Category Archives: Religion

Rise And Shine

Arise, shine; for thy light is come, and the glory of the LORD is risen upon thee.  (Isaiah 60:1)

This verse always evokes memories of my mother rousting me out of bed for school on cold winter mornings with these encouraging words from Scripture, but these words are more than motivators for facing a new day.  On this eve of Rosh Hashanah, (September 16, 2012), they indeed offer hope for the coming Kingdom of God.

The command is given to “arise” in preparation to move forward as when God commanded Joshua: “Moses my servant is dead; now therefore arise, go over this Jordan, thou, and all this people, unto the land which I do give to them, even to the children of Israel” (Joshua 1:2).  The children of Israel had lost the only leader they had ever known, and now Joshua had some pretty big sandals to fill as the new leader of Israel.  What lay ahead was filled with uncertainty.  His only strength and sense of security was based solely on the promise of God.

Gideon was given a similar command:  “And it came to pass the same night, that the LORD said unto him, Arise, get thee down unto the host; for I have delivered it into thine hand” (Judges 7:9).  Gideon was not a warrior.  In fact, when our Lord first called upon him and said, “The LORD is with thee, thou mighty man of valour” (Judges 6:12), Gideon was threshing wheat in a winepress, hiding from the Midianites.  I can imagine Gideon looking around and saying, “Who? Me?”  Yet, through a series of tests, Gideon learned to trust God’s leading, and, with just a small handful of men, defeat the Midianites who had been oppressing his people.

Sometimes the battle is spiritual:  “But the angel of the LORD said to Elijah the Tishbite, Arise, go up to meet the messengers of the king of Samaria, and say unto them, Is it not because there is not a God in Israel, that ye go to inquire of Baal-zebub the god of Ekron? (2 Kings 1:3).  Speaking truth in a hostile environment is never easy, yet the boldness to do so came not from within Elijah, but from his dependence on God.

In these days, we are seeing a growing antagonism toward Christians, and it only promises to get worse, as the days of His return draw ever closer.  Whatever the call, we are instructed to “shine” as luminaries in the darkness that covers all the earth  (Isaiah 60:2)  “And they that be wise shall shine as the brightness of the firmament; and they that turn many to righteousness as the stars for ever and ever” (Daniel 12:3).  We can shine “for [our] light has come.”  We shine not in our own strength, “but the LORD shall arise upon thee, and his glory shall be seen upon thee” (v. 2).  The promise is not futuristic; it is present:  “the glory of the LORD is [now, in the present] risen upon thee.”  So, rise and shine!

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Parts Is Not Parts

For the body is not one member, but many. (1 Corinthians 12:14)

Back in the ’80s, the Wendy’s ® fast-food chain offered the anti-slogan, “Parts is parts” for their chicken sandwich. The slogan sent the message that all other chicken vendors used chicken parts indiscriminately in their processed chicken sandwiches, while Wendy’s ® only used the very best parts. One commercial had the customer questioning the content of the chicken and the attendant explaining that they used different parts of the chicken, and after all, “parts is parts.”[1]

Obviously, the parts do matter when ordering a chicken sandwich. One expects to get a tender chicken breast fillet in one’s chicken sandwich, and not an amalgamation of assorted chicken parts like the liver, gizzard, heart, skin, eyes, combs, intestines, etc. “Parts is parts,” but not all parts are suitable for consumption – at least, not in our minds.

Paul offered a similar idea in his first epistle to the Corinthians.[2] He compared the Church to our physical bodies. Our bodies are made up of large body parts that are readily observable – head, eyes, ears, nose, mouth, neck, shoulders, arms, hands, fingers, legs, feet, toes, etc. We also have literally trillions of microscopic parts beneath the skin that play major roles in keeping us alive – our cardio-vascular system, respiratory system, digestive system, endocrine system, neurological system, skeletal system, etc. All of these parts serve their own functions and are vital to our lives, even those that are not seen. Paul points out the obvious. We cannot exist as a hand alone, or a foot alone, or an eye alone, or an ear alone. We need all of our parts functioning harmoniously in union performing their individual roles as part of the whole body.

