Happy Chanukah!

Hanukkah

In him was life; and the life was the light of men. And the light shineth in darkness; and the darkness comprehended it not.   (John 1:4-5)

Today, December 12, 2017 (at sundown), begins the Jewish Festival of Lights otherwise known as Chanukah (pronounced (with a guttural “H”) hah-noo-kah). The festival is observed for eight days, and while it is not one of the “Feasts of the Lord” (Leviticus 23) nor is it recorded anywhere in the Old Testament, it is nonetheless an important commemoration of God’s provision. Most Gentiles are vaguely aware of the celebration in that it takes place around Christmastime, but besides that, they really do not know much about it.

Chanukah originated in the second century B.C. during the “silent” period of the Bible – between the Old and New Testaments. It came about as a result of a Jewish rebellion against the Greek (Syrian) ruler Antiochus IV Epiphanes for his desecration of the Jewish temple in Jerusalem in 168 B.C. This act was prehistorically recorded by the prophet Daniel: “Then shall he return into his land with great riches; and his heart shall be against the holy covenant; and he shall do exploits, and return to his own land … And arms shall stand on his part, and they shall pollute the sanctuary of strength, and shall take away the daily sacrifice, and they shall place the abomination that maketh desolate.” (Daniel 11:28, 31, emphasis mine). Antiochus IV defiled the temple by erecting a statue of Zeus in the sanctuary and sacrificing a pig on the altar. This incited the Maccabean Revolt, and, as prophesied by Daniel: “the people that do know their God shall be strong, and do exploits. And they that understand among the people shall instruct many: yet they shall fall by the sword, and by flame, by captivity, and by spoil, many days” (Daniel 11:32-33, emphasis mine).  Two years later, 164 B.C. the Jews managed to expel the Syrians out of Jerusalem and take back their temple.

With the Greeks out of the way, the Temple had to be cleansed and rededicated. Part of the consecration required that the menorah, the “candlestick” or “lampstand,” that stood on the south wall of the Holy Place (Exodus 26:35), remain constantly lighted (Exodus 27:20). The problem was that there was only enough pure oil, i.e. oil that was undefiled, to last for only one day. So, they lit the menorah, and miraculously, the lamp continued to burn for eight days until sufficient oil was produced to replenish the supply from then on. And so, the Temple was dedicated. “Chanukah” means “dedication.”

Jesus celebrated Chanukah. We see in John’s Gospel “And it was at Jerusalem the feast of the dedication, and it was winter. And Jesus walked in the temple in Solomon’s porch” (John 10:22-23, emphasis mine). Just before this, He made the claim “I am the light of the world: he that followeth me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life” (John 8:12, emphasis mine). This He said after forgiving the woman caught in adultery (John 8:1-11). Not long after, He healed a man who was blind from birth (John 9) saying, “As long as I am in the world, I am the light of the world” (John 9:5, emphasis mine). That light would soon be extinguished, but not for long. In the spring following that Chanukah, Jesus would be nailed to a cross, and for three long days the world would be without the Light. The Sunday before His crucifixion, Jesus prepared His disciples (and us), “Yet a little while is the light with you. Walk while ye have the light, lest darkness come upon you: for he that walketh in darkness knoweth not whither he goeth. While ye have light, believe in the light, that ye may be the children of light” (John 12:35-36).

The menorah in the Temple was permanently extinguished in 70 A.D. when the Romans razed Jerusalem. Now it is only remembered on Chanukah. The Light of the World was temporarily extinguished, but He rose again, and His glory fills the heavenly Temple. Yet on Earth, His light still shines in those who are “the children of light.” “[Y]e are washed, but ye are sanctified, but ye are justified in the name of the Lord Jesus, and by the Spirit of our God” (1 Corinthians 6:11, emphasis mine). Since you are “sanctified,” that means you are “dedicated,” and Jesus said, “Ye are the light of the world. A city that is set on an hill cannot be hid … Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven” (Matthew 5:14, 16, emphasis mine). So, shine!

