JABEZ: “MORE HONORABLE”, KEPT FROM “HARM”, AND “BLESSED”

JABEZ: “MORE HONORABLE”, KEPT FROM “HARM”, AND “BLESSED”

 James J. S. Johnson, JD, ThD

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Jabez knew winning can come with pain,
So God’s blessing he sought, for his gain;
As God increased his farm
God kept him from harm,
Thus Jabez real success did attain.

COMMENTARY: See 1st Chronicles 4:9-10, regarding the real “prayer of Jabez” (which was not an unqualified “blab-it-and-grab-it” selfish prayer). Jabez did not merely ask for gains and successes. As part of his prayer, Jabez asked God to protect him from evil and harm. In other words, Jabez ambitiously sought a life that involved more than what he started with — but only if he was protected from “evil” and “harm”, which could easily come from “gains” and “successes” in life. Typically we are our own worst enemies, unless God protects us from our selfish selves, so the prayer of Jabez, in effect, was an honorable prayer  — that Jabez’s gains and successes would be true blessings — with Jabez being protected from himself, and from the harmful and/or painful woes that all-too-often plague those who are perceived as gaining “success” in this life.

Proverbs 22:6 – is it a promise, or a command, or a description of a general trend in human behavior?

Proverbs 22:6 – is it a promise, or a command, or a description of a general trend in human behavior?

James J. S. Johnson, JD, ThD

fork-in-the-road-forest

Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it.” (Proverbs 22:6).

What does that verse look like under a “Hebrew microscope”? Are there any details, in the Hebrew, that can clarify our understanding of this amazing verse?

For starters, consider whether the verbs involved (i.e., in Proverbs 22:6) are descriptive or imperative: is the verse telling us what to do, or is the verse describing to us how life works, or both?

The verb translated “train up” is the same verb that the noun “Hanukkah” is derived from – the root verb (ḥanak) means to “dedicate”. In this verse it is an imperative (in fact, the only imperative form of ḥanak in the Bible), commanding us what to do – it is not a descriptive verb, describing what occurs. Specifically, this command is a 2nd person masculine qal imperative verb, effectively indicating that the verse is a command directed at the child’s father. (More on the importance of that to follow.) So the child’s father is hereby commanded to “dedicate” the child in some way.

But in, or into, what “way” — is the child to be dedicated? In English translation the next verb is “go” but there is no such verb in the Hebrew text! Actually, the English phrase “way he should go” is a translation of one Hebrew word, pî (pronounced “pea”, like the small round green vegetable), as if pî was a noun meaning “way-he-should-go”. The noun pî is a construct form of the Hebrew noun peh (usually translated “mouth”), sometimes translated “entry” or “opening” – the idea being a mouth-like entrance to something, such as the earth’s “mouth” (Genesis 4:11; Numbers 16:30 & 16:32) or the “mouth” of a grain-sack (Genesis 42:27; 43:12; 43:21; etc.).

In this context (i.e., in Proverbs 22:6), the construct noun pî is directly linked to a form of the noun derek (“way”, i.e., pathway) that immediately follows pî in that sentence, in what is called a construct-absolute relationship. (Specifically the noun derek, meaning “way”, has a possessive pronoun suffix attached, producing the word darkô to convert the noun’s meaning to “his way”.) The meaning of these 2 nouns, as a noun coupling unit, is that the first noun (pî) is a “construct” noun, linked to the second noun (darkô), which is the “absolute” noun. In Hebrew grammar, a construct noun is built onto (i.e., appended or attached to) an absolute noun, so the idea is that the construct noun belongs to the absolute noun. An illustration of how pî is the construct form of the noun peh (meaning “mouth” or entry) occurs in Genesis 29:2-3, where the phrase “well’s mouth” is a translation of pî-habeêr (i.e., “mouth of the well”). Thus, the literal translation of the construct-absolute noun coupling pî-darkô (in Proverbs 22:6) is “mouth of his pathway”, i.e., the entrance of his path (in life) – i.e., whichever of the two destinies that the child takes in life.

