John 1:4

ἐν αὐτῷ ζωὴ ἦν, καὶ ἡ ζωὴ ἦν τὸ φῶς τῶν ἀνθρώπων·


You know, I had read this passage a hundred times before with nothing, but reading the Greek, I had to slow down.  It’s been about 6 years since I have taken Greek, so I had to brush off the rust.  Toddlers will do it to you, keep you from staying in the Greek.

I’d like to start by translating this word for word.

In him life was, and the life was the light of men.

So 

In him was life, and the life was the light of humanity.

As I have said, I just glossed over the verse reading it like normal, and then something jumped off the page.  

In Jesus there was life.  The life of Jesus was the light of humanity.  His life brought light and illumination.  What about his life brought light and illumination that was unique to humanity? Think about it.  The virgin birth, the sinless life, the miracles, the innocent death upon the cross in the place of all sinful humanity, and the gift of the Holy Spirit, among other things.  

THAT life is what illuminated our world.  THAT life was what gave us light in our darkness and darkened understanding.

In Jesus was the light we needed after our rebellion darkened our understanding.  


The gifts God gives us are not taken away if we abuse them…but…

Before the next blog, I would like to cite a response from Jon Greene to the last 1 Samuel post (1 Samuel 4:1-11).  He says,

“It always amazes me that Israel was able to recognize the God in the box without knowing the God of the Box. It’s a titanic example of missing the point.”


We have all heard the saying don’t put God in a box.  Fascinating that the children of Israel did just that.  They responded to God after He gave them the law and told them to put it in a box just the way the nations around them did.  Every time, up to this event, the ark went into battle, the Israelites were victorious, as it got reduced to the status of their talisman or lucky charm.  They refused to think outside the box.  Well put homoletically kosher analogy, brother Greene!  This is what happens to us and our victory in the Lord when we move from wrapping our identity in the gifts God has given, rather than wrapping the sum of our identity in God himself (and what He did on the cross for us in order for us to have every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ).  


I have heard, as I am sure you have, from some well-meaning believers the idea that if we abuse the gifts God gives us that he is going to take them away from us.  The truth of that statement, though, is the one who believes that statement believes the spiritual gift or gift of God is a reward for good behaviour, instead of an actual gift.  How farcical can you get with the grace of God.  These gifts we are given are irrevocable and without repentance whatsoever.  There is no lockdown or holding tank for those of us who misuse or abuse the calling or the gift God gives us.  The gift has been freely given by Him and freely received by us.  Such is one of the tricky aspects of grace.  We are still free to abuse and neglect our gifts and callings, but the real question is, now that we have the free will to do what we will with what He has given us, knowing that He will not take those deposits away, but rather will call us to account for how we have used them, how will we respond to that?


Just because our gifts and callings are irrevocable does not mean that God does not have a way to call us to account for our use and abuse of them.  Scary thought, huh?  


I say this in light of the fact that I sat under a couple of pastors who abused me or someone I knew.  It’s a hard pill to swallow, knowing that all authority is ordained of God, even those who abuse and misuse us, and all authority can be used to serve His ends.  Think of the worst dictators you can imagine, and even in the midst of that man or woman’s rule, God is still present and will still call that person to account, and in His mercy allow them a season to repent, while they yet have a chance to use the gifts given them to glorify Him.  The question is, what does God see when He looks at you and me, and is He pleased with the way we are using that time, gift, or resource?
  

On the Creation of the world, my views.

More Ken Ham stuff here…

The premise and motive for Ken Ham’s concern are admirable and reasonable:  to make sure the authority of Scripture is upheld.  For those of us with a high view of the Holy Writ, such a concern is one of the lynch-pins of our fellowship.  Thank God for those of presumably like-minded intentions.


However (let the goraning begin), the underlying philosophy of Ken Ham’s article (my young-earth view is the only way to avoid mangling Scripture) is to the thoughtful ethos of Evangelical and Spirit-filled Christianity what Glenn Beck is to Joel Watts. AVOIDED LIKE THE PLAGUE!!!!!!


Okay, now that I have used Glenn Beck and Joel Watts and the Plague in the same paragraph, I shall cease cackling maniacally, and continue with my (ahem) thoughtful discussion on this subject.