Happy Chanukah!

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What A Thing!

Annunciation by Henry Ossawa Tanner

… Christ Jesus: Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God: But made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men: (Philippians 2:5-7)

The Christmas season is upon us once again, and once more, I sense the dilemma of mixing the commercialization of the season by the world with the celebration of the First Advent. Any Christian well taught in Scripture recognizes that Jesus was not born on December 25, but thanks to the Catholics, we are stuck with that date. Regardless of how one feels about that, it is appropriate to set aside a special time to contemplate the magnitude of the miracle that is the Incarnation[1] – God becoming a man.

Consider our leading verse. No other religion[2] in the world makes the claim that their gods willingly depose themselves of all divine powers to assume the life of a human. Then, to top it off, offer themselves as a blood sacrifice in order to save the lowly human race. However, contemplate seriously the significance of these words of Scripture.

“Christ Jesus” – the anointed Savior (meaning of the name) – “who being in the form of God.” The Greek word translated “form” is morphē, and it means “shape” or “nature.” The Apostle John calls Jesus “the Word.” He wrote, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God: (John 1:1, emphasis mine). In the Greek, the phrase “the Word was God” literally reads, “God was the Word” — θεος ην ο λογος. What a thing!

Though He was in every way, in very nature, God, He “Thought it not robbery to be equal with God.” Verse 8 clarifies this phrase when it explains that Jesus “humbled Himself.” He did not regard it robbery to lay aside His Divine nature and assume human form in order to redeem fallen humanity. What a Thing!

“He made Himself of no reputation.” This entire phrase is summed up in one Greek word, εκενωσεν (hekenoōsen), which means, “He emptied Himself” without any sense of deprivation. In exchange, “He took upon Himself the morphē (see above) of a servant” – doulos – a “slave.” He “was made in the likeness of men.” The Greek word translated “likeness” is homoiōma meaning “resemblance.” So, not only did He take on the “nature” of man, He “looked” like any other man. There was no halo around Him to distinguish Him from any other man. Of Him Isaiah the prophet said, “he hath no form nor comeliness; and when we shall see him, there is no beauty that we should desire him” (Isaiah 53:2, emphasis mine). The Hebrew word translated “comeliness” is hâdâr meaning “magnificence,” and “beauty” is the Hebrew word mar-eh’ meaning a “handsome appearance.” So much for those soft-faced images of Jesus, we are so used to seeing! It was not enough that He condescended from His Divine nature to assume the nature of an ordinary, common-looking man, but He took the form of the lowliest kind of man – a slave. Not only did He come as a slave, but He chose a peasant girl for a mother and a stable for His birthplace.[3] What a THING!

The passage goes on to say, “And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross” (Philippians 2:8, emphasis mine). “Fashion” is the Greek word, schēma and it means the “mode, circumstance, or external condition.” The Bible tells us that “the wages of sin is death” (Romans 6:23). Man must die eternally to pay the penalty for sin. Unless some sinless one can be found to serve as a suitable sacrifice for all of mankind, every one of us must pay “the wages of sin.”[4] Who could qualify as a suitable sacrifice? “As it is written, There is none righteous, no, not one … For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:10, 23). Therefore, God clad Himself in human flesh and took the penalty for universal sin upon Himself. However, His death was not enough. He conquered death when He rose from the grave on the third day. He paid the sin debt that we owe and broke the curse of death[5] with His resurrection. WHAT A THING!

This Christmas, regardless of the commercialization of the season and regardless of the fact that Jesus was not born on December 25, God’s gift of salvation freely offered to all who will accept it, is worthy of commemoration and celebration. “This is a faithful saying, and worthy of all acceptation, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners; of whom I am chief” (1 Timothy 1:15, emphasis mine). WHAT A THING!!

Merry Christmas!

