair stacker? Prayer warrior? Encourager? Counselor? Regardless of how grand our servantlike you view your place in the kingdom of God we all have callings and a position that we need to play in the field and much like a team sport, if you are not in your position you will not take part in a victory that is assured for you.

Paul writes about the “promise of life” and this more extraordinary considering that Paul is imprisoned in Rome at this time and this time he is facing a sentence of execution and this letter is written after his re-arrest in Rome. So he is writing from a prison cell in the most desolate of conditions, imprisoned by an empire that is not known for their humanity for criminals and he is still writing letters of hope? How mind blowing is that for anyone else? This is the equivalent of a guy on death row who has become a Christian sending out letters to exhort those who still have liberty to believe.

V2 To Timothy, my beloved child: Grace, mercy, and peace from God the Father and Christ Jesus our Lord. Guard the Deposit Entrusted to You

Paul addresses this letter to Timothy who he describes as his beloved child, in our articles we did on First Timothy we examined the close relationship that Paul had with Timothy and Timothy was really like a relation to Paul and Timothy was very much a student of Paul. The words “grace, mercy and peace” are also used in the other pastoral letters 1st Timothy and Titus and this is a good reminder that these three things are required for leaders just as much and if not more than churches do. Pastors/leaders are men like the rest of us who have struggles like we do and require all three in greater portion. Spurgeon states the following…

“Did you ever notice this one thing about Christian ministers, that they need even more mercy than other people? Although everybody needs mercy, ministers need it more than anybody else; and so we do, for if we are not faithful, we shall be greater sinners even than our hearers, and it needs much grace for us always to be faithful, and much mercy will be required to cover our shortcomings. So I shall take those three things to myself: ‘Grace, mercy, and peace.’ You may have the two, ‘Grace and peace,’ but I need mercy more than any of you; so I take it from my Lord’s loving hand, and I will trust, and not be afraid, despite all my shortcomings, and feebleness, and blunders, and mistakes, in the course of my whole ministry.”

V3 I thank God whom I serve, as did my ancestors, with a clear conscience, as I remember you constantly in my prayers night and day.

Paul harks back to a time where his ancestors served God with a clear conscience and a clear heart when they approached God in the correct repentant manner, it certainly makes me think if I am more like the Old Testament Jewish believers who had a genuine fear of God and wanted to atone for their sins or have I come into the realms of the Pharisee who makes their worship to God a show and do it for their own selfish ends in order to seem holy?

Quite a question to ponder huh? Paul backs up this thought by stating his own spiritual integrity by stating that he remembered him constantly in his prayers both day and night and yes I do understand that Paul was in prison so there was precious little to do in there, however we in our own human nature will find ways of distracting ourselves if we allow our flesh to take over. Paul shows the volume and quantity of his prayers and that is to be admired. I would commend this to be a model in our own prayer lives, how about when you drive round your neighborhood, why not pray for the streets and houses as you pass them? How can you increase your prayer life?

V4 As I remember your tears, I long to see you, that I may be filled with joy.

Paul remarks that their parting was tearful, not in a bad way as Paul writes with such favor however it is clear that these men missed the company of one another and that seeing Timothy would make him filed with joy. We have to ask at this part what makes Paul happy. He answers below.

V5 I am reminded of your sincere faith, a faith that dwelt first in your grandmother Lois and your mother Eunice and now, I am sure, dwells in you as well.

Paul is happy when he is reminded of a sincere faith that Timothy had and it made Paul happy to see the will of God unfold in young men like Timothy and if we are teachers we must also have that goal, to invest in the Timothy’s that God places in our way, to assist the students who want to do his will, to mentor those who are younger in the faith and start them mentoring others to.

Paul references the strong belief of women who were pivotal to Timothy’s faith, we cannot underestimate the place that we have in our children’s lives in showing them whether our faith is genuine or not, in the book of Acts we learn the following…

Acts 16:1 (ESV) Paul came also to Derbe and to Lystra. A disciple was there, named Timothy, the son of a Jewish woman who was a believer, but his father was a Greek. 2 He was well spoken of by the brothers at Lystra and Iconium. 3 Paul wanted Timothy to accompany him, and he took him and circumcised him because of the Jews who were in those places, for they all knew that his father was a Greek. 4 As they went on their way through the cities, they delivered to them for observance the decisions that had been reached by the apostles and elders who were in Jerusalem. 5 So the churches were strengthened in the faith, and they increased in numbers daily.

So Timothy had a less than ideal home situation, the head of the home was not a believer and he was taught the faith by the female in the home. He was also well thought of by the folks who shared the same common faith he did and that is important, in those days it wasn’t like today where you may see your fellow church members once a week. In those days they lived together, they saw each other often and they were involved in each other’s lives, so if he had a good report then that meant that he was the real deal, people saw the faith was genuine from the fruits of the walk of the individual in person.

This is why Paul is sure that it dwells in him also, it is not enough to say “well my descendants had faith, I will be okay” I cannot get into heaven based on my father’s faith or my grandfathers, in the same way my daughter has to choose for herself also. As much as I would wish to be saved for her, she has to reason for herself that this faith is real. It is my job to be the real deal to her and show her that this is real. Paul reminds Timothy more in verse six…

V6 For this reason I remind you to fan into flame the gift of God, which is in you through the laying on of my hands,

Paul exhorts Timothy to use the gifts that God has blessed him with and be bold for Jesus Christ, we learn this in the first epistles to Timothy and Paul starts this epistle the same way and as leaders we have to be bold, be willing to stand in the way of contentious issues and I totally understand because I am also like Timothy that I am not in favor of being confrontational so I understand any angst that Timothy may have in a real and primary fashion.