I have for the most part been pretty carefree about the subject, since the details of Creation and the timing of the Rapture, and the finer points of Ecclesiology, though they make for interesting discussion, do not count much for the scheme of things with respect to our mutual salvation.  Ken Ham, however has forced me, by this discussion to put my two cents in on the subject, since my positions in the kingdom of God, the church of Jesus Christ, and in Assemblies of God permits me freedom of belief with respect to this subject.  


Any serious study of the Scripture on these subjects must first have three things, according to John Wesley and St. Augustine,

In the essentials, unity
In the nonessentials, liberty
In all things, charity (or love)


The essentials of Christianity are as follows. The twelve points of the Apostles Creed.  Beliefs in the authority of Scripture, the triune Godhead, the deity of Jesus Christ, the reality of divine healing, the return of Jesus Christ, and our identity in Christ.  As far as Creation, there is one thing that is necessary for us to believe.  Mankind was created perfect and upright, but, through his own choice,he rebelled against God, and by this rebellion, he reaped physical death, as well as spiritual death, which is separation from God.


I believe that mankind was created on day 6 of a literal 6 day event.  Both the Young Earth Theory and the varying Gap Theories, as I interpret them, allow for that literal 6 day event, whether you call that the creation of the earth, or the recreation of the earth after some cosmic event.  


Even though I really don’t care what we believe of these two theories, just like I don’t care WHEN the Rapture takes place, since following Christ and being in relationship with him is the basis for faith, I will still state some of these things that strike me as interesting and give my opinion on these matters. 


Do try to keep in mind though, two things.  1) These are called theories for a reason.  2) We cannot speak beyond Scripture in these matters on authority, since only God know the ends and the full details of these events, and we will find out then, as we will on the rest of the mysteries of the faith.

David Falls, in his book “Foundations for the Battlefield,”begins the work of discussing spiritual warfare with the creation narrative, since it is somewhat helpful to his case.  Falls, who has made a study of warfare a central part of his hobby of knowing the Lord for the past two decades, writes two noticable things concerning the Genesis 1:1-2 passage. 

First

“In the above verse I see one apparent contradiction: our God is a God of light.  He is radiant.  When Jesus was transfigured, He glowed so brightly, he was painful to look at (Matt. !7:1-17)….  Yet, the earth is dark” (page 23).



In other words, if God is light and a God of radiance and glory, why are we introduced to the earth in verse 2, in the words of several translations as, “without form and void/formless and empty/without form and an empty waste/a soup of emptiness, a bottomless emptiness, an inky blackness.”  And there is the matter of the Spirit of God hovering over the face of the dark abyss, the deep waters, the face of the deep, or the surface of the waters.  Not, the Spirit of God hovering over nothing, but rather the Spirit of God hovering over something.  Arguments against other ANE literature abound at this point.  Who knows.  The truth of the matter is that God created everything we see out of nothing.  The fancy Latin term for this is “creatio ex nihilo.”


Unless we go the route of literalizing the term “void,” which is a poetic way of saying “nonexistent,” which the Genesis account could be doing in response to the other farcical accounts, the only argument that is a literal interpretation of the balance of the vocab used in the lion’s share of translations could be some form of the Gap Theory.  Even using a word such as empty can still connote something that exists that is empty, in the way that we humans can be empty emotionally at the death of a loved one, a divorce, or a bankruptcy, though this might be stretching the analogies farther than warranted. 


Some commentators, including, if memory serves correctly, Wenham, say this phrase can be accurately translated as chaotic and formless, which still does not get us empty enough to qualify as “creatio ex nihilo.”



Second

“Second, if we read on, we see another quizzical thing. If you are reading from the [KJV], there is a spot where God says, ‘be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth (Gen 1:28).’  I thought about that word replenish one day, so after some research I discovered that, sure enough, the word in Hebrew actually means “replenish.” “But how can that be?” I wondered…How can the earth be [replenished] with life when life has never existed before?”

One minor concern of mine here is what Falls’ research consisted of, I never got around to asking him.  Believe me, I am not saying he is incompetent by any means.  The book is probably the best terse discussion of spiritual warfare and our role in it based on some very hard-fought and costly experiences, the tenth of which I would not dare to discuss in this forum.  I am just saying exactly what is on my mind, no more.  Further, the word there could potentially be translated as “replenish,” though there are other ways to translate it.  

Falls then goes on to deal with the Gap Theory in a nutshell, doing a pretty decent job of explaining it. 

