When I exegete a book, I tend to get very bogged down in the details and so, I decided to develop a series of a few short lessons on various chapters of the Bible, where I attempt to simply deal with the primary points of each verse without getting too detail-oriented. Each lesson is 2–5 pages long and designed to be read at one sitting. Although it is always nice to have a Bible open when studying this, I have, in almost all cases, included the actual Scripture within the text.
I began this study with a general introduction, followed by introductory lessons to studying the Bible, followed by some introductory lessons to the book of Genesis. These 21 lessons precede the lessons lined to below.
“Have you reserved a blessing for me?” by Raphael Sanzio
The Doctrine of Giving (from Bible Doctrine Resource)
Spotted Sheep (a photo)
(an oil painting)
a painting by Cornelis van Haarlem
So far, this is what we have studied:
Genesis 26:12–16 And Isaac sowed in that land and reaped in the same year a hundredfold. The LORD blessed him, and the man became rich, and gained more and more until he became very wealthy. He had possessions of flocks and herds and many servants, so that the Philistines envied him. (Now the Philistines had stopped and filled with earth all the wells that his father's servants had dug in the days of Abraham his father.) And Abimelech said to Isaac, "Go away from us, for you are much mightier than we."
So God blesses Isaac so markedly, that those around him are envious, and ask for him to leave their territory.
Genesis 26:17–22 So Isaac departed from there and encamped in the Valley of Gerar and settled there. And Isaac dug again the wells of water that had been dug in the days of Abraham his father, which the Philistines had stopped after the death of Abraham. And he gave them the names that his father had given them. But when Isaac's servants dug in the valley and found there a well of spring water, the herdsmen of Gerar quarreled with Isaac's herdsmen, saying, "The water is ours." So he called the name of the well Esek, because they contended with him. Then they dug another well, and they quarreled over that also, so he called its name Sitnah. And he moved from there and dug another well, and they did not quarrel over it. So he called its name Rehoboth, saying, "For now the LORD has made room for us, and we shall be fruitful in the land."
Isaac moved a ways away, and dug a well, but herdsmen from Gerar would contend with him over the water rights; so he would move further away. He moved far enough away to where he could dig a well without having to defend it; and he moved far enough away so that the blessing by association no longer applied to the people of Gerar.
Genesis 26:23–25 From there he went up to Beersheba. And the LORD appeared to him the same night and said, "I am the God of Abraham your father. Fear not, for I am with you and will bless you and multiply your offspring for my servant Abraham's sake." So he built an altar there and called upon the name of the LORD and pitched his tent there. And there Isaac's servants dug a well.
God, from His grace, blesses Isaac; and this is one of the few times that Isaac interacts directly with God. Note that his blessing is based upon Abraham, his father.
Genesis 26:26–27 When Abimelech went to him from Gerar with Ahuzzath his adviser and Phicol the commander of his army, Isaac said to them, "Why have you come to me, seeing that you hate me and have sent me away from you?"
There are also some simple economics at work here. God blessed Isaac and those in his periphery. However, because God blessed Isaac, he would have a large contingent of peoples working for him, and he would need to purchase a great many supplies, as well as a lot of food for his people and livestock. This was great for the economy of the Philistines in Gerar. The more that God prospered Isaac, the more that these blessings spilled over into the lives of citizens of Gerar. However, when they drove Isaac away, he left with his possessions and his prosperity, and the Philistines lost the great economic boom that was Isaac.
Application: France recently increased taxes on their very rich to 75%, and these rich people began to leave France, thus reducing the money coming into the government. Taxing the rich excessively was a stupid idea, which they did eventually realize.
Do you see how up to date the Bible is? Things which are written 4000 years ago are pertinent to today’s world. The key is simply understanding what is written and interpreting it in that era, and then applying these lessons to today’s world.
Genesis 26:28–29 And they said, “We saw certainly that Jehovah was with you. And we said, Let there be now an oath between us, between us and you, and let us make a covenant with you; that you will do us no harm since we have not touched you, and since we have done nothing but good to you, and have sent you away in peace. You are now the blessed of Jehovah.”
Abimelech isn’t quite sure how to present his case, so he tells Isaac that he treated Isaac fairly and did not harm him, and did not do anything but good to him, even though this is not exactly what occurred. It is true that, when Abimelech found out that Rebekah was Isaac’s wife, he did issue an edict for the men of that city to not violate her. There is every indication that Abimelech and Isaac had a cordial relationship.
On the negative side, the people of Gerar convinced Abimelech to drive Isaac away; and they continued to harass Isaac until he had moved 30 miles away (which was a great distance in those days).
Abimelech and those with him do recognize that Isaac is blessed by God, and this is key; they understand. That is a breakthrough. Look, you can live in the same house with a maturing believer and never recognize how much God has blessed that believer. However, these men could see that is what had happened, which suggests that they do believe in Yehowah Elohim; and recognize that, they need to make their peace with Isaac.
We studied this topic sometime ago, but if you have forgotten it, it is worth reviewing: Blessing by Association (HTML) (PDF) (WPD).
Genesis 26:30 And he made them a feast, and they ate and drank.
This feast indicates that these men fellowshipped together. Isaac was willing to be gracious to them. He doesn’t send them off saying, “What about those wells? I think you need to compensate me for those wells that your men stole from me. Also the ones that they destroyed. When you are ready to do that, then we will talk.” But Isaac did not do that. Isaac treats them in grace. He is willing to accept things as they were; and he was willing to be at peace with all men.
Isaac is not a perfect man, and this will become clear in the next chapter. However, at this point, he is doing the right thing.
Genesis 26:31 And they rose up early in the morning, and swore to one another. And Isaac sent them away, and they departed from him in peace.
The swearing is likely a non-aggression pact, and a pact of friendship. Departing in peace meant that everything between them was now fine. Was Isaac compensated for the wells? Probably not. However, we do know that God greatly blessed him; so, he was compensated in that way.
Application: In your life, you will be cheated. People will take advantage of you; and many times, you will not be reimbursed—not by them, anyway. As believers, it is not our responsibility to settle every score. It is not up to us to find the people who have wronged us, and try to harm them back. This does not mean that you should be dishonest. You don’t give a good review to a lousy employee or to a lousy tenant; but, at the same time, you do not chase after every person who has done you wrong and sue them. God has a lot more for us to do than to try to deal with all the injustices in our lives. There are many times when it is better to just let someone flow away from the periphery of your life, and to let God deal with them. God is very good at dealing with those who have wronged believers.
You may recall that, when Isaac came clean with Abimelech, God blessed him a hundredfold. Here, Isaac has come to a point of friendship and fellowship with Abimelech, and note what happens:
Genesis 26:32 And the same day it happened, Isaac's servants came and told him about the well which they had dug. And they said to him, “We have found water.”
This is important. Isaac showed some signs of spiritual maturity. He was able to resolve the difficulties with these men without being self-righteous about it. As a result, God blessed him greatly. Pursue peace with all men (Heb. 12:14a; NASB). If possible, so far as it depends on you, be at peace with all men (Rom. 12:18; NASB).
Genesis 26:33 And he called it Shebah. Therefore the name of the city is The Well of Sheba to this day.
The word for well is beʾêr (בְּאֵר) [pronounced be-AIR], which means well, pit; spring. Strong’s #875 BDB #91. That is transliterated beer. Shebâʾ (שְבָא) [pronounced sheb-VAW], which means seven; an oath; transliterated Sheba, Sebean. Strong’s #7614 BDB #985. When we put these together, we have Beersheba, or Well of the Oath.
If you will recall, we have a very similar narrative back in the life of Abraham, at the end of Gen. 21. The common explanation given by those who do not believe in the Word of God, is that this is the same story, but it got passed along through two different sources, and a few names and details got changed. But that is not what happened. We have similar situations occur in the lives of Abraham and Isaac. When Abraham gave this area the name Beersheba, this is how his family knew the area; this is the name by which the camp of Abraham knew this particular area. However, Isaac, when this incident occurs again, will give this name to the area, and that name will stick—it will be more than just a family name for that area—and become its name even until today.
Now, what is the significance of this similar story, apart from the name Beersheba? This indicates that there is still some positive volition in Gerar. The royalty of that area still understands that Abraham was blessed by God and that his son Isaac is also blessed by God. Therefore, an alliance should be formed.
This is not a weird thing, by the way. If you are going to college, and you know of a good teacher, then you attempt to get into one of that teacher’s classes. When you become an adult and you start interacting with businesses (either as a consumer or as another business), then you choose businesses where the people are serious and have character. You do not necessarily choose the good-time, rock-and-roll businesses where, at 4:59 pm, they padlock their doors and head off to the nearest watering hole to imbibe. If you are able to find a person of character to associate with or to interact with, then you do it.
Similarly, Abimelech and Phicol—probably the sons of Abimelech and Phicol who knew Abraham (Abimelech is doubtless a title; Phicol may or may not be) recognize the importance of an association with Abraham. Abimelech I may have told Abimelech II, “You want to continue to have a good relationship with the people of Abraham, because he knows God.” So Abimelech II has the good sense to locate Isaac and form a bond with him. Remember, when Isaac was in Abimelech’s periphery and not only did Isaac enjoy great blessing, but so did Abimelech and his people. Blessing by association. Then Isaac was forced to leave. Guaranteed that the prosperity of Gerar began to decrease the moment Isaac left town. So Abimelech’s personal experience combined with what his father told him, causes him to realize that an association with Isaac is a good thing.
Unlike Abraham, Isaac plays a fairly small role in the New Testament.
1. Isaac in named in the line of Jesus. Matt. 1:2 Luke 3:34
2. Isaac is named in the formula, Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob; or in similar passages. Matt. 8:11 22:32 Mark 12:26 Luke 13:28 20:37 Acts 3:13 7:8, 32
3. Paul talks about the line of Abraham, and names Isaac. Rom. 9:6–12
4. Believers are compared to Isaac, insofar as, he is called a child of promise. We are also children of promise. Gal. 4:28
5. Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob are all called heirs to the same promise in Heb. 11:8–10
6. The New Testament mentions that Abraham offered up Isaac to God. Heb. 11:17–19 James 2:21
7. One of the few times Isaac is spoken of according to something that he did is, he passed along blessings to Esau and Jacob, his twin sons. Jacob was the child of promise and Esau was not. We will study this in the next chapter of Genesis. Heb. 11:20 By faith Isaac invoked future blessings on Jacob and Esau. Isaac knew that giving these final blessings to his son had actual impact upon their lives.
So, whereas Abraham’s actions are related to a number of doctrines in the New Testament, Isaac is primarily noted for being the child of promise and the one Abraham was ready to sacrifice to God. In these two ways, Isaac portrays Jesus. Isaac is the type and Jesus is the antitype. However, there was very little that Isaac did that any New Testament author thought was worth noting and explaining in terms of Church Age doctrine.
At this point, we leave Isaac and go to Esau—Jacob’s twin—but only for a moment.
Genesis 26:34 And Esau was forty years old when he took to wife Judith the daughter of Beeri the Hittite, and Basemath the daughter of Elon the Hittite.
As has been the case throughout the Bible, certain men will be followed; certainly lines will be followed. However, for the lines that do not lead to the Messiah, they would no longer be listed after a generation or three. That line might continue to live on for many generations, but the Bible no longer records the people in that line. We know that there were detailed records of these lines in the first third of the book of 1Chronicles, which does follow many genealogies. However, in the rest of Scripture, there is no need to follow out any other line except for the line of promise. And the various authors of Scripture appear to know which line that is.
The important line is the line of the Messiah, so that is followed all the way from Adam to Noah to Abraham to David to Jesus. That is the only line followed out in the Bible. This, in itself, is quite remarkable. There are all kinds of detractors to Scripture, who disagree about when it was written and who wrote it. But, you know what no one disagrees with? There is about a 400 year gap between the Old and New Testaments. Furthermore, no one thinks that the Old Testament was written all at once, but over a period of several hundred years at least (I believe that, technically, the Old Testament was written over a period of about 2000 years). But somehow, whoever wrote it and at whatever time it was written, they knew enough to follow only one genealogical line from beginning to the end. There is a line going from Adam to Abraham. There is no other line followed during that time period. Then the line from Abraham to David is followed—and no other line. And then, two lines are followed from David, and one leads to Joseph and the other leads to Mary. How did someone know which line to follow? How did they know to make mention of this line of Esau, and to follow it out a couple of generations, and then to stop?
As an aside, this is one of the many places where Mormons go off the rails. Although the Bible has genealogical lines, the focus is always on the line from Adam to Abraham to David to Jesus. The Mormon Scriptures (written long after the Bible) are filled with genealogical lines. If you understand why there are genealogies in the Bible (these genealogies lead from Adam to Jesus Christ), you then ask why do the Mormons record genealogies? There is only one genealogical line that matters. The first 8 or so chapters of 1Chronicles inform us that genealogical records for many people were preserved and over a long period of time. However, apart from these chapters in 1Chronicles, the Bible concerns itself with one genealogical line, because there is only one celebrity in the Christian life, and that is Jesus Christ. There is only one genealogical line that matters, and that is the line of promise or the line of grace. We may find our own genealogy to be interesting, and I have studied my own to some extent. However, I would not include my own genealogy in the study of this or that chapter, because it is not pertinent to anything. If you understand that my own genealogy has no place in the study of the Word of God, that should help you to understand why the Mormon genealogies recorded in their scriptures are without meaning—because there is only one line of promise.