Paul is encouraging him to not do this as sometimes the leader has to stand in conflict and resolve falsehoods that come into the church, challenge immoral behaviors and apply tough truths from scripture in love. Paul urges Timothy to stir up those gifting’s and be effective for use in his kingdom. We are not robots or zombies, God does gift us but allows us to use the gifts according to our talents but use them according to our willingness or drive. I know gifted pastors who would have a much better ministry if they were more driven or stirred up.

Paul said this should be through the laying of hands and that is something we should not neglect and we should use this common way even today in the commission of our people and asking them to either grant gifts, confirm gifts or commission them for the work of the ministry.

V7 for God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control.

God has supplied all the tools that Timothy needed in order to fulfil his calling that God has given, he has also given us a spirit which is not of fear and that the fear he faces is not from the Lord, his timidity is his own character but through prayer and supplications he will be strengthened in the Lord. I guess I am so passionate about this because I know that it is true and I know from personal experience that God does strengthen when I need it.

God has also given us a spirit of power, love and self-control; let’s look at these separately…

  • Power – We are empowered by God when we are doing his will and we have the creator of all things backing us up as we are the tool being used for his glory.
  • Love – This power is not a controlling power, it is a power of love, we love, we serve, we are different to this world and we pray for others that persecute us.
  • Self-Control – We are calm, not in a state of emergency or panic, we are not swayed by the rigors of this world. We are in contrast to that spirit of fear.

Don’t you agree that that spirit of fear is such a poor substitute for the riches that God wants to do for us? We are all different and are at different stages with the Lord however God wants us to be bold in the things we are called into. We have to get up, stop being lazy (me included) and get to what God has planned for our lives, for some that will be harder than others and for some it will be a step of faith. If we do indeed step out in God’s will, he will use us far more exceedingly than we could ever dream of.

Lord willing, in our next article in Second Timothy we look at verses eight through fourteen when Paul encourages Timothy and continues to strengthen Timothy by these exhorting words. I pray that you are able to join us as we go through the bible, line by line and precept by precept.

God bless and I pray this was a blessing and please feel free to like, share or comment on here or whatever social media platforms you use as the Lord leads you to, as always I love questions about this or any other article so please feel free to fill in the form below, all comments are moderated to avoid profanity.
TTE
TGBTG
SDG

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TTE Advent Calendar Day Nineteen – December 19th

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TTE Advent Calendar Day Nineteen – December 19th

Thank you for reading our nineteenth installment of our advent series, please check out our advent page for more articles in this series.

Today we look at the prophecy that the messiah would have his clothing gambled for. We read this is the book of Psalm chapter 22 which was written by King David …

Psalm 22:18 (ESV) they divide my garments among them, and for my clothing they cast lots.

We carry on from where we left it yesterday in Psalm 22. David spoke about he could see his bones and now he laments that his garments were divided amongst his adversaries. Although he was speaking about things that would happen in his life, he was also referring to the coming messiah.

Imagine being the King of Israel and ending up so bereft of power that you could not even stop the ones who are against you taking your possessions for themselves and dividing the spoils as if it were they owned it themselves… But there is more…

Imagine the one who was there at creation with the Father, humbled himself to come to earth to be the sacrifice for all. Nailed to a cross in the cruelest way devised to inflict as much pain and torture to an enemy of the state as possible. The Romans were not known for their hospitality to criminals.

While he is hanging up there in excruciating pain he looks down and sees the following… (Verse 34)

Luke 23:32 (ESV) Two others, who were criminals, were led away to be put to death with him. 33 And when they came to the place that is called The Skull, there they crucified him, and the criminals, one on his right and one on his left. 34 And Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.” And they cast lots to divide his garments. 35 And the people stood by, watching, but the rulers scoffed at him, saying, “He saved others; let him save himself, if he is the Christ of God, his Chosen One!” 36 The soldiers also mocked him, coming up and offering him sour wine 37 and saying, “If you are the King of the Jews, save yourself!” 38 There was also an inscription over him, “This is the King of the Jews.”

Jesus while going through pain that we can’t possibly imagine had the compassion on those who hated him enough to death to say (and mean it) “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.” That to me is mind blowing. He is looking down at the foot of the cross and he sees that the people below are gambling to get his clothes. We also read in the next two pieces of scripture (Matthew 27 & John 19) another two accounts of the literal fulfillment of this scripture.

Matthew 27:32 (ESV) As they went out, they found a man of Cyrene, Simon by name. They compelled this man to carry his cross. 33 And when they came to a place called Golgotha (which means Place of a Skull), 34 they offered him wine to drink, mixed with gall, but when he tasted it, he would not drink it. 35 And when they had crucified him, they divided his garments among them by casting lots. 36 Then they sat down and kept watch over him there. 37 And over his head they put the charge against him, which read, “This is Jesus, the King of the Jews.” 38 Then two robbers were crucified with him, one on the right and one on the left. 39 And those who passed by derided him, wagging their heads 40 and saying, “You who would destroy the temple and rebuild it in three days, save yourself! If you are the Son of God, come down from the cross.” 41 So also the chief priests, with the scribes and elders, mocked him, saying, 42 “He saved others; he cannot save himself. He is the King of Israel; let him come down now from the cross, and we will believe in him. 43 He trusts in God; let God deliver him now, if he desires him. For he said, ‘I am the Son of God.’” 44 And the robbers who were crucified with him also reviled him in the same way.

