Numbers In The Bible

with Dr. James Brooks

Ivan Panin was born in Russia in 1855. He became an atheist while still a young man. He also became the premier authority on Russian literature. He then traveled to Germany, where he studied German literature. He became fluent in seven languages. In time, He traveled to England where he became an authority on British literature. He then traveled to the United States to study our literature. While here he became good friends with the presidents of Harvard and Yale. Neither of them were Christians. They and others urged Panin to use his brilliant understanding of literature and writing styles to debunk the Bible, to prove that God did not write. Panin accepted that challenge. Someone who has studied literature and writing styles can become able to recognize plagiarism even when people try to hide it. If they read things written by one person, they can learn to recognize that person’s writing style and be able to recognize it even if it is plagiarized.

Able to read Hebrew, Aramaic and Greek in their ancient forms, Panin began to study the Bible in its original languages. The reader will remember that those languages, in their ancient written form, used letters that doubled as numerals. There are no separate symbols for numbers, letters of the alphabet are also used to indicate numbers. You will also recall that numbers as used in the Bible each have a certain significance.

Panin began reading with the gospel of John. Panin became curious as to why the Greek word for “the” preceded the word “God” in one case and not another. In examining the text he became aware of a number relationship. To his surprise, he quickly discovered that each thought in the gospel of John, when read in the original Greek, had letters that added up to the number of each word in that thought. Examining the rest of the Bible, Panin discovered that the same was true of all the books of the Bible. The numeric value of a word is the sum total of all its letters.

Overcome with curiosity, Panin began toying with the numbers behind the words. Sequences and patterns began to emerge. Ivan Panin dedicated the remaining 50 years of his life to looking for the numeric relationships in the Bible.

Think on this, the 66 books of the Bible, 39 in the Old and 27 in the New, were written by 33 different people. Those authors were scattered throughout various countries of the world and from widely different backgrounds. Some of them were well educated. Some of them had little or no education. The whole Bible was written over a period of 1,500 years, with a 400 year gap between the Old and New Testaments. In spite of all these things, Panin said, “man could never have done this”. He found such a correlation in the writing styles of all the books of the Bible, that though he said it was evident that different books and even some parts of books were written by different men, he said it was also evident that one mind was behind and wrote them all.

As a result of his study, indeed only shortly after beginning it, Ivan Panin became a Christian. He was such a well-known and outspoken atheist that news of his conversion rocked the literary and academic world. Newspapers carried stories of his conversion.

An example of this is the use of the number seven in the Bible. You will recall that seven is the number of divine or spiritual perfection. Let us take the number seven as an illustration of the way the numeric patterns of the Bible work. Seven is the most commonly used number in the Bible. The very first verse of the Bible “In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth” (Genesis 1:1), contains over 30 different combinations of seven. Creation was the work of God and we also read in Genesis (Genesis 1:31) that “God saw everything that he had made, and, behold, it was very good”. Was it very good? It was so good that it was divinely perfect which is why the letters in the words of Genesis 1:1 total a multiple of seven.

One other example is the use of the number eight. Eight is the number of new beginnings. It is also the number of the name Jesus. When we add together the letter values in Greek of the name Jesus we get 888. Three is the number of God, for God is a trinity. Eight is the number of new beginnings. That is what we have in Jesus, a new beginning with God.

Ivan Panin challenged nine noted skeptics and critics of the Bible to disprove even one of his conclusions. He did this through a letter to the editor of the New York Sun newspaper, on November 9, 1899. He called on them to publicly refute or disprove even a few of the facts he laid out in his letter. When challenged by name, four men made lame excuses as to why they would not accept Panin’s challenge. None of the others replied to his challenge. He later issued a challenge through the leading newspapers of the world, asking for anyone who did not believe the literal inspiration of the Bible to disprove any of his published conclusions. Not a single person accepted his challenge. He died at Aldershot, Ontario Canada on October 30th, 1942, aged 87. He died believing, no longer an atheist but a Believer in Christ.

Here I will close. I will give several hyperlinks that will take those interested to webpages where they can learn more about Panin and his work of 50 years studying the Bible. The following link will take you to a number of sites where you can learn more.

Read more…
one or two of the articles on Panin that are listed when the hyper-link is opened are critical of him. We should be open to hearing opinions different from our own. That is one way we can learn, by listening to those who have opinions contrary to ours. My grandfather said sometimes we may learn we were wrong and other times we will be strengthened in our beliefs by having to obtain proof of their truth. Even if we do not convince others, we will find our own views strengthened by having to get the evidence with which to defend our views. Therefore, while I suggest that you read articles that agree with Ivan Panin’s discoveries, you should not shy away from other viewpoints. Once you realize the truth and accuracy of his work and how he arrived at his conclusions, you will be well able to refute those few who claim his discoveries are not real but only made up.

The Lord is My Shepherd

In the beginning God created the heavens & the earth.
1) A psalm of David.
The Lord is my shepherd, I lack nothing.(shall not want)
HE makes me lie down in green pastures,
HE leads me beside quiet waters,
HE refreshes my soul.
HE guides me along the right paths (paths of righteousness)
for HIS Name’s sake.
Even though I walk
through the darkest valley,(or the valley of the shadow of death)
I will fear no evil,
for YOU are with me;
YOUR rod & YOUR staff,
they comfort me.
YOU prepare a table before me
in the presence of my enemies.
YOU anoint my head with oil;
my cup overflows.
Surely YOUR goodness & love will follow me
all the days of my life,
& I will dwell in the House of the Lord
forever.—This is probably the most loved Psalm of all time & also the most familiar. It is such a comfort that it often appears on the memorial card for even those who claim no religious affiliation. Let it sooth your soul.
Of David. A psalm.
2) The earth is the Lord’s, & everything in it,
the world, & all who live in it;
for HE founded it on the seas
& established it on the waters.
Who may ascend the mountain of the Lord?
Who may stand in HIS holy place?
The one who has clean hands & a pure heart,
who does not trust in an idol
or swear by a false god.(or swear falsely)
They will receive blessing from the Lord
& vindication from God their Savior.—This is another of my favorite Psalms. I’m sure the fact that I memorized it as about a 3rd or 4th grader impacted me. Also that we presented it as a “voice” choir at about that age celebrating Christian education.
3) Such is the generation of those who seek HIM,
who seek YOUR face, God of Jacob.(or…your face, Jacob) Selah
Lift up your heads, you gates;
be lifted up, you ancient doors,
that the King of glory may come in.
Who is this King of glory?
The Lord strong & mighty,
the Lord mighty in battle.
Lift up your heads, you gates;
lift them up, you ancient doors,
that the King of glory may come in.
Who is HE, this King of glory?
The Lord Almighty—
HE is the King of glory.—Later as a teen we sang this for (perhaps) the dedication of our new church in my home town.

Thank YOU Jesus, that YOU are “the Lord our Shepherd”, the “Good Shepherd”. That YOU lead us both by quiet waters & even when we pass through the Valley of the Shadow of Death. That YOU are the Lord strong & mighty; the Lord mighty in battle. May even the doors & gates around us praise YOU.

with Marylou Greene

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God created the Heavens & the Earth

