Romans chapter 5: God’s Christmas Gift!

God’s  Christmas  Gift:  JESUS !

OBSERVATIONS  AND  INSIGHTS FROM ROMANS 5

Dr. James J. S. Johnson

As sinning humans, we need the gift of redemption in Christ — that’s what Christmas was, historically, all about — and that is why it is just as relevant and vital, today, for us all.

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Good news!

In Christ, as a free gift, we (human sinners) can be made right with God, by Him imputing to us the righteousness of Christ, if we believe His promise that Jesus is the Scripture-prophesied Messiah!  That is the theme and doctrine of Paul’s epistle to the Romans.  This good news, at least in a foreshadowed form, was “promised afore by [God’s] prophets in the holy Scriptures” (Romans 1:2), but now it is clearly presented to all the world (Galatians 1:6-12; Romans 1:16-17).

Romans chapter 5 describes how God has accomplished, in the completed redemptive work of the Lord Jesus Christ (Romans 3:21-25; Romans 5:8 & 5:12-21; 2nd Corinthians 5:21; Hebrews chapter 10), what was needed in order for God to be able to justly justify the (otherwise) unjust children of Adam:  we are now “made the righteousness of God” in Christ, because of Christ’s substitutionary sacrifice of Himself at Calvary!

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In a sense, the 5th chapter of Romans is summed up in this one verse:

For the wages of sin is death, but the gift [charisma] of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.  (Romans 6:23)

What wonderful news for Adam’s children! What good news for forgiven sinners!  Eternal life is a gift – it is free!  This fits the teaching of Romans chapter 4, that God imputes righteousness to believers.  Righteousness is not earned by good behavior; rather, it is imputed graciously by God.  And the basis of that imputation of God’s righteousness is Christ’s role and finished work as our Kinsman-Redeemer.  That righteousness-imputing redemption was motivated by God’s love and it was accomplished by Christ’s substitutionary sacrifice of Himself for us, followed by His resurrection (Romans 5:8-11).

But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.  Much more then, being now justified by his blood, we shall be saved from wrath through him.   For if, when we were enemies, we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, being reconciled, we shall be saved by his life.  And not only so, but we also joy in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom we have now received the atonement.   (Romans 5:8-11)

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However, for this good news to be truly reliable, theologically (and logically), Paul’s explanation of Genesis chapter 3 must be reliable. That means that Genesis must be accepted as trustworthy information, because Paul trusted its history literally (as did Christ Himself – see John 5:45-47!).

Thus, the historicity of Adam (and of the Genesis account of his failure in Eden) is used, by Paul, to argue the efficaciousness of Christ’s substitutionary sacrifice of Himself for us, in order to provide us with redemption, propitiation, and reconciliation. This requires an analysis of how Adam’s first sin has impacted humanity (and the rest of creation), followed by an analysis of how Christ’s substitutionary death and resurrection has overruled that those impacts.

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Death was alien to God’s “very good” creation, until Adam sinned. The trustworthiness of the holy Bible hangs upon the accuracy of this fact: There was no death before Adam sinned. To err about when and why death came to Earth is to err about the theological and historical foundation of the Gospel. The death of Christ, and therefore the Gospel of Christ, won’t make sense if death came to Earth any other way than by Adam’s sin in Eden. If death came first, the New Testament would be worse than unreliable—it would be irreparably wrong about salvation.

Although more could (and should) be said about how and why Adam’s sin triggered death, two major points will be reviewed here: (1) The Gospel of Christ depends on the truth of Adam’s sin triggering death on Earth; and (2) the reliability of the Bible depends upon the truth of Adam’s sin triggering death on Earth. Put bluntly, if death somehow came to earth apart from Adam’s sin, we cannot be confident that Hell is escapable. Those reasons guarantee that this topic is anything but trivial. The stakes are as high as can be.

“Very good” creations don’t “groan”. The original condition of God’s creation at the end of Day Six was “very good” (Genesis 1:31), displaying the perfection of providence. However, the earth is now fallen—the current condition of God’s creation is good (Acts 14:17) yet “groaning” (Romans 8:20-22).  That groaning now includes the reign of sin and death over both humans and animals, a terrible situation that will one day be overcome (1st Corinthians 15:26 & 15:54-56; Revelation 21:4 & 22:3).

What caused this change? God did not leave us to guess the answer: Genesis 3 provides the history of that change; the New Testament (especially in Romans 5 and 8) provides the theology of that change. If we ignore God’s authoritative explanation in Genesis and Romans by relying on theistic evolutionist lies, we inexcusably err.  Why?  Because only the Bible’s teaching of the history and theology of human sin reveals the true etiology of death (Romans 5:12).

Death had a beginning; death is not eternal. In order to have the possibility of death, there must first be mortal life. Accordingly, death could never occur unless and until God created living creatures that were capable of dying. Genesis 1 and 2 describe and report how God created such creatures. At the end of Day 6, all was “very good” (Genesis 1:31)—which means that there could not be any death on earth at that time because death is not morally good (Romans 8:20-22; 1st Corinthians chapter 15). The Bible reports no animals dying before Adam sinned. (Notice that no nephesh-bearing animals were to be eaten by humans until after the Flood, according to Genesis 1:29-30 & 9:1-4.) In short, the Bible clearly reports that it was Adam’s sin that triggered the curse of death, in fulfillment of God’s warning:

Therefore, just as through one man [i.e., Adam] sin entered into the world, and death through sin, and thus death spread to all men, because all sinned—(For until the law sin was in the world, but sin is not imputed when there is no law. Nevertheless death reigned from Adam to Moses, even over those who had not sinned according to the likeness of the transgression of Adam, who is a type of Him who was to come.…For if by the one man’s offense death reigned through the one, much more those who receive abundance of grace and of the gift of righteousness will reign in life through the One, Jesus Christ.) Therefore, as through one man’s offense judgment came to all men, resulting in condemnation, even so through one Man’s righteous act the free gift came to all men, resulting in justification of life. For as by one man’s disobedience many were made sinners, so by one Man’s obedience many will be made righteous. Moreover the law entered that the offense might abound. But where sin abounded, grace abounded much more, so that as sin hath reigned in death, even so grace might reign through righteousness to eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord. (Romans 5:12-14, 17-21, emphasis added)

Death was unknown to Adam and Eve before Adam sinned. Adam had never seen death before. People on Earth today do not personally see Heaven and Hell, yet God teaches us – through His written Word — vital truths about the conditions and importance of eternity. When we are taught what we should believe about such things, our own faith in God’s Word is tested: Either we believe what God reveals to us about the unseen (e.g., heaven and hell), or we don’t. God is pleased to test our faith about such unseen things, just as God was pleased (6,000+ years ago) to use information about unseen realities to test Adam’s faith and loyalty. That kind of testing is the essence of faith (Hebrews 11:1-3).

Notice that, like Adam’s testing by God, God’s testing of our faith and our loyalty to Him (as our Creator) is always coupled with consequences—good consequences for good choices, bad consequences for bad choices.

Then the Lord God took the man and put him in the Garden of Eden to tend and keep it. And the Lord God commanded the man, saying, “Of every tree of the garden you may freely eat; but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die.” (Genesis 2:15-17)

Adam, the first human to sin, quickly learned a lot about consequences—the consequences of his sin included a new thing, death (Romans 5:12; 6:23). The Bible teaches, quite clearly, that the paycheck that sin earns is called DEATH.   (Of course, God had already foreseen and fore-planned a redemptive solution to that sin-and-death problem  —  see Genesis 3:15.)

Genesis3.15-Hebrew-text-in-colorConsider how God chose to test Adam’s faith and loyalty. The test was simple: Don’t eat from one specific tree in the Garden of Eden. God designed Adam’s test to have built-in consequences. Adam could make the choice, but Adam could not control the consequences that would flow from that choice. Why not? Because the consequences were built in to the alternative choice options: The good choice would produce a good result (life eternal); the bad choice would produce a bad result (death).

In effect, God designed the gun, including the trigger—but it was Adam who aimed the gun and pulled the trigger, thus starting the dying process (“you shall surely die”, in Genesis 2:17, could be rendered “dying, you will die”) that leads ultimately to death itself. The test was all part of God’s glorious plan for human history, and God foreknew what would happen.  However, Adam’s choice was nonetheless a true test of Adam’s faith and loyalty, because Adam did not experientially know the outcome in advance.

Adam could have believed God to avoid the “death” that God warned of, but he chose otherwise. Only then did Adam experience the “dying” condition that God had warned him about. Dying began, as did thorns, pain in childbirth, and, in time, death itself.

But the dying was not limited to Adam! Because God had placed all of the life forms of the world under Adam’s authority (Genesis 1:26-31; Psalm 8), the world fell with Adam and was “cursed” with death (Genesis 3:17-19).

For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of Him who subjected it in hope; because the creation itself also will be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the children of God. For we know that the whole creation groans and labors with birth pangs together until now. (Romans 8:20-22)

Consequently, all of the world’s living creatures—both humans and animals—have been “groaning” under the curse of sin and death ever since, although eventually the time will come when Christ’s completely applied redemption will be applied to His believers (1st Corinthians chapter 15), and even to the earth itself to overcome the Edenic curse of death (Revelation 20:11; 21:1-5; 22:3).

Why does it matter?

The New Testament directly links sin’s cause and sin’s cure by tying the Gospel of salvation to Adam’s sin (compare Romans chapter 5 with 1st Corinthians chapter 15).

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And, Christ’s vicarious payment of humanity’s total sin-debt is the redemptive solution to the otherwise-hopeless problem of sin and death — and is available to everyone, as John 3:16 teaches, who chooses to believe in the Lord Jesus Christ as personal Savior! 

Paul’s definition of the Gospel of Christ contextualizes the Gospel as being “according to the [Old Testament] scriptures” (1st Corinthians 15:3-4).  The New Testament Gospel of Christ depends upon the Messianic prophecies of the Old Testament (e.g., Isaiah 53; Psalm 16; etc.) being true.

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Indeed, the Old Testament is authoritatively relevant, true, and perfect—every “jot and tittle” (Matthew 5:18) of it. Christ Himself said that Moses would judge people after they die according to whether they believed the words of Moses (John 5:45-47).  If the books of Moses, which include Genesis, were authoritatively good enough for the Lord Jesus (Matthew 24:35; John 17:17)—and they were—they are authoritatively good enough for us. And what we believe about death being the consequence of Adam’s sin in Eden is a test of our own love and loyalty to God Himself.

[ ><> JJSJ  March 7th AD2015 ]

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Obadiah’s Prophecy of Edom’s Downfall

Obadiah’s Prophecy:  Profanity and Pride Goeth before Edom’s Fall

Dr. James J. S. Johnson

Though you (thou) exalt yourself (thyself) as the eagle, and though you (thou) set your (thy) nest among the stars, thence will I bring thee down, saith the Lord. (Obadiah 1:4)

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Introduction

Obadiah’s prophecy focuses on the nation Edom, people descended from Esau, Jacob’s twin brother and rival. This book of prophecy – the shortest in the Old Testament – eventually expands its coverage to Israel’s other neighbors, and even alludes to “the day of the LORD is near upon all the heathen” (1:15).  Thus, the book of OBADIAH specifically recounts some of Edom’s wickednesses, noting how these evils are to be punished on the Day of the LORD.(1) 

The key theme of Obadiah is that punishment of Edom’s God-despising prideful profanity, which includes Edom’s merciless and cruel persecution of Jacob’s descendants, is assured and shall be accomplished by God, climaxing in judgment as part of the Day of the LORD (1:15-19).

