Monthly Archives: May 2016

Memorial

memorial-day-wallpaper

And God said moreover unto Moses, Thus shalt thou say unto the children of Israel, The LORD God of your fathers, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob, hath sent me unto you: this is my name for ever, and this is my memorial unto all generations. (Exodus 3:15)

In the United States, we set aside (consecrate, sanctify, make holy) Memorial Day to commemorate those who paid the ultimate price in the defense and preservation of our freedom. As is common with all “holy” days, the significance of the day wanes after one or two generations lost in habitual and meaningless traditions and mechanical ceremony. True, one will find gatherings here and there in honor of our fallen heroes, but the crowds are usually small and composed mostly of those whose loved ones are entombed beneath the sacred ground. But for the majority of Americans today, Memorial Day is just another excuse for a three-day weekend.

Few veterans of the Second World War survive today, and many veterans of the Korean and Vietnam wars are quickly fading away. Our children scarcely remember Desert Storm, nor can they explain the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. One may debate the legitimacy of our involvement in the wars since World War II, but the blood spilt and the lives sacrificed in those conflicts remain precious to their Creator and to us. They died, rightly or wrongly, for their country and for our freedom, and it is fitting that we sanctify a day for their memorial.

As our nation rapidly declines in the whirling vortex of moral decay (I can almost hear the sucking sound!), holy days lose their virtue and give way to debauchery. Just this week I read in the online Washington Times that a small display of crosses set up especially for this occasion was taken down after one person found the crosses offensive and complained.[1] Ultimately, things like this result from the nation’s rejection of and enmity with God.

It is interesting that the first time the word “memorial” appears in the Bible, it is in the context of God revealing Himself to Moses. God confronted Moses through the burning bush and commissioned him to liberate His people from Egyptian bondage. After a series of excuses as to why he was not up to the task, “Moses said unto God, Behold, when I come unto the children of Israel, and shall say unto them, The God of your fathers hath sent me unto you; and they shall say to me, What is his name? what shall I say unto them? And God said unto Moses, I AM THAT I AM: and he said, Thus shalt thou say unto the children of Israel, I AM hath sent me unto you” (Exodus 3:13-14, emphasis mine). The name, יehâyâh (I AM), means “to exist.” God was proclaiming Himself to be the “Self-existing One,” the One Who Is, the eternal One. God specified, “this is my name for ever, and this is my memorial unto all generations” (v. 15, emphasis mine).

“All generations” means ALL generations. That includes our generation, and our nation, but our nation – our generation – has rejected God. All that God opposes, our nation has embraced and even promoted. Therefore what used to be precious is now held in contempt. What used to be contemptible is now admired. What was shameful now is something for which to be proud. What was kept in secret is now flaunted. Therefore God says:

Woe unto them that call evil good, and good evil; that put darkness for light, and light for darkness; that put bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter! Woe unto them that are wise in their own eyes, and prudent in their own sight! Woe unto them that are mighty to drink wine, and men of strength to mingle strong drink: Which justify the wicked for reward, and take away the righteousness of the righteous from him! Therefore as the fire devoureth the stubble, and the flame consumeth the chaff, so their root shall be as rottenness, and their blossom shall go up as dust: because they have cast away the law of the LORD of hosts, and despised the word of the Holy One of Israel. Therefore is the anger of the LORD kindled against his people, and he hath stretched forth his hand against them, and hath smitten them: and the hills did tremble, and their carcases were torn in the midst of the streets. For all this his anger is not turned away, but his hand is stretched out still. (Isaiah 5:20-25, emphasis mine)

Having forgotten our Memorial – the I AM – nothing is sacred, and Memorial Day simply becomes just another three-day weekend because those who gave their lives for “one nation under God” died for something that is now forgotten, or held in contempt. Yet God always has His remnant. He still has those “who have not bowed the knee to Baal” (1 Kings 19:18; Romans 11:4), and He does not forget His own. For those who remain, Memorial Day retains its sanctity as we remember those who selflessly offered up all that they could give that we might live free, if only for a little while longer. “Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends” (John 15:13). The God who spoke those words gave His life that we might live. He also promised, “In my Father’s house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also” (John 14:2-3).

