The year 2013 is the year 5773 in the Hebrew Calendar
Saturday, May 11, 2013
1 AM – Adam
1654 AM – The Flood
2046 AM – Abraham sacrificing Isaac
2935 – King Solomon Temple
3794 AM – The Crucifixion of Christ
5154 AM – The giving of the Bible in the common tongue
The year 2013 is the year 5773 in the Hebrew Calendar
???? AM – The Return of Christ and the millennial reign of Rest and we have the Sabbath of days afterward. One thousand years of rest to the Earth before the final judgment, or just one day in the eyes of God.
God’s ways are perfect. I wonder if he put it all together where all of these amazing miracles on the journey from sin to salvation to eternity were to happen in the same spot, spaced out roughly by the span of one thousand years?
Monday, March 25, 2013
Final Chapter – The Message that wasn’t preached
Prior to stuffing that sermon in my pocket and a couple weeks before, I remember praying, “Lord, what do you want me to preach?” I opened my Bible to find ideas I had underlined from my past reading of the Scriptures. Nothing really came to me.
I figured it would likely be the last time I preached to the Youth Group, seeing how I was headed for college in the fall. I thought back to the first year I was involved with the group. I thought about that scene in the play with Eric. I turned to Genesis Chapter 22 and started reading.
I read, “And it came to pass after these things, that God did tempt Abraham, and said unto him, Abraham: and he said, Behold, here I am. And he said, Take now thy son, thine only son Isaac, whom thou lovest, and get thee into the land of Moriah; and offer him there for a burnt offering upon one of the mountains which I will tell thee of.” I stopped there.
Abraham’s relationship with God always amazed me. I thought it interesting God wanted to tell him something. I’ve often wondered how Abraham heard God’s voice. Was it audible?
“…which I will tell thee of…” Hmm, did that mean God was going to tell him which mountain? Or, did that mean God was going to tell him about a specific mountain.
I figured it meant God had a place in mind, and He was going to tell Abraham where that place was, and why it was special.
That led me to another question. Why would a place be special to God?
It says in Dueteronomy
special to God, “A land which the LORD thy God careth for: the eyes of the LORD
thy God are always upon it, from the beginning of the year even unto the end of
the year.” The region of Moriah is in
the Israel .
It was in the land of Israel that Jacob saw
the ladder going up to Heaven with angels going up and down. So we know the land
is special in the eyes of God. land of Israel
What would make a place special? In religion class they taught us the
was important because of trade
routes. It connected the land of Israel Far East, Africa, and Europe. We were
taught it was the center of the ancient world because of trade.
Is that what made it special to God? I find it hard to believe God would be interested in trade routes. I think it would be more of an eternal interest if it were God’s interest.
Some traditions place the location of Adam’s transgression on the same hill on which Christ died. I like that association. Although the location of the Garden of Eden is described in Genesis Chapter 2, it would be difficult to prove with any satisfaction where the Garden was. There is not evidence. Also, according to the Bible the map has changed since Adam walked on the Earth.
The reason I like the placement of Adam’s transgression as the same location Christ died is because it make so much sense. Man’s fall and God’s redemption, occurring in the same place.
Suffice it to say Adam’s transgression possesses strong significance eternally and spiritually. Christ’s death also possesses strong significance eternally and spiritually. The two of them together would make for an attraction to an all-loving Eternal Heavenly Father who is intent on the salvation of His creation. Compare that with the trade route theory.
All of this brings me to my message. I sat down and pictured Abraham preparing to take Isaac to the region of Moriah. I wondered when and what God would tell him about that hill.
Then it occurred to me the temple was built on
, and Christ died
just outside the city of mount
near the Jerusalem !
That made me sit up straight. If tradition placed Adam’s transgressions on the same hill as Christ’s crucifixion, and Christ died in the region of Moriah, what do you suppose God was going to tell Abraham about the hill he wanted Isaac to be sacrificed upon?
That scene of Eric, me and Randy all came back to me. Then I remembered a quote from the New Testament, John “Your father Abraham rejoiced to see my day: and he saw it, and was glad.”
So I put together some notes about this topic. I was excited to preach it, but never actually did.
