Thursday, February 4, 2016

Heroes (Nephilim)


Heroes

Who and what are heroes? Heroes are greatly admired individuals – like the random man who pulled a semiconscious truckie out of his jack-knifed rig as it was bursting into flames. However, who or what are ‘the heroes of old, men of renown’ mentioned in Genesis 6:4b? (NIV). These are commonly known as Nephilim, from the Hebrew word which has the core meaning ‘to fall’. We won’t get carried away with speculation if we keep in mind that the same word is used in Numbers 13:33 in reference to the ‘giants’ the Israelites reportedly saw when spying on the land of Canaan. Keep in mind then that there were Nephilim, i.e., heroes or giants, pre-Flood (in which Flood ‘only a few people, eight in all, were saved through water’ (1 Peter 3:20b) and also in Canaan post-Flood (Numbers 13:33). Since the Bible is clear that only Noah and his family survived the global deluge it is prudent to understand the word Nephilim as speaking of mighty yet fallen human beings, ‘men of renown’ or ‘heroes’.

With this understanding in mind let us turn its light upon the verse that has caused some to believe that the Nephilim may be some sort of hybrid humanoids, ie, the offspring of fallen angels who paired up with fallen women. Where do they get this idea from? ‘The sons of God saw the daughters of men, that they were beautiful; and they took wives for themselves of all whom they chose’ Genesis 6:2 (NKJV). Notice first off that there is no direct mention of angels in this verse. And secondly, keep in mind what Jesus says, ‘In the resurrection they neither marry nor are given in marriage, but are like angels of God in heaven’ Matthew 22:30 (NKJV). Therefore, angels of God do not marry!

So, who are these ‘sons of God’ who produced heroic offspring? Job 28:7 mentions ‘morning stars’ or ‘sons of God’ which is a clear reference to angels. However, notice first off what it says about a human in Luke 3:38b, ‘Adam, the son of God.’ And what 1 John 3:1 says about all Christians, ‘…that we should be called the sons [ie, children] of God’ (KJV). Thus, the Bible refers to humans as well as angels as ‘sons of God’. Therefore, there is nothing wrong with these particular ‘sons of God’ being humans, not angels. And secondly, unlike humans, angels are spirit beings without physical bodies. To be sure there have been instances where angels have temporarily appeared on earth in human bodies (Genesis 18:2; 19:2 etc.) However, if these ‘sons of God’ are ‘the angels who did not keep their proper domain, but left their own abode’ (Jude 1:6a NKJV), then they are most certainly demons. In the Bible demons are known to possess some humans but are not known to materialise themselves with human bodies. When Jesus cast out demons from the ‘Legion’ demoniac, they begged Him to send them into a herd of pigs (Mark 5:12). Why possess humans and enter into swine if instead you could simply materialise as a man, get yourself a wife and start your own family? And who knows? Perhaps your offspring may even become ‘men of renown, heroes’ even!

The ‘sons of God’ marrying the ‘daughters of men’ was simply, in today’s terms, Christians marrying non-Christians! As Ezra said, ‘You have transgressed and have taken pagan wives… separate yourselves… from the pagan wives’ Ezra 10:11. cf. Nehemiah 13:23-27. As Paul said, ‘Do not be unequally yoked together with unbelievers’ 2 Corinthians 6:14.      

Sunday, January 31, 2016

CHANGE


Change

 If you were an old house, what do you think could be done with you? Should you be condemned as unsafe? Or could you be renovated to become a home fit for royalty? In terms of the Bible, all mankind is standing like rows of condemned houses. We are like derelict and dilapidated buildings with broken windows and leaky roofs. We stand covered in grime and soot awaiting the wrecker’s ball. But God has decided to spare some of us. He has decided to renovate us! He has purchased us and He is forming us into a new community.

A change God makes when He converts you is that He removes certain walls. The solid brick wall between you and God was demolished when you were converted. Adam built the wall that separates each of us from God. His design was passed down from generation to generation. Therefore you live in a house with a wall separating you from God. However, when God moved into you (i.e., the Christian’s) house, the wall of the carnal mind which is enmity against God was torn down. Romans 8:7 says, ‘The carnal mind is enmity against God.’ ‘Enmity’ is something that separates, a barrier, a wall. God levels that wall in you first off. Then He begins to patiently clear away the dust and rubble.

