This is a reblog with additional information.

Is it acceptable for a Christian to divorce? If so, when? What about remarriage after divorce? If remarriage is permissible, are there any stipulations that must be satisfied?

One of the things we learn in the Pauline corpus is that several issues he addressed in them were things that arose in the church at that time.  He did not set out to write a handbook of systematic theology, or manuals instructing his audience on how to deal with issues arising within the church.  For example, in 1 Corinthians 11, Paul deals with divisions in the church concerning the administration of the Eucharist or the Lord’s Supper.

The Lord’s Supper that was meant to be received in an orderly manner was being abused by the wealthy in the Corinthian Church.  Paul deals with this situation and then gives a formula that is being used in many churches today.  We also see a similar case later in chapter 15, where Paul deals with the issue of resurrection.  Some brethren were dubious of the possibility of resurrection, considering that the physical body was considered to be inferior to the spiritual body and a thing to be discarded.  Paul tried to address this concern in chapter 15 of 1 Corinthians.  And I could go on.  In the same manner, Paul addresses the problem of divorce and remarriage, which arguably was a problem in the Corinthian church at the time of his writing.  This is also the case in Matthew 19, where Jesus was responding to a question from Deuteronomy 24:1 that deals with remarriage, and then goes on to provide guidance on divorce.

Before we begin, I must emphasize that the Bible prohibits divorce.  The Lord, speaking through His mouth piece in Malachi 2:16, declares that He hates divorce.  But, even before then, He also declares in Genesis 2:26-28, how marriage is a one flesh bond that cannot be broken.  Both the Hebrew and Greek words used for the bonding of the man with his wife suggest inseparability.  The Hebrew word “dabaq” (to weld, to cleave) utilized in Genesis 2, tends to have more force to it than the Greek “kollao” (to glue, to unite).  Jesus in Matthew 19 is reiterating what He had said in Genesis (if we agree that He was the one doing the creative activity in Genesis as is evidenced by Colossians 2:14-16), that divorce can be allowed only on account of fornication (“porneia”) (Matthew 19:9).

So what we have on the subject of divorce are the words of Jesus, Yahweh, and Paul.  To guide us in understanding how this delicate issue can be handled, we must refer to what we have learned in biblical hermeneutics (arts and science of biblical interpretation):  looking at the historical background, culture, context, how the literature was understood by the initial audience, and then applying the principles to the present.  One thing that stands out is that there are some modifications going on here.  Yahweh says He hates divorce.  Jesus allows it only on account of fornication.  Paul says it is okay if the unbelieving spouse seeks to divorce his believing spouse.

Is any of them undermining each other?  By no means!  When Paul was dealing with divorce in 1 Corinthians 7:18-16, he was quite clear that this was a direct command from the Lord (Mark 10:9; Matthew 19), unlike his suggestion and guidance respecting marriage and remarriage of widows earlier (1 Corinthians 7:1-9).  Divorce was never intended by God for his people, and is not intended for His people today.  From the time that man was created in God’s image there is something about this one flesh bond that reflects God’s image into the cosmos and back in reverence to God.  A breaking of this one flesh bond is dishonoring God, as well as the individual involved.  I have witnessed divorce first hand, and I have spoken to numerous people who have.  It is a heart wrenching experience.

However, Paul said that if a non-Christian partner wanted to separate, the Christian partner should not resist.  Paul modifies Jesus’ teachings (Mark 10:9) not to divorce; but is not, by any means, undermining Jesus’ teachings, as Jesus in no way undermines Malachi 2:16.  Paul has applied them in detail to a new situation that Jesus never faced.  It is left for us today to decipher what constitutes fornication.  Looking at the usage of adultery (“moichao”) and “porneia” (fornication) in the gospel by Jesus, it does seem that these words are used interchangeably for unchastity or immorality.  The traditional interpretation that adultery is sexual sin outside of marriage, or a married person with an unmarried person, and that fornication is sexual sin before marriage, could be misleading because the Greek usage of “porneia” includes, but is not limited to, sexual sin.  Porneia includes bestiality, homosexuality, or other activities that repudiate the one flesh bond of marriage, and willful desertion.  This is why Jesus singles out “fornication,” which is a sexual sin against one flesh bond, as the only grounds allowable for divorce (Matthew 19:9).

