I AM – Exodus

“I AM” the name that God Almighty chose to reveal to Moses in Exodus 3:14. The name so holy to the Jews that they leave the vowels out of it so that it is not pronounceable – YHWH.  According to the footnote in my NIV, Lord sounds like and may come from the Hebrew for I Am. 

My purpose in studying this passage/phrase is to look at the times Jesus said “I AM” in the Book of John.  I feel it will add to the miracles that John highlights as proof that Jesus is the Son of God.  But this is my background study and I am glad that I started here.  There are several things I saw and want to show you.

First, in Exodus 6:3 God tells Moses He showed Himself to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob as God Almighty or El-Shaddai (Genesis 17:1).  That is important when you realize that they had no written Word or anyone to teach them about the true God.  Joseph and his brothers (so their children) only had oral traditions and possibly dreams and visions to guide them.  (It does make you wonder what part Melchizedek played, if any, in their education.)  The “few times” that God interacted with Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and their wives had to be impressive or they would have wandered away.  (The reason I said a “few times” is the number of recorded “visits” or “revelations” versus the number of years they lived.)    

Names are important in the Bible – some are changed, you can be given a new one (Revelations) and Jesus has one that will not be revealed.  I tend to start with the meaning of names (people and places) in my studies but they can hold a mixed bag of information.  Lo Debar is deceptive if you do not study the town, where it was located, and its main source of income.  The three Ananias’ in the Book of Acts portray a wide range of characteristics and not all of them fit with the name or at least my paradigms.

Second, is the play on words between Moses and God with the phrase “I am”.  I know some of this depends of the translations you read, KJV is slightly different than many others.  KJV has Moses using “am I” twice, once in verse 4 (Here am I) and then again in verse 11 with God using “I AM” seven times (the number of completion) in the same conversation.  Many other translations have Moses in verse 4 saying, “Here I am.”

The third thing that is interesting is the change in the word Lord.  My Second Edition Zondervan NIV Exhaustive Concordance has two different listings under the word lord.  A more common use of the word is first used in Genesis 18:27 while the word rendered Yahweh starts in Genesis 2:4. Then, there are times when the word Adonai and YHWH are together and you see LORD in the NIV. (This is from the preface in my NIV.)  The non-God reference in this concordance is #123 with donay being #151 and Yahweh is #3378 (These are not Strong’s numbers.)

Forth, I suggest using the parallel function on Bible Gateway and see the way different translations handle Exodus 3: 4-15. I paralleled The Names of God Bible, Complete Jewish Bible, Orthodox Jewish Bible, the Revised Standard Version, NIV, and others.  Check the footnotes as “I AM” may have other meanings- “I WILL BE WHAT I WILL BE” was a common possible version.  Verse 12 in the NIV has God saying, “I will be with you” to Moses.

Please check YouTube for Jonathan Chan videos as he has very good revelation into the I AM mystery. Also, check –   https://www1.biu.ac.il/indexE.php?id=17636&pt=1&pid=14398&level=0&cPath=43,14206,14373,14398,17636   This is Bar-Ilan University, they have several viewpoints on this topic.  I also found https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/I_Am_that_I_Am   helpful on the Yahweh and ehyeh connection. In Genesis God revealed Himself to Abraham as God Almighty or El-Shaddai.  In Exodus, He added the name of I AM or Yahweh or LORD.  I will be showing how Jesus used “I am” in introducing Himself in the Book of John to show Himself as the Son of God.

Thoughts On Out Of Egypt

Israel wanting to back to Egypt

Exodus 32: 1 is a progression in the story of the People’s discontent with God and Moses.  They had crumbled and test God ten times in this progression and it will come to a head in Numbers 14.  In this installment of the story Moses is on Mount Sinai getting the tablets of the Law, he was gone a long time and the people want a physical “god” they can follow.  

