Category: Romans



teeth

There are many questions that confront us regarding how the Bible and the natural sciences interact. We are inundated with Darwinian models of development for the complex forms of life we see around us. It is quite understandable, then, that the generally secular scientific field would eventually confront or clash with the Word of God. For the most part, the supernatural origins of life as revealed in the Holy Bible are at complete odds with the strict naturalism of the current scientific establishment. It is in this case that Christianity becomes more classically liberal than those in or adhering to today’s institutionalized scientific oligarchy, for the Christian realizes that some of the challenges brought forth by secular science are not ridiculous or absurd but should be applied to Scripture for an answer to any phenomenon which is used by science for its own ends, or to make the believer stumble. It is odd, but not surprising, that science makes this one of their manifest goals through the use of appeals to emotion, straw man arguments, and outright vicious attacks. Science doesn’t do this wholesale, but it is seen time and time again. The Christian is wise to not use similar means to reject their challenges, but weigh them based on that special revelation from God, His Word.

What led me to ponder this, in particular, was the evolutionary theory and the natural sciences which suggest that a shape of a creature’s teeth not only shows the diet of the animal but also, apparently, determines it. In this question, a conflict arose within me that if put in question form would ask, “If all creatures initially only ate from the fruit of the land then why the differences in tooth form? Would this not imply a great inequality of efficiency between species regarding their ability to feed and denote an imperfection within God’s design?” It should be noted that tooth form isn’t always indicative of a creatures’ diet, take the panda or fruit bat, for example, that have teeth like the carnivores (as well as other attributes), but aren’t strictly carnivores themselves. While tooth form cannot absolutely be assured to necessarily and correctly identify a creatures’ diet, there is a general rule here that cannot be denied.

pandateeth

The irony is not lost on me that in my studies I have confronted some very difficult issues, generally in the realm of philosophical apologetics, only to find myself, when embarking on scientific apologetics, to be tripped up by something as “simple” as tooth form. To address this issue, I believe we have to get rid of the idea that, near the origins of predation, a carnivore wouldn’t be able to eat at all if meat were not available. Even if predation was a later development, it doesn’t mean that a carnivore couldn’t have lived, for a time, off plant material. I am not addressing so much the physical need here, for I believe there are further biological imperatives which make meat consumption a necessity to some creatures, but rather I am more addressing the ability. To put it in another way, I grew up in a home with several cats and saw them grazing off grass often, which is apparently done in an effort to calm an upset stomach (makes you wonder where they got this knowledge from?), and their love for, and the effects of, catnip are plainly obvious. Further, livestock has been observed on occasion to consume rodents or scavenge off the dead.

catnip

When I was a child I visited a national park and witnessed someone feed a hot dog to a deer. The park ranger got quite irate with the person and told them that in doing so they threaten to shift the deer’s natural diet, which he said would have devastating consequences. One could argue about the exact meat contents of a hot dog, or indeed its contents in general, but that is beside the point. The real point is that just because something is less efficient, like a carnivore grazing, it doesn’t mean that it cannot do so at all. A cat doesn’t turn down its nip because it lacks tools to help it partake more efficiently. This is all very obvious, but I believe a near fully-developed presupposition to the contrary is at work here and is somewhat giving me difficulty, but perhaps further exploration into the biblical timeframe for carnivorism will help settle this matter and the conflicts I still feel are present.

hotdogmystery

 

In my short study of the origins of carnivorous behavior as it applies to the Bible, I found four possible viewpoints discussed. A) Pre—Fall of man, which denotes both death and animals eating other animals immediately after the creation, B) Post-Fall of man, which says that death came into the world only after the fall, and only then did creatures start consuming each other, C) Pre-Flood (in my mind the same as B), and D) Post-Flood, which states that creatures killed only other living creatures after they left the ark.

To explore this issue, my method would be to being at D and work toward A because, not only are the temporally latter ones easier to eliminate as possibilities, but also the closer to A we arrive at with carnivorism being present, the less problematic this issue becomes. This doesn’t imply a complete ease though and more difficulties may arise with such eliminations. For instance, if carnivorism appeared after the flood (D), though it would help to explain the lack of conflict between carnivorous species on the ark of Noah, as well as simplifying some food logistics, the resonance of the tooth form problem becomes greater. It is here, at D, we will start, but for the sake of recollection, let us revisit the possible time frames for the appearance of carnivorism:

A: Pre-Fall Carnivorism
B: Post-Fall Carnivorism
C: Pre-Flood Carnivorism
D: Post-Flood Carnivorism

D: Post-Flood Carnivorism

Though favored by some, this conclusion isn’t one of the primary ones in terms of its proponents, but since we know that arguments from consensus present us with a looming logical fallacy, we would be amiss if we eliminated it as a possibility on this basis alone. As far as I have been able to tell, the scriptural support for this idea comes from Genesis chapter 9:

Genesis 9:2-3, “The fear and terror of you will be in every living creature on the earth, every bird of the sky, every creature that crawls on the ground, and all the fish of the sea. They are placed under your authority. Every living creature will be food for you; as I gave the green plants, I have given you everything.”

carnivores (2)

It is my view that proponents of D equate God’s decree that man can partake in the consumption of meat with the emergence of carnivorism. This, again, may be attractive because if carnivorism didn’t exist up until this point, then it would solve many of the issues concerning Noah’s ark. Answers in Genesis is the apologetics ministry of the rather well-known Ken Ham, and they reference or imply the D view when addressing the food taken onto the ark. Answers in Genesis suggests that if D is true then it was just plants taken aboard, but if A, B, or C is true, then dried or salted meat could have been brought as food. It could have been done with ease, for Genesis 9:2 implies that a “fear and terror” toward man wasn’t inherent in animals until this time. This is worthy of note, especially for this topic, because it denotes not a change of animal form, but of behavior. In addition, we find that animals would have come to the ark easier if they did not fear man. Genesis 6 records how this took place and the command for food to be brought upon the ark:

Genesis 6:19-22, “’You are also to bring into the ark two of all the living creatures, male and female, to keep them alive with you. Two of everything——from the birds according to their kinds, and from the animals that crawl on the ground according to their kinds——will come to you so that you can keep them alive. Take with you every kind of food that is eaten; gather it as food for you and them.’ And Noah did this. He did everything that God had commanded him.”

Could man have killed animals for the food of other creatures on the ark even though God didn’t give the living creatures to man to eat until after the flood? I believe so, for Abel many, many years prior, killed animals, the firstborn of his flock, as a sacrifice to the LORD. Genesis chapter 4 records:

Genesis 4:4“And Abel also presented offering——some of the firstborn of his flock and their fat portions. The LORD had regard for Abel and his offering.”

It is possible, then, that Noah could have provided meat for the carnivores on board the ark, and given the command to take “every kind of food that is eaten” it seems it would be reasonable to conclude that he did so (if the emergence of carnivorism occurred between A and C), since “every” would include meat. If it did not occur until D, then this question isn’t an issue. It is a complex problem, the logistics of the ark, with plenty of tangents and additional questions, so we shouldn’t spend too much time on it lest we get off track, but it should be mentioned that the issue of food on the ark becomes less a problem if we believe the miraculous took place, like forms of hibernation or the youth of the animals led to the ark, God not choosing the most fully grown of the animals.

Concerning this point, the NLT rendering of Genesis 8:17 says:

Genesis 8:17[NLT], “Release all the animals——the birds, the livestock, and all the small animals that scurry along the ground——so they can be fruitful and multiply throughout the earth.”

I think the NLT translation might be on to something here. Other versions render the verse as saying “every creeping thing that creeps,” rather than “small animals that scurry along the ground.” It may be translated this way by the NLT because “creeping thing that creeps” is tautologous and the translators may have thought there was another idea being implied here. Other translations have reached the same conclusion of redundancy, and use other terminology to break it up like, “creatures that crawl” or “scurry” or “move upon the ground.” In the NLT they use “small animals.” Why this is may be found in the Hebrew word which is rendered in the NLT as “scurry” (Hb. Ramas) and denotes steps that are “small.” It may follow then, at least in the mind of the translators, that an animal with such small steps would also be small in stature. Does this mean that all the animals on the ark may have been small or young? I don’t know for sure, but regardless it is an interesting translation.

In addition, some believe that Genesis 7 and the animals mentioned there were used as a food source or breeding stock for other animals.

Genesis 7:1-3, “Then the LORD said to Noah, ‘Enter the ark, you and all your household, for I have seen that you alone are righteous before Me in this generation. You are to take with you seven pairs, a male and a female, of all the clean animals, and two of the animals that are not clean, a male and its female, and seven pairs, male and female, of the birds of the sky——in order to keep offspring alive on the face of the whole earth.’”

Some of these animals were used as sacrifices (Genesis 8:20), but it specifically says only some were. These were most likely the males, while the females weren’t sacrificed, and could all be inseminated by just one virile male if need be.

Genesis 8:20, “Then Noah built an altar to the LORD. He took some of every kind of clean animal and every kind of clean bird and offered it to the LORD.”

To remove the conclusion D as a possibility, I believe we can refer to the fossil record, which Christians believe exists largely in part to the great deluge. It is in this fossil record that we find clear evidence of carnivorism. There is the compsognathus found with a lizard in its stomach, the fossil of a velociraptor and a protoceratops in a lethal struggle, and dung from a T-Rex with bone fragments in it, to name a few. Therefore, we can deduce that A, B, or C must be true and eliminate D as a possibility.

veloproto

The critic at this point might be quick to attack the Christian on the use of science, which we supposedly don’t believe in, but this charge is an erroneous one. The Christian has no objection to science or its use, quite the contrary, but the Christian uses science in a ministerial way and not a magisterial way. As Creation Ministries International explains, this is because magisterial science “is bound to be flawed, because science by its very nature is tentative, and starts by axioms invented by fallible humans.”

Creation Ministries International continues:

“Science should never be elevated to the same level as logic, because valid logical deductions from true premises always lead to true conclusions, while scientific theories come and go.” —Johnathan Sarfati, Creation Ministries International, https://creation.com/feeding-carnivores-on-the-ark-and-refuting-an-accusation-of-closet-scientism

The magisterial vs. the ministerial is a theological principle discussed by Aquinas and Luther, among others, which addresses the role and position of human logic, reason, and thought in relation to the Holy Scripture, that, in short, according to ministerial viewpoint, should not be placed higher than or exercise an authority greater than that of the Holy Bible, but can still be instrumental in interpreting, understanding, and even providing proofs of the Scripture through use of human intellectual faculties. Yet, when these faculties override and claim a greater authority than that of God’s Word, it becomes magisterial in nature. While ministerial reason is to be encouraged, magisterial reason is not. These terms can also be applied to specific disciplines like magisterial science or ministerial science.

It is through the use of such ministerial science in conjunction with the Bible, that we can draw the conclusion that carnivorism existed prior to the flood, and thus eliminate D.

C: Pre-Flood Carnivorism

As mentioned before, I believe that C is synonymous with B in terms of the origin for carnivorism. In the time frame after the fall and up to the flood, it isn’t completely impossible that people ate meat, but in this period, we know it certainly wasn’t sanctioned by the Lord, but this doesn’t mean that people didn’t eat it at all. God says that during this era all men were wicked and corrupt.