Genesis 26:35 They made life bitter for Isaac and Rebekah.
They refers back to the wives of Esau. Esau, in his marriages, did not make good choices. The fact that his wives did not fit into the family well, will actually be used later by Rebekah, when she sends her son Jacob away.
It is interesting. Isaac has two children, twins, Jacob and Esau. Jacob is clearly a schemer and a chiseler, always trying to put one over on Esau. He knew of the spiritual blessing and he believed it. However, Jacob tried to get this blessing through subterfuge and by human effort and deception. God’s plan is going to move ahead, no matter what. However, it does not require deception in order to further it.
Esau was more straightforward than Jacob, but he married the wrong kind of women.
The verb here is in the feminine plural, which means, these wives of Esau made life bitter for Isaac and Rebekah. The Bible does not give us specifics as to how these women made life miserable for Isaac and Rebekah. We do not know why, exactly; but these wives were an unhappy choice. If you have lousy in-laws, then you have an inkling of what is going on. If a woman wants to make herself anathema to her mother-in-law, then she will find a way to do that. Women tend to be very skilled when it comes to making another woman dislike them.
You will recall that Abraham went to great lengths to go east to find a wife for Isaac; and that Jacob also will go east to find a wife from his family as well. Esau did not do this; he does not appear to be interested in perpetuating faith in the God of Abraham. Very likely, these other women worshiped false gods, and this was difficult for Isaac and Rebekah.
Esau appears to have married at least 7 different women, comparing this passage to Gen. 28:9 36:2, 34.
Why did Esau marry so many women? He was not happy with the first wife, so he married a second. He was not happy with the first two women, so he married a third. And so on. He came from a family that worshiped Yehowah Elohim, and he married women who worshiped heathen gods. As a result, Esau himself could not be made happy; and with each additional wife, his parents were made more unhappy.
It is likely that they all lived together on the compound. They would not all live in the same tent, but their tents would not be far from one another—Isaac, Rebekah, Jacob and Esau all being the chief members of this compound. How do you think things worked out with Esau and two or three or four wives, all living in the same compound, none of whom worshiped Yehowah, all of whom practices various forms of paganism, and these wives would have been jealous of one another. How do you think that was for camp morale? How do you think Isaac and Rebekah felt about these wives?
The Bible tells us:
Genesis 26:35 Esau’s wives made life bitter for Isaac and Rebekah.
We will study more about Esau and his wives, and even study, in a very limited way, his children. But the line of Jesus does not go through Esau; therefore, even though this portion of the Bible is written about 2000 b.c., the author knows enough that, Esau’s genealogical line is not the line to follow.
There is a lot that goes on in the narrative of Gen. 27. Isaac desires to give a blessing to his son Esau, but he predicates this upon Esau preparing a great meal for him. So there is the concept of earning or deserving attached to this blessing. Both Isaac and Esau are aware that Isaac wants to give Esau the blessing of the firstborn. That is, the promise which God made to Abraham and reaffirmed to Isaac—that promise will be passed along to Esau. This is Isaac’s intent.
To give you an idea, Isaac is somewhere between 130–140 years old and he will live another 40–50 years. This is based upon several sets of dates which are estimated for the Patriarch Timeline (HTML) (PDF) (WPD).
However, Isaac only shows up in the narrative in this chapter and the beginning of the next chapter. After that, the focus of the Genesis narrative will be upon Jacob.
People are confused about the Bible and some things which people do in the Bible. Jacob, throughout most of his life, was not a very good person. He does things which ought not be emulated. Just because we find a Biblical character doing something, that does not mean, that should be the pattern for our behavior.
In this chapter, Jacob, aided by his mother, will seek to obtain Isaac’s special blessing through deception. He and his mother both participate in this deception—in fact, his mother plans out and initiates the deception.
What seems to be the case is that Rebecca, Jacob’s mother, was teaching Jacob that, if he did not look out for his own self, that no one else would do it for him. If he needed to deceive someone else in order to get ahead, then he should do this. When interacting with someone else, and there was some advantage to be gained, then, essentially, Rebecca was teaching her son Jacob to try to gain that advantage.
As a result, Jacob believed in looking out for #1. He believed that, unless he looked out for his own interests, then no one else would. He did not look to God for his needs or desires. When you understand this, then you understand Jacob and all that happens to him. Furthermore, because of this, God is going to see to it that Jacob spends 20+ years of his life working for someone who is just like he is. Jacob is a chiseler; Laban, his uncle, whom he will work for, is even more so. Jacob is looking out for #1; but Laban, who Jacob will work for, is even more so. Jacob may or may not understand this lesson; but it is placed in the Bible so that we can understand it.
Rebekah, Jacob’s mother, believed that she could get what she wanted for her favorite son through duplicitous means. But, that is not how God’s plan works. For this reason, God will separate Jacob from his mother for 20 years, and from her negative influence. In fact, after the incidents in this chapter, she will never see her favorite son ever again. Her plans, based upon deception, will seemingly be for nought. She will lose her favorite son by doing what she does. God’s blessing is not to be conferred by duplicitous means.
Application: Do not teach your children the wrong things; you may find that God separates you from them as a result. Part of what a parent is to teach their children is morality. You do not let your child grow up like a weed, and allow him to figure out what is right and wrong on his own, any more than you plant a tree or a bush and never trim it so that it is pleasing to look at. You do not plant a lawn and then decide, “Whatever happens, happens.” You water it, you fertilize it, and you mow it. Surely your own children are more important than your lawn.
Genesis 27:1 And it happened when Isaac was old and his eyes were dim, so that he could not see, he called his oldest son Esau and said to him, “My son.”
If Isaac is between 130 and 140, and will live another 40–50 years, then he is going to be in old age for a considerable amount of time. He will live to the age of 180, so his infirmities will naturally increase. Right now, he cannot see well enough to distinguish between his two sons, so he is virtually blind—probably as a result of cataracts.
Isaac clearly favored Esau and Rebekah favored Jacob. Esau was a hunter, and Isaac requested that he kill some wild game for him to eat.
You will note that we have had very little about Isaac’s life to study, and this is because he did not have a life filled with divine good production as Abraham, his father, did. When Abraham offered up his uniquely-born son, this was an act which has stood for all time as a type of Christ offering. We do not find a similar act on the part of Isaac. The bulk of Isaac’s life as recorded in Scripture is associated with births, marriages and deaths—the milestones of life.
What Isaac says in this verse is just one Hebrew word with a suffix, which we translate my son (or, son of mine). Isaac has two sons, but this narrative will reveal that he is very attached to this particular son. Esau is his son.
Genesis 27:2 And Esau said to him, “I am right here.” Then Isaac begin, “Listen: now, I am old, I do not know the day of my death.
Isaac believes that he is going to die soon and that there are some things that he needs to do before he dies. He needs to bless his favorite son Esau. This is #1 on his list to do before dying.
This is an important moment, because Isaac is going to be passing down his inheritance and his blessing to his favorite son. One of the things which is wrong is, raising a son is a day-by-day process. A father cannot give his son everything on a day when the father knows that he is dying. In this way, both Isaac and Rebekah have failed. This narrative tells us that they have been teaching their sons, Esau and Jacob, the wrong things.
Genesis 27:3 And now please take your hunting equipment—your quiver and your bow—and go out to the field and hunt game for me.
The word which I translated as hunting equipment is kelîy (כְּלִי) [pronounced kelee]; and it means, manufactured good, artifact, article, utensil, vessel, weapon, armor, furniture, receptacle; baggage, valuables. This word is a multi-use term. It is something which has been made or manufactured. Strong’s #3627 BDB #479. You may think that it is odd to have such a multifarious-use term but we do this all the time. We use the word electronics to describe everything from a cellphone, to a computer, to a big screen tv.
Isaac believes that it is possibly his time to die, and he wants to bless Esau; but he asks Esau to go kill him some wild game. This is going to be a tit-for-tat arrangement.
Genesis 27:4 And make tasty meat-based meal for me, such as I love, and bring [it] to me so that I may eat, that my soul may bless you before I die.”
Isaac’s approach here is wrong. You will note that Isaac is offering somewhat of a trade-off here. “I am going to bless you; but what I need from you is an incredible meal of wild game.” This is not grace. His logic is simple. “I am hungry; there is nothing I love more than Esau’s cooked wild game. And it is time for me to bless him. So let’s do both of these together.” Unfortunately, this approach does not teach grace. He is teaching his son that blessing is a matter of works.
God’s blessing and the line of Jesus goes from Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob; however, it ought to be clear that Isaac and Jacob are not in the same league as Abraham, spiritually speaking.
Genesis 27:5 And Rebekah was listening when Isaac spoke to Esau his son. And Esau went to the field to hunt game in order to bring it.
Rebekah overhears what is going on, so she calls for Jacob. It will be clear from her plan that she believes the Jacob should look out for #1, and that is how she has raised him. Jacob was born second, and she has not only been his advocate but his teacher.
Both parents are teaching their favorite son the wrong things. Isaac is teaching Esau legalism; and Rebekah is teaching her son, Jacob, duplicity and looking out for #1. Neither parent really understands grace or God’s will.
Amazingly enough, God will take these 4 very flawed people and work His will among them. There is one genealogy that matters, and that genealogy goes through Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob; and no matter what these people do to screw things up, God does not lose focus; and God’s plan is never thwarted. That is grace.
Genesis 27:6–7 And Rebekah spoke to her son Jacob, saying, “Behold, I heard your father speak to your brother Esau, saying, ‘Bring me game, and make me delicious things so that I may eat and bless you before Jehovah before my death.’
My guess is, they lived on the same ground, but in different tents, each family has a tent and a specified area which was theirs. One might reasonably assume that there was a reasonable amount of space between these tents. From what we have studied, it is clear that Isaac lives on and oversees a compound; however, this compound may have a central area that is 5 or 10 acres, with tents scattered in that area.
We know that Abraham oversaw a group of 500–1200 (recall that he raised up an army of over 300 men). However, for the most part, we do not even realize that these 500 or so men and women were in close proximity to Abraham. That is because the Bible focuses in on the person of Abraham and his relationship to God. The same thing is true of these 4 principals—there might be anywhere from 300 to 3000 employees and slaves in close proximity with Isaac; but the focus of our narrative is on the interactions of Isaac, Rebekah, Jacob and Esau. So these people are around, but the Bible rarely makes reference to them.
In any movie that you see, there are the actors and there are the extras. Your eyes are always on the actors, even if they are in a scene with 15 other people in the background. God’s plan works very similar to this. Angels are watching the human race—and during this part of human history, they were to focus on this particular genealogical line. Through Scripture and through His promises, God made it clear who should be watched.
Genesis 27:6–7 And Rebekah spoke to her son Jacob, saying, “Behold, I heard your father speak to your brother Esau, saying, ‘Bring me game, and make me delicious things so that I may eat and bless you before Jehovah before my death.’
Rebekah tells Jacob exactly what Isaac had said to Esau.
Given all that is about to occur, I don’t believe that Rebekah simply wandered nearby, heard Isaac speaking, and then decided that she needed to hear more. I believe that this was intentional—she knew this was on Isaac’s mind and that she wanted her favorite son to receive the blessing that Isaac was going to give Esau. I am saying that Jacob’s devious behavior is not an anomaly. He learned this from his mother Rebekah.
These parents, who have their favorite sons, have raised these two young men incorrectly. Esau is learning legalism and Jacob is learning deception.
Genesis 27:8 And now, my son, obey my voice according to what I command you.
Rebekah has put together a plan. It is likely that she has been thinking of a plan for some time now. She needs for Jacob to get a meal together for Isaac before Esau is able to shoot or trap anything. Esau will be out hunting, and he could be gone for hours or even days.
Genesis 27:9 Go now to the flock, and bring me from there two good kids of the goats. And I will make them delicious things for your father, such as he loves.
Rebekah knows how to cook (or how to supervise cooking). Remember that she and Isaac are quite prosperous, and probably have a very large staff. Even though these historic recollections involve only these 4 people, this does not mean that they live on this compound alone. It is very likely that she has a staff of cooks that she oversees.
The two kids will have to be killed, drained of blood, skinned—and there are likely other people involved taking care of these things.
Genesis 27:10 And you will bring it to your father so that he may eat, and that he may bless you before his death.”
The trade-off which she suggests is, Isaac will bring him the meal, and he will bless Isaac. However, as we will see, her plan is more complex than that.
Genesis 27:11 And Jacob said to his mother Rebekah, “Listen, Esau my brother is a hairy man, and I am a smooth man.
Rebekah has explained enough to Jacob that he gets it. They are operating on the same wavelength. Jacob doesn’t say, “But, mother, this is wrong.” He says, “Here is a flaw in your plan.” So she has said enough to where he understands that he is going to pretend to be Esau. Jacob understands that the plan is for Isaac to bless him.
