The Winners’ Prizes — Dead Vegetation?

Alex the Less:

Many Christians, when they read this admonition to run to win the race, think of racing many opponents because this is a feature of modern competition. Christians can be confused as to who they are competing against and may think this verse speaks of competing ministries. I do not think the verse refers to competing against other Christians, rather, the struggle between the “old” and “new man” within a believer. Paul here refers to a two person race as evidenced by the accompanying figure of boxing the body negating the lusts of the flesh (beating the body to submit it to the new person). Both metaphors are for the ultimate purpose of not being disqualified through the lack of self control. It is the same as presenting one’s body as a living sacrifice (Rom. 12.1-2). The old person is rendered inoperable by denying the old self and taking up their cross in following Christ (Mt.10.38-9).

Originally posted on HolyLandPhotos' Blog:

In a previous entry I shared some pictures related to “Running the Race.”  The winners of such competitions were awarded, among other things, victory crowns—the composition of which depended upon the games.

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Modern Recreation of Victory Wreaths — On the left a Pine Wreath for the winner of an event at the Isthmian Games and on the right a Laural Wreath for the winner of an event at the Olympic Games — Click on Image to Enlarge and/or Download

The games at Isthmia were held twice during the four year Olympic cycle.  The city of Corinth was in charge of these games and Isthmia was only 6 miles from Corinth.  The games included athletic as well a music contests.  It is very probable that the games were held during Paul’s stay at Corinth.  Indeed, he writes to the church at Corinth:

1Cor. 9:24     Do you not know

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Lebanon?

Ezekiel 17.1-5: Tells the riddle of Nebuchadnezzar coming to Lebanon to pluck the top sprig (Jehoiachin) from Israel (Judah) and placing a seedling (Zedekiah) in its place. A question in my mind is: why mention Lebanon? The answer becomes clear when we realize that Judah had no suitable place for encampment for Nebuchadnezzar’s army and court. The broad and fertile plain of Riblah in the land of Hamath (Lebanon area) did however and the Babylonian King likely used this site as he did later in 587/6 BCE when Zedekiah’s court was executed (Jer. 53.9-11).

17:1 The word of the Lord came to me: 17:2 “Son of man, offer a riddle, and tell a parable to the house of Israel. 17:3 Say to them: ‘This is what the sovereign Lord says:

“ ‘A great eagle with broad wings, long feathers,

with full plumage which was multi-hued,

came to Lebanon and took the top of the cedar.

17:4 He plucked off its topmost shoot;

he brought it to a land of merchants

and planted it in a city of traders.

17:5 He took one of the seedlings of the land,

placed it in a cultivated plot;

a shoot by abundant water,

like a willow he planted it.

Premillennialism in Church History, Part II

Alex the Less:

Good historical summary of PMill. thought by Lynda O. in this post.

Originally posted on Scripture Thoughts:

Continuing from Part I in this series, now for a brief look at the early medieval period, when the martyr doctrine was itself martyred. As well established from the available writings of the early church, the true church pre-Constantine (those who were of the Christian faith and not heretics) affirmed chiliasm. Nathaniel West’s essay points out the connection between the martyrs and their “martyr doctrine,” the hope of the future reign with Christ. Premillennialism is the doctrine of the martyred church, a great truth that has no place in apostate Christianity, that false faith that springs forth in times of peace, free from persecution.

This part of the history is more known to premillennialists, at least in general terms: the allegorical approach in the Alexandrian school, and Augustine formulating what is now called amillennialism, including “progressive parallelism” as a “spiritual” answer in response to the “carnal” excesses of some chiliast…

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Methuselah – The Palm Tree

Alex the Less:

Modern agricultural techniques such as in vitro germination are impressive but more impressive is the original design allowing this seed to remain viable all these years. The oasis of En Gedi (pictured also) was an important place when King David was hiding from Saul as there are springs of water that sustained the soldiers. In the future En Gedi will be a fishing village (Ezekiel 47.8-12).

Originally posted on HolyLandPhotos' Blog:

View of “Methuselah” the Judean Date Palm tree on the grounds of Kibbutz Ketura in the Rift Valley of Israel—about 30 mi. [50 km.] north of Eilat.