Genesis 6:13[NIV], “So God said to Noah, ‘I am going to put an end to all people, for the earth is filled with violence because of them. I am surely going to destroy both them and the earth.’”

Regarding the period between B and C, I think the most we can come to conclude is that it was a time where violence grew and carnivorism was developing or growing in this violent world. Further evidence I would use to support the conclusion that C should be regarded as B, and nothing more, is the fact that during this time no significant covenant was made between God and man. Prior to the Abrahamic covenant, there were three others: The Edenic covenant (A), the Adamic covenant (B), and the Noahic covenant (D). C, again, represents the period between the Adamic covenant and the flood. The emergence of carnivorism represents such a large event in biblical and natural history, I would propose that it coincided with some major event in Scripture, such as the flood, the covenants, the creation, or the fall and the curses that resulted from it. Since none of these exist in the C period, I would conclude that it is unlikely that carnivorism originated at this time.

TheCovenants

B: Post-Fall Carnivorism

In terms of the proponents of these positions, this one apparently has the most adherents. In general overview, the reasoning is quite valid. Most believe that in Eden there was no pain, no suffering, no violence, and no death. The perfection of Eden has long been accepted as a reality in history to many Christians, and because if its conditions of goodness and perfection, it is determined as impossible that carnivores existed. In order for a creature to attack and kill another creature, this would require violence, death, pain, and suffering. Therefore, it is concluded that carnivorism didn’t exist until at least the fall, and it was only after the fall that carnivorism became a reality in the world. Again, in my experience, this has the most proponents, but because we don’t rely on arguments from consensus, we should look at the reasoning and the evidence. Though the general reasoning is valid, is it sound?

Wherever this discussion takes us, we are mainly confined to the Book of Genesis. It is in this book and just after the fall when God decrees His curses in response to the original sin. This is where I would like to start. It should be of interest that the first animal ever said be “killed” is by the Lord Himself.

Genesis 3:21, “The Lord God made clothing out of skins for Adam and his wife, and He clothed them.”

We should point out that verse 21 doesn’t explicitly say that God directly killed an animal and used the skins. It is, for instance, possible that God created skins for Adam and Eve by just materializing the matter, if you will, but we have to recognize that God too works in the natural world and uses, or manipulates, natural processes to accomplish His will. I find it likely, then, that God’s natural processes may have dispatched a particular animal and off that animal skins were supernaturally removed, much like Adam’s rib, and made into a clothing or covering for Adam and Eve. It was this archetype which led to man, like Abel, producing and keeping flocks of livestock. Further, it provides a representational model for the sacrificial covering for sin which was done in the Old Testament though sacrificial animals and completed in the New Testament by the final sacrifice as accomplished by and through Jesus Christ. Regardless, unless by some supernatural materialization, it seems that immediately after the fall death gained some greater foothold in the world. This is evident in the warning man is given by God concerning the tree of the knowledge of good and evil:

Genesis 2:16-17, “And the LORD God commanded the man, ‘You are free to eat from any tree of the garden, but you must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, for on the day you eat from it, you will certainly die.’”

Further man’s death is evident in the curse upon him:

Genesis 3:17, “And He said to Adam, ‘Because you listened to your wife’s voice and ate from the tree about which I commanded you, “Do not eat from it”: The ground is cursed because of you. You will eat from it by means of painful labor all the days of your life.’”

“All the days of your life” could suggest there is something apart from those days, but v.19 explicitly refers to the death of man:

Genesis 3:19, “You will eat bread by the sweat of your brow until you return to the ground, since you were taken from it. For you are dust, and you will return to dust.”

So we know the death of man is mentioned at this time, as a part of the curse, but what about the death of the animals and creatures? Let us consider God’s curse against the serpent:

Genesis 3:14-15, “Then the LORD God said to the serpent: ‘Because you have done this, you are cursed more than any livestock and more than any wild animal. You will move on your belly and eat dust all the days of your life. I will put hostility between you and the woman, and between your seed and her seed. He will strike your head, and you will strike his heel.’”

As with the man, “all the days of your life” can imply a certain number of days, a particular length of life, and therefore, by contrast, implies something apart from that life, and the only thing apart from life is death. In addition, there was to be a hostility between the serpent (the animal) and the woman (mankind). We would ask ourselves what this hostility would look like or what form it would take? The “seed” mentioned, means a generational offspring, so the animal serpent, that is generally regarded as the snake, and mankind would have hostility toward one another, which would result in that “seed” striking each other. This hostility and the striking very much implies a harm or death upon both the animals and man. We should not forget the dual nature of this prophecy and curse though (common in Scripture). We know through inference that the serpent was an evil spirit of the enemy occupying a physical form, or representing one, which differed from the snake of today.

Thus, the curse not only addressed the physical form but the spiritual nature as well. The animal form was cursed with a differing form, with certain behavioral traits, like hostility, and a prophecy concerning the serpent being struck lethally on the head, and yet, being able to inflict harm upon the “seed” of man, perhaps not quite as lethally, suggested by it striking the heel. This prophetic revelation in curse also applies to the final conflict between the spiritual serpent, our shared enemy, and Jesus Christ in the End Times. The curse applies to both the spiritual and the material, just as many passages in the Holy Word do.

Not coincidently, it is immediately after these curses that God makes and produces the coverings for Adam and Eve. We recall what the Lord said to Noah:

Genesis 6:13[NIV], “So God said to Noah, ‘I am going to put an end to all people, for the earth is filled with violence because of them. I am surely going to destroy both them and the earth.’”

Therefore, it seems that it could be concluded with these curses that violence came into the world, along with death, and both the animals and man were cursed because of it. This resulted in changes in behavior for both. The change in behavior, according to the proponents, resulted in animals becoming violent and consuming each other, and man becoming violent and murdering one another, which we see evident in the account of Cain and Abel.

It is for these reasons that I do consider B as a possibility for where animal carnivorism originated. However, we cannot ignore examining the final position people occasionally take, the one of A. There are a couple more arguments for B but we will tackle those in the next section because they have great implications to the A position as well.

A: Pre-Fall Carnivorism

That Pre-Fall Carnivorism didn’t exist is made by A’s detractors by appealing to one of the verses in the creation account, which says:

Genesis 1:31, “God saw all that He had made, and it was very good. Evening came and then morning: the sixth day.”

This counter-argument rests upon the statement, “it was very good” and concludes that there is no possibility, or it is highly unlikely, that God would create carnivores, give animals over to death, and consider this “good.” Though I feel there is no absurdity in the detractor declaring that there was no Pre-Fall Carnivorism, in this particular case I find the argument to be quite superficial in that it supposes God’s exact motive, reason, and meaning in declaring His creation to be “good” and in actuality threatens to replace His meaning with our own. We can’t fault a person too much for this though because, in reality, we do it all through Scripture and it is the challenge for every Christian to let the Word speak for itself and not place faulty impressions and interpretations upon it.

In this case, we may find “good” can mean many things. For instance, “good” could mean, given God’s omniscience, that it is the appropriate instrumental cause for the ultimate execution of His will. “Good” could also mean that creatures are without sin and morally good, but I think this is shortsighted because of God’s other declarations of “goodness” in the creation account. We could, of course, ask how moral goodness could exist in light of predation, but we hardly make the case that animals are sinning, evil, or are immoral in some way if, say, a lion takes down a gazelle.

The word for “good” in Genesis 1:31 many take to mean perfect, but the word (Hb. tob) doesn’t always mean this. It means pleasant or agreeable. The perfection of Eden is so ingrained in our doctrines that it is almost difficult to swallow the idea, but that there was some imperfection in Eden may be suggested in Genesis chapter 2:

Genesis 2:18, “Then the LORD God said, ‘It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper as his compliment.’”

In order for there to be perfection in Eden, everything must be good and if there is something that is not good then there is no perfection. Therefore, the reasoning goes, Eden wasn’t perfect. While this solves a lot of theological issues, many are raised as well. We remember that Adam and Eve were both created on the sixth day:

Genesis 1:27, “So God created man in His own image; He created him in the image of God; He created them male and female.”

This being the case, can we really consider Eden to be perfect prior to it being called “very good,” by the Lord? Was it merely perfect after the fall? Again, we find the Hebrew word doesn’t mean perfection, and this is obvious, for the distinctions are made between good and very good in the days of creation. After all, there can be no perfect and a very perfect.

If it could be shown that carnivorism and predation predate the fall then our doctrinal views of Eden would have to be radically altered. We might be willing to do this given there is enough evidence, but it seems there is great scriptural evidence to the contrary:

Genesis 1:29-30, “God also said, ‘Look, I have given you every seed-bearing plant on the surface of the entire earth and every tree whose fruit contains seed. This food will be for you, for all the wildlife of the earth, for every bird of the sky, and for every creature that crawls on the earth——everything having the breath of life in it. I have given every green plant for food.’ And it was so.”

Although there are other verses that the proponent of A must reconcile, which we will address later, Genesis 1:29-30 is the most daunting one. The first thing that is brought to the table is that it chiefly addresses man. Twice in the passage man is mentioned (”I have given you”; “This food will be for you”), and it is in addressing man, in conjunction, that the “wildlife of the earth,” “bird of the sky,” and the crawling creatures are mentioned. Here a proponent may point out and base his argument on, or add to it, that not mentioned are the creatures of the sea, but I find this observation to be somewhat in error. To me, the phrase “I have given you every seed-bearing plant on the surface of the entire earth and every tree whose fruit contains seed,” implies something on the surface of the land and not in the deep. Yet, this observation does point out the fact that aquatic or sea-dwelling animals that are herbivores represent a minority, which does pose a problem, though if Pre-Fall carnivorism is true, then the problem is negated.

This is considered important, I suppose because with the strength of the application to man, and animals only being addressed in conjunction, it could suggest that while the former application is quite literal, the latter has the opportunity to lean more towards the figurative. I think this is apparent in the proponent’s answer, which says that in these verses, God never says animals don’t eat meat. While true, this is an argument from silence and must be regarded carefully. In most cases, applying such argument to Scripture is dangerous and ill-advised. For instance, why is it not the case that God never said man couldn’t eat meat?

Another approach proponents take is that there isn’t anything wrong with the verse, in that it doesn’t need to be divided into parts or segments to make room for carnivorism or predation. Simply, the two premises, every green plant for food and carnivorism in Eden, are not mutually exclusive. Ultimately, it is said, man and all the animals mentioned here, partake of vegetation and consume it in some way. In my mind, the proponent that starts from this position has a better argument than one who divides up the verse. Yes, there is still an element of an argument from silence, but pointing out that there may be a false dilemma present and assumed here makes the argument from silence less profound.

Before we move on from Genesis 1:29-30, a little further exegesis is in order. The word rendered as “wildlife” or sometimes “beasts” is from the Hebrew word chayah. Rich Deem of godandscience.org gives us an observation that is worthy of note:

“An examination of the Hebrew word chayah indicates that in the vast majority of uses, the word refers to animals that eat flesh.” —Rich Deem, “Did God Create Carnivores on The Sixth Day?”, http://www.godandscience.com/youngearth/carnivores.hmtl

While Deem admits that some chayah references are ambiguous and that there are a few where herbivores are referenced, he does post a table, minus verses with ambiguity, which shows carnivores are truly referenced more often by this Hebrew word.

