Tuesday, January 17, 2017

The Chosen People Chosen to Bless All People (Lost Sheep Series)

  Was Jesus sent only to the Lost Sheep of Israel, as He said? Yes, of course He was. But there is a bigger picture we all need to see. We need to read Jesus' own words within the context of the whole story, which goes back to a promise God made about 2,000 years before Messiah:

  In Genesis 12, Moses writes about what Yahweh God told Abram, a man from Ur of the Chaldeans, or what is known today as Iraq.

 1 The Lord said to Abram:
Go out from your land,
your relatives,
and your father’s house
to the land that I will show you.

 2 I will make you into a great nation,
I will bless you,
I will make your name great,
and you will be a blessing.

 3 I will bless those who bless you,
I will curse those who treat you with contempt,
and all the peoples on earth
will be blessed through you.

  God chose Abraham to make of him a nation.

  From that nation He would create a holy people, separated for His purposes. He made them distinct from all the other peoples for a reason. They would not dress as the others dressed. They would not eat as the others ate. And they would not worship as the others worshiped.

  They were made a sanctified and holy people because out of that people would come the Promise to beat all promises. Out of them would come...

  the Messiah. 

  The Messiah Whose very name announced His Message: Yeshua, which means "Yahweh Saves."

  The Messiah Who would bring salvation for all.

  To the Jew first, and then the Gentile.

  Read again what Yahweh promised Abram (italics mine for emphasis):

  "... all the peoples on earth
   will be blessed through you."
   Genesis 12:3

  God's Chosen People have been richly blessed, but they have also suffered much. If we read our Bibles correctly, more of both are still to come. But neither the blessing nor the suffering have been pointless because, through it all, they serve the purposes of God... the fulfillment of His promise to Abram. 

  Yes, Jesus was sent only to the Lost Sheep of Israel. But that mission had a greater outcome that had always been a part of The Plan:

  to bring Yahweh's salvation to all the ends of the earth! 

Jesus is Lord!

  See also:

  Jesus and the Centurion (Lost Sheep Series)


  Did Messiah Come Only for the Lost Sheep of Israel? (Lost Sheep Series)


  Jesus and the Samaritan Woman (Lost Sheep Series)


Monday, January 2, 2017

Eli Eli... They Pierced My Hands and My Feet!

  Muslims have a few favorite Bible verses which they love to throw at Christians in debates. Matthew 27:46 is one of them, even though it's a verse in which Jesus speaks from the cross, a fact which Islam denies ever happened. The verse reads:

46 About three in the afternoon Jesus cried out with a loud voice, "Eli, Eli, lema sabachthani?" that is, "My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?" Matthew 27

  Jesus' words are a direct quote from the Messianic psalm 22. A thousand years before the coming of the Christ, the psalmist King David wrote:

 1 My God, my God, why have You forsaken me? Psalm 22

  As Christian apologists explain to our Muslim counterparts, Jesus shouted those same words from a cross which the Romans had erected at a spot which they had 
specifically  chosen for its visibility to the many who were coming in and out of Jerusalem during the Feast of Passover.

  Where the Roman Empire had sought to make an example of Jesus by displaying His battered and bloodied body where the greatest number of Jews would be forced to see Him, Jesus Himself used it as a platform to proclaim the message that their Messiah had come, and that salvation for all was about to be secured through His sacrifice.

  Psalm 22 describes the agony Yeshua the Messiah endured both prior to and during His crucifixion, but the last portion of one verse sticks out because in it David says something he could never have imagined...

16 For dogs have surrounded me;

a gang of evildoers has closed in on me;
they pierced my hands and my feet.

(in photo: actual bones from a 1st century victim of a Roman crucifixion)

  "They pierced my hands and my feet."

  David wrote those words about 400 years before crucifixion had even been invented by the Persians. It would be almost 1,000 years before the Romans would refine it and turn it into one of the most evil and torturous methods of execution known to man. 

  Only then would it be used on Messiah.

  David may not have known that he was prophesying about a very specific method of torture which would be used to murder his Lord. But he knew full well how the story would end, because he wrote:

27 All the ends of the earth will remember

and turn to the Lord.
All the families of the nations
will bow down before You,

28 for kingship belongs to the Lord;

He rules over the nations.

29 All who prosper on earth will eat and bow down;

all those who go down to the dust
will kneel before Him— even the one who cannot preserve his life.