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“Methuselah” the Date Palm — sprouted from a 2,000 year old seed that was found in the excavations of Masada — Photo: March 2014 — Click on Image to Enlarge and/or Download

Methuselah sprouted in 2005 from a 2,000 seed that was found in the excavations of Masada.  It was transplanted to the earth in 2008.  This picture was taken in March 2014 and it seems to be doing well.

To view an interesting 8 minute video on this Judean Palm Tree that was sprouted from a 2,000 year old date pit found by Yigal Yadin at Masada Click Here.

Yishai Fleisher interviews, on site, Dr. Elaine Solowey, who supervised the sprouting of the pit and the nurturing of the seedling back…

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The Forgotten Covenant (Pt.4)

Alex the Less:

The Millennial sacrifices proclaim Christ’s death similar to how Church Age “Lord’s Supper” observances do. Both “Believer’s Baptism” and “The Lord’s Supper” memorialize Christ’s atoning work: the once for all sacrifice at Calvary’s cross. If the Old Testament sacrifices were shadows of Christ’s one sacrifice then it may be helpful to look at them as morning shadows. Now, and in the Millennium, they are evening shadows. Christ’s redemptive event is pictured from two perspectives: before and after.

Originally posted on DR. RELUCTANT:

Part One

Part Two

Part Three

In this last part of our study of the “Priestly Covenant” I will try to answer some of the main objections which might be thrown at  what I have already stated.

1. If Christ is the Final Sacrifice for sins, how can there be a temple and sacrifices in the future?

This objection is based on a misunderstanding of the Book of Hebrews.  Mixed in with this is a subtle prejudice (usually of the non-pejorative sort) against the very idea of a temple and sacrifices.  I shall address the former issue more than the latter.

In Hebrews 7:12 the priesthood is said to be changed.  That being so, how can Levites officiate in any future temple?  The answer, of course, is that it is the High Priesthood which is under consideration in Hebrews (Cf. Heb. 4:14-5:5; 7:1-3, 11-13,23-27; 9:6-10, etc).  Interestingly, there is no…

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The Forgotten Covenant (PT.3)

Alex the Less:

The early church (1st-3rd century CE) was clearly awaiting an earthly kingdom that the Father would set up and thus were Premillennial in their outlook toward future blessings. Here is part 3 of Dr. Henebury’s series “The Priestly Covenant.”

Originally posted on DR. RELUCTANT:

Part Two

After the vision of the enormous temple which ends Ezekiel one is left with some questions.  How could such an immense structure fit in Jerusalem as we know it?  Why would any cultic priesthood be necessary once Jesus had come and died for our sins?  And, doesn’t the Book of Hebrews negate the whole idea of priests and sacrifices?

I am going to leave aside the last two questions until I examine some objections in Part Four.  But this post will answer the first problem.  But before I do that I want to fill in the picture a little more by looking at some more prophetic references.

In Daniel’s prayer of confession in Daniel 9 we see him specifically make supplications for “Your city Jerusalem” (9:16) and “Your sanctuary” (9:17).  Gabriel’s answer addresses Jerusalem (9:24, 25) and the temple, which is doomed to destruction (9:26).  I am not…

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Context Dictates Usage, not Word Definitions

Craig Keener gives sage advice for understanding and interpreting the bible:

 

Context is the way God gave us the Bible, one book at a time.  The first readers of Mark could not flip over to Revelation to help them understand Mark; Revelation had not been written yet.  The first readers of Galatians did not have a copy of the letter Paul wrote to Rome to help them understand it.  These first readers did share some common information with the author outside the book they received.

We’ll call this shared information “background”: some knowledge of the culture, earlier biblical history, and so on.  But they had, most importantly, the individual book of the Bible that was in front of them.  Therefore we can be confident that the writers of the Bible included enough within each book of the Bible to help the readers understand that book of the Bible without referring to information they lacked.  For that reason, context is the most important academic key to Bible interpretation.