His argument is that chayah refers to carnivores as being created by God on the sixth day and says this is evident in the text itself:

Genesis 1:24-25, “Then God said, ‘Let the earth produce living creatures according to their kinds: livestock, creatures that crawl, and the wildlife [chayah] of the earth according to their kinds.’ And it was so. So God made the wildlife [chayah] of the earth according to their kinds, the livestock according to their kinds, and creatures that crawl on the ground according to their kinds. And God saw that it was good.”

Rich Deem concludes that chayah means a carnivorous animal for, if not, the verses become unnecessarily redundant. He says that there would be no reason to bring up prominent herbivores such as livestock if chayah referred to them already. In addition, perhaps, the creatures that crawl would be redundant as well. If this is the case, and we accept Deem’s conclusion(s), then it is reasonable that the meanings of chayah in verses 24-25 and 29-30 would be the same.

For a moment I was ready to refute Deem’s reasoning here on the grounds that the Book of Genesis frequently gives a summary and follows it up with specificity. This has led to some errors in interpretation and conclusion, for instance, more than one creation account being recorded, between Genesis chapter 1 and Genesis chapter 2. I was initially thinking that this was the case with Genesis 1:24-25, but then I realized that I was focused more on verse 25 than verse 24. In the Bible, as far as I am aware, the same convention we use to move from generality to specificity is used. First comes the general statement soon followed by the specific(s) regarding the general. This would make sense if applied only in verse 25, in that the verse would move from chayah, to livestock, to creatures that crawl. I was going to dismiss Deem on this basis, but then I took a look one more time at verse 24, where chayah does not come first, but last, moving from livestock, to creatures that crawl, and then to chayah.

There is, of course, the possibility of some convention in the Hebrew where generalities can follow specifics, and it certainly isn’t unheard of in the English language, such as is the case in a review, so it cannot be considered deductive proof of Deem’s claims. There is still room for doubt. However, looking at the passage once more, it does seem to refer to a specific group of animals, due to the fact the order is reversed in such quick succession and, further, it mentions after chayah, “according to their kinds.” It seems unlikely this phrase “according to their kinds” would be included in the generality or summary along with the specifics. Again, if this Genesis 1:24-25 can be reasonably concluded to reference carnivorous animals, then it follows that Genesis 1:29-30 likely does as well.

Genesis124-30

I find it of interest that the Lord says in Genesis 1:24, “Let the earth produce living creatures.” Many creationists believe in forms of evolution. The Old Earth Creationist often has no issues with ascribing evolution as an instrumental cause of the Lord’s creation, both in terms of macroevolution and microevolution, while the Young Earth Creationist denies macroevolution but allows for microevolution. While I may find some of the theories of the OEC camp fascinating, I do subscribe to YEC cosmology, and being the case, I find the statement intriguing, in that, perhaps, it suggests or leaves room for a microevolution in the world, that the world, not earth in terms of ground, will produce differing animals but in accordance with their kinds.

This may be a reference to the genetic archetype of many of the creatures we see today, this archetype being observed, according to some, in the phenomenon of differing creatures having the ability to mate and produce offspring (such as the liger, wolfin or grolar bear). If this is the case, then it isn’t difficult to reach the eventual conclusion that the microevolution present in the statement would imply certain laws which make and have made it so that such crossbreeds haven’t taken a large hold in the natural world and became a separate species themselves, like natural selection. Though, granted, we may be getting ahead of ourselves.

1024px-Baby_wolphin_by_pinhole

Wolfin: Dolphin-Whale Hybrid

Lastly, there is the argument that Genesis 1:29-30 references only certain creatures, while leaving others out. This is based on the phrase, “everything having the breath of life in it.” In Hebrew, the word in question is nephesh. This refers variously to any being that has a soul, is living, has a knowledge of self (self-aware), has desires, passions, has an inner being, and emotional faculties [Brown-Driver-Briggs]. Thus, it is reasoned, that more “simple” forms of life along with those not of the sky or land, and beings which don’t apply to nephesh are exempt from Genesis 1:29-30.

The possibility of Genesis 1:24-25 mentioning carnivores or predation benefits Deem’s conclusions by largely removing the argument from silence. I mentioned earlier that we do encounter arguments from silence not infrequently in the interpretation of the Holy Scriptures. Continuing along this point, when such an argument is impressed upon us, or proposed, we ask what should our response be as students of the Bible and of God? When confronted with such an argument we appeal to the rest of God’s Word in order to find how accurate or inaccurate that proposition is. Regarding Genesis 1:29-30 we find that on both sides there are other verses to appeal to. Many detractors of A, particularly those who believe B is accurate, reference the Book of Romans to refute A:

Romans 5:12, “Therefore, just as sin entered the world through one man, and death through sin, in this way death spread to all men, because all sinned.”

Romans 5:12 being used to rebuke of Pre-Fall Carnivorism is relatively easy to refute. Sin, in fact, did enter the world through one man, but death through sin refers not only to physical death, but spiritual death as well, and it was by Adam’s sin that all man become privy to death. Nobody is exempt because all (excluding Christ) have sinned. We find very readily that this verse regards man specifically rather than animals. If we were to apply the verse to animals, then we would have to come to the conclusion that animals sin or can experience spiritual death, which is not the case. However, because sin “entered the world,” what does remain evident, is that the world was, and is, negatively affected by sin.

Another verse used to refute A (or prove B) comes from 1 Corinthians:

1 Corinthians 15:22, “For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ all will be made alive.”

1 Corinthians 15:22 also refers to man specifically and not to animal life.

The Believer’s Bible Commentary gives a bit of context and remarks:

“Adam and Christ are presented as federal heads. This means that they acted for other people. And all who are related to them are affected by their actions. All who are descended from Adam die. So in Christ, all shall be made alive. This verse has sometimes been taken to teach universal salvation [Christian Universalism]. It is argued that the same ones who die in Adam will be made alive in Christ and that all will eventually be saved. But that is not what the verse says. The key expressions are in Adam and in Christ. All who are in Adam die. All who are in Christ shall be made alive, that is, only believers in the Lord Jesus Christ will be raised from the dead to dwell eternally with Him. The all who shall be made alive is defined in verse 23 as those who are Christ’s at His Coming. It does not include Christ’s enemies, for they shall be put under His feet (v. 25), which, as someone has said, is a strange name for heaven.” —William MacDonald, Believer’s Bible Commentary, ed. Art Farstad, “1 Corinthians 5:22”, p. 1805-1806

1 Corinthians goes on to say that the last enemy to be abolished will be death, and this refers likely to the physical and the spiritual.

1 Corinthians 15:23-25, “But each in his own order: Christ, the firstfruits; afterward, at His coming, those who belong to Christ. Then comes the end, when He hands over the kingdom to God the Father when He abolishes all rule and all authority and power. For He must reign until He puts all His enemies under His feet. The last enemy to be abolished is death.”

Yet, when the world passes away and death is done away with, the lack of death will be one of the foundational premises upon which the new creation is constructed, and it is in this new creation where we get such descriptions of the predator and the prey (there will no longer be this distinction) lying in peace together and man being allowed to eat from the tree of life.

Isaiah 11:6-7, “The wolf will live with the lamb, and the leopard will lie down with the goat. The calf, the young lion, and the fatling will be together, and a child will lead them. The cow and the bear will graze, their young ones will lie down together, and the lion will eat straw like the ox.”

Revelation 2:7, “Anyone who has an ear should listen to what the Spirit says to the churches. I will give the victor the right to eat from the tree of life which is in God’s paradise.”

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An argument for the presence of carnivores in Eden is mentioned by Rich Deem and it is taken from Genesis chapter 2:

Genesis 2:19-20, “So the LORD God formed out of the ground every wild animal [chayah] and every bird of the sky, and brought each to the man to see what he would call it. And whatever the man called a living creature, that was its name. The man gave names to the livestock, to the birds of the sky, and to every wild animal [chayah], but for the man no helper was found as his compliment.”

Again, we see the Hebrew word chayah appear here, and once more we see the phenomenon of the order being reversed in quick succession. Conspicuously missing from v. 19 though is “livestock.” So, in this case, I would find it an acceptable conclusion that the word chayah can be used in a general sense (which I don’t deny), while in v. 20, based on the form, shift into a specific sense. The Hebrew word translated as “livestock” here is behemah, the plural of which is behemoth which many will recognize from the Book of Job.

Job 40:15-17, “Look at the Behemoth, which I made along with you. He eats grass like an ox. Look at the strength of his loins and the power in the muscles of his belly. He stiffens his tail like a cedar tree; the tendons of his thighs are wound firmly together.”

Given that many scholars regard behemoth as a plural of the word behemah, then it is interesting that it would say that the behemoth eats grass like an ox. If behemah refers to an ox already, then why in Job would it say that it eats grass like one? The behemoth and its counterpart, the leviathan, are well known among Young Earth Creationists because their depictions strongly resemble that of a dinosaur. Some commentators conclude the behemoth is a hippopotamus, but if you look at the tail of a hippo, there is no conceivable way its tail can ever be compared with a cedar tree.

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Further, when examining Job 40 and 41, I believe what is being described are herbivore creatures, the behemoth, and carnivorous ones, the leviathan. In the case of the behemoth, this is suggested if it is the plural form of behemah. Yet, it is possible these terms can be used in both a specific context, referring to a specific animal, and a general context. Given all this, let us approach Genesis 2:19-20 once more:

Genesis 2:19-20, “So the LORD God formed out of the ground every wild animal [chayah] and every bird of the sky, and brought each to the man to see what he would call it. And whatever the man called a living creature, that was its name. The man gave names to the [behemah], to the birds of the sky, and to every [chayah], but for the man no helper was found as his compliment.”

Worthy of note is that the Book of Job suggests the leviathan’s carnivorism in its tooth form:

Job 41:13-16, “Who can strip off his [the leviathan’s] outer covering? Who can penetrate his double layer of armor? Who can open his jaws, surrounded by those terrifying teeth? His pride is in his rows of scales, closely sealed together. One scale is so close to another that no air can pass between them.”

There is the belief that the leviathan merely represents a crocodile or alligator, but given that Job 41 describes the creature as having powerful and graceful limbs, it is likely not the case.

Job 41:12, “I cannot be silent about his limbs, his power, and his graceful proportions.”

It is my contention that the behemoth and the leviathan referenced in Scripture may not necessarily refer to a specific animal, but rather a class of animal. For in Job chapters 40 and 41 we have some problematic descriptions, within both the behemoth or leviathan classifications. If within each class we are to consider them only one animal then these problems remain, but if we allow for the possibility that there is too a class of animals referenced, these become far less problematic. This is, of course, another topic altogether, and I only bring it up because, in the same way, this too could be the case with chayah and behemah. This convention isn’t unheard of in English nor would I expect it to be in the Ancient Near East, particularly in an era before such stringent scientific classifications.