In the beginning God created the heavens & the earth.
1) For the director of music. To the tune of “The Doe of the Morning.” A psalm of David.
My God, my God, why have YOU forsaken me?
Why are YOU so far from saving me,
so far from my cries of anguish?
My God, I cry out by day, but YOU do not answer,
by night, but I find no rest.(Or …night, & am not silent)
Yet YOU are enthroned as the Holy One;
YOU are the one Israel praises.(or Yet YOU
are holy, / enthroned on the praises of Israel)
In YOU our ancestors put their trust;
they trusted & YOU delivered them.
To YOU they cried out & were saved;
in YOU they trusted & were not put to shame.
But I am a worm & not a man,
scorned by everyone, despised by the people.
All who see me mock me;
they hurl insults, shaking their heads.
“He trusts in the Lord,” they say,
“let the Lord rescue him.
Let HIM deliver him,
since he delights in HIM.”
Yet YOU brought me out of the womb;
YOU made me trust in YOU, even at my mother’s breast.
From birth I was cast on YOU;
from my mother’s womb YOU have been my God.—This is one of many prophetic passages that has dual fulfillment. David is talking about himself, but Jesus quoted many portions of this Psalm referring to HIMself, most familiar is “My God, my God, why have YOU forsaken me?”Another is, ” All who see me mock me; they hurl insults, shaking their heads.
“He trusts in the Lord,” they say,
“let the Lord rescue him.
Let HIM deliver him,
since he delights in HIM.”
2) Do not be far from me,
for trouble is near
& there is no one to help.
Many bulls surround me;
strong bulls of Bashan encircle me.
Roaring lions that tear their prey
open their mouths wide against me.
I am poured out like water,
& all my bones are out of joint.
My heart has turned to wax;
it has melted within me.
My mouth (or strength) is dried up like a potsherd,
& my tongue sticks to the roof of my mouth;
YOU lay me in the dust of death.
Dogs surround me,
a pack of villains encircles me;
they pierce (like a lion) my hands & my feet.
All my bones are on display;
people stare & gloat over me.
They divide my clothes among them
& cast lots for my garment.
But YOU, Lord, do not be far from me.
YOU are my strength; come quickly to help me.
Deliver me from the sword,
my precious life from the power of the dogs.—David compares his enemies to wild animals (bulls, dogs, lions, oxen.) Again we see some quotes here that apply to Jesus on the cross (I am poured out like water, & all my bones are out of joint, My mouth (or strength) is dried up like a potsherd,
& my tongue sticks to the roof of my mouth; They divide my clothes among them & cast lots for my garment.)
3) Rescue me from the mouth of the lions;
save me from the horns of the wild oxen.
I will declare YOUR Name to my people;
in the assembly I will praise YOU.
You who fear the Lord, praise HIM!
All you descendants of Jacob, honor him!
Revere him, all you descendants of Israel!
For HE has not despised or scorned
the suffering of the afflicted one;
HE has not hidden HIS face from him
but has listened to his cry for help.
From YOU comes the theme of my praise in the great assembly;
before those who fear YOU (or HIM) I will fulfill my vows.
The poor will eat & be satisfied;
those who seek the Lord will praise HIM
in the assembly I will praise YOU.
may your hearts live forever!
All the ends of the earth
will remember & turn to the Lord,
& all the families of the nations
will bow down before HIM,
for dominion belongs to the Lord
& HE rules over the nations.
All the rich of the earth will feast & worship;
all who go down to the dust will kneel before HIM,
those who cannot keep themselves alive.
Posterity will serve HIM;
future generations will be told about the Lord.
They will proclaim HIS righteousness,
declaring to a people yet unborn:
HE has done it!–” I will declare YOUR Name to my people;” is another prophesy fulfilled by both David & Jesus. “They will proclaim HIS righteousness, declaring to a people yet unborn:” is fulfilled both by David & Jesus, plus every generation since Jesus’ death & resurrection.

Thank YOU Jesus, that YOU are the fulfillment of all Scripture pointing toward YOUR birth, life & resurrection. That there are 1,000s of prophesies about YOUR birth, life, death & resurrection. YOU brought it all to pass. There is salvation in no one but YOU!

with Marylou Greene

Spiritual Types and Symbols – Article Two

The first part available below. 

In my first article on the symbolism of numbers as used in the Bible, I said this next article would cover how numbers double as letters and what that means when studying the Bible. Before I do that, I thought it helpful to cover more ground on the symbolic use of numbers in the Bible.

Let us begin by studying the Tabernacle of Moses.

II Timothy 3:16 tells us that “All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness.”

Romans 15:4 says, “Whatever things were written before were written for our learning, that we through the patience and comfort of the Scriptures might have hope”.

There are other verses, in both Old Testament and in the New, that teach us that the things, everything, in the Old Testament is there for us to be taught and to learn from. Because they do not understand some of the things in the O.T., there are those who teach that it is does not apply to us today. They are wrong. Unless we are specifically told that something in the O.T. does not apply to Believers today, then we must follow those scriptures, like the two above, that tell us that everything in the Bible is there for us to learn from and that it is profitable for us.

1 Corinthians 10:11 tells us, “Now all these things happened to them as examples, and they were written for our admonition.”

What are some of those things and specifically how do numbers relate to them?

One example is in the arrangement of the camp of the Israelites when they camped in the Wilderness during their 40 year journey to the Promised Land.

Why specifically was it a 40 year journey? That is symbolic of the fact that they were being tried and tested and judged on that journey. Forty, remember, is a multiple of four, and four is the number of trial, testing and judgement.

But what of their encampment? When they camped they were commanded by God to place the Tabernacle of Moses in the center of their camp, with three tribes on each side of it. Three remember is the number of God. The tabernacle of course contained, among other things, the tablet with the Ten Commandments on it This table was in the Ark that was carried by the priests. The Ark symbolizes Jesus, for He Himself said that God’s word (the Ten Commandments) was hidden in His heart. The Ark was kept in the center of the camp. This tells us that Jesus is to be the center of our lives, just as the Ark of the Old Covenant was kept in the center of the Israelite encampment. The Ark was surrounded by various other sacred objects, each of which was kept from public view by curtains that surrounded it. Three tribes on each side of the curtained enclosure mean that God – for three is the number of God – surrounds each of us, as a part of His Church, protecting us. We are protected, of course, only as long as we remain in the will of God, staying close to Jesus. Likewise the Israelites were protected only as long as they stayed in their assigned places, both when marching and when settled in their camp.

Since the area of the Tabernacle was longer than it was wide, the Israelite camp was formed in the shape of a cross. The same form was there when they marched in formation. The Tabernacle had three parts, the Outer Court, the Holy Place, and the Holy of Holies. The only entrance to the Tabernacle was on its east side. Remember that Jesus said His return would be like lightening, flashing from east to west? This is typified by the entrance to the Tabernacle being on the side that faced east. The entrance way was through curtains supported by four posts or pillars. One thing the four pillars typify is the four gospels, which point us to Christ, telling us of His birth, His teaching and ministry and of His death in behalf of lost mankind. Since four is the number of judgement, trial, and testing, when we come to Jesus we must admit that God’s judgement on us is true, that like all mankind we have sinned and come short of the glory of God and that we are deserving of eternal damnation. To be saved we must repent of all the times we went our own way and did our own thing, even if it seemed good in our eyes.

Going our own way is God’s definition of sin. As we read in Isaiah 53:6, “All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned, every one, to his own way; and (or but) the Lord has laid on Him the iniquity of us all”. Once we recognize that going our own way is sin, then we must accept that only by giving our life to Jesus can we be saved. He died for us that we might live for Him. Since four is the number of trial and testing, the four pillars are also there to remind us that it is through much tribulation on our part that we enter the kingdom of God. Acts 14:22.

The Outer Court was surrounded by a high curtained fence, as has been said. It was too high for anyone to look over it. This tells us that the secret things of God are hidden from the understanding of the lost. Nor do we learn all the secret things of God upon entering the Outer Court, that is upon being saved. We are saved, but we still have much to learn. The door is open for us to learn and to get closer to God, but whether or not we will is up to us. There are degrees of reward in heaven, and what the reward we get is to be as close in relationship to God in heaven as we were on earth. Unfortunately, most people go no further than a salvation experience. If they go further it is usually due to their own efforts, for the typical church teaches no more than that. The Bible teaches that being born again is only the beginning, but today’s churches typically do not teach that there is anything for us beyond being born again. More unfortunately even than that, some no longer teach that we must be born again. All their emphasis is put upon what God can do for you. Listening to them, if we believed them, we would begin to think that God was our royal bell hop, waiting for us to summon Him and have Him do something for us, waiting for us to call on Him to wait upon us in some way.

It was said that the Tabernacle had three parts. Those parts were the Outer Court, the Holy Place, and the Holy of Holies. Those three parts symbolize the righteousness, peace and joy that Paul tells us of in Romans 14:17, where we read that “the kingdom of God is not eating and drinking, but righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit”. When we enter into the Outer Court, which is only thru the blood of the Lamb, we are then counted righteous, not because of our own goodness, of which we have none, but because of the righteousness of Jesus, who died for us, the righteous for the unrighteous, that we might be counted righteous in Him.

Whereas the three sections of the Tabernacle give us righteousness, peace and joy, they also stand for, first, the Way in which we should walk, second, the Truth by which we must live, and lastly the Life that we can have in Jesus. This is stated in John 14:6, where Jesus said, “I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life. No one comes to the Father except through Me”.

In the Outer Court we are forgiven and considered righteous by the sacrifice of Jesus, who died for us, as 2 Corinthians 5:21 tells us, “He (God the Father) made Him (Jesus) who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him”. In the Holy Place we gain peace, peace of mind and peace with God. The curtained doorway into the Holy Place is supported by five pillars. If you recall, five is the number of grace. It is the grace, the unearned divine goodness of God that allows us to enter the Holy Place. We enter recognizing the Truth that we stand against the enemy of our souls and against the temptations of the present world system only by the grace and goodness of God. We also enter realizing that we have, through the Holy Spirit, the power to overcome all that the enemy sends against us.

The third part of the Tabernacle is the Holy of Holies. All can enter in to the Holy of Holies, but only a few do. Those who enter find that God has become their very life and that feeling fills them with joy. For the Holy of Holies represents God becoming our very Life, our energizer and our Joy. Those who enter into the Holy of Holies are constantly filled with the joy of believing, the joy of knowing that God has become their all in all.

There are two objects in the Outer Court, these are a bronze altar and after it a bronze laver. The bronze altar of course represents sacrifice, the sacrifice of Jesus when He willingly died for our sins. After accepting Jesus sacrifice of Himself on our behalf, we next come to the bronze laver. This is a bronze pool filled with water. In the water we see our spiritual reflection. We see ourselves as we are, saved but in need of being changed into the likeness of Christ. We see ourselves as saved but still with sin in our lives. Sinful habits, thoughts, desires, all things that we must allow God to wash away from our lives. We cannot do that ourselves, but it is an easy thing for God to do.