In Numbers 14 the spies have come back from the Land and Joshua and Caleb are the only ones to have a good report.  The people lose their minds and work themselves up to pick a new leader and go back to Egypt!  Most of the time when I have heard this taught the speaker says something about slavery and all of the bad things that happened.  What if, they were planning to go back and attack Egypt and enslave them!  They had been trained and were ready to go fight for the Land. It is only two years since they left Egypt and they had left Egypt in shambles.  (It is interesting that in Numbers 13: 33 they saw themselves as grasshoppers.  The hordes of grasshoppers that do invade the lands of the Middle East are still today viewed with dread!). It would make sense that they felt they could conquer Egypt or at least a part of it and live there.  How many times are Christians plagued with the thought that at least some portion of the old life could be made acceptable because going forward seems so hard?  

Caleb and Joshua

This thought about Joshua and Caleb has left me hanging!  Did their families (wife and children) go in with them, if they were over nineteen years of age?  Numbers 14:20 starts the consequence part of failing to obey the Lord’s voice.  God drew a boundary of twenty years as the age of who would get in.  We know from Joshua 15:13 and Joshua 24: 15 that both of those men had families in the Promised Land.  Caleb tells his age in Joshua 14: 7 (40 yrs.) when he explored the land. He could have had “family” by then.  I know a lot can happen in thirty-eight years, Caleb had a daughter in Joshua 15: 16.  She was the reward for taking the land that Caleb had received from the Lord. 

Since everyone over nineteen years old did not make it in, I will go that they had their families after the spying incident.  (Remember, girls, married in their teens and sometimes the men were older and established before they took wives.)

Caleb was eighty-five at the time he asked Joshua for the right to “take” his land.  so, 45 – 38 means that at that point the conquest was seven years old. Forty-five is how long he had been kept alive and thirty-eight was the wandering time.  (See thirty-eight) (See Out of Egypt)

It would have been hard for me to watch everyone I know to die!  On a different note -Numbers 14: 20 does say that the people had been forgiven, just that they were not going into the Land.

Miracles are given to confirm the word of the Lord and strengthen our faith – learn from them!

Featured pic Sweet Publishing/FreeBibleimages.org

Day of Atonement, Passover, Epiphany

The Day of Atonement, Passover, and Epiphany may seem like three strange Feast to be linked together when talking about the birth of Jesus.  Bear with me as I explain their connection.  

I know it is a good thing that God is a “God Who hides Himself” and did not give us exact dates for everything that occurred.  “He concealed things” so we could search them out.  Luke or Matthew could have given us “better” timestamps but Holy Spirit stopped them.  But Luke did give us some very important calendar dates.

Time

Jewish timekeeping is different than Western thought, it was started by God in the Garden.  (another post on time) The Biblical day starts in the evening and goes to daylight.  This thought is consistent in the Bible as there are many examples of things going from dark to light.  The Jewish religious month is lunar-based; they would add an extra month when needed to keep them in line with the revolution of the earth.   In the Book of Leviticus, the major feasts are set in this framework of months.

Day of Atonement

This important day, for the Jews, of fasting, prayer, and repentance is explained in Leviticus 16.  In Leviticus 23: 26 its time is given as the tenth day of the seventh month.  In Luke we find Zachariah, John’s father, doing the offering of incense behind the Veil in the Second Temple.  Luke 1: 23 had him finish “his time of service” before going home.  This possibly was until the end of the month, so he was with Elizabeth in the eighth month.  She stayed secluded for five months.  (I am not trying to do days or exact times, those belong to God!)

Passover

Luke 1:26 has the “sixth month” for Mary’s visit with Gabriel.  That should be the sixth month of Elizabeth’s pregnancy, which makes it the first month of the Jewish year, the month of Passover!  The Father is a God of order.  It would seem fitting to “birth” Jesus in Mary at Passover. That would put Jesus’ “coming out party” with the angels and shepherds in the December/January time frame (Julian Calendar) of the month of Tevet.  (see the calendar below)

Epiphany 

From ancient times (before the fourth century) the 6th of January has carried special importance in the Church!  Dietrich Bonhoeffer in his Testament to Freedom, pgs. 504-5 talks about Epiphany.  I read it in a compilation called God is in the Manger.  On page 90, he talks about four events associated with that date – the birth of Jesus, His baptism, the wedding of Cana, and the arrival of the Magi. Traditions are frequently built on fact.  Some of these I will not try to defend or deny, but it sure is interesting.  (Again, I am not trying to be dogmatic in writing this.)