Obviously, Esau and Jacob were not identical twins; and, comparatively speaking, Esau had a lot of hair.
Genesis 27:12 My father will perhaps feel me, and I will seem to him as a deceiver. And I will bring a curse upon me, and not a blessing.”
Jacob understands that his mother wants Isaac to confer a blessing upon him rather than Esau. He also recognizes that this is being done to deceive his father. Furthermore, if Isaac realizes that Jacob is trying to pull a fast one, he will curse Jacob.
Rooted in all of this is the fact that they believed that what was said by someone like Isaac near the end of his life was important and predictive. Now, this might strike you as being superstitious and perhaps a bit silly. However, what Isaac says will not only be heard by God, but by all angelic creation, both fallen and elect angels; and the words spoken by some men have meaning. These words represent the thinking of their souls; and God will act upon these words. This is the line of promise. Through this line will come the Lord Jesus Christ. So, whatever Isaac says, God will take note, as will the angels. There is also an indication that the speaker will enjoy some measure of inspiration when he speaks.
Genesis 27:13 And his mother said to him, “Your curse be upon me, my son, only obey my voice and go bring them to me.”
What Rebekah is saying is, if Isaac curses him, then she will take the curse upon herself.
As we go further in this narrative, it will become clear that Rebekah has been thinking about this for a very long time and that she has developed quite a plan. A father blessing his son was a common thing near the end of the father’s life. The father might think about this for a decade prior to speaking the words out loud. Furthermore, it would be logical that the blessing fit the man being blessed.
So far, this is what we have studied in Gen. 27:
Gen. 27:1–4 When Isaac was old and his eyes were dim so that he could not see, he called Esau his older son and said to him, "My son"; and he answered, "Here I am." He said, "Behold, I am old; I do not know the day of my death. Now then, take your weapons, your quiver and your bow, and go out to the field and hunt game for me, and prepare for me delicious food, such as I love, and bring it to me so that I may eat, that my soul may bless you before I die."
Isaac tells his favorite son Esau to hunt some wild game, and after eating, he would give Esau his final blessing. This can be understood as a very legalistic approach to blessing.
Gen 27:5–10 Now Rebekah was listening when Isaac spoke to his son Esau. So when Esau went to the field to hunt for game and bring it, Rebekah said to her son Jacob, "I heard your father speak to your brother Esau, 'Bring me game and prepare for me delicious food, that I may eat it and bless you before the LORD before I die.' Now therefore, my son, obey my voice as I command you. Go to the flock and bring me two good young goats, so that I may prepare from them delicious food for your father, such as he loves. And you shall bring it to your father to eat, so that he may bless you before he dies."
Rebekah hears this and tells her favorite son, Jacob, about it. She tells him to bring two young goats that she will prepare, so that Jacob might pretend to be Esau and take the blessing intended for him.
Gen 27:11–13 But Jacob said to Rebekah his mother, "Behold, my brother Esau is a hairy man, and I am a smooth man. Perhaps my father will feel me, and I shall seem to be mocking him and bring a curse upon myself and not a blessing." His mother said to him, "Let your curse be on me, my son; only obey my voice, and go, bring them to me."
Jacob does not object to Rebekah’s plan on moral grounds; but he is concerned that he cannot pull this off and his father will curse him instead.
Genesis 27:14 Therefore, Jacob went out. He took them [the 2 kids from the goats] and he brought to his mother. And his mother made delicious things such as his father loved.
This is easy for the wife to figure out. She knew what Isaac liked and she knew the right kind of spices to add. And, even though the text reads that she made this meal, it is likely that she supervised the making of this meal (which does not invalidate the text).
There is a great deal missing from this narrative. When Jacob chooses the two kids from the flock, probably two of his servants prepare the kids for cooking. They might be shaved first, and the hair used for something else. Then they would be killed and bled dry and then skinned. None of this is mentioned in the narrative.
Genesis 27:15 And Rebekah took the clothes of her older son Esau, the costly [lit., desirable] ones which were with her in the house, and put them on Jacob her younger son.
The word used to describe Esau’s clothes is feminine plural noun chemedâh (חֶמְדָה) [pronounced kheme-DAW], which means, desire, desirable; longing, yearning, delight; regret (?) [see 2Chron. 21:20]. Strong’s #2532 BDB #326. These clothes are variously described as Esau’s good, best, costly clothes; but this is probably Esau’s favorite set of clothes, and/or the clothes which he wore the most often. These would be the clothes which Rebekah desires to use. These clothes will be infused with Esau’s scent, as Tide had few inroads with the Jewish people circa 1900 b.c. Esau and Jacob would smell differently, in part because Esau spent his time outdoors hunting, so he would smell of the great outdoors (which scent, Isaac will pick up on). Jacob, on the other hand, was mostly inside; and his scent would be less noticeable.
Both Jacob and his mother are being duplicitous here. They are both looking for Jacob to get the blessing promised by his father and meant for Esau.
Genesis 27:16 And she put the skins from the kids of the goats on his hands, and on the smooth of his neck.
She essentially made gloves for him out of the hairy skins of the goat. This is likely from the goat which was just killed for this meal. Again, remember that she has a staff under her, and some of them would be skilled in this area of using the skin of their animals in order to make clothing. She wanted something which did not feel like clothing, but felt natural, like skin. A very thin strip of goat epidermis could be used for make Jacob’s gloves and a neck band.
Because Isaac’s sight was very nearly gone, he would identify his favorite son in other ways—by touch and by smell. Rebekah hoped to disguise Jacob well enough, so that Isaac would mis-identify him as Esau. Therefore, Isaac had to be virtually blind.
Genesis 27:17 And she gave the delicious things and the bread which she had prepared into the hand of her son Jacob.
Rebekah knows that Isaac is waiting for a wonderful meal killed and prepared by Esau. She gives this to Jacob to present to Isaac, hoping that Isaac will be overwhelmed by the meal. Furthermore, Isaac spoke to Esau in private; so there is no reason for him to expect Jacob to suddenly show up with a meal.
Genesis 27:18 And he came to his father and said, “My father!” And he said, “I am [right] here; who are you, my son?”
Quite obviously, the voices of the two twin sons are different, and Isaac is not sure to which son he is speaking at this point. From a distance, Isaac could smell the meal, a meal which he is expecting Esau to bring—but, from a distance, he cannot yet smell the clothing that Jacob is wearing. And, from a distance, he can hear the voice, and Jacob’s voice is obviously different than Esau’s. Therefore, Isaac is somewhat confused.
Genesis 27:19 And Jacob said to his father, “I am Esau your first-born. I have done as you asked me. Arise, I pray you, sit and eat of my game, that your soul may bless me.”
Jacob is intentionally deceiving his own father. Again, this explains Jacob’s soul. He has objectives; he has things which he wants; and he attains these things through deceit, deception and manipulation. This is how he believes that he is blessed. Jacob figures that he needs to look out after #1; and that no one else will do this for him. This may have been written nearly 4000 years ago, but it speaks to the heart of man even today.
How many times have you heard, “If you don’t take care of (or, look out for) yourself, no one else will”? This is the mantra by which Jacob lives his life. Jacob was interested in how to get from where you are now to where you want to be in life. And he learned this from his mother. Using a little harmless duplicity is nothing on his ethical scale. He expresses no ethical questions and no moral outrage.
Genesis 27:20 And Isaac said to his son, “How is it that you have found it so quickly, my son?” And he said, “Because Jehovah your God brought it to me.”
Isaac appears to be somewhat suspicious here. He is not sure of the voice. As soon as Esau had gone, Rebekah began putting her plan into motion. So, this would have been as if Esau stepped out to the nearest field, found an animal, and killed it right off. Certainly, that is possible; but Isaac is going to be suspicious of what is going on for awhile.
Isaac asks, “How did you manage to kill wild game so quickly?” and Jacob answers, “God brought it to me.” Jacob is using God’s name in a frivolous manner. In other words, this is a blasphemous statement. Why do we find this in the Bible? This tells us Jacob’s sorry spiritual state. He uses God’s name in order to deceive his own father. This ought to be a pretty strong clue that Jacob is out of line. Obviously, Jacob is not very spiritually advanced.
The Bible does not romanticize its people. The people of Scripture are presented as true human beings, with a great many flaws. We are talking about the patriarchs of God’s people, the Jews—and not only does Jacob lie to his father to secure his blessing, but he blasphemes God at the same time.
Genesis 27:21 And Isaac said to Jacob, “Come near, I pray you, so that I may feel you, my son, whether you are truly my son Esau or not.”
Isaac doubts that this is really Esau. Obviously, he has a meal prepared more quickly than Isaac expected. Further, this son does not sound like Esau; he sounds like Jacob. Isaac cannot see well enough to distinguish his sons, but otherwise, he has normal sensibilities.
Isaac has a close relationship with Esau; and there was probably not a day in his life where he was unsure whether he was speaking to Esau or to Jacob—until now. Right now, Isaac is confused. In some ways, this adult male seems like Esau and in other ways, he seems to be like Jacob. It is likely that Isaac chalked this up to his old age in his own mind; but his instincts were right on the money.
Genesis 27:22 And Jacob went near to Isaac his father. And he felt him and said, “The voice is Jacob's voice, but the hands the hands of Esau.”
The goat skin gloves were convincing, but the voice that Isaac heard was certainly Jacob’s, as he believed it to be. However, the closer that Jacob moves to Isaac, the more he seems like Esau.
Genesis 27:23 And he did not know him because his hands were hairy like his brother Esau's hands. And he blessed him.
Isaac decided to believe what he felt. Isaac is undoubtedly questioning his own sensibilities now. Never before had he gotten his sons confused; but today, he is confused about the man before him.
The Hebrew sometimes gives us the overall description of what will happen, and then it goes into the actual details of what happens. V. 23 is the overview of the next 6 verses.
Genesis 27:24 And he said, “Are you truly my son Esau?” And he said, “I am.”
He asks Jacob again, and Jacob says, “I am [Esau].” Isaac does not think that there would be a reason for Jacob to deceive him; so he takes this at face value that he is speaking to Esau and not to Jacob. But what he hears confuses him greatly. It is possible that Isaac asks this question just to hear this man’s voice again. It is the voice that throws him.
Genesis 27:25 And he said, “Bring it to me, and I will eat of my son's game, so that my soul may bless you.” And he brought it near to him, and he ate. And he brought him wine, and he drank.
Rebekah is far off in the background. She did the preparation; but she is not going to allow Isaac to perceive that she is in the background. He might become more suspicious if he realizes that she is there and hovering about. Given Isaac’s inability to see, Rebecca can quietly move about far enough away to escape his detection.
Genesis 27:26 And his father Isaac said to him, “Come near now and kiss me, my son.”
Isaac is still uncertain, and he asks for Jacob to come closer to him. He thinks that the closer the person is to him, the easier it will be for him to determine which son he is. However, the closer Jacob is to his father, the easier it is for him to deceive Isaac.
Genesis 27:27 And he came near and kissed him. And he smelled the smell of his clothing, and blessed him, and said, “See, the smell of my son is as the smell of a field which Jehovah has blessed.
The odor of the clothing convinced Isaac, along with the feel of Jacob’s hairy hand. Isaac is assuming that his odor is the man himself; but it is from Esau’s clothing.
Esau was a man of the outdoors, and his clothing had that smell to it. So, Jacob wore Esau’s clothing, and he himself smelled like a field blessed by God. That simply means a field with all kind of things growing in it.
Such a pronouncement made by a man of God, before the angels, and before God, must have tangible results. Even though angels are not mentioned, what happens in our lives occurs before a myriad of angels—particularly the lives of believers with doctrine.
God teaches the angels through mankind. There are the unbelievers who say this or that, and there is little wisdom or meaning found in the things which they say. Surely you have been to a party, and people are either talking about themselves and how great they are; or they are attempting to say clever things. There is a point at which this yammering becomes nearly insufferable and you need to get out of there. None of what they have to say is important; and very little of it is interesting. That is what most people sound like to angels.
However, there are also growing and mature believers, and what they say is meaningful and has consequence. What Isaac is saying here—even though he is being misled—has meaning which will continue for at least a generation or more. God makes these words meaningful. God will bring to pass the things which Isaac is saying, even though Isaac is very old, half-blind, and cannot even recognize his son Jacob who is before him.
Because of how Jacob smells, Isaac is inspired to say this:
Genesis 27:28 And may God give you of the dew of heaven, and the fatness of the earth, and plenty of grain and wine.
The key to any prosperous field is rain—here, called the dew of heaven (recall that, before the flood, plants were watered with dew rather than by rain). Fatness simply refers to production. It is a word generally used of an animal which is fattened up—with meat, not necessarily with fat. The fatness of the earth simply refers to a field with a great deal of produce.
Also associated with prosperity—wine.
Since wine is mentioned in connection with prosperity, we ought to take a look at the doctrine of wine. Wine, like many things in life, can be good and bad, depending upon how it is used.
1. The most common Hebrew noun is the masculine noun yayin (יַיִן) [pronounced YAH-yin], which means wine. Strong’s #3196 BDB #406.
