Sunday, December 31, 2017

The Outcome of My 2017 New Year's Resolution

Opposed to many sincerely unkept New Year’s Resolutions about going to the gym or starting a new diet, I decided to try something else this year. At the end of 2016 I looked at myself and said, “I do not want to go to the gym or stop eating my favorite foods, but I would like to make a resolution anyway.” After all, that seemed to be the thing to do at the start of a new year.

Since 2017 began on a Sunday, I felt that whatever I chose to do I would need to follow through with because it was both a fresh start to the new year and to the new week all at the same time. So, I decided I would track how many minutes of every day I would spend studying God’s Word.

This was my first New Year’s Resolution and even my wife thought I would not continue tracking my time after the first couple of weeks given the statistics for Resolutions. Nevertheless, after 365 days of carrying around index cards to write down my time, I am proud to say that I have kept my New Year’s Resolution for 2017!

Hip! Hip! Hooray! As the choir plays their kazoos.

Why Did I Do This?

I did this so that I could see how much time I actually spend in God’s Word. The Bible speaks of a tithe in which we give ourselves to God. This tithe includes everything from our money and gifts and abilities to, yes, even our time. Since tithe also means a “tenth” I wanted to see whether or not I dug into God’s Word at least 10% of my time. The reality is both insightfully discouraging and inspirationally encouraging.

It is insightfully discouraging because, as you can see, I did not spend 10% of my time filling my mind with the Truth of God’s Word. It scares me to think of how much of my life is filled with fantasy and false realities (through movies, Facebook, etc.) and yet, only 9% of my time is focused on what is real. However, the numbers in the chart are also inspirationally encouraging because I see that I spent over 9% of my time, better translated as 797 hours, learning from God’s Word this last year.

What Was Included?

This does not include singing or praying or anything else. The times listed in the above chart are only when I was studying the Bible. However, I did generally include the following:

1.      Reading Scripture
2.      Listening to Sermons
3.      Reading Books About the Bible

What Did I Learn?

Obviously, because life is life, I had some really high weeks and some really low weeks. I learned that during the low weeks, when I studied the least, I struggled more with temptation to sin. It was during the days when I spent little to even no time in God’s Word when evil thoughts would come into my mind. On the flip side, as my wife can surely attest, it was during those high weeks in which I believe I honored and loved my wife the most.

It would be easy for some to say that I was able to study this much because I am currently in Seminary. However, I would like the record to show that I did not begin Seminary until late August and, as can be seen in the chart above, I spent more time in God’s Word when I was not in Seminary. If anything, my time in God’s Word only decreased while in Seminary because of all of the other subject matter vying for my time.

How Am I Challenging You?

If you make a New Year’s Resolution, then try to be realistic. No, not pessimistic; realistic. If you are up to the challenge, then I would ask you to track your time spent in God’s Word for this coming year. 2018 begins on a Monday which, just like last year, is a good time to start something awesome.

Wednesday, December 13, 2017

No, You're Not Freed from the Law!

As Caitlin and I were driving home from church on Sunday, we passed a police officer parked on the side of road taking radar.

Sunday. High noon. Churches everywhere just letting out.

That means that most of the drivers on the road are those heading home from church. They are the individuals who consider themselves to be dead to the Law and released from its grip. Or so they think? However, I can guarantee that the officer would not see it that way if he had to pull someone over for speeding.

I can see it now…

[Officer]: Do you know why I pulled you over?
[Christian]: Was I going too fast?
[Officer]: You were traveling eight miles over the speed limit. I am going to have to write you a ticket for breaking the law.
[Christian]: Oh well, you see…I am not actually under the law anymore. I died and am now free.
[Officer]: Step out of the car, sir.

The above illustration may be ridiculous, but we tend to act like this all the time. I cannot count the amount of times I have heard pastors bragging about how fast they drive. It concerns me that we in the Church do not see anything wrong with this kind of behavior.

After all, if leaders in the church speed and openly boast about it then so can I…right? Wrong. Behavioral problems like this one stem from a misunderstanding of what it truly means to be free from the Law.

Dying to the Law does not mean that you now have freedom to live your life indulging in your own sinful cravings. It is still wrong to murder, fornicate, steal, lie, overeat and, yes, speed. Speeding, at least within our cultural context, is an open declaration of rebellion against God’s established order of government. As Christians, we tend to justify our own sins or even overlook the “small” ones in our lives.