Overall, this is why I have a concern with Ken Ham making an issue or example out of this position paper and throwing it under the spotlight.  I get testy when people in the body of Christ go about defending their interpretation of some non-morality based issue in Word of God against supposed enemies with backhanded critical remarks that sound sophisticated but really come across as exclusivistic.  Many denominations do this.  They take a particular issue and grind it like an axe, and become that issues prophet, declaring all others heretics.  The Boston Church of Christ did it with water baptism, some pastors I encountered in my early days of involvement with the Assemblies of God treated speaking in tongues as a condition of salvation, and now Ken Ham and other groups seek to take whole denominations to task just because they give their ministers liberty in dealing with such things as the finer points of the creation narrative.  

On a personal note, it was because David Falls, who came out of the Assemblies, prayed for me, and did not preach at me me about speaking in tongues in a proselytizing way that I ended up
having a personal encounter with the risen God that broke through to my heart, and gave me the blessing of the Baptism in the Holy Spirit with the evidence of speaking in other tongues.  

Also, on another personal note, more pertinent to the subject at hand, my first encounter with a cogent presentation of the Young Earth Theory came as a teacher at a local Christian School in Springfield, Missouri as a science teacher.  It was the same Bob Jones Science Textbook that “strawmanned” the Gap Theory, as well as an encounter with a presentation by Kent Hovind on Creation and the Flood narrative, that helped me to understand the Young Earth Theory from a well-reasoned postulation.

The reason I appreciate the new AG Position paper, is that it does not force me to defend one literal interpretation of the Scripture against all others.  I enjoy the open forum for dialogue that this paper and men like Ben Aker from the AG Seminary allow us younger generations of ministers who are up-and-coming to have the flexibility and liberty to ask the open, honest, and sometimes difficult and hard questions of the Scriptures without having to fear of retribution.  

It may be possible that Ken Ham will come to the point that he stops proselytizing us that we may become more open to his viewpoint.  Until that happens, it is impossible for those of my ilk to have open and honest dialogue with AIG and like-minded dogmatic groups who come across as judging our views.

Let us have an open forum for dialogue, not just one simple dogma that is unalterable or one way of interpreting and applying the Hebrew, especially from someone who views the Genesis narrative as holding every major doctrine of the Christianity. 

1 Samuel 4:1-11

 At that time Israel was at war with the Philistines. 

At the time Samuel was established as a prophet and seer before the LORD in the presence of all Israel, the Philistines and their five lords were at war with Israel. 

The Israelite army was camped near Ebenezer, and the Philistines were at Aphek. 2 

Ebenezer was significant, because Samuel and the children of Israel defeated the Philistines near Ebenezer later in 1 Samuel and at that point they called it (further internal evidence that 1 Samuel was written after the victory at Ebenezer, after the events described herein) Ebenezer, meaning “Thus far has the LORD helped us.”

The Philistines attacked and defeated the army of Israel, killing 4,000 men.  After the battle was over, the troops retreated to their camp, and the elders of Israel asked, “Why did the Lord allow us to be defeated by the Philistines?” 

Hmmm, I wonder why.  Geez, these people are idiots, or dense.  Did they forget the idolatry they engaged.

Then they said, “Let’s bring the Ark of the Covenant of the Lord from Shiloh. If we carry it into battle with us, it<sup class="footnote" value="[a]”>[a] will save us from our enemies.”

So the ark will save you from your enemies.  Riiiight….

 4 So they sent men to Shiloh to bring the Ark of the Covenant of the Lord of Heaven’s Armies, who is enthroned between the cherubim. Hophni and Phinehas, the sons of Eli, were also there with the Ark of the Covenant of God. 5 When all the Israelites saw the Ark of the Covenant of the Lord coming into the camp, their shout of joy was so loud it made the ground shake!
 6 “What’s going on?” the Philistines asked. “What’s all the shouting about in the Hebrew camp?” When they were told it was because the Ark of the Lord had arrived, 7 they panicked. “The gods have<sup class="footnote" value="[b]”>[b] come into their camp!” they cried. “This is a disaster! We have never had to face anything like this before! 8 Help! Who can save us from these mighty gods of Israel? They are the same gods who destroyed the Egyptians with plagues when Israel was in the wilderness. 9 Fight as never before, Philistines! If you don’t, we will become the Hebrews’ slaves just as they have been ours! Stand up like men and fight!”
 10 So the Philistines fought desperately, and Israel was defeated again. The slaughter was great; 30,000 Israelite soldiers died that day. The survivors turned and fled to their tents. 11 The Ark of God was captured, and Hophni and Phinehas, the two sons of Eli, were killed.