Tevet is the Jewish tenth month.  The root of the word comes from tov or nine.  The meaning of the word is “good”.  If you look in Psalm 119: 65 – 72, the ninth section of that acrostic psalm you will find the idea of good four times in the NIV. (I did an alternative to how Psalm 119 is written.)

Matthew, in his telling of the Christmas story, injects that the Wise Men had seen the star two years earlier (Herod killed the babies two and under.).  He gives no timestamp, but if it was on Jesus’ birthday (Passover) when they found Him, it would fit. 

Okay, I will go out on a limb here, because I know the Father is a God of order!  Jesus’ return with Mary and Joseph from Egypt should have been at the same time as the Exodus (Passover).  I will inch a little further out and say that Jesus’ baptism with John coincided with the anniversary of the “baptism” of the people in the Red Sea. 

The wedding at Cana – I am clueless!  John was writing about proofs of Jesus’ divinity when he wrote on the Seven Miracles (or the Plus One I added), not about dates and times.

For you scholars out there, I have not researched any of these thoughts on Epiphany!  It may well be that someone else has already come up with the same ideas!  I like the way they fit together, and it gives me a reason to reflect on Epiphany.  One day in Heaven I will have to ask how close I was to being correct.   

pic is from Wikipedia

 

Study of the Kingdom – The Baptist in Matthew 11

In this “Study of the Kingdom” we will focus on Matthew 11: 11 to 15 (NIV).  But first, let’s fill in the time-lapse since the last post.  Jesus went through all the towns and villages preaching the good news of the kingdom.  He told the Disciples to pray about workers going into the fields and then He sends them out.  They are sent with authority and a solid block of instruction/teaching (Matthew 10: 5 – 42).  Verse one in chapter 11 leads me to think He went teaching on His own.  Jesus then has a visit from John’s disciples, again.  Steven Furtick, pointed out recently that John’s disciples did not hear verse 7 to 30 as they were leaving.  As I have said before, we tend to break things up for our convenience, but I feel it is important to remember that all of this has a “John” focus! 

Verse 11

Jesus is not shy in his accolades of John.  In doing this series I have come to believe that Christianity may be guilty of downplaying John’s importance and the shadows that he fulfilled and the pattern he shows for the future and the end times.  The part of the verse that grabs my attention is “who is least in the kingdom of heaven” and who was Jesus talking about?  Normally, you think that is referring to future Christians that maybe did not do as much as they should have.   The word “least” makes me think of a servant, so in this phrase, Jesus could be talking about Himself.  He considered Himself the servant of all.

Verse 12

I felt I needed to use the parallel function on Bible Gateway with this verse, I was very surprised at the wide interpretations of this verse!  The King James uses words like violence, violent men, suffereth, and force.  Pull this out of the context of John’s situation and add in a little fire and brimstone this will get you a slanted view of the Christian life.   

As I continue, we need to focus back on John the Baptist.  The next two ways of viewing this verse are wrapped up with him. 1) Herod and his soldiers are violent men and they are trying to stop the Gospel by taking people (John) away by force.  (This seems to be the current thought in the latest NIV.  My 1990 version more or less reflects the KJV.)  2)  That people are turning to the Gospel with a forceful change of life and attitude.  Several paraphrases pick up on the meanings of biazo (violence) and harpazo (force) in determining their verbiage.  In reflecting on the mission of John and grace, I want to think #2 is a better idea.  Luke 16:16 is a companion verse and it holds this idea.  The Disciples were out on their first mission trip and that adds strength to the second idea.  Since Jesus is speaking in current terms, it is just as easily #1.  Either view works, so choose one or both, but keep it in the context of John, his mission, and that fact he is in prison.  

Verse 13

“For all the Prophets and the Law prophesied until John.” (NIV) This verse/idea has changed my thinking on John and just how important he is in God’s timeline.  Wherever you want to stop the “prophesying”, his birth, the start of his ministry, his imprisonment, or his future death that is in just a few months or years from when Jesus is speaking.  Jesus’ preaching, teaching, and training His disciples did take an upward turn with John’s death.