The other wall that needs to be torn down is the wall between you and your brother and sister in Christ. Scripture says, ‘There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus’ Galatians 3:28. There may be racism, social distinction, sexism in the world outside, but there is to be none of it in Christ’s church. Each of us has our different roles to play in the church and in society, but we are not to despise others because of their station in life. However, the wall between you and your non-Christian neighbour stays in place. If you’ve ever renovated a house, you’ll know about ‘supporting’ walls. These cannot be removed unless you want the house to fall down. The wall between the Christian and the world has to remain or Christianity crumbles. Christians need to be aware that it’s not a flimsy plasterboard partition. It is a load-bearing wall.

You wouldn’t renovate an old house without rewiring it. If you’re going to think the thoughts God wants you to, you’ll need a new electrical system. Scripture says, ‘And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God’ Romans 12:2. You used to be wired according to the system of this world. But now you’ve been rewired to accommodate a power way stronger than the power in the world. Before your regeneration and subsequent conversion your sins had tripped the breaker, blown the fuse. Sin had broken your connection with God. But now God has come into your house and is busy rewiring.

An old building wouldn’t be an old building without its grime-covered windows smashed. The Lord is repairing your windows. Windows are for letting in air and light, and seeing out of. However, they also let out light. When the Lord turns on the power in the Christian’s house the lights come on. If Christ the Light of the world comes, by His Spirit, to live in your home it stands to reason that the lights will come on.

Thank God for changing your life. ‘He who has begun a good work in you will complete it until the day of Jesus Christ’ Philippians 1:6.

Sunday, January 10, 2016

Amazing Grace & (Me) The Prodigal


This morning for a wee change I attended Bray Park Community Church (which was, and perhaps still is), part of the Christian Reformed Church here in Australia. During the singing there were some members of the congregation inviting us to smell their underarm deodorant! Fine! I can’t complain as I have been known to wave my hands around whenever I speak! So, if you wish to wave or hold your hands in the air while you sing, then be my guest! Anyway, that is not what I wanted to talk to you about.
I was impressed by the power-point slides which not only had the words to the hymns flash up on the overhead-projector screen but as a background it actually had the rising (or was it setting?) sun with moving waves rolling onto the sandy seashore. O the wonders of modern technology! Great stuff! But again, that’s not what I wanted to talk to you about.
The preacher wanted to allude to something in the The Parable of the Prodigal Son (Luke 15:25-32). So he flashed up on the screen certain verses from that parable. (I think he used the NIV but I’ve used the NKJV below):
“Now his older son was in the field. And as he came and drew near to the house, he heard music and dancing. So he called one of the servants and asked what these things meant. And he said to him, ‘Your brother has come, and because he has received him safe and sound, your father has killed the fatted calf.’ “But he was angry and would not go in. Therefore his father came out and pleaded with him. So he answered and said to his father, ‘Lo, these many years I have been serving you; I never transgressed your commandment at any time; and yet you never gave me a young goat, that I might make merry with my friends. But as soon as this son of yours came, who has devoured your livelihood with harlots, you killed the fatted calf for him.’ “And he said to him, ‘Son, you are always with me, and all that I have is yours. It was right that we should make merry and be glad, for your brother was dead and is alive again, and was lost and is found.’” Luke 15:25-32.

The preacher was talking about something else entirely but something struck me – you know, the way it sometimes does at church when the Holy Spirit shoots an arrow of truth into your heart! Now, I know that you all know this and have seen it every time you read or hear this parable. However, it was those words at the end of verse thirty: “You have killed the fatted calf for him.” O, the father in the parable killed the fatted calf so that he and his deadbeat prodigal son could celebrate his change of mind, (a.k.a. repentance) – the son who devoured his father’s livelihood with harlots.
What a picture! What a picture appeared on the overhead projector screen of my mind! There it was! Vivid as anything as the Holy Spirit burned this into my heart – My heavenly Father killed His Son so that He and I (who devoured His livelihood!) could celebrate my change of mind about Him!

O let’s make merry and be glad. I once was dead but I am alive again, “I once was lost, but now am found, was blind, but now I see!”

You too?

Friday, January 8, 2016

The Scots, Tartan & Jacob's Pillow


The Scots, Tartan & Jacob’s Pillow

My old professor, the late Rev professor Dr Francis Nigel Lee, was a historian (among other things), He left me, as a Scot, wondering when occasionally during a lecture he would, e.g., connect Scottish tartan with Joseph’s coat of many colours (Genesis 37:3), the standing stones of Callanish and the stones of other places in Scotland with Abraham and his altars (Genesis 12:7), particularly with the Israelites crossing the Jordan River (Joshua 4:1-9) and the connection of the Scots to the Scyt-ians (Scythians, Colossians 3:11). Sure, the connections at first may seem a tad tenuous, and I know other historians, such as perhaps John Prebble and Neil Oliver, probably chuckle at the mere suggestion of a connection between Scotland and these Biblical things. Dr Lee simply may have been trying to incite me to further study by these mild assertions. On a recent trip to Scotland when visiting the Clava Stones near Inverness this came to mind.