Well, we can see that strategy worked out really well for them.

And that strategy looks like it’s worked out really well for us.  We trust in so many things that are not the Lord, and we get into so much trouble as a result of trusting to those other things.  And I know I am not just preaching to my audience.  I am preaching to myself.  Really, if you and I would trust the Lord, we would make it through these obstacles and adversaries.

Are you trusting to your own lucky charms, or the Lord for deliverance?  Even the things that look good and were given to you by God, including your own God-given gifts and talents cannot deliver you. 

From the Desk of Brian Fulthorp: the A/G and Ken Ham's Dogma

http://sunestauromai.wordpress.com/2010/09/08/the-ag-paper-on-creation-and-ken-ham/


I never could stand Ken Ham’s dogma that required believers to affirm his view alone of Creation in order to be truly saved or have the truth.  Such a view being required is shortsighted at best, and the strawman arguments put up by Ham and institutions such as Bob Jones University in their curriculum against their version or interpretation of the Gap Theory or any other plausible explanation of the Genesis narratives are in a word, asinine, since they do not adequately describe the minutiae of differing expressions of those theories.  BJU does not get the Gap Theory right or do it justice at all.  Their explanation is vastly oversimplified.

It reminds me of certain denominations who want to be so blasted dogmatic with a certain translations, or water baptism, or Spirit baptism, or other requirements that they place on the list of required beliefs for salvation.  Thank God we are only required to believe in Jesus Christ and the shedding of his blood for our sins.  That’s it.  Nothing else, including your interpretation on secondary issues like theories of creation, is required for salvation to be secure.  Nothing else can save you. 

Granted, this does not mean we disaffirm the account of Creation as accurate.  In fact the A/G position paper that was recently accepted and to which Ken Ham makes reference does NOTHING to undermine the authority of Scripture. Instead, it allows an openness in the denomination for allowing differing viewpoints to peacefully coexist in a forum of ideas, enriching our fellowship as we sharpen each other as iron sharpens iron, and as we learn from each other. 


Were Ken Ham’s dogma enforced among all evangelicals, it would function like a philosophical gag order and stifle the liberty we have in the Assemblies to disagree over the secondary matters, causing us to have religious and philosophical restrictions, which I as a minister would not tolerate at all.  The 16 Fundamental Truths are binding enough.


And now let the rambling cease.

Now, if only we could get some input from Kent Hovind on the matter.

1 Samuel 3:19-4:1 and a rabbit trail or two discussing the seer gift that is pertinent to what I am about to discuss here

As I said in the previous post on 1 Samuel 3, I think that the era of seers to which the writer of 1 Samuel is referring is an era which occurred prior to the time of his or her writing.  

Also, I submit to you that one thing I think is missing from the church in the present age is the willingness of those to whom the Lord has given gifts of sight into the realm of the Spirit (as John functioned on Patmos-Revelation 1:10-11). Yes I believe in the modern day function of apostles, prophets (seers and standard prophets), evangelists, pastors, and teachers.

The bottom line is that we need people who are willing to live consecrated lives and are willing to accept the call the Lord has placed on them to function as this.  Now at the risk of alienating a couple of my friends who are theobloggers, I am going to share my testimony, which involves a strong dose of this gifting and several prophetic words that confirmed what was already in my heart.  

I was saved at the age of four, when I witnessed the resurrected Christ.  The second person of the Trinity stood in my room and I knew it was Jesus.  He had wounds in his wrists, etc.  He was wearing a simple linen robe and had brown hair and beard, etc.  He asked me what I wanted, and I knew what I wanted.  I told him, “I want a godfather.”  To which he replied, “I will be your godfather.”  From that moment I knew (my parents divorced a few weeks later in 1984) and confessed with my  mouth that Jesus was the Son of God.  

The funny thing with me was that it was not a matter of believing without seeing.  It was seeing and knowing.  It’s like almost not having a choice to believe or not believe.  I knew and so was accountable for what I knew.  From that moment, I would have dreams where I went to heaven, and dreams where I saw hell.  I have experienced much that is glorious and much that is diabolical.  I have known joy about which I could say nothing for the magnitude of it, and I have known despair because of the fires of the lake.  I have from the age of five battled and struggled with the lust of the flesh, many times being victorious, many times falling.  All of this interaction came because I was called to flow as a seer.  I knew I had a specific calling, though I did not know how to verbalize it as a child.  