Notes:


[1] “Miracle of the Incarnation” – https://erniecarrasco.com/2012/12/24/miracle-of-the-incarnation/

[2]  “False Religion” – https://erniecarrasco.com/2014/07/27/false-religion/

[3]  “Extreme Measures” – https://erniecarrasco.com/2016/12/11/extreme-measures/

[4]  “Eternal Sacrifice” – https://erniecarrasco.com/2012/09/30/eternal-sacrifice/

[5]  “Why Jesus?” – https://erniecarrasco.com/2015/12/13/why-jesus/

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Light From Afar

… he made the stars also. (Genesis 1:16)

The question about the age of the universe is certainly a hotly debated question among both young earth and old earth creationists. Young earth creationists affirm and accept the literal account recorded in Genesis.[1] Old earth creationists accept that God is Creator, but they accommodate long ages because they are convinced that “science” has “proven” that the universe is old. They arrive at this conclusion because we see light from stars and galaxies that are billions of lightyears away from us. The “proof” is questionable, but that is a separate matter.

If one considers God’s account of creation recorded in the first chapter of Genesis, one notes that all things, plants, sea creatures, avian life, land creatures and even humans were all created fully mature and immediately able to reproduce (“the seed is in itself”). The earth itself was created, formed, and organized in the first three days of creation (Genesis 1:1-13). The Bible gives no indication that these were long periods of time.[2] When God records the day (Hebrew yom), He uses the word normally understood as a 24-hour day. By assigning an ordinal number to modify the day (first day, second day, third day, etc.), He further qualifies the day as a normal 24-hour day. If that is not enough, He further defines the day by “evening and morning” indicating a normal 24-hour day.

Some may want to argue that, but their argument is against God’s Word, and that is reminiscent of the first words from the tempter’s mouth: “Yea, hath God said…?” (Genesis 3:1).

With all of that in mind, look again at Genesis 1:14-19, Day Four of creation. In God’s account of creation, God created the earth first, then the other heavenly bodies beginning with the sun and moon and finally He “created the stars also” (v. 16). This in itself contradicts the notion of a Big Bang. Verse 15 establishes the purpose for the heavenly bodies: Lit. “to light over the earth.” In the KJV verse 17 reads: “And God set them [the stars] in the firmament of the heaven to give light upon the earth.” The Hebrew word translated “set” is nâthan, which means “to give.” A strict translation of the verse would read: “God gave them in the expanse of the heavens to light over the earth.” As with all of God’s creation, the light of the stars upon the earth was created in place and fully mature. This eliminates any discussion about how long it takes for light from distant stars to arrive on earth. It makes the argument irrelevant. Whatever is now is not what it was in the beginning.

Notes:


[1]  “The Universe is Young” https://erniecarrasco.com/2017/05/21/the-universe-is-young/

[2]  “The Bible Says” https://erniecarrasco.com/2016/04/03/the-bible-says/

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Creation Ex Nihilo

A Picture of Nothing

In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth. (Genesis 1:1)

It seems strange to me when people readily accept the origin of the universe from a Big Bang, yet balk at the suggestion that God created the universe out of nothing – ex nihilo – simply by speaking it into existence. Even Christians who claim to believe that every word of the Bible as inerrant and infallible fall prey to the notion that God somehow initiated and used the Big Bang to create over billions of years of time.

Recently the Institute for Creation Research (ICR) published an article,[1] which raised questions in one reader’s mind. He wrote:

Since God is omnipotent, omniscient, and omnipresent, doesn’t it make more sense to think that either…

  • God first created nothingness?
  • He created time at the same time as nothingness?
  • As He was everything, from within Himself He created everything?

Another question I have regards the space/time/matter continuum. While our human minds at present can’t conceive of the three dimensions going on into infinity in both directions, doesn’t it stand to reason to think that the universe and its three dimensions is endless in both directions?

I am not sure what he meant by his last question. He affirms (at least by our understanding) a three-dimensional universe, but then he questions the three-dimensional universe being infinite (endless) in “both directions.” That suggests only two dimensions. He seems confused, as often happens when we “over think” things that are beyond our understanding.