When we enter the Holy Place, we must enter thru a door, and there is only one door into the Holy Place. This typifies Jesus, who said in John 10:9, “I am the door. If anyone enters by Me, he will be saved, and will go in and out and find pasture.” In the Holy Place there are again only two objects there. Those are a golden lampstand and a table with loaves of bread upon it. The lampstand represents the light of God which comes to us thru the Bible. Just as the Bible has 66 books, so the lampstand had 66 different parts to it. All of them were illuminated by the lamps, which is to remind us that only thru the enlightenment of the Holy Spirit can the Bible be understood. The Table of Shewbread is what the table with loaves on it was called. This represents the divine food that we get from the Bible thru revelation, the divine food that nourishes us spiritually. Remember that Jesus told us in Matthew 4:4, “Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds out of the mouth of God”.

Lastly, we enter the Holiest Place of All, or the Holy of Holies. This place has no natural light. It is lit up by the ever present glory of God, the visible glory of God, which is called the Shekinah Glory. Again, there are two visible objects in it. One is called the Altar of Incense, where incense burns continually. The ever burning incense represents the constant praise and worship which we can and should be sending up to God. The second object is the Ark, the box that the Israelites carried with them thru the Wilderness. In it was the stone tablet upon which were engraved the ten commandments, along with Moses rod that sprouted leaves and buds, and also a jar containing manna, the food supernaturally supplied by God, the food that the Israelites ate while journeying thru the Wilderness.

The Ark typifies Jesus. This is shown by the items within it. It has the ten commandments within it and Jesus said “Thy word, oh Lord, have I hid in my heart that I might not sin against Thee.” It has a jar of manna in it to remind us that Jesus is to be our spiritual food. That He will sustain us when nothing else can or will. In John 6:47-51, Jesus said, “Most assuredly, I say to you, he who believes in Me has everlasting life. I am the bread of life. Your fathers ate the manna in the wilderness, and are dead. This is the bread which comes down from heaven, that one may eat of it and not die. I am the living bread which came down from heaven. If anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever; and the bread that I shall give is My flesh, which I shall give for the life of the world.” The unbelieving Jews did not understand Jesus. Jesus had to explain even to His own disciples that what He meant was that they could only draw true nourishment thru Him and that it was spiritual nourishment that He meant.

There is more that could be said about the Tabernacle, but this much should suffice for now. Just remember, there is always more to be learned from the Bible.

See Jim’s Book below “Adam and Eve are Real.”


Spiritual Types and Symbols

There is so much more to the Bible than reading, understanding and following the
English rendering of the Hebrew and Greek scripture. When we read the Bible we know
we need to ask God to give us understanding of what we read. Some verses seem fairly
simple and to need no explanation. There is much in scripture however that does need
study and prayer before we feel we really understand it. Even then, we must remain
open in case we need further enlightenment. For example, Jesus tells us to love our
enemies and to do good to those who hate us. We must make a difference however
between those who hate us and those who hate God. Often an enemy of God may hate
us, but the reason they hate us is because they hate God whom we are trying to follow
and to serve. We are not to love those who hate God and we are not to help them. One
of many examples of this is Psalm 139:21, which says, “Do I not hate them, O Lord,
who hate You? And do I not loathe those who rise up against You?” Have you ever had
someone who seemed to hate you and you had no idea why? Did you try to treat them
well and yet they continued to act hatefully towards you. It could be that they hated you
only because they hated God and they took it out on you, seeing you as someone who
showed a love for God?

In addition to understanding the correct meaning of different verses and the true
meaning of what we read, there is something else that we must be aware of. This is that
there are a great deal of Types and Symbols used in the Bible. Sometimes a portion of
scripture even has both a literal and a symbolic meaning. An example of this is found in
Genesis, where we read of Creation occurring in six days, followed by a seventh day, a
day which is a day of rest.

Most of the writings of the leaders of the Early Church have been lost to us. (These men
are called the Fathers of the Early Church.) Those of their writings that are left to us, in
speaking of Creation, assure us that Creation occurred in six literal days. They then tell
us that though Creation was in six literal days, those six days are also symbolic of
something additional. Their writings inform us that those six days, while literal days, are
also each symbolic of a thousand years. In that regard, they remind us of the scriptures that tell us that a thousand years is as a day in the eyes of the Lord and a day is as a thousand years.

This is another thing we need to know about the Bible. That is that in the Bible numbers
have meaning. The way we know what a number means in the Bible is by looking at the
first time or two that it is used. If that does not tell us what the numbers symbolic
meaning is, then we should look at that numbers overall use in the Bible to learn what
its symbolic meaning is. For example, six is the number of man. The first mention of the
number six is in reference to the creation of man, for man was created on the sixth day.

Therefore, throughout the Bible when the number six is used we must look for some
connection with mankind. The first mention of the number seven is when we are told
that God rested from His work of Creation on the seventh day. The Early Church
Fathers said that this also means that the world will have rest from sin when six
thousand years have passed and the world enters its seventh day. The number seven is
first mentioned in connection with God’s Day of Rest. From this we see that seven is
symbolic of God’s rest after Creation. Since God saw His creation, that it was good, or
perfect, seven is sometimes called the number of Divine Perfection. When we see the
number seven used in the Bible, we need to look for its connection to God’s perfection
and to the perfection of all that He does. The meaning of numbers in the Bible is often
called Biblical Numerology.

Two is the number of unity. Jesus, when speaking of marriage, said that a man and his
wife become as one, a unity.

Three is the number of God, for God is a trinity.

Four is the number of judgement, of trial and of testing. God tries and tests Believers to
help us grow and become spiritually stronger and purer. Judgement causes some
people to repent. Those whose heart is set on wickedness however will be destroyed.

Five is the number of grace, of God’s favor and blessing.

Six is the number of mankind. It is the number of failure and sin. If someone asks why it
is the number of failure and sin, the answer is that six is the number of man, and man
without God is always sinful and a failure.

Seven, as has been said, is the number of Divine Perfection.

Eight is the number of New Beginnings, for after the seven thousand years of Creation
are up there will be a new beginning, with a new heaven and a new earth.

This is the basics of the meaning of numbers in the Bible. Most remaining numbers are
multiples of these already mentioned. A multiple of a number is simply the meaning of
that number increased to a greater degree. Forty, for example, being ten times four, is
simply judgement or testing to a greater or tenfold degree. The Israelites were tried in
the desert for forty years. Jesus was tried or tested for forty days in the wilderness.
Another way in which numbers are used in the Bible is that in the original languages of
Hebrew, Aramaic, and Greek, every letter doubles as a number. This means that when
you saw a letter, you were also seeing a number. That is why in Revelation 15:2, we
read of “those who have the victory over the beast, over his image and over his mark
and over the number of his name”. The number of his name is of course 666. Though
666 spells his name in Greek, it also represents both a man and all of rebellious
mankind setting themselves up in the place of God. This is how we understand 666, for
six is the number of man while three is the number of God. Thus three sixes represent
the Anti-christ wanting to be worshipped as God, thus putting himself in the place of
God.

Though in Greek the number of the name of the anti-Christ adds up to 666, we must
remember that though 666 is the spelling of his name, there are a number of names that
in Greek add up to 666. In the next article, I plan to write on letters doubling as numbers
and what that means when studying the Bible.

Dr. N. James Brooks Jr.


SCREAMING IN THE STREETS

People of Justice Proverbs 29:7, 31:8-9, 16:11, 21:3

SCREAMING IN THE STREETS: People of Justice Proverbs 29:7Open in Logos Bible Software (if available), 31:8-9Open in Logos Bible Software (if available), 16:11Open in Logos Bible Software (if available), 21:3Open in Logos Bible Software (if available)

The stories we tell as a culture, in many ways, shape the lives that we live. They shape the direction we go, they shape the values that we hold. It shouldn’t be any surprise to you that the same was true for the nation of Israel. The stories that they told and that God commanded them to tell and retell were intended to shape the lives that they lived. One of the most prominent stories that the Israelites told over and over and over again, both through festival and ritual and through direct command from God, was the story of their exodus from slavery. All over the pages of Scripture we find this command “Remember where you came from Israel.” Israel was under the mighty, oppressive hand of the Egyptians for 400 years. They were commanded to make bricks without straw; they were beaten down; they were oppressed, and God miraculously and mightily stepped in….and you may have seen Charlton Heston reenact it….but He stepped in and led them out of Egypt. He parted the Red Sea; they walked through it on dry ground. They wandered around in the desert for 40 years and God shaped them and formed them as a people, then eventually led them into the Promised Land. He gave them this command: Never forget where you’ve come from. Don’t forget what it’s like to be on the bottom as I bless you, God said. You are intended to be a people who bless those around you and don’t forget…don’t forget…don’t forget about the least vulnerable people. Remember, that’s who you were when I took you by the hand and I led you into freedom. In the book of Deuteronomy, it’s not unique and just one passage, we start to see this shine through. Speaking to the nation of Israel, God says: You shall not pervert the justice due to the sojourner (foreigner or immigrant) or to the fatherless, or take a widow’s garment in pledge, but you shall remember that you were a slave in Egypt and the Lord your God redeemed you from there; therefore I command you to do this. (Deut. 24:17-18Open in Logos Bible Software (if available)) This is a formative narrative for the people of God. Never forget where you’ve come from.