What it Means

Romans 6-7 is where you will find the famous passage of Scripture which speaks of the believer’s death to sin and the Law. However, if it is still wrong to do things like murder and steal, then apparently believers are not free from the Law after all.

Death to the Law does not mean that from here on out all forms of obedience are tossed out the window. Freedom from the Law does not mean that you can now enslave yourself into various forms of idolatry. Being released from the Law means that you are no longer held guilty of crimes against the Godhead which are punishable by death.

Yes, the Bible is a love letter from God to you. However, it is also a warrant for your arrest. The Old testament is God’s case against mankind and we are left with no defense. We have nothing to do but plead guilty of high treason.

Yet, this is the beauty of Romans 7:4 because it says that, as Christians, we have died to the Law. It is as if we committed a crime. For example, let’s say we robbed a bank and the police are now looking for us. The Law is out to get us in order to bring about justice. However, God has identified us with the death and resurrection of His Son to the point that, when Christ died, so did we. Thus, the Law is no longer looking for us to pay the price because we already died—in Christ.


Police do not arrest dead men. A judge would not sentence a corpse to suffer a death sentence. Neither will we who died in Christ ever suffer condemnation from the ultimate judgment of the Law. However, this freedom does not give you the license to sin. Obedience to God is still, just like it always has been, the Christian life. 

Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Redefining Terms

The cultures of the world are striving with all their might to redefine naturally logical definitions such as marriage, gender, race and, well, you get the idea. Everything is up for grabs. Nothing makes sense anymore. The world is gone, and the mind is lost.

Yet, for some reason many in the Church are surprised at the events taking place. Honestly, this cultural shift should come as no shock to worldwide Christianity because the Church has been redefining terms for centuries.

What do I mean? Well, for example:

The Thousand-Year Rule of Christ

Scholars, rejecting the reality of a thousand-year millennial reign of Christ, which seems to be just around the corner, have sought to redefine the definition of the numerical value of a “thousand” for well over a thousand years. This is because of a belief known as Amillennialism which states that there is no thousand-year reign. Thus, whenever Scripture directly states that Christ will come and rule for one thousand years upon this world, they have chosen to reinterpret the meaning of the word to fit their own preconceived ideas. Revelation 20 speaks of this future thousand-year period, both as having a beginning and an ending, yet the Amillennialist has chosen to redefine the meaning…six times in this passage.

The Coming Temple

Ezekiel 40-48 is a section in Scripture giving a detailed account of the exact measurements of the new temple that will be built in Israel in the coming years. Again, this is a passage that many tend to redefine because it does not fit into their end-times chronology. I agree that there are some things in Scripture which are confusing, but I don't believe this is one of them. If we are to understand this and other passages accurately then we must take it at face value and allow it to speak for itself. I had a teacher in Bible college that said, “If your theology does not match Scripture, then change your theology.”

I was talking about this with my wife a few days ago and she said something very profound. She said, “the point of measurements is to be as exact and precise as possible.” However, scholars who believe differently than what I am presenting to you must change these passages and the terms found in them to try and somehow make sense of their apocalyptic model. Thus, you will find theologians claiming these measurements to simply mean “full” and “complete” opposed to an actual description of a future construction project.

Now, I'm not saying that believers who uphold the Amillenialist apocalyptic model are somehow a lesser Christian. On the contrary, several of my heroes of the faith are Amillenialists themselves. But what I am striving to communicate is the danger of prescribing symbolism where the Biblical context is speaking literally. 

Final Thoughts

I congratulate men like C. I. Scofield who lived during a time when the belief in a literal return of Israel looked insane, both politically and historically. Under intense opposition, these scholars were willing to read and teach God’s Word at face value and their legacy has only been one of blessing and triumph for their courage.

While doctrinal disagreements in the Church can aid in the health of the Church in clarifying the basis for what we believe, we should guard against changing Scripture to fit into our preconceived ideas, lest the world continue following after our example by seeking to redefine Biblical terms to fit their own agenda. We must never forget the degree to which the Church really does impact the cultures around the world.

The main reason why Amillennialism has been so prevalent throughout Church history has been because there has not been an ethnic Israel. However, God has brought His people back into their land and the most recent step in God’s program has been to officially recognize Jerusalem as their capital. This will lead to a literal fulfillment of Ezekiel 40-48, Daniel 9:24-27, and a literal reading of Revelation. However, by the time the temple is rebuilt, the Church will be gone, so make sure you’re not left behind.