Our problem in a question like this is that we tend to think of God from our limited human perspective. As theologians like to describe God, He is totally “other,” i.e., He is nothing like us, and we have nothing outside of His Word with which to compare Him. This is why His second commandment prohibits that we make an image of Him (Exodus 20:4). It would be impossible for any image to accurately depict God in His fullness.

When we say God is eternal,[2] we sometimes view “eternity”[3] with some kind of cosmic clock[4] in mind, but that would confine God to time. God is timeless. He has no past, present or future; He simply “is.” That is why when Moses asked His name, He responded, “I AM” (Exodus 3:11). He is the All-Existent One. His omnipresence means more than He is everywhere at all times; it means that He exists IN all times, i.e., He is in our past, present and future all at once. This explains why He knows the future before it happens. This is also why our sin bears eternal consequences. Our sin is an infinite offense to God.

When we understand that, we can look at Genesis 1:1 and see that “In the beginning (time) God created (bara – only used in reference to God creating) the heavens (space) and the earth (matter/energy),” ergo, the universe. God created time. There would be no universe without time – i.e., the space-time continuum to which the writer referred. The universe, like God, is a trinity; time, space and matter/energy must all exist simultaneously for the universe to exist. Remove any one of the three components, and the universe ceases. God created time “in the beginning.”

The Bible does not specifically say that God created out of nothing (“ex nihilo” is the theological term we use to describe God’s creation), but the implication that there was nothing before verse 1 of Genesis is certainly there. When God confronts Job’s questions, He responds, “Where wast thou when I laid the foundations of the earth? declare, if thou hast understanding” (Job 38:4). What are “the foundations of the earth,” if not the basic elements of the universe? Obviously, we have no way of knowing precisely “how” God did it. The Bible encourages us to rest in the fact that God brought it all about “In the beginning.” “The secret things belong unto the LORD our God: but those things which are revealed belong unto us and to our children for ever, that we may do all the words of this law” (Deuteronomy 29:29).

On the final question, the universe is not infinite for the very reason that it was created. Nothing that is created can be infinite. Only God is infinite; everything else is finite.

When we think on that, “What is man, that thou art mindful of him? and the son of man, that thou visitest him?” (Psalm 8:4). Yes, as immeasurably great as God is, He took on human form and condescended to us, His creation, to dwell among us, take on the eternal offense of our sin, and pay for it with His death on the cross so that we might share eternity with Him. After all He has done for us, “How shall we escape, if we neglect so great salvation” (Hebrews 2:3)? Thank God for His infinite love!

Notes:


[1]  “The Universe Out of Nothing” – https://www.icr.org/article/10286

[2]  “The Eternality of God” – https://erniecarrasco.com/2017/06/04/the-eternality-of-god/

[3]  “Time Confusion” – https://erniecarrasco.com/2016/07/31/time-confusion/

[4]  “No Time Like the Present” – https://erniecarrasco.com/2015/01/18/no-time-like-the-present/

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The ILLUMINATI: Once a Secret Society Now Recruiting For Members Online

I have often wondered if the Illuminati are “for real.” I’ve heard a lot of talk, but I have seen zero evidence. If they really are a “secret” society, their secret has been well kept. However, the more we see the “signs of the times,” this shouldn’t come as a big surprise. If it were not for HE that is within me, Who is greater than he that is in the world, (1 John 4:4) this could be a little spooky. As their commercial encourages, I have no fear, but not because of anything they have to promise.

via The ILLUMINATI: Once a Secret Society Now Recruiting For Members Online

“I began researching the internet to find this “Illuminati website.”  What I found shocked me to my core.  At first I thought that it was a hoax, but the more I searched, I realized that this once “secret” society had not only become open – but they were actually recruiting people to join. At least it seems this way.”

