Jewish Feasts and Thanksgiving

Jewish Feasts and Thanksgiving
There are seven feasts that God told the ancient Israelite nation to observe. What is interesting is that the purpose of each one of these is similar to what Christians engage in and for the same reasons. You can see the connection between the Jewish feasts and Thanksgiving.

Take a look at these seven feasts and how we have the same needs:

1-The Feast of Unleavened Bread (Or Passover). Leviticus 23:5, Exodus 23:15, and Numbers 28:16-25. This feast celebrated the historical deliverance from Egypt. Our 4th of July originally had a similar purpose. The Lord’s Supper also remembers deliverance from sin – 1 Corinthians 11:23-26.

2-The Feast of Weeks or Harvest. Exodus 23:16 and 34:22 and Numbers 28:26. It was later known as Pentecost because it was celebrated on the 50th day from the Sabbath beginning the Passover. It was a time to remember the blessing of having grain crops. By the way, our first Thanksgiving occurred on the same date as Thanksgiving 2018 – November 22. The Plymouth Colonists and Wampanoag Indians celebrated it on that date in 1621. First Corinthians 16:1-2 and 2 Corinthians 8:1-5 express a similar joy at the blessings of God.

3-The Feast of Tabernacles (or Feast of Booths or Ingathering). Leviticus 23:34-43, Deuteronomy 16:13-15, and Numbers 29:12-38. This feast celebrated the harvesting of fruit from trees. Our Thanksgiving had a similar origin. (See number 2.)

4-Feast of the Sabbath – or Sabbath of Rest. Leviticus. 23:2-3 and Isaiah 58:13. It was a solemn assembly of thanking God for the nation of Israel. Our Independence day is similar.

5-Day of Blowing Trumpets. Numbers 29:1 and Leviticus 23:24. It was a sabbath and a memorial to celebrate the nation. Our Veterans Day and our Memorial Day are similar.

6-Day of Atonement. Leviticus 23:26-31 and Exodus 30:10. On the 10th day of the 7th month observed once a year a day Israel focused on individual personal sin and making atonement for that sin. Our Lord’s Supper has a connection to that concept every week, and 1 John 1:5-10 tells us that as Christians our atonement is continuous.

7-Feast of Purim. Esther 9:18-32 – This was a celebration established by Mordecai to celebrate the deliverance from Haman similar to our Memorial Day.

Israel had specific feasts to lift and remind their thinking to have an attitude of gratitude for all the blessing they had received. Shouldn’t we have that same spirit as we celebrate Thanksgiving? Romans 1:18-22 describes the enemies of God, and one of the indicators of their antagonism to God was that they were not thankful.

The connection between the Jewish feasts and Thanksgiving are evident. Make Thanksgiving special this year by expressing your sincere thanks for all the blessings God has given.
–John N. Clayton © 2018

Genesis 1:1 and the Creation Week

Genesis 1:1 and Zion Canyon
Because it was not God’s purpose to give details of the creation of the universe, Genesis 1:1 covers it in one sentence. “Reshith Elohim bara shamayan erets.” Those are the Hebrew words translated: “In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth.” This is a historical statement which says there was a beginning to everything in space and on Earth. Those few words tell us that God was the cause of the creation. The creation included a planet with everything that we would need to exist and flourish–carbon, oxygen, water, coal, oil, nitrates, etc. “Erets” refers to a functional planet–not to a blob of gook.

As we drove through the canyonlands last month (see earlier posts), we saw how God prepared the Earth and the physical, chemical, and biological agents He used. It is interesting to see that dinosaurs, as well as many microscopic forms of life, were the gardeners who allowed all of this to happen. Without dinosaurs, there would have been no agents to process the giant plants of that day and spread their seeds. Without tiny diatoms, there would have been no agents present to form the oil and other fossil fuels that we need. Notice that Genesis 1:1 is untimed and undated! How long did it take? When did it happen? The Bible doesn’t say.

In Genesis 1:2 we see that the earth needed to be formed. The word translated “earth” is the same Hebrew word “erets” found in verse 1. This second usage is clearly different, however, because Genesis 1:9-10 indicates that God separated this earth from the water, meaning that it refers to the earth people live on, not planet Earth.