It is concerning the Hebrew names of animals where Rich Deem raises the argument that many of the names denote carnivorism or violent behavior. Although interesting, we really have no idea what language was spoken by Adam or if the names changed over time. It is impossible to say that what Adam called a lion was perfectly transmitted without change or error and all the while keeping the original name and meaning in the Hebrew. Deem admits these issues, but says that one would expect that the original meanings would be transliterated into the Hebrew if the names differ at all from what Adam gave them. Thus, I do present Deem’s table for the curious, but as a means of proving the A position, it is ineffective due to a large number of presumptions that need to be made.

Another argument that is used to build the case for Pre-Flood carnivorism comes from God’s command to Adam in Genesis chapter 2:

Genesis 2:16-17, “And the LORD God commanded the man, ‘You are free to eat from any tree of the garden, but you must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, for on the day you eat from it, you will certainly die.’”

The argument simply asks how Adam knew what death was and to what God was referring if he had never seen death? The counter-argument, I suppose, would be that God isn’t necessarily talking about only physical death here, but a spiritual one, as is evident in the phrase, “for on the day you eat from it, you will certainly die.” We know from the Scripture that Adam and Eve lived several hundred more years, so the death God was referring to must have had a great spiritual application. The argument attempts to prove the existence of death in the Pre-Fall world of Eden, for this would be required if predation and carnivorism were to exist. It should be mentioned that some feel the wording, “for on the day you eat from it, you will certainly die” is to be taken metaphorically and means that on the day Adam would eat from the tree he would become mortal. Matthew Poole’s Commentary believes the phrase has a threefold meaning:

“1. Spiritual, by the guilt and power of sin: at that instant thou shall be dead in trespass and sins, Ephesians 2:1 [”And you were dead in your trespasses and sins”].

2. Temporal, or the death of the body, which shall then begin in thee, by decays, infirmities, terrors, dangers, and other harbingers of death.

3. Eternal, which shall immediately succeed the other.” —Matthew Poole’s Commentary, “Genesis 2:17”

The physical death of man is referenced in the curse and Adam and Eve’s expulsion from the garden.

Genesis 3:19, “You will eat bread by the sweat of your brow until you return to the ground, since you were taken from it. For you are dust, and you will return to dust.”

Genesis 3:22-23, “The LORD God said, ‘Since man has become like one of Us, knowing good and evil, he must not reach out, take from the tree of life, eat, and live forever.’ So the LORD God sent him away from the garden of Eden to work the ground from which he was taken.”

Often when people regard Eden, we think of it as a place or state of perfection, which can be a problematic view, and this perfection extends unto man and the Pre-Fall immortality that some people conclude was an inherent attribute of Adam and Eve’s being. Was it? When we regard this passage in Genesis chapter 3 concerning their removal from the garden of Eden, it declares that in man’s sinful condition, Adam and Eve must not eat from the tree of life and live forever, which seems to imply that they had not yet eaten from the tree that would grant them this immortality. Why would they need to eat form something to gain that which they already had? As there are reasons to support Pre-Fall death, there are ways around it too, such as Adam and Eve were immortal to begin with and this immortality was negated by sin, which could have been reclaimed by eating of the tree which they weren’t initially forbidden to eat from.

This is the very reason that it is unlikely that any great amount of time passed between the partaking of the forbidden fruit and when Adam and Even encountered God walking through the garden. So, like many of the topics we have discussed and will discuss, this is not proof positive, but at the very least it presents us with the possibility that in body Adam and Eve weren’t meant to be eternal. If the case, then death existed prior to the fall.

Following the same kind of reasoning that is used with Genesis 2:16-17, the curse against Eve is referenced to imply that pain too was a part of the Pre-Fall world:

Genesis 3:16, “[God] said to the woman, ‘I will intensify your labor pains; you will bear children in anguish. Your desire will be for your husband, yet he will rule over you.”

This argument is faulty because if we use the reasoning here that pain must pre-exist in order for it to be intensified, in the context of this verse then we too must say that the bearing of offspring did as well and this becomes extremely problematic, at least from a YEC perspective. The explanation then is that God’s original will for the birthing process is that it would be a less painful experience. His declaration, then, could simply refer to His changing of His initial plan due to the sin of Adam and Eve and the justice and judgments that came upon them from God. This certainly has its parallels in our lives and indeed in the Scripture, where the initial will and plan of the Lord is withheld or changed because of judgment resulting from sinful behavior. In the end, I find the argument based on Genesis 2:16-17 to have a relatively greater weight than the one based on Genesis 3:16.

Conclusion(s):

So where does all this leave us? Does it get us anywhere closer to an answer than when we started? Well, yes and no. The answer is negative by virtue of the fact the Bible really doesn’t specifically state when or where carnivorism or predation originated, but it is affirmative because we have found some very interesting information which has both narrowed it down to a couple possibilities and, in my opinion, removes the prominence and difficulty I was having with tooth form and the Darwinian ideas concerning these forms, which in actually extend far past tooth form.

After careful study, I think we can safely conclude that the D and C propositions can be eliminated as possibilities. This leads us to A, Pre-Fall Carnivorism, or B, Post-Fall Carnivorism being the most rational of choices. In order to fully disclose my thought process to the reader, I must admit I have gone back and forth between these choices quite a bit and formulated it as a logical disjunction, that is that the choice is either A or B [formulated (A v B)]. Yet, perhaps because I recently referenced false dichotomies or false dilemmas earlier, I wondered what would happen if I regarded it as A and B (A * B) (because I learned logic just using scratch paper forgive me if I translate them incorrectly into type format). Although it may not be accurate, it initiated an idea. I recalled from earlier that God created the creatures of the sea on the fifth day, and creates the chayah and behemah on the sixth day, along with the creatures that crawl.

Genesis 1:21, “So God created the large sea creatures and every living creature that moves and swarms in the water, according to their kinds. He also created every winged bird according to its kind. And God saw that it was good.”

As a side note, the Book of Genesis says God created the large sea creatures. Most large creatures of the sea are not herbivores like may be the case on land, but rather carnivorous in their dietary habits.

Genesis 1:24, “Then God said, ‘Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness. They will rule the fish of the sea, the birds of the sky, the livestock [behemah], all the earth, and the creatures that crawl on the earth.’ So God created man in His own image; He created him in the image of God; He created them male and female.”

The creation of women is in Genesis chapter 2:

Genesis 2:22, “Then the LORD God made the rib He had taken from the man into a woman and brought her to the man.”

Now, all this occurred on the sixth day, and we might have a tendency to overlook this. We find the Scripture is quite silent about the time between the sixth day at the end of chapter 2 of Genesis, and the beginning of chapter 3. However, immediately after the original sin is committed we are given an interesting or peculiar detail about God’s presence in the garden:

Genesis 3:8[HCSB], “Then the man and his wife heard the sound of the LORD God walking in the garden at the time of the evening breeze, and they hid themselves from the LORD God among the trees of the garden.”

The word translated as evening here is the Hebrew ruach. Both the Brown-Driver-Briggs and the Gesenics’ Hebrew and Chaldea Definition lexicons concur with ruach being a day breeze and the evening being the specific time, also denoting a cooler breeze, as mentioned in some translations. Given the creation account closely precedes this one, could the reference to this evening breeze tie in with the repeated statement “evening came and then morning”? Could this imply this is the seventh day? We don’t know for sure and we could really only speculate, but it does impact the A or B (A v B) question regardless.

Granted, to many this might all seem like a lot of needless speculation and to a certain extent, I would agree. Yet, just because something is speculative doesn’t mean that it is completely without value, or that no conclusions can be drawn from it. We would love it and desire often that God, our Lord Jesus Christ, existence, and the world, would always have their truths discoverable and determined by a strict deductive method, but this isn’t the case. Also, when concerning the Lord, we should not expect it to be, for the very definition of God is one of incomprehensibility. We not only stand upon the firm foundation of grace for our salvation and justification but stand on it too for any knowledge that man is able to attain concerning our Eternal Lord. This principle too applies to His creation where speculation can be a route of discovery and revelation.

Can we gain anything, any conclusion, from our process of speculation here? I believe we can. As mentioned before I am a Young Earth Creationist and found that my shifting back and forth for the origins of carnivorism in either the A or B period, was indicative of something which would only be applicable to the YEC. It occurred to me when examining if I was subjecting myself to a false dilemma and whether it could be both A and B in some way, that this origin point might be obscured due to the short period of time between the two possibilities.

Though it is speculative that ruach would imply the seventh day (I cannot help finding the thought appealing that God took a stroll through His creation on His day of rest), it did bring the point home that in this account we are probably not talking years of time passing, but rather mere days. This doesn’t answer the question in as much as it applies to the problem of tooth form respectively between herbivores and carnivores. The Old Earth Creationist might not subscribe to Gap Theory in particular (the theory that a large amount of time is present between Genesis 1:1 and Genesis 1:2), but hold there may be gaps of time in the creation account itself, that the days were not literal days, so on and so forth. The YEC might allow for days here and there, but the time generally allowed in the creation account isn’t major, a day here or there perhaps.

Thus, while our exploration solves, or at the very least greatly reduces the problem from tooth form, it does so mainly for the YEC and less for the OEC. In this regard, I have accomplished one of the things I set out to do, for all this has removed the difficulty of tooth form from my mind. Say, if I consider the earth 7,000 years old, the span from the creation to now, then this means that the time span between a non-carnivorous world (assuming A is not true) to a carnivorous world would be days not eons. By virtue of this, then we can see how the determination between A or B can become blurred and obscured, essentially looking like the same choice. It may be akin to how parallel railway lines might be separated, but the eyes perceive them to meet on the horizon at a single point and place given that the distance is great enough.

Train tracks goes to horizon in orange majestic sunset.

What this doesn’t answer is the direct point of origin concerning carnivorism. Let us consider a couple more things though. In order for carnivorism to be extant at the creation, as we have said, death would need to be present. While some may declare this to be an impossibility, or rather improbable, so too many say that it depends on what one means by death. Did plants die? If everything ate plants then there has to be some form of death present. Right? Well, the detractor of A might say that animals only ate surface foliage and not the whole plant which would cause it death, but the proponent of A might answer this still implies death, in a form at least, for by and through consumption, it is said that there is a cellular breakdown and a death that takes place on that level. What about creatures that crawl or swarm like bugs? Insects, certain classes, like spiders (ugh), aren’t real big on the leafy greens, except as a place to live, so this remains another reason why we could consider A to be a possibility.

By admitting that A is a possibility, however, we run into some problems. We have already touched on this, but why would God call the creation good or very good? Further, why would God create a world at the beginning that had such imperfections? This is an important question, and I don’t mean to downgrade it to those who struggle with it, but if we really think about it in this context, this isn’t exactly a new formulation of the question. In fact, the Christian is still left with the same questions he or she had before, like the problem, or argument, from evil, suffering, free will, and their relation to responsibility. In that regard, nothing has changed. These are another subject, but should we remove A as a possibility on these grounds? No. In my opinion, it’s a poor reason to base the denial of A on. Yes, these problems need to be addressed, but independent of this question. We must beware that we don’t use this question to write off theories which could grant or imply a credibility to it. Again, this is another long topic.

Another thing that considering the possibility of (A v B) being a false dilemma lead me to think about was that although there would still need to be a point of origin, in terms of (A * B) there could be a progression of carnivorism in the world which would encompass all A, B, C, and D. Again, we have already referenced verses which imply God’s changing of animal behaviors.