Yes, some historians may laugh at any Biblical connection and the historicity of the preamble to The Declaration of Arbroath of 1320, (a document sent by the Scots to the Pope), especially the following words:  Most Holy Father and Lord, we know and from the chronicles and books of the ancients we find that among other famous nations our own, the Scots, has been graced with widespread renown. They journeyed from Greater Scythia by way of the Tyrrhenian Sea and the Pillars of Hercules, and dwelt for a long course of time in Spain among the most savage tribes, but nowhere could they be subdued by any race, however barbarous. Thence they came, twelve hundred years after the people of Israel crossed the Red Sea, to their home in the west where they still live today.’ Think about it, would the Scots lie to the Pope when seeking to gain his favour and blessing? Surely they believed what they had written to be truth! We see mention of Scythians.

I wrote most of this in an email to an author friend who quickly responded with some thoughts. Wrote Billy Scobie (whose pen name is Alexander Tait),
‘Just thinking out loud here – My old mentor Jamie Scarlett believed that tartan had always been an art-form of the Celtic peoples. It would appear that the Celts originated in an area of what is now south-east of Russia, around the Caspian Sea. They migrated westwards until they finally reached Ireland, Wales, Cornwall and, of course, Scotland. Their migration over the centuries can be traced in the place names beginning with GAL... Galatea, Galicia, Gallipoli, Galada, Gaul, Galway, Galloway... the Gaelic tongues. The Greek historian Diodorus Siculus, writing in 50 BC, describes the Celts as wearing tartan “striped or chequered in design, with the separate checks close together and in various colours.” Galilee is described in the Bible as “Galilee of the Gentiles”. Some believe that the original Galileans were Celtic rather than Semitic. Was tartan part of the Celtic heritage of Galilee? Did Jesus wear tartan? It’s not at all as far-fetched as it might at first sound.”
I may never get around to finishing my ‘A Stone From The Throne’ novel, (which refers to the stone that was under the British coronation throne), but now it seems very feasible to me that in their travels the Irish/Scots brought with them the Stone of Destiny’ or Stone of Scone (another stone! i.e., Jacob’s Pillow, Genesis 28:10-22).




 
 

Wednesday, January 6, 2016

A Non-Socialist Looks at Scotland...

Left-leaning Scots ought not to ostracise non-Socialist Scots!
 
I suppose my support for an independent Scotland might be classed as more heart than head but I disagree! I do try to be Biblical in everything (though I’m not always successful!) It makes perfect Biblical sense for Scotland to be a sovereign nation – even one nation under God. Sure, it wasn’t all roses, but God certainly blessed Scotland for its Reformational stance onwards from Knox’s “Give me Scotland, or I die!” prayer. Any Scottish tourist-shop’s dishtowel “will testify to that” – what with all the lists of inventors with their inventions! Scotland was industrious, a real place of thought and learning. The Enlightenment crowd can put all the spin on it they want but it was “The preaching of Thy Word and the praising of Thy name” that let Scotland flourish! It was the teaching of the Bible, eg, that David Hume was wresting with! Adam Smith’s Invisible Hand belongs to God! And on it goes...
 
I am a Capitalist because I believe it is Biblical. Greed? The Calvinist, (including the Scottish Calvinist) is to do all things to the glory of God. This Protestant or Presbyterian Work Ethic is exemplified by God-blessed endeavors of Calvinists such as, e.g., Arthur Guinness (& Family). A brilliant book I really enjoyed (because it was about two of my favourite subjects) was The Search for God and Guinness: A Biography of the Beer That Changed the World by Stephen Mansfield (2009). Management/employee relations? (Non-government) Welfare? Read this book. It shows the Biblical way how it is done. In fact one ought to throw away one’s copy of The Ragged-Trousered Philanthropist and swap it for The Search for God and Guinness!

Don't let Socialist "spin" put you off (Biblical) Capitalism! The 9th Commandment says, "Thou shalt not lie!" This applies to governments as well as individuals! The role of the government is to provide "a level playing field" for business success. The employees and consumers reap the benefits of business success, higher wages, lower prices etc. The government is not a business nor is it to operate as a business, for this would be an unfair advantage to legitimate (i.e., Biblical) business and would (and does!) result in higher taxes as well as stifling healthy competition among legitimate companies, etc.
 