Another important observation, to avoid the error of “adding to the Word”, when analyzing the absolute noun darkô, is to recognize that the verse does not specify what is “his way”, i.e., which pathway (of the child) is the one that the child’s parent is being told to dedicate (and thus direct) his child into. (Answering that question must involve other Scriptures.)

The next verb in the verse is translated “he is old”; it is a form of the Hebrew verb zakên (“to age”, i.e., to be or to become old, as used in Genesis 18:12-13; 19:31; 24:1; 27:1-2; Proverbs 23:22; etc.). Specifically, however, this verse uses a hiphîl imperfect form of zakên, i.e., a causative form that denotes action that is not completed – he is causing oldness. (The only other instance in Scripture, of a hiphîl imperfect use of zakên, is Job 14:8, which refers to the roots of a chopped-down tree aging and dying.) In other words, this use of zakên indicates the scenario of the child causing oldness, i.e., making old – but who is becoming old, the child or the parent (or both)?

The third (and last) verb in this verse, which is qualified by a negative (“not”), is translated “depart”, so combining the negative to the verb produces the phrase “not depart”. The root verb here is sûr, usually translated “to depart” (e.g., Numbers 12:10; 2nd Samuel 12:10) or “to turn aside” (e.g., Exodus 3:4; Judges 14:8; Ruth 4:1; 1st Kings 20:39). The action described (when the verb sûr is used) is turning aside, turning away, changing direction to avoid someone or something. So the idea here is that the time will come when the child will not “turn aside” from “his way” in life. (But, we wonder, what is “his way” that the child will eventually not “turn aside” from?)

But what is the relationship between the action of dedicating (a child) and the outcome of that child’s life? The linking particles are 2 Hebrew words, gam kî (translated in KJV as “and when”). The word gam is a conjunctive particle, often translated “and” or “again” or “also”. It is the second particle (kî) that is trickier to translate, because it can mean “because”, “in order that”, “when”, etc., depending on the words and phrases that contextualize it. To get the context it is necessary to look at whatever contiguous verse has a parallel meaning, because Proverbs uses Hebrew poetry format, and that involves message parallelism — sometimes identifying similarities, sometimes identifying contrasts.

(For more on that Hebrew grammar concept, consult “Genesis is History, Not Poetry” http://www.icr.org/article/genesis-history-poetry-exposing-hidden — as well as the analysis of Psalm 42:1-2 within http://www.icr.org/article/hart-for-god — and the analysis of Proverbs 26:4-5 within http://www.icr.org/article/how-do-we-answer-fools .)

Therefore, as a logic-linked couplet, consider the parallel messages of Proverbs 22:5-6, as if the pair were “twins”, providing together a linked unit of meaning:

5 Thorns and snares are in the way of the froward; he that doth keep his soul shall be far from them. 6 Train up a child in the way he should go; and when he is old, he will not depart from it.

Notice various parallelism themes that link these two verses. Verse 5 refers to the soul-keeping person as avoiding the “thorns and snares” that are “in the way”. As a contrast, Verse 6 refers to the child not avoiding “his way” after aging occurs. In order to understand Verse 6 we need to understand what Verse 5 is saying, because the meaning of both is discerned by understanding their messages as a package, a unit of wisdom about living life.

Accordingly, Verse 5 defines 2 different pathways in life – the way of the “froward” and the way of one who “keeps his soul”. These are 2 basic choices in life. These 2 pathways can be compared to the 2 paths mentioned in Psalm 1 (q.v.), which are really the same 2 pathways mentioned by the Lord Jesus Christ, when He defined that choice between the “strait gate” and the “broad way”:

13 Enter ye in at the strait gate: for wide is the gate, and broad is the way, that leadeth to destruction, and many there be which go in thereat; 14 Because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it. (Quoting Matthew 7:13-14.)

Therefore, the “froward” is unlike the one who “keeps his soul”. The “froward” person will live life with “thorns and snares”, but not so the one who “keeps” (i.e., guards) his soul. Matthew 7:13-14, like Proverbs 22:5, is a general description of universal realities regarding human destinies. It is upon this description, about how human life works, that Verse 6 follows.