Why does God have to command Israel to remember? Because they’d forget. The same is true for you and me. It’s easy to forget where we’ve come from when we stand where we are. So he says to them, my nation, my people, my voice, my light, will be a people of justice. Not just a people who can serve you back, and not even to people who are part of your nation, but you’re going to be a unique people amongst all the people of the earth, because you’re going to do justice to the sojourner, to the fatherless, to the widowed, to the groups of people that everybody else takes advantage of. You’re going to be unique, Israel. Why? Because you remember what it’s like to be on the bottom. The hard part is….you forget. The hard part is we trend away from justice naturally because it typically doesn’t benefit us.

My oldest son has a strong sense of justice. So when it’s his birthday he expects to get presents….because that’s what’s right. But the thing is, he expects to get presents on everyone’s birthday! He’s going, “Why did Avery get that?” Well, because it’s her birthday. Well, what am I going to get? Why did Avery get to have that friend over? When is my friend coming over? Your friend’s been….he lives at our house, man! {Ethan} has a strong sense of justice through his own lens. Only when it benefits him does he want justice! {Will you look up at me for a second?} We never grow out of this. This is part of what it means to be human. We have this deep longing for justice in our souls. If you disagree with me, explain to me why we have CSI:Lincoln, NE?! We have twelve different versions of CSI…Crime Scene Investigators because we love justice. Nobody’s rooting for the bad guy who murdered all the people to get away. Have you ever wondered why that is? We’re all rooting for the person to get caught, for what’s right to be done. It’s the reason the podcast “Serial” was so compelling. Episode after episode. I’m going, “Well, is Adnan guilty or is he innocent and are you ever going to tell me?” The answer’s no, they’re never going to tell you. Spoiler alert—if you’re in the middle of it, you’re going to be disappointed….because you love justice, just like I do. It’s the same reason “Making a Murder” on Netflix was so wildly popular…because we love justice. We want things to be fair. We want things to be right.

I would consider this to be the image of God that’s stamped on the human soul. We want justice, we want right, because we’re made in the image of God. What sin does to us is it turns us and it fractures us. Instead of seeing justice as it is, we start to see it through our lens. We start to see it through the lens of….what benefits me? What serves me? What God says to his people all throughout the Scriptures is listen: He executes justice for the fatherless and the widow, and loves the sojourner (the immigrant, the wanderer, the person without a country to call their own), giving him food and clothing. Love the sojourner, therefore, for you were sojourners in the land of Egypt. (Deut. 10:18-19Open in Logos Bible Software (if available)) Don’t forget the story!! Don’t forget the bigger narrative that you’re a part of. I redeemed you, I rescued you, and you are to be a people who do the same.

As we see in this passage, justice is really, really, really important to God, because all people are important to God. That’s why it matters. That’s why it matters to God, that’s why it should matter to us as God’s people. Justice matters to God because all people matter to God. In our time together in the Scriptures this morning, we’re going to ask God to press on us a little bit, because, like I said, we start to see things strictly from our point of view and what benefits us. It’s not because we’re intentionally evil or we’re wrong, it’s because it’s part of our human condition. So let’s just admit this morning that we may have some blind spots. Maybe there are some things in our life that we don’t see, so we’re going to go to the Scriptures and we’re going to ask that God would open our eyes and that justice would matter to us because it matters to God. And that justice would matter to us because people matter to us. So even if it costs us something, let’s be people who pursue justice. [00:09:41]

You may be going, alright, Paulson, that’s great, but what is justice? There’s two words in the Hebrew scriptures that are typically translated ‘justice.’ They’re sort of like two sides of the same coin. The first word is the word “mishpat.” {mish-pawt} It’s used over 200 times in the Hebrew scriptures and it simply means “that which is equitable or fair.” To do what’s right. {So, you have this scale in your bulletin….and I understand that if I put all the good things on one side of the scale, it’s going to be uneven. I get it. The metaphor’s going to break down at some point, so we’re going to stack the justice things on one side and injustice on the other.} Equitability means that things are fair and that’s what mishpat means. But it’s more than just correcting wrongs. It’s both punishing the wrong doer, but more than that, it’s restoring the person who is wrong. All throughout the Scriptures, you see this word mishpat that carries with it this relational component…that the person who was taken advantage of is somehow made right again. That they’re made whole. So sometimes when justice is talked about in the Scriptures, the wrong doer, as it were, gets off, but the wronged is restored and God says that’s justice, that’s mishpat. It’s this idea that the wronged is made right and is restored.

We see this all throughout the Scriptures. It tends to focus, in the Old Testament, around Israel being the kind of people who have mishpat, or have justice, towards the people that everybody else takes advantage of. Deuteronomy 27:19Open in Logos Bible Software (if available) — Cursed by anyone who perverts the justice due to the sojourner, the fatherless, and widow. If you add “the poor” in there, what you have is what many people refer to as the quartet of the vulnerable. The people that everybody takes advantage of simply because they can. God says, no, no, not my people. They do justice or they’re right in their dealings with everybody.

The second word is similar. It’s the word “tzadeqah” (tsed-aw-kaw’). It means ‘righteousness.’ It means to treat others the way that you would want to be treated. It’s the type of thing where if everybody lived with tzadeqah, mishpat wouldn’t be necessary because people would be treated right. Here’s what God presses on his people. In fact, early on in the Scriptures, you see the calling over Abraham’s life is this — For I (God) have chosen him, that he may command his children and his household after him to keep the way of the Lord by doing righteousness (tzadeqah) and justice (mishpat). (Gen. 18:19Open in Logos Bible Software (if available)) It’s the first time the word ‘justice’ is used in the Scriptures and it’s tied together with this term ‘righteous.’ Living rightly in relationship to the people around you. Justice isn’t just this judicial ‘somebody’s wrong and somebody’s right.’ Justice is this relational ‘somebody’s broken and restored.’ That’s what’s at the heart of God when we talk about justice…..people who are fractured being made whole and being made right. So this righteousness is living in right relationship to God and to everyone around us, and mishpat is God stepping in and saying, “I’m going to right the wrongs and restore the broken and heal the hurting.” God says to you and I, “That’s really important to me and it should be really important to you too as my people.” He doesn’t mince words about this. It’s all over the pages of Scripture.

As I said, in your notes you see a scale. It’s a scale of justice. The book of Proverbs is going to take this idea of God’s justice and put it on the ground for us. The book of Proverbs is a book of wisdom literature, of short, little sayings that reflect the way God has designed the world to work. One of the ways that God’s designed and wired the world to work is that it would be fair, that it would be just, that it would be good. As his people, he presses on us and says this is not something you get to pray about. You hear me? We don’t get to pray about whether we want to be people of justice. We get to pray about HOW we’re people of justice, but we don’t get to bring this before the Lord and go, “God, do you want to be just?” He’ll come back, “Have you read my word?” This is something I’ve commanded my people from the beginning of time; that you would reflect my heart for all people. So as a follower of Jesus, this just in, you don’t get to pray about whether you care about justice. God cares about it and therefore, he calls his people to care about it. Richard Stearns, CEO of World Vision, says: “So often there’s a hole in our gospel when it comes to justice.” There’s a lack. There’s a lack of care, sometimes. There’s a lack of voice, sometimes. As we go to the Scriptures today, let’s go with the heart attitude that maybe, just maybe, there’s something that God may have for us. [00:15:46]

If you’ve been with us over the course of the summer as we’ve looked at the book of Proverbs, you know that after chapter 9, it turns into a potpourri of wisdom sayings. There’s not one single thread per chapter, or per section, there’s a number of themes that the author of Proverbs wants to draw out, but they’re scattered all over the book. We’re going to draw together this theme of justice and see the way it plays out over the course of this book of Proverbs. Proverbs 29:7Open in Logos Bible Software (if available). A righteous (tzadeqah) man knows the rights of the poor; a wicked man does not understand such knowledge. Other versions say a righteous man remembers the poor. Doesn’t just walk right by.

I was reminded of a story I read a while back — In January 12, 2007, a man by the name of Joshua Bell took his 3.5 million dollar violin and went and sat at the entrance of a subway in Washington, D.C. It was during rush hour and thousands of people walked by him as he played this beautiful instrument, in the way only a professional could, because that’s exactly what he was. He played for 45 minutes, six different pieces by Bach. At the end of the 45 minutes, he had $32 in his case. He had 20 people that had stopped, for just a short period of time. The most compelled was a child, who leaned in. The ironic part about it was that three days earlier, Joshua Bell sold out a stadium in Boston to play the same violin, the same songs, for the same amount of time…$100 a seat. Context matters. He had dressed like a homeless man to play the violin in the corner and people just walked right by him. Didn’t even notice him. Just in the background. Just noise.

