Monthly Archives: April 2014

A King On A Donkey

 

Hosanna!

Hosanna!

Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion; shout, O daughter of Jerusalem: behold, thy King cometh unto thee: he is just, and having salvation; lowly, and riding upon an ass, and upon a colt the foal of an ass. (Zechariah 9:9)

Passover was just a few days away. Jerusalem buzzed with activity. Jews from all parts of the Roman world made the pilgrimage to the Judean capitol to celebrate the first of three Feasts of the Lord that required mandatory attendance by every Jewish male (Deuteronomy 16:16). In spite of Roman oppression, this was a time of celebration as everyone anticipated the promised king that would deliver them and restore Israel’s former greatness. “Perhaps this year,” they thought.

To this cacophony of festivities entered the unassuming King of Kings. Daniel had prophesied this event more than 483 years before. “Know therefore and understand, that from the going forth of the commandment to restore and to build Jerusalem unto the Messiah the Prince shall be seven weeks, and threescore and two weeks: the street shall be built again, and the wall, even in troublous times. And after threescore and two weeks shall Messiah be cut off, but not for himself: and the people of the prince that shall come shall destroy the city and the sanctuary; and the end thereof shall be with a flood, and unto the end of the war desolations are determined” (Daniel 9:25-26). Today the prophecy appeared – lowly, and riding upon a donkey’s foal as prophesied by Zechariah. Even this unnoticed act was miraculous. A foal is a donkey (or horse) that is not yet a year old. This one, a colt (male), had never been ridden (Mark 11:2; Luke 19:30). Surely anyone reading this knows what happens when a donkey, horse or mule is mounted for the first time, but not so here. “And they brought him [the colt] to Jesus: and they cast their garments upon the colt, and they set Jesus thereon. And as he went, they spread their clothes in the way” (Luke 19:35-36). Somehow, that little animal understood the significance of the rider. He was carrying the Creator, the One who said, “Take my yoke upon you … For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light” (Matthew 11:29-30).

Thus Jesus entered His city to present Himself as the “Prince of Peace” (Isaiah 9:6). A conqueror would have entered upon a white charger parading his conquests before him, but a king who comes in peace enters in on a mule or a donkey (1 Kings 1:30-40). As Jesus made His way into the city, the crowd thronged Him singing the words of the psalm “Hosanna!” meaning “Save now!” “Blessed be he that cometh in the name of the LORD” (Psalm 118:25-26). Who knows if the mob understood the significance of the psalm or of the Man to whom they sang? When the religious leaders compelled Jesus to silence the crowd (for they understood very well the significance of the words), “he answered and said unto them, I tell you that, if these should hold their peace, the stones would immediately cry out” (Luke 19:40).

Interesting that at the first Passover, when the children of Israel were in Egypt, Moses required each family to take an unblemished lamb into their home at the first of the month. This lamb would become endeared to the family, and then on the fourteenth of the month, the lamb would be slain and its blood painted on the door posts of the house (Exodus 12:1-12). Now the Lamb of God entered the house of Israel to be sacrificed for the sins of the world. All things foreordained “from the foundation of the world” (Revelation 13:8). Thus Messiah, the King on a donkey, presented Himself only to be “despised and rejected of men” (Isaiah 53:3). Soon the Passover Lamb would be “cut off” (Daniel 9:26).

The King will return. When He returns, His mount will not be a lowly donkey, but a mighty, white steed. “And I saw heaven opened, and behold a white horse; and he that sat upon him was called Faithful and True, and in righteousness he doth judge and make war … And he hath on his vesture and on his thigh a name written, KING OF KINGS, AND LORD OF LORDS. (Revelation 19:11, 16) – no longer a King on a donkey.

Hallelujah! “Even so, come, Lord Jesus!” (Revelation 22:20)

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Episode 44 – Useful and Versatile Hands

We are awesomely and wonderfully made!

That's a Fact

Mankind has made a lot of tools, but none of them rival the usefulness and versatility of the human hand. Its structure and design give evidence of God’s creativity and allows us to do a wide variety of tasks—like typing, eating, and building skyscrapers.

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Seth Number Three?