So, if my musings seem a little cynical (I am not), it is because I cannot obscure the putrid decay I plainly see taking place in our nation. Yet, the same gives me hope because I know what the future holds, and I know the One who holds the future. Jesus is coming back bringing the tree of life “for the healing of the nations” (Revelation 22:2). Men seek the Utopian state, but that will only come when the King of Kings and Lord of Lords reigns supreme upon the earth. That hope turns my cynicism into confidence for what my Memorial has in store. Even so, come Lord Jesus!

Notes:


[1]  The Washington Times online: http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2016/may/24/memorial-day-crosses-for-fallen-soldiers-removed-a/ (accessed 05/25/2016).

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No Accident

 

CAUSE: Hydroplaning. EFFECT: Wreck. No Accident!

CAUSE: Hydroplaning. EFFECT: Wreck. No Accident!

All things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that was made. (John 1:3)

Commuting to work on the rain-drenched LBJ Freeway in Dallas, Texas this past week, I was at once amused and terrified at the maneuvers made by some crazy drivers obviously unaware of the hazardous road conditions. It reminded me of something that my old Driver’s Ed teacher repeated often a hundred years ago, “Accidents don’t happen; they are caused.” Apparently the crazies on LBJ never took driving lessons from my old Driver’s Ed teacher.

The truth of the adage obeys the very basic law of physics, that of cause and effect. Simply stated, everything that happens, i.e. every “effect,” has a cause. On the highway, this basic law expresses itself through Newton’s three Laws of Motion: (1) Inertia – an object in motion tends to stay in motion unless some external force acts upon it, (2) Acceleration – when a force acts on a mass (object) to produce motion, and (3) Reaction – for every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction. These three laws are expressions of the primary law of cause and effect. There is a series of cause-and-effect scenarios that propel a vehicle down the road at high rates of speed. Friction is a stabilizing force acting upon the tires of a car to counter the inertia that would maintain the car’s high rate of speed. However, on a wet, rainy day, friction yields to a phenomenon known as hydroplaning. This “cause” creates a thin barrier of water between the surface of the road and the tires, which effectively negates the force of friction on the tires. The tires lose contact with the road surface and now skim along on a slippery sheet of water. Inertia now controls the forward motion of the vehicle, and the incognizant operator unwittingly presumes he is in full control until he has to make a quick lane change or a sudden stop. It takes little imagination to visualize the “effects” that may result. The frequent “mishaps” witnessed on the highway are “incidents” not “accidents.” The majority of the time, the main cause of these incidents is the loose nut behind the wheel. Lesson: be aware of road conditions!

Forgive the defensive driving lesson, but the point was to illustrate the law of cause and effect. Nothing that exists just happens. There are no accidents. This simple and common fact is overlooked or ignored by naturalists/evolutionists/atheists when dealing with the matter of origins. What caused the universe? The Big Bang they say. What caused the Big Bang? They say that an infinitesimal “singularity” rapidly expanded and produced all that there is. Even though no one existed to witness or record this great event, they (the “theoretical” physicists) can tell us what happened one second after the Big Bang, one minute after, five minutes after, and so on. So, from where did this singularity come? What caused the singularity? What made it expand? “We don’t know,” they admit, “but we are still working on it.” This is what is passed off as science today.

Everything must have a cause, but cause-and-effect can only be taken back so far. Eventually, we must arrive at the cause that caused all other causes, and this cause cannot itself be caused. “Science” has no explanation for this, therefore hypotheses abound. In desperation, absurdities, like the “multiverse” hypothesis, arise to account for what cannot be proven in this universe. Since it cannot be proven in this universe, it must be true in another. The problem is that this universe is the only universe to which we have access to do science. There remains this nagging requirement for science called observation, and we cannot observe other universes, if indeed they do exist. Ours is the only universe we can observe. Our science is limited to what we can observe in this universe.

That brings us back to question of origins. How did our universe come to be? If nothing else, the Big Bang asserts that our universe must have had a beginning. But what caused it all? Reason demands that the original cause cannot itself have a cause. Our universe is no accident.