The messiah was stripped down to an almost naked state; the Romans spared nothing in humiliating those who they wished to punish. In Jesus case they had mocked him by dressing him in a scarlet robe, thrust a crown of thorns through his head, gave a thirsty dying man vinegar wine to drink and gave him a reed as a scepter. They were mocking both Jesus and the Jews at the same time. Even the notice above his head was written in mockery. The Jews asked Pilate to change what he wrote and he said “What I have written I have written”. Funnily it is the only time we see Pilate going against the Jewish religious leaders.

The soldiers desired Jesus clothes, they wished that they not be ripped, and we read this in John chapter nineteen…

John 19:23 (ESV) When the soldiers had crucified Jesus, they took his garments and divided them into four parts, one part for each soldier; also his tunic. But the tunic was seamless, woven in one piece from top to bottom, 24 so they said to one another, “Let us not tear it, but cast lots for it to see whose it shall be.” This was to fulfill the Scripture which says, “They divided my garments among them, and for my clothing they cast lots.” So the soldiers did these things, 25 but standing by the cross of Jesus were his mother and his mother’s sister, Mary the wife of Clopas, and Mary Magdalene.

Can you imagine being in that unnatural position, one that is designed to cause the maximum pain, discomfort and suffering, being stripped down to the bare minimum, in front of the woman who had given birth to you and anyone who wanted to witness this crucifixion and public humiliation. Jesus suffered that last humiliation but was always in control; John chapter ten tells us that;

John 10:14 (ESV) I am the good shepherd. I know my own and my own know me, 15 just as the Father knows me and I know the Father; and I lay down my life for the sheep. 16 And I have other sheep that are not of this fold. I must bring them also, and they will listen to my voice. So there will be one flock, one shepherd. 17 For this reason the Father loves me, because I lay down my life that I may take it up again. 18 No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord. I have authority to lay it down, and I have authority to take it up again. This charge I have received from my Father.”

Jesus was in control of the situation, he was as much God as he was man and he surrendered to the baying hordes in order to fulfil prophecy, in order to be the substitute for our sins. He took the punishment that we deserved in order that we may be reconciled with the father and have an opportunity to spend eternity with our creator.

Jesus went through all this so we can go to heaven, although that decision is ours, we have to choose to follow Jesus. My hope is that these articles help and please contact me if you need to discuss further.

God bless you one and all, I thank you for reading this article. Please share, comment or like below as the LORD leads you too.
TGBTG
TTE

TTE Advent Calendar Day Eighteen – December 18th

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TTE Advent Calendar Day Eighteen – December 18th

Thank you for reading our eighteenth installment of our advent series, please check out our advent page for more articles in this series.

Today we look at the prophecy that the messiah would be pierced in his hands and feet. We read this is the book of Psalm chapter 22 which was written by King David …

Psalm 22:16 (ESV) For dogs encompass me; a company of evildoers encircles me; they have pierced my hands and feet 17 I may tell all my bones: they look and stare upon me.

Prophecy is Gods truth foretold

I find prophecy fascinating, several hundreds of years before the Roman Empire was even thinking of expanding beyond the borders of modern day Italy and before the idea of nailing criminals to a cross as a means of punishment and law and order was ever thought of David speaks in a prophetic fashion about the messiah being pierced with his hands and his feet.

What is crucifixion?

Crucifixion was by far the most barbaric and public way of displaying wrongdoers and keeping law and order. Often times these criminals would be put in a place outside of the city walls that could be seen from all parts of the city. Jesus was marched up to Calvary which was a hill that was visible to inhabitants of Jerusalem.

This was no picnic, the criminal was hung and nailed to hard wood, in Jesus case he had been scourged, whipped, beaten where breathing was problematic, his body had been through so much trauma he could not carry the cross the whole way. He was hungry, thirsty and by this time in his ordeal his body was in shock. On his head was a crown of thorns that had been forced and imprinted on and through his head.

His hands had been bound to a heavy beam and he was under a guard as much to allow him to not escape (the escape ratio was low) as to also stop the baying crowd from killing him before he got there. When he got to the top of the hill his hands and feet were nailed to the wooden structure that he would die on. Eventually he suffocated, alone covered in his own blood and in great pain. The lamb had been slain for the sins of the world.

This was further prophesied in the book of Zechariah…

Zechariah 12:10 (ESV) “And I will pour out on the house of David and the inhabitants of Jerusalem a spirit of grace and pleas for mercy, so that, when they look on me, on him whom they have pierced, they shall mourn for him, as one mourns for an only child, and weep bitterly over him, as one weeps over a firstborn.

We see in the prior verse the words “In that day…” this sparks interest in my soul, mainly due to have sitting under the teaching of Ryan Ruckman who pastors a church in Porterville who has a great love for messianic prophecy. The words “in that day” are classic prophetic words that refer specifically to the messiah, now it may refer to his first or second coming but it still talks about the messiah.

