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Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Exodus 32 Verse 19

A slightly different post, but Bible-based.

I was originally going to post this in Word Search, but Word Search's comments feature is apparently incompatible with its new WYSIWYG editor, and I wanted people to have the opportunity to flame me for what I'm about to write.

From juliantrubin.com:

Q: Which servant of Jehovah was the most flagrant lawbreaker in the Bible?

A: Moses, because he broke all 10 commandments at once.

See Exodus 32:19 for evidence of this. Therefore I maintain that Moses was a worse sinner than Paul (see 1 Timothy 1:15).

For more on 1 Timothy chapter 1, see Word Search.

Tuesday, September 26, 2006


You knew this was coming.

Over the last couple of days, I have uploaded video versions of the Backstreet Boys' "Incomplete" to several of my blogs. One was a Top of the Pops appearance, one was a Today Show appearance, and one was a video parody by some guys hanging around a pool.

Well, I'm not going to upload a Backstreet Boys video to THIS blog.

And, as it turns out, I won't be citing Bible references that include the word "incomplete." At least in the NIV, there aren't any.

But the word "complete," in some shape or form, occurs in the NIV over 100 times. Here are a few examples:

Thus the heavens and the earth were completed in all their vast array.

To Sarah he said, "I am giving your brother a thousand shekels of silver. This is to cover the offense against you before all who are with you; you are completely vindicated."

Now the LORD had said to Moses, "I will bring one more plague on Pharaoh and on Egypt. After that, he will let you go from here, and when he does, he will drive you out completely.

Destroy completely all the places on the high mountains and on the hills and under every spreading tree where the nations you are dispossessing worship their gods.

But Saul and the army spared Agag and the best of the sheep and cattle, the fat calves and lambs—everything that was good. These they were unwilling to destroy completely, but everything that was despised and weak they totally destroyed.

Later, knowing that all was now completed, and so that the Scripture would be fulfilled, Jesus said, "I am thirsty."

Therefore he is able to save completely those who come to God through him, because he always lives to intercede for them.

Monday, September 25, 2006

Genesis 1 verses 26-27; Ecclesiastes 1 verses 12-18; Job 38 verse 4 - 40 verse 2

God is God, and humans are humans. See here.

Genesis notes that man was made in God's image, not the other way around, although many people like to make a "god" in their image, a reasonable "god."

Of course, our concept of reason is a human concept. The writer of Ecclesiastes pursued human knowledge, and finally realized that it was "meaningless, a chasing after the wind."

And, of course, reason goes completely out the window by the time we get to Job. We all want a nice, reasonable response to Job's question, but God merely provides the response, "Who are you?"

Wes Morriston has said the following about this speech:

The first of the speeches consists mostly in a series of gruff, ironic questions: What does Job know? What can he do? The content of each question is a vivid word picture, usually of some non-human aspect of nature. Taken together, God's questions display the vast panoply of creation in all its power and beauty: The earth, the sea, the stars. The dawn. Light and darkness. Lightning and clouds and rain. Various members of the animal kingdom are described: hungry lion cubs waiting to be fed, the raven searching for prey, the goat crouching to give birth, the wild ox refusing to be harnessed or to work for humans, the ostrich leaving her eggs in the sand, the war horse exulting at the sound of battle, the hawk spreading its wings and soaring away, the eagle making its nest on a rocky crag.

Job is rendered almost speechless....

I suggest that the Theophany makes three distinct points.

(1) First, it declares that God is supremely powerful and fully in control of everything....

(2) In the second place, the Theophany repeatedly contrasts God's wisdom and knowledge with Job's ignorance. 'Who is this that darkens counsel by words without knowledge?' God asks, and forcibly reminds Job of how little he knows about the way the world is put together. 'Where were you when I laid the foundation of the earth? Tell me if you have understanding.' [38:2,4] The point is that Job doesn't know, doesn't have understanding.

(3) In the third place, the Theophany is a celebration of the Wisdom that created the world, and of the order it imposes on nature. It offers a breathtaking vision of the majesty and beauty of the Creator's design.