Read more … https://grandmageri422.me/2017/11/22/the-illuminati-once-a-secret-society-now-recruiting-for-members-online/

 

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Pilgrim

Signing of the Mayflower Compact, November 11, 1620

Hear my prayer, O LORD, and give ear unto my cry; hold not thy peace at my tears: for I am a stranger with thee, and a sojourner, as all my fathers were. (Psalm 39:12)

On Thanksgiving Day[1] we remember the Pilgrims and the first celebration of Thanksgiving. Sadly, most Americans, including many Christians, cannot explain the significance of the day. For most, the day is a time for gathering together with family and friends to feast on turkey with all the fixings and pass out from tryptophan over a football game. On the following day, everyone swarms the malls and outlet stores to stock up on Black Friday bargains for the next big holiday. For these people, Pilgrims are people with funny clothes, stovepipe hats, big buckles on their shoes and guns with bell-shaped muzzles. Pilgrims look cute on greeting cards or as seasonal decorations, but what is a pilgrim?

Without rehashing what can easily be found with a quick Google search or repeat what I have written in the past, allow me give a different perspective on the word “pilgrim.” Dictionary.com defines a pilgrim as (1) a person who journeys, especially a long distance, to some sacred place as an act of religious devotion, (2) a traveler or wanderer, especially in a foreign place, (3) an original settler in a region, (4) one of the band of Puritans who founded the colony of Plymouth, Mass., in 1620, or (5) a newcomer to a region or place, especially to the western U.S.

Those fitting the fourth definition of the word celebrated the first Thanksgiving Day in 1621 after surviving a harsh winter with inadequate shelter where almost half of their company died from exposure to the elements. The Pilgrims came to America to escape religious persecution. These Pilgrims traveled to a foreign place (Definition 2) and were newcomers to the place where they landed (Definition 5). However, it cannot be said that they were the original settlers in the region (Definition 3) because the Patuxet tribe lived on the land before the Pilgrims arrived. Nor can it be said that they came to a sacred place (America) as an act of religious devotion, albeit they desired “the advancement of the Christian faith.”

About a month ago, my wife and I visited the Holy Land as pilgrims (Definition 1). We traveled a very long distance from Dallas, Texas to Israel and visited many sacred places there because of our devotion to the Word of God and our desire to visit the places we read about in the Bible. Our pilgrimage served to bring God’s Word to life in our minds and to form a stronger bond and love for the land of Israel and especially for the city where God has placed His name. June and I were pilgrims!

As Christians, we are all pilgrims. Regardless of where on earth we dwell, we are strangers and sojourners in this world – pilgrims; “For our conversation is in heaven; from whence also we look for the Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ” (Philippians 3:20). The Greek word translated “conversation” is politeuma and it means “community” or “citizenship.” Our true citizenship and our allegiance are in heaven; therefore, it is right for us to feel out of place in this world. If not, we might need to take a second look at our passport! “Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him. … And the world passeth away, and the lust thereof: but he that doeth the will of God abideth for ever” (1 John 2:15, 17).  Knowing that this world is passing away, I am “Looking for and hasting unto the coming of the day of God, wherein the heavens being on fire shall be dissolved, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat? Nevertheless we, according to his promise, look for new heavens and a new earth, wherein dwelleth righteousness.” (2 Peter 3:12-13).

As a pilgrim, I yearn with an aching heart for the Lord to return as King of Kings and Lord of Lords and make this world right again. Then I will be home, no longer a pilgrim. In the meantime, fellow pilgrim, we can thank Him for all His care and provision as we travel this alien land and for the assurance that our real home is with Him.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Notes:


[1]  “A Day to Give Thanks” – https://erniecarrasco.com/2015/11/26/a-day-to-give-thanks/

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Pre-Flood Fish Food

And God said, Behold, I have given you every herb bearing seed, which is upon the face of all the earth, and every tree, in the which is the fruit of a tree yielding seed; to you it shall be for meat. And to every beast of the earth, and to every fowl of the air, and to every thing that creepeth upon the earth, wherein there is life, I have given every green herb for meat: and it was so. (Genesis 1:29-30)