Sunday, November 19, 2017

Interpretation Gone Awry

The other day I overheard some students talking about the book of Revelation. While I listened to the entire conversation and thus am aware of the context, I will pull out just one statement that was made. The statement spoken by one of the students is as follows:

“…and anyway, the book of Revelation was not written for us to know about the end, but rather to give us hope.”
If you know me at all, then you know that I was about to jump out of my skin. I will admit that I was eavesdropping (in my defense they were talking right next to me during a class break), so I did not attempt to interrupt the discussion. Yet I am flabbergasted that some believe this about Revelation.

The book of Revelation, yes, gives us great hope, but so does Romans 8 and 1 Corinthians 15 and the two books of Thessalonians just to name a few passages. If Revelation was solely based upon the idea of filling us with hope, then it would not have been written or would at least be considerably shorter!

Why? Because the hope that most of us are referring to is not expressed until the last four chapters of the book and, to be honest, much of that information is spoken of elsewhere in the Bible. This means that, supposing this student was correct, he interprets the first eighteen chapters of apostasy, satanic influence, demonic opposition and martyrdom as our future “hope.”

Do you hope for the plagues which struck Egypt to come against you and your family? Do you hope to watch your loved ones receive the mark of the beast which secures for them an eternal ticket to Hell? Most of us would say no.

The return of Christ at the end of the Revelation account should fill us with great hope and expectation, but we must never dismiss the rest of the book as simply an allegory. This is a real account of a real future which is really headed our way. It may be in our lifetime or may not, but these events will unfold in the exact way John described.

Revelation 1:1 says,

“The revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave Him to show to His servants the things that must soon take place. He made it known…”
The verse does not say “the hope,” but rather “the things.” The book of Revelation is a book which is meant to be understood. John tells us from the very beginning that this book is meant to show us future events, even detailed ones at that. Some argue against fitting the events of Revelation into a timeline, but right here is an example of John the Apostle encouraging you to go crazy on your timetables.

Another Instance of Poor Biblical Treatment

I was reading a book the other day regarding the historical background of the nation of Israel. In it, the author stated that he does not think that it is realistic to say that Israel came out of Egypt with so many hundreds of thousands of fighting men, so he claimed that the word “thousand,” which is mentioned in Numbers, is merely symbolic.

Honestly, this is embarrassing. If students, even scholars, of the Word do not believe what is written, then why do we expect others to ever come to faith in Christ? Treating God’s Word in this way is shameful. We have all at one time or another treated God’s Word irreverently, but to dismiss it is an entirely different matter. Whether that be regarding end times prophecy or the various instances Israel took a census, none of us have the right to interject our own interpretation onto the Bible. God’s Word is simple to understand. I am not saying that it is easy, but it is simple if we take it at its face value instead of reading in all this symbolism (one day = millions of years; a thousand fighting men in numerical value is just “a lot” of people; and so on). We decide to treat portions of God’s Word symbolically when we decide its improbable.


We must be active in our pursuit to know God in the way God has revealed Himself to be in His Word. The only objective way for any one of us to come to know God is by getting into His Truth. There is no other way because there is no other truth.

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

How Long Was Israel In Egypt?

The Bible says in Exodus 12:40 that “the time that the people of Israel lived in Egypt was 430 years.”

Seems clear then, right? Maybe not as clear as you would think. Scholars debate between 430 and 215 years because there is no other source given throughout any portion of Scripture which supports the 430 years. So then, what’s going on? Is there a problem with God’s Word? A contradiction?

First and foremost, there is nothing wrong with God’s Word. It is perfect. That is the standpoint we must always begin our study with. If at first, we do not understand something, then the issue does not lie with God or His Word, but with us. We must work to gain the correct understanding. [Yes, studying the Bible takes work. A lot of it.]

1.      The Septuagint Translation

When the Hebrew Bible was translated into the Greek language as a part of Alexander the Great’s conquest to enculturate the entire world, which began in the third century B.C., the scribes translated this verse with the added phrase, “…and in the land of Canaan.” This means that the verse actually reads that “the time that the people of Israel lived in Egypt and the land of Canaan was 430 years.”

Was this an added phrase? No. This was part of the original document which Moses himself penned. The problem is that, to my knowledge, we do not have any earlier manuscripts than somewhere between the second and third century B.C. Thus, somewhere in the copying process [remember that there was no printing press at this time] this phrase was dropped out for some reason from the Hebrew manuscripts. However, by God’s sovereign hand over the transmission of His Word, He preserved this wonderful phrase in the Greek Septuagint. The Greek Septuagint is also the manuscript that many Old Testament quotations in the New are taken from. I believe that says something to its credibility.