1. Abraham offered up his son in the region of Moriah on a mountain that God would tell him about.
2. The Temple was built on the mountain of Moriah.
3. A ram in a thicket was caught by his horns on a mountain in the region of Moriah.
4. A crown of thorns marred my saviour’s head from that same region, then was crucified on a mount in the region of Moriah that was unique from all other mounts in the area, one shaped like a skull.
Do you suppose Abraham took Isaac to that same mount? The one shaped like a skull?
I’d like to think he did. I’d like to think when Abraham saw the ram caught by his horns in a thorny thicket, maybe he saw a vision of our Saviour on the cross, dying for our sins. Perhaps as he wiped the blood off of his hands, he thought about how the blood of the future Christ would cleanse us from all our sins. And as he walked down the hill with his son, back to the camp, back to Sarah, his mind was filled with the joy of not only having his son with him, but having the knowledge he’d be with THE Son for eternity.
Monday, March 11, 2013
I don’t know about you, but I remember a lot of hype in the Christian world about the year 2000. I think people expected Christ to return
January 1, 2000. I’ll admit I myself hoped for that to be the
I spent many fall nights in 1999 passing out Gospel tracks on the sidewalks of
where I lived at the time. I think I
counted over 3000. Washington DC
I remember the movies made about the rapture and the time of the tribulation. A lot of people thought the end time had come. Sometime in December 1999 I turned to a friend and said, “What’s going to happen to all of these preachers who are saying, ‘Get ready, get ready,’ if Christ doesn’t come back?” I figured there would be disillusioned converts at some point.
To give the preachers credit, it made sense from a Western world view to set Christ’s return on the millennium change. According to the Gregorian calendar it would have been 2000 years since the birth of Christ (though in truth the exact date of Christ’s birth was miscalculated by four or six years). Nice round numbers do give themselves to fulfilling prophecy.
I figure no harm was really done. Any impetus for people to straighten out their lives is good. Not to mention the fact that according to scripture we are to be ready for Christ’s return at any hour – like a thief in the night.
It did make a lot of people think, including myself. I started thinking about the sermon I never preached.
As I said above, we live under the Gregorian calendar. The Gregorian calendar is a solar based calendar that measures a year as one cycle of the Earth around the sun. Other calendars measure the seasons based on the moon’s cycles around the Earth, these are lunar calendars.
The Hebrew calendar is a solar-lunar calendar. It measures the year using the solar cycle and measures the months using the lunar cycle. New years are proclaimed when the Mosaic Law determines it is time for a new year, though yearly cycles are roughly equivalent to Gregorian years. One Hebrew year is the same in duration.
The Gregorian system starts with the Birth of Christ as the center of things. The years Before Christ (BC) increment as you get further ‘back’ into history, and decrement as you get closer to the nativity.
The Hebrew system starts with the beginning of time and counts forward. Year 1 Anno Mundi (AM) represents Genesis Chapter 1. Year 1 of the Gregorian Calendar Anno Domini (AD), represent the year that Christ was born.
1 AD in Gregorian corresponds to 3761 AM in the Hebrew calendar. This year, 20013, corresponds to AM 5772. Year 2000 corresponded to 5760 AM.
If you approach time from a Western World view, two thousand years after the Birth of Christ seemed like a logical time for His return. If you approach it from a more Eastern view or a strictly Hebrew view there really wasn’t anything special about the year 5760. I would have gone for the year 6000 AM – basing it on a creation microcosm. God created the world in six days and rested on the seventh. The millennial reign would be the seventh day of rest.
Have you ever asked the question, “Why did Christ come when He did?” When I was in third grade I had a friend who asked me when the world was going to end. I really didn’t have a clue, but I figured if Christ was the savior of the world, wouldn’t he be at the center of time?
I had a religion teacher in high school tell me Christ came to Earth when the
Empire was at its peak so there would be a system in place to
spread the Gospel quickly. I don’t know
if I would word it quite like that.
God used the
Roman Empire to spread the Gospel, I can agree with
that. However, it is a kind of man-centric
to assume God waited for the Roman Empire. I’m of the opinion God brought the Roman Empire to its peak at the right time to fulfill His
timing, not the other way around.
So. Why then? That question was asked again in one of our Sunday Morning Bible Studies. I turned to my wife and said, “I have an idea.”