Also, we see in Obadiah’s prophecy how the rivalry between Esau and Jacob (Genesis 25:22-23 & 25:27-34), specifically Esau’s unjust persecution of Jacob (e.g., see Genesis 27:41), continues through time. The ultimate examples of that rivalry, of course, climax in the Edomite (l/k/a Idumean) household of the Herod dynasty, Idumean kings who tried to murder the infant Jesus (Matthew 2:3-19), and who participated in sentencing Jesus to death (Luke 23:8-12; Acts 4:27), and who persecuted the followers of Jesus (Acts 12:1-20).  Unresolved rivalries result in regrettable ramifications (James 3:16).

Little wonder that God declared His hatred for the Edomite people, during the prophetic ministry of Malachi (Malachi 1:2-3; Romans 9:13).  One of the looming themes of “that Day” is how God shall angrily avenge Israel by punishing Israel’s persecutors, including Edom (Jeremiah 49:8-10).

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 Exegetical Observations and Comments on Obadiah’s sole chapter

The vision of Obadiah. Thus saith the Lord God concerning Edom: We have heard a rumor from the Lord, and an ambassador is sent among the heathen, Arise ye, and let us rise up against her in battle. (Obadiah 1:1)

Obadiah’s prophecy begins by pronouncing divine judgment against the nation of Edom, with God’s justice being executed through warfare that involves heathen (i.e., Gentile unbelievers) nations who combine their armies to attack Edom.

Behold, I have made you (thee) small among the heathen; you (thou) are greatly despised. (Obadiah 1:2)

The verb “despised” (1:2), in some ways, could be called the key to understanding the fate of Esau, and thus also the fate of his descendants’ civilization, the nation Edom. Recall the famous barter transaction between Esau and Jacob, where Esau traded his priceless Messianic birthright, for a bowl of red lentil soup:

Then Jacob gave [nâtan = “transferred”, “transmitted”] Esau bread and pottage of lentils; and he ate and he drink, and he rose up, and he went his way [“and he walked”]; thus Esau despised [a form of bâzah] his birthright. (Genesis 25:34)

In that voluntary value-exhibiting transaction, which Scripture qualifies (in Hebrews 12:16) as illustrating Esau’s profanity, we see how Esau “despised” (wayyôbez = “and he despised”) that which was spiritual (i.e., that which is valuable to God), preferring the passing physical pleasures to that which has ongoing value. That is the essence of profanity — insulting God by devaluing that which God has made holy.

In particular, Esau traded the Messianic birthright for a bowl of red soup – that illustrates Esau’s carnal-mindedness. No wonder Esau chose to be a fornicating polygamist (Genesis 26:34-35 & 27:46 & 28:9 & 36:10-18; Hebrews 12:16), preferring wives that were Hittite and Ishmaelite pagans (as opposed to selecting a YHWH-worshipping wife who was raised in the faith of Abraham).

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In the end, by Esau profanely despising the Messianic birthright, Esau forfeited his opportunity to be part of the Messianic lineage – so the Messianic birthright-lineage honor is forever Jacob’s, not Esau’s. As the subsequent history of Esau’s descendants (a/k/a the nation Edom) demonstrates, Edom’s shameful legacy was one long history of despising God, and despising people whom God valued.

This involves the Abrahamic Covenant, which promises cursing of those who curse Abraham’s promised seed (Genesis 12:3). Abraham’s promised seed descends through Jacob (Genesis 27:29 & 27:39-40 & 28:3-6 & 28:13-15 & 35:9-12), not Esau.

The pride of thine heart hath deceived you (thee), you (thou) who dwell in the clefts of the rock, whose habitation is high, who says in his heart, ‘Who shall bring me down to the ground?’  Though you (thou) exalt yourself (thyself) as the eagle, and though you (thou) set your (thy) nest among the stars, thence will I bring thee down, saith the Lord. (Obadiah 1:3-4)

Edom is compared to the eagle [nešer], who builds his or her nest in a high place, such as in rocky crags at the top of a high cliff or mountainside.  The fact that eagles (and other large raptors) live in high rocky places is no accident – it is a providentially designed behavior that fits the heavy-bodied eagles’ need for assisted airlift, such that eagles detect and ride upon rising thermal air currents, to save energy.(2)

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But, the ability of eagles to majestically soar at high altitudes is God’s gift to eagles – they did not invent (or “evolve”) themselves; rather, whatever wonderful traits they have are traits that God created for them, as their divine Bioengineer.

Likewise, whatever valuable traits we humans may have – and we are blessed with many – are undeserved gifts from God.  So being obsessed with the “pride of life” (see 1st John 2:16, αλαζονεια του βιου, which focuses on biophysical life, not spiritual life) is stupid.  Rather, as God-created creatures, we should be ever-thankful to our Creator, i.e., we should always be grateful for both our biophysical (bios) life and our non-physical (zôê) spirit/soul life.

If thieves came to you (thee), if robbers by night  — how are you (thou) cut off!  —  would they not have stolen till they had enough?  If the grape-gatherers came to you (thee), would they not leave some grapes? (Obadiah 1:5-6)

Obadiah emphasizes how thorough the destruction of Edom shall be, in the Day of the LORD – it shall be much more thorough than smash-and-grab felonies by vandals, robbers, or burglars (1:5). Even careful grape-gatherers miss a few grapes, so that a hungry man should be able to find a few “leftovers” after a grape-field harvest (1:6).

How are the things of Esau searched out!   How are his hidden things sought up! All the men of your (thy) confederacy have brought you (thee) even to the border; the men that were at peace with you (thee) have deceived you (thee), and prevailed against you (thee); they that eat your (thy) bread have laid a wound under you (thee); there is none understanding in him. (Obadiah 1:6-7)

Edom is betrayed by Edom’s confederates (literally “men of thy covenant”), illustrating how there is no honor among thieves (i.e., no integrity in how evildoers treat each other). Edom unwisely trusted in alliances with ungodly allies. This folly backfires on Edom.

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Shall I not in that day, saith the Lord, even destroy the wise men out of Edom, and understanding out of the mount of Esau?   And you (thy) mighty men, O Teman, shall be dismayed, to the end that every one of the mount of Esau may be cut off by slaughter. (Obadiah 1:8-9)

Notice the synonyms: Edom, mount of Esau, Teman – referring to places in Edom, which places, nowadays, are located within the southern part of the Kingdom of Jordan, plus perhaps some of Saudi Arabia.

History is full of examples of Muslim nations fighting other Muslim nations (Genesis 16:12 seems to fit this historical reality).  This pertains to Edom, because Genesis 28:9 indicates that Esau “married into” Ishmael’s household, and thus into Ishmael’s violent legacy (and that evil legacy of violence is noted in Obadiah 1:10, as “violence against thy brother Jacob”).

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So it is unsurprising to see Obadiah’s prophecy that Edom’s own allies will be part of Edom’s eventual (and violent) undoing. The Edomites are guilty of terrible sins of violence against the nation of Israel (1:10).

For your (thy) violence against your (thy) brother Jacob shame shall cover you (thee), and you (thou) shalt be cut off forever. In the day that you (thou) stood on the other side, in the day that the strangers carried away captive his forces, and foreigners entered into his gates, and cast lots upon Jerusalem, even you (thou) were as one of them. But you (thou) should not have looked on the day of your (thy) brother in the day that he became a stranger; neither should you (thou) have rejoiced over the children of Judah in the day of their destruction; neither should you (thou) have spoken proudly in the day of distress; you (thou) should not have entered into the gate of My people in the day of their calamity; yea, you (thou) should not have looked on their affliction in the day of their calamity, nor have laid hands on their substance in the day of their calamity; neither should you (thou) have stood in the crossway, to cut off those of his that did escape; neither should you (thou) have delivered up those of his that did remain in the day of distress.  (Obadiah 1:10-14)

Notice the Hebrew noun, used for Edom’s violence (ḥâmâs = Ḥamās) matches the name of today’s Muslim terrorist group Hamas.  Edom shall be punished for its ḥâmâs legacy, especially violence against the people of Jacob (i.e., Israel).

Obadiah recounts a few examples of Edomites harming Jews, such as when “strangers” (could this be describing Nebuchadnezzar’s Babylonian invaders, about 600 years before Christ?) invaded Jerusalem, Edomites sided with the invaders (1:11);  Edomites also then rejoiced at Jerusalem’s tragedies (1:12).   Moreover, Edomites plundered Jews’ substance when the Jews were invaded by enemies (1:13) – this is like modern-day looters who mercilessly steal from victims of tornados and hurricanes.

Furthermore, Edomites prevented (and even turned over) fleeing Jews from successfully escaping their pursuing attackers (1:14)  — this is like WWII Quisling-like traitors, who ruthlessly betrayed underground-harboring “Jew smugglers” (like the Dutch Christian family of Corrie Ten Boom).

For the Day of the Lord is near upon all the heathen: as thou hast done, it shall be done unto thee: thy reward shall return upon thine own head.  (1:15)

This is timeless justice (see Matthew 7:2 & 7:12 & 25:40; Luke 6:31), which climaxes when the Day of the LORD arrives.

Then, the rightful King, the Lord Jesus Christ (Earth’s only legitimate Kinsman-Redeemer) returns to Earth as He promised (fulfilling many O.T. promises), to reclaim and restore it to rightness (judging “the Mount of Esau”, inter alia), and Jerusalem will be restored and secured as Christ’s royal capital city, from where He will rule (on the throne of David, which is an earthly throne, not a heavenly throne!) over all the world.

For as you (ye) have drunk upon My holy, so shall all the heathen drink continually, yea, they shall drink, and they shall swallow down, and they shall be as though they had not been. But upon Mount Zion shall be deliverance, and there shall be holiness; and the house of Jacob shall possess their possessions. And the house of Jacob shall be a fire, and the house of Joseph a flame, and the house of Esau for stubble, and they shall kindle in them, and devour them; and there shall not be any remaining of the house of Esau; for the LORD hath spoken it. And they of the south shall possess the Mount of Esau; and they of the plain the Philistines: and they shall possess the fields of Ephraim, and the fields of Samaria: and Benjamin shall possess Gilead. And the captivity of this host of the children of Israel shall possess that of the Canaanites, even unto Zarephath; and the captivity of Jerusalem, which is in Sepharad, shall possess the cities of the south. And saviors [i.e., deliverers] shall come up on Mount Zion to judge the Mount of Esau; and the kingdom shall be the LORD‘s.  (1:16-21)

This coming restoration of justice on Earth is certain, “for the Lord hath spoken it” (1:18). The bottom line, as the battle of Armageddon ends (Revelation 16:16-19), is that Jerusalem will be restored to honor and security, because the Lord Jesus Christ justly overcomes all of His enemies, Christ starts a new 1000-year era, and “the kingdom shall be the LORD‘s.”