But I digress.  

If you want to know what a seer’s work looks like, examine the nature of the Revelation to John.  Examine the fact that he saw what the Lord showed him, and examine that he interpreted what was seen, and that Jesus evidently thought it important enough to show John.  

The tragic thing for me was that, while I accepted the teaching gifting to which I have also been called (the exact word is “a professor to the people”), from the age of 16 until I was 29, I rejected the seer aspect of my calling.  I was taught an overabundance of criticism that dried me out.  I left behind the truth of a large part of the way God designed me to function.  But that is no more.  If you wish to cover what the gift of a seer looks like, read 1 Samuel, the Revelation, and the life of Moses.  And if you have questions still, then shoot me an e-mail or Facebook me, and I will try to get back with you.

Now, back to the text.
19 And Samuel grew, and the Lord was with him and let none of his words fall to the ground. 20 And all Israel from Dan to Beersheba knew that Samuel was established as a prophet of the Lord. 21 And the Lord appeared again at Shiloh, for the Lord revealed himself to Samuel at Shiloh by the word of the Lord.

For those that are non-KJV or anti-KJV, I apologize for the use of the KJV.  This text is fairly straightforward, with one exception that jumped off the page.  

The Lord  “let none of his words fall to the ground.” 

Wow!!!  Every single word that Samuel spoke, because he grew in the Lord, was himself dedicated to the Lord’s work solely and the Lord was with him.  Because he was faithful to the Lord, the Lord established every single word.

Every

Single

Word.

One of my friends from college, Matt Manchester, said the following.  He was on our college campus and he saw a vision where there were words, literal words, littering the ground like trash.  Like discarded refuse.  Words that people had spoken, who were not dedicated to the Lord, that had been spoken and because they were not given to the Lord, they had fallen, ineffectively from their mouths, and did not reach their intended targets and accomplish the purpose intended.  

How many of you have said something you knew was worthless, only to regret what you have said?

The Lord offers mercy for that worthless word, if you will but confess it and repent.  He wants to help you speak words that will not fall to the ground.  He wants all of your words to be effective and to hit their intended target.

1 Samuel 3:10-15

This part of my blog will discuss the text of 1 Samuel 3:10 and include some thoughts interspersed concerning it’s application for today.  With the interest in the office of the seer on the rise through the Charismatic/Pentecostal sectors of the church as well as others, I think it’s about time for my two cents on the matter.

10 And the Lord came and stood, calling as at other times, “Samuel! Samuel!” And Samuel said, “Speak, for your servant hears.

It intrigues me how the Scripture appears to play up on the fact that Samuel, who is called to be a seer, as shown later in this book, is shown as hearing the Lord more than seeing the Lord.  It does not emphasize that the Lord appeared to Samuel, showed himself to Samuel, or manifested Himself to Samuel, even though he did, since this was a vision (3:15).  It says the Lord came to where Samuel was, stood there, and called to Samuel, so that Samuel could hear the Lord. The emphasis was on hearing the Lord (probably in connection to James 1:22) more than seeing.  I would take this to imply that even if we see the Lord, our concern should be that we always hear His voice and do what He says more than we should be superficially fascinated with the pretty light show.  There is a message we need to hear with every revelation the Lord gives us, and we need to hear as well as see.  In all prophetic experiences, the emphasis should be whether or not we heard what the Lord was trying to say to us.   Samuel replied that he could hear the Lord’s voice.  Many times we hear the Lord and, regardless of whether or not we see Him, still are able to recognize and obeys His voice, which testifies with our Spirit that we are the children of God (Romans 8:16, Matt 12:33). It was through hearing the Lord that Samuel came into the ministry of seeing the things of God which He was about to do in the nation of Israel.

11 Then the Lord said to Samuel, “Behold, I am about to do a thing in Israel at which the two ears of everyone who hears it will tingle.  

This is the language that communicates something specific: God is about to do a new thing.  Something that will be the talk of Israel and the subject of much gossip.  That is what is meant by “ears tingling,”  I imagine.  It will become so talked about, and the ears of everyone in the land will be full of the news of this thing the Lord is about to do. 

