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  • Writer's pictureFrank Paul

May 2024 Newsletter




















MAY 2024


The God who made the world and everything in it, being Lord of heaven and earth, does not live in temples made my man.

Acts 17:24


Quotes of the month


Sign in front of a church:

 

Too hot to keep changing sign.

Sin bad. Jesus Good.

Details inside.


We all have pasts. We all made choices that maybe weren’t the best ones. None of us are completely innocent, but we get a fresh start every day to be a better person than we were yesterday.

 

 Father Cedric Pisegna

  

For true peace of heart is to be found in resisting passion, not in yielding to it.

 

The Imitation of Christ, by Thomas Kempis

 

It is easier to build strong children than to repair broken men.

 

Frederick Douglass

 

I’m tired, too, but we have dreams to chase, not dreams to dream.

 

Mental Fitness Community Website

 

(Editor’s note: I have mentioned the website He Gets Us before, and I do so again for a reason. Excellent, relevant articles for viewing Jesus through today’s lens.  https://Hegetsus.com. The following article is one of theirs, not mine.)

 

Jesus was fed up with politics, too.


In Jesus’ time, communities were deeply divided by bitter differences in religious beliefs, political positions, income inequality, legal status, and ethnic differences. Sound familiar?

Jesus lived in the middle of a culture war, too. And though the political systems were different (not exactly a representative democracy), the greed, hypocrisy, and oppression different groups used to get their way were very similar.

 

Let’s set the scene.

 

Jesus was born at the height of the Roman Empire’s power. They’d conquered most of the known world, and Israel was no exception. Unlike previous empires that would try to destroy cultures by displacing conquered peoples’ leaders, the Romans didn’t force people to change their religion or customs as long as they kept their obligations to the empire. Rome would install a client king (a puppet government) and exact tribute (cash) in lots of different ways. Families were charged taxes per person—farmers on crops, fishermen on catches, and travelers were charged fees to use the roads. This was in addition to local business and religious taxes charged by priests.

In Israel, political and religious factions were one and the same. Back then, it was Pharisees and Sadducees. Today, we have conservatives and liberals. The Pharisees were the most religiously conservative leaders. They had the most influence among the common working poor, who were the majority. They believed that a king would come one day to conquer Rome with violence and free their nation. Some preyed upon a mostly illiterate population by adding extra rules and requirements that were designed to force the working poor into a posture of subjugation. The Sadducees were wealthy aristocrats who had a vested financial interest in Roman rule. They were in charge of the temple, and they didn’t believe any savior king was coming. They made themselves wealthy by exacting unfair taxes and fees from the labor of their own people and by contriving money-making schemes that forced the poor to pay exorbitant prices to participate in temple sacrifice—a critical part of their religion.

There were Zealot groups who hid in the hills and violently resisted Roman occupation, and then there were the Samaritans, often oppressed and marginalized because of their racial and ethnic identities.

And so, the common farmer, fisherman, or craftsman’s family lived through a highly volatile political period. Overbearing religious leaders who despised and oppressed them, wealthy elites who ripped them off, racial and ethnic tension with neighbors, and sporadic violent outbreaks between an oppressive occupying army.

 

So where was Jesus in all of this?

 

Did he align with the religious elites? With the wealthy and powerful? Or did he start an uprising to overthrow them?

None of the above.

He went from town to town, offering hope, new life, and modeling a different way to live and to change the world. Instead of pursuing power, money, or religious authority, he shared a loving and sacrificially generous way of living. He chose not to go along with the schemes others used to impact the world. Instead, he championed a better way.

And so, each of these political groups saw him as a threat. The Pharisees recognized his movement as an affront to their authority—exposing the hypocrisy of their practices. The Sadducees saw Jesus as a threat to their power and wealth because he exposed their money-making schemes. The Zealots violently rejected one of the essential themes of Jesus’ movement: love your enemy.

In the end, it took all three of these groups to have him killed. A Zealot (Judas) betrayed his location to those seeking to arrest him, the Sadducees brought him before the Romans to be executed, and when the Romans couldn’t find a crime committed, the Pharisees rallied the people to force Rome’s hand.

Isn’t it funny how political foes can come together to destroy a common enemy that threatens their designs? But in spite of their best efforts, his execution was only the beginning of a movement that continues to impact the world thousands of years later. Jesus’ movement was so impactful because he actively resisted and rejected participating in culture-war politics.