2.      The Genesis 15 Promise

God informs Abraham of future events, specifically dealing with his offspring. The promise is that they will be sojourners in a land that is not theirs and will be afflicted [enslaved and mistreated] 400 years. Some say that God is simply rounding down. However, the problem is that there is no place in God’s Word when He is ever seen rounding a number.

The reason God says 400 here opposed to 430 is because neither number deals with their allotted time in Egypt. 430 years is the amount of time from the promise to the Law (Gal. 3:16-18) which I will touch on in a minute. The 400 years is when the clock begins to tick at the moment Abraham’s offspring, Isaac, first begins to suffer mistreatment from “another people” (Gen. 21:8-10). Galatians 4:29 says “at that time he who was born according to the flesh persecuted him who was born according to the Spirit….”

3.      Canaan Belonged to Egypt

The reason the promise in Genesis 15:13 does not distinguish a difference in the land that is not their own between Canaan and Egypt is because during this time Egypt was the dominant world power and Canaan was under their rule. Thus, both Canaan and Egypt are controlled by Egypt. Also, the land of Canaan will not belong to Israel until the book of Joshua, at which point, Egyptian rule has left Canaan to rebuild Egypt because of what God did to them throughout the plagues.

4.      The Fourth Generation

Genesis 15:14-16 is when God is specifically referring to Israel being enslaved under Egyptian rule. What we cannot miss is the fact that God promised to rescue them and bring them out of Egypt in the fourth generation. This is obviously not the fourth generation from Abraham since they did not go into Egypt until Joseph, which was the fourth generation from Abraham. God is referring to the point in which they enter the land of Egypt to the fourth generation having lived there (Ex. 6:14-26).

Scholars have often wondered why the 430 years will not fit into Exodus chapter six. The reason is because God never intended it to. The genealogical timeline makes perfect sense when allowing the text to speak for itself. The four generations were Levi, Kohath, Amram, and finally Moses.

5.      The Law and the Promise

In Galatians 3:16-18 the Apostle Paul tells us that the Law came 430 years after the promise in Genesis 15. How could this be if Israel did not enter into Egypt for another 215 years and then spent another 430 years there? Some say that the promise was transferred and restated to Jacob upon entering the land. This, however, will make no sense as we get into Acts 13.

6.      Paul’s History Lesson

Acts 13:16-20. For the sake of length, I will not quote this passage. The Apostle Paul, writer of half of the New Testament said that God made Israel great during their stay in Egypt and then He put up with them for 40 years in the desert because of their disobedience. The people then entered the land and took over seven nations. Paul says this all took about 450 years.

If Israel was only in Egypt for 215 years, then this makes sense because 400 years (from the time Isaac was mistreated to the giving of the Law) plus 40 years (disobedience in the wilderness) plus 10 years (to take control of the land) equals 450 years. However, if you believe Israel was in Egypt specifically 430 years then you have a problem because you still need to add up a 40 year wilderness wandering and 10 year conquest which would then equal 480 years.


To conclude, if you hold to the idea that Israel was in Egypt 430 years then you need to try and explain away key portions of Scripture. However, if you believe that they were only in Egypt specifically 215 years then you can fully believe every word of the Bible literally without having to stretch Scripture to compensate for supposed gaps. 

Additional readings are listed below. If you read any, please read both "The Four Generations in Egypt" and "Levi to Moses." Those are the clearest and most informative.

Wednesday, November 1, 2017

Our World in 7 Millennia

Before you read any further please note that I am only speculating [no, not predicting] the future outcome of world affairs based on Biblical references, world events and, what looks to me to be, common sense. But, again, I’m not majoring in prophecy!

Why do I think God has ordered creation in thousand-year increments?

1.     A Day is as a Thousand Years

This is taken from 2 Peter 3:8. The as reveals this presentation of time to be a simile, but I do not think it should be ignored. This however, is not proof by any stretch of the imagination. I inserted this point simply because I wanted seven points.

2.     It Parallels the Account of Creation

There are seven days in the creation account (Genesis 1:1-2:4) and the seventh one is the Sabbath. The Millennial Rule of our Lord is thought to be a Millennial Sabbath—a thousand-year rest for the earth and all its inhabitants.

3.     Church Apostasy is at an All-Time High

2 Timothy 3:1-5 is a clear description of apostasy running rampant throughout the Church in the latter days. Within this passage we see selfishness and sin taken to a whole new level of extreme. People out of control, suing one another for financial gain, easily offended at everything, forsaking the clear teachings of Scripture, celebrating the homosexual lifestyle, lovers of pornography and sex outside of marriage, etc.