12 On that day I will fulfill against Eli all that I have spoken concerning his house, from beginning to end.

The Lord is about to shake up the house of Levi, specifically the house of Eli, and fulfill to the letter, the prophecy spoken against Eli’s house.  Shaking up the priesthood, the means of communication through which Israel related to God and spoke to her, would send gossip rippling throughout the land.  God was going to change the way the priesthood did business fundamentally.  The focus would not be on man’s performance, and man’s achievement, but rather on a pursuit of holiness out of reverence for God. 

13 And I declare to him that I am about to punish his house forever, for the iniquity that he knew, because his sons were blaspheming God, and he did not restrain them.  

Eli is to blame for his sons’ wrongdoing to the extent that he did not restrain them. 

14 Therefore I swear to the house of Eli that the iniquity of Eli’s house shall not be atoned for by sacrifice or offering forever.”

The mercy of God and the space for repentance have passed, and have moved on in favor of the justice of God, which is an aspect of His love as well.  The ritual had lost its meaning and reality.
  

15 Samuel lay until morning; then he opened the doors of the house of the Lord. And Samuel was afraid to tell the vision to Eli. 16 But Eli called Samuel and said, “Samuel, my son.” And he said, “Here I am.” 17 And Eli said, “What was it that he told you? Do not hide it from me. May God do so to you and more also if you hide anything from me of all that he told you.” 18 So Samuel told him everything and hid nothing from him. And he said, “It is the Lord. Let him do what seems good to him.”

Eli demanded to know of Samuel what had happened, and Samuel obeyed again, and Eli accepts what Samuel has said, as confirmation of the man of God’s word years before.  This is almost sad since Eli does the opposite of David when confronted with his sins.  Moreover, Eli, unlike David, heard twice, did not appear to have an emotional response, and showed no signs of remorse or repentance.  This is basically Eli just accepting this as his destiny no matter what.  Had he shown remorse, who knows (See Jonah or 2 Kings 22:11 for signs of repentance)? The Lord might have shown remorse and mercy to Eli’s house.  As it was, Eli just acted quite lax and lazy.  Everytime I read this, it makes me want to yell at the book.
 

More thoughts on 1 Samuel 3

Calling does not come without some sort of revelation by the Holy Ghost.

Okay, forgive me for saying “Holy Ghost” instead of the “Holy Spirit.”  As a Methodist, I grew up hearing the Holy Ghost mentioned, more than the Holy Spirit, as part of our liturgy.  I still have not broken that habit quite yet.

More ruminations come from 1 Samuel 3.

Consider the following.   Aaron’s family was not give lattitude to be God’s chosen priest until the Lord spoke to Moses.  After that, there was a perpetual ordination on those in Aaron’s house and in certain of the line of Aaron, specifically the line of Phinehas, the son of Eleazar, the son of Aaron, who demonstrated his zeal for the Lord by thrusting through the Israelite and his Midianite beloved with a spear.

Moses knew nothing of the Lord until He spoke to Moses through the burning bush in His revealed form.

In the days of the priesthood of Eli, there was no widespread revelation.  Maybe the Lord was behaving thus, not only for the reasons I have mentioned previously (see previous entries), but also because He was showing mercy to Eli’s line and giving them space to repent before He revealed Himself afresh, because, as we have seen in the Torah, when the Lord manifested Himself, it was usually along the lines of a pronouncement of judgment (fiery serpents, Korah’s rebellion, Aaron and Miriam’s rebuke of Moses, the people complaining several times in the wilderness).  Now this was not always the case, but it usually was.


Ultimately, we can do no more than speculate, but I would think it had something to do with a number of these reasons.

Now, in the case of Samuel, the Lord, the Scripture says, “called” Samuel.  This was like the Lord calling Moses, or calling the dry earth ground.  It’s the typical word used when God speaks and names something.  Nothing special about this word, or unique in the Hebrew.  And yet, “called” means something.  It means God has named you something, for His purpose.  When God calls something, He is defining that thing’s identity.  If He calls you a prophet to the nations, as He did Jeremiah, then your identity is wrapped up with prophecy to a degree.  If he calls you an apostle to a particular people group, then you are called to establish the kingdom among that particular group of people.  If He calls you an evangelist or teacher, then that means your identity is wrapped up to a degree in evangelizing the lost, or teaching and making disciples.  It says something about you to be called.  It says that, as Bob and Larry would tell us, that God indeed made you special and loves you very much.  