Apparently, from the tone of Paul’s letter, the Corinthians were having trouble in this department (and others as well). The Church functions as one body comprised of many members (parts). He sums this idea up like this, “Now ye are the body of Christ, and members in particular” (1 Corinthians 12:27). Each member of the body is “particular.” “Particular” translates the Greek word, meros, which means “one of the constituent parts of a whole.”[3]

Like the human body, the “Body of Christ,” the Church, has many members and each member serves a unique purpose in the body. We cannot all be preachers. We cannot all teach, or sing, or play musical instruments, but we all have a purpose. There are needed tasks in the church that seem “menial,” but serve a great need in the church – caring for children in the nursery, keeping the morning coffee going before services, greeting people as they come in the door, or just smiling and saying “Hi” to one another. Every member is important to the Body of Christ, and there is not one function that is more or less important than another. “Parts is NOT parts” The parts are all one in Christ, but we all serve our own unique, God-given purpose.

Reader, Jesus is coming soon. Are you prepared to meet Him? If you are not a member of His body, you will miss Him when He comes. Don’t do that! Please read my page on “Securing Eternal Life.”

Notes:


[1]  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=y_oem9BqUTI

[2]  1 Corinthians 12

[3]  Definition from Thayer’s Greek Definitions, (Published in 1886, 1889; public domain).

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Time Confusion

Time Spiral

Where wast thou when I laid the foundations of the earth? declare, if thou hast understanding. (Job 38:4)

“Yea, hath God said” (Genesis 3:1) remains Satan’s first line of attack on the Word of God, so it is not surprising when I get questions like the following:

I know that you believe in a young earth, but it seems to me God was around before He did His creation of earth and us. The Bible says He framed the worlds! So my question is: how old is the universe, and how long ago before creation was it when the devil and his fallen angels were kicked out of heaven? I’m confused because it seems that the devil was in the Garden of Eden, so when did he arrive on earth?

The question stems from a very superficial understanding of Scripture. Note that the appeal to Scripture was taken out of context, quoted only in part, and then misapplied in much the same way as Satan did when he tempted Eve in the Garden of Eden.

So what does the Scripture really say? “Through faith we understand that the worlds were framed by the word of God, so that things which are seen were not made of things which do appear” (Hebrews 11:3). The Greek word translated “worlds” is aiōn, and it properly means “ages;” so this is not speaking of other planets, stars or galaxies, which were not created until Day Four of Creation (Genesis 1:14-19). The writer of the book of Hebrews referred to the predetermined “ages” in God’s plan from the beginning of Creation to the culmination in the New Heavens and the New Earth (Revelation 21:1).

God is eternal; He has no beginning and no end. God is not confined to time; He “created” time: “In the beginning” (Genesis 1:1), God started time; therefore He is not constrained by time. God says, “I AM THAT I AM” (Exodus 3:14) – the Self-existing One. God’s eternal nature is a difficult concept for us, who are bound by time, to fathom. Nothing existed before time except God. God existed before time in the measureless realm of “eternity,” and He will exist when time ends in eternity. God is present in the past, present and future all at once, but He has revealed Himself to us in time through His Creation, through His Word (the Holy Bible), and through The Word (Logos), Jesus Christ – God incarnate. These things, as Hebrews 11:3 says, must be accepted “through faith,” “But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him” (Hebrews 11:6).

 We should not worry, if we cannot understand everything about God. Some things we cannot possibly know, because they are beyond our ability to comprehend. “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). Through His Creation, His Word, and The WORD, God has revealed all that we need to know to have an effective relationship with Him.

 God created time “In the beginning” around 6000 years ago. The Bible does not explain exactly at what point in Creation God created Satan and the other angels, but we can infer from other passages in Scripture that it was early enough in the six-day creation week that they witnessed Creation. For example, in God’s response to Job we read, “Where wast thou when I laid the foundations of the earth? … When the morning stars sang together, and all the sons of God shouted for joy?” (Job 38:4, 7). “Morning stars” and “sons of God” are metonyms often used in the Old Testament to refer to angels. From that, we can infer that Satan was created before Day Six on which day man was created, and he had free access to the Garden of Eden.