God will pour out to the repentant ones a “spirit of grace and pleas for mercy” they will have saving grace and repentant prayer and god will move among them. When we become a Christian this is the first step. We have to acknowledge we have a sin problem. We will not recognize our need for a messiah if we don’t believe that we need to be saved; also we will not think we need a messiah if we have no idea what we need to be saved from. Have you had your problem solved? Do you recognize your need for a messiah? Do you need to turn back to God with a repentant heart?

Then they will mourn for the pierced one. When we understand why the sacrifice was necessary and why he went to the cross in the first place, understand why such high a price had to be paid for us who, let’s face it are not worth it!

They will realize what they have done and that they bear responsibility for the crucifixion of their messiah. The inhabitants of Jerusalem, the Jewish people will mourn due to the rejection of the one who came to save. They will mourn like one who was the most loved.

Lastly in this verse we read that “they will look upon me” which is yet again another confirmation that the “me” is Jesus, a member of the triune God. This is the Father sending the Spirit so that the people would turn to the Son and be saved. This to me is a beautiful picture of Salvation in Christ Jesus.

Still have doubts?

John 20:24 (ESV) Now Thomas, one of the Twelve, called the Twin, was not with them when Jesus came. 25 So the other disciples told him, “We have seen the Lord.” But he said to them, “Unless I see in his hands the mark of the nails, and place my finger into the mark of the nails, and place my hand into his side, I will never believe.” 26 Eight days later, his disciples were inside again, and Thomas was with them. Although the doors were locked, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you.” 27 Then he said to Thomas, “Put your finger here, and see my hands; and put out your hand, and place it in my side. Do not disbelieve, but believe.” 28 Thomas answered him, “My Lord and my God!” 29 Jesus said to him, “Have you believed because you have seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.”

Thomas is remembered for this in scripture, I am sad for Thomas as in his mind Jerusalem was a melting pot of religious fervor. Rumors would be flying around asking what happened to this Jesus that was crucified, the religious people would be trying to shut people up, and followers of Jesus would be claiming he was alive.

I feel for Thomas’ confusion. He seen his LORD, the guy who he had hung on every word arrested, beat to a pulp, marched up a hill and killed in the cruelest way possible. Any rational man would be a little skeptical, I am sure that the disciples would have been praying between the crucifixion and the resurrection. This to me is a lesson in prayer; if we pray for something we had better prepare our hearts in case God grants that prayer and not be super freaked out if he does.

What a lot of people miss about this passage of scripture is that the people who are telling Thomas that they have seen Jesus have already seen his hands and feet, he has shown them in verse 20. They seem so much more confident than Thomas but Jesus has already shown his wounds and he has breathed on them, of course they are confident he is alive!

He is known universally as “doubting Thomas” but I have empathy for him and would put him no higher than a healthy questioning skeptic. For reasons listed above he had good reasons to have questions until he had some tangible evidence. This guy has seen a guy that he was close to, lived with and learned so much being brutally murdered so he is going to have a few doubts. Also if they were going to profess this Jesus was alive, it could almost certainly lead to their death so I understand why he wanted to be sure. Who wants to die for a lie?

Thomas had to wait eight days to get the validation that his hopes were true, Jesus granted him the opportunity to place his finger, touch the wounds and gave him what he required to believe and bear testimony that Jesus did in fact return from the grave and conquered death.

Thomas believed! It would have been tragic if Thomas had made all these requests and still refused to believe. We read in Acts that when Judas was replaced only one man was chosen to make up the twelve do we know that Thomas became a disciple again and believed. (he called him “My Lord and my God”)

Jesus closed by stating “Have you believed because you have seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.” And that is us, the last recorded historical face to face meeting between a human and Jesus in the bible is in Acts 9 when Saul is converted on the road to Damascus. We are the ones he is referring to, I believe because I have faith and having examined the evidence I have found it to be reliable, inerrant, infallible and true. My prayer is that these articles will help you do likewise.

Jesus went through all this so we can go to heaven, although that decision is ours, we have to choose to follow Jesus. My hope is that these articles help and please contact me if you need to discuss further.

God bless you one and all, I thank you for reading this article. Please share, comment or like below as the LORD leads you too.
TGBTG
TTE

Happy Rosh Hashanah 5775

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Here is an article to celebrate the Hebrew/Jewish New Year.

New year/new beginnings

On this Rosh Hashanah I would like to exhort you in a closer relationship with Jesus, whatever that looks like in your personal relationship with Jesus. To the Non-Christian I urge you to investigate my Messiah Jesus Christ and invite him into a day to day relationship, to the Christian I urge you to have a deeper relationship with him.

Rosh Hashanah is traditionally celebrated at the beginning of the Jewish month Nisan,  scripture tells us that in the books of Exodus and Numbers in the Law of Moses how to celebrate this festival.

Shofer so good

The shofar is blown 100 times during Rosh Hashanah. 

Teki’ah (long sound) Numbers 10:3;Shevarim (3 broken sounds) Numbers 10:5;Teru’ah (9 short sounds) Numbers 10:9;Teki’ah Gedolah (very long sound) Exodus 19:16,19;Shevarim Teru’ah (3 broken sounds followed by 9 short sounds).

Why do I care about the Jewish New Year as a Christian?

I care because Jesus cares! Jesus himself wept over Jerusalem! The Jewish messiah came to save not just the Jews but the Gentiles also.

I have a great love for the Jewish people and also for the people of Israel and my desire is that they repent of their sins and follow their true messiah, who is of course Jesus Christ.