Bouguereau-The_First_Mourning-1888

The First Mourning by Bouguereau (1888)

And Adam lived an hundred and thirty years, and begat a son in his own likeness, after his image; and called his name Seth (Genesis 5:3)

Where did Cain get his wife? Another question along the same line is, “From where did the people come that Cain feared after killing Abel?” (Genesis 4:14). Questions like this have spawned much conjecture in the origins debate and have led many to the misguided conclusion that other “hominids” existed prior to God’s special creation of Adam and Eve. Cain, they conclude, feared these “people” and he probably selected a wife from among them.

For better or worse, the Bible does not provide us with all of the detail we would like for filling the gaps in these historical narratives. But the Author does not concern Himself with the minor details in order to focus our attention on the greater plan, i.e., that God created everything including mankind in a “very good” state; God desired a close personal relationship with His special creation, man; man disobeyed God and severed that intimate relationship; God has continually strived to reconcile man to Himself and provided the way of salvation; and God will one day restore His creation to its original perfection. So the extraneous, irrelevant minutia is omitted in order to develop the greater story. That being said, we are left with many unimportant unanswered questions that can lead us astray, if we are careless in the way we handle God’s Word.

The above are at least two such questions. Genesis 4 begins shortly after the Fall and informs us that “Adam knew Eve his wife; and she conceived, and bare Cain, and said, I have gotten a man from the LORD” (Genesis 4:1). The Hebrew construction indicates that Eve actually believed that she had given birth to the Savior. Literally it reads “I have gotten a man, the LORD.” She believed God’s promise that “I will put enmity between thee and the woman, and between thy seed and her seed; [He] shall bruise thy head, and thou shalt bruise his heel” (Genesis 3:15, emphasis added). She later realized her error and when her second son was born, she named him Abel (Genesis 4:2) which means emptiness or vanity because her desire was not realized with the firstborn. Now, between verse 1 and verse 2 some time has elapsed, but we do not know how much time. We can surmise that Abel was the second male child born: “And she again bare his brother Abel” (emphasis added). Verse 2 tells us that “Abel was a keeper of sheep, but Cain was a tiller of the ground.” Here again, within the same verse, a long span of time has elapsed, and we are left to wonder. How old were these boys? Were they in their early teens or were they fully grown men between 30 and 40 years old? We are not told. And what about other siblings? Were they the only children of Adam and Eve? The details elude us. The intent of this narrative is to highlight the advancement of sin in this new world. Cain committed the first act of murder in killing Abel, his brother. This narrative also illuminates the downward spiral of sin. This final act of murder began with disobedience (Cain offered a sample of his harvest as a sacrifice to God, (Genesis 4:3) rather than a blood sacrifice), then he became jealous of his brother because God accepted Abel’s sacrifice and rejected his (Genesis 4:4), and finally his jealousy worked itself into a raging anger that ended in murder (Genesis 4:5). This is the focus of this narrative, and how old they were or how many other siblings there were is totally irrelevant to the story.

Obviously, Cain did not get away with the murder. Again the purpose of the narrative serves to give us insight into the nature of God and the nature of man. Notice that it is God who seeks man rather than the other way around. “And the LORD said unto Cain, Where is Abel thy brother?” (Genesis 4:9a). Why does God pose the question? Does God not know what has transpired? God is omniscient. Of course He knows. In fact, God attempted to intervene before the heinous act. “And the LORD said unto Cain, Why art thou wroth? and why is thy countenance fallen? If thou doest well, shalt thou not be accepted? and if thou doest not well, sin lieth at the door. And unto thee shall be his desire, and thou shalt rule over him” (Genesis 4:6-7, emphasis added). Cain failed to follow the prescribed method of sacrifice that God instituted in the Garden (Genesis 3:21). Only the shedding of innocent blood can cover man’s sin, but Cain tried to do it his way, and the sin lying at his door was rebellion against God. In His line of questioning, God was giving Cain the opportunity to confess his sin as ask forgiveness, but instead, he hardened his heart: “And he said, I know not: Am I my brother’s keeper?” (Genesis 4:9b). Even then God gave him a third opportunity: “And he said, What hast thou done? the voice of thy brother’s blood crieth unto me from the ground” (Genesis 4:10). Failing to confess and repent of his sin, God sentenced Cain to banishment from his home and family (Genesis 4:14).