Where science fails us, the Bible provides a reasonable answer. Naturalists automatically reject this notion; however they offer nothing in its place that makes more sense. “In the beginning God …” (Genesis 1:1). Time, “the beginning,” was caused by God. The reader will note that nothing is presented before God, the Cause. God is the “uncaused Cause,” and the Scripture’s presentation of nothing prior to God expresses His eternal nature, His infiniteness. His eternal existence is the only reasonable and logical response to an infinite series of causes and effects. God is no accident. He is and always has been and ever will be. He is the eternal “I AM THAT I AM” (Exodus 3:14). John identifies Jesus as the eternal Creator (John 1:1-3), and later records the Lord’s self-identification as the Eternal One: “I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end” (Revelation 1:18; 21:6), “I am Alpha and Omega, the first and the last” (Revelation 1:11), “I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end, the first and the last” (Revelation 22:13). He is the One, the initial Cause that started it all. Before Him nothing else existed.

Our universe is no accident; it had a cause – God the Creator. Our world, our earth, is no accident; it had a cause – God the Creator. You and I are no accidents. We have a Creator that fashioned us in His own image (Genesis 1:27), and loved us enough to give us the choice to accept or reject Him. Either choice produces eternal effects. If we choose to reject Him, that decision is eternal. If we choose to accept Him, that decision is eternal. The choice is no accident.

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Not Passed On In The Genes

genetic-battle

And Solomon did evil in the sight of the LORD, and went not fully after the LORD, as did David his father. (1 Kings 11:6)

I have heard the lament of many good Christian parents who did all they knew to do to “bring [their children] up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord” (Ephesians 6:4) only to have them walk away from the faith as adults. This is nothing new, and the Bible offers examples from which we can take comfort.

Israel had no greater king than David. Although the Bible makes no effort to hide David’s imperfections, it does make one claim that defines David’s overall character. David was a man after God’s own heart (Acts 13:22). With all of his flaws, David’s greatest desire was to please God. “As the hart panteth after the water brooks, so panteth my soul after thee, O God. My soul thirsteth for God, for the living God: when shall I come and appear before God?” (Psalm 43:1-3).

One would think that kind of love for God would be reflected in his children, but the record shows that David’s children did not share the same devotion.  Amnon, David’s first-born son by Ahinoam’s (2 Samuel 3:2) loved (actually lusted after) his half-sister Tamar so much that he raped her (2 Samuel 13). Tamar was Absalom’s sister by Maacah. When Absalom (his name means “Father of Peace”) heard of Amnon’s deed, he waited for a time to see if his father, David would take any action. When that did not happen, Absalom acted on his own accord and had his older half-brother murdered. After two years of self-exile, he was allowed to return to Jerusalem, but David refused to see him. This caused Absalom to rebel against his father and incite a coup to overthrow the king. David fled for his life, and the rebellion was finally quelled with the slaying of Absalom, much to David’s regret. All of this illustrates the point that children do not automatically inherit the parent’s zeal for God. Some may blame David for being an inattentive father. Some may attempt to excuse him; after all, he had a kingdom to manage. But the Bible is clear, God holds every individual responsible for his own actions.

Another illustration of this truth shows up in David’s successor, Solomon, supposedly the wisest of all Israel’s kings. But a close inspection of the Biblical record reveals a different story. At the beginning, Solomon started out on the right track. On his ascendancy, David charged his son, “I go the way of all the earth: be thou strong therefore, and shew thyself a man; And keep the charge of the LORD thy God, to walk in his ways, to keep his statutes, and his commandments, and his judgments, and his testimonies, as it is written in the law of Moses, that thou mayest prosper in all that thou doest, and whithersoever thou turnest thyself (1 Kings 2:2-3, emphasis mine). Early in his reign, Solomon honored his father’s admonition. “And Solomon loved the LORD, walking in the statutes of David his father” (1 Kings 3:3) so much so that when God offered him anything he wished, he asked for wisdom to rule God’s people (1 Kings 3:5-13). God granted him not only wisdom, but wealth and fame.