In effect, Verse 5 reminds the reader that human destinies are the built-in result of cause-and-effect dynamics: namely, a froward personality has a thorns-and-snares life to look forward to; however, a soul-guarding personality will avoid living a life dominated by thorns and snares. These twin principles are a framework upon which Verse 6 builds, adding a practical application. Unlike Verse 5, which is descriptive only, Verse 6 is “dominated” by an imperative verb – the command to “dedicate” a child to the entrance of “his way”. But Verse 6 does not subtract the message of Verse 5!

Rather, the reality of what Verse 5 describes should motivate the parent (who is assumed by the 2nd person masculine singular in Verse 6, as Verse 6’s intended audience) to “dedicate” the child, because the child’s destiny alternatives are already known from Verse 5. Of course, only the child can choose – from the age of moral accountability onward – whether he (or she) will be “froward” or “soul-guarding” in character. The parent can (and should) provide early guidance, such as boundaries and consequences, to teach the child about these alternative destinies. This is leading the child unto the entrance of “his way”.

The parent’s duty is to lead the child to the choice, with sufficient training (and explanations) to ensure that the child’s choice is an informed decision. Yet having done so, the choice made (and thus the life chosen) by the child is still “his way” – not the parent’s way.  Thus, the (well-informed) choice — about how to live life, etc. – is and remains the child’s choice, not the parent’s!  Personal moral accountability before God is the essential key to understanding Proverbs 22:6, because Proverbs 22:5 is the very foundation whereupon Proverbs 22:6 provides a parental imperative.

And what about the aging aspect of Proverbs 22:6? Recall that it uses a causative verb form (of zakên) that also appears in Job 14:8. Consider how trees might “make a comeback” in life, if the root system obtains water at the right time.

7For there is hope of a tree, if it be cut down, that it will sprout again, and that the tender branch thereof will not cease. 8 Though the root thereof wax old [same form of zakên as appears in Proverbs 22:6] in the earth, and the stock thereof die in the ground; 9 yet through the scent of water it will bud, and bring forth boughs like a plant.   (Quoting Job 14:7-9.)

Thus, just as a chopped-down tree’s root system can again revive, producing above-ground maturity (aging, growing, developing) in a tree, the child’s pathway through life can experience a revival, using his own parentally-provided “root system” to support a “comeback” in life, so long as the right kind of spiritual “water” (i.e., the “water of life – see John 7:37-39) is obtained (i.e., accepted by the spiritually accountable child) at the right time.

(One way or another, God is honored, ultimately, in the child’s life – either by displaying God’s glory in redemption — or by showing His glory in judgment.)

Bottom line: parents can (and should) lead their children to “water” (escorting them to the right “doorway” for a “soul-guarded” life), but parents can’t make those children “drink”. However, each child will choose his (or her) own “way” in life, and time will tell what the child is really rooted to, sooner or later.

The above analysis may not clear up all of the questions that parents have about Proverbs 22:6, but hopefully it helps.                  ><> JJSJ     profjjsj@aol.com

Who Supplied the Food for the First Thanksgiving?

Who Supplied the Food for the First Thanksgiving?

James J. S. Johnson

1st-thanksgiving-accurate-painting

And that ye study to be quiet, and to do your own business, and to work with your own hands, as we commanded you; 12 That ye may walk honestly toward them that are without [outside], and that ye may have lack of nothing. (1st Thessalonians 4:11-12)

Let him that stole steal no more: but rather let him labor, working with his hands the thing which is good, that he may have to give to him that needeth. (Ephesians 4:28)

Recently my happy-hearted 5-year-old grandson was taught a little Thanksgiving song, in kindergarten. It was a catchy tune, yet some lyrics contained a PC (i.e., politically corrupt) “gotcha”. The little ditty went something like this:

The Indians brought the food; the Pilgrims set up the table…

Of course, I chose not to admonish my enthusiastic grandson that the little chorus was historically twisted – revisionist “history” in song – giving the impression that the Pilgrims were just invasive “takers”, as if the Indian natives alone provided all the food eaten during the first Thanksgiving in Plymouth. But it bugged me (and it continues to bug me) that trusting kindergartners are misled into believing that it was (only) the Indian natives who provided food for that feast – with the (supposedly) generosity-challenged Pilgrim Christians providing only the banquet table!