I started to wonder how many people do I just walk by? How many people are in my background? How many people are just noise? The reason God tells his people to remember the rights of the poor is because it’s easy to forget. It’s easy to forget that if we perceive that people don’t add something to our life they don’t deserve something from us or the people around them, or they don’t hold or have value. But God says that in my kingdom things are different. Instead of ignorance….I don’t mean that in the sense that we are actively ignorant, I mean in the literal sense that we ignore things, we ignore people. Instead of that, God says my people are people of compassion. They see the foreigner, the fatherless, the widowed, and the poor and they care. In a book that is all about the Gospel, the book of Galatians, the apostle Paul slips in there what he longs to and hopes to do as he goes to visit the churches in Galatia. Listen to what he says: Only, they asked us to remember the poor… {In the midst of all this beautiful, marvelous, gospel proclamation….Paul says, the one thing I want to do when I’m on the ground, I need to remember the poor and he says…} …the very thing I was eager to do. (Gal. 2:10Open in Logos Bible Software (if available)) His preaching was accompanied by his living.

{Will you look up at me a moment?} I’m not, at least in this section, I’m not making a political statement. In fact, I think it’s way too easy to put our calling as a church on politicians. This is our calling as a people of God, not a politician’s calling. Our calling as a people of God is to remember the poor. Let’s not give somebody else the church’s job. This is our job. I think…..one of the reasons I absolutely love pastoring this church is because I think you guys do it in a real beautiful way. In the course of a given month, did you know that there would be over 425 people that come through our food bank to get food? Seventy to a hundred families every single week. We collect between 3,000 – 3,500 pounds of food every single week. This last year, we’ve hosted Family Promise four different times, because you are a church that says if there’s anything within our power to do, we want to provide a place for homeless people to sleep. We partnered with twelve other churches around the Denver area to open the doors of our church to 21 families, to 69 people, with over 100 volunteers (you guys) saying, “This matters to us.” We’ve been able to provide housing to those people four different times throughout the course of this year, because we believe that all people matter to God and therefore, all people matter to us. [00:21:58]

I love this picture of Jesus….when it would have been so easy for Jesus to be on his “mission” and miss the people, we see that your king is the kind of king who, when he sees the crowds, he doesn’t just walk by and he’s not so busy that he looks passed, but he actually sees them. When he saw the crowds, he had compassion for them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd. (Matt. 9:36Open in Logos Bible Software (if available)) Maybe the question back to God today is God, are there people in my life that I don’t see because of the position that they have? Are there people in my life that I just walk by that have become background noise? That you want me to see, that you see, God, and that you want me to see differently? Did you pray that prayer today? Did you ask him if there are people that you’re not seeing because of where they’re situated or what they lack? God says that my people are the kind of people who take note of the poor and we’ll see what they do in the light of that.

Proverbs 31:8-9Open in Logos Bible Software (if available) give us this next invitation to be people of justice. Open your mouth for the mute, {For people that don’t have a voice. God’s people are designed and intended to be a voice.} ..for the rights of all who are destitute. Open your mouth, judge righteously, defend the rights of the poor and needy. The tendency throughout all of history is to trend away from the poor, away from the needy, away from the oppressed, where the rich get richer and the poor get poorer. There’s never been a time—-unless people were intentional about saying that’s not who we’re going to be—-that it didn’t happen. So God’s says, “I want my people, when they start to see injustice, to not be people who remain silent, but to be people who raise their voice.” To be people who say something. Who, when they see something, they say something. So, it’s this movement from apathy to advocacy.

Let’s have a quick talk. We cannot raise our voice, if we have not first opened our ears. If we haven’t heard the stories of people who are oppressed and listened without a judgmental attitude. Or, if only you would have pulled up your boot straps. Or, if only you would have done what I’ve done. Listen, if they were in your situation, they may have done what you’ve done. But they’re not, they’re in their situation. Until we start to hear people’s stories and start to actually listen to people’s hearts, we will not be able to stand up and speak on their behalf. So before we speak, we’ve got to first listen. What if the church became known as a community where people listened to the stories of the broken? Instead of deciding whether or not we think that they were right or wrong or what they should have done, what if we opened our heart and listened? The tendency in all of us when we are in a system (and we are) that benefits us, it’s hard to see the way that it hurts others. That’s true of human nature, you guys. When we listen, what we start to do is we start to say there may be a different narrative going on that’s other than my own. You do know that’s possible, right? When we listen, we open ourselves up to go, okay, maybe the systems we’re in have some flaws. This just in—they’re designed by humans, they DO have flaws! They do!

How do we become the kind of people…..all throughout the Scriptures, God gives people power so that they would leverage their power for those who don’t have it. That’s the invitation of our God. You do know that Jesus is not down on power? You do know that Jesus is not down on influence? He’s not down on authority. He’s actually down on people in positions of power using the power to benefit themselves rather than to advocate for the people underneath them. You’re looking like you don’t believe me. Mark 10:42-45Open in Logos Bible Software (if available) — And Jesus called them to him and said to them, “You know that those who are considered rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their great ones exercise authority over them. But it shall not be so among you. But whoever would be great among you must be your servant, {See, Jesus isn’t down on power or greatness, he’s down on people of power using greatness to benefit themselves rather than those around them.} and whoever would be first among you must be slave of all. {The narrative came in again—don’t forget where you’ve come from.} For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.” Silence isn’t an option. Richard Stearns, again, said: “A church that’s lost its voice for justice is a church that’s lost its relevance in the world.” Elie Wiesel, Jewish author and concentration camp survivor, said: “There may be times when we are powerless to prevent injustice, but there must never be a time when we fail to protest.”

Let’s be honest, guys, as a Church, capital “C” Church, we’ve got a checkered past. I’m going to be an equal-opportunity offender today. We have a checkered past. In Great Britain in 1787, William Wilberforce and his friends started to speak out about slavery in Great Britain. In 1807, they passed the Slave Trade Act that dramatically limited the way that they were able to not only obtain slaves, but for the rightful treatment of slaves. In 1833, that same group abolished slavery in Great Britain. They were holding their Bible in their hand while they did it. Praise be to God! At the same time, on the other side of the Pond, we had people in the United States going, “No, no, God’s for slavery, God wants slavery…” What happened was people that were greedy and needed a system that would perpetuate itself based on free labor, because they wanted to line their pocketbooks, neglected the invitation from God to value all people. They were blinded and they were greedy and it drove them to do things that we would say were wrong or evil. Oftentimes the Church was silent. That’s what prompted Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. to say: “In the end, we will remember not the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends.”

It got me thinking, what are the issues that need the Church’s voice today? We saw one of them last weekend on full display. The issue of racism needs the Church’s voice. It does. It needs us to say that all people are created equal, that the ground is level at the foot of the cross. Nobody is better or worse because of the color of their skin. It needs the Church to rise up and say, what happened in Charlottesville is symptomatic of what’s in all of us, not just a unique thing that happened one weekend, because a statue was removed. The removal of a statue didn’t create a monster, it revealed it. As a church we need to go, “No, no, there’s a better way. His name is Jesus.” We need to say something about racism.

Did you know that there’s 45.8 million slaves in the world today? Here’s the deal, you guys. Even as I say that—-I had lunch with Dr. Jeff Brodsky, JOY International, this week—-I’ve got stories in my mind. It’s such a huge number that it feels insurmountable. Will you pray about what you and we can do to say with our voice, THAT’S. NOT. OK! I’m not okay with people being treated like that. We believe that justice matters to God because all people matter to God, and we want to be the kind of church that advocates and says yes, we believe that’s true, not only with our mouths, but with our lives.

The issue of abortion. Talk about someone who has no voice. In a room this size, I know that some of you have walked through abortion, you’ve walked through that pain. One, I want you to know that you are welcomed here and loved here. We want you here. We also need to say that our position is that life begins at conception. God cares about all people and God cares about those babies; the one million babies that are aborted annually here in the United States. How do we become the type of church, the type of community, that says no, no, no, these things MATTER to us? We can’t just turn a blind eye. So we choose advocacy instead of apathy.

Proverbs 16:11Open in Logos Bible Software (if available) goes on to describe another scene — A just balance and scales are the Lord’s; all the weights in the bag are his work. Proverbs 20:23Open in Logos Bible Software (if available) — Unequal weights are an abomination to the Lord, and false scales are not good. Here’s the picture — If you were selling goods, before 600 B.C. when they developed coinage, you did it by weights. Some people would have a stone on one side of the scale and then put goods on the other side of the scale, but depending on who they saw coming to their business, they would use a different stone. Ironically, if they saw somebody rich coming, they would use the lighter weight so they could give a better deal if you were buying. WHY? Why would you do that? Because you can. Because the poor people didn’t have a voice to stand up and say hey look, can we remeasure? What about that rock behind your table? All throughout the Scriptures, God talks about his scales; the people who use scales and represent Him and carry His name use equal scales. They don’t have one measure for some people and a different one for others. They operate with tzadeqah, righteousness, rightness. They operate with integrity instead of exploitation.