It will interest you to know that an act does not only have to be sexual to constitute fornication.  I am arguing that fornication includes willful desertion, as well as adultery.  This also includes any act that repudiates the marriage vows.  For example, if a married person intentionally commits murder and becomes incarcerated for years in prison, he or she is committing fornication against the other spouse even if the incarcerated spouse is living a chaste life in prison.  This is because the incarcerated spouse has willfully deserted the other spouse and constitutes allowable grounds for divorce.

In the same manner, if one of a married couple leaves his or her spouse to reside in another country for many years without physical contact with each other for whatever reason, the spouse who left the other spouse to reside overseas is committing fornication against the spouse left behind, even if this spouse is living a life of chastity in that foreign country of residence.  I know that this will not sit well with many people, but we are called to do due diligence to the Word of God.  On this same issue, the Apostle Paul prohibits separation from one’s spouse except for a short period of time for prayer (1 Corinthians 7:5).

Obviously, divorce is odious to God.  Jesus told the Pharisees (Matthew 19:3-12) that God’s original plan was for a man and woman to be joined in marriage and made one flesh, which is accomplished through the act of sex.  No man is to be able to separate that bond.  Even if the man and woman do divorce, they are still joined together because their flesh is joined.  In the Old Testament, divorce is defined in two ways:  1.) to send away and 2.) a cutting, as in severing a tie.  When Jesus refers to divorce it is defined as “to send away,” as in being fired or let go.  When reading about divorce in the Old Testament, it’s almost as if the man can leave if he’s unhappy with his wife and her performance (Deuteronomy 24:1).  Jesus gives no such stipulations, only to say that to remarry the same person after a divorce is to commit adultery.

What will surprise you to know is that divorce in itself is not inherently sinful, if it is based on fornication.  Yahweh uses it metaphorically to describe his relationship with unfaithful Israel, who “played the harlot” another Hebrew expression for unfaithfulness specifically for idolatry.  Yahweh divorces Israel in (Jeremiah 31:31).  In Jeremiah 3:8, Yahweh gives Israel a certificate of divorce, which Moses had allowed Israel because of the hardness of their hearts in following the one flesh bond marriage instituted by Yahweh from the beginning:

Therefore the showers have been withheld, And there has been no spring rain.  Yet you had a harlot’s forehead; You refused to be ashamed.  Have you not just now called to Me, ‘My Father, You are the friend of my youth?  Will He be angry forever?  Will He be indignant to the end?’  Behold, you have spoken And have done evil things, And you have had your way.  Then the LORD said to me in the days of Josiah the king, ‘Have you seen what faithless Israel did?  She went up on every high hill and under every green tree, and she was a harlot there,  I thought, “After she has done all these things she will return to Me”; but she did not return, and her treacherous sister Judah saw it.  And I saw that for all the adulteries of faithless Israel, I had sent her away and given her a writ of divorce, yet her treacherous sister Judah did not fear; but she went and was a harlot also.  Because of the lightness of her harlotry, she polluted the land and committed adultery with stones and trees.  Yet in spite of all this her treacherous sister Judah did not return to Me with all her heart, but rather in deception, declares the LORD.’  And the LORD said to me, ‘Faithless Israel has proved herself more righteous than treacherous Judah.’” (Jeremiah 3:3-11)

We also read in the account of the Virgin Mary’s pregnancy that Joseph sought to divorce his wife secretly because of what he thought was marital unfaithfulness on Mary’s part until he was told by the angel not carry on with his plan, because Mary’s pregnancy was a Holy Ghost phenomenon.  The present day church who lives in many different situations that were never contemplated by either Jesus, Malachi, or Paul needs wisdom, humility and the Holy Spirit’s guidance to apply their teaching afresh in their own time.  My answer is, yes.  It is acceptable for a Christian to divorce, but it wasn’t God’s plan from the beginning.  The divorced spouse does not have to remain single as some denominations insinuate.  He or she is allowed to remarry but only on account of fornication.  Be encouraged.

Your brother in the Lord,

Blessing Udoamaka Jacobs.

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THE GOOD NEWS OF THE NEW COVENANT.

Matthew 5: 1-12: When Jesus saw the crowds, He went up on the mountain; and after He sat down, His disciples came to Him.  2 He opened His mouth and began to teach them, saying, 3 “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.  4 “Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.  5 “Blessed are the gentle, for they shall inherit the earth.  6 “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied.  7 “Blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy.  8 “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.  9 “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God.  10 “Blessed are those who have been persecuted for the sake of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.  11 “Blessed are you when people insult you and persecute you, and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of Me.  12 “Rejoice and be glad, for your reward in heaven is great; for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.