Based upon the words of Stephen Mitchell, Morriston continues:

When he stops projecting his own values onto the world, and accepts reality as it is, he is able to see and to participate in the deep joy that lies at the heart of all things. He too experiences 'the Sabbath vision.' He looks at a reality that is not 'tamed or edited by the moral sense,' and sees that it is 'very good.' Bitterness and resentment and rebellion are gone - replaced, not by cringing in the dust, or even by godly sorrow, but by a serene acceptance of God's will and God's world and of his own finitude. As Mitchell puts it, "He has let go of everything, and surrendered into the light."...

I think Mitchell would...read the Theophany as saying that God is just - but only in a larger sense that cannot be captured by any merely human conception....

I think Mitchell is saying that it is only when we fail to distinguish between divine justice and human justice that we are forced to conclude that God is not just. When we stop projecting our moral sense onto the universe, we see that God's rule is, in some deep sense, just. It is difficult to interpret this, and Mitchell gives us little help, but perhaps the idea is that God is the impartial source and preserver of a certain order and balance among all the competing forces of nature, of which human life is only one.

In all fairness, I should note that Morriston does not agree with Mitchell:

For just a moment, let us set aside the question whether this is what the book of Job says, in order to ask whether it is an adequate solution to the problem of Job. For me, the answer has to be No.

For one thing, I am not sure what is left of the concept of justice when we step outside the moral point of view. Mitchell seems to have preserved the word 'justice' while retaining little of its original meaning. But as Mill showed in his famous reply to Mansel, it is misleading or worse to use our moral vocabulary to describe a God who completely transcends our moral categories.

In the second place, and at a more emotional level, I'm not at all sure that I don't want a larger version of the righteous judge to deal with the likes of Hitler. When I contemplate the sufferings of innocents at Auschwitz, I know that it won't do simply to say, 'virtue is its own reward.' My heart cries out for palpable, humanly understandable justice, and not something else with the same name.

As I see it, Mitchell's way of looking at things simply doesn't take evil seriously enough. It is true that if we become sufficiently detached, if we step far enough outside the moral point of view, human life can seem small and insignificant, and the suffering of a Job may no longer destroy our peace of mind. We may even be able to appreciate the beauty of a world that includes Hitler and Auschwitz, starving children and nuclear menace. But I see no reason to think that moral detachment offers a better or truer judgment of the world than moral involvement. The horror and outrage we experience in the face of unfair and pointless suffering cannot - or at least should not - be so easily set aside. If this is what the book of Job is doing, then, I say, so much the worse for the book of Job.

But is this what the book of Job is saying? Two considerations may give us pause. In the first place, an interpretation like Mitchell's would put the book of Job outside the mainstream of the religious tradition that placed it in the canon. The God of the great Hebrew prophets is not an amoral force - however awe-inspiring. He is a God who demands, and practices, equity and justice....

In the second place, the idea of a God beyond good and evil may seem to make little sense in the context of the kind of theism we find in the book of Job itself. Although God's message is very hard to understand, the fact remains that he speaks to Job. Job is dealing with a personal agent - and not merely with an impersonal Ground of Being. But a personal God, a God who acts in history and enters into dialogue with human beings, lays himself open to the possibility of criticism. If he does not act in accordance with the highest moral standards, if he is less than what he requires us to be, then he is not above, but beneath, morality - an inhuman tyrant whom it is impossible to love or to worship.

Morriston concludes, in part, with the following:

The Hasidic teacher, Rabbi Bunam, said that 'A man should carry two stones in his pocket. On one should be inscribed, "I am but dust and ashes." On the other, "For my sake was the world created." And he should use each stone as he needs it.'

Monday, September 11, 2006

Job 32 through 37

See here for text (NIV).

This is the speech of Elihu, in response to Job and his three "friends." In this speech, Elihu speaks of the awesomeness (in the true sense of the term) of God. Excerpts:

New International Version (NIV)
Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society

(Job 33)
12 But I tell you, in this you are not right,
for God is greater than man.

13 Why do you complain to him
that he answers none of man's words?

14 For God does speak—now one way, now another—
though man may not perceive it.

15 In a dream, in a vision of the night,
when deep sleep falls on men
as they slumber in their beds,

16 he may speak in their ears
and terrify them with warnings,

17 to turn man from wrongdoing
and keep him from pride,

18 to preserve his soul from the pit,
his life from perishing by the sword.

