Worshiping a Human Deity

Worshiping a Human Deity Some people think of God as a human – the “old man in the sky.” They think of a god with human limitations and needs as if we are worshiping a human deity. Questions about the race, sex, culture, language, and appearance of God are all rooted in the misconception that God possesses human properties and limitations. God does not have a sexual identity, and the Bible describes God with both masculine and feminine qualities. There is no neuter gender in Hebrew, so if a sexual identity is given, it must come from the context. Even the New Testament, sometimes provides a feminine description of God. (See Luke 13:34.)

Man’s creation in the image of God is also not a human concept. We do not look like God physically or in any physical human way. We are in God’s image by our capacity to love sacrificially, our creative abilities in art and music, our capacity to engage in spiritual things, and our ability to feel guilt and sympathy and compassion. Even the purpose of human existence is linked to this concept. God did not create humans because He was lonely. The purpose of our creation is rooted in nonhuman struggles that we can only vaguely comprehend. The reason for our existence is independent of any physical human objective. (See Ephesians 3:9 -11; 6:12; and Job 1,2.)

Our worship of God is frequently skewed by our conception of God as a human with human needs. Sometimes we seem to act as though God needs our praise because He is depressed. We don’t praise God because God has a self-image problem. The quality of our praise or singing is not of importance to God. Sometimes we emphasize the quality of our singing praises more than the participation of everyone in the process. That emphasis reflects our limited understanding of the nature of God as a spirit. John 4:24 tells us that, “God is a spirit: and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth.” We forget that because we have a limited human concept of God. We are not worshiping a human deity.

We tend to replace the simplicity and total involvement of the first century Church in their worship of God with elaborate theatrical productions. Our productions may have entertainment value, but we often fail to realize that God is not appeased with things humans deem as important. The Bible portrays God as looking on the hearts of those who worship Him, not the overt process. One of the best biblical examples is in Leviticus 10:1-2 where Nadab and Abihu, two priests, offered “strange fire” in replacement for what God had ordered. There is no indication that they neglected anything God had told them to do. They dressed up the fire in some way that would make it more appealing on a human level. God reacts strongly to this human substitution.

It is easy for people living in Western societies to look at human-like images from primitive cultures and wonder how they could conceive of God in such a distorted way. But we may be guilty of worshiping a human deity in our own way. God calls us to understand that His ways and thoughts are not like ours and that He does not have our limitations. “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the LORD. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts” (Isaiah 55:8-9). Let us listen to the true God and strive to understand what He wills for us rather than creating God in our image and trying to appease something of our own creation.
— John N. Clayton © 2019

Science Confirmed Three Bible Statements

Science Confirmed Three Bible StatementsAt the beginning of the 20th century, there were three scientific “facts” that disagreed with the Bible. In a little more than 100 years, science confirmed three ancient Bible statements. The Bible was correct, and science had been wrong.

Until the early 1900s scientists believed that the universe was eternal and existing forever with no beginning. They also believed that on the large scale the universe was unchanging. Thirdly they believed that we would find subtle changes to the laws of physics if we could travel throughout the universe.

In contrast to what scientists believed, the Bible clearly says that there was a beginning to the universe. (See Genesis 1:1.) The Bible also says that the universe is dynamic as it was being “stretched out” by God. (See Job 9:8, Isaiah 40:22, 42:5, 44:24, 45:12, 51:13, and Zechariah 12:1) Thirdly, through Jeremiah the prophet, God declared that His laws of the universe are unchanging. In fact, God used the unchanging nature of the physical laws as proof that He would keep his promises. (See Jeremiah 33:25-26.)

Things began to change for scientists when Albert Einstein issued his theory of special relativity in 1905 and then his general theory of relativity in 1915. Einstein showed that the laws of physics are constant and unchanging no matter where you are in the universe or how you are moving through the universe. His calculations also indicated that the universe is dynamic, either expanding or contracting. However, like other scientists of his day, he could not accept that idea. He added what you might call a “fudge factor” to his calculations to make it look like the universe was static. He later admitted that was the greatest mistake of his life.

A few years later in the 1920s, Edwin Hubble discovered that there were other galaxies out there and they are moving away from us. He also found that the farther away they are, the faster they are moving away. That means that the universe is expanding. It is not a static universe but one that is being “stretched out.”

There is another implication of Hubble’s discovery of the expanding universe. Since the galaxies are moving away from each other, what would that mean if you could go back in time? At some earlier time, they were all in one place. In other words, the universe had a beginning, a singularity as scientists call it. Many scientists were not willing to accept the idea of a beginning. One of the reluctant scientists was Sir Fred Hoyle who jokingly referred to it as a “big bang” theory.

But in 1964, Arno Penzias and Robert Wilson discovered the cosmic microwave background radiation which further confirmed that there was a big bang type of beginning. Space-based experiments finally confirmed it in the twenty-first century. Now, virtually all scientists accept the idea of a beginning.