Exploitation is simply taking advantage of somebody because you can. Because you’re in a position of power or authority where the person underneath you doesn’t have a voice. You can rip them off because they don’t have a place to raise their hand and go, “Hey, are you sure that’s how much I should get for working in this factory all day?” The implications for us as people that value right scales are huge, are they not? I’ll admit it…..ALMOST so big that we don’t know where to start. Here’s the thing, if you start being a person that cares about scales, as it were, you’re going to pay more. It’s going to cost you financially…..because you’re going to go, “I might not be able to shop there anymore, because they don’t pay their workers right.” I might not be able to go there….it’s going to cost you financially. Make no mistake about it, it will! You can find out where your clothes are made, and whether or not the farmers who grew the food that goes onto your table got paid a fair wage. You can find out. One of the changes we’ve made at Solid Grounds is that now we’re working with a direct trade source for our coffee. It’s better than fair trade because fair trade gives a fair wage, but direct trade means that the buyers are in direct contact with the farmers and we KNOW that they are helping women who are downtrodden and in need (especially in Uganda). Are we going to pay a little bit more? Yep. Is it worth it? It is to me. It’ll cost you financially. It’ll cost you relationally because you’re going to have people who stand up and say, “I don’t see it that way. I’m not sure I agree with you.” That has to be between them and the Lord. It’s integrity versus exploitation. [00:37:03]

And finally we’ll land the plane here. The book of Proverbs (21:3) says — To do righteousness and justice (mishpat and tzadeqah) is more acceptable to the Lord than sacrifice. Here’s what’s going on. What the author of Proverbs just did is attacked and, in some ways, supplanted an entire religious system that was based around when we offer these sacrifices for sin, when we offer these sacrifices for thanksgiving, when we offer THESE sacrifices we are then in right relationship with God. What the book of Proverbs says is whoa, whoa, whoa, hold it there! If you’re not a type of person who does what’s right (righteousness) to the people around you, and you’re not a person who cares about what’s fair and you don’t advocate for people who don’t have a voice, and you use your power to get up one more rung on the ladder, but you sacrifice……..He goes are you kidding me?!! The prophet Amos (5:21-24) says it more strongly, recording God’s words —- I hate, {and just in case you think I stuttered..} I despise your feasts, and I take no delight in your solemn assemblies. Even though you offer me your burnt offerings and grain offerings, I will not accept them; and the peace offerings of your fattened animals, I will not look upon them. Take away from me the noise of your songs; to the melody of your harps I will not listen. {You get this picture of God up in heaven and as his church gathers to worship and doesn’t care about justice he’s going, “La-la-la-la!” But, but, but……} But let justice roll down like waters, and righteousness like an ever-flowing stream. He’s going listen, if you’re not going to be people who care about the foreigner, the fatherless, the widow, and the poor then don’t come into my house and sing songs about how great I am. I care about those people and I’ve commissioned my body to be a body who cares about those people. As we look at justice, what we find out is that what God is looking for is surrender not singing. He’s not just looking for people that would go through the motions of ritual, but ignore the people that he says I care about.

Matthew 22:37-39Open in Logos Bible Software (if available), Jesus is asked what the greatest commandment is and he responds by saying — You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. {But he goes, I can’t just leave it at one, lest you think you could come to worship and that that would be the end of the game. Jesus says, no, no, no, no, no, the second is like it. It’s from the same place. It carries the same DNA. It’s of the same origin.} ….You shall love your neighbor as yourself. Look up at me for a moment. God never, never divides, in the Scriptures, loving Him and loving others. It’s always vertical and it’s always horizontal, throughout all of the Scriptures. This is God’s call for God’s people. If you’re going, “Hey, Paulson, sounds like a social gospel to me,” I would say to you if the gospel doesn’t have social implications, it doesn’t sound like the gospel. It doesn’t sound like the gospel Jesus preached and lived. It certainly doesn’t sound like the gospel the apostles preached and lived. It doesn’t sound like the gospel that I read about in our Scriptures where God says absolutely do I care about your soul so much that I’m going to give my own Son that you might be redeemed, that you might be made whole, that you might be forgiven, that you might be made right with God, that you would then therefore be like a city on a hill whose light shines. That you would be a people who do justice, who love mercy, and who walk humbly with your God. The mantra of the church from the very beginning is there is no difference between Jew or Greek, slave or free, male or female, but we are all one in Christ. Anybody who comes to Christ comes saying, “I am broken and I am in need!”

The beauty of this all is—-as we see these scales in our bulletin—-the beautiful picture of what the gospel does. It doesn’t extinguish or wipe out the scales; what we see is that the cross overshadows the scales. Here’s what we remember in the cross — that we were in slavery and he’s brought us out. That’s our story too. He’s moved us from darkness into light. In the cross we remember that we are better than absolutely no one. The only way we get in is being broken and destitute and receiving the grace of God that’s ours because of the work of Christ. In the cross we remember that we were loved when we were God’s enemies and we’re given the ability by his Spirit to love ours (enemies). In the cross, what we see is that God’s mercy and his justice kiss. Friends, we are people of that cross. Not in a way that extinguishes the scales of justice, but in a way that empowers us to be people loved deeply by God, knowing that we got more than we deserved, that we’ve been freed, and therefore, we say we’re going to be people who use our voice for the oppressed. We’re going to be people who open our eyes and do our best {please, Lord} not to just walk by. We’re going to say integrity’s important to us. It’s hard in a global economy, but integrity is important to us because it’s important to God. And by no means do we want our worship to end with our singing, but we want it to be demonstrated through our lives.

In 1959, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. gave the commencement speech at Morehouse College. In that speech, he began with the story of Rip Van Winkle. Rip Van Winkle had climbed up to the top of a mountain and he’d fallen asleep for twenty years. {Sounds sorta good some days, doesn’t it?!} Here’s what Dr. King says — “And this reveals to us that the most striking thing about the story of Rip Van Winkle is not merely that Rip slept twenty years, but that he slept through a revolution. {He woke up and a different person was in charge.} And one of the great liabilities of life is that all too many people find themselves living amid a great period of social change, and yet they fail to develop the new attitudes, the new mental responses, that the new situation demands. They end up sleeping through a revolution.” Friends, I believe that we’re at a significant point for us as a country. The question for this church, for our church, for God’s Church is are we going to sleep through this revolution or will we join in? Let’s pray.

Good God, we know, we trust, based on your character and based on Scriptures, that justice matters to you because people matter to you. We’re here to say we don’t just want to sing worship songs to you, we want to live lives of worship along with you. That you would empower us to be a voice. That you would empower us to carry your name. That you would empower us to demonstrate your love. That even if we benefit from systems that are wrong, that we would have enough integrity to stand up and say so. That we’d have eyes to see people that maybe we walk pass. That we would have a voice to raise on behalf of people that don’t have a voice for themselves. May we be people who remember our story, and may that story shape the lives that we live. That we’ve been rescued and we want to live it. It’s in your name, Jesus, that we pray. Amen.

This is a reprint from Pastor Ryan Paulson of South Fellowship in Littleton, CO.

Gentle as a DOVE

Matthew 10:16
Behold, I send you forth as sheep in the midst of wolves: be ye therefore wise as serpents, and harmless as doves.

When the Shepherd spoke in parables, the people often heard the story. They understood His words, as if he’d spoken them directly. Today, as we watch events happening around the world, Christians foresee eternity with a different scope.

I remember the night I realized my mother was not going to survive cancer. I’d been working and rushing through my work to spend time with her, and she’d begged me to just stop working and come sit with her.  That moment, the one where I sat down and heard her voice, the glimpse of the future that had washed over me as I sat there holding her hand, reminded me that I am not in control.

There’s a greater being, bigger than me, who controls the universe and as much as I wanted that night to last forever… I knew it was in His hands.

I heard parables that night, about so many things… Many of them I’d heard throughout my lifetime.  But this one, keeps coming back to me.

Like sheep

Psalm 78:52
But made his own people to go forth like sheep, and guided them in the wilderness like a flock.

53 And he led them on safely, so that they feared not: but the sea overwhelmed their enemies.

54 And he brought them to the border of his sanctuary, even to this mountain, which his right hand had purchased.

55 He cast out the heathen also before them, and divided them an inheritance by line, and made the tribes of Israel to dwell in their tents.

The story that kept weighing on my heart, and needed desperately to be told, was found in Psalm 78, where God shared parables of dark days to come, and allowed the light to shine through those stories of darkness. His light. Shown forth. Brought glory. In our darkest hour, we’re brought forth to the light, by God’s guiding hand. And God protects us.

That’s what the parable said to me. That’s what God’s word revealed.

I’d hung back, waiting for a message. And it was there all along. I struggled through seven years of not knowing, wishing there was something more that I could cling to… Until there wasn’t. There was nothing I could cling to, and mourning wasn’t my thing. I knew, if I’d known anything at all, that I wasn’t to mourn, but to celebrate the life. I was to celebrate the joy of knowing that Mom’s passing had been directly into the arms of God.