19 Or a man may be chastened on a bed of pain
with constant distress in his bones,

20 so that his very being finds food repulsive
and his soul loathes the choicest meal.

(Job 34)
10 "So listen to me, you men of understanding.
Far be it from God to do evil,
from the Almighty to do wrong.

11 He repays a man for what he has done;
he brings upon him what his conduct deserves.

12 It is unthinkable that God would do wrong,
that the Almighty would pervert justice.

13 Who appointed him over the earth?
Who put him in charge of the whole world?

14 If it were his intention
and he withdrew his spirit [l] and breath,

15 all mankind would perish together
and man would return to the dust.

16 "If you have understanding, hear this;
listen to what I say.

17 Can he who hates justice govern?
Will you condemn the just and mighty One?

18 Is he not the One who says to kings, 'You are worthless,'
and to nobles, 'You are wicked,'

19 who shows no partiality to princes
and does not favor the rich over the poor,
for they are all the work of his hands?

(Job 35)
5 Look up at the heavens and see;
gaze at the clouds so high above you.

6 If you sin, how does that affect him?
If your sins are many, what does that do to him?

7 If you are righteous, what do you give to him,
or what does he receive from your hand?

8 Your wickedness affects only a man like yourself,
and your righteousness only the sons of men.

(Job 36)
26 How great is God—beyond our understanding!
The number of his years is past finding out.

27 "He draws up the drops of water,
which distill as rain to the streams;

28 the clouds pour down their moisture
and abundant showers fall on mankind.

29 Who can understand how he spreads out the clouds,
how he thunders from his pavilion?

30 See how he scatters his lightning about him,
bathing the depths of the sea.

31 This is the way he governs the nations
and provides food in abundance.

32 He fills his hands with lightning
and commands it to strike its mark.

33 His thunder announces the coming storm;
even the cattle make known its approach.

(Job 37)
14 "Listen to this, Job;
stop and consider God's wonders.

15 Do you know how God controls the clouds
and makes his lightning flash?

16 Do you know how the clouds hang poised,
those wonders of him who is perfect in knowledge?

17 You who swelter in your clothes
when the land lies hushed under the south wind,

18 can you join him in spreading out the skies,
hard as a mirror of cast bronze?

19 "Tell us what we should say to him;
we cannot draw up our case because of our darkness.

20 Should he be told that I want to speak?
Would any man ask to be swallowed up?

Thursday, September 07, 2006

My Weakness

When I'm not following trucks, I'm wondering about what Paul wrote about weakness.

1 Corinthians 2:1-5 (New International Version)
New International Version (NIV)
Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society

1When I came to you, brothers, I did not come with eloquence or superior wisdom as I proclaimed to you the testimony about God.[a] 2For I resolved to know nothing while I was with you except Jesus Christ and him crucified. 3I came to you in weakness and fear, and with much trembling. 4My message and my preaching were not with wise and persuasive words, but with a demonstration of the Spirit's power, 5so that your faith might not rest on men's wisdom, but on God's power.


1 Corinthians 2:1 Some manuscripts as I proclaimed to you God's mystery

He returns to the theme later in a subsequent letter:

2 Corinthians 11:30-12:10 (New International Version)
New International Version (NIV)
Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society

30If I must boast, I will boast of the things that show my weakness. 31The God and Father of the Lord Jesus, who is to be praised forever, knows that I am not lying. 32In Damascus the governor under King Aretas had the city of the Damascenes guarded in order to arrest me. 33But I was lowered in a basket from a window in the wall and slipped through his hands.

2 Corinthians 12
Paul's Vision and His Thorn
1I must go on boasting. Although there is nothing to be gained, I will go on to visions and revelations from the Lord. 2I know a man in Christ who fourteen years ago was caught up to the third heaven. Whether it was in the body or out of the body I do not know—God knows. 3And I know that this man—whether in the body or apart from the body I do not know, but God knows— 4was caught up to paradise. He heard inexpressible things, things that man is not permitted to tell. 5I will boast about a man like that, but I will not boast about myself, except about my weaknesses. 6Even if I should choose to boast, I would not be a fool, because I would be speaking the truth. But I refrain, so no one will think more of me than is warranted by what I do or say.
7To keep me from becoming conceited because of these surpassingly great revelations, there was given me a thorn in my flesh, a messenger of Satan, to torment me. 8Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me. 9But he said to me, "My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness." Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ's power may rest on me. 10That is why, for Christ's sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.