Paul’s letter to the Romans (5:14 and 20+21 and 10:4) puts this into perspective.  Death reigned from Adam to Moses, the Law was added – Moses to John, and grace picked up with Jesus who ended the rule of the Law and ushered in righteousness (if you believe).  If you add in John to Jesus (Matthew 11:11) there is the forceful joining to the Kingdom. 

Verse 14+15    

Since this is Jesus speaking about John, it is worthy to take note.  It must have been a jolt to his audience and is as close as He comes in the Gospels to say who He was and His mission.  This does raise the question for me – If John prepared for Jesus, did Elijah prepare for Elisha?

Thoughts and Observation

  1. “At that time” is used in the NIV in Matthew a lot!  It gives the feeling of just a few hours or days.  In one respect it shrinks the stories to very special days and not a scatter-shot of time over three years.  I realize that the same parables were told and retold.  I like Luke who keeps the milestones and time markers in line and adds parables where they will have the most impact.
  2. Because of #1, Chapter 11 occurs close to a Sabbath and the Disciples returned from their trip as this session ended.  A course the disciples in chapter 12 may not have been the Twelve. 
  3. The forceful men in verse 12 made me think of the Israelites as they were coming out of Egypt.  They always wanted to go back to Egypt!  Well, that is not very forceful!  Unless, they wanted to go back, not as slaves but as invaders.  Egypt was a mess and the army was rebuilding, what better time to conquer the land!

http://www.freebibleimages.org for the pic

The Number Thirty-eight in the Bible

 

Thirty-eight is mentioned five times in the Bible.  Well, 1 Chronicles is 38,000 but that still counts because it is 38 x 1000.  Notes on the verses are below.

If you do an internet search, it is obvious that there are many thoughts about this number.  The people who wrote about thirty-eight have done some impressive research.  I guess I am taking a slightly different thought toward it, so please add this post to the mix.  Numbers in the Bible are part of the Father’s creation and He uses them in His story (history)! I have always wanted to do that:)

So, please do not try and have numbers direct your life; His peace and righteousness is God’s gift for direction in your life.

I have grouped the thirty-eights into three groups – Deuteronomy/Numbers and John, 1 and 2 Kings, and 1 Chronicles.  Why!  Because this number, like many other numbers God uses, has several thoughts associated with it.

The best place to start is at its first mention/reference in Numbers 14.  Okay, anybody with a concordance knows that thirty-eight is not mentioned in Numbers.  But it was in God’s heart!   The number that is mentioned is forty (verses 33 + 34), but Deuteronomy 2: 14 explains how God carried out His plan.  There are four different viewpoints in Deuteronomy that need to be looked at:

Group 1

Deuteronomy

  1. The People – Predictably they rebelled, but they had already done that. (Remeber, they had tested God ten times.)   Now, there are two sets of people in this group.  The twenty an older group who were being held accountable and the nineteen and under who were going to suffer for the first group’s grumbling.  Knowing teenagers, they would have been in on the complaining, but God drew His line at nineteen years of age.  The thought of going back to Egypt dissolved when they thought about slavery and that they were not allowed to go into the Land.
  2. Joshua and Caleb – they were in the “right” and would still have to wait to get their promises from God. If anybody had the right to be mad it was these guys!  But since they had better spirits than the others I want to image they started working with the youngsters.
  3. Moses, Aaron, (Miriam) – Once again they fell to their knees, but you have to think they may have been annoyed with the people. The people had already tested God ten times and this refusal to go into the Land was serious.  The brothers stood in the middle of this scene and worked for the people.
  4. God – Mad, yes! Out of love for Abraham, He listened to Moses.  He said forty and gave them credit for the first two years.  Or, He cut it short for the sake of the spies.  40 – Joshua and Caleb = 38.  (Well, it makes sense if it was common core math.).   His viewpoint, there is mercy and cleansing in this number.

John –The man at the pool was there for thirty-eight years.  That number directed Jesus’ actions for him.  Like the people in the wilderness, he was “sick” and had a death sentence.  Verse fourteen is a warning that he “stop sinning”, which is pretty much what the nineteen and under group had to do.  I have mixed feelings about the fact he told on Jesus, was this bragging or trying to get favor? (See Psalm 95: 10.)

At the end of these thirty-eights, there were better times and promises ahead.