2. The masculine noun ʿâçîyç (עָסִיס) [pronounced ģaw-SEECE], which means sweet wine, wine, wine pressed from juice; new wine. Strong’s #6071 BDB #779. Isa.49:26 Joel.1:5 3:18 Amos.9:13
3. The masculine noun tîyrôsh (תִּירֹש) [pronounced tee-ROHSH], which means wine, fresh wine, freshly pressed wine, new wine. Strong’s #8492 BDB #440.
4. The masculine noun mimeçâk (מִמְסָ) [pronounced mihm-SAWK], which means mixed wine, mixed drink; drink offering. Strong’s #4469 BDB #587. Prov.23:30
5. The masculine noun shemârîym (שְמָרִים) [pronounced shehm-aw-REEM], which means a fine aged wine; wine sentiment, lees, dregs. Strong’s #8105 BDB #1038. Its use in the Bible requires some study. Ps.75:8 and Jer.48:11
1. The common Greek noun is oinos (οὄνος) [pronounced OY-noss], which means, wine; metaphorically the fiery wine [of God’s wrath]. Thayer definitions only. Strong’s #3631.
2. The neuter noun gleukos (γλεκος) [pronounced GLYOO-koss], which means, new wine; the sweet juice pressed the grape, sweet wine. Thayer definitions only. Strong’s #1098. This was an alcoholic wine. Acts 2:13
II. The first mention of wine in Scripture is that of Noah's vineyard, in Gen. 9:20–21.
A. Noah, a mature believer, overindulged and became drunk (first record of this sin). This suggests that the bacteria needed in order to change a fruit drink into wine was more prevalent after the flood.
B. The Scripture, however, does not support the contention that wine production is evil. Deut. 14:23 speaks of tithing from one’s wine production and v. 26 speaks of the Jews spending money on whatever they choose in the Land of Promise, and lists wine as one of the things they may purchase (Deut. 14:25–26 is all about free enterprise).
III. The first miracle Jesus performed was turning water into wine to manifest His divine nature, John 2:1–11 4:48.
A. I don’t believe that I have ever seen the passage explained correctly, as this is an odd sort of miracle for our Lord’s first miracle. Jesus did not go to a party where they ran out of wine and decide, “I know what I’ll do; I’ll turn water into wine and blow their collective minds.”
B. Jesus turning water into wine, was to be put into contrast with Moses turning the water into blood, which meant judgment. Turning water into wine means blessing. For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ. (John 1:17; NIV) Christ redeemed us [or, set us free] from the curse of the Law, having become a curse on our behalf-for it has been written, "Under a curse [fig., Condemned by God] [is] every [one] hanging upon a tree"- [Deut 21:23] (Gal. 3:13; ALT)
C. As God, He honored the institution of marriage by His presence and by His generous gift of good wine (approximately 150 gallons).
D. While the potential for abuse was there, He still created the best wine last.
E. Wine is a detail of life provided by God for the enjoyment of mankind, Judges 9:13 Ps.104:15, a legitimate stimulant when not used to excess.
IV. In Israel, an abundance of new wine was an indication of divine blessing in the land. Deut. 7:13 11:14 32:14 33:28.
A. Israel was to tithe the new wine. Deut.12:17 14:23 18:4
B. Under the stages of national discipline, God cursed the vine. Deut. 28:39,51. Judges 6:11 speaks of an empty wine vat.
C. David had extensive wine cellars. 1Chr. 27:27
D. Application of doctrine assured the individual of prosperity with wine. Prov. 3:10; cp. Prov. 9:2,5
V. Wine and the Day of the Lord.
A. Wine (and alcohol) will be scarce in the Tribulation (Rev. 6:6), and it will not sustain anyone (Isa. 24:7,9).
B. Metaphorically, the nations which are against God are viewed as grapes of wrath placed in God's wine press. Rev. 19:15 cp. Rev. 14:17-20 Gen. 49:11 Isa. 63:2,3 Joel 3:13
C. God will bless Israel with abundant wine production in the Millennium. Joel 2:19,22,24 3:18 Amos 9:13,14 Zech. 9:17 cp. Isa.27:16
D. The Lord Himself will provide a continuous banquet of choice red meat and good, aged red wine for all who worship at Zion. Isa. 25:6
VI. Wine is mentioned in connection with:
A. Bible Doctrine, which brings happiness. Luke 5:37-39 Isa. 55:1.
B. Category #2 love. SOS. 1:2,4 4:10 7:9
C. Positional truth. John 15
D. Happiness. Zech. 10:7
E. Judgment. Lam. 1:15; Joel 3:13
F. False doctrine. Jer. 51:7 cp. Rev. 18:3 Deut. 32:32,33
VII. God’s moral code and wine.
A. Godliness forbids drunkenness. Eph. 5:18 cp. Rom. 13:13 1Cor. 5:11 6:10 1Peter 4:3
B. One might abstain from wine if drinking wine violates the law of love. Rom. 14:21
C. Paul warns that church leaders avoid excessive drinking. 1Tim. 3:3,8
D. Wine is allowed to a pastor, if consumed in moderation. 1Tim. 5:23
VIII. The sinful trend of Adam is associated with the abuse of wine.
A. Basic drunkenness. Gen. 9:21.
B. Alcoholism. Prov. 23:29-35 .
C. Gluttony. Prov. 23:20,21
D. Fornication. Gen. 19:32-38
E. Violence. Prov. 20:1
F. Dissipation (wasting time). Isa. 5:11-12; cp. v. 10. Poverty existed due to the pursuit of pleasure. Ten acres yielding ten gallons of wine is not very productive.
G. Degeneracy, idolatry and emotional revolt of the soul. Dan. 5:24,22,23
IX. Some specific cases.
A. Nazarites were forbidden to drink wine or consume any product associated with the vine. Num. 6:14,20 Judges 13:4,7,14 Amos 2:12 Luke 1:15
B. Kings were advised to abstain from wine when ruling. Prov. 31:4,5
C. Priests were not to drink before service. Lev. 10:9,11
X. Biblical guidelines.
A. Each believer should recognize that there is a time and a place for everything. Eccles. 3:1.
B. Recognize that wine is a detail of life and that you are not to pursue it.
C. There are inherent dangers associated with drinking, so you should do so only when all Biblical and moral obligations are safeguarded (consider the law of love, time, place, associates, etc).
D. Some should never drink due to physical and niche considerations. If you have alcoholism in your family, you might abstain, as there is a genetic predisposition to alcoholism.
E. Do not violate the laws of divine establishment.
F. While alcohol in moderation is a bona fide stimulant, in excess it reduces one's inhibitions. Those with strong norms and standards and who consistently stay under the filling of the Holy Spirit are less likely to abuse it.
XI. Wine, in and of itself, is not evil. Psalm 104:14–15 He causes the grass to grow for the cattle, And vegetation for the labor of man, So that he may bring forth food from the earth, And wine which makes man's heart glad, So that he may make his face glisten with oil, And food which sustains man's heart.
Maranatha Church, accessed June 18, 2014 and
Bible Doctrine Resource, also accessed June 18, 2014.
Since these doctrines are almost identical, they were probably originally put together by R. B. Thieme, Jr.
We continue with the blessing made by Isaac concerning Jacob (whom he mistakenly thinks is Esau). Jacob sent his son Esau out to kill some wild game, and then, when he returned with this game, he would prepare it, they would eat it, and then Jacob would bless Esau. Rebekah overhears this, and gets her favorite son Jacob prepared to deceive Jacob and to steal Esau’s blessing.
Gen 27:11–12 But Jacob said to Rebekah his mother, "Behold, my brother Esau is a hairy man, and I am a smooth man. Perhaps my father will feel me, and I shall seem to be mocking him and bring a curse upon myself and not a blessing."
The idea to deceive Isaac and to take Esau’s blessing came from Rebekah. But Jacob does not object to the morality of her plan; only to the possible flaws in the plan.
Gen 27:13 His mother said to him, "Let your curse be on me, my son; only obey my voice, and go, bring them to me."
His mother says, “Look, kid, I got this. If anything goes wrong, that curse will be upon me.”
Gen 27:14–17 So he went and took them and brought them to his mother, and his mother prepared delicious food, such as his father loved. Then Rebekah took the favorite garments of Esau her older son, which were with her in the house, and put them on Jacob her younger son. And the skins of the young goats she put on his hands and on the smooth part of his neck. And she put the delicious food and the bread, which she had prepared, into the hand of her son Jacob.
Jacob is too blind to recognize or visually distinguish his sons. However, he can still hear, smell and touch. So, Jacob is now wearing Esau’s clothing, and he has gloves and a neck covering made out of the skin of the young goats which had been slaughtered.
Gen 27:18 So he went in to his father and said, "My father." And he said, "Here I am. Who are you, my son?"
Isaac is confused from the beginning.
Gen 27:19 Jacob said to his father, "I am Esau your firstborn. I have done as you told me; now sit up and eat of my game, that your soul may bless me."
Gen 27:20 But Isaac said to his son, "How is it that you have found it so quickly, my son?" He answered, "Because the LORD your God granted me success."
In uttering these words, Jacob reveals that he has little respect for the God of this blessing that he intends to steal. He lies to his father and blasphemes God in order to take the blessing of the firstborn.
Gen 27:21–23 Then Isaac said to Jacob, "Please come near, that I may feel you, my son, to know whether you are really my son Esau or not." So Jacob went near to Isaac his father, who felt him and said, "The voice is Jacob's voice, but the hands are the hands of Esau." And he did not recognize him, because his hands were hairy like his brother Esau's hands. So he blessed him.
Isaac is suspicious. He is old, but he is not daft. He can distinguish the voices of his sons, and this man sounds like Jacob and not like Esau. However, the things which his mother did win Isaac over. He is beginning to believe that this man is Esau.
Gen 27:24 He said, "Are you really my son Esau?" He answered, "I am."
This plot to steal Esau’s blessing is unexpected. Isaac is just looking for simple confirmation, and the one thing that confuses him is the voice. He is probably not looking for the answer yes or no, but to hear this man’s voice again.
Gen 27:25 Then he said, "Bring it near to me, that I may eat of my son's game and bless you." So he brought it near to him, and he ate; and he brought him wine, and he drank.
Gen 27:26–27 Then his father Isaac said to him, "Come near and kiss me, my son." So he came near and kissed him. And Isaac smelled the smell of his garments and blessed him and said, "See, the smell of my son is as the smell of a field that the LORD has blessed!
Jacob smells like the out-of-doors because he is wearing Esau’s clothing, and Esau was principally a hunter who spent a great deal of time in the outdoors. This becomes the inspiration for what Isaac says. “You will be like a field that Yehowah has blessed.”
Then Isaac continues with his blessing.
Genesis 27:28 And may God give you of the dew of heaven, and the fatness of the earth, and plenty of grain and wine.
Isaac asks for Jacob to be given 4 things:
1) The dew of heaven is used here for the first time, and is analogous to blessings from God. All that grows from the earth is nourished by rain from heaven, and the dew is as if God has come down and sprinkled water on His earth. This word is closely associated with the manna from heaven, which God used to sustain the Jews when they spent 38.5 years in the desert (Ex. 16:13–14 Num. 11:9).
One could also understand the dew of heaven to refer to spiritual blessing from God, with which the Jews will be greatly blessed. God delivered the entire Old Testament to his people, the Jews, along with His prophets. No other people has been given so much direct blessing from God.
2) The fatness of the earth refers to abundant produce from the earth. In our culture, we do not view the word fat in a favorable way, but this is a word of blessing in Scripture. A fattened calf in Scripture is not a calf filled with fat, but a healthy calf with a lot of meat on its bones.
Wherever the Jews have congregated as a people, they are generally very blessed (the exception to this is whenever antisemitism rears its ugly head).
The Jews, as a people, are associated with the earth. In the Millennium, it is not us from the Church Age who will populate the earth, but the Jews and others who have believed in Jesus. And Jesus will rule from Mount Zion throughout the Millennium. He won’t have an office in the United Nations building.
3) Plenty of grain refers to the produce of the ground, and Isaac is calling for Jacob and his descendants to be blessed with the great abundance of crops. The idea here is logistical grace, where God will see to the needs of his people.
4) As we saw in the previous lesson, wine is seen as a blessing, and it is associated with the enjoyment of life. So Isaac does not just call for the descendants of Jacob to merely be sustained, but to enjoy the great blessings of life.
Genesis 27:29a Let people serve you, and let nations bow down to you. Be lord over your brothers, and let your mother's sons bow down to you.