Also see the story of Gideon and the Midianites in Judges 7. 300 men did what 32,000 men could not do.

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Truth - John 18, Verses 33 Through 38; John 1, Verses 9 Through 14; and various anti-Christian texts


I quoted Pilate's famous question in John 18:38. But it's important to see the context which prompted Pilate to ask his question.

John 18:33-38 (New International Version)
New International Version (NIV)
Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society

33Pilate then went back inside the palace, summoned Jesus and asked him, "Are you the king of the Jews?"

34"Is that your own idea," Jesus asked, "or did others talk to you about me?"

35"Am I a Jew?" Pilate replied. "It was your people and your chief priests who handed you over to me. What is it you have done?"

36Jesus said, "My kingdom is not of this world. If it were, my servants would fight to prevent my arrest by the Jews. But now my kingdom is from another place."

37"You are a king, then!" said Pilate.
Jesus answered, "You are right in saying I am a king. In fact, for this reason I was born, and for this I came into the world, to testify to the truth. Everyone on the side of truth listens to me."

38"What is truth?" Pilate asked. With this he went out again to the Jews and said, "I find no basis for a charge against him.

This whole episode started with a simple question, "Are you the king of the Jews?" Pilate, the investigating attorney, wants to get to the facts of the matter. Jesus, however, wants to get to the truth, and eventually does so by verse 37, in which Jesus says that He came into the world to testify to the truth. John's Gospel has been emphasizing truth since its introduction:

John 1:9-14 (New International Version)
New International Version (NIV)
Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society

9The true light that gives light to every man was coming into the world.[a]

10He was in the world, and though the world was made through him, the world did not recognize him. 11He came to that which was his own, but his own did not receive him. 12Yet to all who received him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God— 13children born not of natural descent,[b] nor of human decision or a husband's will, but born of God.

14The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the One and Only,[c] who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.


John 1:9 Or This was the true light that gives light to every man who comes into the world
John 1:13 Greek of bloods
John 1:14 Or the Only Begotten

For those who are curious, the New World Translation (which has, um, different views about Jesus) renders these verses slightly differently. For example, here's how verse 14 was "translated":

So the Word became flesh and resided among us, and we had a view of his glory, a glory such as belongs to an only-begotten son from a father; and he was full of undeserved kindness and truth.

Copyright © 2004 Watch Tower Bible and Tract Society of Pennsylvania. All rights reserved.

Meanwhile, the Mormon Doctrine and Covenants 84:45 talks about truth, as does the Quran:

"5.72": Certainly they disbelieve who say: Surely Allah, He is the Messiah, son of Marium; and the Messiah said: O Children of Israel! serve Allah, my Lord and your Lord. Surely whoever associates (others) with Allah, then Allah has forbidden to him the garden, and his abode is the fire; and there shall be no helpers for the unjust.

"5.73": Certainly they disbelieve who say: Surely Allah is the third (person) of the three; and there is no god but the one God, and if they desist not from what they say, a painful chastisement shall befall those among them who disbelieve.

"5.74": Will they not then turn to Allah and ask His forgiveness? And Allah is Forgiving, Merciful.

"5.75": The Messiah, son of Marium is but an apostle; apostles before him have indeed passed away; and his mother was a truthful woman; they both used to eat food. See how We make the communications clear to them, then behold, how they are turned away.

So we have a lot of competing truths in the spiritual realm, just as we do in the secular realm (think O.J.).

It's interesting to note, however, that Jesus uses the phrase "I tell you the truth" 78 times in the Gospels (30 times in the Book of Matthew alone).

So if Jesus was a liar, he certainly lied a lot.

(For non-Christian sources that claim Jesus truly WAS a liar, see Abdullah Smith (Muslim), Mark Smith (Set Free), and jdstone.org.)