Archive for June, 2010
The first place in the Bible that wisdom is mentioned is in conjunction with the woman (Eve) and her confrontation with the Serpent. In fact the first conversation that is recorded in the Bible is the one between Eve and the Serpent.
Gen.3:1- 7 Now the serpent was more subtle than any beast of the field which the LORD God had made. And he said unto the woman, Yea, hath God said, Ye shall not eat of every tree of the garden? And the woman said unto the serpent, We may eat of the fruit of the trees of the garden: But of the fruit of the tree which is in the midst of the garden, God hath said, Ye shall not eat of it, neither shall ye touch it, lest ye die. And the serpent said unto the woman, Ye shall not surely die: For God doth know that in the day ye eat thereof, then your eyes shall be opened, and ye shall be as gods, knowing good and evil. And when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was pleasant to the eyes, and a tree to be desired to make one wise, she took of the fruit thereof, and did eat, and gave also unto her husband with her; and he did eat. And the eyes of them both were opened, and they knew that they were naked; and they sewed fig leaves together, and made themselves aprons.
When God said “Let us create man in Our image”, He created a being that was both masculine and feminine – complete – that being was called Adam. When Adam was placed in the Garden, God saw that it was not good for Adam to be alone without a partner, so from Adam, God took the feminine side to create Adams complement – Eve – who now contained the feminine qualities that Adam no longer possessed. This would be the attraction that would continually pull Man and Women back together, trying to fulfill that desire to again be – one flesh.
This could very well also explain the story of the Serpent tempting Eve instead of Adam. The feminine side which was given to Eve contained a desire for wisdom, and things beautiful to the eye, which is why she could be tempted in that area. Adams desire was for his complement “Eve”, the feminine part that was taken from him….so when Eve offered the desired fruit to Adam who was there with her, he took it and they both ate of it, fulfilling the desire of Adam to re-establish unity with his complement.
Matt.28:5-10 And the angel answered and said unto the women, Fear not ye: for I know that ye seek Jesus, which was crucified. He is not here: for he is risen, as he said. Come, see the place where the Lord lay. And go quickly, and tell his disciples that he is risen from the dead; and, behold, he goeth before you into Galilee; there shall ye see him: lo, I have told you. And they departed quickly from the sepulcher with fear and great joy; and did run to bring his disciples word. And as they went to tell his disciples, behold, Jesus met them, saying, All hail. And they came and held him by the feet, and worshipped him. Then said Jesus unto them, Be not afraid: go tell my brethren that they go into Galilee, and there shall they see me.
Mark 16:19 Now when Jesus was risen early the first day of the week, he appeared first to Mary Magdalene, out of whom he had cast seven devils.
Luke 24:10-11 It was Mary Magdalene, and Joanna, and Mary the mother of James, and other women that were with them, which told these things unto the apostles. And their words seemed to them as idle tales, and they believed them not.
John 20:16-18 Jesus saith unto her, Mary. She turned herself, and saith unto him, Rabboni; which is to say, Master. Jesus saith unto her, Touch me not; for I am not yet ascended to my Father: but go to my brethren, and say unto them, I ascend unto my Father, and your Father; and to my God, and your God. Mary Magdalene came and told the disciples that she had seen the Lord, and that he had spoken these things unto her.
From the above verses, what clearly shines forth is that women were the first ones to spread the Good News of the Risen Lord. The Son of God exclusively chose women (some which were looked upon as being defiled) to appear to first – and be the ones to deliver the news to the Disciples of His resurrection….which at first they did not believe. These Women were also the first ones to bow at the feet of Jesus and worship Him, making them the first ones to gather together with Him.
There is a doctrine taught by some men, which says men must be the ones to teach in the Church, quite contrary to the words of Christ Himself. If the Son of God could make His first appearance exclusively to women and have them be the ones that personally deliver that message to His disciples (men); I think the doctrines of these men might be in error. Nowhere in the Gospels does Jesus teach against women being equal to men. It is purely the pride of these men that leads them to start Churches making their own doctrines and rules to keep themselves in power and control.
Acts 1:13-14 And when they were come in, they went up into an upper room, where abode both Peter, and James, and John, and Andrew, Philip, and Thomas, Bartholomew, and Matthew, James the son of Alphaeus, and Simon Zelotes, and Judas the brother of James. These all continued with one accord in prayer and supplication, with the women, and Mary the mother of Jesus, and with his brethren.