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Conclusion regarding Obadiah’s prophecy

Esau despised God and God’s values, plotting violence against the channel of Abraham’s promised seed.  Centuries later, Esau’s progeny – in the nation Edom – proudly repeated similar profane wickedness, despising God and God’s values, practicing violent hatred for Abraham’s promised seed, including the ultimate illustration – the Idumean Herods repeatedly persecuting Jesus.  So God hated Edom (and loved Israel).

In particular, as Obadiah recounts (apparently referring to the devastating destruction of Jerusalem by Nebuchadnezzar’s Babylonian invaders, which curtailed the rule of Jerusalem by Judah’s tribe – even to the present day!) the people who descend from Esau have a long track-record of guilt for persecuting God’s chosen people, Israel.  The ultimate examples of Edomite-versus Jew persecution occurred when the Idumean Herod dynasty kings persecuted the Lord Jesus Himself, as well as Christ’s apostles.

But God’s powerful judgment shall eventually come to Earth, including to Edom, as part of the larger judgment that occurs on the “Day of the LORD”, a horrendous time of punitive judgment (which includes the battle of Armageddon).

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Thankfully, Church Age believers will not be eye-witnesses to the horrific bloodshed and maiming and death that will dominate the Day of the LORD.(3)  

However, many of Esau’s progeny, formerly called Edom (and God knows who and where they are today, most likely living in Jordan and part of Saudi Arabia), are doomed to pay for their sin.  This (in concert with many other moving parts) ushers in God’s planned 1000-year era, when “the kingdom shall be the LORD‘s.”

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ENDNOTES

(1) David Olander, The Greatness of the Day of the Lord and Christ’s Kingdom (Hurst, TX: Tyndale Seminary Press, 2017), especially pages 57-67.

(2) James J. S. Johnson, “Hawks and Eagles Launching Skyward”, Acts & Facts, 47(4):21 (April 2018), posted at https://www.icr.org/article/hawks-eagles-launching-skyward . This article cites Obadiah 1:4 in footnote #3.  See also James J. S. Johnson, “‘E’ is for Eagles and Eiders:  ‘E’ Birds, Part 1”, Lee’s Birdwatching Adventures Plus, 10-24-AD2016, posted at https://leesbird.com/2016/10/24/e-is-for-eagles-and-eiders-e-birds-part-1/ .

(3) See 1st Thessalonians 1:9-10; 2:19; 3:13; 4:16-17; 5:1-5 & 2nd Thessalonians 2:1-3, explained in David Olander, The Greatness of the Day of the Lord and Christ’s Kingdom (Hurst, TX: Tyndale Seminary Press, 2017), pages 11-13.

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BIBLIOGRAPHY

Beitzel, Barry J. The Moody Atlas of Bible Lands (Chicago, IL: Moody Press, 1985).

Hindson, Edward E., & Daniel R. Mitchell, editors. Zondervan King James Version Commentary – Old Testament (Grand Rapids, MI:  Zondervan, 2010).

Jensen, Irving L. “Obadiah” (pages 17-26), in his Minor Prophets of Judah  (Chicago, IL:  Moody Press, 1975).

Johnson, James J. S., “Hawks and Eagles Launching Skyward”, Acts & Facts, 47(4):21 (April 2018), posted at https://www.icr.org/article/hawks-eagles-launching-skyward .

James J. S. Johnson, “‘E’ is for Eagles and Eiders:  ‘E’ Birds, Part 1”, Lee’s Birdwatching Adventures Plus, 10-24-AD2016, posted at https://leesbird.com/2016/10/24/e-is-for-eagles-and-eiders-e-birds-part-1/ .

Olander, David. The Greatness of the Day of the Lord and Christ’s Kingdom (Hurst, TX: Tyndale Seminary Press, 2017), especially pages 57-67.


 

Redwing Pond

Redwing Pond was named for its redwinged blackbirds, which loved the pondshore’s cattails.

Dr. James J. S. Johnson

Can the rush grow up without mire? can the flag grow without water?  (Job 8:11)

Wetlands are defined by their mix of hydrophilic plants (such as “rush” and “flags” and cattails), wetland hydrology, and hydric soils.  And redwinged blackbirds love cattails.

Redwinged-Blackbird.TrekNature

In fact, years ago, an institution of Christian education was named for red-winged blackbirds that frequented a cattail-rimmed pond, in the cross timbers habitat region of northern Texas.  See comment to posting (about pond-side Wood Storks, foraging in Florida) in December of AD2016   —  specifically, the comment posted at  https://wordpress.com/comments/all/rockdoveblog.wordpress.com/450   —   for listing of Redwood Pond Institute / Cross Timbers Institute departments.


 

When in Scotland, Eat Well!

When In Scotland, Eat Well!

Nevertheless He [i.e., God] 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)

full-Scottish-breakfast.TripAdvisor

Good food is a proof of God’s providential care and power, as Acts 14:17 indicates.  [See my analysis, of this truth, in “Our Daily Bread:  How Food Proves God’s Providence”, ACTS & FACTS, 40(4):8-9 (April 2011), posted at  https://www.icr.org/article/our-daily-bread-how-food-proves-gods/ .]

So, here is my Scottish-memories limerick, to help me recall some wonderful food that I ate while in Scotland, including many “full Scottish breakfast” buffets (with hot black teas), plus gourmet later-in-the-day treasures like Norway Lobster (a/k/a “Langoustine”, Nephrops norvegicus  —  a marine crustacean resembling a mini-lobster, i.e., a crawfish that tastes somewhat like a prawn-sized shrimp), haggis (which looks like a large egg roll — and tastes like Pennsylvania Dutch scrapple), venison, Isle of Mull mussels, scones (with clotted cream),  sea scallops (e.g., “Queenies”), salmon, haddock (as part of “fish and chips”), haggis-&-cracked-black-pepper potato chips, Irn-Bru ice cream, and more!

Isle-of-Mull-scallops

Recalling Scottish Cuisine, in the Highlands & Hebrides

Scallops, haggis, fish and chips

Are well welcomed by my lips;

Norway lobster, steak of deer,

Scones and tea  give me cheer;

Scallops, haggis, fish and chips!

[writ by JJSJ while leaving Scotland, 21st July AD2019]

Norway-Lobster.DailyScandinavian

Tired Feet, Refreshed by Cold Tidewater

FOOTWASHING, IN COLD TIDEWATER, CAN BE VERY REFRESHING

Dr. James J. S. Johnson

Jesus saith to him [i.e., Peter], He that is washed needs not, except to wash his feet, but is clean every whit; and ye are clean, but not all.   (John 13:10)

Iona-MartyrsBay-beach-wideangle

After a lot of hiking along Martyrs Bay, on Iona island (19th July AD2019), a small isle in Scotland’s Inner Hebrides, I refreshed my feet with a good foot-soaking (for about 5 minutes — as long as I could tolerate the cold!), in the frigid shore-waters of the Iona’s shore.  Hence this limerick, by which to remember that very cool experience:

AFTER HOURS OF HIKING, SOAK YOUR FEET IN THE FRIGID SHORE-WATERS OF IONA SOUND

Hiking for hours, on Scottish ground,

Fatigued feet trek, toward Iona’s Sound;

Footgear off — pants cuffs rolled,

Step in sea-water — c-c-cold!

“Freezing” tired feet, in Iona’s Sound!

Iona-MartyrsBay-shoreline


 

Psalm 145:8-16, “The Case of the Missing Nûn”

Psalm 145:8-16,  “The Case of the Missing Nûn” 

(An Exegetical Study)

James J. S. Johnson, JD, ThD

JohnKnox-statue-StGilesCathedral.Edinburgh

PSALM 145:8-16 

 חַנּ֣וּן וְרַח֣וּם יְהוָ֑ה אֶ֥רֶךְ אַ֝פַּ֗יִם וּגְדָל־חָֽסֶד׃
9 טוֹב־יְהוָ֥ה לַכֹּ֑ל וְ֝רַחֲמָ֗יו עַל־כָּל־מַעֲשָֽׂיו׃
10 יוֹד֣וּךָ יְ֭הוָה כָּל־מַעֲשֶׂ֑יךָ וַ֝חֲסִידֶ֗יךָ יְבָרֲכֽוּכָה׃
11 כְּב֣וֹד מַלְכוּתְךָ֣ יֹאמֵ֑רוּ וּגְבוּרָתְךָ֥ יְדַבֵּֽרוּ׃
12 לְהוֹדִ֤יעַ׀ לִבְנֵ֣י הָ֭אָדָם גְּבוּרֹתָ֑יו וּ֝כְב֗וֹד הֲדַ֣ר מַלְכוּתֽוֹ׃
13 מַֽלְכוּתְךָ֗ מַלְכ֥וּת כָּל־עֹֽלָמִ֑ים וּ֝מֶֽמְשֶׁלְתְּךָ֗ בְּכָל־דּ֥וֹר וָדֽוֹר׃
14 סוֹמֵ֣ךְ יְ֭הוָה לְכָל־הַנֹּפְלִ֑ים וְ֝זוֹקֵ֗ף לְכָל־הַכְּפוּפִֽים׃
15 עֵֽינֵי־כֹ֭ל אֵלֶ֣יךָ יְשַׂבֵּ֑רוּ וְאַתָּ֤ה נֽוֹתֵן־לָהֶ֖ם אֶת־אָכְלָ֣ם בְּעִתּֽוֹ׃
16 פּוֹתֵ֥חַ אֶת־יָדֶ֑ךָ וּמַשְׂבִּ֖יעַ לְכָל־חַ֣י רָצֽוֹן׃

Qumran-Isaiah.scroll

  1. Verification of Biblical Text and its English Translation:

The above-quoted text is taken from the Westminster Leningrad Codex (“WLC”) of the Hebrew Bible.  There is no serious controversy about the Masoretic Hebrew text of Psalm 145.  However, some Old Testament sources (and some textual analysts) differ with the Masoretic  Text of verse 13, because it deviates from the otherwise-perfect acrostic structure of Psalm 145.  In other words, the structure of Psalm 145 follows the exact sequence of the Hebrew alphabet’s 22 letters with one exception – the Hebrew letter for N (nûn) is missing!  What explains that?

The obvious question is: why would an otherwise perfectly acrostic psalm have only 21 verses, with each verse beginning with the next Hebrew alphabet letter, except for N (nûn)?

Many textual analysts (typically “critical text” advocates), as well as a few modern English translations (including the New International Version, Revised Standard Version of 1952, Holman Christian Standard Version of 2003), have attempted to “correct” this apparent omission – based upon their self-asserted assumption that the psalmist could not possibly have intended to omit one letter of the Hebrew alphabet.

The skipped-nûn text of Psalm 145, provided in the Masoretic Text – and retained in the Judaica Press Tanach (of 1917, 1936, and 2001) – is followed by the King James Bible, Bishops’ Bible of 1568, Coverdale Bible of 1535, Geneva Bible of 1599, Darby translation, Spanish Reina Valera versions of 1602-1995, as well as many other translations.[1]

But, as will be shown below, that unwarranted assumption has resulted in committing the Pharisaic error of adding to God’s Word, an arrogant practice prohibited by Deuteronomy 4:2.  In trying to (supposedly) “correct” the Biblical text, by supplying a “fitting” phrase to complete the acrostic, the originally intentional omission’s poignant message is forfeited.[2]  (This will be discussed, below.)

So, how have some ancient (and not-so-ancient) sources tried to “correct” the missing nûn?