But what is the real history of how that feast happened? Who supplied the food that was eaten, then? Was the food supply one-sided, or did both Indians and Pilgrims bring food to the “groaning-board” tables? As shown below, it was a shared meal, supplied by both Pilgrims and Indians. In fact, sharing took place in other ways, as well, such as in agriculture techniques. Indians taught Pilgrims to plant corn with fish offal; the Pilgrims taught Indians to increase their crop yields by using planting furrows. (“Win-win” mutual aid was frequent, then.)

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The First Thanksgiving   (Mike White)

One of the original Pilgrims, William Bradford, kept a careful chronicle of the important events at Plymouth, and he reported the context of the Pilgrim’s harvest-time during the fall of AD1621:

[During the autumn of AD1621 the Plymouth Pilgrims, with the help of Indian friends, such as Squanto and Hobbamock] found the Lord to be with them in all their ways, and to bless their outgoings and incomings, for which let His holy name have the praise forever, to all posterity.

They began now to gather in the small harvest they had, and to fit up their houses and dwellings against winter, being all well recovered in health and strength and had all things in good plenty. For as some were thus employed in affairs abroad, others were exercised in fishing, about cod and bass and other fish, of which they took good store, of which every family had their portion.

All the summer there was no want; and now began to come in store of fowl, as winter approached, of which this place did abound when they came first (but afterward decreased by degrees).

And besides waterfowl there was a great store of wild turkeys, of which they took many, besides venison, etc. Besides they had about a peck a meal a week to a person, or now since harvest, Indian corn to that proportion. Which made many afterwards write so largely of their plenty here to their friends in England, which were not feigned but true reports.

[Quoting William Bradford, Of Plimouth Plantation 1620-1647 (Alfred A. Knopf, 1989; edited by Samuel Eliot Morison), page 90.]  Other sources provide information about the many crops that were grown, and fruits that were gathered, by the Pilgrims.   [See, e.g., Barbara Rainey, THANKSGIVING: A TIME TO REMEMBER (Crossway, 2002), pages 43-44 (“In just a day enough wild turkeys, eels, grouse, lobster, partridge, and [other] shellfish were gathered to guarantee a great feast … When it was time to eat, the menu was impressive: venison, goose, lobster, eel, oysters, clam chowder, parsnips, turnips, cucumbers, onions, carrots, cabbage, beets, radishes, and dried fruit that included gooseberries, strawberries, cherries, and plums  — [some of which] fruit was cooked inside dough to make a [fruit] pie”).]  Of course, THANKSGIVING meant thanking God for all of the physical and spiritual blessings He had given, so “before they began to eat, their spiritual leader offered a prayer to God who had so clearly and miraculously led them to this place.”  {Quoting Barbara Rainey, THANKSGIVING: A TIME TO REMEMBER, page 44.]

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Yet it was another Pilgrim, Edward Winslow, who reported (within a letter dated December 11th of AD1621) on the specific activities at the Pilgrim’s historic Thanksgiving feast that season:

Our harvest being gotten in, our Governor sent four men on fowling (i.e., hunting wild birds, such as turkeys, quail, etc.), so that we might after a more special manner rejoice together, after we had gathered the fruit of our labors. They four in one day killed as much fowl as, with a little help beside, served the Company almost a week. At which time, amongst other recreations, we exercised our arms [i.e., used their firearms for target practice], many of the Indians coming amongst us, and amongst the rest their [i.e., the Wampanoag tribe’s] greatest king, Massasoit with some 90 men, whom for three days we entertained and feasted. And they went out and killed five deer which they brought to the plantation and bestowed on our Governor and upon the Captain [Miles Standish] and others.