In some ways, Isaac is repeating the blessing which Abraham was given from God. When Abraham had offered up his uniquely-born son to God, and God withheld Abraham’s hand from killing his son, God (as the Angel of Yehowah) said to him, "By myself I have sworn, declares the LORD, because you have done this and have not withheld your son, your only son, I will surely bless you, and I will surely multiply your offspring as the stars of heaven and as the sand that is on the seashore. And your offspring shall possess the gate of his enemies, and in your offspring shall all the nations of the earth be blessed, because you have obeyed My voice." (Gen. 22:16b–18; ESV, capitalized)
At the same time, these blessings offered by Isaac are unique. Not only will other nations bow down to the son before him, but the son before him will be lord over his brothers. Isaac cannot simply give the other son this same blessing. This seems to be some sort of tradition, of passing along the family blessing to one particular son. If Jacob is lord over his brothers, then that makes him lord over Esau. So there will be a preeminence of Jacob over Esau. And these words of Isaac have been fulfilled. Do you know any Jews today? Of course you do. Do you know any Edomites (descendants of Esau )? No you don’t. They have been relegated to the dustbin of history.
There will be a line of Jacob and there will be a line of Esau. Isaac is calling for the descendants of Esau to bow down to the descendants of Jacob.
The way that this is phrased also implies that Isaac and Rebecca had other sons.
Genesis 27:29b Cursed be everyone that curses you, and blessed be he that blesses you.”
The final blessing is almost exactly the one with which God blessed Abraham. One of the words is different, but it is very close to Gen. 12:3. Using these words means that the blessings promised by God to Abraham have come to Isaac, and he passes them along to Jacob and his descendants. Therefore, all the promises which God made to Abraham are given to the line of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. With these words, this becomes the line of promise.
For God, this has always been His plan. From eternity past, God would bless the Jewish race, which would come from Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. However, this is where it becomes official in time; where it is announced to all the angels.
Bear in mind, there are only 3 people here: Isaac and Jacob; and Rebekah is off in the distance, overseeing everything. We know that no one else is here for this momentous time of blessing, because no one says, “Hey, that’s not Esau; it’s Jacob.” Nevertheless, this moment is recorded for all history in the Word of God.
“Cursed be everyone that curses you, and blessed be he that blesses you.” We find this general quotation only a few times in Scripture. Citations are from the ESV Bible (capitalized).
Gen 12:1 Now the LORD said to Abram, "Go from your country and your kindred and your father's house to the land that I will show you. And I will make of you a great nation, and I will bless you and make your name great, so that you will be a blessing. I will bless those who bless you, and him who dishonors you I will curse, and in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed."
This is God’s original promise to Abraham. Abraham needed to leave his father’s house and his family, and go to the Land of Promise, wherein God would bless him.
Also, those who blessed Abraham and his descendants would be blessed and those who dishonored him would be cursed.
Gen 27:26–27 Then his father Isaac said to him, "Come near and kiss me, my son." So he came near and kissed him. And Isaac smelled the smell of his garments and blessed him and said, "See, the smell of my son is as the smell of a field that the LORD has blessed!
Jacob has deceived his father, Isaac, and has made him believe that he is Esau rather than Jacob. So Isaac smells Esau’s clothes that Jacob is wearing, and begins this blessing.
Gen. 27:28–29 May God give you of the dew of heaven and of the fatness of the earth and plenty of grain and wine. Let peoples serve you, and nations bow down to you. Be lord over your brothers, and may your mother's sons bow down to you. Cursed be everyone who curses you, and blessed be everyone who blesses you!"
Isaac, believing that he is blessing his son Esau, blesses Jacob instead. Isaac blesses Jacob with both temporal and spiritual blessings, and he gives him preeminence over his brothers. Isaac also confers upon Jacob God’s original blessing that He made to Abraham.
Ex. 23:20–22 "Behold, I send an angel before you to guard you on the way and to bring you to the place that I have prepared. Pay careful attention to Him and obey His voice; do not rebel against Him, for He will not pardon your transgression, for My name is in Him. But if you carefully obey His voice and do all that I say, then I will be an enemy to your enemies and an adversary to your adversaries.”
God, when speaking to Moses, makes a similar statement. God’s preparing a place for Moses and the children of Israel is the plan of God the Father. He will send His Angel (the preincarnate Christ) to lead and guide Moses. God promises to be an enemy to the enemies of Moses (and the enemies of Israel).
This is not quite the blessing that we have been studying.
Num 24:2–5 And Balaam lifted up his eyes and saw Israel camping tribe by tribe. And the Spirit of God came upon him, and he took up his discourse and said, "The oracle of Balaam the son of Beor, the oracle of the man whose eye is opened, the oracle of him who hears the words of God, who sees the vision of the Almighty, falling down with his eyes uncovered: How lovely are your tents, O Jacob, your encampments, O Israel!
Balaam had been hired to curse Israel by Balak, the king of Moab, when Moses was leading the people of Israel up the King’s Highway east of the Dead Sea.
Balak knew Balaam to be a prophet, although in Num. 22–24, Balaam appears to be a prophet for hire.
Num 24:8 God brings him [Israel] out of Egypt and is for him like the horns of the wild ox; he shall eat up the nations, his adversaries, and shall break their bones in pieces and pierce them through with his arrows.
There are so many Israelites coming through the land of Moab, that there are too many to go to war against. Therefore, Balak wants them cursed by a prophet.
Num 24:9 He crouched, he lay down like a lion and like a lioness; who will rouse him up? Blessed are those who bless you, and cursed are those who curse you."
Instead of cursing Israel, as he had been hired to do, Balaam blesses Israel, indicating that they would defeat the nations around them (as per the books of Joshua and Samuel), and that those blessing them would be blessed and those cursing them would be cursed.
Elsewhere, God promises blessing to those associated with Israel (Gen. 18:18 22:18 26:4 28:14 39:5 Psalm 72:17 Acts 3:25 Gal. 3:8), but the blessing above is a specific blessing only found 3 times in the Word of God (the Exodus passage is close, but not the same thing).
Isaac has ask his favorite son Esau to go out and kill some game, and after they eat this game, Isaac would give Esau the blessing of the firstborn. Rebekah overhears Isaac making this promise to Esau, and she tells her favorite son, Jacob, and then lays out a plot to steal this blessing. Jacob agrees to this plot and Isaac ends up blessing Jacob instead of Esau.
The line of promise would go through Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob and God knew this in eternity past. This is the line that would eventually lead to the Lord Jesus Christ. So God allows Isaac to bless Jacob, thinking that it is his son Esau instead; and then God will honor this blessing.
Gen 27:26 And his father Yitsḥaq [= Isaac] said to him [Jacob], “Please come near and kiss me, my son.”
Gen 27:27 And he came near and kissed him. And he smelled the smell of his garments, and blessed him and said, “See, the smell of my son is like the smell of a field which יהוה [= Yehowah] has blessed.
This smell appears to have inspired Isaac.
Gen 27:28 And Elohim [God] give you of the dew of the heavens, of the fatness of the earth, and plenty of grain and wine.
There is a poetry in the way that this is laid out:
And God will give you
from the dew of the heavens,
from the fatness of the earth,
and plenty of grain
Gen 27:29 Let peoples serve you, and nations bow down to you. Be master over your brothers, and let your motherʼs sons bow down to you. Cursed be those cursing you, and blessed be those blessing you!” (Gen. 27:26–29 from The Scriptures 1998+, with notes of clarification by me).
There is also a parallelism in this verse:
Let peoples serve you,
and nations bow down to you.
Be master over your brothers,
and let your motherʼs sons bow down to you.
Cursed be those cursing you,
and blessed be those blessing you!
The first two lines are repeated concepts; the second two lines are repeated concepts; and the final two lines are parallel concept.
The sheer poetry combined with the accuracy of what Isaac says gives credence to the words of Peter: For no prophecy was ever produced by the will of man, but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit. (2Peter 1:21; ESV)
So somehow, in these words spoken by Isaac—given his many imperfections and despite the deception of Rebekah his wife and Jacob his son—these words are inspired, and they tell us even today of the blessings by God bestowed upon the Jewish people.
Genesis 27:30 And it happened, as soon as Isaac had made an end of blessing Jacob, and Jacob was scarcely gone from the presence of Isaac his father, that Esau his brother came in from his hunting.
Isaac blessed Jacob (thinking that he was Esau), Jacob left, and Esau suddenly returned from hunting. He apparently had spent the last couple of hours dressing the meat and cooking it.
In a compound of several hundred people, Esau would not be confused if he smelled meat being prepared within the compound. So, he may have smelled the aroma of the meat which Rebekah had prepared, but he does not give any thought to that. There are probably a 1000 people in Isaac’s compound, so Esau would take it for granted that, at almost any given time, there would waft through the compound the smells of food being prepared.
Genesis 27:31 And he also had made tasty meat and brought to his father. And he said to his father, “Let my father arise and eat of his son's game so that your soul may bless me.”
You will notice that Esau associates his blessing with a gift. He brings his father a great venison meal, and his father blesses him. He is taught to think this way by Isaac. This is not grace; this is tit-for-tat; this is quid pro quo; in Biblical terms, this is legalism. God’s blessing to Jacob through Isaac is grace—it stands to this very day, despite the sin nature activity of the family of Isaac. Quite obviously, Isaac did not earn or deserve that blessing.
Genesis 27:32 And his father Isaac said to him, “Who are you?” And he said, “I am your son, your first-born, Esau.”
Isaac recognizes Esau’s voice and he is greatly disturbed. Recall that his biggest problem with Jacob pretending to be Esau was his voice. His voice sounded like Jacob; it did not sound like Esau. However, right now, Isaac hears and recognizes Esau’s voice. At this point, there seems to be no question in Isaac’s mind which son he is speaking to.
Genesis 27:33 And Isaac trembled with a great trembling, and said, “Who then was the one who has hunted deer and brought to me, and I have eaten of all before you came, and have blessed him? Yea, he will be blessed!”
What men said in those days was important. Even when a blessing was uttered, it did not just go into the air and disappear. It would have future impact. They believed this and it was true—at least with regards to the line of promise.
Delivering such a blessing suggested that the speaker (1) may have been inspired; and (2) God would concern Himself with the blessing. These were not just empty words uttered into the air, that a wind would carry away. Such a blessing was more than a prayer that would be uttered (a prayer is often uttered regarding specific circumstances; and prayers could be answered “no”). A blessing was meaningful and important. A blessing might be given 1 or 2 times in the life of a person—and was usually spoken by the father of his son. The most common blessing—which is the one that we find the most often, is given by father when his end is near (or thought to be near). This chapter has two end-of-life blessings given by Isaac to his twin sons; and at the end of Genesis, Jacob will bless each of his 12 children.
When Isaac blessed Jacob (thinking that he was Esau), he was in part inspired by the circumstances (the smell of Esau’s clothing that Jacob was wearing). In other words, Isaac did not necessarily have a specific set of things to say that he had memorized. Some of what he said was inspired; if not all that he said. Furthermore, when speaking words like this as a blessing, the blesser expected that God would see to it that the blessee was blessed in the way that he specified. Therefore, this blessing was based upon faith in the sure providence of God.
Blessings like this, uttered by one of the patriarchs (that is, the fathers), became a part of the Angelic Conflict. The line of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob became the line of blessing, so that God would allow blessings and privileges to that particular line. We reasonably assume that, for an occasion like a blessing, that the Holy Spirit might be involved in the inspiration of that blessing. Again, 2Peter 1:21 For no prophecy was ever produced by the will of man, but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit. (ESV)
These blessings were apparently not given but at specific times—near the end of the life of the patriarch or, as will happen soon, when Jacob leaves their compound, Isaac will bless him (this time, Isaac will know that it is Jacob).
Genesis 27:33 And Isaac trembled with a great trembling, and said, “Who then was the one who has hunted deer and brought to me, and I have eaten of all before you came, and have blessed him? Yea, he will be blessed!”
Esau expected that he might be blessed by Jacob, and these words of his father devastate him.
Isaac has spoken the words of blessing upon his son Jacob, and God has recorded these words for all eternity and God will accordingly bless Jacob.
Genesis 27:34 And when Esau heard the voice of his father, he cried with a great and exceeding bitter cry, and said to his father, “Bless me, me also, O my father!”
Esau was quite upset over this. He has assumed that he would get the great blessing from his father at the very end. This indicates that Esau believed in the blessings spoken by his father, and that God would bring those blessings to fruition.
However, Esau is confused about the blessing, not knowing exactly what Isaac had said concerning Jacob. He did not realize that some of what Isaac said precluded giving a nearly identical blessing to Esau.
Genesis 27:35 And Isaac said, “Your brother came with deceit, and has taken away your blessing.”
It is likely that Isaac had been thinking of what to say to bless Esau with; and that he spoke those words on behalf of Jacob. For the receiver of the blessing to be preeminent over all his brothers is pretty much a blessing which cannot be matched. Isaac said this on behalf of Jacob; he could not very well repeat it for his son Esau.
Genesis 27:36 And Esau said, “Is it because his name is called Jacob [= chiseler, supplanter]? For he has supplanted me these two times: he took away my birthright, and now look, he has taken away my blessing [as well].” And he said, “Have you not reserved a blessing for me?”
For a mess of pottage, Esau had traded his birthright to Jacob. That had been a legitimate transaction. In his great hunger, Esau was willing to give up his birthright in order to live (he was famished to the point of exhaustion). This birthright spiritually referred to the blessings which God bestowed upon Abraham. This birthright often meant a double-portion of inheritance.