Although it might seem better to discuss two New Testament passages later in this analysis, those two passages are nonetheless inserted here because they both help to introduce analytical missteps taken by several who have analyzed Psalm 145:13. Specifically, said missteps are based upon the insistent (and unwarranted) assumption that an almost-perfect acrostic psalm (with a missing nûn) “must” reflect a “copyist’s omission” (i.e., a failure in textual preservation and/or transmission), as opposed to possibly being the intentional omission by the human author (David) – due to an intentional almost-perfect acrostic was ultimately intended by the divine Author (God the Holy Spirit), to emphasize something that is or was “missing”.  This concept is sometimes called employing a “loud silence”.

First example of a “loud silence” omission: the opening of Paul’s letter to the Galatians.

A review of Paul’s epistles shows that Paul routinely began his correspondence with appreciation for how God was blessing his intended readers, and how Paul was praying for their spiritual growth (see, e.g., 1st Thessalonians 1:28; 1st Corinthians 1:4-9; Romans 1:8-12; Ephesians 1:15-16; Philippians 1:3-11; Colossians 1:3-9), but not so with the Galatians.

As you begin to read Paul’s letter to the Galatian Christians, you can tell immediately that something is radically wrong, because he does not open his letter with his usual praise to God and prayer for the saints. He has no time!  Paul is about to engage in a battle for the truth of the Gospel and the liberty of the Christian life.[3]

In short, by noticing the pattern of Paul’s customary beginning to his New Testament epistles, and by noticing how that beginning is “missing” (i.e., excluded) in Paul’s letter to the Galatians, provides us with an insight into a contrast – Paul deliberately departed from his usual letter-writing custom, to provide an emphatic point: the Galatians were in the worst of trouble![4]

Second example: Christ refers to human conduct in the days of Noah and Lot.

When describing the condition of people who would be unprepared when the Lord returns to Earth in glorious power and punitive judgment, the Lord Jesus Christ alluded to the contemporaries of Noah (who were judged by the Flood) and the contemporaries of Lot (who were judged in the fiery destruction of Sodom) – an did so with “loud silence” omissions.

And as it was in the days of Noah, so shall it be also in the days of the Son of man.  They did eat, they drank, they married wives, they were given in marriage, until the day that Noah entered into the ark, and the flood came, and destroyed them all.  Likewise also as it was in the days of Lot; they did eat, they drank, they bought, they sold, they planted, they builded.  But the same day that Lot went out of Sodom it rained fire and brimstone from heaven, and destroyed them all.  Even thus shall it be in the day when the Son of man is revealed.[5]

Notice the behaviors that Christ mentioned, as characterizing the “days of Noah”: eating, drinking, and getting married.  None of these behaviors is per se wrong![6]

Christ surprisingly omitted mention of the overwhelmingly wicked and violent behaviors that dominated pre-Flood humanity (see Genesis 6:5 & 6:11-13). Likewise, when referring to Noah’s contemporaries, Christ omitted mention of the strange sexual sins that the pre-Flood population was known for, which were somehow comparable to how the Sodomites were infamous for “going after strange flesh” (compare Genesis 6:1-4 with Jude 1:6-7).  Why did Christ omit mentioning the pre-Flood perversions, corruptions, and violence?

In similar manner, notice that the behaviors that Christ mentioned, as characterizing the “days of Lot”: eating, drinking, buying, selling, planting, and building.  None of these behaviors is per se wrong!  As before, when referring to Noah’s contemporaries, Christ omitted mention of the Sodomites’ perverse and prurient lust for violent and aberrant sexual abominations, a sordid and vile habit that the Sodomites of old are still remembered for today (e.g., in the English word “sodomy” – as noted in Genesis 18 & Jude 1:7).  Why did Christ omit mentioning the perversions, corruptions, and violence for which Sodom and Gomorrah were destroyed?

Try to imagine the reaction of Christ’s original audience, when He spoke the words recorded in Luke 17:26-30. When the contemporaries of Noah and of Lot were so described, by Christ Himself, the “loud silences” must have been jarring – what trait was Christ condemning the antediluvians and Sodomites for?  Was it for their horribly ugly “fruits”, or for the wicked “root” of ignoring God, rejecting God, going about life in a way that excluded God and His Word?

The point here is that Christ surprisingly omitted what His audience expected to hear, and He accomplished this dramatically by a conspicuous omission of what was expected “in context”. Having recognized that there is Scriptural precedent for the usage of conspicuous “loud silence” omissions, a summary of other (so-called) solutions to the almost-perfect acrostic (or Psalm 145) is provided.

The lack of the נ verse has caused some to question whether the verse may have fallen out of the Masoretic Text of the Psalm due to scribal error. They seek to justify this view on the basis that the נ [nûn] verse is found in one medieval Hebrew manuscript, the Dead Sea Scrolls, the Septuagint and the Syriac.

Indeed, some modern versions, such as the ESV and NIV, add the supposed missing נ verse to Psalm 145 because of its presence in these witnesses. However, we believe that the omission of the נ verse is intentional and not at all due to scribal error, and that the evidence for the proposed נ verse is insubstantial and the verse is rightly omitted.[7]

There is only one medieval Hebrew manuscript that includes an extra phrase, to complete the alphabetic acrostic (saying “the LORD is faithful to all His promises, and loving towards all He has made” – the Hebrew text of which begins with the word ne’emân, the singular masculine  niphal participle form of the verb ’aman, “to be firm”/“to affirm”, i.e., “to be faithful”), yet even that manuscript (in Dublin’s Trinity College) only includes the extra phrase as a marginal writing on the bottom of the page, and appears to be a gratuitous redundancy of Verse 17.

[At Dublin’s Trinity College] there is … one medieval Hebrew manuscript. The נ verse appears in this manuscript as:

 נאמן יהוה  בכל  דבריו וחסיד  בכול מעשיו    

[The LORD is faithful in all his words and holy in all his works]

However, this verse does not appear where it might reasonably be expected in the body of the text, but rather at the bottom of the manuscript page, as if it were a suggested correction of the text. Additionally, the proposed verse is similar in its first part and identical in its second part to v17:

צדיק יהוה בכל דרכיו וחסיד בכול מעשיו     

[The LORD is righteous in all his ways and holy in all his works] [8]

Thus, the inclusion of the verse introduces a repetition into the Psalm which otherwise does not contain any repetition. Redundancy, as a repeating emphasis, does sometimes occur in the Psalms.  However, the redundancy that occurs, when this “extra nûn verse” is inserted, does not fit with any contextual pattern of repetition in Psalm 145.  Thus, the extra verse insertion “cures” one anomaly of form, only to introduce an unnecessary anomaly of content!

Also, the Dead Sea Scrolls avoid the awkward omission by including this extra phrase (“saving” the alphabetic acrostic’s “need” for an N, by inserting a phrase that begins with the Hebrew word ne’emân [“faithful”]), but the Dead Sea Scrolls variant doesn’t square with the solitary variant held by Dublin’s Trinity College.

[Regarding the variant reading of Psalm 145:13 found in] the Hebrew Dead Sea Scrolls (DSS) … the verse appears as follows:

נאמן אלוהים בדרכיו וחסיד בכול מעשיו    

(God is faithful in his ways and holy in all his works)

There are a number of differences between this verse [Psalm 145:13] in the DSS and the one found in the medieval Hebrew manuscript. The name of God is different, being God ( אלוהים ) rather than LORD ( יהוה ). This is significant since the name of God which is used throughout the Psalm in similar expressions is LORD ( יהוה ) and not God ( אלוהים ): ‘great is the LORD’, ‘the LORD is gracious and full of compassion’, ‘the LORD is good’; indeed, in the very next verse after the supposed missing נ verse, the reading is ‘the LORD upholdeth’. Other differences between the manuscript and the DSS readings are: ‘his ways’ in the DSS as opposed to the Hebrew manuscript ‘his words’, and the omission in the DSS of the word ‘all’, which the Hebrew manuscript includes.[9]

In other words, the Dead Sea Scrolls variant, which includes an “extra nûn verse”, won’t match up with the only medieval Hebrew manuscript that has an “extra nûn verse”.   (In forensic contexts, such as courtroom trials, this does not look good for the two conflicting witnesses  — whose conflicting testimony notably disagrees with the vast majority of “regular” witnesses.)

According to the apparatus in Kittel’s (1973) Stuttgart-printed edition of Biblica Hebraica, this same inserted “extra nûn verse” is also found in some Syriac and Septuagint translation copies, though apparently not all copies of those translations.[10]  Regarding the Septuagint Greek translation’s variant (in Psalm 145:13), Larry Brigden notices worse problems with the Septuagint rendering.

The rendering of the supposed נ verse in the Septuagint (a Greek translation of the Old Testament dating from the second century BC) is:

πιστος κυριος εν τοις λογοις αυτου και οσιος εν πασι τοις εργοις αυτου

 (The Lord is faithful in his words and holy in all his works)

The Septuagint differs in the first part of the verse from the Hebrew manuscript, simply having ‘his words’ rather than the Hebrew’s ‘all his words’. In addition, the Septuagint has ‘his words’ as opposed to the DSS’s ‘his ways’.[11]

Once again, the irregular witnesses – who try to insert an “extra nûn verse” to complete the alphabetic acrostic — can’t get their “stories” to match.

Likewise, appealing to the non-Lamsa Syriac translation variant, which includes yet another variant alternative “extra nûn verse”, provides yet another inconsistent “witness” against the Masoretic Text’s transmission of Psalm 145.

The Syriac translation of the נ verse has:

The Lord is faithful in his words and righteous in all his works.

There is a significant difference between this version and the Hebrew manuscript, the DSS and the Septuagint in the second part of the verse: the Syriac has ‘righteous’, whereas the other three textual witnesses have ‘holy’. As seen from this survey of the [variant] witnesses to the supposed missing נ verse, it is evident that there is no consistent testimony about the reading, but clear disagreement among themselves. This is commonly an indication that a verse is spurious.[12]

Thus, the non-Lamsa Syriac variant further demonstrates that the few-and-far-between efforts, of some textual handlers, to supply an “extra nûn verse” are not rooted in an underlying Hebrew original.  Having reviewed the rare and completely inconsistent variants, the question remains: if God intentionally omitted to include a “nûn verse”, why? How is the message of Psalm 145 furthered by such a literary surprise?

Just as the departure from Paul’s customary correspondence structure gave emphasis to the alarm and danger that he proclaimed to the Galatians, — and just as Christ’s allusions to the ordinary business-as-usual attitudes, in the pre-Flood and Sodomite populations, were surprising descriptions to Christ’s Jewish audiences, — omitting the nûn, in the almost-perfect alphabetic acrostic of Psalm 145, would arrest the (anticipated) Jewish reader with the question: why?

Larry Brigden, senior editorial consultant for the Trinitarian Bible Society, suggests [see Footnote #7] that David is contrasting his own fallibility with the infallibility of God.