[Quoting Edward Winslow, in Mourt’s Relation, pages 60 et seq., as quoted by Samuel Eliot Morison in Footnote 8 on page 90 of Governor Bradford’s trusty chronicle, Of Plimouth Plantation 1620-1647 (noted above). For more about the Pilgrims’ original Thanksgiving in Plymouth, see “Strangers and Pilgrims (and the American Turkey)”, posted at https://leesbird.com/2014/11/25/strangers-and-pilgrims/ .]

Sharing is a Christian virtue – and it was the Christian Pilgrims who reached out to their Indian neighbors, and invited them to share in the Pilgrims’ Thanksgiving feast. The Pilgrims knew well that the best life is not a life of selfishness. Rather, the opposite is true: it is more blessed to give than to receive. In fact, that life principle was given by the Lord Jesus Christ Himself, to the apostle Paul.

Yea, ye yourselves know, that these hands have ministered unto my necessities, and to them that were with me. I have shewed you all things, how that so laboring ye ought to support the weak, and to remember the words of the Lord Jesus, how He said, It is more blessed to give than to receive. (Acts 20:34-35)

Of course, it’s silly to forget – when celebrating Thanksgiving – the role of God Himself! In fact, God is the ultimate source of all of our food, regardless of which human creatures are involved (as agents) in preparing and/or delivering good food to eat.

Nevertheless He left not himself without witness, in that He did good, and He gave us rain from heaven, and fruitful seasons, filling our hearts with food and gladness. (Acts 14:17)

There you have the answer:  it was God, more than anyone else, Who supplied the food for the first Thanksgiving in Plymouth!  So, as we appreciate and enjoy the Thanksgiving season, let us keep our priorities in mind – thanking God (for Who He is and for how He has blessed us) and sharing our blessing with others.  ><>  JJSJ

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Celebrating the Life-Saving Heroism of Alaskan Dog Mushers (and their Sled Dogs)

 Celebrating the Life-Saving Heroism of Alaskan Dog Mushers (and their Sled Dogs)

James J. S. Johnson, JD, ThD, CNHG

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As we have therefore opportunity, let us do good unto all men, especially unto them who are of the household of faith.  Galatians 6:10

Imagine a celebration of Siberian husky sled dogs, harnessed together as a racing team, guided by their human driver (called a “musher”), zooming across frigid snow trails in rural Alaska:  this is what happens in a commemorative festival/event called the IDITAROD TRAIL RACE.  (See the YouTube video footage below.)

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jI3bliK7R94

The Iditarod is an outdoors reenactment-like celebration of dogsled mushing, to remember the heroic relay race – through day and night, blizzard winds, snow, and ice – to save human lives, during a life-or-death crisis in January-February AD1925, when a highly contagious diphtheria plague struck like a serial killer, menacing the almost-unreachable population of Nome, Alaska.

The crisis was a diphtheria epidemic in Nome, a town on the Bering Sea coast of Alaska, during the winter of 1925. The diphtheria antitoxin in Anchorage needed to be delivered to Nome immediately because townspeople were dying of the disease, but the community was unreachable by air, boat, train, or motor vehicle.

A group of 20 mushers (dogsled drivers) and about 150 sled dogs rushed marathon-style in relay teams across blizzard-blown trails—and even over a dangerous shortcut across a frozen part of a Pacific Ocean inlet called Norton Sound—spanning the 674 miles in five and a half days to deliver the precious vials of life-saving serum to a waiting physician in Nome. For dogsledding, this was the most heroic achievement in history [674 miles in 127½ hours!], with speed and distance records set (and still unbroken) and helpless hundreds of quarantined Nome residents saved from the lethal diphtheria epidemic.

One surviving Nome resident was eight-year-old Sigrid Seppala, the only daughter of a Norwegian immigrant, Leonhard Seppala, a well-known musher. His nonstop leg of the cross-country relay covered the worst stretch of terrain, plus the frozen Norton Sound sea-ice that broke up only hours after his dog team traversed it with the serum! Guiding lead dog Togo, Seppala confronted gale-force winds and subfreezing temperatures (30OF with a windchill of -85OF) day and night, covering 91 miles—more than twice the distance of any of the other mushers.