4.     The Most Missional Generation is on the Move

Apart from the first century, global missions are at an all-time high! This is the most missions-minded generation in human history according to John Piper and others. God is doing something significant in His Church and He is doing it quickly. He is fulfilling His Great Commission.

5.     Genealogical Dating is Precisely Measured

Contrary to what some may say there are no gaps in the genealogical timelines. Ideas like these cause others to question the authenticity of the Holy Scriptures. Genealogies, such as Genesis 5, present us with a clear historical time chart.

6.     The Curse of Babel is Reversing

It is said that by the end of this century half of the world’s languages will be dead. Because of globalization, smaller people groups are having to conform as the world is moving in on them. The seven thousand languages which exist in the world today were brought about because of a curse (Genesis 11) and we are coming to a point in human history in which we can understand one another. The curse is being reversed.

7.     Jesus Told Us When

I always hear people say that we have absolutely no idea when Jesus is coming back. This could not be further from the truth. Jesus said in Matthew 24:36 that “concerning that day and hour no one knows.” Well, we are not concerned with the exact day or the hour. Those two things will be totally unexpected. What I am talking about is the fact that, throughout Matthew 24 and other parts of Scripture, Jesus Himself says that we will know when the time is drawing near.


I am not saying that Jesus is coming back in the year 2041. If this were true, then technically He would come in the year 2034 since that would be seven years sooner (and, coincidentally, 2,000 years after He died on the Cross!). I think it would be cool if this is in fact how God ordered creation, but I do not know that for a fact. There is no exact verse I can point to but, like I previously stated, I believe that, based on Biblical study, world events and a logical analysis, this is a warranted possibility. Could Christ delay for another hundred years? Yes, and He might. Could He delay another million years? Yes, but He won’t. He is coming soon. Are you ready?

Also read: 

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

The Church as an Archway

I heard an illustration given one time that the church is like an archway in a garden inscribed with the words “We Preach Christ Crucified.” Overtime, the vines around that archway begin to grow and, as they move upward, they cover part of the writing so that it then says, “We Preach Christ.” The church is still preaching God’s Word but skipping the uncomfortable sections. More time passes by and the vine continues to grow thicker and higher until the sign reads, “We Preach.” The church is teaching how to live a good and moral life, how to raise your children and what to do when decisions must be made but they have forgotten Christ. Time continues to pass and, eventually, the vines cover so much of the archway that all that is left is simply, “We.” Thus, the church has become merely a social club and they have forgotten why they exist.

No one church is immune to this tragic possibility. We must always be on guard. We must never forsake any teaching of Scripture. The churches in Revelation are long gone because there came a time when they allowed worldliness to creep into their doors and take them captive. It is easy for us to separate ourselves from the equation by referring to this church or that church, but we must never forget that we are a part of the church and, ultimately speaking, a part of the problem. There is a plank in our eye if we judge the church for slacking off while at the same time we spend our days watching and listening to immorality. If we desire the church to succeed, then we must strive to be holy in every area of our lives. Where, in our lives, are we willingly giving the world the upper hand?

Lamentations 3:40

Let us test and examine our ways, and return to the LORD!

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

Listening Well

The following is a reflection paper I wrote for class.

James grew up in an imperfect family with a perfect brother (Jesus). His book is believed to be the first written epistle of the New Testament. However, we learn something rather unfortunate in John’s Gospel account. In John 7:5 we read that “not even His brothers believed in Him.” Can you imagine how this must have made Jesus feel? His own family—those closest to Him—rejected Him. Since it is likely Jesus was favored above the rest, especially because He never did anything wrong, His brothers lived their lives envious and filled with jealousy because of Him. Though they did not physically harm Him, they acted in a parallel manner to that of the brothers of Joseph some sixteen hundred years earlier.

I have never thought about this before, but I wonder if this is the reason he emphasizes listening above speaking and even spends so much time urging believers to guard their tongues from foolish talk, especially on speaking as an authority on something we know nothing about. The passage in John reveals that Christ’s brothers were antagonizing Him by pressuring Him to walk openly in Judea doing signs and wonders because they knew that the Jews were seeking to kill Him. Like Jacob’s sons and their jealousy of Joseph, this would have been an easy way to get rid of their brother. It is amazing however, to witness the transformation that took place in his life over the next few years.