Often popular ministers today quote various isolated verses they have memorized, even though this means that they will usually leave 99% of the Bible’s verses unpreached.  One seemingly well-educated person told a Bible teacher that she thought the purpose of having a Bible was to look up the verses the minister quoted in church!  But the Bible is not a collection of people’s favorite verses with a lot of blank space in between.  Using verses out of context one could “prove” almost anything about God or justify almost any kind of behavior–as history testifies.  But in the Bible God revealed Himself in His acts in history, through the inspired records of those acts and the inspired wisdom of His servants addressing specific situations.

People in my culture value everything “instant”: “instant” mashed potatoes; fast food; and so forth.  Similarly, we too often take short-cuts to understanding the Bible by quoting random verses or assuming that others who taught us have understood them correctly.  When we do so, we fail to be diligent in seeking God’s Word (Proverbs 2:2-5; 4:7; 8:17; 2 Timothy 2:15).

One prominent minister in the U.S., Jim Bakker, was so busy with his ministry to millions of people that he did not have time to study Scripture carefully in context.  He trusted that his friends whose teachings he helped promote surely had done so.  Later, when his ministry collapsed, he spent many hours honestly searching the Scriptures and realized to his horror that on some points Jesus’ teachings, understood in context, meant the exact opposite of what he and his friends had been teaching!  It is never safe to simply depend on what someone else claims that God says (1 Kings 13:15-26).

I discovered this for myself when, as a young Christian, I began reading 40 chapters of the Bible a day (enough to finish the New Testament every week or the Bible every month).  I was shocked to discover how much Scripture I had essentially ignored between the verses I had memorized, and how carefully the intervening text connected those verses.  I had been missing so much, simply using the Bible to defend what I already believed!  After one begins reading the Bible a book at a time, one quickly recognizes that verses isolated from their context nearly always mean something different when read in context.

We cannot, in fact, even pretend to make sense of most verses without reading their context.  Isolating verses from their context disrespects the authority of Scripture because this method of interpretation cannot be consistently applied to the whole of Scripture.  It picks verses that seem to make sense on their own, but most of the rest of the Bible is left over when it is done, incapable of being used the same way.  Preaching and teaching the Bible the way it invites us to interpret it—in its original context–both explains the Bible accurately and provides our hearers a good example how they can learn the Bible better for themselves.

If we read any other book, we would not simply take an isolated statement in the middle of the book and ignore the surrounding statements that help us understand the reason for that statement.  If we hand a storybook to a child already learning how to read, the child would probably start reading at the beginning.  That people so often read the Bible out of context is not because it comes naturally to us, but because we have been taught the wrong way by frequent example.  Without disrespecting those who have done the best they could without understanding the principle of context, we must now avail ourselves of the chance to begin teaching the next generation the right way to interpret the Bible.

Many contradictions some readers claim to find in the Bible arise simply from ignoring the context of the passages they cite, jumping from one text to another without taking the time to first understand each text on its own terms.  To develop an example offered above, when Paul says that a person is justified by faith without works (Romans 3:28), his context makes it clear that he defines faith as something more than passive assent to a viewpoint; he defines it as a conviction that Christ is our salvation, a conviction on which one actively stakes one’s life (Romans 1:5).  James declares that one cannot be justified by faith without works (James 2:14)—because he uses the word “faith” to mean mere assent that something is true (2:19), he demands that such assent be actively demonstrated by obedience to show that it is genuine (2:18).  In other words, James and Paul use the word “faith” differently, but do not contradict one another on the level of meaning.  If we ignore context and merely connect different verses on the basis of similar wording, we will come up with contradictions in the Bible that the original writers would never have imagined.

http://www.craigkeener.com/the-importance-of-context-in-bible-study/

The Forgotten Covenant (Pt.2)

Alex the Less:

Here is the second part of Paul Henebury’s “Forgotten Covenant”. We are right to expect a 4th Temple (Ezekiel 40ff) and a list of arguments is given By Dr. Henebury for its literal completion.
The treatment of “The Covenant of Salt” is not as developed as I hoped however and I will write on it after my research is complete giving my own views on the concept.

