November 29, 2008 § 1 Comment
Two years or so ago, I first heard that the Ark of the Covenant had been found in Israel, near Jerusalem. I wasn’t sure quite what to make of it, and I figured that time would offer more evidence that would help sway the balance in either direction.
For me, that time has arrived. I now believe that it’s quite likely that the Ark of the Covenant was found, deep in a cave near Jerusalem, underneath the very spot where Jesus Christ was crucified for our sins. From what I understand, Jesus’ very blood came down from the cross and found its way, through a crack in the ground, to the very Mercy Seat of the Ark, where it acted as an atonement for our sins. The crack was formed when the ground shook at His death, and then closed again when He was resurrected and the earth shook once more. I’m not sure how to put this, other than it makes sense to me. It’s like the pieces of a Biblical puzzle are coming together.
I offer the following information for you to consider. You don’t even need to be sure of what you see or hear at this point. I believe that we will get more evidence in the near future to support or refute these findings, and at that time, the evidence will be conclusive.
The person who I believe quite possibly saw the Ark of the Covenant was Mr. Ron Wyatt, an American from Tennessee who conducted an extensive search for it in a cave system known as Zedekiah’s Cave, near Jerusalem. He financed all his trips to Israel himself, out of his own savings, and that’s what makes it more authentic for me. After his death in 1999, an organization that he formed, named Wyatt Archeological Research, continued his work. I can’t vouch for that organization, since some of the things they’ve been doing since then seem to refute Wyatt’s original findings.
There is, as is expected, plenty of controversy surrounding Wyatt’s work. After all, the Ark of the Covenant would be a very important find, of tremendous Biblical significance. His Wikipedia page doesn’t inspire confidence. Then again, there are plenty of people who support him, some of which refute the claims made on Wikipedia and say that any attempts to correct his Wikipedia page are always erased. What I can say is that to me, Ron Wyatt seems like an honest, God-fearing man (from the videos I’ve seen of him), and he looks like he truly believed what he found was the genuine article, so I think he deserves to be heard, and his evidence considered.
Certainly, what I’d like to see happen is that the Ark of the Covenant (if indeed it is the Ark of the Covenant) is revealed for the world to see. Perhaps there are good reasons to keep it hidden still, such as the possibility of a holy war erupting over it — I don’t know — but all I can say is that all this secrecy fuels speculation, and it’s not right.
This video from David Gates gives a good overview of the Ark of the Covenant find. Watch it from minute 10 to minute 15.
There are many videos of Ron Wyatt on YouTube. I chose two of them to show you here. First, there is a video of Wyatt made in 1999 (the year when he died), where he talks about the Ark of the Covenant. The second video is also of Wyatt, and here he talks about the dried blood sample that he recovered from the Ark, and of what he found when he sent it to a lab for analysis.
What I find amazing about the blood analysis, if true, is that Jesus’ blood only had 24 chromosomes, 23 from his mother, and a single chromosome from a divine source. It certainly make sense, from both a Biblical and scientific view, if you believe that Jesus was conceived through the Holy Spirit, and not through a sexual act.
Apparently there are people who are actively trying to discredit Ron Wyatt. Some have even gone as far as try try and destroy his archeological findings. His two sons gave a talk in Israel recently, and they show, first hand, how others have gone out of their way to destroy what Wyatt has found there. Some are even trying to extract the Ten Commandments out of the Ark, for reasons unclear to me.
Ron Wyatt’s sons, Danny and Ronnie, also talked about the six Levites that were sent in to retrieve the Ark after the Israeli authorities were informed of the find. Apparently, all of them died when they approached it, and Wyatt was called in to retrieve their bodies. Their deaths made front page news at the time, though the official story said they had died by driving their car into a field of landmines.
Look, I’m not saying Wyatt’s findings are conclusive. Wyatt could have been overzealous, and, desiring to find what he had been searching for, he could have glossed over certain things that might have led him somewhere else. Who knows… But what if what he found really is the Ark of the Covenant? I think that possibility deserves our consideration, especially when you consider that his findings have spurred so much discussion, and have convinced so many others to go and search for themselves in those areas.