I am enamored by Biblical Theology. By this I mean a method of study used to determine the authorial intent. Determining the authorial intent is done through Textual criticism. This post is not about this process, but to highlight that majority of Christians today are disenfranchised by the unwillingness of their pastors to apply themselves to the study of holy writ with the view to determining what the biblical author wanted to communicate with the initial audience and how that message can be applicable to 21th century audience.  In fairness to some of these pastors, majority of the members of some of these churches today are not interested in biblical theology. They are only interested in what would excite them or what would give them false hope and false sense of security. I am in no way saying that the word of God, when rightly divided will not offer these incentives, but to underscore my abhorrence for the constant bombardment of the airwaves by so called ministers with teachings that would have been condemned as heresy by the early church. I was in Nigeria recently and witnessed firsthand the exploitation of the poor members of the churches by these so called ministers of the gospel, who afford superfluous lifestyles, while members of their churches struggle to afford a meal. Where is the humility? Where is the servanthood? May God help us all.

I want to draw your attention to Gospel of Matthew 5: 1-12. This is the beginning of the famous Sermon on the Mount. Those who listened to Jesus’ teachings saw Him as great teacher. They had never seen anything like it before. He taught as one with authority, His audience once said. The truth is that Jesus would be misunderstood if we simply view Him as a great teacher. This is section of the Sermon on the Mount, which runs through chapters 5, 6, and 7 of the Gospel of Matthew and sets out the main theme of Jesus’ proclamation. We often say how wonderful the Sermon on the Mount is and if only people in the world would obey it, the world would be in a better place. But if this is how we view the Sermon on the Mount, we will miss the whole point of the sermon. These blessings that Jesus is announcing are not intended to tell His audience to try hard to live like this. Instead, Jesus is saying that those who are already like that are reaping the fruits of God’s sovereign rule. Those people should be happy and celebrate.

Jesus is not suggesting in these sayings that this indeed is the way the world is in reality. Because mourners often go uncomforted, the meek don’t always inherit earth; and those who long for justice sometimes take that longing to their grave. This world is upside down. Jesus is telling His audience that these things are about to happen through the good news of the gospel. He is telling his audience that God is at work in a fresh way, and what He has just outlined in the Sermon is what it looks like. Jesus is beginning a new era for God’s people and God’s world. There are so many people in our world today who still think the good news consist of success, wealth, long life, victory in battle. But Jesus is offering good news for the humble, the poor, the mourners, and peacemakers. This passage is not to offer a list of what sort of people that God blesses. The point is to announce God’s new Covenant.

In Deuteronomy 28, Israel came through the wilderness and arrived at the border of the Promised Land and God gave them a Covenant. He listed the blessings and curses that would come upon them if they were obedient or disobedient. Now Matthew in his gospel has shown us Jesus coming out Egypt (2:15). In Chapter 3, Matthew shows Jesus coming out the water; and in Chapter 4, he shows Him as coming out from the wilderness; and into the Promised Land (4:12-25). Here is His new Covenant, which could be understood in the context of the second Exodus. Those who understood the first Exodus, where is Israel is led out of Egypt by God’s mighty hand, would be delighted to be part of the second Exodus, where Jesus’ offers a new covenant to not only Israel, but to anyone, who is willing race notwithstanding.

The question is when do these promises come true? Some may say in heaven after death- a great reward in heaven for those who suffer for the sake of Christ. But heaven is God’s space, where full reality exist, but there is also earthly reality and both are interlocked. One day both heaven and earth would be joined together. My prayer is that everyone who reads this post would be part of this reality. Be encouraged!

Blessing+

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What we worshiped, we kill when we come to Christ!

copentecost

The word sacrifice is used constantly in our efforts to show how committed we are to a cause. Some people left better paying jobs to stay in their current place of work. Others took a low paying job or moderate means of livelihood to be with someone they love. The list of what we perceive as sacrifice goes on. However, in the Bible sacrifice takes a deeper meaning. It will interest you to know that there is no just one purpose for sacrifice except for propitiation. Propitiation means to turn aside the wrath of God. Some sacrifices are meant to end the wrath of God. The Book of Leviticus is replete with types of sacrifices in the Old Testament. Here are few examples of sacrifices:

 Communion/Eucharist: Although some of us receive communion weekly, we may not know that it is a type of sacrifice: Communion depicts how we are…

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Biblically informed and Christ centered worldview is infectious!