Group 2

1 Kings 16: 29 and 2 Kings 15: 8 have many similarities besides the number thirty-eight.  Both of these verses are timestamps of when kings of the northern tribes (Israel) came into power.  1 Kings tells of Ahab (Israel) becoming king in the thirty-eighth year of Asa (Judah). 2 Kings is the story of Zechariah (Israel) and Azariah (Judah).  Both of the kings of Judah “did what was right in the eyes of the Lord”.  These two kings had a severe illness at the end of their reigns.  Neither of the kings of Israel did what was “right” in eyes of the Lord.

Asa– His story is recorded in 1 Kings 15: 9-24 and 2 Chronicles 14: 2- 16: 14.  I will use the later reference for now.  Asa had everything going for him until he made a deal with Ben-Hadad of Aram.  God lifted His protective covering from Asa as a warning/lesson for later kings.  Asa contracted a disease in his feet (possibly gout).  His treaty with Aram probably took place in the thirty-eighth year of his reign, and he went from a good king to a bad king.  16: 12 says that is when he became ill and refused to seek God.  For thirty-eight years he was walking in blessings and then he shut God out!

Azariah/Uzziah– His story is in 2 Kings 15: 1-7 and 2 Chronicles 26.  2 Chronicles 26: 16 talks of pride and unfaithfulness in a king who had been doing right and was blessed.  He also had the Lord’s shield lifted from him and developed leprosy.  I have no clues to support this, but this could have happened in his thirty-eighth year.  The thirty-eight of Uzziah is for Zechariah of Israel, who is the fulfillment of the promise to Jehu.

Group 3

1 Chronicles 23: 3 is part of the preparation David made for the Temple that Solomon was to build.  Well, it is 38,000 but David requiring that the Levities once again take part in the worship of God is a major development.  In Judges, it seemed that only the sons of Aaron were working with the Ark and worship of God.

Reflections– People like definite answers for things – that will not work here!  Numbers frequently have more than one aspect to them and thirty-eight is no different. Having pondered this for a while the best idea, I have, is that thirty-eight signals A SHIFT! This may be to the better or for the worse. Group 1 and 2 easily show a shift. Group 1 went to a better state, while Group 2 declined.  Group 3 is a shift back to the way it was.

The nineteen-year-olds had thirty-eight years to THINK, listen to Joshua and Caleb, or the now regretful older generation.  Some believed Joshua and listened, looked, and learned, some did not.  But the new generation knew where the Promised Land was and that they would get back there.  They even got their own “Red Sea” experience – see Joshua’s Passover.

MY NOTES

Deuteronomy 2: 14 – This passage in Deuteronomy is a recounting of the journey to Promise Land. It was thirty-eight years from when the spies brought the bad report to them getting ready to enter the land.  The reason for the delay was the “fighting men” of the camp had to die off.  The number forty is associated with the wandering.  I feel God gave them credit for the two years of battle training, constructing the Ark, and seeing miracles when He handed out the sentence.

1 Chronicles 23: 3 – David was preparing for the Temple.  He counted 38, 000 Levites and divided them into working units – 24,000 for working on the Temple, 6,000 for officials and judges, 4,000 for gatekeepers, and 4,000 to praise the Lord. This was done while he was alive before any work began on the Temple.

1 Kings 16: 29 – In the thirty-eighth year of Asa, Ahab became king in the Northern Kingdom.  Asa was a king who did what was right and Ahab was not.  Ahab was the seventh king of Israel during the reign of Asa (Jeroboam to Ahab).

2 Kings 15: 8 – in the thirty-eighth year of Azariah, Zechariah became king of Israel.  He is the grandson of Jehu (2 Kings 9 to 10) and completes the prophecy in 2 Kings 10: 30. (See 2 Kings 15: 12). Azariah did what was right in the eyes of the Lord- 2 Kings 15: 3.

John 5: 5 – Jesus was at a Feast of the Jews (vs. 1).  He healed a man of the Sabbath, who had been paralyzed for thirty-eight years.  Jesus told the man to take his mat and walk.  The man was caught and threatened by the Jews for breaking the Sabbath, carrying the mat was work.  Verses 14 and 15 end the story with the man being warned and then he tells the Jews who healed him.