And there it was, in the parable she’d mentioned that night.

I have to share that I don’t believe she shared the parable meaning to tell me anything. She was sharing a story she’d shared with me a million times before, and each time something in the story changed. She’d raised a lamb from birth, because the mother rejected the lamb. Her uncle had given her the lamb, she named Lambie, and she bottle fed that lamb and cared for it until it was old enough to butcher.

Gentle as a DOVE

Doves on my window sill have been a symbol of rightness to me. In every home I’ve lived, a pair of doves lived nearby. I remember moving from the apartment when mom passed away, into a house where my family lived for several years.

It didn’t feel right.

We’d moved in December, and there were no doves. In fact, there were no birds. I remember the first picture I took in the house had an image I couldn’t explain, and for days I felt something was missing. I’d never experienced such a vacancy in my heart before that. I felt as if we’d moved into the wrong house.

In early February, before the snow had stopped falling I’d opened my window for some air, and I heard them… A pair of doves had taken up residence in a tree in front of our home.

He led them on safely…

In the parable mom had shared, she kept talking about safety, and reminding me that we would be cared for. The reason she’d shared the story to begin with had been to reassure me, that her passing wouldn’t be a warning, but rather a reveal of future blessings that would rain down. The parable had many phrases that talked of safety and assurance.

  • The sea overwhelmed their enemies…
  • He brought them to the border of His sanctuary…
  • He’d bought them a mountain…
  • He’d cast out the heathen before them…
  • And He divided them an inheritance…

There was much more in the Psalm, and over the seven years, I’ve experienced much that had little to do with God’s provision, and everything to do with lessons God allows us to learn. But there’s so much more…

Because in the end of the Psalm, the parable reveals that David is chosen, and God feeds them, and provides an inheritance.

In the depths of our pain, in our deepest sorrow, God reveals His promises.

I’m not a preacher. I’m not even really a Bible Scholar. I read the Bible and study it, and I often find wisdom and power in the Word. More often, I find sanctity, sanity, and simple instruction for my Faith in Him. I’m led to His promises.

As I studied today in Matthew 10, I was reminded of the parable, and mom’s gentle as a dove warning to “stay alert” in the days to come. I don’t believe she had any idea what was coming politically in our country. But I do believe the parable she shared is relevant in these times as God’s promises are given for moment such as these.

And I was reminded to be wise as serpents and harmless as a dove.

Listen for the doves, my friends. Listen for the dove.

#DOVE #wisdom #warning

Proverbs 31 Woman in Action

This is Jan Verhoeff, and I’m co-authoring a book with fellow business connoisseur and startups master, Kevin Cullis, and during a recent discussion, he asked me to write a segment about “the art of womanliness in business.” Following is a short portion of the book – the reveal of the study portion – I’m using as insight for my writing. I thought you might enjoy it.

* * *

I can hear the masses roaring with laughter here, as I consider the concept Kevin Cullis has asked me to write about… The Art of Womanliness in Business. If you know me, this concept may bring you to immediate tears or, it may send shock waves through your body at the very idea. But I do have a perspective on this model that may surprise a few of you, or disgust others. Either way, I’m diving in…

Before I go to my personal views on the matter, let me head you off at the pass with a glimpse of the Biblical Profile of a woman.

Yeah, that trusty old Proverbs 31 woman works every single time… And I’m going there.

Let’s go straight to the basis, with details from the King James Version – because that’s what I prefer to study.

King Lemuel speaks these words as he was taught by his mother. I don’t recall any discussion in the Bible about King Lemuel’s father, whether he has a living one, or was raised with a father or not, although the conceptual husband is mentioned in this passage. But he has a very wise and understanding mother, who raised him and taught him well the value of a good woman.

She tells him, according to verse 2 “Give not thy strength unto women, nor thy ways to that which destroyeth kings.” Then she further reminds him that men should not to partake of strong drink, or wine, because they might forget the law, or endanger themselves with perversion.

Her wisdom appeals to the strength of a good man, one she esteems and respects, for she knows exactly how he was raised, she raised him herself. And he took well her counsel, carried it through his life and shared it as we have seen in these words.

virtuous womanThen, he offers an excuse for those who might deserve strong drink. Those who are at the end of their lives, or those who are impoverished, sad, and indisposed of life, as they should be allowed to forget their troubles.

King Lemuel asks, “Who can find a virtuous woman?” And he places the value of a good woman above gemstones, rubies. He values women. Particularly obvious here, he values his mother, a woman who can be trusted by her husband.

If King Lemuel had a living father, he proposes that his father can trust his mother, the woman who gave him birth. And he goes further to extol the virtuous woman, who will do good and not evil all the days of her life. (Let it be known here, that she raised her husband’s son to be King, to carry on the family name in a virtuous and profitable manner.)

King Lemuel acknowledges that his mother considers the fields. She visits the fields, assesses their value, and purchases the fields. Then, with the fruit of her own hands, she plants vineyards. She is a strong, capable woman, who builds her own strength and obviously takes good physical care of herself. She gathers food, provides meat for her family, and for her maidens. She’s obviously a hunter when she needs to provide food.

The story continues, revealing her ability to work hard, creating product, services, and merchandise which she sells to provide wealth for her family. She works long hard hours, for her candle remains lit into the night, and she arises early in the morning. This woman who raised King Lemuel offers help to the needy, and provides well for her family. She fears not the winter, for her family is well dressed in scarlet. For herself, she is adorned in tapestry, silk and purple.

Her husband is well known at the gates of the city. He’s perhaps a political figure as well? A wealthy man, capable of leadership, and he is well known by the elders in the community. (Presumably by this portion of the passage, King Lemuel has a living father.)

This woman, the mother of King Lemuel, makes fine linen. She’s known to be honorable, strong, and wise. Wisdom comes from her lips, and she speaks the law in kindness. Her gentle voice resounds through the community as she is heard by her people. She is not idle. Her children rise up and call her blessed. Her daughters are virtuous and excel in their lives as well.

This woman doesn’t have to extol her own virtues, for she is known at the gates of the city for her wares, her fruits, and her wisdom. She is a woman of virtue, celebrated by many.

The Proverbs 31 woman is a woman of means, of business, of professionalism, and mostly of wisdom. She’s educated and wise. Men who know her appreciate and extol her value, they look to her for wisdom, and she leads her children, her maidens, and her household to levels of wealth and success celebrated by others.

Are you a Proverbs 31 woman?

Do you know Proverbs 31 women?

Please do take a moment and share your stories below. I’d love to hear more about virtuous women who model the Proverbs 31 woman’s lifestyle.

The Great Tribulation

I’ve been thinking a bit lately about how close we are to the period of time referred to as “The Great Tribulation”. I believe that, during this 7 year period of time, we will see the earth revert back to the time of Judges in our relationship with God. You see, we are told that “He that letteth with let, until He be taken out of the way. And, then shall that wicked be revealed…….”

This is a representation of the Holy Spirit in the church. When the church is raptured (taken out of the way), the antichrist will be revealed and the tribulation will begin. When that happens, there will be no further Christian leadership on the earth. The Holy Spirit will not work through Christians in guiding others to the Lord, as He does now, and this is why I believe the Lord will speak to those remaining on the earth through Judges sent to guide and lead folks to the Lord, before it is too late, and the Lord returns in final judgement.

Because of that, I believe it is every Christians’ duty to review and study Judges to see how things might be during the tribulation. It will be far worse than anything in Judges, and the calamities will all be of Biblical proportion. Persecution of those who accept the Lord as Truth, during this time, will be severe, and most will have to starve or be beheaded, should they refuse to accept the Mark of the Beast.

So, I am going to do another teaching on the Book of Judges, and invite you all to join. I am posting the introduction at the end of these comments and, depending on how many of you decide to join me, I will cover a chapter a week, and take questions and comments.

There is one exception: If anyone begins to become belligerent or post inappropriate comments, I will simply delete the comments and block them from the teaching page.

Judges can teach us many thing about how to live, how to remain committed to our beliefs, and how to prepare for those things to come. The main thing we can do is to pass along this wisdom to our family and friends. Even if they do not accept the Lord in time to make the rapture, they will be better prepared to handle those things to come. There are some amazing stories in Judges. Most folks know about these heroes of the Bible, but some are far less known than others. For example:

The third Judge, Shamgar, is mentioned very little, so we know very little about him. There’s only one verse devoted to him in Judges, and just a mention of him in the song of Deborah (who was the first and only woman Judge).

After him the [third judge] was Shamgar the son of Anath, which slew of the Philistines six hundred men with an ox goad: he also delivered Israel.

The ox goad was a pole, about 8 foot long, that had a sharp metal end, with which they would prod the oxen, as the oxen were plowing. This was to keep them going. Some of these ox goads were as much as 6 inches thick. It would take a pretty strong man to wield one of those ox goads. This guy did it. With it, he killed six hundred of their perennial enemies, the Philistines.