Many Christians are Pro-Israel and claim they love Israel, they even put their hands in their pockets and financially help Jewish charities. But they stop short of talking about the messiah for fear of offense.

I could never hate a Jewish person so much to not tell them about the way to heaven. Being Jewish you will know the prophecies, please check them out and compare it to Jesus’ life.

My hope

My hope is that this article will be a reminder to start anew with Jesus, regardless of how far you have strayed, our God is a God of grace. 

God bless you and I pray that this blesses you, please forward to your Jewish friends as I wish them Happy New Year
TGBTG
TTE

Noah way to treat a biblical epic

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Noah way to treat a biblical epic

(A non-partisan view on the Russell Crowe movie “Noah” I do wish to say, there are spoilers in this text so please if you plan on watching the movie, certain plot lines are revealed below, please take caution if you read below and plan to be “surprised” by the film)

I do not always toe the “party line” on Christian movie reviews

Let me say first and foremost that I do not subscribe to the many blogs and sites that are Christian based but bash Christian publications and movies because of reasons such as they do not fit what their finite view of something that is either biblical, spiritual, Christian or Jewish history. If they are discussing movies or motion pictures, most of the things they pick on really do not change the plot of the production or take away the greater meaning of what the director was trying to achieve.

However, that being said I sat down on Wednesday evening to watch Noah; I paid $1.39 at Redbox because although I wanted to see it, me and my family only trek to the movies for movies we really want to see. As stated previously I was free of most of the pre conceived notions that others of my faith had of this movie. I of course have seen headlines of articles that refer to the movie, some praising the movie, others slamming the movie. When i sit down to watch a movie about the bible I ask myself two questions.

1) Did the director stick to the story?
2) How misleading were any plot twists?

Obviously both secular and religious movies have had “Hollywood makeovers” and it is not picking on the bible to change the story somewhat to make the movie more “movie friendly” I have seen movies about historical hero’s that have had little twists thrown in, little historical embellishments or even a love interest that is not written in verifiable history.

Whilst that does annoy me as a “history buff” I don’t see myself writing 3000 word blog articles about those movies, and why is that? It is because I have never built my life upon a war journal from a dead general or sketchy history of Scottish clan chiefs or whether something actually happened the way it is portrayed on the big screen. Christian history, Jewish history and ones where we have biblical interest do have my interest to “get it right” and “nail the basics” because it has an impact of peoples view of a biblical story.

I and anyone who has a decent knowledge of the Bible will spot what is wrong with the movie almost instantaneously. However, someone who is watching this because they are curious about God and really don’t know what is going on theologically, they may have an issue and may put a barrier up based on unbiblical truths that they have seen on the big screen.

I plan to answer both 1) Did the director stick to the story? & 2) How misleading were any plot twists? Hand in hand in the next few points.

A) Creation – Fail

Not really, no – within seconds the film sets itself at odds with the biblical account by stating “in the beginning there was nothing” when Genesis 1:1 states the following:

Genesis 1:1 (ESV) In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth. 2 The earth was without form and void, and darkness was over the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God was hovering over the face of the waters.

This lie is portrayed again when they are in the Ark, and Russell Crowe again repeats that “in the beginning there was nothing” and then we see a “creation montage and creation of the earth done in a fast forward motion which incorporates subtle but compelling ideas that creation and evolution go hand in hand, with fish jumping out of the sea, next second they are walking and birds doing likewise.

The idea that in the beginning there was nothing introduces the idea of a creator and a big bang working hand in hand and tries to fit science into a somewhat biblical account.

B) Noah has no idea why he is killing everyone

I have an issue with the way Noah comes off, he meanders through the film getting loose information that “the Creator” from memory, he is never actually called God is going to wipe all humankind off the planet, he does not know why and is guided by visions and dreams that the whole story is about God wiping us all out apart from the ones that Noah chooses to go on the Ark. Biblically this does not add up as we read in Genesis 6:

Genesis 6:5 (ESV) The LORD saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every intention of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually. 6 And the LORD regretted that he had made man on the earth, and it grieved him to his heart. 7 So the LORD said, “I will blot out man whom I have created from the face of the land, man and animals and creeping things and birds of the heavens, for I am sorry that I have made them.” 8 But Noah found favor in the eyes of the LORD. 9 These are the generations of Noah. Noah was a righteous man, blameless in his generation. Noah walked with God. 10 And Noah had three sons, Shem, Ham, and Japheth. 11 Now the earth was corrupt in God’s sight, and the earth was filled with violence. 12 And God saw the earth, and behold, it was corrupt, for all flesh had corrupted their way on the earth. 13 And God said to Noah, “I have determined to make an end of all flesh, for the earth is filled with violence through them. Behold, I will destroy them with the earth. 14 Make yourself an ark of gopher wood. Make rooms in the ark, and cover it inside and out with pitch. 15 This is how you are to make it: the length of the ark 300 cubits, its breadth 50 cubits, and its height 30 cubits. 16 Make a roof for the ark, and finish it to a cubit above, and set the door of the ark in its side. Make it with lower, second, and third decks. 17 For behold, I will bring a flood of waters upon the earth to destroy all flesh in which is the breath of life under heaven. Everything that is on the earth shall die. 18 But I will establish my covenant with you, and you shall come into the ark, you, your sons, your wife, and your sons’ wives with you. 19 And of every living thing of all flesh, you shall bring two of every sort into the ark to keep them alive with you. They shall be male and female. 20 Of the birds according to their kinds, and of the animals according to their kinds, of every creeping thing of the ground, according to its kind, two of every sort shall come in to you to keep them alive. 21 Also take with you every sort of food that is eaten, and store it up. It shall serve as food for you and for them.” 22 Noah did this; he did all that God commanded him.