Sigrid and many others sick in Nome were saved by the antitoxin serum. Fulfilling the dominion mandate surely includes such safeguarding of human lives, many of whom later were fruitful and multiplied, advancing human progress toward filling the earth to God’s glory. God’s dominion mandate was advanced as humans literally “harnessed” the service of well-trained animals.

[Quoting James J. S. Johnson, “Siberian Huskies and the Dominion Mandate”, Acts & Facts, 42(6):18-19 (June 2013), posted at http://www.icr.org/article/siberian-huskies-dominion-mandate   —  citing Gay Salisbury & Laney Salisbury, THE CRUELEST MILES: THE HEROIC STORY OF DOGS AND MEN IN A RACE AGAINST AN EPIDEMIC (New York, NY: W.W. Norton & Co., 2005), pages 46-245,  and  the interview of Jirdes Winther Baxter, in ALASKA: BIG AMERICA (The History Channel documentary, 2000).]

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Thanks to God – and to His servants, both human and canine – for providing the diphtheria plague’s remedy!  Many are alive today — thanks to God and His servants — who are direct descendants of Nome residents who survived the diphtheria epidemic, due to the heroism of the diphtheria serum relay race during January-February of AD1925.

No one has since equaled the dog-mushing distance/speed record set by those heroes, in AD1925. But we can remember their valor, including that of the sled-dogs (some of whom died of exhaustion), every time we see (or think of) another Iditarod dogsled race being run in Alaska.

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Sled dogs in snow, Winterlake Lodge (Finger Lake, Alaska)

And one lodge resort (Winterlake Lodge), located at the Iditarod’s Finger Lake checkpoint (Mile 198), has provided us with another way to celebrate that historic (and providential) event – a special protein-and-vitamins-rich recipe – demonstrating Mexican cuisine with an Alaskan accent – by Kirsten Dixon, as published in ALASKA MAGAZINE, 81(1):22 (February 2015).

ALASKA MUSHER’S MEAL

This hearty recipe comes from chef Kirsten Dixon of the Winterlake Lodge at the Finger Lake checkpoint of the Iditarod race. Dixon says, “We make our own adobo sauce and homemade tortillas and serve this dish with freshly diced salsa. For a decidedly Alaskan twist, we add smoked salmon.”

¼ pound Mexican soft-style chorizo, casings removed
2 packages (4 ounces) Mexican dried chiles [a/k/a “chilies”, below, or “chilis” or “chili peppers”]
2 cloves garlic, peeled
2 teaspoons apple cider vinegar
Salt and freshly ground [black] pepper
¾ teaspoon granulated sugar
¼ teaspoon ground cumin
8 4-inch flour tortillas
½ cup shredded sharp Cheddar cheese
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
4 large eggs
1 cup cooked and heated pinto beans
1 cup fresh simple salsa
½ pound Alaska hot-smoked (kippered) salmon, skinned and flaked
1 small bunch cilantro
½ cup shredded Manchego cheese
1 small bunch green onion, green part minced
1 lime quartered

Preheat the oven to 350 [degrees] F.

Line a 13-by-18-inch baking sheet with aluminum foil.

Crumble the chorizo into a medium sauté pan over medium heat. Cook thoroughly for about five minutes. Drain any grease from the pan. Set the pan aside.

Split the chilies in half, removing any stem and seeds. Heat a medium sauté pan over medium-low heat and toast the chilies two or three at a time, turning them while they are heating. They’ll change color slightly in the process.

Soak the chilies in enough water to cover until they’re soft, about 30 minutes. Drain the chilies and pat them dry.

Put a half-cup of water into a blender with the soaked chilies along with the garlic, vinegar, one teaspoon salt, the sugar, and ground cumin. Blend until smooth, adding in a bit more water if necessary to purée. Add the chili mixture into the cooked chorizo.