“Psalm 145 shows the same deliberate variation from the normal form of the acrostic pattern for an intended purpose. The Psalm is one of praise to God. The acrostic pattern is probably chosen to bring to bear the full resources of the Hebrew language upon this expression of praise. It is to be full-orbed praise where every letter of the Hebrew alphabet evokes a Hebrew word which strikes a new chord in that praise. So verse 3 is ג and the Psalmist thinks of גדול (‘great’), ‘great is the LORD’; verse 9 is ט and the Psalmist thinks of טוב (‘good’), ‘the LORD is good’, and so on. When he comes to verse 13, the letter is מ and the Psalmist thinks of מלכותך (‘thy kingdom’), ‘thy kingdom is an everlasting kingdom’. This verse completes a distinct section of the Psalm and is a climax point in the Psalm.

The last part of Psalm 145 begins at verse 14 and continues to the end of the Psalm, in which David praises the Lord for His condescending love. The Psalmist had to decide how to begin this section.

The next letter in the alphabet is נ; what word would this evoke for the Psalmist?

נפל (‘fall’ or ‘fail’) perhaps?

But the Lord does not ‘fall’ or ‘fail’. It is men who ‘fall’ and ‘fail’. So what does the Psalmist do? He makes a striking point by omitting the נ verse and then writing the next verse, the ס (samekh) verse, as:

Psalm145-samekh-verse.png

Every Hebrew reader of the Psalm will notice something striking at this point: it is the Psalmist himself who ‘falls’ ( נפל ) in the omission of the נ verse.

What more graphic way to highlight the frailty of men and the condescending love of God than by omitting the נ verse and following with a verse that speaks of the Lord upholding ‘all that fall’ [lecâl hannōphlîm]?   The structure of the Psalm ‘chimes’, as it were, to the thought expressed by the words of the Psalm. Thus, the omission of the נ verse is deliberate and for an intended effect, an effect that relies on a slight variation from an otherwise closely followed acrostic form.  [Quoting Larry Brigden, footnote #7]

The purpose of the variation, or apparent irregularity, from the normal acrostic form is not the same in all acrostic Psalms, but Psalms 25 and 145 plainly demonstrate that such variation is a deliberate literary device employed for a particular purpose. Clearly, if the Psalmist chooses the acrostic pattern for a purpose, any variation from that pattern is also likely to be for a purpose.”  [Quoting Larry Bridgen  —  see Footnote #7]

So why would the Hebrew verb naphal (“to fall”, i.e., to fail) be a key to solving this alphabet-linked riddle?

Remember, this psalm is uniquely about David’s life of praise to God.  It is not a mizmôr (“praise-song”) authored for the choirmaster, or for the sons of Korah to sing.

Rather, this is the only tehillâh “praise” psalm that David ever wrote—this psalm is quite personal to David’s life of worship.

It is true that David was, for the most part, a “man after God’s heart” (1st Samuel 13:14; Acts 13:22), yet there was a period of David’s life that failed to worship God (2nd Samuel chapter 11).  That chapter of David’s life is forgiven (Psalm 51), so it is not replayed to David’s shame in eternity.

However, that sin-stained timeframe, of that shameful chapter in David’s life, is a prolonged loss of opportunity to worship God. As a worshiper of God, with temporal opportunities to honor Him, David failed — and those times of failure are now lost forever. (David is a fair representative of all of us – time-wasting sinners – in this tragic respect.)

Those times of sin (for David, and for us), which appeared pleasant “for a season” – those earthly hours and days and weeks – were wasted, and they are forever missing.  (What is not stored up in Heaven, as eternal treasure, perishes (Matthew 6:20).

When David fell (naphal) he lived human experiences that are erased by God’s forgiveness – but those hours cannot count as worship hours; those days were not productive of treasures laid up in Heaven, immune from rust, moths, or thieves.  They are gone.

Psalm145.12-14.Verse14-in-English

Even so, God restores the fallen (Psalm 145:14). This is a hidden-in-plain-view precious gem – if not the most precious theological jewel – within this very personal psalm of David.

In sum, the preponderance of the relevant and reliable evidence shows that the Masoretic Text rendering of Psalm 145 (and of Psalm 145:8-16 in particular) is a faithful transmission of the original text of David’s very personal praise, the tehillâh of Psalm 145.

2. Understanding Literary/Historical Background and Context:

Psalm 145 is a psalm of King David, so it was written about 1000BC.   As noted above, Psalm 145’s literary purpose (as the Hebrew text of its first verse uniquely indicates) is to provide David’s very personal praise (tehillâh) of the LORD, with a blending of God’s greatness as the transcendent holy God He is (Psalm 145:1-7) with God’s mercy-filled goodness to humans like David, who continues with personal gratitude for God’s grace and salvation (Psalm 145:8-21).

Like many (though not all) of the psalms, it focuses on true worship: praising the true God.  However, Psalm 145 has a unique message:  it is David’s personal appreciation for God’s greatness (God’s glory as God, the God of all creation) and God’s special goodness to David (God’s benevolent care of David, as David’s very personal God).

Part of the historical-biographical background, that appears relevant to understanding this passage (Psalm 145:8-16), is the overall trend of David’s life (1st Samuel 13:14; Acts 13:22), with recognition that David’s life did have one major interruption of very serious sin (2nd Samuel chapter 11) which is now redemptively forgiven and erased – thanks to Christ our Savior — from God’s record-books (Psalm 51; Luke 10:20).  During that time in David’s life he was “AWOL” (“away without leave”) from God’s holy service.  Being “out of service” is a waste of precious Earth-time, and it has other tragic consequences too.

Parallelism in Psalm 145 (discussed at length below) likewise provides other content comparisons that help readers to discern other important details within the text of the psalm.

3. Identification of Literary Structure of the Book:

Psalms appears to be internally divided into five series of chapters: (a) 1-41; (b) 42-72; (c) 73-89; (d) 90-106; (e) 107-145; plus a five-chapter “grand finale” epilogue (146-150), based upon repeating doxology closure verses (which act as literary dividers, somewhat like the toledôth divisions in Genesis) that occurs at Psalms 41:13; 72:19; 89:52; 106:48; and 145:21.[13]  If these five sections correspond to the five books of Moses, as ancient Jewish commentators have guessed, Psalm 110 would belongs to the fifth section that corresponds to Deuteronomy.[14]

One overarching literary theme, repeatedly developed throughout all of the Psalms, is that God’s glory is shown (and thus should be rightly recognized by humans) in and through conflict.

Psalm 145 explicitly identifies itself as the only tehillâh psalm “of David”.[15]  Psalm 145, as a tehillâh psalm, contrasts with the “song”-psalms (i.e., psalms introduced as mizmôr psalms) such as the first Hebrew verses (which are often denoted as a “title” in English translation, obscuring the fact that the original Hebrew text includes phrases that English translations render as editorial-appearing “titles”) in Psalm 24, 29, 30, 31, 38, 39, 40, 41, 47, 48, 49, 50, 51, 62, 63, 64, 65, 66, 67, 68, 73, 75, 76, 77, 79, 80, 82, 83, 84, 85, 87, 88, 92, 98, 100, 101, 108, 109, 110, 139, 140, 141, and 143.[16]

Not all of the Psalms were authored by David, although David is the most frequently named author (of those whose human author is known).[17]

The fact that David was the human co-author of Psalm 145, and that the Holy Spirit was the divine co-author of Psalm 145, is accented by the first verse in the Hebrew text of Psalm 145, which begins: “a praise of David”.

4. Identification of Grammatical and Syntactical Keys:

The entire book of Psalms has the literary form of Hebrew poetry – which means its content is presented in paralleled sentences.[18]

English poetry is defined by its verbal “hardware,” with the delivery of its pronounced sounds identifying the text as poetry. Hebrew poetry, however, is defined by its “software,” its verbal information and meaning, which is presented with parallelism of thought, not sound.

In short, Hebrew poetry is defined by parallelism in meaning, whereas English poetry is defined by the format of verse and sound (such as rhyme and meter). This is easier to illustrate than to explain. Consider the below examples of both kinds of poetry.

Example of English poetry, using a limerick rhyme and meter format.

Some Get a “Bang” Out of Fables

The Bible, to read, some are able,

Yet prefer to read a false fable;

            Though God’s Word says “six days,”

            A “Big Bang” gets their praise,

Their doctrine, therefore, is unstable.1

Verses of English poetry routinely rely on rhyme. In limerick poems, the rhyme pattern is AA, BB, A (because able, fable, and unstable all rhyme, as do days and praise). Other poems often use other patterns, but almost without exception some kind of rhyme is used to identify English verse-based literature as poetry.

English poetry, being dominated by sound, also relies on meter, the rhythmic “beat” of a poem. The number of stressed syllables in all A lines should match, as should those in the B lines. One English tradition uses iambic pentameter, employed by English poets John Donne, William Shakespeare, and John Milton.2 Note that rhyme and rhythm neither provide nor depend upon a poem’s meaning.

Unlike the rhyme and rhythm of English poetry, Hebrew poetry is defined by informational parallelism—parallelism of meaning.3 The paralleled thoughts may emphasize good and bad, wise and unwise, reverent and blasphemous. They may or may not recount historical events, although time and place, if mentioned at all, are less emphasized than in narrative prose. This informational parallelism―using comparative lines and phrases―portrays similarities and/or contrasts, or comparisons of whole and part, or some other kind of logical associations of meaning.

Knowing this linguistic trait helps us to correctly read biblical Hebrew poetry. Since such poetry requires complementation of meaning (not sound), both halves of a verbal parallelism must be reviewed together as a complementary unit in order to understand fully what either half means, as well as to understand how they complement each other in meaning. Almost always the paralleled lines come in pairs,4 but sometimes a triplet is used.5

Major examples of Hebrew poetry in the Old Testament are Psalms, Proverbs, Lamentations, and Song of Solomon—but not Genesis.

Example of Hebrew poetry, illustrating parallelisms of both similarity and contrast.

Psalm 104:29   Thou hidest thy face, they are troubled:
thou takest away their breath, they die, and return to their dust.

Psalm 104:30   Thou sendest forth thy spirit, they are created:
and thou renewest the face of the earth.

Note how both lines in verse 29 show parallel similarity of meaning, as do both lines in verse 30. Yet verse 29 informationally contrasts with verse 30—verse 29 tells how God controls the death of certain creatures (like leviathan, mentioned in verse 26), but verse 30 tells how God controls the life of His creatures. In order to get the full meaning of either verse 29 or verse 30, the total parallelism must be appreciated. This is the hallmark of Hebrew poetry.

For another example, read any chapter in Proverbs. They are dominated by parallelism of meaning, verse after verse. Sometimes the parallelism spreads over consecutive verses, as in Proverbs 28:15-16 (“wicked ruler” in verse 15; “the prince” who is a “great oppressor” in verse 16). Sometimes the parallelism is condensed within one verse, as in Proverbs 28:28 (“when the wicked rise, men hide themselves: but when they perish, the righteous increase”). Parallelism dominates the informational structure of Hebrew poetry. Careful reading cannot miss it.[19]

In sum, Hebrew poetry is recognized by the parallelism used to convey the author’s message. Accordingly, the text of Psalm 145 implements Hebrew parallelism to convey its God-honoring message.  This parallelism in Psalm 145:8-16 can be diagrammed as follows:

The Lord is gracious, and full of compassion; slow to anger, and of great mercy.

The Lord is good to all: and his tender mercies are over all his works.

The LORD being “gracious” and the LORD being “good to all” provides parallel thought. Likewise, God’s “compassion” (which includes being “slow to anger” and being “of great mercy”) matches the fact that His “tender mercies are over all His works”.