For other articles about God’s eternal nature and the creation of Satan see the following:

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

“Time for Pride to Grow” https://erniecarrasco.com/2013/12/01/time-for-pride-to-grow/

“How Art Thou Fallen” https://erniecarrasco.com/2014/05/04/how-art-thou-fallen/

“Why Satan?” https://erniecarrasco.com/2014/11/02/why-satan/

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Babylon

The Ishtar Gate of ancient Babylon

And Babylon, the glory of kingdoms, the beauty of the Chaldees’ excellency, shall be as when God overthrew Sodom and Gomorrah. It shall never be inhabited, neither shall it be dwelt in from generation to generation: neither shall the Arabian pitch tent there; neither shall the shepherds make their fold there. But wild beasts of the desert shall lie there; and their houses shall be full of doleful creatures; and owls shall dwell there, and satyrs shall dance there. And the wild beasts of the islands shall cry in their desolate houses, and dragons in their pleasant palaces: and her time is near to come, and her days shall not be prolonged. (Isaiah 13:19-22)

Babylon appears 294 times in the King James Bible. The first reference can be found in Second Kings. “And the king of Assyria brought men from Babylon, and from Cuthah, and from Ava, and from Hamath, and from Sepharvaim, and placed them in the cities of Samaria instead of the children of Israel: and they possessed Samaria, and dwelt in the cities thereof” (2 Kings 17:24). This citation refers to the time when the Assyrians conquered the northern kingdom of Israel. Babylon had not yet ascended to power. However, the history of Babylon goes all the way back to Genesis after the flood when the people rebelled against God by refusing to “fill the earth” as God had commanded. Instead, they congregated in one place and built a tower to worship the heavens. God overruled their plans, confused their language, and scattered them all over the earth as He willed.[1] “So the LORD scattered them abroad from thence upon the face of all the earth: and they left off to build the city. Therefore is the name of it called Babel; because the LORD did there confound the language of all the earth: and from thence did the LORD scatter them abroad upon the face of all the earth” (Genesis 11:8-9).

“Babylon was initially a minor city-state, and controlled little surrounding territory; its first four Amorite rulers did not assume the title of king. The older and more powerful states of Assyria, Elam, Isin, and Larsa overshadowed Babylon until it became the capital of Hammurabi’s short-lived empire about a century later … After the reign of Hammurabi, the whole of southern Mesopotamia came to be known as Babylonia, whereas the north had already coalesced centuries before into Assyria.”[2] After this, Babylon diminished into a weak city-state until Nebopolassar came into power. “Under Nabopolassar, a previously Chaldean King, Babylon escaped Assyrian rule, and in an alliance with Cyaxares, king of the Medes who was his son in law together with Cimmerians, finally destroyed the Assyrian Empire between 612 BC and 605 BC. Babylon thus became the capital of the Neo-Babylonian (sometimes called the Chaldean) Empire. With the recovery of Babylonian independence, a new era of architectural activity ensued, particularly during the reign of his son Nebuchadnezzar II (604–561 BC).”[3]

As students of the Bible, this last name rings a bell. We are familiar with the biblical accounts of the conquest of Judah and Jerusalem and the demise of the Babylonian Empire by the Medes and the Persians. Prophecies concerning Babylon call for its utter destruction as in our passage above (Isaiah 13:19-22). Consider the following verses from the Prophet Jeremiah.

Because of the wrath of the LORD it shall not be inhabited, but it shall be wholly desolate: every one that goeth by Babylon shall be astonished, and hiss at all her plagues. (Jeremiah 50:13)

As God overthrew Sodom and Gomorrah and the neighbour cities thereof, saith the LORD; so shall no man abide there, neither shall any son of man dwell therein. (Jeremiah 50:40)

And I will render unto Babylon and to all the inhabitants of Chaldea all their evil that they have done in Zion in your sight, saith the LORD. Behold, I am against thee, O destroying mountain, saith the LORD, which destroyest all the earth: and I will stretch out mine hand upon thee, and roll thee down from the rocks, and will make thee a burnt mountain. And they shall not take of thee a stone for a corner, nor a stone for foundations; but thou shalt be desolate for ever, saith the LORD. (Jeremiah 51:24-26)

And Babylon shall become heaps, a dwellingplace for dragons, an astonishment, and an hissing, without an inhabitant. (Jeremiah 51:37)

How is Sheshach taken! and how is the praise of the whole earth surprised! how is Babylon become an astonishment among the nations! The sea is come up upon Babylon: she is covered with the multitude of the waves thereof. Her cities are a desolation, a dry land, and a wilderness, a land wherein no man dwelleth, neither doth any son of man pass thereby. (Jeremiah 51:41-43)

And thou shalt say, Thus shall Babylon sink, and shall not rise from the evil that I will bring upon her: and they shall be weary. Thus far are the words of Jeremiah. (Jeremiah 51:64)

The book of Revelation also speaks of the complete destruction of Babylon. “And the great city was divided into three parts, and the cities of the nations fell: and great Babylon came in remembrance before God, to give unto her the cup of the wine of the fierceness of his wrath” (Revelation 16:19). “And after these things I saw another angel come down from heaven, having great power; and the earth was lightened with his glory. And he cried mightily with a strong voice, saying, Babylon the great is fallen, is fallen, and is become the habitation of devils, and the hold of every foul spirit, and a cage of every unclean and hateful bird.” (Revelation 18:1-2).