I showed her Genesis 1:16-19 “And God made two great lights; the greater light to rule the day, and the lesser light to rule the night: he made the stars also. And God set them in the firmament of the heaven to give light upon the earth, And to rule over the day and over the night, and to divide the light from the darkness: and God saw that it was good. And the evening and the morning were the fourth day.” It wasn’t until the fourth day that God made the sun and moon. Do you think he followed that same pattern in history? Maybe he waited till year 4000 before he brought the Light of the World to the Earth?
What is significant about the year 4000? Well, nothing in particular, but if you look at creation as a microcosm of history, like an atom is a microcosm of a galaxy, you might look at it in this way. Christ came to earth according to the Hebrew calendar around 3761 years after creation. If you go with Peter’s adage in II Peter 3:8, “But, beloved, be not ignorant of this one thing, that one day is with the Lord as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day,” in a microcosmic approach to history it would be the fourth ‘Day’ that the Light of the World came.
In Luke, the coming of Christ was described as such, “the dayspring from on high hath visited us, To give light to them that sit in darkness and in the shadow of death, to guide our feet into the way of peace.” (Luke 1:79)
Obviously, the only one who really knows why God waited until He did to bring Christ to Earth is God himself. Or, it may be that God didn’t wait at all. Perhaps Christ came early. It does say time was shortened, Matthew 24:22 “And except those days should be shortened, there should no flesh be saved.”
The microcosm idea lends itself as an explanation, though there is little or no empirical proof. At the very least, it gave me a better theory than the one about the Roman roads and the languages of the time.
Thursday, December 20, 2012
It was my wife’s turn to pick the Movie of the night, so I settled in for the expected chic-flic. She surprised me with a half-way action adventure movie called, The Librarian. Okay, for those of you who have seen it, compared to Indiana Jones, it’s a chic-flic, but it does have some action sequences as I recall. There was a quote in there that caught my attention, “In the making of the [the pyramids of Giza], these primitive people reached beyond themselves and touched the Divine. If you were to move just one stone by an inch the whole thing would come down.” I got to thinking . . . how did they do it?
So, here’s my disclaimer – I’m an engineer. I don’t know financial systems or understand economies all that well, but I’d like to point out an ancient financial system, that – like the pyramids – worked. It stands tall and is a rebuke to the many modern disasters we are seeing fall around us, and like the pyramids, if you were to move one stone by an inch, the whole thing would come down. It's the ancient practice of the Jubile.
The word Jubile derives from the Hebrew word for ram’s horn. It is a Jewish custom where every fifty years rams horns were blown and debtors and slaves were set free. All mortgaged land was returned to its original owners. In short, the entire financial structure was reset. It’s the ancient world’s equivalent of a financial stimulus package, only focused on the poorest of the people. The benefit went to those at the bottom.
Could Jubile be considered a financial wonder of the world? Look at the prosperity of the Jewish people through time. Although the year of Jubile wasn’t their only financial precept, it was one of the most unique. Nash Equilibrium, one guiding concept for the successful days of our own financial markets, is similar, though not close enough.
What would happen if every 50 years we set our nation free from mortgage bonds, credit card debt, auto loans and school loans? Would we become a nation of financially strong individuals, educated enough to make new, strong financial decisions?
Would it erode at the class system and set free-spirited individuals on an equal footing with the fiscally conservative. Risk takers would have a safety net, innovative thinkers would take a stronger hold on our industry base. American ingenuity would have a greater chance. The strangle-hold of the box-marts would be broken and we would see independent, small businesses making it.
We would need to know it was coming. Financial institutions would need to prepare. There would be losers. We would still have international obligations to meet. There would be adjustments, but the people, the core of our society would benefit and we would see financial renewal from the bottom up.
Tuesday, December 18, 2012
I remember one eleventh-grade English class when I turned around to tell my friend I was going to make my first grand that year.
“You’re going to do what?” He asked, brushing his hair, sweat from an intramural basketball game dripping off his head.
“I’m going to make my first $1000,” I said, giving up on sounding cool. “Our Youth Group is taking a trip to Israel and I’m making the money to pay for my airfare and hotel.”
“That’s cool G-man,” he said before the class started.
A snowstorm almost kept us from making our flight. We had to take the city’s rapid transit system to get to the airport. The snow came so fast they actually pushed our takeoff time up an hour. We were lucky to have made it to the airport in time.