If I had to or was forced to make a solid conclude the origin and progression of predation and carnivorism, this would be it:

A: This is the origins of predation and carnivorism, but the world during this time was far better than it is today. Certain predations existed among the invertebrates, sea creatures, birds, and insects, but as far as the land animals, although they were given the equipment for predation by God’s omniscience and foreknowledge, for He knew what was to happen in a brief time, the land animals’ eating habits consisted of salads being their main course, but this period was short lived. If any meat was consumed by land animals at this time, it was supplemental at best.

B: With the arrival of sin, the curse, the judgments, and consequences, the tools for predation and carnivorism went from only having the activation switch flipped into the on position to being shifted into overdrive.

C: As time passed, though many animals never lost the ability to indulge in plant material, it took a back seat to other forms of sustenance, moving from the main course to a side dish, and finally to a garnish. Eventually, the world became “full of violence” in the time of Noah. It was during this period that man may have started to eat meat, though not by God’s allowance.

D: After the flood, God authorized man to partake in the consumption of meat.

There we have it. I think this form can reconcile many of the difficulties and questions, but on a personal level, it is the issue from tooth form being addressed or answered which makes this exploration so effective. It need not be a stumbling block to the Christian, like those individuals I saw on Quora and elsewhere wondering about this subject just as I did. At this time, I suppose I would put the origin of carnivorism and predation at the creation.

Yet, as with all my thoughts and writings, I reserve the right to change my mind or have my mind changed.

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Revelation 22:16, “I, Jesus, have sent My angel to testify to you about these things for the churches. I am the Root and descendant of David, the bright morning star.”

It may not be as explicit a reference to the deity of Christ as other verses, but it is worth asking, what being other than God can command the angels? Indeed, this question reminds me of the inquiry of the disciples asked in Matthew chapter 8:

Matthew 8:27, “And the [disciples] marveled, saying, ‘What sort of man is this, that even winds and sea obey Him?’”

Though not referencing each other or being conterminous in an obvious way, Revelation 22:16 and Matthew 8:27 show us that Christ has the authority over creation and the rulership over the angels. Again, we ask, who else or what else could that be other than God Himself?

Even if we ascribe a god-like state to Christ, like some Christian denominations or sects do, then we need to admit some form of polytheism with roots in mythology (that is the deification of mere humans into godlike forms, a motif which is so prevalent in mythological tales).

It is a possibility that ‘angel’ simply refers to ‘messenger’ in Revelation 22:16 but I don’t think this is the case. In the heavenlies, it seems apparent that angels preside over churches or even locations, i.e., nations and towns. This is suggested in the book of Daniel:

Daniel 10:13, “The prince of the kingdom of Persia withstood me for twenty-one days, but Michael, one of the chief princes, came to help me, for I was left there with the kings of Persia.”

Daniel 12:1, “At that time shall arise Michael, the great prince who was in charge of your people. And there shall be a time of trouble, such as never has been since there was a nation till that time. But at the time your people shall be delivered, everyone whose name shall be found written in the book.”

Regarding Revelation 22:16, a phrase worth focusing on is, “I am the Root and descendant of David.” The Greek word for root here is rhiza. Rhiza can have a couple definitions, a literal one, and a more figurative one. The literal meaning is, “a shoot; source; that which comes from the root; a descendant.” Figuratively, it means “source.” If we assign the literal meaning to root in this verse, the passage becomes somewhat tautologous. Repetitive verses or those that are tautologous in their content aren’t arbitrary, but rather repetition, at least in the context of biblical exegesis, impresses upon the reader an issue of utmost importance. Yet, here it would seem somewhat erroneous for Christ to state to John something like, “I am the descendant and descendant of David.”

Yet, if we use the figurative meaning, it reads, “I am the Source and descendant of David.” This latter rendering is pretty amazing, but what if we take the words at their face value? What is a root? Is it not that from which things, vegetation and fruit, for example, spring forth?

According to the English dictionary, the noun of root (Christ is using it in this noun context) means, “the part of the plant that attaches it to the ground or to a support, typically underground, conveying water and nourishment to the rest of the plant via numerous branches or fibers.” Also, a root is defined as the “basic cause, source, or origin of something.” Do not these definitions give us insight into the nature of our Lord? Let us consider them for a moment:

The Part of The Plant That Attaches It To The Ground or To a Support

While seeking an intimate relationship with God, we quickly discover this is an impossible task if we wish to approach God of our own accord. It becomes apparent that we need an advocate or some form of spiritual support to keep us firmly planted in God. This advocate for our faith is Jesus Christ and it is in Him we remain grounded that we might be reconciled unto the Creator of all things. Colossians, according to the NKJV states:

Colossians 1:21–23, “And you, that were once alienated and enemies [of God] in your mind by wicked works, yet now has He reconciled in the body of His flesh through death, to present you holy and unblamable and unreprovable in His sight: If you continue in the faith founded and settled, and not be moved away from the hope of the gospel, which you have heard, and which was preached to every creature under heaven, of which I Paul am made a minister.”

Typically Underground

That which is underground is generally invisible to those above ground. Yet, evidence of that which lies beyond the surface may show signs of its presence and be perceivable to those above. Although the glory of our Lord, for a duration, spent time above ground, on the surface with His creation, He has risen and now rests at the right hand of the Father. God’s presence may be invisible, but evidence of His existence and His attributes surround us continually. The apostle Paul makes this clear:

Romans 1:18–20, “For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth. For what can be known about God is plain to them. For His invisible attributes, namely, His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse.”

This shows that whatever we are grounded in will produce a harvest according to its kind. If we are grounded in unrighteousness and ungodliness then the truth will be suppressed in us and we will discourage and suppress it among others. However, if we are grounded in God, then godliness and righteousness shall be the result, which will produce the appropriate harvest within the self and among all man.

Conveying Water and Nourishment To The Rest of The Plant

Let us consider a plant to be representational of the church. Likening the church to a plant isn’t absurd given Jesus’ numerous parables emphasizing trees, plants, and vegetation, which was extremely relevant at the time with many of the Jews being well familiar with agriculture and agricultural practices. Even today, individual churches, when expanding, are said to branch off or plant other churches.

Jesus, in the book of John, says:

John 15:5, “I am the Vine, you are the branches. Whoever abides in Me and I in Him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from Me you can do nothing.”

Thus, Christ truly is the root of our salvation and faith, not to mention our very existence (John 1:3). It is in Him we are grounded. Whenever a branch is removed from the vine, or a plant is detached from its root, it withers and dies. So too does our hope in the gospel when we remove ourselves from the Lord. Christ Jesus provides the spiritual nourishment that we may be reconciled unto the Father and apart from Him, this is an impossibility. He nourishes us and provides to us the living water necessary for eternal life. The apostle John records:

John 4:14, “But whoever drinks of the water I will give him will never be thirsty again. The water that I give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life.”

Revelation 22:1, “Then the angel showed me the river of the water of life, bright as a crystal, flowing from the throne of God and of the Lamb.”

Via Numerous Branches or Fibers

In the conveyance of spiritual nourishment, the Lord uses several different means. The church itself expresses and shares this same nourishment, but it is Christ who is the source. If a church comes to lose focus or somehow parts from Christ, it is no longer of the river of life from which one drinks to quench their thirst, but rather a stagnant puddle.

Another fiber or branch used are those blessed individuals who have important gifts who serve this water to others. They are essentially the cup-bearers of the church, but again the source of this water is found in the Lord. The prophets of renown and those of today, for instance, are cup-bearers of the living water. The book of Hebrews mentions these cup-bearers:

Hebrews 1:1-2“Long ago, at many times and in many ways, God spoke to our fathers through the prophets, but in these last days, He has spoken to us by His Son, whom He appointed the heir of all things, through whom He also created the world.”

Yet, this represents just one gift. In truth, we are all called to be the cup-bearers and branches of this living water, to not hoard it, but convey and transmit it unto others, both inside the church and outside it.

Christ encouraged His disciples:

Matthew 28:18–20, “And Jesus came and said to them, ‘All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to Me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.”

Yes, Christ is our basic cause. Our source. Our origin. One might be tempted to ask, ‘Being such, wouldn’t the word for seed work better?’ Seed might impart the idea of origin better, but when it comes to all the other attributes we have discussed, I believe that root is the best analogy given the whole scope of the metaphor. Regardless, the one who asks this question is somewhat justified and I would point them to the book of 1 Peter which says:

1 Peter 1:20–25, “He was foreknown before the foundation of the world but was made manifest in the last times for the sake of you who through Him are believers in God, who raised Him from the dead and gave Him glory, so that your faith and hope are in God. Having purified your souls by your obedience to truth for a sincere brotherly love, love one another earnestly from a pure heart, since you have been born again, not of perishable seed but of imperishable, through the living and abiding word of God; for ‘All flesh is like grass and all its glory is like the flower of grass. The grass withers, and the flower falls, but the word of the Lord remains forever.’ And this word is the good news that was preached to you.”

The Greek word used for seed here is spora, which according to Joseph H. Thayer’s Greek-English Lexicon of The New Testament means, ‘a sowing; figuratively, origin.”

It is my contention that Christ is referring to Himself as the Root in Revelation 22:16 in a more figurative manner, indicating He is the source of David, for both his existence and faith. As the book of Hebrews states:

Hebrews 12:2a, “[Look] to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith.”

It was Christ Himself that was the founder of David’s existence and faith, and Christ perfected this faith in Him. This can be difficult to grasp or wrap our minds around, but only because human thought is trained and often based upon a chronological framework, while Jesus Christ transcends our human understanding of time and chronology, for Christ is not bound to time, but rather is timeless, aka., eternal. Christ is the Root because He is the Creator and Savior. As the gospel of John records:

John 1:3, “All things were made through Him, and without Him was not made anything that was made.”

John 8:58, “Jesus said to them, ‘Truly, truly, I say to you, before Abraham was, I AM.’”

To get the most accurate understanding of the nature of Christ we need both the source figurative interpretation of root as well as the descendant element. Each one on its own will not suffice. The former gives us the nature of Christ which is shared with the Father, His eternal nature, and divine substance, and the latter emphasizes the incarnation of Jesus Christ as man. The two are congruently needed to provide the best representation of Jesus Christ.

To continue with Revelation 22:16, the phrase “the bright morning star” raises some questions due to what is recorded in Isaiah chapter 14:

Isaiah 14:12, “How you are fallen from heaven, O day star, son of the dawn! How you are cut down to the ground, you who laid the nations low.”

Some believe that the phrase, “the bright and morning star” or “day star, son of the dawn!” refers to Lucifer, which is a Latin transliteration of the phrase. Understandably, a few find it odd that Christ would take this name in Revelation 22:16. Yet, there are a couple things I would like to point out: The name Lucifer isn’t even in our most ancient manuscripts. However, concerning the renderings where the name is included, this translation becomes immediately suspect due to the Latin name being included within an otherwise Hebrew text. In these cases, it is apparent that the meaning of Isaiah 14:12 was already presupposed by translators, which supposedly, according to the proponents, references the devil being cast out of heaven, and the phrase was transliterated providing the name.