Solomon used his God-given gifts to build the Temple, purportedly the envy of the known world. Solomon built up the kingdom and extended it borders, and God granted him peace throughout his realm. “So king Solomon exceeded all the kings of the earth for riches and for wisdom. And all the earth sought to Solomon, to hear his wisdom, which God had put in his heart” (1 Kings 10:23-24, emphasis mine). However, not long after the Temple construction dust settled, Solomon’s love for God waned, replaced by a love for something else. “But king Solomon loved many strange women, together with the daughter of Pharaoh, women of the Moabites, Ammonites, Edomites, Zidonians, and Hittites; Of the nations concerning which the LORD said unto the children of Israel, Ye shall not go in to them, neither shall they come in unto you: for surely they will turn away your heart after their gods: Solomon clave unto these in love” (1 Kings 11:1-2. emphasis mine). These “strange” women were not of Israelite stock. Solomon violated God’s prohibition against marrying “foreign” women, not because God is “racist,” (He’s not; He created all nations of one blood- Acts 17:26), but for “religious” reasons. These women all worshiped demonic gods, and God knew they would negatively influence His people. “For it came to pass, when Solomon was old, that his wives turned away his heart after other gods: and his heart was not perfect with the LORD his God, as was the heart of David his father. For Solomon went after Ashtoreth the goddess of the Zidonians, and after Milcom the abomination of the Ammonites” (1 Kings 11:4-5). What happened to Solomon? Did he not have a great example in his father David?

Yet, hope remains. Solomon is known for his many proverbs and sayings. It is said that Solomon “spake three thousand proverbs” (1 Kings 4:32), only a fraction of which survived as recorded in the Book of Proverbs. Near the end of his life, perhaps he regained some of his wisdom, which he tried to pass on to the son who would succeed him, Rehoboam. Proverbs 1-9 record Solomon’s words of advice to his son where he admonishes his son to seek “wisdom.” Imagine that! The Biblical record is clear that his son ignored his father’s counsel, which resulted in splitting the kingdom. That Solomon returned to his “first love” at the end of his life comes through in the Book of Ecclesiastes, “probably [written] in his old age, as he was looking back on the happy early years of his reign and regretting his tragic failures in his later years.”[1] The tone seems rather pessimistic, which results from man’s quest to fill one’s life through material and/or sensual means. In the end, Solomon reveals the true source of joy and satisfaction. “Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter: Fear God, and keep his commandments: for this is the whole duty of man” (Ecclesiastes 12:13).

Having experienced my own children walking away from God, I can only sympathize with those experiencing the same thing.  I can relate to all the second guessing that goes on in the hearts and minds of such parents. They wonder where they failed, where they went wrong, what they could have done differently. Parents, regardless of the heartache we endure over our lost children, we must realize that God does not hold us responsible for the actions of our children after they are on their own.  “The soul that sinneth, it shall die. The son shall not bear the iniquity of the father, neither shall the father bear the iniquity of the son: the righteousness of the righteous shall be upon him, and the wickedness of the wicked shall be upon him” (Ezekiel 18:20, emphasis mine). It works both ways. I have also known many good Christians that had wicked parents. God holds each individual responsible. We can only hope and pray that, like Solomon, one day they will see the vanity of their lives, and return to the God of their fathers. Only God can change the heart. Salvation is not passed on in the genes.

Notes:


[1]  Henry M. Morris, Ph.D., The Henry Morris Study Bible, (Master Books, Green Forest, AR, 2012), 985.

Post Script:

By Dr. James J.S. Johnson

  1. Perfect example in a well-known Christian family, the son of 2 very godly parents, Francis & Edith Schaeffer, is Franky Schaeffer, a vile & blasphemous apostate Christian-hater – total opposite of his parents; in fact, the true “heir” to the Schaeffer ministry is Fran & Edith’s son-in-law, Udo Middelmann  —  see  www.theschaefferfoundation.com/bios_francis_a_schaeffer_foundation.php .
  2. A less famous example is a less-well-known (yet very godly) couple, Ian & Ginny McLaren, whose vile & blasphemous apostate son is emergent-church “prophet” Brian McLaren.
  3. But my 3rd post-script is the reverse – my own father was an apostate clergyman who spent huge amounts of energy denigrating the Holy Bible – yet, by God’s grace, I rejected his blasphemy.