 

Scripture References: Matthew 9:35-38Luke 19:10

  

(Another editor’s note: The debate of whether the earth is 6,000 years old or 460 million, or so, years old has raged on forever. There are many documentaries on Prime, and articles virtually everywhere that argue the issue. This is one such article from the website of The Restored Church of God; another excellent website for the latest news affecting Christians and the world we find ourselves in today. It’s a deep article but try to plow through it and get some insight on creation. I found it worthy of print, even though it was a bit hard to understand some of it.)

 

Is the Earth 6,000 Years Old?

 

BY BRADFORD G. SCHLEIFER

 

When was Earth formed? When did man appear? Does the Bible contradict science in answering these questions?

Evolutionists believe mankind, Earth and the entire cosmos are the result of the forces of evolution that began with a single event—the Big Bang—occurring billions of years ago.

On the other hand, many evangelicals, some Jewish religionists, and others believe that the universe, our solar system, Earth and all the plants, animals and even mankind was fully created in a single event occurring 6,000 years ago.

Is either view correct?

Where did the idea of a 6,000-year-old Earth originate? Is it possible to use the Bible to ascertain details of events obviously scientific in nature? Does God’s Word demonstrate the creation event occurring millions of years ago or a mere 6,000 years?

 

Framing the Argument

 

While certain details about the subject of creation differ, the general concept is that an intelligent force brought about physical matter, including the trillions of stars, billions of galaxies, our solar system, Earth and everything in it. Most believe it started with a single event.

“Young Earth” creationists interpret the Genesis account to mean that the universe was created 6,000 years ago. This age is determined by counting the generations of biblical figures recorded throughout the Bible, starting with Adam in the Garden of Eden.

These creationists believe that any evidence not supporting their theory is incorrectly applied, or that data is misinterpreted. Their view is that the Bible is the only source that should be examined to prove creation, and the events recorded in it should be taken as they interpret them. Young Earth proponent Henry Morris stated, “Either…believe God’s Word all the way, or not at all” (The Long War Against God).

 

Only the Bible?

 

Notice Romans chapter 1: “For the invisible things of Him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even His eternal power and Godhead” (vs. 20). Now tie this with II Timothy 3:16: “All scripture is given by inspiration of Godand is profitable for doctrine…”

The original Greek word translated “doctrine” means “learning” or “teaching.” From these two passages we can see that Scripture, which is inspired by God, can be used to learn about His eternal power and Godhead. Young Earth creationists are correct to deduce that the Bible can be used as the starting point for any investigation of creation. In fact, evidence is found throughout “all Scripture.”

Let’s start in the book of beginnings, Genesis: “In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth. And the earth was without form, and void; and darkness was upon the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters” (Gen. 1:1-2).

Verse 1 describes an event (“in the beginning”) when God created everything. The passage is straightforward, and nearly all translations render it the same way.

Before looking at verse 2, consider that the God of the universe is a perfect Being and He always creates for a purpose. Consider further His description of the moment when the heavens and Earth were created: “For thus says the Lord that created the heavens; God Himself that formed the earth and made it; He has established it, He created it not in vain, He formed it to be inhabited…” (Isa. 45:18). The Hebrew word translated “vain” can also be rendered “a desolation, desert; a worthless thing; without form, nothing, waste, wilderness.” The heavens and Earth were created to be inhabited from its very first moment—obviously not “a worthless thing without form”! In fact, the creation event described in verse 1 was so magnificent that “the morning stars [angels] sang together, and all the sons of God [angels] shouted for joy…” (Job 38:7).

Now let’s examine Genesis 1:2. The phrase “without form” comes from the Hebrew word tohu—the same word translated as “vain” in Isaiah 45:18. The word “void” comes from bohu, meaning “a vacuity (a total emptiness of matter, a vacuum), an undistinguishable ruin.”

This is exactly what God said He did NOT create! He “is not the author of confusion…” (I Cor. 14:33)—rather, everything God does is “done decently and in order” (vs. 40).

The Hebrew word hayah makes this crystal clear. It was incorrectly translated “was” in Genesis 1:2. A more proper rendering is “became” or “came to be.” With all of this information a more accurate translation of the beginning of this verse could be: “And the earth became desolate, a worthless thing and an undistinguishable ruin …”

These verses describe completely different events! This is not an interpretation by any man; it is the clear, direct interpretation of the Bible by the Bible.