It is my belief that the context concerns the judgment of the nation or the king of Babylon, which is referred to as the “bright morning star” or “day star, son of the dawn.” It being a worldly kingdom, it is a possibility that Christ referred to Himself as such because He has overcome the world. As the book of John says:

John 16:33, “I have said these things to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.”

Even if Isaiah chapter 14 refers to the casting down of the enemy, which I don’t believe it does, taking over the name, which in itself is not evil, given its meaning, in the same way, can be symbolic of the defeating or overtaking of the enemy.

However, Isaiah 14:12 is clearly about Babylon, for verse 4 says:

Isaiah 14:4, “[Y]ou will take up this taunt against the king of Babylon: ‘How the oppressor has ceased, the insolent fury ceased.’”

One might argue that there is the possibility that the passage in Isaiah is a kind of veil for both the prophecy and the spiritual truth concerning our shared enemy, but in the strictest of terms, Isaiah 14 refers to Babylon. In my opinion, the motive one might have for holding to this view is that they personally put a great emphasis on church doctrine, but we must be wary of even church doctrine, for this too can go astray. Sadly enough. Let us not be like those sects of Christianity, the names of which I will omit, that put a greater emphasis on their literature than on the Word of God. The cup-bearers of these sects threaten to poison their followers with stagnant water, rather than the ever-flowing water of life which pours from the throne room of our great Lord and Savior.

Thank you all for reading and God bless.

—Brandon


Psalm 45:7, “You love justice and hate evil. Therefore God, your God, has anointed you, pouring out the oil of joy on you more than on anyone else.”

In addition to Psalm 45:7, Ecclesiastes says:

Ecclesiastes 9:8, “Let your clothes be white all the time, and never let oil be lacking on your head.”

If, as in Psalm 45, oil represents a content joy, and we are told never to have this lacking, then it needs to be asked how this content joy can be achieved? Psalm 45 makes the connection between loving justice and hating evil with the blessing of “the oil of joy.” This is an anointing of a “contended joy” if you will. This relation isn’t as explicit in Ecclesiastes, but there can be an alike connection made.

In the Scripture, garments are symbolic of one’s spiritual condition. For instance, sackcloth is representational of mourning or a state of despondency or being destitute, and white garments represent a state of righteousness, that is a condition of being free from sin or cleansed of sin. I believe, then, that Solomon in Ecclesiastes is saying to be righteous always before the Lord, and never let our contented joy be lacking.

Going back to Psalm 45:7, we can render the lesson like this: “If you love justice and hate evil, resulting in a righteousness, then you will be blessed by a ‘contented joy.’” Simply, it follows then that if a contented joy is lacking in our lives, then perhaps we are not clean, or sin is still somewhere manifest in our lives. In other words, our garments are dirty.

For the sake of consistency, we should take the full passage in Ecclesiastes into account. It states:

Ecclesiastes 9:7-9, “Go, eat your bread with pleasure, and drink your wine with a cheerful heart, for God has already accepted your works. Let your clothes be white all the time, and never let oil be lacking on your head. Enjoy life with the wife you love all the days of your fleeting life, which has been given to you under the sun, all your fleeting days. For that is your portion in life and in your struggle under the sun.”

The Apologetics Study Bible For Students remarks:

“These verses [Ecclesiastes 9:8-9] resemble passages in the Babylonian Epic of Gilgamesh and the ‘Harper’s Son’ from Egypt. Both were composed long before the time of Solomon, and it seems clear that he knew them. It is not troubling to find that a biblical text reflects knowledge of other well-known literature of antiquity; this international character is a feature of Israelite wisdom. Because of Solomon’s extensive international contacts we would expect him to be familiar with such literature, and the similarities to these other passages reinforce the Solomonic authorship of Ec[clesiastes].” —Duane A. Garrett, “Ecclesiastes 9:8-9,” Apologetics Study Bible For Students.

This indeed can become problematic for Christians whenever this kind of thing occurs, but should it be the case? In the specific example mentioned, it should be noted after reading the Epic of Gilgamesh and a few Harpers’ Songs (from the tombs of Intef, Neferhotep, and Inherkhawy) that Ecclesiastes is far from plagiarizing these other sources. There may be similar motifs, but we need to be careful of comparing the Word with other works from the ancient Near East, for some have a tendency to emphasize the similarities but disregard the differences.

The difficulty some may have in these and like examples arises from a couple of presuppositions which Christians and critics alike make, the most prominent being that sources outside of the Bible are necessarily false, while those in the Bible are necessarily true and sanctioned by God. I know how this may sound, but I implore the reader to let me explain. I will refer to this as a “compound presupposition” because one supposition implies the other. Both parts of this supposition can be problematic.

Concerning the former, sources independent of the Bible are necessarily false, we may run into problems when a contemporary or well-known text, of that time, is cited in regard and relation to the truth of God and we let this become a stumbling block. In terms of the latter, that what is included in the Bible is necessarily true, this becomes problematic when we approach it from the position that anything recorded in the Bible must be concluded to be supported by God when this isn’t always the case. A narrative which is tragic and horrific isn’t always endorsed by God, but rather at times arises because of disobedience to God. The latter part of this “compound presupposition” is a tactic frequently employed by critics of Christianity.

An example would be the account of Jephthah’s Vow found in Judges 11:30-40. It has been forwarded by some critics in their argument against the character of God, but as the Christian or Jew may know, God nowhere gives His approval of such a thing and it is indeed a direct disobedience to God! This is the tragic account of Jephthah’s Vow:

Judges 11:30-40, “And Jephthah made a vow to the LORD. He said, ‘If you give me victory over the Ammonites, I will give to the LORD whatever comes out of my house to meet me when I return in triumph. I will sacrifice it as a burnt offering.’ So Jephthah led his army against the Ammonites, and the LORD gave him victory. He crushed the Ammonites, devastating about twenty towns from Aroer to and area near Minnith and as far away as Abel-keramim. In this way Israel defeated the Ammonites. When Jephthah returned home to Mizpah, his daughter came out to meet him, playing on a tambourine and dancing for joy. She was his one and only child; he had no other sons or daughters. When he saw her, he tore his clothes in anguish. ‘Oh, my daughter!’ he cried out. ‘You have completely destroyed me! You’ve brought disaster on me! For I have made a vow to the LORD, and I cannot take it back.’ And she said, ‘Father, if you have made a vow to the LORD, you must do to me what you have vowed, for the LORD has given you a great victory over your enemies, the Ammonites. But first let me do this one thing: Let me go up and roam in the hills and weep with my friends for two months, because I will die a virgin.’ ‘You may go,’ Jephthah said. And he sent her away for two months. She and her friends went into the hills and wept because she would never have children. When she returned home, her father kept the vow he had made, and she died a virgin. So it has become a custom in Israel for a young Israelite woman to go away for four days each year to lament the fate of Jephthah’s daughter.”

Again, the account is used as an attack on God’s character by critics, which is based on the presupposition that what is recorded in the Bible is endorsed by God. This despite that God clearly forbids such a detestable practice as human sacrifice:

Deuteronomy 12:31, “You must not worship the LORD your God in the way the other nations worship their gods, for they perform for their gods every detestable act that the LORD hates. They even burn their sons and daughter as sacrifices to their gods.”

Leviticus 18:21, “Do not permit any of your children to be offered as a sacrifice to Molech, for you must not bring shame on the name of your God. I am the LORD.”

Leviticus 20:2b-5, “If any of them offer their children as a sacrifice to Molech, they must be put to death. The people of the community must stone them to death. I myself will turn against them and cut them off from the community, because they have defiled my sanctuary and brought shame on my holy name by offering their children to Molech. And if the people of the community ignore those who offer their children to Molech and refuse to execute them, I myself will turn against them and their families and will cut them off from the community. This will happen to all who commit spiritual prostitution by worshiping Molech.”

It is easy to see that all that which is recorded in the Bible is not endorsed by the Lord, so the Christian should reject this stumbling block outright.

In addition, God’s Word is taught to have supreme authority, which is accurate because it is of God. Thus, when an independent source is included, some may feel this authority is threatened by a lesser authority, one who strictly isn’t God. Yet, we know from the Scriptures that the LORD’s authority stretches beyond the blessed text we hold in our hands. As the apostle Paul implies in the book of Romans:

Romans 2:14-15, “Even Gentiles, who do not have God’s written law, show that they know His law when they instinctively obey it, even without having heard it. They demonstrate that God’s law is written in their hearts, for their own conscience and thoughts either accuse them or tell them they are doing right.”

If even the thoughts of the Gentiles could testify and reflect God’s law, then couldn’t God’s truths be known to them as well, recorded in their literature, and then repeated by men of God without any contradiction taking place? We recall what Paul says earlier in the book of Romans:

Romans 1:19-20, “Since what can be known about God is evident among them, because God has shown it to them. For His invisible attributes, that is, His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly seen since the creation of the world, being understood through what He has made. As a result, people are without excuse.”

Therefore, we should not be concerned about independent wisdom from independent source material being mentioned in the Scriptures. As a casual student of philosophy, it is not uncommon to see truths that align with the Scripture mentioned by some of the great thinkers. As I might cite or borrow from a philosopher when examining or writing on biblical truths, so too could the writers of the Holy text without negating or challenging the truths of our Lord in Holy Bible which represents the greatest of revelations. We should consider it not to be problematic, but a reinforcement.

If we are assembling a dresser we purchased from IKEA, although it may come with its own instructions straight from the manufacturer, and if we look online to search for further support, we are not invalidating those instructions, but rather with the extra-material, reinforcing that original source material that we may accomplish the task more efficiently with that added understanding others have gained.

Thank you for reading and God bless.


2 Corinthians 6:2, “For [God] says, ‘In an acceptable time I heard you, and in the day of salvation I helped you.’ Behold, now is the acceptable time! Behold now is the day of salvation.” (LITV)

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Paul here quotes from Isaiah 49:8. It would certainly be beneficial to us to refer to this verse in Isaiah, and the previous one, so that we might understand what the acceptable time means.

Isaiah 49:7-8, “The LORD, the Redeemer and Holy One of Israel, says to the One who is despised and rejected by the nations, to the One who is the servant of rulers: ‘Kings will stand at attention when you pass by. Princes will also bow low because of the LORD, the faithful one, the Holy One of Israel, Who has chosen You. At just the right time, I will respond to you. On the day of salvation I will help you. I will protect you and give you to the people as My covenant with them. Through You I will reestablish the land of Israel and assign it to its own people again.”

This chapter in Isaiah is a prelude, foreshadowing or prophecy of what would eventually come to pass. Israel would be in state of enmity against God and His Holy Servant Jesus Christ. Verse 7 gives us insight into this strife, which is extant on man’s part alone, but despite the presence of unbelief and outright hostility against God and God’s Holy One, God sought it fit to impart grace upon mankind.

I would ask the reader to reflect upon the sublimity of these facts, that at one of the most hostile times in history towards God and His Holy One, that God somehow, in accordance with a grace and love far surpassing that of human-kind, purposed a time of His favor through that same Holy One, Jesus Christ. As William MacDonald mentions, the “day of salvation” mentioned, as it pertains to Jesus, “refers to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ.”