In the biblical account Noah understood what God was doing because he spoke to him. Noah is told that “I have determined to make an end of all flesh, for the earth is filled with violence through them. Behold, I will destroy them with the earth. 14 Make yourself an ark of gopher wood. Make rooms in the ark, and cover it inside and out with pitch. 15 This is how you are to make it: the length of the ark 300 cubits, its breadth 50 cubits, and its height 30 cubits. 16 Make a roof for the ark, and finish it to a cubit above, and set the door of the ark in its side. Make it with lower, second, and third decks. 17 For behold, I will bring a flood of waters upon the earth to destroy all flesh in which is the breath of life under heaven. Everything that is on the earth shall die. 18 But I will establish my covenant with you, and you shall come into the ark, you, your sons, your wife, and your sons’ wives with you. 19 And of every living thing of all flesh, you shall bring two of every sort into the ark to keep them alive with you. They shall be male and female. 20 Of the birds according to their kinds, and of the animals according to their kinds, of every creeping thing of the ground, according to its kind, two of every sort shall come in to you to keep them alive. 21 Also take with you every sort of food that is eaten, and store it up. It shall serve as food for you and for them.”

This leads to confusion as how did the Shemite and Hamite people populate? The only two other females would have been Ham and Shem’s two nieces? This is an important question as from the Shemite people the nation of Israel came into being. In all reality it is not biblical and makes very little sense.

D) The inhabitants of the ark (animal kind)

When we see the animals converge on the ark, we see many more than is stated in the biblical account. (Remember it only had to be “And of every living thing of all flesh, you shall bring two of every sort into the ark to keep them alive with you. They shall be male and female. 20 Of the birds according to their kinds, and of the animals according to their kinds, of every creeping thing of the ground, according to its kind, two of every sort shall come in to you to keep them alive.” – Two of each kind, two cats, two dogs, two snakes) we have a scene where there are literally hundreds of snakes slithering into the Ark. It just does not make sense, the idea was to get the basic survival of the species onto a boat to allow it to continue post flood.

E) Where is the dove?

Genesis 8:4 (ESV) and in the seventh month, on the seventeenth day of the month, the ark came to rest on the mountains of Ararat. 5 And the waters continued to abate until the tenth month; in the tenth month, on the first day of the month, the tops of the mountains were seen. 6 At the end of forty days Noah opened the window of the ark that he had made 7 and sent forth a raven. It went to and fro until the waters were dried up from the earth. 8 Then he sent forth a dove from him, to see if the waters had subsided from the face of the ground. 9 But the dove found no place to set her foot, and she returned to him to the ark, for the waters were still on the face of the whole earth. So he put out his hand and took her and brought her into the ark with him. 10 He waited another seven days, and again he sent forth the dove out of the ark. 11 And the dove came back to him in the evening, and behold, in her mouth was a freshly plucked olive leaf. So Noah knew that the waters had subsided from the earth.

In the movie the raven is set forth before they hit land, the dove is sent after and we learn that land is ahoy.

F) Where is the vineyard?

Genesis 9:20 (ESV) Noah began to be a man of the soil, and he planted a vineyard. 21 He drank of the wine and became drunk and lay uncovered in his tent. 22 And Ham, the father of Canaan, saw the nakedness of his father and told his two brothers outside. 23 Then Shem and Japheth took a garment, laid it on both their shoulders, and walked backward and covered the nakedness of their father. Their faces were turned backward, and they did not see their father’s nakedness. 24 When Noah awoke from his wine and knew what his youngest son had done to him, 25 he said, “Cursed be Canaan; a servant of servants shall he be to his brothers.” 26 He also said, “Blessed be the LORD, the God of Shem; and let Canaan be his servant. 27 May God enlarge Japheth, and let him dwell in the tents of Shem, and let Canaan be his servant.” 28 After the flood Noah lived 350 years. 29 All the days of Noah were 950 years, and he died.

In the scene where Noah gets drunk, he is in a cave on a beach, it is inferred that he got naked after being drunk, we do not see Ham telling his brothers, but they come and cover him up as we read in the scriptures not wishing to expose his father’s shame.

G) Where is the covenant with God?

Genesis 8:20 (ESV) Then Noah built an altar to the LORD and took some of every clean animal and some of every clean bird and offered burnt offerings on the altar. 21 And when the LORD smelled the pleasing aroma, the LORD said in his heart, “I will never again curse the ground because of man, for the intention of man’s heart is evil from his youth. Neither will I ever again strike down every living creature as I have done. 22 While the earth remains, seedtime and harvest, cold and heat, summer and winter, day and night, shall not cease.”

There is no mention of a covenant with God; the closest we get is the passing on of a birthright in the last scene, inferred to be the serpent’s skin of the serpent that tempted Adam and Eve.

H) What was the point of the rainbow?