   A tribute to my sons: Blessing and Levi Jacobs

I am 8th of nine siblings and my father’s pride. My father was not the type that exerted physical disciplinary measures when disciplining his children, but my mom was, as I was told (mom died when I was about 7yo). The truth is that I was never this virtuous Christian kid.

My way of life as teenager was not quite attractive for someone who would one day become a priest. But my father deeply loved me, and somehow, I got away with lots of stuff. I lived a very innocuous but pretty heavy lifestyle that was in no way reflective of Christian values, but that was the “in thing” for youths my age at that time, and I loved every bit of it. After high school, I moved into the city to pursue a business career and visited home occasionally.

My dad took ill and that made my visits more frequent. I remember during one of my visits, we were having this discussion about my career, and my father said to me, ‘in anything you do, do not take what does not belong to you” In other words, do not steal. I still remember that fatherly admonition as if it was yesterday. And I never disappointed my father.

When I had my own children, I passed on this value. I was very nervous one day at a grocery store when my son Levi was searching under confectionery stands and inside the grocery store. I asked him what he was doing, he said he was looking for money that shoppers inadvertently dropped because he was told by an adult, who has frequent access to him, that it is okay to take monies that shoppers inadvertently dropped.

According to him, the same person that instructed him to do this, said he made over a thousand dollars the previous year from “taking” monies that shoppers inadvertently dropped. That presented a teaching moment for us when we got home. I had a stern talk with him and his brother, and helped them to see that it is not right to take other people’s stuff. I told them that “taking” what belongs to someone else is stealing. I then gave them the same admonition that my father gave me over two decades ago:” In all you do, do not take what doesn’t belong to you.” In other words, do not steal.

Just last week we were at the swimming pool, (I was not swimming that day), and there was this gentleman that had finished swimming, and was enjoying the sun in one of the pool chairs. This man left before us. However, he forgot his wallet containing money and other personal items.  Levi was the one who saw it. He brought it my attention and I told him to take the wallet to the leasing office.

He ran quickly to the office and handed over the wallet to the office staff. On our way back to the house, this man was racing back to the pool to retrieve his wallet, and my son Levi recognized him and directed him to go the office and retrieve his wallet.  I was so elated that he did not discard my admonition to not take what does not belong to him. I commended him and his brother for such virtuous deed, and felt it was worth sharing with you. This man retrieved his wallet from the office and gave Levi and his brother Blessing couple of dollars each.

Isn’t God good?

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The God who defies our cultural prejudices!

This post comes to you from a very good friend of mine Joseph Bonham, whom I consider one of the greatest theological minds I have studied with. What makes him very remarkable is his humility his gentleness. He has graciously accepted to be our guest blogger. Joe grew up in a small inner city Assemblies of God church in New Jersey. After finishing an undergraduate degree in Bible from Zion Bible Institute (now College) he spent two years as an intern at an AG church outside of Hartford, CT. Hungering for deeper study, he went to Gordon Conwell Theological Seminary where he met and married his wife, Carissa. After finishing his graduate degrees, they packed up and relocated to Oregon to be near her family. There they bought a house and had their son, Kaypha. Currently they’re a part of the Groves Church in Downtown Portland. Joe substitutes at some local Christian high schools and occasionally teaches Biblical Hebrew for adults. Joe has Master’s degree in Biblical Languages, and Master’s degree in Old Testament. You will be blessed reading this blog.

Theologians commonly pit ‘election’ by God against human ‘free will’. This is not an ivory tower debate, as it influences the answer to big questions. Can someone lose their salvation? Is God’s choice just? I want to leave this debate behind for a moment. It’s the only way we can hear how the apostle Paul pits God’s ‘calling’ against someone’s ‘fate’.

God’s people, then and now, have always been full of prejudices against those who are not God’s people. It was hard for Jonah to go to Nineveh. It was hard for the early Jewish Church to open its door to foreigners. It still is hard for some to think God might forgive Nazis of Germany, or love terrorists among the Taliban, or that a Palestinian might stand as God’s chosen.