There are many agendas at play here. Some, are trying to find the truth. Some are trying to hide it. And others are trying to destroy it. And that’s what I think makes this seem like the genuine article. You know the old saying — where there’s smoke, there’s bound to be fire. There wouldn’t be so much controversy over this if there weren’t some truth to it.
August 23, 2008 § Leave a Comment
Hebrews 11:1 has one of the best definitions of faith in the Bible. Of all the English Bible translations (and I’ve looked at that verse in all 22 of them), the NIV (New International Version) says it best:
“Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see. This is what the ancients were commended for.” [reference]
Not even my favorite translation, the NJB (New Jerusalem Bible) comes close to capturing the heart of that definition. (You can read the NJB version here.) It’s surprising how many translators missed the boat when it came to the meaning of this verse, and the meaning of this very important idea. Who knows, given that these translations were written at different times in history, perhaps the language used in them made more sense to their contemporaries than it does to me or you.
We English speakers are very fortunate. We have over twenty translations of the Bible that we can look through and compare verses in order to arrive at the best understanding of a certain passage or concept. And online tools like the Bible Gateway make it incredibly easy to do this.
Other people are not so fortunate. If you look at other languages, you’ll see they have only a few translations, and some only one. They’re left at the mercy of that single translator or group of translators when it comes to understanding the Bible. As well intentioned as that one person or persons might have been, it is impossible to translate every verse correctly in a single translation, particularly when that translation draws upon not the original, but a secondary source.
And yet faith, this powerful, but hard-to-define concept, which I can only find clearly explained in a single version of the Bible (out of over 20) is so hard to find in action in English-speaking countries — the very countries that have the incredible benefit of so many translations and so much learning to illuminate the meaning of the Bible to them.
Should you go to a country where the translations are scarce or even non-existent, you’ll find that faith is abundant there. You see it on the faces of simple people and in their behavior. They understand it implicitly and put it into practice. Back here, it’s not fashionable to have faith or to talk about it — unless one is a politician and is stumping for public office, in which case we all know (or should know) that they’re lying.
Why is that? How can we so readily throw away the privilege of so much understanding and not apply it in our lives? I’m reminded of the following verse from Luke 12:48:
“From everyone who has been given much, much will be demanded; and from the one who has been entrusted with much, much more will be asked.”
That’s a sobering thought.
July 26, 2008 § 1 Comment
The thing that I find amazing about this psalm is its subtitle: “A prayer of Moses the man of God”. That’s what it says in my KJV Bible. If you’d like to follow along, you can read the NASB (New American Standard Bible) version here.
If this psalm was indeed written by Moses, then it was put down on papyrus at a very interesting time of his life. Given the tone of the psalm, it was composed before Moses set out to free the Israelites from the slavery of Egypt. It may have even been written while he was still a prince of Egypt and had just discovered his true origin, or — the more likely possibility — while he was living a quiet life of dedication to the Lord in the deserts of Midian.
The psalm as a whole doesn’t necessarily stand apart from others — it is a prayer to God for the deliverance of Israel. There are numerous psalms like it. But the possibility that this one is written by Moses makes it interesting. And the tone in general is more subdued, more wise, less whiny than in other psalms.
Verse 10 in particular draws my attention: “The days of our years are threescore years and ten ; and if by reason of strength they be fourscore years , yet is their strength labour and sorrow; for it is soon cut off, and we fly away.”
Isn’t that true? Even nowadays, our life expectancy is generally around 70 years. Some people live to 80, and much fewer live to 90, but mostly through the help of modern medicine, not “by reason of strength”. At the time he wrote this, Moses didn’t know it, but his life was to be especially long. He lived to the ripe old age of 120 years (40 years more than he’d predicted), and his strength and vision were unabated to the moment of his death. That’s amazing!