Later, we will see that Samson killed 1,000 Philistines with the jawbone of an ass. This guy was of the same style as Samson, even though we get little information about him. We know his name is Shamgar, and we can see he is an interesting character. He is strong, and God used him to deliver Israel. Too bad we don’t know more about him. He was special, because God called him and used him.

2017 – Book of Judges

In the history of Israel, and the Middle East, many of the kings followed the pagan practice of offering children as live sacrifices to the pagan gods. I fear for our nation, because we have made such a strong move in that direction. With the kings of Israel, like Menessah, it all began with his walking in the ways of the kings of Israel, making these molten images for Baalim.

Man has always found himself worshipping the sexual body. With some of the rituals associated with such worship, the result was unwanted pregnancies. The sexual reproductive worship was practiced as the worship of Ashorem. The sacrifice of the unwanted children was done to Molech. This is all very similar to how premarital sex has become an accepted practice today, and abortions are the mechanism to rid the unwanted pregnancies. In our time, we have seen a tremendous liberalizing of our attitudes towards sexual relationships. We now sacrifice the unwanted pregnancies to the god of Molech. We call abortion the more humane way, because the child is destroyed while it is still in the womb being formed. We don’t give it the opportunity of ever being born, as though it is less sinful then, than it would be later. I cannot be convinced of that, and I believe that this nation will have to answer to God for this worship of Molech.

He offered his own children unto the pagan god, Molech, the god of pleasure. Burning his own children alive was meant to somehow show devotion and love unto Molech. This was their form of abortion in those days. Whenever you open the door to pornography, and man’s passions, and sensual desires are aroused, you then have that pressure towards promiscuous sexual relationships. It follows a pattern, and promiscuous sexual relationships lead to unwanted pregnancies. Unwanted pregnancies lead to pressure for abortion, or the getting rid of the product. In those days, they had not the sciences of abortion, as we have today, thus they would bear the child, but then they would take the baby and place it alive, in the fire.

They’d burn it, cremate it.

Our courts opened the doors for pornography, when the Supreme Court said that they were unable to define obscenity. Because it was an indefinable term, it was the result of the influence of existential philosophy. Existential philosophies declare that there are no absolutes, what may be obscene to me may not be obscene to you. If there are no universal morals, or universal standards, then you cannot have a true definition of obscene. So, the court, buying into the existential philosophy, declared “We cannot define what is obscene”.

Their inability to define obscene, opened the door to all types of sex magazines with explicit types of sexual pictures, designed for the purpose of arousing and inflaming a man’s passions, stirring a person in a sensual way. When someone gets involved in pornography, there is a satanic force and power that gets hold of them. It is the worship of a pagan god! In the old days, they called it Ashorem. Paul said, “They that sacrifice to these idols, are actually sacrificing to demons”. When you start getting into these things, a demonic hold comes upon your life, and you develop a desire for more and more. Soon, just a female form standing there nude isn’t enough. You begin to search for something that is a little more tantalizing, and enticing, and arousing. The pornography becomes worse, and it deepens its hold on your life, until you become a slave to it. At that point, you are led into all types of perverted sex, for any sex outside of a commitment within a marriage vow, is perverted sex. Pornography is a perversion of God’s intention for the purpose of giving to us the capacity of sex, and giving to us the enjoyment of sex, and giving to us sexual drives. God gave this to us for the purpose of creation of a beautiful intimacy between two persons who have committed their lives to each other. “For this cause a man shall leave his mother and father, and cleave to his wife, and they two become one flesh.” God’s purpose, God’s design, is to create a beautiful unity, an oneness, to create total intimacy between the two in a sacred relationship. Homosexual and lesbian relationships are a perversion of what God intended. Any use, outside of that God intended purpose of the bond, and intimacy of marriage, is a perversion! That leads to unwanted pregnancies.

The next thing the courts decided was that anything that consenting adults wanted to do was alright. They obliterated all of our laws against adultery and against homosexuality. They got rid of all of those laws, meaning anything that consenting adults want to do is permissible. Suddenly, we began to have hundreds of thousands of unwanted pregnancies. The court was then obligated to rule that abortion is okay, if a woman desires it. And we began to sacrifice our children to the fires of Molech. Millions of babies each year, in the United States alone, have been sacrificed on the altars of Molech. For this, God brought the nation of Israel into judgment. For this, God brought the heathen nations into judgment. For this, God will surely bring the United States, and our world in which we live today, into judgment.

You cannot just go on continually defying the laws of God, and thinking that you’re not going to have to pay! There’s a price for this kind of licentiousness, as this nation will surely discover. “He caused his children to pass through the fire.”

Now, with that said, I believe that we are indeed living in the last days. There are no events remaining, which have to occur, before the Rapture of the church and the beginning of the Tribulation period. During the Tribulation period, I believe we will see the world, especially Israel and the Middle East, fall back into the time of the Judges of Israel. In fact, we are told that there will be “two witnesses”, who will prophesy for 1,260 days, before being slain in the street. They will have their bodies remain in the streets for 3 ½ days, and we are told that “those who dwell on the earth will rejoice over them, make merry, and send gifts to one another, because these two prophets tormented those who dwell on the earth.”

After the 3 ½ days, they will rise and ascend into Heaven in a cloud while the world watches. I believe these two are actually Elijah and Enoch, because they both went to Heaven without tasting death, and I believe their role is similar to the role played by both the prophets and the judges of the Old Testament. At this time, the “time of the Gentiles” will be over, and the Jewish folks will have their eyes opened to the true Messiah, Jesus. These two men will be here to witness to the world, and specifically to the Jewish nation, of the fact that they rejected the one true Messiah in Jesus, and bring them into repentance and acceptance of their error.

So, because there is coming a return to the times of the Judges, I felt it appropriate to again provide teaching notes on the book of Judges, for anyone who wants to take the time to read them. I did this last year and it began well, but folks fell off, as other things in their lives kept them from the study. I will set up a group called “Judges-2017” and open it to anyone who wants to let me know they have an interest. That way, if you miss one of the chapter teachings, or fall behind, you can go to that group and read the notes on your own schedule. I know you will find a study through the Book of Judges not only informative, but satisfying.

The book of Judges covers the historic period of the nation of Israel from the time of the death of Joshua, to the beginning of the rule of the kings of Israel. We don’t know just how long a period of time that God actually used judges, but most scholars agree that the period of time was between 300 and 400 years.

During this period of history in Israel, there were thirteen different judges, who God raised up in those times of spiritual weakness. When God raised up each judge, Israel would see spiritual revival. During the time of spiritual revival, God would give Israel victory over their enemies. Eventually, each time, the revival would fade, the folks would turn to false gods, and the nation of Israel would fall into captivity. You can see that the nation of Israel was in a bit of a roller coaster ride, because there were 13 judges. This means there were 13 revivals, 13 falls into sin, 13 periods of captivity, and 13 periods of deliverance from the oppression of the enemy. There are vast and valuable lessons to be learned from the book of Judges. I plan to cover each chapter in Judges, one lesson at a time, so that we can all see some of the valuable lessons to be learned from this period of history in Israel.

For those of you who are students, or regular readers of the Bible, you will recall that the book of Joshua began with the words “Now after the death of Moses.” The book of Judges begins much in the same way, with the words “Now after the death of Joshua”.

It is interesting that the book of Judges does not follow a precise chronological order. It begins with the words “After the death of Joshua”, but the death of Joshua is actually recorded in Chapter 2. It also goes back to pick up a little of the book of Joshua, including Caleb’s capture of the city of Hebron.

I invite any and all of you to simply request to join the Facebook page “Judges-2017”. I will also post my teaching notes on each chapter on my regular page, but I would encourage you to go to the group page to post regular discussion on each of the lessons, including questions about the text. I will attempt to answer to the best of my ability and knowledge.

Anyway, I will create the page tonight, and will add any and all who wish to join over the next week or so. Then, we can do a chapter a week for 21 weeks, or work and a slower or faster rate, as desired by the group.

Just my invitation to share my thoughts in a 2017 study of the Book of Judges!

Just my thoughts!
Don D. Stephens

Historically Speaking

History teaches us that, when times get tough, we call upon the Lord. He hears us, blesses us, and we prosper. With the prosperity, we begin to find other things that take up our time, and God becomes secondary to our lives. Soon, we are actively worshiping things, creating our own idols, and our hearts forget our God. Because we turn from Him He turns from us, and we begin to seek our own destruction. At some point, we reach the bottom, and we again begin to seek God. And, each time, He answers and reminds us of the simple truth that only He is the true God, and only He can bless us. Then, sadly, we begin the cycle again.

The Bible tells a similar story of the History of Israel. They followed the same process, and because of their failure to maintain their faith, they failed, time and time again. In fact, the Book of Judges details their failings, with God sending judges to bring them back out of captivity 13 separate times, only to have them fail, fall back into captivity, and revert back to God to save them.
Food For Thought
Come on folks, wake up!

Just my thoughts!
Don D. Stephens