"Resurrection of Christ," by Carl Heinrich Bloch. c. 1875

“Resurrection of Christ,” by Carl Heinrich Bloch. c. 1875

Therefore, this “time of favor” can be said to be situated between the resurrection and Christ’s return. Philip E. Hughes, of the NIV Study Bible, says:

“[This is] an affirmation that is true in a general sense of all God’s saving acts in the history of His people, but that finds its particular fulfillment in this present age of grace between the two comings of Christ.” –Philip E. Hughes, NIV Study Bible

Hughes correctly points out that throughout history there have been manifest times of God’s favor. However, there is an innovative originality concerning the particular age we live in now, where this hallowed salvation is made available to all mankind. Yet, we say this in a general sense, for there is also an individualistic sense in which, by Paul’s words, is not only suggested this blessed grace or salvation, but also it serves as a warning. For we are told that it is a time of God’s favor, but one necessary condition of time is that it passes. The direct consequent, then, is that this time of “acceptability” will pass. Henceforth, we understand the urgency of Paul’s message, that ‘now is the day of salvation.’

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The NIV Study Bible points this out when it states:

“[‘Now’] underscores the urgency of the divine invitation.” –Philip E. Hughes, NIV Study Bible

Time is somewhat of a relative term as it is used here. We should realize that time can mean, this moment, today, this week, fifty years from now, a hundred, or, indeed, eons from now. Of course, the verse applies its message for today. Paul does this in probably the full understanding that mankind, when it comes to salvation and holiness are the greatest of procrastinators. We tend to put off these things like obedience and faith because we fool ourselves into thinking that we will always have tomorrow, the next day, or the next, and so on, to come under the grace of our Lord. However, nobody is guaranteed tomorrow, nor ten minutes from now. This strikes me as a rather prideful assertion and delusional assurance, for all evidence points to the contrary. Rather than putting these things off, let us today put on the full armor of God, with its helmet of salvation, shield of faith, shoes to spread the gospel of peace, breastplate of righteousness and belt of truth. Let us put on the shining armor of right living, as the Scriptures tells us:

Romans 13:12, “The night is almost gone; the day of salvation will soon be here. So remove your dark deeds like dirty clothes, and put on the shining armor of right living.”

Ephesians 6:11, “Put on all of God’s armor so that you will be able to stand firm against all strategies of the devil.”

Ephesians 6:13-14, “Therefore, put on every piece of God’s armor so you will be able to resist the enemy in the time of evil. Then after the battle you will still be standing firm. Stand your ground, putting on the belt of truth and the body armor of God’s righteousness.”

1 Thessalonians 5:8, “But let us who live in the light be clearheaded, protected by the armor of faith and love, and wearing as our helmet the confidence of our salvation.”

Let us again consider the general and specific application regarding this “time of salvation” as it pertains to both mankind as a whole (general) and the individual (specific). We find the generality of the time of God’s favor to pertain to all man in this age between the appearances of Christ. It is in this age we are offered salvation by and through faith (in which obedience becomes an integral part) in Jesus Christ. Yet, as we have said, since it is mentioned in the context of time, it will not carry on indefinitely. Rather, this time supposes an end, so, let us run in haste and endurance that race marked out before us, while we still exist within this state or time, for we do not know the time when it will come to an abrupt end.

End

Here is our chance. Here is our opportunity. Let no man suppose that this opportunity will always be there, for if it was the case the Scriptures would not emphasize us coming to the Lord, or obeying His statues, “as long as it is still today.” The Scriptures say:

Hebrews 3:7-8, “That is why the Holy Spirit says, ‘Today when you hear His voice, don’t harden your hearts as Israel did when they rebelled, when they tested Me in the wilderness.’”

Hebrews 3:13, “You must warn each other every day, while it is still ‘today,’ so that none of you will be deceived by sin and hardened against God.”

Hebrews 4:7, “So God set another time for entering His rest, and that time is today. God announced this through David much later in the words already quoted: ‘Today when you hear His voice, don’t harden your hearts.’”

Psalm 69:13, “But I pray to you, O LORD, in the time of Your favor, in your great love, O God, answer me with your sure salvation.”

Isaiah 55:6, “Seek the LORD while He may be found; call on Him while He is near.”

Psalm 32:6, “Therefore let everyone who is godly pray to You while You may be found; surely when the mighty waters rise, they will not reach Him.”

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No, we must run for the goal, which is Christ Jesus, in all due haste. How I cringe when I hear Christians suggest by their words that they can always ask for forgiveness later. How I cringe when I realize I too have done this very thing. Now I am not one to put limits on the grace of the Lord, for this is beyond my scope of knowledge, but this attitude speaks loudly in a resounding tone of arrogance and disrespectful presuppositions. For it supposes God will always forgive us and that He is always willing to forgive. Frightfully enough, the Scriptures, though Jesus tells us if we seek we shall find (Matthew 7:7), Proverbs makes it clear:

Proverbs 1:24-28, “I called you so often, but you wouldn’t come. I reached out to you, but you paid no attention. You ignored My advice and rejected the correction I offered. So I will laugh when you are in trouble! I will mock you when disaster overtakes you—when calamity overtakes you like a storm, when disaster engulfs you like a cyclone, and anguish and distress overwhelm you. When they cry for help, I will not answer. Though they anxiously search for Me, they will not find Me.”

Therefore, let us not suppose we are always fit to be found under the grace of the Lord our God. However, those of us who have been forgiven for our past sins let us rejoice and take a firm hold of the faith. For the Lord has granted us favor, and not by our own works, but by His grace which transcends all understanding of man.

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“You have been set free from sin and have become slaves to righteousness.” -Romans 6:18

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Who or what is your master? Like it or not, we all chase after or focus on something, and it is this same something which dictates or determines our actions, thoughts, goals or desires. Man tends to think he is the master over his own life, but this isn’t the case. Man can choose what has dominion over him, this much is true, but once it is decided, it is sealed, and that individual becomes a slave to that very thing.

Relative recent history gives the term, “slave,” a certain infamy and therefore power, in a very negative sense. Does Paul mean “slave” with the same sort of negative connotation that it has today? I argue not, but let us first understand that slavery in the Scripture, is very different from those, “recent,” examples that blot our history, particularly that of the western tradition. Indeed, much slavery included in the Bible concerns the repayment of debts. Yet, now, Christ has paid our debt in full, that by our faith in Him, it may be credited to us as righteousness. Furthermore, Christ doesn’t refer to us as slaves, but rather, sons, daughters, and even, friends.

Paul indicates repeatedly in his letters, that we are either slaves to sin, or slaves to righteousness. Yet, if we are slaves to righteousness, aren’t we then slaves to God? Furthermore, if this is the case, then can’t it be said that God has no more morality than any of those southern plantation owners, who “employed,” slaves in early American history?

In actuality, the answer is a resounding no! For although Paul uses the word, he does so to put it in, “human terms.” When we examine the slavery mentioned by Paul and juxtapose it with the slavery of history, we find a key difference, and, in fact, it is Christ Himself who is the key that unlocks the shackles that bind our hands and feet, setting us free!

When we look at the contemporary conception of the institution of slavery, we find it not only terrible, but completely self-serving. Though slavery is for the benefit of one, the land owner, Christ came for the benefit of many. In Christ we do serve God, but we too are rewarded in and by our efforts, We find that we benefit in being slaves to righteousness, which negates slavery altogether. In addition, we find others benefit in our being “slaves” to this righteousness, and we are given eternal life and glorify God with our very lives.

Sin is the true slavery, and more in tune with the current view of slavery then the antithesis. For though man’s carnal desires may be satisfied in short term, there is no true benefit, only pacification. What is true is what is eternal. Live for righteousness that you may be a slave no longer, live for Christ. Through sin came pain, death, and misery, but through Christ, we gain contentment, life, and joy. Glory be to God who through His Son broke us out of the bonds and freed us from sin and the wage that comes from it, death.


“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation, the old has gone and the new has come! 18All this is from God, who reconciled us to Himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation. 19That God was reconciling the world to Himself in Christ not counting men’s sins against them. And He has committed us to the message of reconciliation.” -Romans 5:17-19

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The Holy Bible should not be considered some mere book, that one reads once through, or even a few times, and that is all that is required. It is the Word of God and it may speak to us through a single verse in many different ways. This being the case, there is no such thing as too much repetition within the Holy Writ. We must consistently read and study, letting the Lord speak to us all the while, in order that through and by it, we may overcome the burdens or challenges that my arise within our lives. In addition, the memorization of Scripture, assists us to overcome the temptation of sin, which so easily entangles.

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When we look at the temptation of Christ as he wandered through the wilderness, we find that our Lord answered the temptations from Satan with Scripture. Whenever Satan attempted other tactics, they were shot down in a similar fashion. This should be a lesson unto us. Often times the Lord guides us to Scripture, prior to, or preceding, a particular temptation in our lives.

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Though I have wrote on this particular verse before, I do not question where the Lord is leading me in His word, and with every verse I ponder over it, and more importantly, I pray that it would remain in remembrance. In addition, I pray that the Lord would illuminate the Scripture for me, that it may be yielded as a weapon against darkness if and when the time should come.

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When a person comes to Christ, it is easier to believe that our past sins are forgiven, rather than those which are committed under grace. However, the glorious message of reconciliation shows us that even our current and future sins can be covered under this same grace. Concerning this truth, being a new creation, we are renewed day by day. Though we may have backslid yesterday, today is a new day in which our sins, by Christ, may not be counted against us, in the sight of the Almighty. Christ, along with the Spirit that dwells within us, shows that God is committed to His promise of reconciliation for all those covered in Christ blood. Given this, we should be committed to this message that others may be reconciled unto God.

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If we confess with our mouth that, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in our hearts that God raised Him from the dead, we become born again and are created anew. We are given a new Spirit by Christ, and our old selves pass away. This is only possible through Christ, who paid our debt when He took our sins upon Himself at Calvary, justifying us from our trespasses. Therefore, when we die in body, we will be given a new one, clean and free of decay, as Christ has. This is all due to the glory manifest at the cross, that in our faith in the Son, it may be credited to us as righteousness.

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“For sin shall no longer be your master, because you are not under the law, but under grace. 15What then? Shall we sin because we are not under the law but under grace? By no means!” -Romans 6:14-15

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Once a subject comes to the Lord, and evil’s grasp over a person begins to weaken, the enemy reaches into his well worn bag of tricks to pullout a biggie. Those who come to the cross know that they are forgiven for their sins, and the newly created, not yet having moved onto solid food (Hebrews 5:11-14), may be approached with the temptation that Christ’s blood, which grants righteousness through faith, gives one freedom in sin. God’s perfect word addresses this very thing. Yet, even as I mentioned , that this is a common temptation when first coming to the Lord and knowing only the elementary truths, it can, in fact, afflict even those who have moved onto a more mature diet.