No one can blame their parents, or get into Heaven on their parents’ coattails.  God has no “grandchildren” – He is the Heavenly Father (not grandfather) of the redeemed; Satan is father of the lost.

><> JJSJ

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AMEN!

amen-with-man

And unto the angel of the church of the Laodiceans write; These things saith the Amen, the faithful and true witness, the beginning of the creation of God; (Revelation 3:14)

AMEN! It’s a common interjection often expressed to show agreement or approval and often without knowledge of what the word means. Can I get an AMEN!

The word can be either an interjection, an adverb, or a noun. Dictionary.Com defines it like this: as an interjection, “it is so; so be it (used after a prayer, creed, or other formal statement to express solemn ratification or agreement;” as an adverb, “verily; truly.” and as a noun, “an utterance of the interjection ‘amen.’” The 1828 Noah Webster’s Dictionary defines it as follows:

AMEN‘. This word, with slight differences or orthography, is in all the dialects of the Assyrian stock. As a verb, it signifies to confirm, establish, verify; to trust, or give confidence; as a noun, truth, firmness, trust, confidence; as an adjective, firm, stable. In English, after the oriental manner, it is used at the beginning, but more generally at the end of declarations and prayers, in the sense of, be it firm, be it established.

For the best understanding of the word, we need to look to its origins in the Bible. We find the first use of the word in Numbers 5:22. In context, a woman is brought before the high priest for suspicion of adultery by her husband who has the “spirit of jealousy.” The priest would make a concoction of “holy water” and dust from the floor of the tabernacle, and he would make the woman drink it with the understanding that if she is guilty, the truth will manifest physically in her body. “And this water that causeth the curse shall go into thy bowels, to make thy belly to swell, and thy thigh to rot: And the woman shall say, Amen, amen” (Numbers 5:22, emphasis mine). “Amen,” in English, is a transliteration of the Hebrew ‘âmên (Imagine that!). Strong’s Dictionary defines it thus: “sure; abstractly faithfulness; adverbially truly: – Amen, so be it, truth.” In this case, the woman would be expressing complete agreement with the test as indicated by the repetition of the amen – “so be it, so be it”

Deuteronomy 27 presents a long list of curses for violating the laws of God to which all the people must express agreement with an “Amen.” The next time we find AMEN in the Bible is in 1 Kings 1, where King David establishes his son, Solomon, as his successor. He calls for Zadok the priest, Nathan the prophet and Benaiah the son of Jehoiada, Solomon’s future top military officer, to witness the king’s transfer of power. “And Benaiah the son of Jehoiada answered the king, and said, Amen: the LORD God of my lord the king say so too” (1 Kings 1:36, emphasis mine). In this case Benaiah affirmed the king’s decree: “it is so” or “let it be so.”

First Chronicles 16 records the time when David brought the Ark to Jerusalem (after the incident with Uzzah recorded in 2 Samuel 6). Beginning with verse 8, the account recounts a psalm of David which is later repeated in Psalms 105:1-15; 96:1-13; and 106: 1, 47-48, and ends with: “Blessed be the LORD God of Israel for ever and ever. And all the people said, Amen, and praised the LORD” (1 Chronicles 16:36, emphasis mine). Here, not only do the people agree, but they also affirm the truth of the statement. Their acknowledgement of the truth of the statement prompts them to praise the Lord.

Another example of acknowledging the truth of a statement appears in Nehemiah, the eighth chapter. Historically this took place after the return of the Jews from Babylonian captivity where Nehemiah was tasked with restoring the bulwarks of Jerusalem, while Ezra, the priest, rebuilt the Temple. The walls were completed in the sixth month, and the following month, on Rosh Hashanah, the long neglected Torah was presented to Ezra. “And Ezra opened the book in the sight of all the people; (for he was above all the people;) and when he opened it, all the people stood up: And Ezra blessed the LORD, the great God. And all the people answered, Amen, Amen, with lifting up their hands: and they bowed their heads, and worshipped the LORD with their faces to the ground” (Nehemiah 8:5-6, emphasis mine). Notice that at this point the Torah – “the book of the law of Moses” (v. 1) – had not been read. The double affirmation was to the statement “the LORD, the great God” – Yahweh ha’ĕlôhı̂ym hagâdôl. “Tis true, tis true,” they exclaimed, and with hands lifted “they bowed their heads, and worshipped the LORD with their faces to the ground.” The record states that the people “stood” (v. 5) from morning until midday (v. 3) to listen to the reading. Ezra stood on a platform – a pulpit – and “the Levites, caused the people to understand the law: and the people stood in their place” (Nehemiah 8:7). The returning Jews had been captive in Babylon for 70 years and had for the most part forgotten the Hebrew language. They were more familiar with the language of Babylon – Aramaic. “So they read in the book in the law of God distinctly, and gave the sense, and caused them to understand the reading” (Nehemiah 8:8, emphasis mine). That is something every good Bible teacher must be careful to do. “Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth” (2 Timothy 2:15).