Another point to note takes place before Pentecost, when the followers of Jesus were told to wait for the Promise of the Holy Spirit….all those mentioned in the Upper Room including “the Women” were said to be in “one accord”; meaning to be of equal standing in their faith. The Church began with people meeting in the homes of believers, making no differentiation between men or women. The evidence is clear – God treats men and women equally, despite the fact that many men think otherwise and take every opportunity to try and dominate women and cheat them out of positions in the Church. It is time for Women of Faith to rise up and walk in their God given potential, declaring from Scripture their equal standing with men, and refusing to take a second place position. If women must leave the institutionalized Church to make that point – so be it.
What greater calling is there than to devote ones life to encouraging, and helping others to live their up to their full potential? For in so doing we pattern ourselves after that which was shown us by Christ. In lifting up our brothers and sisters we not only give to their lives a greater hope, but in the process our lives are enriched by them. No matter how small the deed, what we reap conditions our souls for eternity.
We have so few real choices in this life, that it is incumbent upon each and every one of us to devote every opportunity we can find to enrich the lives of ourselves and those around us with whatsoever is good, and kind, and uplifting; working all things for the Greater Good of shaping our souls. No gift of caring is too small to share with another….and the rewards reach into eternity!
Phil.4:8 Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.
1Cor.13:13 And now abideth faith, hope, charity, these three; but the greatest of these is love.
1John 4:12 No man hath seen God at any time. If we love one another, God dwelleth in us, and his love is perfected in us.
If God is the only standard for Good…how can there possibly be a Hell created by Him? How can the Greatest Good create a place like Hell to cause eternal suffering?
It is not conceivable that the Greatest Good which is God, could possibly create a place that is outside the bounds of His Mercy. It is one thing to be outside of God’s Grace because of being lost in unbelief, and quite another to be sent to a place of torment for eternity, that was created by the very God who is portrayed as the Greatest Good, with no hope of ever being reached by Him.
By the very act of God pouring out His Mercy on mankind, He takes that which is sinful and changes it into that which is pure by Grace alone ….therefore all that is sinful can at some point be covered by God’s Grace. The doctrine of eternal Hell as a place created by God that excludes God’s Mercy from ever reaching it, is impossible in a universe created by a God of Love.
The way I like to think about God’s universal Love is that those who are lost keep seeking until they find the door provided by Christ’s death on the Cross….once that door is found reunion with God happens. This is far different from the idea of a place created by God where lost people are sent to, forever slamming the door on any hope of reconciliation from that point on. The Parable of the Prodigal Son is the perfect example of God’s eternally reaching Love and Mercy that is always there to reach out to a lost soul.
Gehenna: The Garbage Dump
Gehenna (translated as Hell) was the place outside of the old city of Jerusalem called the Valley of Hinnon where waste was dumped; not only trash and garbage were disposed of there, but also corpses of humans and animals were burnt in the dump. In translating the Bible, the word Gehenna has changed from the meaning of a garbage dump to that of Hell: a place of eternal torment where the souls of unbelievers go.
The word Gehenna, “Hell” occurs twelve times in the New Testament (listed below). If each time the word Gehenna is used it is replaced by “Garbage dump”, a whole different understanding of what is being said comes into view.
What I see being said in Matthew 5 is the comparison of one part of the fleshly body being corrupted, to that of the whole of the body being corrupted; this can be likened to an infection that if not taken care of will spread to the whole body. Next, Jesus brings the idea of God into the picture as He who is able to destroy both the soul and the fleshly body in Gehenna. The Soul is our conscience selves, that which we shape and form in this life by our actions. I call it Soul Shaping. It is what we take from this life into eternity….if all our actions in this life are for naught and in jeopardy of being burned up in the Garbage Dump, then our lives will have been lived in vain. Much like the works of wood, hay and stubble that will be tried in the fire, spoken of by the Apostle Paul (1Cor.3:12-13 Now if any man build upon this foundation gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, stubble; Every man’s work shall be made manifest: for the day shall declare it, because it shall be revealed by fire; and the fire shall try every man’s work of what sort it is.).
Matt. 5:22 But I say unto you, That whosoever is angry with his brother without a cause shall be in danger of the judgment: and whosoever shall say to his brother, Raca, shall be in danger of the council: but whosoever shall say, Thou fool, shall be in danger of hell (Gehenna – garbage dump) fire….29) And if thy right eye offend thee, pluck it out, and cast it from thee: for it is profitable for thee that one of thy members should perish, and not that thy whole body should be cast into hell (Gehenna – garbage dump). And if thy right hand offend thee, cut it off, and cast it from thee: for it is profitable for thee that one of thy members should perish, and not that thy whole body should be cast into hell (Gehenna – garbage dump).