Babylon exists today, albeit not as a city of great significance. The rebuilding of the Ishtar Gate and the archeology taking place there make it more of a destination for curiosity seekers. “By 1905, there were several villages in Babylon, one of which was Qwaresh with about 200 households located within the boundaries of the ancient inner city walls. The village grew due to the need for laborers during the German Oriental Society excavations (1899-1917) … On 5 July 2019, the site of Babylon was inscribed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Thousands of people reside in Babylon within the perimeter of the ancient outer city walls, and communities in and around them are ‘rapidly developing from compact, dense settlements to sprawling suburbia despite laws restricting constructions’.”[4]

Obviously, the prophecies of the total destruction of Babylon have not come to pass. Since God cannot lie,[5] these prophecies must yet be future. However, there are some end-times prophecy teachers that teach that the Babylon referred to in Revelation is symbolic of false religion that has its roots in Babylon. They also teach that John employed coded language to refer to the Roman Empire as Peter did in his letters. “The church that is at Babylon, elected together with you, saluteth you; and so doth Marcus my son” (1 Peter 5:13). However, there are many that take deference to that saying that Peter was referring to an actual church in literal Babylon.

It’s hard to say. It may be that John was referring to Rome when he referred to Babylon. Christians experienced much persecution under Rome and perhaps this was John’s way of obscuring the meaning in case the letter was intercepted by Roman authorities. That is not beyond possibility. However, there is still the fact that the real, physical Babylon still exists, and it has not been made “a land wherein no man dwelleth, neither doth any son of man pass thereby” (Jeremiah 51:43). It is also not beyond the realm of possibility that Antichrist could indeed set up his headquarters there. There is a population there. There is infrastructure. It does not need to be a “show place” for him to operate from there. For that reason, I lean toward the actual Babylon being the center of Antichrist’s government. That is where false religion started, and that is where it will end when Christ returns. Then all the prophecies of its total destruction will be fulfilled.

Jesus is coming soon, and His reward is with Him. The signs for His appearing are increasing in intensity and frequency. Are you prepared to meet Him? If you do not know Jesus as your personal Lord and Savior, please read my page on “Securing Eternal Life.”

Notes:


[1]  Genesis 11:1-9

[2]  “Babylon” – https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Babylon

[3]  Ibid.

[4]  Ibid.

[5]  Numbers 23:19; Titus 1:2

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Is the Number of Stars Definite or Indefinite?

a2218_hstkelly

And he is before all things, and by him all things consist (Colossians 1:17)

Is the number of stars definite or indefinite? I recently posted that question my Facebook status, and I was completely unprepared for the firestorm of controversy that seemingly innocuous question would raise. The question, to me, seems simple enough. I have identified a subject – the number of stars – and offered an either-or response.

One person responding to the question suggested that the number of stars is indefinite. Certainly from man’s perspective that is true. There is no way for us to ever know the exact number of stars. There are billions of galaxies in our known universe, and each is composed of billions .of stars. Such numbers are staggering. And then there is that outside possibility that new stars are being “born” regularly. That has never been observed, and it is based solely on very questionable evolutionary theories – more on that later.

But from God’s perspective, the number of stars is definite. The psalmist says, “He telleth the number of the stars; he calleth them all by their names” (Psalm 147:4). The Hebrew word translated “telleth” (tells) is mânâh and it means to “weigh out, to allot, or to enumerate” and so could be translated as “to number.” By this we know that God keeps a complete inventory of the stars. He “calls” them – Hebrew qârâ’, which means “to call out to” or “to address” each individual star by name. Well, one might say, God could still be creating stars, and He would still know the number each time He creates a new one. That is also true. Jesus says that the very hairs of my head are numbered (Matthew 10:30). God knows exactly how many hairs on my head I started with, the maximum count I had at my zenith, the number of hairs I have lost and He knows my current count now. So, whether God has created new stars since the beginning of creation, or whether the number has remained static since creation, to God, the number is always definite.