Heat the tortillas in a large nonstick sauté pan over medium heat. Place them onto the baking sheet. Sprinkle the tortillas with the Cheddar cheese. Place the baking sheet into the oven just [enough] to melt the cheese. Remove the pan from the oven and place each tortilla onto a warmed plate.

In a small nonstick sauté pan, melt one teaspoon of butter over medium-high heat until it is frothy. Crack one egg into the skillet and fry until the egg is set, about one minute. Slide the egg onto one fo the tortillas. Repeat with the remaining eggs.

Add some of the chorizo-chili sauce onto each tortilla. Spoon on some of the beans, some salsa, some flaked hot-smoked salmon, and a few sprigs of cilantro. Sprinkle each dish with some Manchego cheese and a little green onion. Season with salt and [black] pepper. Serve immediately with a wedge of lime.

Makes 4 servings.

[Quoting Kirsten Dixon, as published in ALASKA MAGAZINE, 81(1):22 (February 2015).]

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Sled dogs sleeping, Winterlake Lodge (Finger Lake, Alaska)

After eating a feast-dish like that, accented with Alaska salmon, one is reminded that good food is itself a proof positive of God’s kind and caring providence.

Food provides strong evidence of God’s wisdom and power as our Creator, as well as His goodness in providing for fallen mankind’s physical needs. In fact, the Bible teaches that the providentially programmed production of all food, anywhere and everywhere on earth, is itself a continuing proof that God is a caring Creator. The apostle Paul taught this:

And saying, Sirs, why do ye these things? We also are men of like passions with you, and preach unto you that ye should turn from these vanities unto the living God, Who made heaven, and earth, and the sea, and all things that are therein, Who in times past allowed all nations to walk in their own ways. Nevertheless He left not Himself without witness, in that He did good, and He gave us rain from heaven, and fruitful seasons, filling our hearts with food and gladness. (Acts 14:15-17, emphasis added)

Think about God’s providence and how it is displayed on earth.

God has demonstrated His immeasurable glory by His many acts of providential care for His creatures, especially humans and animals. Yet some of what God provides is so commonplace that it is routinely ignored, although that ignorance cannot negate the overwhelming proof of God’s providence. . . . .

Likewise, God’s provision of an amazing diversity of foods—around the world, in every age, in every culture, to every people group—is proof positive that God is Creator. Food is absolutely necessary to prolong our physical life.

Why? As a result of Adam’s sin, death entered the human race (Romans 5:12). God’s warning to Adam indicated a double-death penalty: “To die thou shalt die” (Genesis 2:17, which includes an infinitive-imperfect “double verb” in the Hebrew text).

Sin immediately triggered a relational break between Creator and creature, because God is holy. That relational break was a spiritual death, a separation from God that Paul called being “dead in trespasses and sins” (Ephesians 2:1).

Also, sin triggered an ongoing process of dying physically—what some scientists call “chemistry eventually wins out over biology”—so our human bodies die. Before birth, even from the time of conception, our physical bodies are dying, yet the metabolic profit we gain from eating food postpones and prolongs that dying process. (If you doubt food’s necessity, try abstaining from eating for two months!

In some humans, physical life is prolonged by food for more than a century.

But, in time, the condition of mortality takes its toll and we all anticipate death, even if we eat every day. Food only postpones the inevitable. But while it does, it is a life-sustaining fuel, an amazing and precious gift from our Creator, as well as a testimony to the amazingly complex and efficient world He designed . . . . .

No random “chance” could provide a satisfactory explanation for the results of God’s providential care,  — and the proof is everywhere, for those with eyes to see, even in every bite we eat. No wonder we are obligated to give thanks to God for our food.

[Quoting James J. S. Johnson, “Our Daily Bread:  How Food Proves God’s Providence”, Acts & Facts, 40(4):8-9 (April 2011),  posted at http://www.icr.org/article/our-daily-bread-how-food-proves-gods   —  quoting Acts 14:17.]

So, next time you hear — or read — about the Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race in Alaska, remember what it commemorates — the amazing and historic life-saving heroism of the “Great Race of Mercy”  — accomplished by the diphtheria serum relay racers, a providentially blessed team of brave humans and resilient sled-dogs, who dared and braved the worst of winter weather, during January-February of AD1925, to defeat a serial-killer plague named Corynebacterium diphtheriae.

