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Mar 26 2013

How did the Israelites determine if a prophet was from God?

A prophet was a person who was speaking for God, in other words, “thus says the LORD.” Prophets were raised up by God (Deuteronomy 16:15) and empowered by God to communicate His purposes to the people. Prophets did not just speak of future events, it also included instructions, rebuking the leaders of the people as well as well as instructing the people how they should act such as whether or not to go to war. For instance, God spoke to Moses (a prophet) commanding him to lead the Israelites out of Egypt (Exodus, Chapter 3). Moses spoke to the people for God (Exodus 20:19). As a prophet (Deuteronomy 34:10), Moses was giving the people God’s Commandments and was not foretelling future events.

All of God’s prophets were not only raised up by Him but were anointed (Psalms 89:20, Psalm 105:15). People recognized the person as a prophet from God. Therefore, a prophet was already established to the people. For instance, all of Israel recognized that Samuel “was established as a prophet of the LORD” (1 Samuel 3:20). It was God that “let none of his words fall to the ground” (1 Samuel 3:19). God has always used people to speak to the people both in the Old Testament and the New Testament.

A false prophet gave messages that were positive. For instance in 1 Kings, chapter 22, the king of Israel told Jehoshaphat that there is a man (Micaiah) who they could inquire of the LORD. The king hated him for he “never prophesies good” concerning him but only evil. Even though Micaiah was recognized as a prophet and that he could be relied on who could “inquire of the LORD,” the king only wanted to hear favorable messages and in fact, rejected Micaiah’s prophecy and relied on the prophecy of is (false) prophets who told him a favorable message. Since Micaiah’s message was from God, it came to pass.

The fulfillment of a future-event prophecy, obviously, was a determining factor in the validity of a prophecy (Ezekiel 2:1-5). In fact, that was how God instructed the Israelites to determine if a prophet was speaking falsely. A false prophet could be recognized because the future event came about in a way that was different than prophesized as in 1 Kings. A false prophet could also be determined if he led them to go after other gods even if the sign or wonder comes to pass (Deuteronomy 13:1-3).

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Mar 24 2013

my God box

This post is about my God box, which is a very different thing from putting God in a box.  There was a time in my life when my faith was very small and I was facing very big problems. I had a lot of fear and anxiety over my future and the future of my wife and kids.

Then one day, I was in an Internet chat room  chatting with a friend, telling her about my problems and worries. My friend was an older lady named Sandy, who had walked with God for many years. When I was finished telling her my worries and fears, she asked,  “have you ever heard of a God box?”

I had never heard of a God box, so I  asked her what a God box was. She explained that a God box was simply a small box that a person could use to give their problems and worries to God. She continued to explain that when a person has a problem or a worry about something, they could write it down on a small scrap of paper, and then ask God to take care of it as they placed the scrap of paper in the box. She then suggested that I go and find a small box, tape it all up, and cut a small hole in it.

Being skeptical by nature, I thought to myself that her suggestion sounded pretty stupid, but I was really struggling with worry and anxiety, and decided to just follow her advice. I got up from my computer, went and found a small cardboard box, taped it all up, and cut a small hole in it. I took my God box back to my desk and asked her what to do next. Read the rest of this entry »

Mar 21 2013

Who are the Jews and the 12 tribes of Israel

There is confusion as to who the Jewish people are with respect to biblical accounts. Today when we use the word “Jew” or Jewish,” we are not necessarily using the term in the same way that is used in the Word of God. The Word of God does not use the term “Jews” to refer to the 12 tribes of Israel.

Prior to 722 B.C., the word “Jew” had a much more narrow meaning. It referred to the members of the tribe of Judah or those from the Kingdom of Judaea. Today, the word Jew refers to people who follow the Jewish faith, Judaism. When Abraham left Ur of the Chaldeans to go into the land of Canaan (Genesis 11:31), Abraham and his descendants were known as Hebrews (Genesis 14:13), not Jews. Abraham fathered Isaac and Isaac fathered Jacob. Jacob’s name was changed to Israel (Genesis 32:28; 46:1). Ever since, Israel’s (Jacob’s) descendants were known as the children of Israel, Israel or Israelites, not Jews. Jacob had 12 sons (Reuben, Simeon, Levi, Judah, Dan, Naphtali, Gad, Asher, Issachar, Zebulun, Joseph and Benjamin). The descendants of Jacob’s 12 sons became the 12 tribes of Israel.

After the Israelites had invaded Canaan, they were ruled by kings Saul, David and then Solomon. After King Solomon’s death the Israelite kingdom was split into two, Israel in the north and Judaea in the south (1 Kings 12:2, 2 Chronicles 10). The southern kingdom consisted of the tribes of Judah, Benjamin and part of Levi which became the nation of Judaea. Despite being taken into captivity, they did not lose their identity unlike the northern kingdom. In 722 B.C., the Assyrians conquered the northern kingdom and the inhabitants were exiled. Those of the northern kingdom that were exiled lost their national identity as they assimilated (2 Kings 17). They are now known as the “Ten lost tribes of Israel.” Prior to the exile, those descended from the tribe of Judah or the people from the land of Judaea were known as Jews, the others were Israelites. Read the rest of this entry »

Mar 20 2013

Sin in the garden

Not the sin in the Garden of Eden, the sin in my garden.

For many seasons, I waged  war against the weeds growing on my lawn.  I’d buy all sorts of expensive and noxious chemicals and fancy weed-pullers in my efforts to kill them.  The weeds would just laugh and mock me, multiplying and spreading despite all my concentrated efforts to get rid of them.

Then one day, as I was looking at the weeds taking over my lawn,  I decided that I would try something new and different.  Instead of focusing on killing the weeds, I would focus on regularly feeding and watering the grass.

Well, in a matter of a few weeks, the grass grew green and healthy and choked out the weeds!  I finally had the nice green lawn I wanted.  Keeping it that way, however, does require me to be disciplined and continue to regularly feed and water the grass though, or the weeds will just come right back. Read the rest of this entry »

Mar 18 2013

Invictus, captain of my soul?

I first came across the poem Invictus by William Ernest Hensley several years ago on an Internet forum I used to hang out on.  An avowed atheist who posted there would occasionally sign his posts off with it.  If I had encountered the poem  when I was an atheist, I would have loved it.  As a Christian, however, I found it offensive.

Oprah Winfrey, Nelson Mandela and many others have championed “Invictus” as a tribute to the freedom, resiliency and invincibility of the human soul.  Oprah has stated that it was the first poem she memorized.  Nelson Mandela scribbled it from memory on the wall of his prison cell when a political prisoner.  He later said that reading it was what allowed him to survive his incarceration.

By all accounts, William Ernest Hensley led a painful and difficult life.  He contracted tuberculosis in his leg bones that required amputation of one of his legs, quite possibly without the benefit of anesthesia.  He then required multiple painful surgeries on his remaining foot in order to save the other leg.  He wrote “Invictus” while he was in the hospital recovering from these surgeries. Read the rest of this entry »

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