Our lead verse above often leads to questions about the diet of carnivores prior to the Fall recorded in Genesis 3. Those who raise the question point out that some animals’ teeth are designed for eating plants and others are designed for eating meat. I can answer that question by simply pointing out that my dogs (and probably yours) eat grass, carrots, apples, potatoes, green beans, watermelon, etc. Not only that, but their kibble is made mostly of vegetable products; they do not have to eat meat to survive. In addition, many animals existing today survive on a purely vegetarian diet even though they have sharp meat-eating teeth;[1] for example, panda bears are strict vegetarians, even though they have a mouth full of sharp meat-grinding teeth! Likewise, dinosaurs were all vegetarians before the Fall[2] for the same reason.

Someone recently asked, “What about the sea creatures? Can we assume that there are plants in the oceans? How would that make any sense? What were the sea creatures feeding on if not one another according to the food chain? Doesn’t that represent some kind of death already existing before the fall?”

That is a very good question. The Bible says that when God finished creation, He said it was “very good” (Genesis 1:31). Since the Bible calls death “the enemy” (1 Corinthians 15:26), death cannot be a part of a “very good” creation. Both humans and animals were vegetarian, as pointed out in our verse above. (Genesis 1:29-30); therefore we can safely conclude that applied to sea creatures as well.

We must first define what “life” is. The Bible says that “life is in the blood” (Leviticus 17:11). Therefore, anything that has blood has life. “Life,” according to God’s Word, is not the same as defined by modern science. Modern scientists define life as anything that grows and reproduces, so to modern scientists, plants are “alive,” but that is not what the Bible says. Many creatures grow, reproduce and move freely in the oceans, like plankton. These are considered “motile organisms.” However, they have no blood; therefore, according to the Bible, they do not really have “life.” Whales eat tons of plankton every day and so do other sea creatures. Besides that, many kinds of plants grow in the shallows where sunlight for photosynthesis can still penetrate. Therefore, it should not be difficult to conclude that all sea creatures were vegetarian before the Fall (Genesis 3).

Consider also that the Fall took place probably less than a month after creation – perhaps even within the following week. I say that because Adam and Eve were perfect human specimens, created in the image of God (Genesis 1:26-27). They had absolutely no physical flaws. God gave them instruction to “Be fruitful, and multiply, and [fill] the earth” (Genesis 1:28). Eve did not conceive until after the Fall (Genesis 4:1). Considering that a woman’s menstrual cycle is about 28 days and that Eve was the most beautiful woman in the world – literally – Adam, I am certain, would have gotten busy right away to keep God’s command to “be fruitful and multiply.” Eve, being the perfect example of femininity and physical health should have gotten pregnant right away. Since that did not happen until after the Fall, we must conclude that the Fall occurred before she became pregnant, and therefore less than one month after creation. That should not be too long to survive a vegetarian diet. I could even do that for a month, although, I might not be too much fun to be around!

Aside from the academic exercise of a pre-Fall animal diet is the question of death before sin.[3] If death existed before Adam and Eve disobeyed God by eating from the forbidden tree, then how can death be the logical consequence of sin? Death before sin destroys the whole premise of the Gospel. Therefore, biblical compromises like the Gap Theory,[4] the Day-Age Theory,[5] and Theistic Evolution[6] must be rejected. With all of that, we can conclude that all creatures were vegetarian prior to the Fall.

Notes:


[1]  “Why God Created Large, Sharp Teeth?” – http://www.icr.org/article/why-god-created-large-sharp-teeth

[2]  “How Do the Dinosaurs Fit In?” – http://www.icr.org/article/how-do-dinosaurs-fit-in

[3]  “The Curse of Death” – https://erniecarrasco.com/2015/06/14/the-curse-of-death/

[4]  “No Gap” – https://erniecarrasco.com/2015/10/18/no-gap/

[5]  “A Day Is A Day” – https://erniecarrasco.com/2015/10/25/a-day-is-a-day/

[6]  “The Bible Says” – https://erniecarrasco.com/2016/04/03/the-bible-says/

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