The Apostle Paul informs us that when Jesus rose from the dead He appeared to James (1Cor. 15:7). The Lord never gave up on this man and the same is true for all of us as well. The ability to listen is a necessary skill to develop and mature in as we walk through this life. James is an example of when the inability to listen and understand was rooted in envy, jealousy and even a hint of hatred. However, not listening can also stem from fear, arrogance, manipulation, and so on—all of which are ultimately birthed from pride.

In my own life, I tend to function from a form of fear and arrogance depending upon both who I am speaking to and what we are talking about. If we are just having a casual conversation then, because of the fear of silence, I am often compelled to be thinking about what I will say next while the other individual is talking. I do not enjoy the awkward moments which many conversations bring, thus I have always tried to prepare myself while the other person is speaking so I can avoid the lulls. This however, presents an issue because at some level I cannot hear everything the other person says and fully contemplate all of the things I want to say without ultimately missing something, whether small or big.

In terms of arrogance, this one is somewhat more revealing of who I am. As an analytical, what I enjoy more than anything is digging down into the details of God’s Word and studying a passage so thoroughly that I am prone to dogmatism. For example, I have probably spent hundreds of hours reading through and studying the first five chapters of Genesis. Caitlin jokes with me that if I ever become a pastor, then our church will never teach out of anything outside the book of Genesis because that is probably where most of my study time goes. The problem however, is not that I love studying, but rather it is because I study so much that when someone says something totally off the wall, I am internally [sometimes externally] blowing up.

I often lose sight of the fact that I too have believed a lot of wrong things and I am still blind to areas where I need to be corrected on. This comes into listening well for me on a personal level. When I am in a small group and I find myself disagreeing with what has been said, I know that the Lord is training me to love them by allowing them to speak and share their thoughts. Yes, there are times when things need to be corrected, but there are also a lot of times when what I need to do is be quiet and entrust the situation and the viewpoints of the people to the Lord who judges wisely.

Concluding Thoughts

All that to say, I am learning to be a better listener in class, small groups, church, in my marriage and really in all realms of life. Ministry is working alongside other people and a big part of that is being a good listener. People do not always need me trying to correct their theology. What they need is for me to love them by listening to them. Listening and hearing them so they feel understood and valued. This will often lead to them later to become more willing to hear me and understand where I am coming from which will present a much larger possibility of winning them to the truth.

Monday, October 9, 2017

Paralleling the Plural Heavens With the Plural God

Genesis chapter one presents the reader with a very big question: Why is the term heavens written in the plural form? At first glance, it is easy to skip over this, however, as with all of Scripture, there is great depth which is worth our study. The addition of this plural suffix is truly a very significant matter.

Some argue that the writer is simply trying to encapsulate the awe he has for the vastness of the universe and how gloriously wonderful God has made it to be. This belief is defended very well within the overall chapter and is more than likely the way the Old Testament readers would have interpreted this passage.

For example:

   1.     The Spirit of God was hovering over the face of the waters (vs. 2).

a.   We normally refer to water as water no matter how vast it is as we also do with popcorn and fish. Obviously, this does not prove much since we are English speakers and the writer of Genesis recorded this book in Hebrew, but this point is just to get you to start thinking about what is really going on here.

b.     See also 1:6-7, 9-10, 20, 22

   2.     Let there be lights in the expanse of the heavens (vs. 14).

a.   Note that lights are definitely referring to more than one because they represent all of the stars in the sky. However, the term heavens is referring to the vastness of space. Ultimately, there is only one (singular) space.

b.     See also 1:15, 17

   3.     …let birds fly above the earth across the expanse of the heavens (vs. 20).

a.     Note, just like lights, birds are obviously referring to more than one. In addition, verse twenty informs us of another area of heavens. This is where the birds fly. Whereas before we were referring to outer space, now we are referring to the area in between the ground and Earth’s exosphere—the outermost region of our atmosphere.

b.     See also 1:26, 28, 30

Now again, in English we do not speak this way. Even when we are referencing the vastness of something specific we do not pluralize the word. We just say, “Wow! Look how vast _______ is!” No one stands on an eastern beach of the United States looking out over the vastness of the sea saying, “Wow! Look at the oceans!” There may be a rare exception to this if they are referring to more than one but, in almost every case, the thing they marvel at is the ocean (singular).