Jacob had stolen Esau’s birthright and now he has stolen his blessing as well. Therefore, Esau is filled with rage and he will continue to nurse this rage and encourage it.
Reserving a blessing would be something unique, a blessing which would belong to him alone; a blessing which had not been given to Jacob. Esau is saying, “That’s it? You are able to bless Jacob, but you have left nothing with which to bless me?”
“Have you reserved a blessing for me?”
by Raphael Sanzio from Christusrex.org,
accessed September 3, 2014.
Pope Julius II Della Rovere commissioned 25 year old Raphael Sanzio in 1508 to paint the frescos in his four room apartment on the top floor. Three of the rooms were of modest dimensions, while the fourth one was considerably larger; with the completion of the work, the rooms became known as "The Raphael Stanze." The 52 scenes on the ceilings of the loggia are still popularly referred as "The Raphael Bible." The primary problem here is, Esau is probably between 40 and 50 years old in the Biblical account.
Genesis 27:37 And Isaac answered and said to Esau, “Listen [this is how it is]! I have made him your lord, and all his brothers I have given him for servants. And with grain and wine I have supported him. And what will I do now to you, my son?”
Isaac cannot give Esau the same blessing. In his blessing of Jacob, he called for Jacob to be preeminent over Esau. He cannot simply just turn that around. Isaac cannot give Esau that same blessing—it would make no sense. Once the blessing is spoken, it stands as a testimony. Isaac cannot just take it back. If Isaac could do this, then of what meaning and substance is the blessing in the first place?
Genesis 27:38 And Esau said to his father, “Have you but one blessing, my father? Bless me, me also, my father.” And Esau lifted up his voice and wept.
Isaac’s promise of wine for Isaac has caused Esau to whine.
Esau has a terrifically damaged soul. He feels sorry for himself; he feels angry toward his brother and cheated by him—and he will continue to encourage these feelings within himself.
This is what we have been studying:
Gen 27:30–31 As soon as Isaac had finished blessing Jacob, when Jacob had scarcely gone out from the presence of Isaac his father, Esau his brother came in from his hunting. He also prepared delicious food and brought it to his father. And he said to his father, "Let my father arise and eat of his son's game, that you may bless me." (ESV)
Jacob has already pretended to be Esau and has stolen Isaac’s end-of-life blessing meant for Esau. Esau comes in after the fact with wild game which he had killed and then prepared for his father.
Gen 27:32–33 His father Isaac said to him, "Who are you?" He answered, "I am your son, your firstborn, Esau." Then Isaac trembled very violently and said, "Who was it then that hunted game and brought it to me, and I ate it all before you came, and I have blessed him? Yes, and he shall be blessed." (ESV)
Jacob recognizes the voice of Esau immediately and says that he already gave Jacob Esau’s blessing.
Gen 27:34 As soon as Esau heard the words of his father, he cried out with an exceedingly great and bitter cry and said to his father, "Bless me, even me also, O my father!" (ESV)
Esau cries out bitterly over this situation.
Gen 27:35 But he said, "Your brother came deceitfully, and he has taken away your blessing." (ESV)
Gen 27:36 Esau said, "Is he not rightly named Jacob? For he has cheated me these two times. He took away my birthright, and behold, now he has taken away my blessing." Then he said, "Have you not reserved a blessing for me?" (ESV)
Esau is clearly overwrought with emotion.
Gen 27:37 Isaac answered and said to Esau, "Behold, I have made him lord over you, and all his brothers I have given to him for servants, and with grain and wine I have sustained him. What then can I do for you, my son?" (ESV)
Isaac cannot very well make both brothers preeminent over the other.
Gen 27:38 Esau said to his father, "Have you but one blessing, my father? Bless me, even me also, O my father." And Esau lifted up his voice and wept. (ESV)
At the same time, Isaac lifts up his voice and gives Esau a blessing. However, there is a serious problem with the translation of this next verse.
Bear in mind that this prophecy was made 4000 years ago, at a time when the Middle East looked much different. Recall that the name of the most famous area of the Middle East is called the Fertile Crescent (which is mostly included by the nation of Iraq). At one time, this was a beautiful area—well-watered and filled with both vegetation and two huge rivers. Therefore, it is given that name. But that is not what these places are today and for millenniums have been less than fertile.
It is amazing that these words of Isaac, who is clearly not a spiritual giant, describe the future of Esau and the future of most Arabic peoples.
Genesis 27:40 By your sword you shall live, and you shall serve your brother; but when you grow restless you shall break his yoke from your neck.” (ESV)
Barnes writes: Edom was long independent; but at length Saul was victorious over them (1Sam. 14:47), and David conquered them (2Sam. 8:14). Then followed a long struggle, until John Hyrcanus, 129 b.c., compelled them to be circumcised and incorporated into Judaism. “Break his yoke.” The history of Edom was a perpetual struggle against the supremacy of Israel. Conquered by Saul, subdued by David, repressed by Solomon, restrained after a revolt by Amaziah, they recovered their independence in the time of Ahab. They were incorporated into the Jewish state, and furnished it with the dynasty of princes beginning with Antipater.
Isaac said, “By your sword, you will live.” Esau’s tradition would be to always be at war. Even today, this is the case.
Wars in the World graphic from June 23, 2014 (if you are not aware of this site, you should bookmark it). Note that nearly all of the warfare is in northern and central Africa as well as in the Middle East, where many of the descendants of Esau live. They are living by the sword, just as Isaac, nearly 4000 years ago, said that they would.
This constant struggle of the Islamic peoples every day threatens to suck in the other nations of the earth into a massive world war—which war I believe we will see in our lifetimes.
Genesis 27:41 And Esau hated Jacob because of the blessing with which his father had blessed him. And Esau said in his heart, “The days of mourning for my father are at hand. Then I will kill my brother Jacob.”
Now, remember the various ways that v. 39 is translated. I said that the correct understanding is for Esau to live away from richness of the earth and away from the dew of the heavens. Note Esau’s reaction—he hates Jacob! This tells us that Isaac has given Esau a crappy blessing. This confirms the translation which I have given to you. Half of this blessing is not very good. Esau hears this, and he is none too happy about it. Jacob stole his blessing, and he hates Jacob!
Esau says to himself that, after Isaac dies, then he will kill his brother Jacob (no one realizes at this time that Isaac’s death is still quite a ways off). Esau was quite angry over this whole blessing ordeal. And he continued to mull over this sin of hatred over and over again in his head.
Genesis 27:42 And these words of her older son Esau were told to Rebekah. And she sent and called her younger son Jacob, and said to him, “Listen, your brother Esau comforts himself about you by planning to kill you.
Esau did not just keep this to himself. He shared this thought with others, and what he said did get back to his mother.
The word translated comforts himself above is nâcham (נָחַם) [pronounced naw-KHAHM], and it is in the Hithpael stem. The Hithpael is the reflexive of the Piel (the intensive stem). The Hithpael conveys the idea that one places himself into the state or the action of the verb, which is an achieved state. Seow gives several uses; however, its primary use is reflexive—the verb describes action on or for oneself. That is, the subject of the verb is also the object of the verb. So, the word himself is not actually found in the Hebrew; nor is this a suffix, but it conveys the meaning of the Hithpael stem. In the Hithpael, this verb means, being sorry, having compassion; ruing, repenting of; comforting oneself, being comforted; easing oneself. Strong’s #5162 BDB #636. In other words, Esau hates Jacob and it gives Esau great pleasure to think of the various ways in which he might kill Jacob, by which he would gain his revenge. This is a fantasy that Esau has, and he plays it out in his thinking in a variety of ways; and this fantasy gives Esau great pleasure.
Sometimes a mental attitude sin can be very gratifying, and Esau no doubt thought about the various ways he might kill Jacob, thoughts which he engaged in for his own personal pleasure; but thoughts he also shared.
The problem with mental attitude sins is, they affect all that you are. Esau has taken the mental attitude sin of hatred and has parlayed this into a series of fantasies, all of which end in the death of his brother Jacob.
This leads us to 3 very important doctrines: the Doctrine of Hatred, the Doctrine of Emotions, and the concept of Emotional Revolt of the soul.
Jacob, pretending to be Esau, has stolen from Esau the blessing spoken by Isaac, their father. This has filled Esau with hatred toward his brother Jacob.
Genesis 27:41 And Esau hated Jacob because of the blessing with which his father had blessed him. And Esau said in his heart, “The days of mourning for my father are at hand. Then I will kill my brother Jacob.”
Because of the hatred in his heart, Esau now fantasizes about killing his brother Jacob.
Genesis 27:42 And these words of her older son Esau were told to Rebekah. And she sent and called her younger son Jacob, and said to him, “Listen, your brother Esau comforts himself about you by planning to kill you.
Esau was apparently not very discrete about his plans to kill Jacob. Not only did he think about it and fantasize about it, but he apparently told several people about what he would do. He told so many people that Rebekah, their mother, heard, and became very concerned about the situation.
Before we can move forward in this narrative, we need to examine a few doctrines. The first is the Doctrine of Hatred.
1John 4:20 If anyone says, "I love God," and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen cannot love God whom he has not seen. (ESV)
Matthew 5:44 But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you. (ESV)
Unless otherwise noted, verses are quoted from the ESV, capitalized. Bolded words represent my emphasis.
1. Definition of hatred:
1) ISBE’s definition: A feeling of strong antagonism and dislike, generally malevolent and prompting to injury (the opposite of love); sometimes born of moral resentment.
2) ZPEB: [Hatred is] an intense aversion or active hostility that is expressed in settled opposition to a person or thing.
3) Generally speaking, hatred is a mental attitude sin expressed by one man (or a group of men) toward another man (or group of men). John 15:18–24
2. Hebrew vocabulary:
1) The strongest Hebrew verb for hate is sâţam (שָֹטַם) [pronounced saw-TAHM], which means to hate; to oppose; to bear a grudge, to retain [or, cherish] animosity, to be against; to lay snares [for someone], to lay a trap, to follow with hostility. Strong’s #7852 BDB #966.
(1) It is found in Gen. 27:41, which reads: Now Esau hated Jacob because of the blessing with which his father had blessed him, and Esau said to himself, "The days of mourning for my father are approaching; then I will kill my brother Jacob." Esau nursed this hatred, and had hoped to turn it into murder.
(2) Joseph’s brothers were worried that he would hate them and take retribution on them after their father died in Gen. 50:15 (Joseph’s brothers sold him into slavery due to jealousy). Their concern is that he would parlay his hatred (which they supposed he had, but he didn’t) into murder as well. Related to this is this same word found in Gen. 49:23, where Jacob, in his final words to Joseph, spoke of others (archers) attacking him out of hatred. It reads: The archers have bitterly grieved him, shot at him and carried animosity against him. (VW)
2) The second verb is sânêʾ (שָֹנֵא) [pronounced saw-NAY], which means, to hate, loath; to be hateful, to be filled with animosity. Strong’s #8130 BDB #971. Unless qualified, this is the weaker of the two verbs.
(1) Isaac used this verb (the weaker verb) to refer to Abimelech, who sent Isaac away from his land. Isaac knew that Abimelech did not hate him, but he acted as if he did in order to placate his people. Gen. 26:16, 27
(2) Leah is called the hated wife of Jacob (Gen. 29:31, 33). Now, since they were having sex and producing babies, this would suggest that Jacob did not actually hate her.
(3) Jacob played favorites, and loved his son Joseph more than the others. Joseph’s older brothers came to hate him because of this. In this situation, the emotions of the brothers were strong enough to act, to sell Joseph into slavery. Gen. 37:4–8
(4) This word can be used for an intense hatred, as long as it is so qualified. 2Sam. 13:15
3) The feminine noun cognate for the verb above is sineʾâh (שְִֹאָה) [pronounced sihn-AW], which means hate, hating, hatred. Strong’s #8135 BDB #971.
(1) When a person is murdered because of hatred, that is first degree murder in the Bible, and it is punishable by death. When hatred is not a motivating factor, but death is caused accidentally, then it is involuntary homicide, which does not require an execution. A trial is often necessary in order to determine whether there was the motivation of hatred of not. Num. 35:20–28
(2) Amnon, one of David’s degenerate sons, lusted after his half-sister. After raping her, his sexual lust turned to hatred, and both the verb above and this noun is used to describe how he felt about her. As is found above, his new hatred for her was simply a marked contrast with his previous lust for her. 2Sam. 13:15
(3) King David was often made the object of hatred because of his political power. In Psalm 109:1–5, he records this hatred in such a way as to be a type of Christ.
(4) It is better to eat salad in a house where there is love than to eat steak in a house filled with hatred. Prov. 15:17
3. Therefore, the first Hebrew word is most closely associated with murder or extreme pain and suffering. The second Hebrew verb is associated with actions taken against the hated person, but this is not always seen as murderous intent. There are exceptions to this. Absalom bore hatred for Amnon for raping his sister, but kept it quiet until he had the opportunity to kill Amnon. 2Sam. 13:22
4. Greek vocabulary:
1) The verb miseô (μισέω) [pronounced mihs-EH-oh], which means, to hate, pursue with hatred, detest; to be hated, detested. Thayer definitions only. Strong’s #3404. All New Testament verb references will be this word.