30 Their descendants will serve Him;

the next generation will be told about the Lord.

31 They will come and tell a people yet to be born about His righteousness— what He has done.

  Three days after His agonizing death, Jesus rose again from the grave, just as He had promised. 

  And just as David had prophesied, one generation of believers after another tells others about the Lord...

  about His righteousness... 

  and about what He has done!

Jesus is Lord! 

  With thanks to Dr. Michael Brown, whose podcasts at  thelineoffire.org are a regular source of inspiration for these blog posts.

  See also:

  Why Did Jesus Shout, "My God, My God, Why Have You Forsaken Me?" at the Cross?


  Jesus, the Cross and the Megaphone


  Was Jesus Crucified? 


  Who Said Messiah Would Go to the Cross?


Saturday, December 10, 2016

"Not Everyone" or "Not One?"

  We interrupt our regular apologetics posts to do a brief English lesson for the benefit of our Muslim friends.
  In the photo above, not every one of the sheep is actually a sheep. This is because, as you can see, one of them is a wolf
  I bring this up because Muslims frequently (and horribly) misinterpret Jesus' words in Matthew 7, where He says,

21 “Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord!’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of My Father in heaven."

  When Muslims read this verse, it seems they replace Jesus' words "Not everyone" with "no one." But that is not what Jesus said.
  To try to illustrate the difference between the two phrases, let us apply it to our photo. Can anyone in his right mind claim that not one of the animals in the photo below is a sheep? No, no one can. Not every one of the animals in the photo is a sheep, because one of them is a wolf. 
  On the other hand, it is correct to say that not every one of the animals is a sheep. Muslims, can you see the difference now?
  In the same way, what Jesus was saying in Matthew 7:21 is that not everyone who calls Him Lord is a true believer. Only those who truly follow Him are.
  Muslims, if the English word "everyone" still confuses you, try replacing it with the word "all" because "all" can also mean "everyone." To wit:
  “Not all who say to Me, ‘Lord, Lord!’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of My Father in heaven." MKV (the Mari Kaimo Version) 😀
  Hope that helps! 

Jesus is Lord! 

  See also:

  Why Do You Call Me ‘Lord, Lord?'


  Where Does Jesus Say, "I Am YHWH (God)" in the Bible?


Friday, July 22, 2016

Did All of Jesus' Apostles Desert Him at His Arrest, and Never Return?

  Islam denies that Jesus died and rose again after three days, one of the central teachings of the Gospel. And Mark 14:50 is one verse which Muslims quote to try and support the Islamic claim that Jesus was never crucified. 

  "Then they all deserted Him and ran away." Mark 14:50

  They claim that, since Jesus' apostles abandoned Him at the Garden of Gethsemane, there would have been no eyewitnesses around to see Jesus abused, tortured and flogged, later to die on the cross. They argue this in the hope that, historical facts notwithstanding, their prophet Muhammad, who would not even exist for another 5 centuries and would therefore not be a reliable source for such an event, might be proven right.

  But is that one verse all the Gospels tell us about what the disciples did after Jesus' arrest? No, it certainly is not.

Luke 22 
 (italics mine for emphasis)

54 They seized Him, led Him away, and brought Him into the high priest’s house. Meanwhile Peter was following at a distance. 

55 They lit a fire in the middle of the courtyard and sat down together, and Peter sat among them. 

56 When a servant saw him sitting in the firelight, and looked closely at him, she said, “This man was with Him too.”

57 But he denied it: “Woman, I don’t know Him!”

58 After a little while, someone else saw him and said, “You’re one of them too!”

“Man, I am not!” Peter said.

59 About an hour later, another kept insisting, “This man was certainly with Him, since he’s also a Galilean.”

60 But Peter said, “Man, I don’t know what you’re talking about!” Immediately, while he was still speaking, a rooster crowed. 

61 Then the Lord turned and looked at Peter. So Peter remembered the word of the Lord, how He had said to him, “Before the rooster crows today, you will deny Me three times.” 

62 And he went outside and wept bitterly.

  So after the arrest in the Garden, the Gospel of Luke relates how Peter denied the Christ, just as His Lord had prophesied. More painfully still, especially for Peter, we learn from the passage that Peter was close enough to Jesus in the high priest's house for him to see Jesus turn to look at him just after he had denied His Lord a third time. And it all happened because Peter had followed after Jesus and those who had arrested Him. 