If you’d like to read Moses’ life story, the Bible (book of Exodus) is your best bet. But if you want a good summary, you can find it here. That’s where you’ll find out that Moses’ life was divided into three periods of 40 years. He spent the first forty in Egypt, his second forty in Midian, and the last forty years leading the people of Israel out of Egypt.
Given this information, I think you can understand his reluctance to be their savior when asked by God. He still thought he was on the brink of death — after all, he was 80 years old when God asked him to go back to Egypt, and according to his own calculations, he didn’t have much more to live.
Finally, does God answer prayers? Yes. This psalm is a great example of how God answers them. It is usually not when we want Him to answer, and not how we want Him to answer, but He comes through, and miracles occur. The impossible becomes possible. Moses kept praying for Israel’s deliverance, all the while not realizing he was going to become their deliverer, and at an age when he thought he was going to be in the grave.
Furthermore, God performed so many miracles for Israel during their exit from Egypt, and their time in the desert, and while re-establishing them in their original lands, that no one, in their wildest imagination, could have predicted how much God was going to bless them.
Isn’t this amazing? You sit there praying, and you wonder if your words even reach God. Have faith! They do! And He will act on your prayer, in order to bring about the best possible outcome for you. It may not be what you expect, but it will be just what you need.
November 24, 2006 § 1 Comment
I can’t help thinking as I read this psalm that the author is praying in vain. It’s like crying for spilled milk. The deed is done, you can’t bring back the old times. Focus on the future, and work in the present with a view of that future.
You may wonder why I’m so cruel in my interpretation. After all, this is a heartfelt prayer. It’s a very good prayer. It’s also meant for a good purpose. What righteous Jew of that time wouldn’t desire to recover from a severe invasion, and to restore God’s temple? The author asks some very good questions: “God, why have You finally rejected us…” and “Is the enemy to insult Your name for ever?”. He entreats God to “Look to the covenant!”, etc.
All of that is useless. Let’s remember that God is constant. He would not have gone back on His Word. He never does. If you doubt that, then you don’t really believe that His Son, His Only Son, changed into a man and lived among men on the earth for 33 and a half years, only to die a terrible death on the cross for all our sins. God sticks to His promises. You can bank on that. But He will use that same standard when looking at us, and will not tolerate it when we go back on our promises to Him. The author of this psalm asks God to “Look to the covenant”. Has he forgotten that the Jews were supposed to uphold their part of the covenant as well? He couldn’t have been blind and deaf. He knew what was going on in Israel at that time if God allowed His temple to be rased and the country conquered.
I don’t think the faithfulness of the Jews to God was legendary. On the contrary, they were habitual backsliders. There are countless instances in the Bible when they gave into idol worship and committed other heinous acts. When you do those things time and time again, God will not stand for it. We know the Israelites were given into captivity several times, and that the temple was also rased on a few occasions. The NJB footnotes suggest that it was Nebuchadnezzar’s army that sacked the temple this time. It’s quite probable, and if that’s the case, we can easily tell what crimes against God took place in Israel. It was during the reign of Jehoiakim and his offspring, Jehoiachin and Zedekiah. See Jeremiah, chapters 17 through 25, and Ezekiel chapter 12 for the historical details.
If the Israelites had been faithful, they could have rightfully expected Jerusalem to stand forever (Jeremiah 17:24-27). But in view of their disgusting apostasy and crimes, could they really expect any leniency from God? They simply got what they deserved, and no amount of crying and fasting was going to change it. They were going to be in the situation they’d created until God decided they’d had enough.
It is possible that the author of this psalm was faithful. But it’s obvious from history that the overwhelming majority of people weren’t. I think about the promise that God made to Abraham about the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah. God said that if there were only 10 righteous people in those cities, He would not destroy them. Obviously, that wasn’t the case, and I have to believe a similar rule would apply to the Jerusalem and Israel at the time of this Psalm. I’m not sure what the threshold would have been for Israel, but it’s safe to assume that very few people still truly believed in God.