2) The feminine noun echthra (ἔ́χθρα) [pronounced EHKH-thrah], which means, enmity; cause of enmity; hatred, animosity. Thayer definitions only. Strong’s #2189.
(1) This word is used once to refer to a sin in Gal. 5:20 (translated enmity in the ESV).
(2) It is used to say that love of the cosmic system is equivalent to hatred for God. James 4:4
(3) Similarly, the flesh is hostile towards God. Rom. 8:7
(4) God is hostile toward us; but His hostility is removed by the cross. Eph. 3:15–16
5. Hatred is clearly condemned in Scripture, in both Testaments.
1) You shall not hate your brother in your heart, but you shall reason frankly with your neighbor, lest you incur sin because of him. You shall not take vengeance or bear a grudge against the sons of your own people, but you shall love your neighbor as yourself: I am the LORD. (Lev. 19:17–18; emphasis mine) This is both a condemnation of an Israelite hating another Israelite; but the underlying concept is, two people who have placed their trust in God should not hate one another.
2) Paul includes hatred under the works of the flesh. Now the works of the flesh are obvious, which are: adultery, sexual immorality, uncleanness, lustfulness, idolatry, sorcery, hatred, strife, jealousies, outbursts of anger, rivalries, divisions, heresies, envyings, murders, drunkenness, orgies, and things like these; of which I forewarn you, even as I also forewarned you, that those who practice such things will not inherit the Kingdom of God. (Gal. 5:19–21; WEB; emphasis mine)
3) See also Prov. 10:12 26:24–26 Titus 3:3 1John 3:15
6. Hatred is closely associated with murder and condemned by God. Gen. 27:41 Matt. 5:21 1John 3:15
7. A killing where hatred was not involved was not considered 1st degree murder under the Israel economy, and such an accidental death may result in a pardon. Deut. 4:42 19:4–6 Joshua 20:5
8. It is a mistake to say that Jesus modified the Old Testament teaching of hatred (as suggested by ZPEB and by many other sources). Jesus lived under the Law perfectly and He taught the Law of God throughout the first half of His ministry. Doing good to those who hate you personally (Matt. 5:43 Luke 6:27) is not a modification of the Law of Moses, but a clarification of it. To give you a modern-day example, in war, we are to kill our enemies; and we should execute murderers. However, this should not prevent us from bringing the gospel and Bibles to an enemy country nor should this prevent one from witnessing to a condemned killer. The very worst person you can think of (most people think of Hitler rather than Stalin or Mao) still should hear the gospel. And, no matter how you personally feel about a person, if there is the right opening to tell them about the forgiveness of Jesus Christ, then you should.
9. Hatred can be directed toward God and the Word of God. The idea is, this is negative volition toward the truth. Prov. 1:29
10. Hatred as an anthropopathism:
1) God hates idolatry. This is known as an anthropopathism, where an emotion of man is ascribed to God to explain His actions or, in this case, His disapprobation. Deut. 12:31 16:22
2) God hates those who hate Israel. Psalm 139:21–22
3) God hated Israel when their feasts and celebrations were false. Isa. 1:14
4) God is said to love Jacob but hate Esau. This merely distinguishes between the line or promise and the genealogical line that goes nowhere. Mal. 1:3 Rom. 9:13
5) ZPEB explains this in a slightly different way: God must not be understood to act on the human plane of anger and hostility. It must likewise be recognized that the Hebrew thought-form makes no sharp distinction between the individual and his deeds. A man in Hebrew thought is the sum total of the actions of his life, so that to say God hated a man is not to say that God was maliciously disposed toward a particular personality, but to note divine opposition to evil that was registered in that life. In connection with Esau, “hate” had a very colorless sense, being almost equivalent to the acknowledgment of a divine selectivity. Jacob He chose and Esau He rejected.
6) One needs to bear in mind that Jesus died for all men—not just those who choose to believe in Him—therefore, divine love is expressed toward all mankind. Recall that when Jesus said, “Forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing”; He was speaking of those assaulting Him, cursing Him, and lying about Him so that He would be crucified. He paid for the sins of the disciple John and his mother Mary; but also for Pilate, for those who cursed Him, for the men who nailed His hands and feet to the cross, and for the thieves on the crosses on both sides of Him (one of whom believed in Him).
11. Hatred where hatred is not meant:
1) This same sort of approach is applied to believers. Disciples were told to hate their mother and father and other relatives. This does not mean that we actually should hate our parents (or children, or whatever). It means that Jesus should be far higher on the scale of values to His disciples than their blood relatives. Matt. 10:37 Luke 14:26
2) The father who does not discipline his child hates that child (Prov. 13:24). This does not mean that parent literally hates his child; but it means that he is bringing up his child wrong and will, in the long run, cause his child harm by not disciplining him when he needs it.
3) See also Psalm 5:5 97:10 139:21–22 Prov. 13:5 15:27 28:6
4) Whoever loves his life will lose it and whoever hates his life in this world will retain it for eternal life. (John 12:25; off the cuff translation). This does not mean that we spend every waking moment hating our lives and wishing we were dead. Mature believers, generally speaking, have wonderful lives. However, life on earth for us is temporary and important, and death is inevitable and a promotion. As Paul wrote, To live is Christ and to die is gain (Philip. 1:21b; NIV). Paul did not hate his life; nor was he suicidal. But, because of his relationship to God and because of his understanding of life, he was fearless in life. In his scale of values, God calling him home was better than remaining on earth, even though he enjoyed giving the gospel and teaching Bible doctrine.
12. Hating someone is not a good enough reason to not pay them back a debt. Deut. 7:10
13. Believers who are out of line and corrected by God sometimes hate God or hate the discipline given them (Psalm 50:7, 17 Prov. 5:12). People who hate reproof are stupid (Prov. 12:1).
14. Solomon, when operating outside of the spiritual life, and was involved in many building projects and other acts of human good, was frustrated by the results and hated this work, in part because he would leave it to someone else who would be a slacker. Eccles. 2:17–18
15. The world (that is, the cosmic system) hates Jesus Christ and it hates believers. Matt. 10:22 John 7:7 15:17–18 17:14 1John 3:13
16. The world hates Jesus without a cause. John 15:24–25
17. The wicked hate the light because it exposes their evil deeds. John 3:20
18. However, we are not to pay back those who have wronged us with evil, but with good. Rom. 12:17–21 Repay no one evil for evil, but give thought to do what is honorable in the sight of all. If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all. Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave it to the wrath of God, for it is written, "Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord." To the contrary, "if your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink; for by so doing you will heap burning coals on his head." See also Luke 6:27
19. As an aside, when we are told to love our enemies, this does not mean that we send weapons and supplies to Muslim extremists who would kill us (like ISIS). Jesus is primarily referring to personal enemies. In war, we look to destroy our enemies until they give up; after which, we are to treat our enemies fairly and with compassion (as we did in Japan after WWII). Truman’s decision to bomb Japan with atomic weapons was a sound decision; MacArthur’s decision to call for Bibles and missionaries in Japan after they surrendered was also a sound decision. Liberals and confused Christians do not understand that.
Because God has entrusted the United States with great wealth and the greatest military in human history, this is a responsibility and something that we must employ from time to time. Liberals often have no understanding of our responsibility in the world as tied to our military. I have heard on so many occasions, people complaining about Iraq and saying, “What do you want us to do; leave troops in Iraq forever?” The simple answer to that question is, “Yes.” Many people do not really understand that. Our military helps to maintain law and order, which allows for the teaching of the gospel and the teaching of Bible doctrine. Our troops in Korea have been there for 65 years, and their occupation has prevented a nation run by nutball dictators (North Korea) in check; and has prevented communist attacks against a noble nation (South Korea).
ZPEB and ISBE quotations are from:
The International Standard Bible Encyclopedia; James Orr, Editor; ©1956 Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co.; Ⓟ by Hendrickson Publishers; from E-Sword; Topic: Hate; Hatred.
The Zondervan Pictorial Encyclopedia of the Bible; Merrill Tenney, ed., Zondervan Publishing House, ©1976; Vol. 3, pp. 46–47.
We have been studying Isaac and his twin sons Jacob and Esau. Jacob has stolen Esau’s birthright and, more recently, Isaac’s end-of-life blessing by deceiving his own father.
You will note that both brothers did not understand how life was. Jacob believed that he could only receive blessing through conniving and stealing; Esau believed that he could somehow overcome this loss of blessing by simply by killing Jacob. Esau’s thinking is illogical. If Jacob is blessed, then that blessing has to come to pass. If the blessing is real and meaningful, then Esau cannot kill Jacob because of the blessing. If the blessing is meaningless, and if Esau could kill Jacob in order to end his blessing, then Esau is upset about nothing. If Esau, through sin, could remove Jacob’s blessing; then Jacob is not really blessed by God. That would mean Esau has power over God, when he does not.
Let’s lay this out in another way. The blessing uttered by Isaac on behalf of Jacob is either real and meaningful or it is not. If the blessing is real and meaningful, then there is nothing that Esau can do about it. However, if this blessing for Jacob is not real and not meaningful, then who cares what Isaac has said? It does not mean anything. Esau may be upset over the whole situation, but, there is nothing that he can do about it.
Now Jacob and Esau are both wrong in their perceptions. God blesses Jacob because, as the Bible says of God, “Jacob I love but Esau, I have hated.” (Rom. 9:13 Mal. 1:2–3) For God to give His blessing to Jacob, no deception or duplicity is required; but when God gives His blessing, there is nothing that can be done to short-circuit it.
Esau is so filled with anger and hatred right now, he cannot think straight. It should be obvious that, if Esau could end this blessing, then the blessing is logically meaningless. However, emotion does not think; emotion does not reason. Emotion rages. There are political groups and one religion (Islam) which are filled with rage—they even celebrate a day of rage, now and again. These are people who celebrate mental attitude sins. Nothing could be more evil.
Much of the material developed below ultimately came from R. B. Thieme, Jr.
1. Emotion is defined as a complex biological or physiological process. Emotion is a function of the soul that is concerned with somatic expression or feeling. Emotion can be normal or abnormal. The purpose of normal emotion is to respond to various thoughts in our souls by way of norms and standards.
2. Emotion is tied to our volition and mental attitude.
3. Emotion is what is experienced as distinguished from cognitive and volitional states of consciousness. The frame of reference, memory center, viewpoint, norms and standards, and doctrine exist in the right lobe only (the right lobe contains our thoughts, ideas, norms and standards which we have decided to believe). None of these exist in the emotions. Emotions are designed to respond to thoughts that emanate from the thinking of our right lobes.
4. Emotions can respond to thoughts, but emotions can also function without thoughts. When emotions function without thinking, it is abnormal emotional activity called emotional instability, emotions in control, or emotional revolt. This state of mind can come and go quickly and it can hang on for a long time.
5. Emotions lack thought; therefore they are not adequate guides for motives, decisions, and actions of the believer. The problem with many liberals is, they feel something, and then they build up their thinking based upon their feelings.
6. Normal emotional experience is the subordination of the emotion to the intellect. Abnormal emotional experience results in the soul subordinating the intellect to the emotion, or the emotion bypassing the norms and standards. One may have control of his emotions or he can be controlled by his emotions.
7. Positive response to the heart produces the spectrum of happiness in the emotions from tranquility to ecstatic. Happiness is there because of doctrine. But how do you know its there? Emotions tell you, because of all of the responses from the whole spectrum of emotions.
Emotions in the Bible:
8. Very often, emotions are spoken of, in general, using metonyms (that is, one word stands in for another word). Often interior organs are used to refer to emotions. The womb, kidneys, bowels and/or intestines are terms often used to refer to emotions in general.
9. Examples of the Bible’s use of metonym; where an interior organ stands for an emotion:
1) The KJV of Gen 43:30 And Joseph made haste; for his bowels did yearn upon his brother: and he sought where to weep; and he entered into his chamber, and wept there. The ESV modernizes this to: Then Joseph hurried out, for his compassion grew warm for his brother, and he sought a place to weep. And he entered his chamber and wept there. See also 1Kings 3:26 for a similar example.
2) Jeremiah uses kidneys in the same way in Lam. 3:10–13 He is a bear lying in wait for me, a lion in hiding; he turned aside my steps and tore me to pieces; he has made me desolate; he bent his bow and set me as a target for his arrow. He drove into my kidneys the arrows of his quiver;... (ESV) See also Psalm 7:9 26:2 Prov. 23:16 Jer. 17:10 (bear in mind that your modern translation will probably not translate this word reins or kidneys, even though that is the actual Hebrew meaning).