The Bible can be described as a spiritual “jigsaw puzzle.” The principle of Isaiah 28:10, “For precept must be upon precept, precept upon precept; line upon line, line upon line; here a little, and there a little”—teaches that one must search the scriptures and put together separate verses to get the fullest picture of any doctrine.

Few people—including most Bible students—understand that millions of years passed between the events of Genesis      1:1 and verse 2. It is not the Bible’s purpose to give every last detail of history. For example, God’s Word covers the first 2,000 years of humanity’s existence on Earth in only six chapters (Gen. 1-6).

 

How Earth Became Desolate

 

How did our planet go from being beautiful and perfect at creation to a desolate desert and wilderness, a worthless thing without form? Who or what caused this?

Isaiah 14:12-14 tells a remarkable story containing many clues. Read carefully, noticing key phrases: “How are you fallen from heaven, O Lucifer, son of the morning! How are you cut down to the ground, which did weaken the nations! For you have said in your heart, I will ascend into heaven, I will exalt my throne above the stars of God…I will be like the Most High.” Ezekiel 28:12-17 parallels and reinforces Isaiah 14. When properly understood, the one called the “king of Tyrus” is obviously the devil. The passage speaks of one who “seals up the sum, full of wisdom, and perfect in beauty,” who had also “been in Eden the garden of God.”

No human being has ever been perfect. Also, it was the devil—the serpent—who beguiled Eve in the garden. Verse 13 states, “you were created.” Satan is a created being. Verse 14 calls him “the cherub that covers.” No earthly king fits this description.

The latter part of verse 14 says that this “king” was “on the holy mountain of God” and “walked…in the midst of the stones of fire.” This describes the area around God’s throne.

Verse 15 declares, “iniquity [lawlessness] was found in you” and verse 16 describes this cherub as having been “cast…out of” heaven. God also said He would “destroy” (the Hebrew means “expel”) Lucifer from heaven. Verse 17 concludes with God “casting him down to the ground.”

Clearly Satan attacked God when he sought to ascend from his own throne to take over God’s throne in heaven. While the ensuing destruction from this battle would have been colossal (as evidenced in Genesis 1:2), the devil’s attack failed miserably and he was cast back to Earth. This is what the Bible reveals!

Finally, Isaiah 14:17 ties everything together. Notice: “That [speaking of Satan] made the

world as a wilderness…” The word “wilderness” can also be translated “desert.” Recall that the word tohu in Genesis 1:2 can also mean wilderness and desert.

In effect, Satan’s rebellion caused the Earth to become desolate. God later sent His Spirit to re-create—“renew”—the planet: “You send forth Your Spirit…and You renewed the face of the earth” (Psa. 104:30).

Genesis 1:1 describes the original creation of the entire universe. Satan’s rebellion took place at some point between the accounts of verses 1 and 2. And verse 2 describes the re-creation of the Earth that Young Earth creationists correctly date to approximately 6,000 years ago.

 

Scientific Proof

 

Christians should not run from science. While scientists do not always interpret the data correctly, certain concepts and fundamental laws mesh with the creation. Scientific laws man has discovered and defined were created by the God of the universe.

Let’s look at one scientific proof supporting all we have covered. The speed of light is one of the more constant variables in the universe, with a speed of approximately 186,000 miles per

second. This means that if you were 186,000 miles away from a person who turned on a bright light, it would take one second before that light reached you.

No doubt, you have probably experienced this “delay” with sound. Since light travels faster than sound, if a person on an opposite side of a football field clashed cymbals, you would see the action before the sound reached your ears.

The only difference is that light travels so fast that enormous distances are required for a “delay” to be realized. The only place with enough space to demonstrate this effect is outer space. Because of the size of the cosmos, distances are often measured in light-years, the distance light can travel in one year. What does this have to do with the age of our universe?

If Earth and the universe were only 6,000 years old, we would only be able to see stars with a maximum distance of 6,000 light-years. Otherwise the light would not have had time to reach us.

Let’s put this in context. The Milky Way galaxy is approximately 100,000 light-years across, with our solar system about 28,000 light-years from the center. This puts us about 22,000 light-years from our galaxy’s outer edge. If the universe were only 6,000 years old, we would see only a fraction of the 200 billion stars in just OUR galaxy since light from others would not have had enough time to reach us!