Twelve hours later we landed in semi-tropical Tel-Aviv where I saw palm trees for the first time.
We spent ten days touring the Holy Land, three of those in and around Jerusalem. My favorite part of the whole trip was the to-scale, model replica of the ancient city. It put everything into perspective, tying together what I knew about the Bible at the same time.
It was there I heard the name Moriah for the first time. As our guide pointed out the places of interest on the map, he pointed to Mount Moriah. It is where the ancient Jewish temple stood, "Then Solomon began to build the house of the LORD at Jerusalem in mount Moriah, where the Lord appeared unto David his father, in the place that David had prepared in the threshingfloor of Ornan the Jebusite.” (II Chronicles 3:1) The name stuck with me, becoming the source for the sermon I should have preached.
Even before the trip to Israel, the Youth Group had been a central part of my life. From the beginning of my teenage years to the end we had a solid group of 35. We met together three or more times a week to have fun, do work for the church, study the Bible, and pray for one another.
My first year in the group, I took part in the Easter pageant. David, our Youth Director wrote a play showing the parallels between Old and New Testament events and how the miracle of salvation was foreshadowed for us.
I played the part of Isaac in one of the scenes. My scene had a split stage. Abraham (played by Eric) and I were on the left side of the stage, while Christ on the cross (played by Randy) was on the right side of the screen.
The scene portrayed the similarities between Abraham’s call to sacrifice Isaac and God’s choice to sacrifice himself in the form of His Son, Jesus.
In our scene I have a large bundle of sticks on my back, and I’m following Eric. We walk up a hill, and…
…“Father, I see the wood for the sacrifice, and here’s the fire, but where is the sacrifice?” my high-pitched boy’s voice breaks through the silence.
“My Son, God will provide himself a sacrifice,” Eric’s much older voice responds.
We freeze at that point and a narrator starts to read the scripture describing how Abraham obeyed God’s command to sacrifice his son, but before he could drop his knife to slay his son, an Angel interceded.
“Lay not thine hand upon the lad, neither do thou any thing unto him: for now I know that thou fearest God, seeing thou hast not withheld thy son, thine only son from me.” The narrator describes how Abraham found a ram caught by his horns in a thorny bush.
At that point Eric repeats the verse, “God will himself provide the sacrifice.” Our scene fades and the scene of Christ on the Cross lights up.
The narrator explains how Christ became the sacrifice for all of us. God in His mercy and Will provided our sacrifice through His own son, Romans 8:32 “He that spared not his own Son, but delivered him up for us all”
That became a significant play for me. In it I learned about Salvation, and I spent my time thinking about what it must have been like to have been Isaac. I wondered when he put two and two together and realized he was the intended sacrifice. I wondered if it crossed his mind to struggle when Abraham tied him down in preparation for sacrificing him. I wondered what words they would have exchanged if any. I wondered whether Abraham’s face remained stoic, or if he shed tears and how Isaac would have felt about those tears.
Five years later, preparing to preach the message for the Sunday morning Youth Group service, I turned to the account of Abraham sacrificing Isaac and tried to see if I could find something to say.
Monday, November 26, 2012
When I got back from
opened up the Bible to page one. I sat
back. What can I do to really get into Genesis and learn what is being said
here? I started making notes about
I wrote a lot out, and studied and evaluated everything.
I did very well until Genesis Chapter 5. Let me just remark that there are these sections of the Bible which can be, shall we say a “challenge” to read. Chapter 5 is one of those chapters. It reads like a family tree. “So-and-so lived seventy years and begat so-and-so, and that same so-and-so lived after he begat the second so-and-so eight hundred and forty years and begat other so-and-sos: and all the days of the first so-and-so were nine hundred and ten years and he died.”
These sections of the Bible can be somewhat dry and hard to stay focused on. It became a personal challenge to my new found zeal to stay focused and find the golden nuggets of wisdom hidden away even in those sections.
I asked the question, “How can I rearrange this information so it means something to me?” I chose to focus in on the names first. I wrote out the meaning of each name. I’d heard somewhere that the names correspond to historical happenings. I didn’t see that, but it was interesting none-the-less. I looked up each Hebrew word in the Strong’s Concordance and wrote out its translation as well as the identifying number.