In the following verses of Genesis, the “days” of the “creation week” give specific explanations of the origin of the plants, water creatures, cattle, goats, sheep, chickens, and ducks the ancient Israelites knew. Each Hebrew word refers to known and domesticated animals, not unknown animals. Days are used to provide continuity to the sequence in which God created life. How long those days were, whether they were consecutive or had long time-periods between them can be debated endlessly.

The fact is that the first verse describes the creation made by God with the things humans would need to survive on Earth. As we said, that first verse is untimed and undated. All of the studies of geologists and biologist as to how those resources were produced are covered in that one verse of Genesis 1:1. The creation week is a description of the actual production of humans and their domesticated animals.

On our trip into the canyonlands, we saw the power, wisdom, and planning God used to allow us to exist. Proverbs 8 presents wisdom as the causal agent of creation–not blind mechanistic chance. Theological claims that create conflict between God’s word and the display of His wisdom and design are due to human error, not to the Creator.
–John N. Clayton © 2018

Conflict Between Scientific Evidence and the Bible

Conflict Between Scientific Evidence and the Bible- Petrified Forest
For the past two days, we have been reviewing some of the things we saw and learned on the Canyonlands Educational Tour of last month. We explained our approach to the physical evidence of creation and all of the Scriptures that tell what happened. We say that the two sources must agree. If the same God who gave us the Bible also did the creating, they cannot disagree. If there seems to be a conflict between scientific evidence and the Bible, we either have bad science or bad theology or both. And there has been plenty of both.

There has been great conflict between the physical evidence that the Earth is very old and denominational interpretations of the Bible’s creation week. As we visit the Grand Canyon, Bryce Canyon, Zion National Park, the Painted Desert, and the Petrified Forest, the massive amount of evidence that the Earth is much more than 6,000 years old becomes obvious. So how do we resolve this apparent conflict between scientific evidence and the Bible? If we are not locked into those denominational belief systems, we can take the Bible literally. By that we mean, look at who wrote it, to whom they wrote it, why they wrote it, and how the people it was written to would have understood it.

Genesis was written in the style of Hebrew poetry to all of humanity–those living in the days of Moses as well as those living in the 21st century. We cannot expect the account to deal with quantum mechanics, because the people of Moses’ day would not have understood it. The animals described in Genesis are animals that people of Moses’ day would know. Don’t look for duckbilled platypuses, echidnas, penguins, or dinosaurs in the Genesis account. Don’t look for descriptions of stellar production of heavy elements or evolution of stars or even continental drift.

We could list hundreds of things that you would not expect in the biblical account because the ancient Israelites would have no way to understand them. Furthermore, there would be no reason to give such details, and the Bible would be too heavy to carry. For that reason, the Bible begins with the single sentence: “In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth.” That sentence prepares the reader for a simplified description of the actual production of humans and their domesticated animals on the planet we call home. There is no conflict between scientific evidence and the Bible when taken literally. We will have more on that tomorrow.
–John N. Clayton

Is Hebrew the Oldest Alphabet?

Passover Text Hebrew

Skeptics have tried for a very long time to discredit the Bible by saying that there is no record of Hebrews ever being in captivity in Egypt. Dr. Douglas Petrovich who is a well-known archaeologist and epigrapher from Wilfrid Laurier University in Waterloo, Ontario, has been studying Egyptian inscriptions and has found early Hebrew letters and words in those inscriptions. Scholars have long believed that there is a connection between ancient Egyptian hieroglyphics and ancient alphabets. Dr. Petrovich thinks that Egyptian Hebrews took the complex hieroglyphic writing system and put it into 22 alphabetic letters to communicate with other Hebrews in Egypt. He presented his findings at the annual meeting of the American Schools of Oriental Research last November. Dr. Petrovich says he has translated 18 Hebrew inscriptions from three Egyptian sites. These inscriptions include references to Joseph and Moses. In the coming months, there will be a book by Dr. Petrovich detailing all of this, and we look forward to seeing it. We will be following up on this story when the book is published. If Dr. Petrovich is correct, this would be strong evidence for the Egyptian captivity. Data from Science News, December 24, 2016, and January 7, 2017, page 8. You can read the article online at: https://www.sciencenews.org/article/oldest-alphabet-identified-hebrew –John N. Clayton © 2017