10 All thy works shall praise thee, O Lord; and thy saints shall bless thee.

The LORD is to be praised by all His works; He is to be blessed by His saints. Although all of God’s works will glorify Him, one way or another, voluntarily or involuntarily — yet surely God’s own people should lead in lauding Him as He is due!

And what should we glorify and praise God for? God should be lauded for His powerful deeds and for His majestic splendor!

11 They shall speak of the glory of thy kingdom, and talk of thy power, 12 to make known to the sons of men his mighty acts, and the glorious majesty of his kingdom.

13 Thy kingdom is an everlasting kingdom, and thy dominion endureth throughout all generations.

Verse 11-12 complement Verse 13 – God’s people shall speak of His glorious kingdom, His power, and His rule over humanity is both glorious and never-ending. As David refers to God’s “kingdom”, and the “glorious majesty” of God’s reign, David can compare God’s kingship (which is absolutely perfect in every way) with David’s own mortal and limited and imperfect  experiences as an earthly king.  This is a sober comparison.

This involves a “bump” in David’s otherwise doxologically prioritized journey – verse 14.

David appears to be recalling how God’s rulership over the affairs of men and women (including their sexual “affairs”) include how God deals with moral failings. (So David’s lost opportunity to praise God, during the time when David was “out of service”, appears as a “missing” letter in the otherwise-complete “alphabet” of David’s life as God’s man.)

But there is hope! God is gracious, God is merciful, God restores the repentant sinner!

14 The Lord upholdeth all that fall, and raiseth up all those that be bowed down.

Verses 15-16 continue to focus on David’s restored life, as God’s man. David recognizes that God is the ultimate provider of all that is needful and good. God gives us what is truly valuable, for this life and for life hereafter all “in due season”.[20]

15 The eyes of all wait upon thee; and thou givest them their meat in due season. 

16 Thou openest thine hand, and satisfiest the desire of every living thing.

Obviously David is serious about living a life of worship!

In sum, the parallel structure of Psalm 145’s verses begin with David extoling God, with parallel content blending God’s transcendent greatness (verses 1-7), followed by a more personal appreciation for Who God is – to David – and how believers (like David) need to appreciate and praise God now and hereafter (verses 8-21).

5. Identification of Lexical Keys (i.e., Biblical word studies):

Several Hebrew words are especially noteworthy in Psalm 145:8-16. As noted above, Psalm 145 is uniquely titled (in the original Hebrew text) as a tihellâh of David, in contrast to the many psalms which are titled as “praise-songs” (singular mizmôr) of David.  That lexical uniqueness alone show grab our attention, prompting us to investigate how (and why) Psalm 145 is different from every other Davidic psalms that is titled as a “praise” psalm.

The word “praise” (as used in the Old Testament) routinely translates one of several Hebrew verbs: barâk (also translated “to bless”), halâl (usually in the piêl form), zamâr (also translated “to sing”), yadâh (“to praise”, with the connotation of stretching out the hands, usually in the hiphîl form), and shabâḥ (“to laud”, usually in the piêl form, with the Aramaic equivalent verb being shebâḥ).[21]

Of these verbs, barâk is used about 330 times (usually translated “bless”),[22] halâl is used about 165 times (usually translated as “to praise” or “to glory”),[23] zamâr is used about 50 times (usually translated “to sing praises”), [24] yadâh is used about 111 times (usually translated “to praise” or “to give thanks”), [25] shabâḥ is used about 11 times (usually translated “to praise”),[26] and shebâḥ is used 5 times (always translated as “to praise”) [27]

Since only Psalm 145 is explicitly titled as David’s psalm of tehillah (Psalm 145:1, Hebrew text), it is useful to see how related words are translated into English.  The root verb, of course, is halâl (usually in the piêl form, translated as “to praise” or “to glory”).  The singular noun tehillah usually appears, yet sometimes the plural form (tehillim) is used (e.g., Isaiah 60:6).

The usages of the Hebrew verb halâl – in the poêl [active participle] form (e.g., Job 12:17; Ecclesiastes 7:7; Isaiah 44:25), and in the puâl [passive intensive] form (e.g., Proverbs 12:8; Psalms 78:63), and in the hithpaêl [reflexive] form (e.g., Psalm 97:7; Proverbs 25:4) — emphasize that “glorying” means to manifest the true character/nature of whoever or whatever is doing the “glorying” – for good or for bad.[28]

In other words, a fool who “glories” in falsity (e.g., Isaiah 44:25; Psalm 97:7; Proverbs 25:4) shows the deluded folly and vainglory by which his empty character has become characterized. A fool glories in his folly.  God’s glory, however, is always virtuous and holy – He is manifested in His holiness, His goodness, His justice, His compassion, His righteousness, His grace, His faithfulness, His truthfulness, His omnipotence, His omniscience, His omnipresence, His creativity, His beauty, His love, etc., etc., etc.!

6. Identification of Biblical Context (e.g., book’s purpose/theme):

The Book of Psalms is “sepher tehillim”, literally the “book of praises”.  But, as noted before, the context of Psalms is that God is being praised (and is glorifying Himself, so that we can learn more about Who He really is) amidst and in the aftermath of huge conflicts.

Why? The universe is at war, as is illustrated by Psalm 1 and Psalm 2, between those who revere God (the “godly”) and those who don’t (the “ungodly”).  It is wise to be godly!  It is sinfully stupid to be ungodly. The end of the ungodly is ruin and doom; the destiny of the godly is goodness. The poetic lyrics of the Psalms provide praise-songs that equip the believer for spiritual-mindedness and godly living (see Colossians 3:16). God’s great and holy deeds, which show His great and holy character, prove that He alone is worthy of worship and exaltation on earth as in Heaven.

Obviously, God’s glory is best presented in and through the Lord Jesus Christ. Accordingly, the Book of Psalms testify of Jesus (Luke 24:44), and some of the Psalms are overtly Messianic in prophetic content, e.g., Psalm 2 (which is quoted in Acts 13:33), and Psalm 22 (which is quoted in Mark 15:34 and Matthew 27:43), and in Psalm 45 (which is quoted in Hebrews 1:8), and in Psalm 102 (which is quoted in Hebrews 1:10-12).

7. Identification of Theological Context (as related to themes):

David’s “Lord” – the Lord Jesus Christ – is recognized as ascended and exalted to the throne of God, at God’s right hand, to sit there till His enemies are made into a “footstool” for Him. Quite obviously, the timeframe for this heavenly exaltation of Christ must be after His resurrection and ascension.

It is David’s Lord (i.e., the LORD, Who has chosen to give faithful mercies to David and to all who are forgiven in Christ) Who forgave David, the sinner, for David’s failings. This is the hidden-in-plain-view lesson of the almost-perfect alphabetic acrostic of Psalm 145.

As the Epistle to the Hebrews emphasizes (in chapters 5, 6, and 7) this immortal and heavenly priesthood of Christ contrasts with the mortal and earthly priesthoods of the sons of Aaron.  This distinction should not be a problem for dispensationalists, because they are routinely sensitive to the difference in roles that Christ has in relation to Israel, to the Church, and to the rest of the world.  But this distinction is often lost to those who use “replacement theology” to commingle prophecies about Israel with prophecies about the Gentile-dominated Church, as they fail to distinguish between Christ’s earthly throne in Jerusalem (which is yet future) as Israel’s King, and Christ’s heavenly throne (where He sits now, and will continue to sit till His enemies are “positioned” into His footstool) at God the Father’s right hand.

The theological importance of Christ’s present throne (and His being seated there) is emphasized in Hebrews chapters 9 and 10, as judicial proof that His self-sacrifice sufficiently satisfied the need to pay for human sins once for all.

What is our real “glory” as Adam’s children, redeemed in Christ?  What kind of creatures are we, truly, when we are at our best?  It is our great privilege to know God, and to make Him known to others:  “That, according as it is written, ‘he that glorieth, let him glory in the LORD’.” (1st Corinthians 1:31, quoting from Jeremiah 9:23-24).  Notice that Paul quoted from the prophet Jeremiah, to show what real glory is – for a child of Adam.

The fuller quotation from Jeremiah 9:23-24 reads: “Thus saith the Lord, Let not the wise man glory in his wisdom, neither let the mighty man glory in his might, let not the rich man glory in his riches, but let him that glorieth glory in this, that he understandeth and knoweth me, that I am the Lord which exercise lovingkindness, judgment, and righteousness, in the earth: for in these things I delight, saith the LORD.”

It is our glory, therefore, “to understand and to know the LORD”, and to appreciate how He is a God of lovingkindness, judgment, and righteousness, in all the earth! That is what it means to “glory in the LORD”!  What a Savior we have!  Although we fail Him (as David did), He is nonetheless faithful as our sustaining Creator, our Redeemer, Shepherding, and Advocate.

8. Secondary Verification (i.e., considering the views of others):

The intentional omission of the Hebrew letter nûn – in Psalm 145:13 – has been noticed by others (e.g., Larry Brigden, who has cited and quoted before[29]) who do not jump to the hasty conclusion that the original text was somehow bungled by Masoretic Text copyist-scribes.

9. Development of Exposition (verse-by-verse commentary):

Verses 8-9: The Lord is gracious, and full of compassion; slow to anger, and of great mercy; the Lord is good to all: and his tender mercies are over all his works.

After objectively emphasizing God’s greatness (e.g., the glorious honor of His majesty, His wondrous works, etc.), David’s objectivity shifts somewhat to personal subjectivity – God is David’s God. Many of God’s created works display His wisdom, His power, and His creativity – such as the sun, the moon, and the stars (see Genesis 1:16-18), but David knows God in a relational way that emphasizes God’s character as the God Who is “gracious” (ḥannûn), full of “compassion” (raḥûm), and of faithful “mercy” (ḥesed).  Although God has a right to be angry with our sinful failings He is “slow to anger” (’apayîm).

David personally experienced God’s kindness, God’s compassion, and God’s faithful mercies (which Jeremiah alludes to in Lamentations 3:22-23), and so do we! – all because Christ has provided us with propitiation for our sins, redemption that liberates our souls, and reconciliation that overcomes our spiritual alienation from the life of God. How often God has a right to be angry with our selfishness, our ingratitude, our covetousness, yet He forbears – we can rejoice (Luke 10:20) that God is slow to anger and quick to restore us to the abundant life that we can only have in Him (John 10:10).

Verse 10: All thy works shall praise thee, O Lord; and thy saints shall bless thee. 

In this verse David moves from the general to the particular, from the universal to the personal. One way or another, voluntarily or involuntarily, all of God’s creation will honor Him – perhaps in mercy, perhaps in judgment, perhaps in showing His power, perhaps in showing His providential care – but all of God’s works will accomplish some kind of glorification of God.

Why? Because glorifying God means manifesting Who He is, what kind of God He is, and what kind of deeds He chooses to do – and all of His creation is ultimately His property, which He utilizes as He is revealing Himself to the sentient creatures He has chosen to create (including us!).  Yet is it only His “holy ones” (a/k/a “saints”) who can enjoy God’s glory, because all who sin and go unredeemed cannot enjoy God’s holiness and justice.