In this case, God, in the silence of the spiritual darkness of Israel, stood by Samuel and called him.  He was called to see (1 Samuel 9:9, 19).  Samuel was commissioned a seer by the Lord.  

Seers may have been pretty common in those days (1 Samuel 9:9).  “What days,” you ask?  Well, 1 Samuel 9:9, which says, “(Formerly in Israel, if a man went to inquire of God, he would say, “Come, let us go to the seer,” because the prophet of today used to be called a seer.)” is a passage for which I can give at least 2 possible interpretations.  I am interpreting the word “formerly.”

1) “Formerly” can refer to the time that 1 Samuel was written. Some scholars have said that the books of Samuel were written after the kingdom divided, since we are given internal evidence, or evidence from the text of 1 and 2 Samuel, that this was the case.  The writer frequently refers to the division of the kingdom by implications (1 Samuel 11:8 mentions the numbers of the armies of Judah and Israel as separate entities). 

2) “Formerly” may refer to the up to the time of Samuel’s ministry, this is the first time our culture, which is skeptical of the gift of prophetic seeing, is given a biblical glimpse into the unique gift and office of a seer.

To an extent, both interpretations yield the same result.  The author, in the context of Samuel’s ministry (1 Samuel 9) and his ordination to that ministry, details the nature of his ministry; its effects on the current priesthood and ministry; and the response of the people to his ministry.


In the next post I will cover the text of the passage, instead of the background matter and context.

Dove World Outreach center, a response based on one reason they give to burn the Qur'an

Point 9 on Ten Reasons to Burn a Qur’an from Dove World Outreach Center

“Deep in the Islamic teaching and culture is the irrational fear and loathing of the West.”

One response to this

 
If the kingdom and our home is not of this world, why are we so hellbent
of exalting the greatness of western civilization, as this point shows. Okay, so let’s step up the colonialism a bit more.

A Response from Scripture to Brother Greene

Jon Greene, a friend of mine and soldier who spent many years overseas fighting on behalf of this great land made a comment several days ago, which I then shared.  I would like to recount it and, I believe, a possible scriptural response.

Jon’s comment

I think Eli gets a worse rap than he deserves sometimes. He was a poor priest, but mostly he was a poor father. His kids ran over him. He’s guilty mostly of being a pushover. But, by the time Samuel came on the scene, he already knew that his priesthood was kaput. It had been prophesied. And yet, he still chose to equip Samuel, which was even more amazing considering he was not his own son.

1 Samuel’s response

While I love Jon’s motive for the last sentence (an attitude that asks, “how would we have behaved, in this situation?”), and think it’s a well-written, poignant, evenhanded analysis that would sober any minister who seeks to railroad Eli with unbridled judgment without exception, since the Lord did use Eli to raise up Samuel, in part, Scripture does make something perfectly clear; Eli does deserve a bad rap, though not necessarily as bad as some would give him.

Compare Jon’s comment with 1 Samuel 2:29, where God sends a man of God to rebuke Eli, and consider the following (emphasis mine bold

Why do you kick at My sacrifice and My offering which I have commanded in My dwelling place, and honor your sons more than Me, to make yourselves fat with the best of all the offerings of Israel My people?’

In other words Eli and/or his sons did the following things as spoken by the Lord

1) Eli, at the very least is accused of kicking at the sacrifice of the Lord “Kicking at” may be considered a euphemism for handling the sacrifice with an improper or irreverent attitude (“an unworthy manner, without self-examination and an attitude of repentance).  See Paul’s indictment of the Corinthians with respect to the Eucharist (1 Corinthians 11:27-29).


2) Eli honored his sons above the Lord.  Plainly as day, God takes the attitude we have seen, and maybe some we have not seen up to this point as one that dishonors him, and places concern for family above concern for the things of God.  


3) Eli, Hophni, Phineas make themselves fat with the best of the offerings.  Instead of subsisting humbly on the portions they are given, they take the first and best of all the offerings for themselves.  The illustration here is found in 1 Samuel 2:12-17.  This is a violation of the laws of the meat offerings and the fat and blood segments of priestly meat offerings.  

So, in my estimation, Eli does bear some of the blame for what is happening with his sons in this context.

More continuing thoughts on 1 Samuel 3


Your thoughts?