Magnitude & Multiplicity

Hebrew, unlike English, does pluralize certain terms to express a level of depth and awesomeness. In the latter half of the chapter, Moses quotes God using a plural pronoun for Himself (i.e. “Let Us…” in vs. 26). This is one of the ways the Eternal Creator God chose to proclaim His majesty and wonder in this passage. As you have seen, Genesis chapter one has several examples of various terms written in the plural form to better emphasize the incredible size and magnitude of the said object or person.

However, the examples are not all referring to size; some are in fact referring to number. Yes, Genesis 1:2 is an example pointing back to the ocean’s size or magnitude (i.e. “waters), but Genesis 1:20 is an example of number when referring to “birds.” The context makes clear the fact that both lights and birds are numerically plural—more than one. Is this the same with heavens? Yes! This is seen in the fact that Moses identifies two different domains in which he refers to as the heavens (outer space and the atmosphere). Thus, the plural emphasis addresses both quality and quantity.

None of us would say that any bird is flying around in the heavens (outer space) where the stars are. When was the last time the NASA space station orbited past a flock of seagulls? They have been designed and intended to fly only within the atmospheric heavens which exists just above the earth.

To many of the original readers, the plural form heavens would simply be encapsulating its magnitude. This is exactly what many of the Jews would have emphasized on within this passage if they were to dissect every word. However, especially with progressive revelation, I believe that we would fall short in our exegesis if we remained content with the understanding that the Jews were operating under.

As is evidenced, this section of Scripture reveals both magnitude and multiplicity. Genesis 1:20 helps us to see its magnitude while its multiplicity is seen upon comparing days four and five which reveal the term’s usage of two distinct places. The reason this is so crucial is because the plural form heavens is a direct parallel to the nature of the Triune Godhead.

While Genesis 1:1 used heavens as an overview for both magnitude and multiplicity, so also do we see this same concept with God later in 1:26 when He says, “Let US make…” God uses a plural pronoun. Not only this, but the name “God” all throughout Genesis chapter one is the plural name, Elohim.

It not only reveals God’s majesty and overemphasizes His greatness, but it also shows the Triune nature of the Godhead. The term, heavens, is one word indicating, as we will see, three distinct locations. The word for God, as Scripture reveals throughout progressive revelation, shows three distinct Persons—Father, Son, and the Holy Spirit.
In the same way that only two of the three heavenly locations are mentioned within this chapter (earth’s atmosphere and outer space), so also are only two Persons of the Godhead directly stated—the Father and the Spirit. For many of us, when we think of Heaven, God’s presence comes to mind. Thus, both His name and the term heavens parallel each other within this chapter.

Earth is written in the singular form because there is only one. Heavens is made plural because it is describing these three distinct locations:

1.     The Sky or the Atmosphere.

2.     The Universe or Outer Space.

3.     Heaven or God’s Dwelling Place.

In 2 Corinthians 12:2-4, the apostle Paul informs us that at some point in the past he was "...caught up to the third heaven…." He was brought into the presence of God.  This statement implies there to be a second and a first as well.  Thus, the third Heaven is what we would call "Paradise."

Again, we do not find direct mention of this heaven within the specific passage, but we do find reference to the first and the second:

1.     The Sky or the Atmosphere (1st Heaven): Genesis 1:8-9, 20, 26, 28, 30; 2:1, 4; (cf. 1 Kings 14:11)

2.     The Universe or Outer Space (2nd Heaven): Genesis 1:14-15, 17; 2:1, 4; (cf. Deuteronomy 4:19)

3.    Heaven or God’s Dwelling Place (3rd Heaven): Genesis 2:1 (cf. Luke 2:13); 2 Corinthians 12:2-4


Within the parallel between the plural God and the plural heavens, it is interesting to note that two heavens are spoken of but the third heaven, Paradise, is not directly stated. It is equally intriguing that two Persons of the Godhead are mentioned, but not the One who has been exalted to the highest heavens—Jesus Christ our Lord (Phil. 2:9-11)! Thus, neither the highest of heavens nor the One exalted to them are directly referenced in this chapter. However, as we know from the rest of the revelation, the presence of both are very much implied and even given center stage in this account.

Friday, October 6, 2017

Was it Moses?

Biblical evidence and Jewish tradition both cite Moses as the author of the first five books of the Bible which are together referred to as either the Torah (Hebrew word meaning Law) or the Pentateuch (Greek word meaning five books). It is common for us to combine these terms as the five books of the Law. This categorization is somewhat misleading however, because vast portions of Scripture throughout this section of the Bible are not law at all, but narrative (such as the book of Genesis).