Fallen angels will learn God’s judgment but they cannot enjoy its application to their doomed souls. Likewise, unsaved humans will learn of God’s glory – His holiness, His righteousness, His wisdom, His justice – but they cannot enjoy God’s glory in their doomed destinies.  But the elect angels, as well as the redeemed of Adam’s race, can enjoy God’s glory – imperfectly in time (because we are hindered by sin in and around us) and perfectly in eternity (when sin is completely removed from Heaven and Earth by Christ).

However, the righteous angels can only observe God’s redemptive grace in Christ – only forgiven sinners (like us) can personally experience the glory of redemptively belonging to Christ as personal Redeemer (Luke 10:20; Revelation 5:9) – and can bless Him accordingly.

Verses 11-12: They shall speak of the glory of thy kingdom, and talk of thy power, to make known to the sons of men his mighty acts, and the glorious majesty of his kingdom.

As noted above, it is the high honor of God’s redeemed children “to know God and to make Him known” to others. It is our privilege to tell others how great our Creator is, how wise His providence is as He sovereignly rules His creation, and how caringly He loves those for whom Christ sacrificed.  This is part of the privilege and responsibility of being an older member of a multi-generational (extended) family – the opportunity to tell posterior generations of God is a fast-fleeting obligation to be used before it is gone.  As indicated in in fulfillment of Psalm 102:18 and 2nd Corinthians 5:17, it is God’s pleasure to create new lives – and to regenerate them, redemptively, in Christ.

For some of this, this can be improved by taking our family history more seriously – and using it to honor God in a grateful way.

This will be written for the generation to come, That a people yet to be created may praise the LORD.  (Psalm 102:18)

Shakespeare’s Hamlet considered the grave question of whether to end his earthly existence with the famous words “to be, or not to be.”

Yet more basic is the underlying issue of God’s sovereign choice to create us “to be” in the first place.

If God had not chosen to make us as His creatures, we couldn’t think, reflect, or ask any questions. Thankfully God chose otherwise and uniquely created each of us.1 Yet how much do we really enjoy knowing and appreciating God as our personal Creator?

Origins matter.1 Over 150 years ago Darwin’s “natural selection” theory usurped Genesis truth, and the ubiquitous influences of evolutionary mythology have since distracted many from valuing God as their magnificent and multi-generational Creator.2

Does Genesis guide your thinking about your personal origins, including your own family history? How was God working prior to and when He biogenetically knit you together using nuclear DNA and mitochondrial DNA blueprints? Indubitably God deserves praise for His authorship of our vast genealogical heritages (Psalm 139).

In so many details, beyond the in-the-womb procreation of our physical bodies, we owe gratitude to God for our lives (Romans 8:28). Historical events and geographical realities are ingredients that God carefully and continuously blends to make us exactly who we are.1,2

God providentially plans and engineers the details of life that lead to genealogical relationships. God twice used agricultural conditions to graft Moab’s Ruth into the Jewish family of Naomi, so that Ruth ultimately met and married Naomi’s kinsman Boaz, who became Ruth’s kinsman-redeemer (Ruth 1:1, 6). And God has used family history to fulfill biblical prophecy.3

The value of family history, if appreciated from a Genesis perspective, is truly priceless. It should be learned, treasured, and transferred as a testimony to future generations (Psalm 102:18; Proverbs 13:22a; Daniel 5:20-23).

Since the creation revival began more than 50 years ago, the creation science community has rightly emphasized origins science in general.1 Tragically, however—for at least 200 years and due largely to secularized origins science—many creation scientists have virtually ignored forensic science-qualified study of biogenetic family history, a specialized origins science applying forensic science methodology principles.2,3

Anti-Genesis attitudes have sabotaged appreciation for God’s providential workings in our multi-generational family histories. Lamentably, God’s role as our Creator—at the personal level—has often been denied, dismissed, and/or discounted by the many voices of evolutionary thinking.1,2 No wonder today’s Christians, generally speaking, live at a “poverty level” when it comes to knowing and valuing their own family histories.

Some think Mormons have a monopoly on appreciating family history. Others, ignoring forensic science’s role in clarifying biogenetic family history, think that family history is irrelevant to origins science.2,3 Both assumptions egregiously miss the mark.

It is each Christian’s duty to appreciate God’s creatorship at a personal level. Doing so includes learning and valuing personal family history because God’s creative and praiseworthy providences determine whom each one of us is “to be, or not to be.”[30]

Try to imagine just some of the providential deeds that God needed to accomplish just so you (or I) could be born the specific individual He fore-ordained you (or me) to be. Then add to that the providential workings that He orchestrated in order to provide us with the saving Gospel of Christ, so that you (or I could become a believer in Christ, with eternal life (John 3:16).

Verse 13: Thy kingdom is an everlasting kingdom, and thy dominion endureth throughout all generations.

Again David is considering the multi-generational reality of God’s reign over the affairs of mankind. God’s rule was not that of a human lifespan, as David’s reign was.  Rather, God rules always, everywhere.  God’s rulership is universal, at all times and in all places.

Even those who defy God are ultimately being ruled by God, even while God gives them a limited time and space to be rebellious (before the Lake of Fire becomes their permanent destiny). As Dr. Martin Luther once said, even Satan is under God’s ultimate control – he may be the devil but he is God’s devil!  (For example, consider the early chapters of the book of Job, to see how Satan must ask permission of God, to be allowed to cause specific kinds of trouble.)

Verse 14: The Lord upholdeth all that fall, and raiseth up all those that be bowed down.

This is the focal — and most controversial — verse in Psalm 145, as this analysis has already detailed (above).

Psalm145.12-14.Verse14-in-English

The main point to notice, here (in Psalm 145:14), is that God restores His redeemed children – after they fall and fail – yet there is still something missing.  The sin is forgiven (John 1:29; 1st John 1:9), but the time wasted in sin is an opportunity lost forever.  Better to avoid sin; better to capture each opportunity to glorify God, to serve Him, and to enjoy belonging to Him.

Verses 15-16: The eyes of all wait upon thee; and thou givest them their meat in due season. Thou openest thine hand, and satisfiest the desire of every living thing.

            This verse reminds us of God’s nature sermon to Job, in chapters 38-41, especially Job 38:41, which notes that even animals depend on God for their necessary daily food.

It is God Who provides necessary food to humans and animals, even to the lowliest “creeping things” that live upon the earth.

In fact, as Acts 14:17 teaches us, God’s providential care of His creatures – which includes providing food, water, and air — is itself an immeasurably huge and unavoidably obvious proof of God’s glorious Creatorship.

Sometimes the proof that God is our Creator comes in the form of a potato, or lingonberries, or cheese, or eggs, or a codfish. Each type of food is a witness to God’s providential care. The meals consumed over a human lifetime offer a huge quantity of proof, from a huge pantry of witnesses!

God never leaves Himself without a truth witness

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, which made heaven, and earth, and the sea, and all things that are therein: Who in times past suffered all nations to walk in their own ways. Nevertheless he left not himself without witness, in that he did good, and 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.

Consider just two of those providential care evidences named above by the apostle Paul: fruitful seasons and food. Both of these blessings provide an ongoing benefit for God’s favorite creature, mankind.

The apologetics of fruitful seasons

Since the Flood, God’s historic providence in providing a dependable cycle of annual seasons has been routine.

While the earth remaineth, seedtime and harvest, and cold and heat, and summer and winter, and day and night shall not cease. (Genesis 8:22)

If the “reawakening” of plant life during spring were to occur only once in a human’s lifetime, the wonder of it all would (and should) be recognized as an immense miracle, so majestic and clever that billions of words could not do justice to describe it.

God planned for fruitful trees to provide food for humans, generation after generation, as a long-term renewable provision that was to be considered more important than the immediate activities of any one generation, a resource to be protected even during crises such as military activities. (See Deuteronomy 20:19-20; notice that food availability for multiple generations is also planned for in Deuteronomy 22:6-7.) This reproduction-driven multi-generational provision was preprogrammed by God, with each fruit’s biogenetic reproductive capacity written within its seeds, as Genesis taught from the beginning.

And God said, Let the earth bring forth grass, the herb yielding seed, and the fruit tree yielding fruit after his kind, whose seed is in itself, upon the earth: and it was so. And the earth brought forth grass, and herb yielding seed after his kind, and the tree yielding fruit, whose seed was in itself, after his kind: and God saw that it was good. (Genesis 1:11-12, emphasis added)

Thus, “fruitful seasons” are a positive proof of the providential care of our Creator.

The apologetics of food

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,1 as well as a testimony to the amazingly complex and efficient world He designed, as Dr. Randy Guliuzza notes:

Plants use biological systems that harvest light energy from the sun to convert environmental water and carbon dioxide into tiny carbon/hydrogen energy units stored within them.

When people eat those energy units, the extraordinary human digestive and metabolic systems convert the work of plants into energy that is useful to people and give back water and carbon dioxide to the environment that can be used by plants.…

In this amazing process that powers the human body, nuclear fusion energy in the sun is converted and conveyed as light energy to the earth, where it is captured and converted by plants to food-stuffs, then digested by a person and metabolized to universal energy packets that can be converted to chemical, mechanical, and electrical energy as needed.

The information content behind all of this is truly staggering.

The conversion of sunlight to body energy involves all systems of the body, plus a few plant systems, which must be totally functional.

Credit belongs to the Lord Jesus Christ—the creative genius! The Lord is gracious to all people by freely giving the sun’s light energy, the vital biological systems of plants, and humans’ incredible digestive and metabolic systems.2 [Quoting Dr. Randy Guliuzza]

God has also acted in human history, in the lives of human beings, in ways that so tellingly reveal His intervention that to fail to recognize God’s providential involvement is morally and intellectually inexcusable.

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.3

Food helps to prove that Jesus rose from the dead

In fact, even the eyewitness proof of the Lord Jesus Christ’s bodily resurrection was accentuated by His eating solid food (such as fish and honeycomb), demonstrating that He was physically raised from the dead.4

No one—man or woman, boy or girl—who has ever eaten a meal, and benefited metabolically from doing so, can honestly say, “God gave me no witness of Himself, so how was I supposed to know He was my Creator?”5

So, the proof is in the pudding—as well as in every other form of food that God provides for us, whether potato, lingonberry, cheese, egg, or codfish.[31]

So, every meal you (or I) eat is yet another proof of God’s caring providence as our Creator!

A fitting way to personally apply these last two verses (i.e., Psalm 145:15-16) would be to eat some wonderful food – while giving thanks to God as our generous Creator-God (1st Timothy 4:3-5; 1st Corinthians 10:31), Whose gracious lovingkindness sustains us, and even restores us when we fail Him.

Hallelujah! What a Savior-God we belong to!

                     ><> JJSJ     (AD2015)

birding-chez-webel.bob-and-jjsj

Chaplain Bob Webel & JJSJ at Webel backyard, birdwatching [photograph by Marcia Webel]

BIBLE TEXTS & TRANSLATIONS USED

The 1599 Geneva Bible (White Hall, WV: Tolle Lege Press, 2008 Calvin Legacy Edition; Raymond G. Vallorani & Brandon R. Vallorani, eds.)

The 1611 King James Version (Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 1990 reprint edition)

The Interlinear Hebrew-English Old Testament (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1987; John R. Kohlenberger, III, ed.)

The New Defender’s Study Bible (Nashville: World Publishing, 2006; Henry M. Morris, editor an author of appendices).