Whatever the personal convictions of the psalm’s author may have been, this is one prayer that fell on deaf ears, and for very good reasons. Sometimes, you see, it pays to look around you and inside you before you start blaming God for not doing His part. Have you, or have we, done our part first? Have we been constant, have we been faithful, or have we really bowed to other idols (money, wealth, power, sexual perversions, alcohol, drugs, etc.) and still expect God to help us?
November 9, 2006 § Leave a Comment
This psalm is a marked improvement on the prayer in psalm 70. It’s interesting to find pretty much the same phrases in verse 13 of this psalm as in verses 2 and 3 of psalm 70. Having encountered them in other psalms, I can venture to say they’re probably formulaic.
It appears that this psalm is the prayer of an old man who finds himself persecuted. Or, as the NJB footnotes suggest, there are certain references in the text, like in verse 18, that could suggest the subject of the psalm is the nation of Israel itself. If the latter is the case, I find the language hypocritical. The author of the psalm states that he’s been completely faithful since his birth (see verse 6), and the entire psalm is littered with such references to his steadfast faith, but we know that wasn’t the case with the nation of Israel. Verse 18 is also a sham. Although Israel was supposed to proclaim God to the nations around themselves, they did not. Rather, they were an example of unfaithfulness to God during most times in their history, jealously guarded their faith, did not spread the Word of God, and their rabbis put undue burdens (through ridiculous rules made up about everything) not only on the Israelites themselves, but also on those who wished to convert from other faiths. If you don’t believe me, read the Bible, from cover to cover. It’s full of evidence that points out the nature of the nation of Israel, in both the Old and the New Testament.
In order to avoid negative interpretations, this psalm is better looked at literally, as the prayer of an old man who believes he’s been faithful to God all his life (with no evidence to the contrary presented here). If we do that, this psalm becomes a bitter-sweet celebration of faith in spite of adversities. It becomes inspirational, Job-like. Personally, I think this is the more plausible interpretation, not the alternate one presented in the paragraph above. Here’s this man, who’s had a hard life but has stuck by God and trusted in Him for deliverance. Although God has allowed him to suffer, and his suffering caused surprise to others given the man’s faith, God has delivered him and brought him this far, so there’s no reason to think He won’t carry the man through this time as well.
Of course, we can’t help asking why this man suffers, but we don’t know and can’t speculate. God often allows things that don’t make sense to us. Perhaps we’re meant to be examples for others, like Job was. Also left to ponder is the possibility that “misery” and “hardship” mean different things to different people. Some have a higher tolerance for them, and yet others complain at the first sign of trouble. Since we don’t know the specific circumstances under which this psalm was written, it’s hard to comment on the relative nature of this man’s troubles. For all we know, they may have been big. Whatever the case may be, the fact that he chooses to praise God and what’s more, to thank Him for a deliverance that’s yet to come (see verse 23) makes this psalm all the more worthwhile to read and ponder. This is a right attitude with God, like the one Paul had while in prison, as I mentioned in Psalm 70. It’s important to do this, because it’s the right thing to do. We don’t know God’s plan for our lives. We don’t know why we find ourselves in trouble. But we do know that others are watching, and they’ll be watching more closely when we’re in trouble. If we don’t choose to praise God when it really matters, what’s the point of calling ourselves Christians?
October 13, 2006 § 1 Comment
This psalm is rightly called a “harvest song”. It is a prayer of thanks, that once again calls our attention to the complete dependence of Israel’s agrarian society and economy upon God. More on this in my comments on Psalm 65. But here, in Psalm 67, we see the results of those pre-harvest prayers: “The earth has yielded its produce; God, our God has blessed us.”
I have to be a little cynical, I can’t help it. The message of the psalm is, paraphrased: crop target achieved and exceeed, God has blessed us. I wonder what would have happened if the crop had been sub-standard that year. Would this psalm still have been written? Or would we have seen yet another whiny psalm about how downtrodden the people are, and how God has forsaken them?