  Here is a supporting account from another eyewitness, Jesus' beloved Apostle John:

John 18 (italics mine)

15 Meanwhile, Simon Peter was following Jesus, as was another disciple. That disciple was an acquaintance of the high priest; so he went with Jesus into the high priest’s courtyard. 

16 But Peter remained standing outside by the door. So the other disciple, the one known to the high priest, went out and spoke to the girl who was the doorkeeper and brought Peter in.

17 Then the slave girl who was the doorkeeper said to Peter, “You aren’t one of this man’s disciples too, are you?”

“I am not!” he said.

18 Now the slaves and the temple police had made a charcoal fire, because it was cold. They were standing there warming themselves, and Peter was standing with them, warming himself.

  In this Gospel we have a retelling of the denial, but the eyewitness John also tells us that both he and Peter were inside the high priest's home, which is where Jesus was being held. This shows us at least two of Jesus' apostles who are in close enough proximity to Jesus to risk being arrested themselves.

  What about at the cross? Were there any apostles and disciples who actually saw Jesus crucified? John tells us that he and one of our most important eyewitnesses, Jesus' mother, were there. But they were not alone.

John 19 (italics mine)

25 Standing by the cross of Jesus were His mother, His mother’s sister, Mary the wife of Clopas, and Mary Magdalene. 

26 When Jesus saw His mother and the disciple He loved standing there, He said to His mother, “Woman, here is your son.”

27 Then He said to the disciple, “Here is your mother.” And from that hour the disciple took her into his home.

  And not only do we have the Apostle John and Jesus' mother, Mary, actually at the foot of Jesus' cross, but Jesus also speaks to them from it.

  Now, Muslims believe that their "Allah" replaced Jesus with someone else on the cross. But what does this passage tell us? The passage reveals that the Man Who is on the cross is most definitely Jesus because, despite all the pain that He is suffering, He demonstrates His concern for His mother's welfare by entrusting her into the care of His closest friend, John, who is standing right beside her.

  But what about at the time of His death? Were any of Jesus' disciples around to watch Him die?

  Once more, we turn to eyewitnesses for the truth, rather than the claims of a non-eyewitness who lived 600 years later and 1,200 kilometers away.

Luke 23 (italics mine for emphasis)

44 It was now about noon, and darkness came over the whole land until three, 

45 because the sun’s light failed. The curtain of the sanctuary was split down the middle. 

46 And Jesus called out with a loud voice, “Father, into Your hands I entrust My spirit.” Saying this, He breathed His last.

47 When the centurion saw what happened, he began to glorify God, saying, “This man really was righteous!” 

48 All the crowds that had gathered for this spectacle, when they saw what had taken place, went home, striking their chests.

49 But all who knew Him, including the women who had followed Him from Galilee, stood at a distance, watching these things.

  Here is the proof that there was not just a tiny group of spectators, but a sufficiently large number of eyewitnesses who were physically present to see the Son of Man yield His spirit to the Father and take His last breath.

  And because so many of them had watched Him die, would it come as a  surprise that they would be stunned and amazed, even unbelieving at first when, just three days later, the Lord Jesus would rise again from the dead, just as He had said? 

  No, it wouldn't. 

Jesus is Lord!  

  With special thanks to Marcia R. Buza for pointing out that last verse from Luke 23.

  See also:

  EyeWitness Report... The Crucifixion


  Did Jesus Die on the Cross? I


  Did Jesus Die On the Cross? II


  Was Jesus Spared from Death, as Muslims Claim?


Saturday, May 28, 2016

Who Wrote Deuteronomy 34?

  Some unbelievers mock the Bible because they cannot understand why Moses' death is written about in a part of the Torah. They claim that Moses could not possibly have written the Book of Deuteronomy because of that passage.

  So who did write about Moses' death as it is recorded in Deuteronomy 34?

  Here are three reasonable options:

  First, Moses himself could have written those words because God had already told him that he was going to die. God even told him when he would die.

  Here is that conversation:

48 On that same day the Lord spoke to Moses, 

49 “Go up Mount Nebo in the Abarim range in the land of Moab, across from Jericho, and view the land of Canaan I am giving the Israelites as a possession. 