Originally posted on DR. RELUCTANT:

Part One

Biblical Covenantalism tracks the covenants through Scripture for the sake of putting together a composite picture of God’s plan.  The covenants are the backbone of Scripture.  If we pay careful attention to these covenants as they arise, we will not be able to bypass the everlasting “covenant of peace” which God made with Phinehas and his descendents in Numbers 25.  The fact that a covenant of this kind is casually passed over with barely a mention and not traced out in Scripture is telling.  I think what it tells is that we tend to want to read our endings to the story into passages like this.  Coming to the covenants like this tends to muffle their testimony with a pious overlay of ‘the finished work of Christ.’

The Witness of Ezekiel

Ezekiel, like Jeremiah, was a priest (1:3), but evidently not in the line of Phinehas.  In chapters…

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The Puritans, and Online Resources

Alex the Less:

Lynda O. has listed some Puritan resources which I want to pass on to others. If time is limited however, the bible is the first and best read possible.

Originally posted on Scripture Thoughts:

In 1987 Dr. S. Lewis Johnson observed the negative slant our culture puts on the Puritans, while emphasizing the positive aspect of true Puritanism:

There is a genuine New Testament Puritanism. A separation from sin and evil that a genuine Christian must cultivate. Even Arminians and Calvinists who don’t agree on soteriological truths, do agree here if they’re believers in Christ. Christians are to separate from evil and sin in their Christian life. …. New Testament Puritanism is no harsh, repellant thing eradicating the affections. It’s the opening of the heart to eternal love, to eternal joy, to eternal comfort in rich fruitfulness. There is puritanism in the New Testament. It’s for everyone of us who named Christ. May God help us to illustrate it in our lives.

Yet in recent years within evangelical Christianity, the Puritans have made a “comeback,” with increased popularity as their writings have become…

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The Forgotten Covenant (Pt.1)

Alex the Less:

Over the next 4 days I am reblogging Dr. Henebury’s posts on the priestly covenant made with Phinehas. This is an important section for understanding bible interpretation and shows how the scriptures can be taken at face value (unless obvious metaphorical language is used).

Originally posted on DR. RELUCTANT:

Question: Which plainly stated Covenant in the Bible is most often neglected?

The answer is the covenant which the LORD made with Phinehas in the Book of Numbers.

The circumstances surrounding this covenant centers around the doctrine of Balaam as it was realized at Baal Peor (Cf. Num.31:16; Rev. 2:14).  Amid the idolatry and fornication a Simeonite by the name of Zimri openly brought a Midianite woman into the camp of Israel and took her into his tent to have sexual relations with her.  This happened even while Israelites were “weeping at the door of the tabernacle of meeting.” (Num. 25:6).

Phinehas, who was Aaron’s grandson, witnessed this brazen act of “sexual liberation” and struck the man and the woman through with a javelin (25:8).  This act of priestly zeal stopped a plague which had broken out within the camp which had claimed the lives of twenty-four thousand people.  God’s…

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Review of Lexham Discourse Greek New Testament Bundle (Logos Bible Software)

Alex the Less:

Dan Wallace critically evaluates a new offering from Logos Bible Software: Lexham Discourse Greek New Testament Bundle. This seems like a great new tool though Prof. Wallace does note some limitations. This resource should aid pastors and students to see many aspects of the text conveniently in one place with easy navigation.

Originally posted on Daniel B. Wallace:

As would be expected from anything produced by Steven Runge, this is a most useful tool. It is intended to help readers understand why an author chooses the forms he does to convey meaning. Discourse grammar has become an increasingly helpful approach in the last few years to supplement standard grammars. It does not replace traditional grammars, but supplements them. Occasionally, discourse grammars, including this one from Logos, will see meaning in the wrong places. For example, the illustration of the use of the participle like an indicative verb conveying some meaning that is somehow different from an indicative may be overplayed (repeatedly mentioned in the Introduction). The participle used as an indicative verb is quite rare in the NT, never seems to occur in classical Greek, and is most likely due to Semitic influence. Most of the NT examples occur in the Apocalypse, a book whose author R. H…

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