AMEN appears in only four psalms: Psalm 41:13; 72:19; 89:52; and 106:48. In each psalm, the Amen affirms the eternal nature of God. In the prophets, only Jeremiah uses the word once. In this instance, God promised the return of Judah from Babylonian captivity in two years. “Even the prophet Jeremiah said, Amen: the LORD do so: the LORD perform thy words which thou hast prophesied, to bring again the vessels of the LORD’S house, and all that is carried away captive, from Babylon into this place” (Jeremiah 28:6, emphasis mine). Here “Amen” expresses the desire that God will perform His will – “let it be so.”

The New Testament takes the Hebrew “‘âmên” and transliterates it into the Greek “amēn,” but the meaning is the same. So, we can see that when we say “amen” in English, we are really speaking Hebrew. However, the proper pronunciation sounds more like “ah-men” rather than “ay-men” as pronounced in Texanese.

The King James translators of the New Testament (NT) made a distinction between the interjection (“it is so” or “so be it”) and the adverb (“verily, truly”). The word appears the same in the Greek, but the translators rendered it differently in the NT as either “Amen” or “Verily.” The distinction is especially important when Jesus speaks. Being God, anything Jesus says is truth, but when He takes the extra effort to emphasize a statement with “Verily, verily,” we need to pay extra heed to His words. What does Jesus mean when He says, “For verily I say unto you, Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled” (Matthew 5:18, emphasis mine)? The “jot” is the smallest Hebrew letter yod (י) and the “tittle” is the smallest mark that distinguishes two similar looking letters like the Dalet (ד) and the Resh (ר). To that extent, Jesus says “Truly” He will preserve His Word. Those who like to criticize the Bible and say “this does not belong” or “this must be added” should consider Jesus’ “true” words. The psalmist said, “I will worship toward thy holy temple, and praise thy name for thy lovingkindness and for thy truth: for thou hast magnified thy word above all thy name” (Psalm 138:2, emphasis mine). Since God has such high regard for His Word, how much more should we take care to handle His Word rightly!

When Jesus says “verily” once, it is worthy of close attention, but when He repeats it twice, it is worthy of double attention. It is interesting that in all of the Gospels, only John, who identifies Jesus as the “Word” and as God, records the double stress on “verily.” Twenty-five times John records Jesus saying, “Verily, verily, I say unto you.” A good point to note is that Jesus never said, “Thus saith the Lord.” He spoke by His own authority as the Lord. In response to Nathaniel’s acknowledgment that “thou art the Son of God; thou art the King of Israel” (John 1:49),  Jesus answered, “Verily, verily [Amen, amen], I say unto you, Hereafter ye shall see heaven open, and the angels of God ascending and descending upon the Son of man” (John 1:51, emphasis mine). Commentators vary on what Jesus meant by this statement, but to me it seems that Jesus was talking about His second coming when He will “truly, truly” be the King of Israel.

To Nicodemus, “Jesus answered and said unto him, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God” (John 3:3, emphasis mine). To us all, Jesus says, “Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that heareth my word, and believeth on him that sent me, hath everlasting life, and shall not come into condemnation; but is passed from death unto life. Verily, verily, I say unto you, The hour is coming, and now is, when the dead shall hear the voice of the Son of God: and they that hear shall live.” (John 5:24-25, emphasis mine). That makes me want to shout, “Hallelujah! Amen, amen! It’s true; it’s true!” Again Jesus says, “Verily, verily [Truly, truly], I say unto you, He that believeth on me hath everlasting life” (John 6:47, emphasis mine). Yet again Jesus says, “Verily, verily [Amen, amen], I say unto you, If a man keep my saying, he shall never see death” (John 8:51, emphasis mine).