Matt.10:28 And fear not them which kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul: but rather fear him which is able to destroy both soul and body in hell (Gehenna – garbage dump).
Matt.18:9 And if thine eye offend thee, pluck it out, and cast it from thee: it is better for thee to enter into life with one eye, rather than having two eyes to be cast into hell (Gehenna – garbage dump) fire.
Matt.23:15 Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye compass sea and land to make one proselyte, and when he is made, ye make him twofold more the child of hell (Gehenna – garbage dump) than yourselves.
Matt.23:33 Ye serpents, ye generation of vipers, how can ye escape the damnation of hell (Gehenna – garbage dump)?
Mark 9:43 And if thy hand offend thee, cut it off: it is better for thee to enter into life maimed, than having two hands to go into hell (Gehenna – garbage dump), into the fire that never shall be quenched:…45) And if thy foot offend thee, cut it off: it is better for thee to enter halt into life, than having two feet to be cast into hell (Gehenna – garbage dump),, into the fire that never shall be quenched:…47) And if thine eye offend thee, pluck it out: it is better for thee to enter into the kingdom of God with one eye, than having two eyes to be cast into hell (Gehenna – garbage dump), fire:
James 3:6 And the tongue is a fire, a world of iniquity: so is the tongue among our members, that it defileth the whole body, and setteth on fire the course of nature; and it is set on fire of hell (Gehenna – garbage dump).
Hades: The Grave
The word Hades has been translated eleven times as Hell in the following verses, where they imply that it is a place of eternal torment. Instead of a place of eternal torment, Hades is the Grave which is death; the place where dead bodies go. In the book of Acts where it states that when Jesus died His Soul was not left in the grave and neither did his flesh see corruption, it is clearly speaking of Hell as the “Grave”, that is to say the place where the fleshly body goes after death. The soul on the other hand is the part of us that is shaped by the actions we do in this life, whereas our spirits can be thought of as the spark of life that God breathes into each one of us, or the light that touches each soul that enters into this world (John 1:9 That was the true Light, which lighteth every man that cometh into the world.).
Bodies are given us at conception without any choice on our part, whereas our souls can be shaped and formed by our actions giving purpose to our lives….this is what I believe our time on this planet is all about.
Matt.11:23 And thou, Capernaum, which art exalted unto heaven, shalt be brought down to hell (Hades – the Grave) for if the mighty works, which have been done in thee, had been done in Sodom, it would have remained until this day.
Matt.16:18 And I say also unto thee, That thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell (Hades – the Grave) shall not prevail against it.
Luke 10:15 And thou, Capernaum, which art exalted to heaven, shalt be thrust down to hell (Hades – the Grave).
Luke 16:23 And in hell (Hades – the Grave): he lift up his eyes, being in torments, and seeth Abraham afar off, and Lazarus in his bosom.
Acts 2:27 Because thou wilt not leave my soul in hell (Hades – the Grave): neither wilt thou suffer thine Holy One to see corruption….31) He seeing this before spoke of the resurrection of Christ, that his soul was not left in hell (Hades – the Grave): neither his flesh did see corruption.
1Cor.15:55 O death, where is thy sting? O grave (Hades – the Grave): where is thy victory?
Rev.1:18 I am he that liveth, and was dead; and, behold, I am alive for evermore Amen; and have the keys of hell (Hades – the Grave) and of death.
Rev.6:8 And I looked, and behold a pale horse: and his name that sat on him was Death, and Hell (Hades – the Grave) followed with him. And power was given unto them over the fourth part of the earth, to kill with sword, and with hunger, and with death, and with the beasts of the earth.
Rev.20:13-14 And the sea gave up the dead which were in it; and death and hell (Hades – the Grave) delivered up the dead which were in them: and they were judged every man according to their works. And death and hell (Hades – the Grave) were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death.
Tartarus is used only one time in the Bible as the place where the Angels who sinned are chained until judgment. The Greek philosopher, Plato wrote that souls were judged after death and those who received punishments were sent to Tartarus.
2Pet.2:4 For if God spared not the angels that sinned, but cast them down to hell (Tartarus), and delivered them into chains of darkness, to be reserved unto judgment;