Paul found himself in a similar situation. He was ‘called’ by God to preach to Gentiles (Acts 9:15, 22:21). This was not just hard. In Paul’s day it was not allowed (Acts 10:28). To justify himself in the eyes of fellow believing Jews Paul had to show that his missionary activity was legal when everyone thought it was unbiblical. The clearest explanation of how Paul did this is in Romans 9-11.

In these passages, Paul agrees with his Jewish audience that the Jews are God’s people because they were ‘called’, and not because of their fidelity. Paul’s point is that God gets to ‘call’ anyone God wants to call, even if they are not Jews (9:24). This is radical. This provocative.

Try to appreciate how Paul’s audience must have heard his statements. It might be similar to us hearing, “God is accepting homosexuals,” or “Muslims can go to heaven.” Our gut reaction is, “sure, if they become Christian, if they leave their homosexuality, and leave Islam.” But Paul was saying that they don’t have to become Jewish!!! They can stay Gentile. No circumcision required! This would border on heresy.

Before Paul’s audience either stones him or burns his letter, Paul pushes back. Isn’t God sovereign? Doesn’t God get to call anyone God wants? Look at our own history. Obviously it isn’t based on how Jewish or even how clean a person might be. Don’t we all agree that it is predicted that God’s message will go to Gentile nations? Is God’s word not going to have an effect on them? Does it say that only Jews will bow before God? Doesn’t it say that Gentiles will bow before God? Let’s not keep God in a box here.

In Peter’s vision, the argument seems to be that at least some Gentiles might not be damned after all (Acts 10:15). But for Paul, the argument goes even further. God’s calling cleanses Gentiles prior to conversion, at least enough for Jews to evangelize them without becoming dirty. In fact, this cleansing renders conversion irrelevant. This is an evangelistic campaign without the pay off, because there is no altar call, i.e. there is no plea to convert to Judaism via circumcision.

Today we have a lot of assumptions about who is called and who is not. We see someone with a tattoo come into a church service and we make a judgement that God’s word doesn’t. We watch as a family stops attending a church, and we make a judgement that God’s word doesn’t. Someone walks into a Planned Parenthood clinic and we form mobs with posters promising condemnation, as if we know God’s mind about their final destination. Someone with AIDS calls us to come pray for them on their deathbed, and we wonder if we should. Assumptions. Assumptions. What’s funny is that a lot of our judgement calls about who is ‘chosen’ by God is painfully close to our cultural prejudices.

God’s election defies our cultural prejudices. God’s election reaches beyond those we’ve written off as unelect. Because at the end of the day, we just don’t know. We have to stop presuming on God’s choice. Even IF God has made his choice about an individual ‘before the foundation of the world’, we do not have privileged access to it. Even IF God’s choice is unchangeable, does God confide in us with such matters?

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Did Pharaoh drown with his army in the Red Sea in pursuit of the Israelites?

A conversation with a good friend of mine, one of the greatest theological minds I have come to know, evoked this curiosity in me about Pharaoh’s status during the Exodus of the Israelites out of Egypt. The way we respond to this question could open a new vista in the way we articulate certain cherished beliefs of the church. It will also help us to have a better understanding of doctrines that have defined received orthodoxy but specifically systematic theology. I know that this may not be every body’s interest, but there are some among us with questions about doctrines such as election, predestination, and salvation.

We may also have members of our churches with questions about these doctrines, who may feel that the pastor or the preacher is not interacting with these issues. So for the sake of love for the brethren, I am compelled to at least try to start a conversation that might shed more light on these topics and hopefully cause you to rethink these doctrines. I am well aware that these doctrinal issue will not debar any of us from going to heaven, as long as we are members incorporate of the mystical body of Christ, and live a life that reflects Him at his coming again in glory. However, there is a sense of satisfaction in knowing what we believe.

There is overwhelming consensus among conservative scholars that Pharaoh of the Exodus that occurred around 1446 BC was Amenhotep II (1450-1424 BC). There is also a considerable, if not overwhelming biblical and historical evidence that he was spared while his army perished during their pursuit of Israel. The text itself did not say that he died with his army. In Exodus 14:28, we learn that the waters cover “all the army of Pharaoh,” but Pharaoh himself is not mentioned. Exodus 15: 19 also substantiates this: “For the horses of Pharaoh went with his chariots and his horsemen into the sea, and the LORD brought back the waters of the sea upon them.” The only place outside of the Book of Exodus that suggests that Pharaoh died with his army is in Psalm 136:15. It reads “God overthrew Pharaoh and his army in the Red Sea.” The problem with this text is that the Hebrew word that is translated overthrow does not always mean drown. This same word is used in Nehemiah (which happens to be my second son’s middle name) 5:13; and Exodus 14:27 and in both cases it does not mean drown. So my question to you is this: Do you think that Pharaoh Amenhotep, the Pharaoh of Exodus did drown with the rest of his army in pursuit of the Israelites?