Genesis 9:13 (ESV) And God said, “This is the sign of the covenant that I make between me and you and every living creature that is with you, for all future generations: 13 I have set my bow in the cloud, and it shall be a sign of the covenant between me and the earth. 14 When I bring clouds over the earth and the bow is seen in the clouds, 15 I will remember my covenant that is between me and you and every living creature of all flesh. And the waters shall never again become a flood to destroy all flesh. 16 When the bow is in the clouds, I will see it and remember the everlasting covenant between God and every living creature of all flesh that is on the earth.” 17 God said to Noah, “This is the sign of the covenant that I have established between me and all flesh that is on the earth.”

Again there is no mention of why the rainbow is there, it is just shown at the end of the movie. God is not mentioned and really has been removed in favor of a non-religious “Creator”

Curious moments in the movie that raised questions

In short the movie is very about the environment, the good people are vegetarians and the evil people are meat eaters and in one scene the stow away starts eating the animals (perhaps trying to account for missing species in today’s animal kingdom)

I wasn’t too happy with the way that Methuselah was present, as a somewhat pagan, magical old man that could fix Noah’s daughter in law’s barrenness by touching her, it is assumed that he dies in the flood also.

And the “Watchers” I am assuming that they were from the “Sons of God” but they state they came down and were punished by the creator, they were Transformer-lookalike stone creatures that limped around a lot and stood between the people and Noah’s family at the beginning of the flood and they exploded one by one and appeared to transcend into heaven, all very weird stuff!

What they did well

A) The fountains of the deep burst open

Genesis 7:11 (ESV) In the six hundredth year of Noah’s life, in the second month, on the seventeenth day of the month, on that day all the fountains of the great deep burst forth, and the windows of the heavens were opened. 12 And rain fell upon the earth forty days and forty nights.

In the scene where the earth becomes flooded, he water comes from above and below the earth; it was a decent visualization of how the earth became underwater very quickly. I was impressed by the visualization, it is up for debate whether it happened that way, but it is conceivable that it could, so that was well done.

B) Size of the Ark

Dimension wise, the Ark looked about as close as they could have got it, I was impressed by the fact that they did not buy into the myth that the Ark was a small boat and there was not enough room on the Ark.

C) Noah being drunk

Once Noah is found drunk, the actors who play Shem and Japheth cover Noah up and it was tastefully done, he then banished Ham.

D) Death and suffering

The idea of the death and suffering is evident and that was well done, when Noah is sailing off, we can see and hear people clinging to mountain tops and screaming when they are enveloped by the floods.

Should you see this movie?

That my friend is up to you. I would not promote or slam the movie. You will get as much theological insight by watching this movie as you will any other secular movie. Special effects wise, it is a decent movie. I just wish it did not fly in the face of something that I have built my life upon.

I would ask that you read the comments above, check out other reviews if you are still undecided after reading this, I would urge you that if you do watch it, keep your eyes and ears open for any errors. I reached for my bible at least 4/5 times to check things out. These are notes I made before I went to bed so there may be more issues than I remember. I certainly have not studied the film; I watched it once and felt neither closer nor further away from God for doing so.

I hope that this article finds you well, please prayerfully consider commenting, liking or sharing as the LORD leads
TGBTG
TTE

No other gospel

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No other Gospel

Galatians 1:6 (ESV) I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting him who called you in the grace of Christ and are turning to a different gospel–7 not that there is another one, but there are some who trouble you and want to distort the gospel of Christ. 8 But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach to you a gospel contrary to the one we preached to you, let him be accursed. 9 As we have said before, so now I say again: If anyone is preaching to you a gospel contrary to the one you received, let him be accursed. 10 For am I now seeking the approval of man, or of God? Or am I trying to please man? If I were still trying to please man, I would not be a servant of Christ.

Oh Foolish Galatians!

When people think of the Galatian church the first thing that people think of is the verse “Oh foolish Galatians” it is easy to think that as this letter to this church is very heavy on teaching and also very loving. Paul exhorts the church; he corrects and gives great instruction that is still applicable some 2000 years later.

The reason this is so prevalent today is that Paul marvels/is astonished (depends on the version of the Bible you read) that the Galatians have fallen into theology that is not correct. This is not a minor theological contention such as whether we sprinkle or fully immerse in baptism, whether we have one cup or many cups at communion or whether we wear suits or come as you are to church. They are turning away from the basic beliefs and tenets on the Christian faith, the building blocks of what makes them Christian.

They were embracing heresy based on confusion. Like so many of todays cults, they were trying to do “Jesus plus” what I mean was that Jesus was not enough, they had to do Jesus plus the law, Jesus plus something else, like the blood on the cross was not enough to atone for the sins of the world.

Works are good

Don’t get me wrong, as a guy who is very point by point, line by line, precept upon precept in my Bible studies, I find it beneficial to have certain works listed as good to do, but they should not be kept in the same line or same vein as what is required to be saved. Many of the things that we contend with each other these days are not Salvation issues, many are not even heretical, many are based on theological stances that attempt to help, but sometimes cause frustration.

Traditionally, (and my wife Chelsea would be the first to confirm this) I have been “works orientated” where I try to “tick the boxes” and try to (in Gods will and his power) live in a way that would befitting the title Christian. This is good, if you are a flaky person and need structure in your life then this is a good way to get some structure and have some way to grow as a Christian.

You have to be careful though, we have a tendency as humans to elevate the structure that we have as high as the reason we are doing this in the first place. Please do not allow the ritual to become the main thing and also by the same token do not worship the ritual, this leads to resentment of your mind on when you think of all the other stuff you could be doing with your time and then it leads to you dragging your feet and “going through the motions” with minimum effort.