In the final book of the Bible, Jesus refers to Himself as “the Amen, the faithful and true witness, the beginning of the creation of God” (Revelation 3:14, emphasis, mine). He is the final affirmation, the ultimate truth. AMEN!

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Thees, Thous, and Wot Nots

AV-1611

He said unto him, What is written in the law? how readest thou? (Luke 10:26)

One of most common complaints or criticisms I hear about the King James Version of the Bible (KJV) is that Elizabethan English is just too difficult to understand. I even heard one well-known preacher declare from the pulpit that the KJV was just a “stupid translation.” That is a rather sad pronouncement coming from a supposedly well-educated cleric. I suggest that such comments demonstrate the reader’s educational privation rather than a problem with the KJV.

The KJV is the first English translation I ever owned, and I do not recall ever having a problem understanding it even in elementary school. Now, I will admit that reading it aloud presented problems in vocalizing the archaic language, but that did not impair my understanding of it. However, to be precise, The KJV is not truly Elizabethan English. It can better be described as “biblical” English. At the time of the KJV translation (1611) no one used thee, thou, thine or ye in common English. If you read Shakespeare, you will not find these words used, only “you” or “yours.”

So, what is up with the unusual language? The KJV translators wanted to convey the original Hebrew and Greek as accurately and literally as possible.

They were so concerned about it that they even took over the very phraseology of the Hebrew and Greek. We find in our [KJV] Bibles, all kinds of Hebrew expressions and concepts that are not natural to the English way of speaking. In fact, it can even be said that the English of the King James Version is not the English of the 17th century, nor of any century. It is an English that is unique, for it is Biblical English-an English formed by the Hebrew and Greek of the Bible. It is Biblical English because the translators were more interested in being faithful to the originals than in making their translation in the street language of the day

That they sought an accurate translation is further indicated by the fact that they italicized every word that did not have a corresponding word in the original … Moreover, to insure the fact that the reader understands the meaning of certain original words, they added 4,223 marginal notes that gave the literal meaning of the original words, and 2,738 notes with alternate translations. The result is that in the King James Version we have an accurate translation that puts the others to shame.[1] (Emphasis mine)

One writer noted that, “Our culture doesn’t think like this today. I believe it is a problem when we start talking about translations that we are so obsessed with the ease for men, rather than translating the Bible in a respectful, elevating fashion out of reverence for God.”[2] I suggest that “our culture” has become lazy when dealing with the Word of God. Paul in writing to Timothy exhorts his protégé to “Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth” (2 Timothy 2:15). The Greek word translated “study” is spoudazō which means to be “diligent,” to “make an effort, endeavor, labor.” One is not supposed to read the Bible as one does a dime store novel. It demands one’s full attention, and thought. It must engage one’s mind fully. One must meditate on the Word and wrestle with those things that seem difficult to understand.

The verse I just quoted, 2 Timothy 2:15, uses the archaic word “shew.” That stumps many modern readers, but why? Most modern dictionaries still list the word. In fact, one can go on the internet to Dictionary.com to find the definition. It simply means “show.” How hard is that? One of my favorite old English words is “wot.” It is only used ten times in the KJV, so even there it is rare. The first time it is used is in Genesis 21:26: “And Abimelech said, I wot not who hath done this thing: neither didst thou tell me, neither yet heard I of it, but to day” (emphasis mine). Wot does that mean? (Pardon the pun.) Again, the word is still listed in modern dictionaries. Here is the definition from Dictionary.com: “first and third person singular present of wit,” or “to know.” So, in our previous verse, we can substitute “know” for “wot” and it would read: “And Abimelech said, I know not who hath done this thing…” Once we know that, we should no longer have a problem with it.