Many blessings as you read and respond.

Blessing+

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HOW OLD REALLY, IS THE PLANET EARTH?

 

I woke up very early this morning with thoughts of the Creationist and the Atheist debate that I watched last year and felt I should digress from the sequel to my recent post to reflect on this age long debate about the age of the earth. How old really, is our Planet earth? The Creationist made a passionate and a very compelling argument that God created the earth and argued for a young earth. I was never a huge fan of Apologetics both in College and Graduate schools, because of its emphasis on winning arguments or trying to defend God, even when the arguments are laughable.

The Atheist appealed to scientific findings in a counter argument, stating that the Biblical account of creation and the age of the planet earth proposed by the Church is suspect and cannot be trusted; and argued that the earth is Billions of years old. As I sat and watched the Creationist passionately argue for a young planet earth, I said to myself, you have made a superb argument, almost silencing the Atheist, what difference does it make if the earth is Millions or Billions of years old as the Atheist argues? But this is one of the problems of Christianity, we always hold on to our position, even if those positions cannot be proven by the Bible (especially in the form that those arguments are presented).

What difference does it make really, if the earth is a Trillion years or Ten Thousand years old? My God could have created the earth in a day and populated it with humans with the intellect and function as we have it today. He could have also created the earth Trillions of years ago. We have this fantasy that agreeing with those who don’t subscribe to our beliefs is lack of faith, even though that the Bible has proven over and over that this is not the case. How did the Church come up with the young earth chronology?

In the 17th century, Bishop James Ussher, a seventeenth-century Irish bishop came up with this interesting young earth chronology citing the genealogy account found in Genesis 5 through Rome’s destruction of the Temple in Jerusalem in 70 A.D. The Lord Bishop even went ahead to add precision to the exact date of Creation. In the 1925, the American Fundamentalist discovered and accepted this chronology. Don’t get me wrong, the Lord Bishop was a genius and a scholar per excellence.

He was not deterred by the challenging nature of being a Protestant Bishop in a Roman Catholic turf. History has it that the Lord Bishop lived through momentous times, having been born during the reign of Queen Elizabeth.  He was a talented high-speed scholar who entered Trinity College in Dublin at the early age of thirteen, became an ordained Presbyter by the age of twenty, and a professor at Trinity by twenty-seven.  In 1625, he became the head of the Anglo-Irish Church in Ireland. But how reliable is his chronology? How old do you think the earth is? Let’s talk about it.

Very Respectfully,

Blessing Jacobs.

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Was Jesus’ death an end to the Jewish sacrificial system or was it a means by which fallen humankind could return to God?

 Our response to this question is crucial to how we view the being we call God, and the place of organized religion in our world.

When humankind in Adam fell short of God’s glory through disobedience by eating from the fruit of the prohibited tree in the garden of Eden, God’s relationship with her was severed. Adam (a corporate identity of the whole human race) could no longer be in the presence of God. To the modern reader, this idea of Adam eating a piece of fruit and God expelling him from the garden is very pithy, and almost a bizarre way of ending a relationship. It’s like someone divorcing their spouse for burning their toast, or squeezing a tooth paste from the middle. It’s like God was setting Adam up, knowing that he/she would disregard this injunction not to eat from the fruit of the prohibited tree. But is it what God intended? Was it God’s intention to perpetually keep Adam from eating of the fruit of this tree? I would save this for another time, but suffice to say that Adam’s expulsion from the garden was so that not only Adam, but also the entire human race could get back in. One of my favorite professor’s in Seminary Dr. Hugenberbger in his teaching on this subject of the Fall once said, “you have to get out to get in.”

To return to the question at issue, “Why did Jesus die,” let’s look at the Old Testament sacrificial system. Leviticus is one of the least read books of the Bible because of its content. Interestingly enough, it is one of my favorites because it helps us understand and appreciate the atoning death of Christ. But the sacrificial system of the Old Testament was put in place by Yahweh for His chosen people. The sacrificial system was to temporarily mitigate (cover) the inadvertent sins committed by God’s chosen people Israel. But how about other nations in far distance shores, who did not embrace Israel’s sacrificial system? How about other nations that indeed worshipped Israel’s sacrificial elements?