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As Romans 6:15 urges us not to sin while we are covered with grace, The Book of Hebrews reiterates the danger of using Christ’s blood as an excuse for iniquity:

“If we deliberately keep on sinning after we have received the knowledge of truth, no sacrifice for sins is left, 27but only a fearful expectation of judgment and raging fire that will consume the enemies of God.” -Hebrews 10:26-27

In Exodus 34:7, there are three kinds of sin that are mentioned. There are those sins, which result from the habitual acts and thoughts of the human nature, more or less, because of our “natural” faulty faculties, by which we fall short of the Glory of God. For instance, catching ourselves cursing at someone in traffic. I will refer to these sins as a “breach.” Though I may give these kinds of sin different terms, this is strictly for the purposes of differentiation, and by no means necessarily reflect how the Lord may judge these sins, which is not for me to say. These are just general categories that seem to be implicit in Scripture.

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The second category, and addressed throughout this entry, is iniquity. Iniquity is willful sin in the sight of God. The willful sins are of greater consequence. We know this, not only because of the dangers represented through God’s word, but as those who have engaged in willful sin under grace (as I have) should be able to testify, the conviction by the Spirit concerning such sin weighs more heavily than does the conviction of a breach.

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Thirdly, and yet first in terms of severity, is “transgression,” or willful rebellion. To rebel against the ways of God, is to rebel against the nature of God, and in such sin there is no forgiveness, for there is no repentance. True repentance is not merely the asking for the forgiveness of sin, but turning and walking away from it.

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The similarities of the last two examples reside in the fact that they are both willful. Yet, in the case of transgression, it is a willful rebellion against God. Between iniquity and rebellion there is a subtle difference, in which the degree of the rebellion is emphasized. In iniquity, while one does certainly rebel in the very act of the willful sin, and in fact all sin is disobedience, the rebellion in the heart may not be to the degree of transgression. The latter is often strove for in a permanent sense, that the transgressor is not willing to give all to God, or even allow God to work in that area of sin.

As with some breaches, iniquity too can be habitual by nature. This is usually due to our indulgences in that sin, either prior to coming to Christ, or those times when people fall away and rebel willingly, as I too am guilty of. So for such people like myself, where is the hope? Does it exist for those like me who, by my own admission, have rebelled and fallen away (more than once) having both iniquity and transgression represented in my life? It is somewhat distressing personally to read verses like the one contained in Hebrews. Is there any hope if one is guilty of iniquity?

By the grace of God, I am here to tell you, absolutely! There is still hope, for as I stated earlier, in regards to the convictions of the Spirit, which are manifest when those sins that reside in the scope of iniquity are committed, the conviction is a lot, “heavier.” By the mere conviction alone, we see the Holy Spirit still communicating with us and weighing a burden of conviction upon our hearts. Taking this into account, and knowing that the Holy Spirit is, “a guarantee of what is to come,” (2 Corinthians 1:22) we know by the Word itself we may still be under grace.

Yet, let us not undermine the danger in such intentional sin and disobedience. As with Samson, the Lord eventually left him, and as the Scriptures tell us, he was not even aware that this was the case, which is the biggest tragedy. Thus, when iniquity becomes so prevalent in our lives, we may not know when we have moved from under grace to under wrath. To which point this occurs is not for me to say, nor would I, lest by doing so I may cause a stumbling block for others, for man has a tendency to push the limits of what is right, edging as close as he can before crossing the ethical boundaries he perceives, or that which have been set by the Lord. This kind of knowledge is reserved for the Lord and is between the Lord and the trespasser. The fact is, with a willful progression and steadfastness in iniquity, Hebrews suggest that by engaging in this with abandon, there is no sacrifice to cover the sin!

However, even to those who have at one time in their life, “trampled on the blood of Christ,” or fallen away, you have hope abounding! This is because of our gracious, merciful God, to whom belongs all the glory! Even Samson, though the Lord left him, at his end called on the Lord, and by doing so, God gave him the strength to destroy the temple. In addition, as the parable of the prodigal son testifies, there is much rejoicing in heaven when a former son, or daughter, returns to the Lord. In fact, more so than that of the righteous.

Our Lord is gracious and loving, but He warns us sternly not to take advantage of the grace He has offered us. It has been wrought with the blood, pain, suffering and humiliation experienced by His one and only Son, our savior, Jesus Christ. Shall we choose to hammer the nails deeper into Christ by continuing to sin, knowing full well what Christ endured on our behalf?

The three types of sin brought up earlier can be recovered by grace with a repentant humble heart. Yet, man in his imperfection still continues to sin, but Christ’s blood has both covered the sins of the past, and of the future. The warning is powerful, as it should be, for as some will testify, including myself, with the indulgence of iniquity you by your own accord have departed from under the cleansing blood of Christ. If this is the case, and I pray it isn’t, then you may find yourself much like Samson, with the Lord leaving you and you being unaware. Woe to the man or woman who in such a state is perishing.


“If you declare with your mouth, ‘Jesus is Lord,’ and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved.” -Romans 10:9

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In a previous entry (see my entry concerning Romans 1:12, “On The Correlation Between Faith and Love”), I had discussed some of the like attributes between both love and faith. Yet, when we consider our faith in the Lord, we find love to be a necessary condition for our faith in Jesus Christ. Without this love, our relationship with the Lord cannot develop and will eventually be negated by the doubt that we as believers are sometimes confronted and assaulted with, for our faith cannot be steadfast without loves inclusion in the relationship. We can obviously see this when it comes to loving our brethren, how much more should it be applicable to our relationship with the Lord, who is love? The Bible makes it perfectly clear how love and faith are the prerequisites to developing a deeper friendship with the Lord (see my entry concerning John 15:15, “On Having a Friendship With The Lord”). 1 John 4:19 states (see my entry, “On Love’s First Cause”):

“We love because He first loved us.” -1 John 4:19

Throughout my life, many times have I heard the phrase, “God is love.” From this verse in 1 John, it is more than apparent that this is truth, for it links our love with His. Though God has many attributes, including discipline, these all have their basis in love. Even concerning His wrath, He takes no pleasure in the punishment of the ungodly, but God cannot co-inhabit with evil. As Psalms 5:4 tells us, “With you the wicked cannot dwell.” In the same way two forms of matter cannot occupy the space, so too, the wicked cannot dwell with perfect holiness. This, is in fact, a contradiction, and thereby we need the justification that was manifest and offered upon Calvary. What God does take pleasure in, however, is the justification of the wicked by His Son! This is not only backed up in Scripture, but if it wasn’t true, Christ would not have came and died upon such a cruel instrument of death in the first place. Yet, the cross became His glory! If this did not appease God’s justice and have the ability to, not only change a sinners being, but also clothe the depraved with a garment of righteousness, then the Trinity would have never been separated. Yet, since it has alleviated God’s justice, we are granted the opportunity to come to the Son, our Savior Jesus Christ, in faith. By this very thing, which should be evident in our hearts, and through which springs all godly obedience, we are saved. Thereby, we next find ourselves in The Book of John, at one of the most famous verses in all of Scripture, Chapter 3, Verses 16 and 17:

“For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life. 17For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through Him.”

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Regarding God’s discipline, it is also based in love. Hebrews 12:7-13 likens God to a loving worldly father (indeed when looking at family proper, or rather, a proper family, we find much in the family structure symbolizes God’s nature):

“Endure hardship as discipline; God is treating you as His children. For what children are not disciplined by their father? 8If you are not disciplined – and everyone undergoes discipline – then you are not legitimate, not true sons and daughters at all. 9Moreover, we have all had human fathers who disciplined us and we respected them for it. How much more should we submit to the Father of our spirits and live! 10They disciplined us for a little while as they thought best; but God disciplines us for our good, in order that we may share in His holiness. 11No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it. 12Therefore, strengthen your feeble arms and weak knees. 13‘Make level paths for your feet,’ so that the lame may not be disabled, but rather healed.”

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Notice that Verse 8 clearly expresses John 3:16, for if everyone, by love, undergoes discipline, then it follows, “that God so loved the world,” is indeed true. God’s love is absolutely perfect and in complete accordance with His nature. Before our existence in the world came to pass, He already loved us and had our justification planned out in Christ. We can come to the Lord in the first place, as sinners, due to this preexisting love. If it exists prior, on a temporal plain where we didn’t even exist yet, how much more important is this mutual love when we do exist and come to the Lord by faith? Our faith, among other things, is a recognition of that love, and by it we love God reciprocally as the Book of Deuteronomy commands:

“Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength. 6These commandments that I give you today are to be on your hearts.” -Deuteronomy 6:5-6

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It is this same faith and love in His Son, by which we are granted the Holy Spirit. To those who have eyes, let them understand, for due to the corruption of this world, the following may be hard to contemplate, or uncomfortable to focus on. However, it is important. As man and women become one flesh in love, likewise do we become one with the Lord by His love and sacrifice. He dwells within us, as the Spirit of Holiness, and if we are in the Spirit as well, love is perfectly manifest and we, by the Spirit, cannot do anything apart from love. If our actions are ones that don’t speak to the love of God in either word or example, it is of the self. As 1 Corinthians says:

“Therefore I tell you that no one is speaking by the Spirit of God says, ‘Jesus be cursed,’ and no one can say, ‘Jesus is Lord,’ except by the Holy Spirit.” -1 Corinthians 12:3

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Though this love was manifest in perfection by the Son, in both His death and resurrection, it existed prior to Christ’s first coming and was in the Law, which according to the Gospels can be summed up with just two commandments:

“‘Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law? 37Jesus replied, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind. 38This is the first commandment. 39And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ 40All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.” -Matthew 22:36-40

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The Law, revealed by God unto Moses, shows explicitly the attributes and nature of God. Hence, we can only conclude the Law is good, just as our Lord is good. In the same way, because God is love, the Law, by necessity, follows suit. Therefore, since we know love to be such an intrinsic part of God, our faith too should resonate with love for our Lord. In addition, the love of God is boundless and this being the case, our love can always become manifest greater in our lives. Though we can love too little, we cannot love enough. This week, let us pray that the Lord may extend the boundaries of love we have set by the desires of the self and our own comfort, that we may better serve both the Lord and man. Let us pray that we may glorify Him even further than we have, through not just words, but rather by example. Amen.

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“And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile; you are still in your sins.” -1 Corinthians 15:17

"Resurrection of Christ," by Noel Coypel. oil on canvas, c. 1700

Due to our sin and the guilt that remained a stain upon us, Christ had to die if we had any hope of being saved at all, but not just that. We find, even in His death, we are not saved, but rather it offered us the door into salvation (see my note concerning Romans 5:10, “On Holy Boot Camp and a Conversation With The Dark Messenger”). Yet, it is His resurrection that the gospel comes to a full fruition and we are saved. It is by His sacrifice, in which He endured great suffering and died that in His righteousness, He would rise again, the firstfruit of this same righteousness. When we come to the Lord, our sin, iniquities, and old selves die upon the cross, but in His life we began to truly live. Thus, because of Christ’s perfect obedience, in its time and season, we too will rise again with a new body, free from decay, a like kind of what Christ was awarded.

Romans Chapter 4, Verse 25, tells us:

“He was delivered over to death for our sins and was raised to life for our justification.”

May we praise and bless His eternal name, for His death provided the needed justification and His resurrection the righteousness, that we may be seen as clean and free from blemish in the sight of God. In and by Christ, both God’s justice and grace (see note on Romans 6:23, “On The Justice and The Gift”) were manifest to completion, in order that we may drink from the river of life, and to Him we return the glory. Amen.
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