Och anyway, I just don’t think Socialism can be shown to be Biblical apart from the fact that. empirically, it does not work. Bottom line for me is for less (i.e., limited) government and less taxes. The Government is the Referee. Not a Player. It is there to make sure that, from the individual to big business, we all play by the rules (i.e., God’s rules). Look, I know that even fellow ministers wonder how we Calvinists derive these teachings from the Bible but one only has to study The Westminster Confession of Faith, The Shorter and especially exposition of Ten Commandments in The Larger Catechism – in particular the “Thou Shalt Not Steal” 8th Commandment.

Socialist governments do not have a (Biblical) mandate for their schemes of redistributing (other peoples') wealth! "Thou shalt not steal" apples to governments as well as individuals! Infringing the 1st Commandment ("You shall have no other gods before Me") in Socialism the State becomes god of the people, especially the poor! They become dependant (i.e., slaves) of, to and through the government.

Socialism does not believe in "private property" (i.e., "Thou shalt not steal.") This is why Socialistic governments feel "free" to take wealth from one individual or group and give it to another individual or group as it sees fit in accordance with its Socialist or Progressive (read, non-Biblical) agenda.

Socialism and its attendant Social Democracies are a blight on the West and the freedoms we have attained and have enjoyed through application of Biblical teachings to Western nations and cultures. Socialism is a foreign invader and is the enemy of individual and national freedom.

Scotland: Remember that not all of us are Leftist. Some of us still remember whence we came, where we are and where we ought to go! Socialism is not the Scottish way. It never was. It is not the way because is not Biblical (apart from the fact that it does not work!). Sure, many Christians (including Presbyterians!) and many Christian ministers (including Presbyterian or Church of Scotland ministers) have been deluded by it. But the Bible gives YOU the individual (NOT the government) the mandate to look after the needy. Don't give away your freedom to any government!

The dramatic rise of Marxism coincided with the retreat of Christianity. Marxism offered a saving hope, although a false one, and it parodied the Biblical faith in the sovereign, predestinating power of God with its ideas of materialistic determinism. It has offered victory to a world where too often ostensible Christians have offered instead retreat.” – Rousas John Rushdoony (in Foreword to Francis Nigel Lee's Communist Eschatology.

Aye, in Scotland there was and there still is a better way...

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Visiting Dr Francis Nigel Lee (Just Before He Died)


It was four years ago today (23 December 2015) that Dr Francis Nigel Lee, my old college professor, died of Motor Neurons Disease, or Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS).

The following are a couple of emails I sent to Nordskog Publishing Inc. regarding Dr Lee’s rapidly deterioration health.

I post them in Dr Lee’s memory…

 

Hi,

I spent over an hour with Dr Lee this morning (21 September 2011). I informed him that you all were praying for him, which he appreciates. He entered the room (where Dr Lee’s wife had sat me down) with a shuffling gait and in quiet and slightly slurry tones wished me a good morning. He has trouble speaking and it tires him.

He had tears in his eyes, probably on account of and in response to the tears that had begun welling up in my eyes, as he told me (upon my asking) about his present condition and its dreadful prognosis. Two years! He has been seen by the head specialist in this field in Australasia.

I tried to be upbeat and thanked him for guiding me along the rock-solid path of Calvinism and the Reformed Faith. We spoke of the good times during my college years. We had a laugh. I reminded him of the time he used to (to the consternation of a couple of the students!) bring a nun (habit and all!) along to hear him whenever he preached at the college chapel. Little things like this spoke volumes to me as he taught me (by word and by example) how to handle the Sword of the Spirit.

Yes, he remains strong in the Lord and with his wife Nellie is trusting Him – come what may.

Another minister and his wife (who I know) showed up about twenty minutes or so after I had arrived. He was Dr Lee’s minister till a couple of years or so ago – before he (the minister) moved on. We ended our time together with the minister praying. He covered everything I would have prayed for.  

Also, Dr Lee has difficulty getting heavy books off shelves etc. So, he is grateful for the help he is getting with the citation references for his upcoming e-book “Certain Victory.” He seems to regard his “Early Genesis” as his magnum opus and would love to see it published.

Neil.

 

Hi,

I visited Dr Lee this morning (26 October 2011). It had been just over a month since my last one. His condition has deteriorated. He was in bed, though he does manage (with help) to rise and have breakfast and also sit for a spell at his computer by, with, and through which he communicates best.

His wife, Nellie, manhandled him so that he could face me, then she left us alone in the bedroom. He is receiving therapy for it, but his speech was very difficult for me to understand. His throat, he says, feels very dry.

We talked for about fifteen minutes, with me doing most of it. I remarked about the repair job that he had just recently done to his front path. I commented on the spider and her web that she had spun across the garden path to his door. I reminded him that he used talk fondly of the (this?) spider and her web when he taught us at theological college. He used the critter to illustrate industriousness and (Brucian) perseverance.