So, thousands of years ago, the Bible stated that the laws of the universe are unchanging, that the universe is expanding, and that there was a beginning. Science has now recognized the truth of those statements. Science confirmed three Bible statements, but many scientists are still not ready to accept “In the beginning God created…”
— Roland Earnst © 2019

Cannibalism in the Bible

 Cannibalism in the Bible

Atheists and skeptics often take passages out of context as evidence that the Bible is merely the opinions of people and not the teachings of God. One such claim that we have seen in recent articles is the suggestion that the Bible endorses and encourages cannibalism. It is true that there are historical reports of cannibalism in the Bible. Second Kings 6:28-29 is the most commonly used passage where cannibalism takes place. Other passages are Deuteronomy 28:53, Isaiah 9:20, Jeremiah 19:9, and Lamentations 2:20 and 4:10.

It is essential in any question about the Bible to look at who wrote the passage in question, what the purpose of the writing was, to whom it was written, and how people of the time in which it was written would have understood it. This passage and all of the others cited above are merely a report of history. If you read the front page of a modern newspaper about a murder, do you assume that the person who wrote the article is the one who committed the crime? Of course not. A news reporter reports the news. They don’t do the event on which they are reporting. The fact that there are reports of cannibalism in the Bible does not mean that it endorses the practice.

The passage in 2 Kings 6:24-29 tells about King Benhadad who was the King of Syria invading Samaria. The people in Samaria ran out of food, and we are told that “an asses head was sold for fourscore pieces of silver.” Two women who were starving to death agreed to kill their two sons and eat them. The first son was killed and eaten and the second woman reneged on allowing her son to be killed and eaten. This is a news report, not ordered or sanctioned by God. The report is made to demonstrate how severe the starvation was.

There is no report of cannibalism in the Bible where it is approved, but the Bible does accurately record history. In the New Testament, the body is considered to be the temple of God where the Holy Spirit dwells (1 Corinthians 3:16-17). Human life is sacred in the New Testament, and the teachings of Jesus are teachings of love, forgiveness, compassion, and care. Tomorrow we will discuss suicide in light of these teachings of Christ.

–John N. Clayton © 2019

Historical Integrity of the Bible and AOL News

Historical Integrity of the Bible - Tel Dan Stele
AOL News for January 5, 2019, carried a list of archaeological finds supporting the historical integrity of the Bible. Skeptics and atheists continually flood the media with claims of supposed contradictions between the Bible and historical evidence. A listing like this with pictures and descriptions is a refreshing change. Unfortunately, there is little documentation of the biblical references or which archaeological teams made the discoveries. The list on AOL News is as follows:

The bones of Mary Magdalene which are in the Church of Saint Maximin have been examined. Scientists confirmed that they do belong to a woman from the area where the Bible says Mary Magdalene lived and from the time she lived.

Solomon’s wall to protect Jerusalem has been found.

A ziggurat (tower) has been found at Etemenanki which is located in the former ancient city of Babylon matching the description of the Tower of Babel in the Bible.

A seal with Jezebel’s name and insignia has been found and dated to the 9th century BCE, so claims that she was a biblical myth do not stand.

The Tel Dan Stele has a reference to the “House of David” refuting atheist claims that David never existed.

The city of Nazareth was discovered in 2001 and matches the biblical description of where Jesus lived as a child.

The Pilate Stone was found in 1971 and his title of “Prefect of Judea” is written on the stone.

Herod’s tomb was discovered in 2007 with the details fitting Josephus’ description of the man who killed the Bethlehem babies described in the Bible.

A seal with Isaiah’s name has been discovered, so claims that he never existed have been debunked. (A seal of Hezekiah has also been discovered, but that is not mentioned in the AOL report.)

The tomb of Caiaphas, the high priest at the time of Jesus’ crucifixion was discovered in 1990.

We would like to make clear that this is an AOL production, not a report by an archaeological research group. However, we have seen most of these reports in Biblical Archaeology Review and Archaeology magazine which are both academic productions of professional archaeology groups. There is support for the historical integrity of the Bible.
–John N. Clayton © 2019

Isaiah’s Signature Found

Isaiah's Signature Found
The prophet Isaiah is often called the “Messianic Prophet.” In his lengthy (66 chapter) book of the Old Testament, he told of the coming Messiah. We have his words, but now we may also have Isaiah’s signature.

In 2015 archaeologists found the royal seal of King Hezekiah stamped in a clay seal at Ophel, the foot of the southern wall of the Temple Mount in Jerusalem. Written on the seal is a Hebrew inscription which reads “Belonging to Hezekiah, son of Ahaz, king of Judah.”

Now in the same location, a new seal has been found. This one appears to belong to the prophet Isaiah. The March-June issue of Biblical Archaeology Review (pages 64-73) has pictures and an explanation of the find. Because there is some damage to the seal, or bulla, the final judgment will have to come after scholarly review. If the scholars give their approval, they will make a formal announcement.

For years biblical minimalists and skeptics have attacked the accuracy of the Bible’s historical information. As archaeologists make more discoveries, it becomes increasingly more difficult to refute the accuracy of the Bible. Isaiah’s signature would be one more evidence that we can have confidence in the inspiration of the original manuscripts of the Bible.
–John N. Clayton © 2018