One perceptive individual responded “Yes!” In other words, he was saying it’s both. I wrongly responded “No. It has to be one or the other.” But after thinking about it, he was more right than anyone, considering what I have just explained above. To man, the number is indefinite, but to God the number is definite.

But, as these “conversations” tend to go sometimes, it quickly degenerated into a discussion about whether God was still actively creating or not. Since the subject is “stars” I would suggest that the answer is no; God is not actively creating new stars, or anything else for that matter. I see all those red flags going up right now! Before you burn me at the stake as a heretic, hear me out. I base this on two very basic verses in Genesis. As we read the creation account in Genesis one, we see that at the end of almost every day, God’s assessment of the process was as that “it was good.” This is true of every day of creation except for the second day where earth was, for lack of a better term, a big mud ball; it wasn’t bad, but it wasn’t good enough to be called “good” by God. At any rate, we get the feeling that God was pleased with His creative work. Then when the sixth day of creation was completed “God saw every thing that he had made, and, behold, it was very good” (Genesis 1:31). “Very good” (Heb. ṭôb me‘ôd) meaning vehemently good. Such an assessment coming from a perfectly good Creator implies that it could not be made better than this; it cannot be improved upon. So, when God “made the stars also” (Genesis 1:15), the number of them was perfect by His assessment. Furthermore, we read in Genesis 2:2 that “on the seventh day God ended his work which he had made; and he rested on the seventh day from all his work which he had made.” That He “ended his work” translates the Hebrew word kâlâh, which means “to cease” or “to be finished.” This too seems to have a note of finality – it’s done! In addition to that, it says that “He rested.” God was not tired and in need of a break! The Hebrew word used here is shâbath, which also means to “desist from exertion.” What I get from this, is that when God finished His creative work, He set in motion the laws of physics and nature that maintain the current state of the universe in stasis. This is alluded to in our opening verse (Colossians 1:17): “by [Jesus] all things consist,” i.e., “hold together.” The Greek word translated “consist” is the compound word sunistaō from sun meaning together and histēmi meaning “to stand” or “to abide.” We see that it is God – Jesus – Who is keeping everything from flying apart! We see God’s promise to keep things together following the Flood. God promised, “While the earth remaineth, seedtime and harvest, and cold and heat, and summer and winter, and day and night shall not cease” (Genesis 8:22); in other words, things will continue as God designed.

There is a danger in seeing this from a deistic perspective and concluding that God, like a divine clock maker just got it all wound up and let it go without further involvement. That would be a very wrong conclusion considering the record of God’s involvement in the affairs of man that are contained in Scripture. Does this mean that God no longer creates? The answer is both yes and no. God is no longer creating the “stuff” of the universe; the first law of thermodynamics confirms that. But He has not stopped creating altogether. Each time a baby is conceived, God has created a whole new soul. God’s involvement in the development of a baby in the womb is beautifully described by the psalmist in Psalm 139:14-16:

I will praise thee; for I am fearfully and wonderfully made: marvellous are thy works; and that my soul knoweth right well.

My substance was not hid from thee, when I was made in secret, and curiously wrought in the lowest parts of the earth.

Thine eyes did see my substance, yet being unperfect; and in thy book all my members were written, which in continuance were fashioned, when as yet there was none of them.

Jesus performed creative acts during His earthly ministry. He turned water into wine (John 2:1-11).  He healed a boy of a fever by reversing the effect of the first law of thermodynamics (John 4:46-54). He healed a paralytic and restored the atrophied muscles to his legs (John 5:1-9). He fed the 5000 (men, not counting women and children) from just two fish and five buns (John 6:1-14). He walked on water suspending the laws of physics that would cause Him to sink (John 6:16-21). He healed a man who had been blind since birth (John 9:1-7). He raised Lazarus from the dead (John 11:1-44).  All these He did by just His word. And His greatest creation miracle of all is when He gives new life to the walking dead by the regeneration of the “new birth” (John 3:3; John 1:12; 2 Corinthians 5:17).

Not only does God continue to create in this way, but He will one day create a New Heaven and a New Earth (Revelation 21:1). But new stars, for now, I don’t think so.

For more on star creation listen to Ken Ham’s commentary on the subject: Star Formation – Can it Happen? Also, Answers in Genesis has a couple of short articles on the subject:

Classic Conundrum

Star Formation and Creation

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