We talked about his medical condition which he says will progressively worsen. I was talking to Nellie afterwards and she said that they were getting a wheelchair for Dr Lee, but were having trouble knowing which type to get as Dr Lee’s condition seems to be worsening so rapidly.

Before I prayed for Dr Lee I mentioned that Jerry (Nordskog) was reminiscing in an email to me about the two different times Dr Lee was speaking in California at functions Jerry was involved with. I told him that the “Nordskog Publishing Team” was praying for him and that Judge Roy Moore was praying for him, as were (my brother) Fearghas and many others. At this point he moved his arms slightly above his head and with tears he said, “I am not worthy!” at which point I told him (with tears streaming down my cheeks) that he had impacted for good so many thousands of lives, myself being one – that his Christian material was disseminating all over the Internet.

I thanked him for his Christian diligence, his faithfulness, and all his hard work. I told him that I loved him in the Lord. I prayed for him, thanking God for His grace, mercy, and compassion shown towards sinners such as us in our Master, Jesus Christ, and for the gifts that He has given Dr Lee. I focussed on the New Heavens and New Earth and our future resurrection, our new bodies and our Saviour dwelling bodily in our midst on the New Earth – the time of no more tears, nor pain, nor sorrow, nor death. When I was finished Dr Lee insisted that he would pray for me. I understood him to be thanking God for me and asking Him to bless me.

Before leaving I spoke to Nellie. I asked her how she was coping. She was upbeat and glorified God. I departed and had a good solid manly cry in the privacy of my car on the thirty minute drive home.

What a great yet humble man God has given us in Dr Lee!

Neil  

Thursday, December 10, 2015

Books/Words/Language


Books/Words/Language

 For those growing up in Scotland it is hard not to gain an interest in words and language. For me at school there was a clear disconnect between the language we spoke on the playground and what was being taught in the classroom! Some of our Scottish words had similar counterparts in English, e.g., hauns/hands, heid/head, windae/window, claes/clothes, baw/ball etc. However, glaikit, dreich, wabbit and such like words had a life of their own! Anyway, early on we got to operate in two languages. Those who had the Gaelic had the blessing of having three languages to play around with. And some Gaelic words such as stoor and oose were in common use. Therefore, three main languages are used by Scots, viz., Lallans (or versions thereof), Gaelic and ubiquitous English. Mind you, living in Australia I try hard to select only those words from my vocabulary that will be easily understood by the average Aussie!

Sixty six books make up the one Book called the Bible. It was written using two main languages, viz., Hebrew and Koine Greek. A third language called Aramaic, which is similar to Hebrew, is used sparingly. The King James’ Version of the Bible, depending on how counted, apparently has somewhere near 800,000 words in it! When I developed an interest in the Bible in my early thirties I had difficulty understanding the archaic language of the King James’ Version. With it in one hand and a dictionary in the other I soldiered on. Subsequently I got converted to Christianity through reading the Bible with the aid of a dictionary! However, ‘thy’, ‘thee’, ‘thou’ and ‘thine’ had been incomprehensible to me, as were words such as ‘sith’, ‘art’ and ‘gird’, not to mention ‘wherefore’. It was only afterwards that I discovered that there were contemporary translations of the Bible, such as the New King James Version and the New International Version! O well.

The Bible claims to be the written Word of God (2 Timothy 3:16). Therefore, as such it needs to be translated into the common language of the people so that everyone can read/hear it. My favourite book is the Bible, but King Jamesian English is not exactly a common language nowadays! Therefore, my favourite is the New King James Version which uses contemporary language and words. My favourite books of the Bible tend to be the ‘Wisdom Literature’ such as the Book of Job, Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, and Song of Solomon. However, I also love the Psalms and the Book of Isaiah. I try to read the whole Bible cover to cover at least once a year, not forgetting to have a go at the Old Testament Hebrew and the New Testament Greek!

Jesus is the key to understanding the Bible. He is the Word who became flesh. He is the language by which God speaks to us. Just as He is the filter through which our prayers ascend to God in Heaven so Jesus is the interpreter of what God says to us through Scripture. He is the Bible’s decoding mechanism! He is the great unscrambler of Scripture! The Bible did not make much sense to me before I was converted. However, after I encountered the Jesus revealed therein it began making complete sense!

God delights in speaking to you in your own language. Therefore, if you haven’t already done so, why not avail yourself of a suitable version of the Bible? There are Lallans and Gaelic versions. There is even a Glaswegian as well as an Aussie version of the New Testament!