50 Then you will die on the mountain that you go up, and you will be gathered to your people, just as your brother Aaron died on Mount Hor and was gathered to his people." Deuteronomy 32

  As always, Yahweh was crystal clear about what was going to happen to His servant Moses. Moses had seen Yahweh do many great miracles consistently for over 80 years, and so he had no reason to doubt God about his pending death.

  So that is our first possibility: Moses could have written that ending himself.

  The second possibility is that it was Joshua or one of Moses' scribes who penned in those last words after Moses had died. 

  Moses had already written 5 entire Books which we now divide into 187 chapters. If Joshua or a scribe had added that epilogue to the other 33 chapters of the Book of Deuteronomy...

  would we say that Moses was no longer the Book's author? 

  Of course not.

  The Pentateuch has a total of 5,852 verses.

  If Moses wrote all but 12 of them, would we say someone else wrote the Torah? 

  Of course not. The idea is simply ludicrous.

  But scholars point out that there is one more explanation for this portion of Deuteronomy (there may be other theories). And it is that, since the Scriptures used to be kept in rolls prior to the invention of the book in the 1st century AD, it could be that Deuteronomy 34 is actually the first chapter of the Book of Joshua, the book which follows Deuteronomy in the Bible. 

  Which means that Joshua, Moses' right hand man and the one chosen to take Israel into the Promised Land, could have written that epitaph for his friend Moses.

  Any of these three possibilities are more than reasonable solutions to this question. With that being said, we remember these wise and realistic words:

Jesus is Lord!

Saturday, May 7, 2016

The Religion of Circularity?

  Here's another question for our Muslim friends... 

  What if someone were to announce the following?
  "The Holy, Eternal and Official Book of Circles 7:11 says,
  'There is no god but Circulo. Joker Naik is His prophet, and Muhammad is not. I hereby declare that much of the Quran is corrupt, and only that which agrees with My Wholly Noble Book of Circles is correct!'"
  So an offended Muslim would shout and say (in all caps, of course),
  "You blaspheme our holy prophet (who the Quran never calls holy)! You are wrong! Where is your evidence?"
  Well, Circular Reasoning would say, "Here is the proof. It comes from the Holy Book of Circles 13:648, which says,
  'Lo, as I told you before but you weren't listening, there is no god but Circulo, Joker Naik is His prophet and Muhammad is still not one of His messengers.'"
  So the Muslim would say,
  "That is unfair! You cannot use the Book of Circles as evidence since you have never proven that Circulo is God or that Joker is his prophet!"
  And the Circular Reasoning response (most often used by Muslims as well) would be:
  "Oh, yes we have! The Book of Circles 492:5 says,
  'Lo, o Joker Naik! For you are My prophet. And I have sent thee My angel Faker Deedat and given thee the Book of Circles and officially named it 'The Book of Circles.'
  And I do hereby name My religion 'Circularity.'
  And Lo, from henceforth, all My followers will be called 'Circulars.'
  And Lo, as a reward, My Circulars will go around and around forever in My Paradise of Circularity.
  And Lo, everyone who is not a Circular deserves to die a horrible death because they have rejected My Circularity.
  So heed thou My prophet Joker and Return to My Circularity now before I throw thee into Hell for the infidel thou art. There. The fact that I said it and put it down in a book makes it all true!'"
  (Note: using the words "thee" and "thou" instead of "you" makes your beliefs sound more religious and true-sounding. You always want to use words that make your religion sound official when its factual foundations are weak, you see)
  To this the still-offended Muslim would respond by saying,
  "That's ridiculous! You can't make claims based on a book you wrote after the first ones were written and then claim to correct the earlier ones! Have you never heard of the Law of First Mention? You cannot write a new book and claim all the previous ones were in error and must match your new one. That's unfair. It is the book which comes after which must prove that it aligns perfectly with the ones written earlier!"
  To which the Christians would say,
  "Our point exactly." 

Jesus is Lord!
Disclaimer: The above is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, events and incidents are either the products of the author’s imagination or used in a fictitious manner. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, or actual events is purely coincidental.  

Saturday, February 13, 2016

Jesus, The One and Only Son

  Some Muslims who are unfamiliar with the Bible claim that whenever the Divine Title Son of God is applied to Jesus, it really doesn't mean anything because Jesus is just one of very many of God's sons and daughters in the Bible.