Thankfully, the crop was good, and the people were happy. They wanted to praise God. I would even go so far as to say they were a little over-flattering: “…You judge the world with justice, You judge the peoples with fairness…” What does this have to do with crops? So the crop was good, that means God was fair? Hey, let’s get overexcited, and heap praises onto God just because we’re happy… What if the crop was bad? Then God is bad? Sounds crude, but it’s true. That’s how people react, it’s human nature. I’m not saying it’s right at all, but that’s how we are if we don’t keep ourselves in check.
The basic purpose of the Jewish nation of that time (and the purpose of God’s people in this time) is also brought out in this psalm, albeit unwittingly, in verses 2 and 7: “Then the earth will acknowledge Your ways, and all nations Your power to save” and “May God continue to bless us, and be revered by the whole wide world.” That was the mission of the Israelites, wasn’t it? They needed to be a lamp to the darkness around them, and to spread God’s Word and Commandments to the nations. They were to be an effective witness, and help bring others to God.
History gives a bleak account of the success of that witness, but the burden is on us to spread God’s light nowadays. Might I add, history has so far given an even bleaker account of Christianity’s witness to the rest of the world. I’m tempted to put Christianity in quotes, because the witness of the Catholic church during the Dark Ages, with its repression of God’s Word, and the torture and killing of others in the name of Christ, is anything but an effective witness of God’s grace, forgiveness, kindness and salvation.
We’ve also been doing poorly in recent times, haven’t we? In large part, many Christian denominations are misguided in their doctrine. They accept only parts of the Bible, and reject others. In some denominations, pagan elements (whether old or new) have crept in, and are corrupting God’s message. We’re in a sorry state overall, and need to get back to the basics, to God’s Word, the Holy Bible, the entire Bible, in order to get ourselves aright.
August 7, 2006 § Leave a Comment
God’s goodness and constancy is made all the more relevant and poignant in contrast with the evil present in the hearts of men, and the dirty deeds they commit. This psalm is full of profound advice, and great quotable lines. I believe there’s even a hymn inspired by verses 1 and 2.
How majestic they are! “In God alone there is rest for my soul, from Him comes my safety; He alone is my rock, my safety, my stronghold so that I stand unshaken.” Wow! The sentiment is repeated, with slightly different words, in verses 5-7, and extended in verse 8: “In God is my refuge; trust in Him, you people, at all times. Pour out your hearts to Him, God is a refuge for us.”
Verse 9 amazes me, and reminds us all of our fleeting existence and meaningless vanity: “Ordinary people are a mere puff of wind, important people a delusion; set both on the scales together, and they are lighter than a puff of wind.” All of us are deluding ourselves when we believe we’re important. We are so frail, that we are as a puff of wind – no, lighter than it. This isn’t meant to dishearten us, and it doesn’t mean that we cannot make a difference in the world. We certainly can. Each of us can be a force for good or evil, and history itself shows how much of an impact individuals can make depending on what they set their mind to. The point is to dedicate ourselves to doing good, and verse 10 is a strong reminder of that.
The Bible itself is a powerful record of the deeds of men. If we examine it, we see that God endows each of us with a certain amount of strength, and with certain talents. We are each to use what we are given to do good works, to do the will of God, but some of us (actually, most of us) waste that strength and those talents on vain pursuits, and some even put them to evil use. That is why verses 11 and 12 are there, to remind us of our purpose, and coming retribution: “… Strength belongs to God, to you, Lord, faithful love; and you repay everyone as their deeds deserve.”
July 6, 2006 § Leave a Comment
Clearly written by David, this psalm of prayer begs God for protection from killers sent by Saul to prowl around David’s house and dispatch him if possible.
If these men were indeed sent by Saul, what I find interesting is that there’s no mention of him in the psalm. Instead of focusing on the originator of the problem, David focuses on his tools. It’s puzzling, until we think about David’s behavior when Saul fell asleep in the mountain cave. David had a very good opportunity to get rid of him once and for all, but instead, he chose to simply cut a piece of his cape. What were his words to his followers, who urged him to kill Saul? I’m paraphrasing, but he said something like this: “God forbid I touch God’s anointed!” We see a clear cut differentiation (in David’s mind) between someone who’s been anointed by God, and someone who’s just a regular human being. Why?