However, it seems that the thing Cain most feared was retribution by others. “Behold, thou hast driven me out this day from the face of the earth; and from thy face shall I be hid; and I shall be a fugitive and a vagabond in the earth; and it shall come to pass, that every one that findeth me shall slay me” (Genesis 4:14, emphasis added). Who did Cain have to fear? So far, the only people named in the Bible are Adam, Eve, Cain and Abel. Who else was around that might take vengeance on Cain? Then there is the matter of Cain’s wife: “And Cain knew his wife; and she conceived, and bare Enoch: and he builded a city, and called the name of the city, after the name of his son, Enoch” (Genesis 4:17, emphasis added).

So, where did Cain get his wife? The Bible does not say. Apparently the Author thought we were sufficiently intelligent enough to figure that one out on our own, as long as we stick with the Bible. The Genesis account of creation tells us that man was created on the sixth day. Man was also created apart from the animals, who God created merely by His spoken command. Man, on the other hand, was “created” (Hebrew bârâ’ used only as applicable to God’s creative acts) in the “image of God” (Genesis 1:27). Furthermore, God “sculpted” (Hebrew yâtsar, which means to mold into a form as a potter forms clay) a special body for man. So man is truly unique among God’s creation. In addition to that, all of God’s creation is to reproduce “after its kind” (Genesis 1:11-12, 21, 25-26). So, Cain’s wife had to be of the same “kind” as he. That would preclude him having a wife of some lesser “evolved” hominid, which, if such a thing existed, would not have been created in the image of God. That leaves only one option. Cain’s wife was his sister.

The other question is: Whom did Cain have to fear? It stands to reason that if Cain had a wife, Abel could have had a wife and perhaps even children. Since we are not given a timeframe for this event, we cannot know if the boys were in their thirties or older. Perhaps both boys were old enough by now to have grown children. If that were the case, Cain would have feared retribution from Abel’s sons. Or he could have feared retribution from his other siblings. The Bible tells us that Adam “begat sons and daughters” (Genesis 5:4), but the number and the time between births remains a puzzle. We know that Adam was 130 when Seth was born (Genesis 5:3). “And Adam knew his wife again; and she bare a son, and called his name Seth: For God, said she, hath appointed me another seed instead of Abel, whom Cain slew” (Genesis 4:25). Seth’s name means substituted (Strong’s definition) or compensation (Young’s definition). Seth is the third person named as a son of Adam, but it does not necessarily follow that he was the third born. It simply means that he was the third son of Adam who is identified in Scripture. (I will explain later.) Also, judging by the significance of his name and Adam’s age at his birth, it is reasonable that Cain and Abel were approaching that age, i.e., between 120 and 129 years old. Keep in mind that Adam was not “born;” he was created fully grown, so while chronologically he was 130, physically he was probably around 160. If this is the case, there was enough time involved for many more people to be on earth coming from Adam and Eve and approximately four generations (provided a generation equals 30 years). I am no mathematician, but I came up with what I consider to be a rather conservative figure for the possible number people on earth at the time of Seth’s birth:

Pop at Seths Birth

A young biologist friend of mine came up with a table similar to mine, but he took into account the maturation process of Adam and Eve’s offspring before they were of age to reproduce. Gee! Why didn’t I think of that! His table is too long to reproduce here, but his figures were even more conservative than mine. He calculated the possible population at the time of Seth’s birth at only 9,289. Even at this much lower count, one understands why Cain feared for his life; there were others out there who might want to take vengeance for Abel’s murder.

By now it should be evident that Seth was not Adam and Eve’s third son. His name simply means that he was the replacement for Abel. His name is significant also because it starts to point the way to our Savior, Jesus Christ. From Seth’s line came Enoch who “walked with God: and he was not; for God took him” (Genesis 5:24). From Seth’s line came Noah “a preacher of righteousness” (2 Peter 2:5); a man who “found grace in the eyes of the LORD” (Genesis 6:8). Through Noah, and then through his son Shem, extended the line that would eventually lead to Jesus (Luke 3:38). Herein lies the reason Seth’s name is recorded while other sons and daughters of Adam and Eve are excluded. Seth was not the third son, but he was the son that points us to Christ.

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