God knows this, God knows your heart, he knows who has their heart in it and who does not.

If I don’t feel like it should I not worship God?

In the words of the Apostle Paul, God forbid. I read a really cool graphic on Facebook yesterday that read “There are two times to worship God, 1) When you feel like it 2) When you don’t.

I think this is an awesome reminder that worshipping God should be as natural as eating or drinking water, we were created to do so and if we allow our emotions to drive how we feel about God, it stands to reason that when things go badly, we will not be in a mood to worship God.

Paradoxically, when some people are in their deepest hole and when they have exhausted all other alternatives, that is when they find God. Those of whom are literally at the bottom of their “pit of despair”.

What if the hosts of heaven appear to me?

Paul states quite clearly, “if he or even an angel preaches any other gospel” and the instructions to go with that. This even happens today; I am sure you will remember about 6 years ago we had a guy called Todd Bentley who had his “Lakeland revival” in Florida. Part of this guy’s testimony was he was visited by an Angel called “Emma” who gave “new revelation” and advised that he was to do a spiritual outpouring and declare revival in the Florida area and beyond.

I am all for revival, however this testimony sounds like it is in contradiction to what is stated in Galatians. It is similar to the testimony by the founder of the LDS (Mormon) Church called Joseph Smith Junior, he was visited by an angel called “Moroni” and given golden tablets (that disappeared as soon as he translated them) in an ancient and forgotten language that he was given supernatural powers to translate into what is now called the “Book of Mormon”.

So what is the problem?

We are told that if they give a gospel contrary to the one of Jesus Christ, what Paul calls “no gospel at all” he will be “eternally condemned” If you want a picture of what that looks like, have a quick read of Revelation 20:7-10, doesn’t look like fun huh?

Trying to please men

Paul finishes by stating that what he states will not be popular among men and that if he had desired to be popular with men he would have stayed as Saul, the Jewish zealot who was a career persecutor and very popular hatchet man of the Jewish faith. Instead he had a zealous heart for what God wanted in his life, so when he was face to face with Christ (not angels as you notice) he followed what God wanted with scant regard for his own life!

LORD MAKE ME LIKE THAT PLEASE!

I hope and pray this was a blessing and please share this article and leave any comments as the LORD leads
TGBTG
TTE

Have a blessed Shavuot all my Jewish friends

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Today is Shavuot in the Hebrew calendar and I wish to convey special greetings to any Jewish readers looking in today. I like this observance due to two parts of the modern observance; the five parts of the observance are as follows:

    1. Akdamut, the reading of a liturgical poem during Shavuot morning synagogue services

    2. Chalav (milk), the consumption of dairy products like milk and cheese

    3. Ruth, the reading of the Book of Ruth at morning services (outside Israel: on the second day)

    4. Yerek, the decoration of homes and synagogues with greenery

    5. Torah, engaging in all-night Torah study.

I identify with the reading of the book of Ruth and the study of the scriptures, (who couldn’t do with some quality time in the word of God?) not being Jewish myself my understanding of the festival is based on what I have read up on about this date in the calendar. If we have any readers who have experienced the festival then please fill in any blanks I have missed.

I love the book of Ruth, Ruth dealing with her own grief of losing her husband, has the option to go back to her own family and be cared for as a widow, instead she chooses to love her mother in law and align herself with her stating

 

“But Ruth said, “Do not urge me to leave you or to return from following you. For where you go I will go, and where you lodge I will lodge. Your people shall be my people, and your God my God.” (Ruth 1:16 ESV)

 

Talk about choosing the less trodden path, she aligns herself with Naomi who couldn’t offer her a husband to give an heir to carry on the family name and she chose Naomi, her place she was headed (Bethlehem) and her religion, serving the one true God. She was a proselyte to the Jewish faith.

The story goes that she finds her “kinsmen redeemer” an honorable man called Boaz, he favored and protected her when she was providing for Naomi, Ruth goes to Boaz and stake a claim on the threshing floor, Boaz is honest and states that he must also settle a matter with a man who was a closer relation than he, (3:11-13) Boaz obviously loves Ruth with the zeal that he pursues her. He redeems Ruth (4:1-12) in the custom of the day and then fulfills his promise and marries Ruth (4:13-17)

This is a vital story in the history of the children of Israel as Boaz was King David’s great grandfather and vital to Christians as through the line of David we got our redeemer Jesus of Nazareth. (Matthew 1, Luke 1) I love this redemption story and I remember where I was without my redeemer.

I love this as Boaz shows his love for Ruth in the same way that God showed his love for us. Boaz pursued Ruth, made sure that he did everything correctly and honorably, he then redeemed her in love. God showed his love for us in verse 8 of the fifth chapter of Romans

…but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Romans 5:8 (ESV)

I pray that regardless of where you are today, that you need a redeemer if you are still in your sins. It is no coincidence that you are reading this and I pray that you answer the stirring in your heart. That redeemer is Jesus Christ. Jesus said in the Gospel of John

John 14:1 (ESV) “Let not your hearts be troubled. Believe in God; believe also in me. 2 In my Father’s house are many rooms. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you? 3 And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, that where I am you may be also. 4 And you know the way to where I am going.” 5 Thomas said to him, “Lord, we do not know where you are going. How can we know the way?” 6 Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me

There is one way to heaven, by committing your life to Jesus Christ.

I pray that you are blessed and please leave any comments below
TTE