Moses in response to Pharaoh’s counter offer to his request to free the Israelites: “Go sacrifice to your god within the land” (Exodus 8:25) says, “It is not right to do so, for we will sacrifice to the Lord our God what is an abominations to the Egyptians.” How then were these other nations reconciled to God if the sacrificial system was not an option? This brings us to the Hebrew word “shv” to turn, “to return” “to be returned,” “to bring back” This word is misleadingly rendered in Psalm 23:6, in the Psalmist’s pledge to return to Yahweh’s presence: “I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.” The word translated “dwell” is the Hebrew word “shv.” I don’t want you to be discouraged by my use of the Hebrew language as is the custom of some. I utilize Hebrew to help the reader understand what the Holy Spirit inspired the author’s to say to God’s people. It could be argued in Hebrew that one did not really comprehend a word until one has total grasp of its roots, and explored its relationship to other words with the same root. This is what biblical theology is all about: discerning the authorial intent. How were other nations reconciled to God? Please stay tuned!

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Many Blessings to you in the New Year!

Happy New Year to all my friends around the globe. I am deeply grateful for the time you have taken out of your busy schedule to view my blog. I am amazed that different readers from over 40 countries log on to read my posts! For the new year, I would like to do something different. I have ben thinking of what I can do differently this year to be able to serve my audience better. So I decided to ask everyone of you to help me by providing guidance on what subjects you that you would best benefit from. So write to me either via my personal email or leave a comment on the blog page on what topics you want me to explore. And for those of you that have not joined, please do, so that you will receive notification each time I publish a new post.

Thank you all

Yours for the sake of the Risen King!

Blessing Jacobs+

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What does Love and Jealousy have in common?

As I was reviewing some of my morning devotion notes late this evening, the morning Office for Friday 14th Sunday after Trinity in the 1928 Book of Common Prayer caught my attention. The text in question is found in 1 Samuel 19:1-10.  I always try to read the entire chapter as ambitious as I am when it comes to reading God’s holy writ. This passage is replete with perplexing and intriguing phrases: The evil spirit from Yahweh; The Spirit of Yahweh; David’s spouse Michal’s betrayal of her husband; King Saul’s schizophrenia; the notion of this same king being ranked among the prophets, prophesying all day; and his servants also prophesying, and the lists go on.

I have spent a considerable part of my adult life trying to study God’s word. But the more I study, the more I realize how little I know. It keeps me humble just knowing that the human mind cannot articulate this Being called God. This passage is troubling because it contains things that are extremely difficult to explain. How can a good God have evil spirit? How can Saul, with such malicious intent to kill God’s anointed prophesy? And Oh by the way, he laid naked the entire day, and also prophesied before Samuel the prophet of Yahweh. He then swears an oath in God’s name not to put David to death, but as soon as the evil spirit from Yahweh comes upon him, he strikes with his javelin but missed David by few inches.

It seems to me that Saul was really possessed by this evil spirit, to the extent that he was bent on killing David. There are so many things to explore in this passage, but I want to talk about vs 9., the evil spirit from Yahweh coming upon Saul. Commentators avoid this passage. I have not come across one Commentary that dealt with this passage. I am sure that there are commentaries on this passage out there, but I am unaware of any.

I have looked at this passage in other languages to find out what is really going here, but always disappointed. I know someone who knows a little bit of Hebrew, and Spanish. And I figured maybe finding out how this passage reads in both languages might proffer some insight to this passage, but that made it even more interesting.

I tried to exonerate Yahweh by trying to prove that the preposition “from” is employed in an “instrumental” sense and not in “possessive” sense. But unfortunately, the Hebrew has it as possessive (the Hebrew Construct). The word (ruach) Spirit is in the construct tense denoting possession. I figured maybe Spanish will help, but again it reads: “Y el espíritu malo de parte de Jehová fué sobre Saul.” This spirit indeed was from God. This is impossible. The Biblical writers must have made a very huge mistake. But we have to face the fact. So what is going in this passage? Well, stay tuned! I will explore this in my next post. Please share your thoughts on this passage. All comments are valuable and are welcome!

God’s Best Wishes!

Blessing+

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