I didn’t feel like I got enough out of that study.
I thought back to my Operations Research background and asked, “What did they teach us about showing time periods in Inventory Management Class?
Gantt Charts! Perfect.
I put the following chart together based off of the information in Chapter 5, then added to it as I came across more names in Genesis. My chart was complete.
I took a step back and looked at the Gantt chart then asked myself what can I learn from this chart? The first thing I noticed was the oldest man who ever lived (Methuselah) died the same year the flood came.
He couldn’t have died in the flood, I thought, God must have waited till he died and then let loose with the flood. Perhaps one thing we can deduce is that he was the last living righteous man other than Noah?
Then I noticed Enoch, who never actually died, it just says, “And Enoch walked with God: and he was not; for God took him.” (Gen 5:24) He went to be with the Lord just 57 years after Adam passed away.
I wonder if it took Enoch 57 years to find out about Father Adam’s death. Then when he found out, he asked God where Adam had gone, and God took him to show him and he just kind of decided to stay there.
Other than that, I noticed the duration of the patriarch’s lives getting shorter after the flood. I’ve heard this described as a result of the bursting of a vapor canopy. The vapor canopy is described in Genesis 1:7, “And God made the firmament, and divided the waters which were under the firmament from the waters which were above the firmament: and it was so.” Somehow, the vapor canopy seemed to increase a person’s life span.
I thought a long time about that chart. The more I thought about it, the more I realized the chart had a lot to do with the message I had put in my pocket that Sunday morning. The message was still on my mind, growing and getting deeper with time and study. Maybe the message possessed more insight than my young mind could really fathom at the time.
“Bo-y, you need to learn to slang your words,” My friend told me one night as we waited in the Choir line for a Sunday night service. I did a double take.
I was in the South with a capital ‘S’. You can’t get more south than the
Coast . I used to tell people I came from the
Northern coast, if there was such a thing. Mississippi
Cleveland, the one in
not Ohio ,
was on the coast of Tennessee Lake Erie. To the north of Lake
Erie was ,
so it was a coast of sorts. They used to
call it “The mistake by the lake,” when I went to college in Canada . Or, the people from Oxford, Ohio called it, “The armpit of Cincinnati .” It was all just jealousy. America
So here I stood at the opposite pole of
. A six foot tall person looked down at me and told
me to “slang” my words. What does a guy
say to a comment like that? I kept my
mouth shut and felt my face turn red. America
Later that night I headed back to my apartment and thought about my friend’s comment. “I could use with some loosening up,” I thought to myself. These people are happy.
The weekend came, and a friend from that same church, invited me to spend Saturday night at his house. It was a full half hour between Pascagoula and Biloxi, where I was stationed. Staying there saved on my car and gave me a little more time to hang out with my new friends.
Saturday night came.
“I’ve been following this new Bible study method,” My friend told me. “It really forces you to read and know the scriptures.”
He told me about his method for study, and showed me his extensive notes. He was in a program that gave him the equivalent of a Master’s in Biblical Study, though it wasn’t accredited, so he wouldn’t actually get the degree. In the end it didn’t matter to him, he wanted to read and study the Bible, and he was doing that.
I envied him. I thought to myself, “Why couldn’t I do this? There is so much confusion with all of these movements. If I could just study the Bible, I would be grounded.”
“There are a lot of preachers out there. They come across with strange doctrine. If you don’t get grounded in the Bible, you’ll get mislead,” his words echoed my thoughts.
I made up my mind. I needed to be grounded in the scriptures. I needed to stop following men. From that day on I dedicated myself to Bible study.
The rest of my tour in
brought me across the path of several charismatic preachers and movements. The more churches I visited, the more
movements I came across. They all showed
me the need to be firmly grounded in the Bible.
Movement Christianity can be dangerous.
You will end up believing things you never thought you would believe
because of the momentum of the movement. Mississippi
My Youth Director used to put it this way, “If the Devil can’t keep you from Christ, he’ll push you right past Him.” I saw that played out in the movements.
People start out following Christ, become zealous about the movement where they first experience Him and before long they are followers of the movement and not Christ anymore.
This just added to the message I had put in my back pocket.