The Scofield Study Bible, New King James Version (Oxford, U.K.: Oxford University Press, 2002; C. I. Scofield, orig. ed.)

Biblia Hebraica (Stuttgart, Germany: Württembergische Bibelanstalt Stuttgart, 1973, edited by Rudolph Kittel & others).

The Septuagint with Apocrypha: Greek and English (Peabody, MA: Hendrickson Publishers, 1999, reprint of original 1851 publication by Samuel Bagster & Sons of London).

(The “Leningrad” edition of the Masoretic Text of the Hebrew Bible and the New American Standard Version were both accessed from the www.BibleGateway.com website. Also, the modernistic so-called “Bible translations” that are based upon the “dynamic equivalence” paraphrasing methodology, such as “The Message”, “New International Version”, and “Good News for Modern Man”, were accessed from the  www.BibleGateway.com website.)

OlafTryggvason-hears-Gospel.wood-sculpture

 SUPPLEMENTAL   BIBLIOGRAPHY

Brigden, Larry, “The Supposed Missing נ Verse in Psalm 145”, Trinitarian Bible Society Quarterly Record, Issue #602 (January-March 2013).

NOTICE:  indentations, to show the beginning and ending of quoated material, has been problematic in formatting this blogpost — so please notice that Larry Brigden is quoted several times in this blogpost (and Dr. Randy Guliuzza is quoted within a quotation) — and footnote indications are used to show where quotations conclude — hopefully,  based on advice from Lee Dusing (who is the expert on all things blog), I will continue to repair the  indented-quote function of this blogpost.

Cone, Christopher, Prolegomena on Biblical Hermeneutics and Method, 2nd ed. (Hurst, TX: Tyndale Seminary Press, 2012).

Johnson, James J. S., “The Evidence of Nothing: The Silent Witness of Evolution’s Missing Links”, Acts & Facts, 37(4)4-5 (April 2008), posted at http://www.icr.org/article/evidence-nothing/ .

Johnson, James J. S., “Our Daily Bread: How Food Proves the Providence of God”, Acts & Facts, 40(4):8-9 (April 2011), posted at www.icr.org/article/8377 .

Johnson, James J. S., “Genesis Is History, Not Hebrew Poetry: Exposing Hidden Assumptions about What Hebrew Poetry Is and Is Not”, Acts & Facts, 40(6):8-9 (June 2011), posted at http://www.icr.org/article/genesis-history-poetry-exposing-hidden/ .

Johnson, James J. S., “People Yet to Be Created”, Acts & Facts, 43(11):20 (November2014), posted at www.icr.org/article/8377 .

McGee, J. Vernon, Briefing the Bible (Pasadena, CA: Thru the Bible Books, 1984).

Morris, Henry M., editor of annotated notes and appendices, The New Defender’s Study Bible (Nashville: World Publishing, 2006).

Morris, Henry M., Treasures in the Psalms (Green Forest, AR: Master Books, 2001).

Pratico, Gary D., & Miles V. Van Pelt, Basics of Biblical Hebrew Grammar (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2001).)

Ryrie, Charles C., Dispensationalism, rev. ed. (Chicago, IL: Moody Press, 2007).

Walvoord, John F., & Roy B. Zuck, eds., The Bible Knowledge Commentary: Old Testament (Wheaton, IL: Victor Books, 1985).

Weingreen, Jacob, A Practical Grammar for Classical Hebrew (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1979).

Wiersbe, Warren W., The Bible Exposition Commentary: An Exposition of the New Testament Comprising the Entire “BE” Series (Volume I: Matthew – Galatians; Wheaton: Victor Books, 1989).

Wigram. George V., The Englishman’s Hebrew Concordance of the Old Testament (Peabody, MA: Hendrickson reprint, 2001; orig. publ. 1874).

Young, Robert, Young’s Analytical Concordance to the Bible (Peabody, MA: Hendrickson reprint, 1984; orig. publ. 1879).

Rosemaling-plate.JJSJ

FOOTNOTES

[1] For examples of more-modern English translations that retain the “almost-perfect” alphabetic acrostic version of Psalm 145, see the New King James Version of 1982, New American Standard Version (of 1963-1995), and even liberal Dan Wallace’s NET version.

[2] As an illustration of an intentional omission, this writer recalls a memory from his junior high days, when a wood shop teacher put the following on the blackboard, during December: ABCDEFGHIJKMNOPQRSTUVWXYZ. Some boys in the classroom observantly noticed “there’s no L” – which provided the shop-teacher’s seasonal meeting: NOEL!

[3] Warren W. Wiersbe, “Bad News about the Good News – Galatians 1:1-10”, The Bible Exposition Commentary: An Exposition of the New Testament Comprising the Entire “BE” Series (Volume I: Matthew – Galatians; Wheaton: Victor Books, 1989), page 682.

[4] Interestingly, the “evidence of nothing” (when there supposedly should be “something”) is a forensic principle that is relied upon in courtroom decision-making. See James J. S. Johnson, “The Evidence of Nothing:  The Silent Witness of Evolution’s Missing Links”, Acts & Facts, 37(4)4-5 (April 2008), posted at  http://www.icr.org/article/evidence-nothing/ .

[5] Luke 17:26-30.

 [6] See 1st Corinthians 10:31 & Hebrews 13:4a.

[7] Quoting Larry Brigden, “The Supposed Missing נ Verse in Psalm 145”, Trinitarian Bible Society Quarterly Record, Issue #602 (January-March 2013), page 13.

[8] Larry Brigden (cited in footnote #7, above), at page 15.

[9] Larry Brigden (cited in footnote #7, above), at page 15.

[10] Rudolph Kittel, editor, Biblia Hebraica (Stuttgart, Germany: Württembergische Bibelanstalt Stuttgart, 1973), page 1100.

[11] Larry Brigden (cited in footnote #7, above), at page 15. See, accord, The Septuagint with Apocrypha: Greek and English (Peabody, MA: Hendrickson Publishers, 1999, reprint of original 1851 publication by Samuel Bagster & Sons of London), at page 785.

[12] Larry Brigden (cited in footnote #7, above), at page 16.

[13] Henry M. Morris, “Introduction to the Psalms”, page 827 to the New Defender’s Study Bible.  See also Henry M. Morris, Treasures in the Psalms (Green Forest, AR: Master Books, 2001), 17.

[14] Morris, Treasures in the Psalms, 17.

[15] See George V. Wigram, The Englishman’s Hebrew Concordance of the Old Testament (Peabody, MA: Hendrickson reprint, 2001; orig. publ. 1874), pages 684 & 1337.  See also Robert Young, Young’s Analytical Concordance (Peabody, MA: Hendrickson reprint, 1984; orig. publ. 1879), pages 766-767.

[16] See George V. Wigram, The Englishman’s Hebrew Concordance of the Old Testament (Peabody, MA: Hendrickson reprint, 2001; orig. publ. 1874), page 1337.

[17] Morris, Treasures in the Psalms, 18.

[18] See James J. S. Johnson, “Genesis Is History, Not Hebrew Poetry: Exposing Hidden Assumptions about What Hebrew Poetry Is and Is Not”, Acts & Facts, 40(6):8-9 (June 2011), posted at http://www.icr.org/article/genesis-history-poetry-exposing-hidden/ .

[19] Quoting James J. S. Johnson, “Genesis Is History, Not Hebrew Poetry: , Acts & Facts, 40(6):8-9 (June 2011), posted at http://www.icr.org/article/genesis-history-poetry-exposing-hidden/ (footnotes omitted).

[20] This truth of God’s providence is echoed, by Paul, in Acts 14:17.

[21] Robert Young, Young’s Analytical Concordance to the Bible (Peabody, MA: Hendrickson reprint, 1984; orig. publ. 1879), pages 766-767.

[22] Robert Young, Young’s Analytical Concordance to the Bible (Peabody, MA: Hendrickson reprint, 1984; orig. publ. 1879), “Index-Lexicon of the Old Testament”, page 70.

[23] Robert Young, Young’s Analytical Concordance to the Bible (Peabody, MA: Hendrickson reprint, 1984; orig. publ. 1879), “Index-Lexicon of the Old Testament”, page 18.

[24] Robert Young, Young’s Analytical Concordance to the Bible (Peabody, MA: Hendrickson reprint, 1984; orig. publ. 1879), “Index-Lexicon of the Old Testament”, page 55.

[25] Robert Young, Young’s Analytical Concordance to the Bible (Peabody, MA: Hendrickson reprint, 1984; orig. publ. 1879), “Index-Lexicon of the Old Testament”, page 53.

[26] Robert Young, Young’s Analytical Concordance to the Bible (Peabody, MA: Hendrickson reprint, 1984; orig. publ. 1879), “Index-Lexicon of the Old Testament”, page 43.

[27] Robert Young, Young’s Analytical Concordance to the Bible (Peabody, MA: Hendrickson reprint, 1984; orig. publ. 1879), “Index-Lexicon of the Old Testament”, page 45.

[28] See George V. Wigram, The Englishman’s Hebrew Concordance of the Old Testament (Peabody, MA: Hendrickson reprint, 2001; orig. publ. 1874), pages 366-367.

[29] Larry Brigden, “The Supposed Missing נ Verse in Psalm 145”, Trinitarian Bible Society Quarterly Record, Issue #602 (January-March 2013), pages 13-16.

[30] James J. S. Johnson, “People Yet to Be Created”, Acts & Facts, 43(11):20 (November2014), posted at www.icr.org/article/8377 .

[31] Quoting from James J. S. Johnson, “Our Daily Bread: How Food Proves the Providence of God”, Acts & Facts, 40(4):8-9 (April 2011), posted at www.icr.org/article/8377 .



Pondside-at-Webels.Ducks-on-Pond-1

JJSJ birdwatching, backyard of Chaplain Bob and Marcia Webel (St. Petersburg, Florida)


See also this Fathers’ Day message: http://bcctampa.sermon.net/main/main/21403928 .

NST Althing: Meeting with Old & New Friends

 

NST-logo-with-flag

A man that hath friends must shew himself friendly: and there is a friend that sticketh closer than a brother.   (Proverbs 18:24)

Some friends “stick closer” than siblings, especially if siblings live far apart.

Over the past 2 decades, due to active membership in the Norwegian Society of Texas, a family history-promoting organization that has chapters in various pars of the Lone Star State  (see  https://www.norwegiansocietyoftexas.org/ ), my wife and I have experienced the truth of Proverbs 18:24.

The semiannual meeting of the Norwegian Society of Texas, called the “Althing” (named for the famous annual national assembly of Iceland), transpired last Saturday, in Clifton, a rural Texas-hill-country town (nicknamed the “Norwegian capital of Texas”).  While attending the Althing, I composed, and later presented, this limerick:

ANOTHER  ALTHING  IN  CLIFTON,  FOR  THE  NORWEGIAN  SOCIETY  OF  TEXAS     3-30-AD2019

Norwegians at Clifton did meet,

In misty rain, not snow or sleet;

   Time to plan the next year,

   Recall times of good cheer —

Old friends convene, new ones greet.

[NOTE: the rosemåling (above) mantel was painted by Norwegian native Mimi Fossum; this artwork is displayed in the historic Ringness House of Bosque County, Texas.]