Of course, you have seen countless pictures of stars near Earth. There are amazing images of some of the estimated 125 billion galaxies. Of these, 3,000

are visible and can be anywhere from 80,000 to billions of light-years away. Light from the most distant galaxies had to have traveled for billions of years before it reached Earth. Of course, for light to travel billions of years there had to have been a universe for billions of years!

Earth has existed for billions of years. And it was only very recently that God renewed—recreated—the Earth to prepare it for the first human beings, Adam and Eve!

When one allows the Bible to interpret itself, and uses that knowledge to properly interpret scientific data, the truth of creation is not only accurate, but magnificent and awe-inspiring! 

 

Questions about The Sermon on the Mount

   

     by Frank Paul

 

The Sermon on the Mount is a section of the Bible that even casual Christians tend to be

familiar with; and most of us are even more familiar with what has been labeled as “The Beatitudes,” found in the beginning of Matthew, Chapter 5; however, the Sermon on the Mount continues for another two chapters, and there are many words of Jesus that some might find confusing or troubling. This month let’s cover what Jesus said in Matthew 5:39. “But I say unto you, that ye resist not evil: but whosoever shall smite thee on thy right cheek, turn to him the other also.” Common parlance transcribes this as “Turn the other cheek.”

Well this is a humdinger. Really, Jesus, turn the other cheek?

Our first reaction in 2024 might be, “Sorry, Jesus, I can’t go along with this one.” But here we go again: What did “turn the other cheek” really mean in 1st Century Galilean times?

In the historical context of Roman occupied Judea in the 1st Century, the phrase “turn the other cheek” held a more literal meaning than what is commonly understood today. During the 1st Century, Roman law allowed Roman soldiers to legally strike someone on the cheek. So when Jesus instructed his followers to “turn the other cheek,” He was not advocating for passive pacificism. Instead, He was addressing a specific situation in which Roman soldiers mistreated the local population. By advising people to “turn the other cheek,” Jesus encourage nonviolent resistance within the constraints of Roman law. In other words, “turn the other cheek” in the 1st century had practical implications related to Roman occupation and legal restrictions. It refers to responding to insults without retort. Another explanation given by Stassen in his book Just Peacemaking, he explains that “turning the other cheek” has been misunderstood in Western culture that thought there were only two alternatives: violence or passivity. But since Gandhi and King, we can appreciate Jesus’ teaching better. In Jesus’ culture, to be struck on the right cheek was to be given a hostile, back handed insult with the back of the right hand. In that culture, it was forbidden to touch or strike anyone with the left hand; the left hand was for dirty things. To “turn the other cheek” was to surprise the insulter, saying nonviolently, “you are treating me as an unequal, but I need to be treated as an equal.” Jesus is saying: if you are slapped on the cheek of inferiority, turn the cheek of equal dignity.

And one last explanation I found in my research was that in 1st century Jesus’ culture, a slap on the cheek was an insult to you or your family, not necessarily a beginning of a fight.

If you are one of my former martial arts students, I’m sure you remember my example I used many times in class about how and when to use our fighting skills. If someone walked up to me and said I can’t stand dagos, that doesn’t give me the right to elbow the idiot in the face. However, if he went to punch or tackle me, I was certainly within my rights to defend myself.

Jesus was telling his followers not to elbow the idiot in the face, and a simple insult should not result in a full-blown fight; and in that day and age, a simple slap on the face was an insult, that was not going to be followed up with a series of punches, and that is why Jesus said to “turn the other cheek.”

Hopefully this helps clear up one of Jesus’ sayings during his Sermon on the Mount. We will address another one next month.

 

Prayers

 

Before I move my hands and feet, I will bless His name. I will praise Him before I go out or enter, or sit or rise, and whilst I lie on the couch of my bed and before I lift my hands to eat of the pleasant fruits of the earth. I will bless Him for His exceeding wonderful deeds, I will meditate on His power, I know the judgment of all the living is in His hand, I will magnify Him because of His salvation.

 

Dead Sea Scrolls,

The Community Rules

 

Let us, therefore, love one another, that we may attain the Kingdon of God. Whilst we have time to be healed, let us deliver ourselves to God, our physician, giving our reward onto Him.

 

Lost Books of the Bible, by William Hone, Clement II, Chapter 4

 

The Sower of Seeds

 

P.O. Box 815

North Olmsted, Ohio 44070

 

 

 

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copyright@TheSeedSower2024

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