  But those who have read and studied the Bible know that this claim  just cannot stand up to scrutiny. The Scriptural text is abundantly clear in the distinctions it makes in its pages for the Christ, Who is over and above all else in creation.

  Not once in the entire Bible is Jesus addressed as "one of God's sons." Never as "a son of God," but instead as "the Son of God." For those who don't understand the difference between using "a" and "the" in this phrase, a quick grammar lesson may be helpful:

  Placement of the definite article "the" before the title "Son of God" makes the noun "Son" specific to Jesus. There is no other "Son of God."

  To demonstrate usage of this title for Jesus, below are the verses from all 4 Gospels and the Book of Acts in which Jesus is addressed, never as "one of many sons of God," but as the Son, God's one and only (John 3:16, 18):

Matthew 4:3 Then the tempter approached Him and said, “If You are the Son of God, tell these stones to become bread.”

Matthew 4:6 and said to Him, “If You are the Son of God, throw Yourself down. For it is written: He will give His angels orders concerning you, and they will support you with their hands so that you will not strike your foot against a stone.”

Matthew 8:29 Suddenly they shouted, “What do You have to do with us, Son of God? Have You come here to torment us before the time?”

Matthew 14:33 Then those in the boat worshiped Him and said, “Truly You are the Son of God!”

Matthew 16:16 Simon Peter answered, “You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God!”

Matthew 26:63 But Jesus kept silent. Then the high priest said to Him, “By the living God I place You under oath: tell us if You are the Messiah, the Son of God!”

Matthew 27:40 and saying, “The One who would demolish the sanctuary and rebuild it in three days, save Yourself! If You are the Son of God, come down from the cross!”

Mark 1:1 The beginning of the gospel of Jesus Christ, the Son of God.

Mark 3:11 Whenever the unclean spirits saw Him, those possessed fell down before Him and cried out, “You are the Son of God!”

Mark 5:7 And he cried out with a loud voice, “What do You have to do with me, Jesus, Son of the Most High God? I beg You before God, don’t torment me!”

Luke 1:32 He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High, and the Lord God will give Him the throne of His father David.

Luke 1:35 The angel replied to her: “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. Therefore, the holy One to be born will be called the Son of God.

Luke 4:3 The Devil said to Him, “If You are the Son of God, tell this stone to become bread.”

Luke 4:9 So he took Him to Jerusalem, had Him stand on the pinnacle of the temple, and said to Him, “If You are the Son of God, throw Yourself down from here.

Luke 4:41 Also, demons were coming out of many, shouting and saying, “You are the Son of God!” But He rebuked them and would not allow them to speak, because they knew He was the Messiah.

Luke 8:28 When he saw Jesus, he cried out, fell down before Him, and said in a loud voice, “What do You have to do with me, Jesus, You Son of the Most High God? I beg You, don’t torment me!”

Luke 22:70 They all asked, “Are You, then, the Son of God?” And He said to them, “You say that I am.”

John 1:34 "I have seen and testified that He is the Son of God!”

John 1:49 “Rabbi,” Nathanael replied, “You are the Son of God! You are the King of Israel!”

John 3:18 Anyone who believes in Him is not condemned, but anyone who does not believe is already condemned, because he has not believed in the name of the One and Only Son of God.

John 5:25 “I assure you: An hour is coming, and is now here, when the dead will hear the voice of the Son of God, and those who hear will live.

John 10:36 “… do you say, ‘You are blaspheming’ to the One the Father set apart and sent into the world, because I said: I am the Son of God?

John 11:4 When Jesus heard it, He said, “This sickness will not end in death but is for the glory of God, so that the Son of God may be glorified through it.”

John 11:27 “Yes, Lord,” she told Him, “I believe You are the Messiah, the Son of God, who comes into the world.”

John 19:7 “We have a law,” the Jews replied to him, “and according to that law He must die, because He made Himself the Son of God.”

John 20:31 But these are written so that you may believe Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, and by believing you may have life in His name.

Acts 8:37 [ And Philip said, “If you believe with all your heart you may.” And he replied, “I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God.”]

Acts 9:20 Immediately he began proclaiming Jesus in the synagogues: “He is the Son of God.”

Jesus is Lord!

  See also:

  'Sons by the Tons' or No Sons at All?

  The Messiah, The Son of God?

  Isaiah, Gabriel and the Son of God