His behavior begs the question of whether that’s self-preservation, or true respect for God. After all, he’d been anointed as well. While I think it’s a mix of both, I do believe, given his behavior in connected situations, that he truly believed those anointed, or set apart by God, were to be respected, as they embodied God’s living will for his people. This belief was shared by most Israelites as well. All we need do to confirm this is to think back about what happened at Solomon’s anointing and coronation. Even though his elder brother Adonijah wanted to claim that right and staged a pseudo-coronation, as soon as people heard Solomon had been anointed by the prophet Nathan and Zadok the priest, they abandoned Adonijah.
This sheds further light on this psalm, because we understand how it is that David dares to instruct God about these wicked men’s punishment in verse 11, or dares tell God to “wake up” in verse 4. Overall, there’s a sense of certainty that pervades this psalm. I don’t get a sense of despair when I read it. David rests sure in the knowledge that he’s anointed, and that God will preserve him, and it shows.
May 31, 2006 § Leave a Comment
Those of you who read Dignoscentia on a regular basis know that I use the NJB (New Jerusalem Bible) most of the time, and I also refer to the KJV (King James Version). This psalm proves the usefulness of having at least two good translations of the Bible in your home. In my case, the NJB (which usually clarifies things) confused me here, while the KJV helped set things straight.
Verse 2 troubled me. In the NJB, it says, “God looks down from heaven at the children of Adam…” Then the psalmist goes on to describe these children of Adam as those who are “faithless”, “turned sour”, “evil-doers”, “devouring my people”, etc. This is confusing at first sight! I couldn’t help exclaiming, “What about Enoch?” when I read this. Noah, Moses, Abraham, Jacob, and others who did some wrongs but constantly sought God, sprung to mind as well. They were children of Adam, and yet were being lumped together with the evil-doers here. How could this be?
I turned to my trusty KJV, and in there, verse 2 reads, “God looked down from heaven upon the children of men…” Now, things made sense. You see, in the Bible, there is a distinction among the children of God, and children of men. We are born children of men, and we become children of God when we accept Jesus Christ into our lives and choose to obey God’s Law. The children of men, on the other hand, reject God, and stay away from the saving light of God’s Word, which is the Truth. Also, contrary to what some Christians may believe today, I also believe that when the children of God stray from God, they become children of men once more, and unless they right their relationship with God, they cannot enter heaven. “Once saved, always saved” may sound catchy, but it’s not Biblically correct.
The phrase “children of men” is explained a little better by a passage from Genesis 6:2: “… the sons of God saw the daughters of men that they were fair; and they took them wives of all which they chose.” This sets up a clear distinction between those who belonged to God, and those who were worldly. It’s not that the men belonged to God, and the women to the world. No, what this passage refers to is quite simple. Godly men, who should have stayed close to God and married women who also believed in God, strayed away, attracted by worldly women who did not believe in God, and married them instead, corrupting their own relationship with God, and angering Him, as detailed in verse 3 of that same chapter. As a matter of fact, I encourage you to read the entire 6th and 7th chapters of Genesis, and for some extra information, refer to this article as well.
When we return to this psalm after this background reading, we see the clear (and historical) distinction the psalmist makes between those who belong to God, and those who do not, and, what’s worse, who wrong God’s own. Their fate is laid out in verses 5 and 6. I might add that verse 6 is both historical and prophetic, referring to Jesus Christ’s Second Coming as well as to the Jewish return to Israel – repeated several times throughout history. We, as Christians, are part of the extended family of Israel, grafted in, as Paul states in one of his epistles, and therefore also partake of the wonderful “joy” and “happiness” that is to be experienced at that glorious time.
May 23, 2006 § 6 Comments
This is an amazing book. I have liked the story of Joseph ever since I was a child, but Ms. Fivash has research the history of the time and has written about Joseph’s life in a historically and Biblically accurate manner while providing the story between the lines, so to speak. This book captivated me from the moment I picked it up and I practically “devoured” it within three days.