1.                 Genesis
2.                 Exodus
3.                 Leviticus
4.                 Numbers
5.                 Deuteronomy

Internal evidence is as follows:

1.      Israel Had Always Categorized Genesis Within the Law

This point does not necessarily prove the authorship of Moses, but it does add some weight. Just because a book is added to the collection does not always mean it held the same author as the others alongside it. This first point is broader in scope, but Jewish tradition has always logged the first five books as the books of Moses.

2.     The Pentateuch Itself States the Name of Its Author

At this point, we are still not sure whether Moses specifically wrote the book of Genesis because, unlike the four books following, there is no direct reference to the name of the writer. The following examples give strong support for a Mosaic authorship of the other four books:

Ex. 17:14; 24:4; 34:27; Lev. 1:1; 4:1; 6:1, 8; Num. 1:1, 19; 33:2; Deut. 1:1; 31:9, 24-26

3.     Other Parts of The Old Testament Declare Moses As the Author of the Law

Josh. 1:7-8; 8:31-34; 22:5; 1 Kings 2:3; 2 Chron. 23:18; 34:14; Dan. 9:11, 13; Ezra 3:2; Neh. 8:1; 13:1-3

It is clearly undeniable in Scripture that Moses is the man who recorded the Law which was given by God. Numerous texts throughout both Old and New Testaments attribute this section of God’s Word as the writings of Moses. The debate, however, is over whether Moses authored the book of Genesis.

4.     The New Testament Writers Acknowledged Moses’ Authorship of the Law

Acts 3:22; 26:22-23; 28:23; Rom. 10:5, 19

While Moses is still not specifically named the writer of Genesis, there may be slight implications to this found in Paul’s defense before King Agrippa in Acts 26:22-23. In this passage, the apostle declares that he is only speaking “what the prophets and Moses said would come to pass: that the Christ must suffer and that, by being the first to rise from the dead, He would proclaim light both to our people and to the Gentiles.”[1]

-         Genesis 3:15 prophecy’s the coming Savior and His future suffering.

-         Genesis 12:3 predicts the coming Gentile blessing.

-      Genesis 22 pictures both the suffering Christ and His resurrection from the dead.

5.     Jesus Himself Testified That the Law Was Written by Moses

Matt. 8:4; 19:7-8; Mark 7:10; 10:2-9; 12:26; Luke 16:29, 31; 24:44; John 1:45; 5:46; 7:19

While there are several instances when our Lord affirmed Moses’ authorship of the Law, Jesus never directly stated, “Moses is the writer of Genesis.” However, I believe He both implied and attributed Moses as the author.

Mark 10:2-9 is a great example directly from our Lord’s mouth. The Pharisees asked a question regarding divorce and Jesus asked them, “What did Moses command you?[2] They responded with a verse from Moses, taken out of context, which they had grabbed ahold of to justify their animosity towards other people. Jesus did not however, allow them the opportunity to continue picking and choosing which parts of His Word they would submit to, so I believe He intentionally chose to quote more of Moses for them (Gen. 1:27; 2:24). There are many other great passages in the Old Testament regarding the sanctity of marriage which He could have used, but He purposefully chose these verses from the beginning of Genesis to correct them of Moses’ view on marriage. While the text does not say that Moses authored Genesis, I believe it is implied within the overall conversation between Jesus and the Pharisees.


Moses, nowhere in Scripture, is directly stated to be the author of the book of Genesis. However, there are some key points we must remember:

-      Moses received & recorded the Law (Ex. 20-23; 35; Lev. 1-27; Num. 1:1;15; 19; 28-30; Deut. 5; 11-26.

-         Jewish tradition has always attributed authorship to Moses.

-         Although Genesis is more narrative it does:

o   Present law (Gen. 2:16-17).

o   Reflect the narrative portions of the Law:

§  Ex. 1-19; 32-33

§  Num. 12-14

§  Deut. 1-4; 6-10; 27-34

o   Lead right into the book of Exodus showing the oppression of Israel and God raising up Moses as a type of savior. A Mosaic authorship of the book of Genesis would make sense in how it summarizes the founding and forming of the nation of Israel. The author seems to carefully speed up to the person of Moses being used by God to rescue His people.

In summary, whether Moses wrote this book or not should ultimately have no impact on our daily walks with the Lord. Jesus Himself affirmed it as inspired Scripture (Mark 10:2-9) which means that each one of us are accountable to the LORD for what it says.

[1] ESV Bible, ESV Text Edition: 2011. (Wheaton, Illinois: Crossway, 2001)., p. 935.
[2] Ibid., pg. 845-846.