“If God wanted, He could make a tree grow up big and tall right in front of you. A scientist would come along, cut the tree down, count its rings and tell you it was 80 years old.” Ed spoke those words to me as we made the five hour trip from
to Oxford . I’d thought things like that before, but
could never have phrased it the way he just did. I grew up in public school and had bought
into the idea of “millions and billions of years.” It was refreshing to talk to Ed. Shaker Heights
I once heard a preacher say, “How you approach this book [the Bible] will determine how you live your life.” I’ve found that to be true. I’ve also found the opposite to be true, “How you live your life will determine how you approach the Bible.”
I find it tempting in our modern way of life to explain away creation. I often hear phrases like, “God made it all, but it wasn’t a literal seven days.” Or, “We know the sun must have been created before light existed, so the writer of Genesis is speaking metaphorically.”
I myself believed many evolutionary theories for a long time. It took me a while and a lot of searching to really change my views at their core. I can say now that I chose to believe the writings of Scriptures on creation as they were written down.
You might ask how I came to that position. I believe the writer of Genesis was Moses, and I believe he talked with God on a daily basis as he wrote Genesis. In my opinion, he got the straight scoop, and the theorists behind evolution have yet to discover the real truth. Consequently, I believe the world was created in seven days and in the order Genesis presents it.
I believe God made the world the way the Bible says He made it. All arguments aside, He is God and He can make it any way He wanted to. I don’t get much more complicated than that. Perhaps your beliefs conflict with this view? No problem, you may still get something out of this.
So, why do I bring up Creation? The Creation as recoded in Genesis is a central theme of the message I put into my pocket.
I believe when God said to Abraham, “upon one of the mountains which I will tell thee of.” He was talking about a mountain of significance, not only in the creation story, but in man’s story as a whole. It is a central piece behind a powerful message in the Bible that is often overlooked, simple though it may be.
I’ve spent my life in a variety of churches and Christian movements. When it was up to me, I chose the churches I attended based on how closely they aligned with the writings of the Bible.
In College I was swept away with various fundamentalist movements. Being fundamental about what you believe can be good, being caught up in it is bad. Let me explain.
By the age of 24 I found myself as Paul says in Ephesians 4:14, “tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, and cunning craftiness.” My typical mode of operation was this:
A feeling of emptiness and a time of searching, followed by…
An experience of enthusiasm from the charisma of a great message, followed by…
A period of obsession about that experience, followed by…
A discipleship and proselytize-ation of others, followed by…
A rude awakening to the weakness of the movement, followed by…
A feeling of emptiness and a time of searching, followed by…
An experience of enthusiasm from the charisma of a great message, followed by…
You may recognize that cycle in your own life or in the lives of others around you. I think this is what Paul was warning us about. It’s not the way the Christian life is to be lived.
After about the third such experience, and feeling the tug of a new movement, I decided to put on the brakes. After all, the various movements I involved myself in couldn’t all be right. The things they said usually conflicted with one another. I figured I had been duped somewhere along the line.
I made up my mind to not let it happen again. Modern day Christianity is rife with this tug and pull of various movements. How can a Christian be “stedfast, unmoveable, always abounding in the work of the Lord,” as Paul says in I Cor 15:48? I didn’t know, but that became my prayer.
I figured what attracted me to the various movements of Christianity was the Biblical basis and the fundamentals of it. I decided to turn my focus to the Bible and away from the movements.
I stayed in church, and would encourage anyone reading this to do the same. I augmented church with intensive Bible study.
If the Scripture was true, “So shall my word be that goeth forth out of my mouth: it shall not return unto me void, but it shall accomplish that which I please, and it shall prosper in the thing whereto I sent it,” (Isaiah 55:11) I had nothing to lose.
If I wanted to truly be fundamental about what I believed, I needed to get back to the fundamentals. Those are found in the Bible.
Becoming, “stedfast, unmoveable, and always abounding in the work of the Lord,” became my goal. The Bible became my venue.
I found when I focused on God’s Word in the pages of Scripture, I found peace. Along with that came understanding and knowledge. The roller-coaster ride of movement Christianity ended.
Through my intensive Bible study sessions, I began to learn the importance of that simple message I didn’t preach. As the pages of Scripture turned, and as I grew more solid in Bible learning I began to see the profoundness of the message I had stuffed back in my pocket.