Present tense verbs that end in “th” in the KJV cause some people grief, but these too have an easy fix. In most cases, all one need do is substitute “s” for the “th.” The first such occurrence appears in Genesis 1:20: “And God said, Let the waters bring forth abundantly the moving creature that hath life, and fowl that may fly above the earth in the open firmament of heaven” (emphasis mine). Take the present tense verb “hath” and substitute “s” for “th” and you have the modern English verb “has.” There is nothing difficult about this. Again, one can still find the old spelling in modern dictionaries. With a little “study” these “roadblocks” can be smoothed out.

One of the things I like best about the biblical English employed by the KJV is the distinction made between the singular and plural form of the second person pronoun. In modern English (and, by the way, in Elizabethan English) the second person pronoun is “you” whether singular or plural. That is not so in the biblical English of the KJV. The reason for this is that the original languages, Hebrew and Greek, make the distinction. In writing about this, Dr. Henry M. Morris said, “[We] forget that “thee,” “thou,” and “thine” were used to express the second person singular, with “you,” “ye,” and “yours” reserved for second person plural. Today we use “you” indiscriminately for both singular and plural, thereby missing the precise meaning of many texts of Scripture.”[3] The first example of the second person singular is found in Genesis 2:16: “And the LORD God commanded the man, saying, “Of every tree of the garden thou mayest freely eat” (emphasis mine). This is significant to know, because here God was speaking directly to Adam – ONLY. Eve had not been created at this point. Why is that important? Because in Genesis 3:1-6 we see Satan attack the one who had received the command indirectly – Eve. God did not give the command to both Adam and Eve, although it was meant for both; He gave the command directly to Adam – singular. We then see the first occurrence of “ye” in Genesis 3:1: “Now the serpent was more subtil than any beast of the field which the LORD God had made. And he said unto the woman, Yea, hath God said, Ye shall not eat of every tree of the garden?” (Emphasis mine). When Satan approaches Eve, he knows about the commandment God gave and he knows that the commandment applied to both of them, so we see the plural form of the second person pronoun – ye.

Now, when the reader knows this, the reader’s understanding of Scripture increases. Some may argue that that in modern English, context will determine whether the second person pronoun is singular or plural, but that is not always the case in Scripture. For example, as one reads on, one will find that sometimes the “nation” of Israel is addressed in the singular (using thee, thou, thine), and sometimes it is addressed in the plural (using, ye, you, yours). Understanding the biblical English provides the insight to know whether God is addressing the nation as a unit or as individuals. This is important because God deals with nations as a whole, and He also deals with the individuals that make up a nation. So, “thee” or “ye” makes a big difference in understanding Scripture that most modern Bible translations ignore.

The beautiful prose of the King James is a treasure which should not be lost. It has been acclaimed widely as the greatest example of English literature ever written. Apart from a few archaic words which can be easily clarified in footnotes, it is as easy to understand today as it was four hundred years ago. This is why the common people today still use and love it. It is the “intelligentsia” who tend to favor the modern versions. The King James uses mostly one and two-syllable words, and formal studies have always shown its readability index to be 10th grade or lower.[4]

Many years ago, someone convinced me that the New American Standard Bible (NASB) was the best literal translation. Today the same is said of the English Standard Version (ESV). I concur that those are good translations. I also agree with the one who said, “The best translation is the one you will read.” Besides the points presented here in defense of the KJV, there are many other good reasons to prefer the KJV over all other translations. Dr. Henry M. Morris offers a fair analysis of several modern translations and presents his reasons for preferring the KJV in an article entitled “Should Creationists Abandon the King James Version?” listed in the end notes below. I would encourage the readers to read and consider what Dr. Morris has to say. It convinced me to once again take up the good old King James Bible. Once again, the best translation is the one you will read, and as my good friend, Dr. James J.S. Johnson, often repeats, “The worst translation is the ‘Closed’ Bible.”

Notes:


[1]  Seven Houck, “The King James Version of the Bible,”  http://www.prca.org/pamphlets/pamphlet_9.html#translat

[2]  Kent Brandenburg, “King James Version: Elizabethan English?” http://kentbrandenburg.blogspot.com/2009/10/king-james-version-elizabethan-english.html

[3]  Henry M. Morris, Ph.D., “Should Creationists Abandon The King James Version?” http://www.icr.org/article/should-creationists-abandon-king-james-version

[4]  Ibid.

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