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PHOTOGRAPHS & OTHER IMAGE CREDITS:

Iditarod Sled Dogs:   http://helpsleddogs.org/wp-content/uploads/2013/02/4412510551_94c80e1f51_b.jpg

Iditarod National Historic Trail (U.S. government map / public domain)

Sled dogs in snow, Winterlake Lodge (Finger Lake, Alaska)
Fair Use photo credit: http://d3r6t1k4mqz5i.cloudfront.net/wp-content/uploads/2016/02/IMG_0086.jpg?f9f931

Sled dogs sleeping, Winterlake Lodge (Finger Lake, Alaska)
Fair Use photo credit: http://www.tordrillonorth.com/images/lodge-05.jpg

Diphtheria vaccination poster   (Great Britain: public domain), available at Wikipedia


 

GOD’S PROVIDENTIAL JUDGMENTS REVEAL HIS WILL (AND SOMETIMES HIS MERCY, TOO)

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Donald Trump’s victory speech (11-9-AD2016)       CNN photo

When in history the LORD acts, He speaks,
Yet speaking not like pollster geeks;
As one God demotes,
Another He promotes,
With help, sometimes, from WikiLeaks!

COMMENTARY:   See Psalm 75:7 (“But God is the Judge; He puts down one, and He sets up another”) & Daniel 2:21.   God rules in the affairs of mankind, regardless of whether or when humans notice and/or admit it.   See also Daniel 4:17 & 4:37.   The word “judgments” [often as  mishpateka = “Thy judgments”] appears at least 20 times in Psalm 119, a psalm that focuses on how God reveals His truth to mankind.  Of course, the Holy Bible is the ultimate, most authoritative, and most perspicuous revelation of God’s truth to mankind;  however, God’s providential workings in history can also reveal His will to those “with eyes to see” it — and, when God so, His Providential history-communicated truth produces moral accountability (as Daniel reminded Belshazzar, especially in Daniel 5:21-23).

CHILDHOOD MEMORIES, INCLUDING EATING WILD BERRIES

cherries-wild

Childhood years, rural neighborhood,
Happy years, very blessed and good;
Picking blackberries,
Collecting cherries,
Glad I lived those years while I could!

COMMENTARY:  See Acts 14:17, as well as Romans 8:28.  By God’s grace I was given a wonderful childhood, living in rural neighborhoods of Maryland — with 5 of those elementary school years lived in a part of Montgomery County that bordered Frederick County — then very much rural farmland, with more wooded forests that a boy could ever exhaust, recreationally.   Blackberries and wild strawberries could be easily found (and eaten), and one forest hosted what was once (generations earlier) a cherry orchard, so the supply of wild cherries (in season) was inexhaustible.  Walking through (and playing in) the beauty-filled forests there, within a mile or two of my home (especially during the summer, when there was no school) was a continuing privilege of joy and happiness — a privilege that constantly reminded me of what a wonderful Creator our God is, and near the end of elementary school I confirmed my belief in the Lord Jesus Christ as my Savior (Luke 10:20; 2nd Timothy 3:15).  It was such a joy then — and now — to have the life that God has given me (including the eternal life I have I Christ my Savior), so I am now one example of Psalm 102:18’s fulfillment.

COMMANDER NAAMAN, THE SYRIAN CURED OF LEPROSY

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Though Naaman commanded respect,
Leprosy his hygiene had wrecked;
News from a slave girl
Put hope in his world,
So down south, to Israel he trekked.

The prescription seemed quite spurious!
Hearing it, Naaman grew furious!
In Jordan, to dip?!
How wasted, his trip!
Wishing now, he’d not been so curious!

But advice was given to the Syrian:
“Try the Jordan — go washing therein!”
And so, trusting in Heaven,
Self-immersed, times seven;
Cured he was — with the cleanest of skin!

COMMENTARY: See 2nd Kings 5:1-16.