3) We often use the word heart to refer to our emotional response; whereas the Bible uses heart for the thinking of the soul. The KJV of Psalm 73:21–22 Thus my heart was grieved [that is, his thinking was thrown off kilter], and I was pricked in my reins. So foolish was I, and ignorant: I was as a beast before thee. This same passage in the KJ2000: Thus my soul was grieved, and I was pierced in my heart. So foolish was I, and ignorant: I was as a beast before you. In this passage, the psalmist has allowed his emotions to get the best of him. But you can see how our use of the language has changed. So, whereas we closely associate heart with emotions; the word for heart, in both the Greek and the Hebrew, often stands for the right lobe of the soul, which is the entire mental function of the soul. So, with some English translations, this gets tricky. Some of them (like the KJ2000 mentioned above) translates the Hebrew word for reins (kidneys) as heart; but they do not translate the Hebrew word for heart as heart. Because of this confusion, I may need to do the doctrine of heart in the near future.
10. Mistaken examples:
1) The word belly or stomach is found in the New Testament. This is not a word which is used for a person’s emotions, but for a person’s appetites; that is, the lust pattern of the soul. A person who puts his desires (for money, power, sex, drugs, alcohol) above everything else is to be avoided. Rom. 16:17–18 I appeal to you, brothers, to watch out for those who cause divisions and create obstacles contrary to the doctrine that you have been taught; avoid them. For such persons do not serve our Lord Christ, but their own appetites [= belly in the KJV], and by smooth talk and flattery they deceive the hearts of the naive. (ESV) The idea is, whatever their lust desires is like food to them; they believe that it is absolutely required. These people may sound very reasonable; but beneath all that they say is a desire to satiate their lusts. See Philip. 3:17–19 for a similar example.
2) However, this does not negate the principle of avoiding similar people who allow their emotions to guide them through life.
3) This brings up the concept of separation in the Christian life; and that is a very difficult concept. Obviously, we cannot separate from all people who sin and we cannot separate from all people who think too much with their emotions. So, the rule of thumb is, as believers we separate from others where the gospel or Bible doctrine is compromised. Let me offer two examples:
(1) This should be obvious. You avoid people involved in criminal activity. You do not ride along with criminals about to rob a convenience store so that you can witness to them. However, this does not prevent you from witnessing to someone who you know to be a criminal.
(2) You may have relatives in town visiting you and they may hate the teaching of the Word of God. You still attend Bible class, even though they have no interest in it. You separate from them during this time.
11. None of this means that the Bible is anti-emotion. The emotion is the appreciator of the soul, and we are certainly allowed to appreciate various things, as long as our emotions do not control our soul. NT examples can be found in Philip. 1:7–8 and Philemon 12, 20 where the word bowels is used (in the original Greek) in association with emotional appreciation and refreshment. God gave us emotions so that we can enjoy life.
12. Many Christians believe a real spiritual experience must be an emotional one and herein lies a significant problem for Christendom. They allow how they feel to determine if they are rightly related to God or if they are filled with the Spirit or not. However, the believer in Jesus Christ cannot gauge his spiritual life based upon his emotions.
1) As an aside, emotions can also be artificially stimulated through psycho-therapeutic drugs. Although I reject the widespread usage of such drugs, there are probably a few times when they are effective and helpful.
2) However, as a believer in Jesus Christ, if you are taking a psycho-therapeutic drug, and it plunges you into depression or into a feeling of well being, then what you know about God through Bible doctrine has to overrule your emotional state. No matter how your emotions are brought about, your thinking should override whatever actions your emotions point you to.
3) The same thing is true of any emotional state, no matter how it is brought about. However you feel, it must be subordinate to the Bible doctrine in your soul. No matter how strong your emotions are and no matter what they appear to be directing you to do, you need to have Bible doctrine in your soul to go to, to apply, to ruminate upon.
13. False doctrine seems to thrive on emotion. The more a person or group of persons are led by their emotions, the more false doctrine abounds.
1) We can therefore see the need to beware of hyper emotional types who are led by their emotions and not by their intellects.
2) There are denominations where emotion dominates worship. Often these denominations grow in numbers of bodies attending. It would seem people like to feel good emotionally. However, how you feel is not a gauge of your spiritually or of your spiritual growth.
3) Common errors emanate from statements like: "I must feel saved if I am saved"; "my sin was so bad I must do some penance for forgiveness" or "if I do not feel sorry for what I did surely God will not forgive me just by naming my sin.” Then there are other equally inappropriate thoughts like "true worship involves crying and rejoicing with tears while lifting my hands toward God.”
4) People in these types of situations often think tears of joy or tears of sorrow publicly displayed make for true worship; they often equate this phenomena with the working of the Spirit of God and the one who does the emoting is thought to be, a man of God or a really spiritual person.
5) Because most people are followers, they can be moved by a charismatic person who is able to touch their emotions and manipulate their emotions. The believer with doctrine must constantly compare what he hears with the rule of doctrine.
6) Your pastor-teacher might be an excellent, motivating speaker and he might be as dry as chalk dust—his personality is never the issue. How he makes you feel is never an issue. The only issue is, does he communicate Bible doctrine to you accurately and effectively (that is, are you actually learning the Word of God, when all is said and done).
14. It is absolutely necessary for every believer to keep his or her emotions under control. For to do otherwise can result in demonic influence.
15. However, there are times when one’s emotions act (or should act) in conjunction with the doctrine in your soul.
1) I personally have an emotional response to a presentation done by the Liberated Wailing Wall.
2) There are some hymns which provoke an emotional response within us (like A Mighty Fortress). There is a benediction that we sang at a church; the first church that I attended as a Christian. I find that benediction moving (Praise God from Whom all Blessings Flow). You may find that other hymns touch you.
3) When you see another believer in need, you should not ignore his earthly needs; particularly if God has blessed you. 1John 3:17 But whoso hath this world's good, and seeth his brother have need, and shutteth up his bowels of compassion from him, how dwelleth the love of God in him? (KJV) Shutting off one’s bowels means turning off a normal emotional response of compassion toward that person in need. The ESV modernizes this verse to: But if anyone has the world's goods and sees his brother in need, yet closes his heart against him, how does God's love abide in him? There are things which you see which should stir your emotions; Bible doctrine in your soul gives you the wisdom to appropriately respond.
4) The fact that you, as a believer, live by doctrine, does not mean that you ignore or suppress your emotions. There are times when you will face the needs of another person—and this may also provoke an emotional response. You deal with the situation as according to doctrine, which sometimes means that you will render aid and comfort.
16. There is no divine power in emotions. The power is in thinking like God thinks; the power is, what is going on in your (dare I say it?) heart (the Biblical understanding of the heart). Therefore, your thinking must be based upon Bible doctrine. Emotion has no spiritual connotation. Emotions are a stimuli for action, and therefore must be regarded as a form of human energy.
1) Emotional stress, for example, causes people to act on impulse. The emotion of fear, also a sin, causes flight. The emotion of disgust causes repulsion. The emotion of anger causes violence.
2) Instincts are reflex behavior based on emotion rather than thought. Emotion does not contain thought. Therefore, emotion is physiological and not thinking.
3) A soldier in an intense situation will experience some normal fear; however, he must function according to what he has learned, and not let his fear control him. A soldier who responds to his fear will die and probably get many of his fellow soldiers killed. A soldier who responds to what he has learned will be a great soldier, and the man that you want to fight along side with. This is a wonderful parallel to the spiritual life.
17. Emotion does not contain the ability to reason. It does not contain common sense. It does not contain vocabulary as a tool for mental function. It has no doctrinal content. Emotion is related to human power and influence, but never to divine power and the mystery doctrine of the church.
1) Emotion hinders spiritual growth and application of Bible doctrine. 2Cor.6:11-12 tells us that the Corinthians were given sound teaching, but their emotional response (bowels in the original Greek) restricted their understanding. In studying the epistles to the Corinthians, it is clear that many of them were controlled by their emotions and got into various tiffs with one another because of their emotions.
2) Such believers’ unrestrained or uncontrolled emotional patterns are the basis for criminality, violence, hatred, anger, total involvement in the arrogance complex, which means bitterness, vindictiveness, jealousy, implacability, and self-pity.
18. Ignorance of Bible doctrine causes people to say things like, You are not saved unless you feel saved; you are not spiritual unless you feel spiritual. Under some conditions, the use of doctrine in recall or application often causes an emotional response, and that is normal, but not necessary.
Addendum: Let me use a political example of how emotions have guided our actions in a wrong direction. There is nothing more heart-wrenching than the iconic photo from the Vietnam war, with the children running and crying. No parent can see a picture like that without it reaching deep into their emotions.
Picture is from the London Glossy Post, accessed September 1, 2014.
No doubt that millions of people who saw this picture said to themselves, “I just want this horror to stop.” And no doubt, this photo-journalism changed the hearts of many Americans about the war.
When Congress de-funded the war in Vietnam, partially as a response to many of their constituents, it did not mean that scenes like this no longer occurred. It simply meant that we no longer saw scenes like this, because there is no such thing as photojournalism when a communist takeover occurs. You no longer see the horror and the slaughter by communist armies, because they do not allow this to happen.
After the fall of Saigon (the capitol of South Vietnam), as many as 7.5 million people have been killed by the North Vietnamese and their proxies. When we left Vietnam, the killing and slaughter increased. War for the Vietnamese did not end; it became far, far worse. But, we in the United States no longer had to see pictures like the one above; and some liberals to this day blame these murders, committed by a vicious communist army, on the United States. We are to blame for these deaths, only because we left Vietnam, but not because we went there in the first place. We are in part to blame, but because we de-funded our military, pulled out of troops and deserted our allies, thereby allowing millions to be slaughtered.
Most people do not grasp large numbers (anything over 100 or 1000), so they have no frame of reference for the number of people killed in Vietnam. If memory serves, we lost about 58,000 American soldiers in Vietnam. For every 1 American soldier who lost his life, before we pulled out of Vietnam, over 100 civilians lost their lives after we left Vietnam. Communism requires adherents, either emotionally or verbal compliance. Their solution for the millions who oppose them is to kill them. So the horror that the Vietnamese faced was 100x worse after we left Vietnam.
Although there have been apocryphal statements attributed to General Giap (the commander-in-chief of the North Vietnamese army) and his memoirs, there was, in 1995, a Wall Street Journal interview with Bui Tin, a former colonel who served on the general staff of the North Vietnamese army, that included the following exchange:
Q: How did Hanoi intend to defeat the Americans?
A: By fighting a long war which would break their will to help South Vietnam. Ho Chi Minh said, "We don't need to win military victories, we only need to hit them until they give up and get out."
Q: Was the American antiwar movement important to Hanoi's victory?
A: It was essential to our strategy. Support for the war from our rear was completely secure while the American rear was vulnerable. Every day our leadership would listen to world news over the radio at 9 a.m. to follow the growth of the American antiwar movement. Visits to Hanoi by people like Jane Fonda and former Attorney General Ramsey Clark and ministers gave us confidence that we should hold on in the face of battlefield reverses. We were elated when Jane Fonda, wearing a red Vietnamese dress, said at a press conference that she was ashamed of American actions in the war and that she would struggle along with us.
Q: Did the Politburo pay attention to these visits?
A: Those people represented the conscience of America. The conscience of America was part of its war-making capability, and we were turning that power in our favor. America lost because of its democracy; through dissent and protest it lost the ability to mobilize a will to win.
Q: What else?
A: We had the impression that American commanders had their hands tied by political factors. Your generals could never deploy a maximum force for greatest military effect.
Now, Snopes attributes his remarks to becoming disillusioned with what the communists did in Vietnam; but, since he was living in freedom when he gave this interview, it is more likely that he expressed what he believed to be the truth.
My point in that tangent is, our national response to Vietnam should not have been based upon the great emotions which many of us had in that era, but upon what was the right thing to do, for the world and for the South Vietnamese. Pulling out suddenly and letting millions of them be slaughtered was not the right thing to do.
From Cherreguine Bible Doctrine Ministries at dikaiosune.com, accessed August 5, 2014. Also material from the Westbank Bible Church, Emotions of the Soul; accessed August 5, 2014. Considerably edited and appended.
Jacob has stolen the blessing which Isaac had for Esau. Jacob false believed that one might gain honor and riches through deception and manipulation. As a result, his brother Esau was extremely angry.
Gen. 27:41 And Esau hated Jacob because of the blessing with which his father had blessed him. And Esau said in his heart, The days of mourning for my father are at hand. Then I will kill my brother Jacob. (MKJV)
This has led us to study a plethora of doctrines. However, before we get to the concept of emotional revolt of the soul, we need to understand what the Bible means when it speaks of the heart.
Much of the doctrine below was taken directly from the sources cited in the Bibliography without editing. The bulk of this doctrine came from Bible Doctrine Resources, which posts mostly doctrines from R. B. Thieme, Jr. However, some of what is found below is original, as all 4 sources failed to deal with modern translations, which confuses the issue by their translation.
There are a great many technical terms found in this study—some of which we have studies and many of which we have not. Their definitions can be found at Doctrinal Terms and Definitions (HTML) (PDF) (WPD). This is now about 30 pages long.
The Doctrine of the Heart
1. Definition and Description of the Heart.
1) The physiological heart is rarely used in the Bible. However, it makes for a great analogy; therefore, let’s spend some time examining the physiological heart.
(1) The physiological heart is an intricately woven muscle which by rhythmic contraction circulates the blood.
(2) It is estimated that the heart pumps five quarts of blood every minute, 75 gallons an hour, and 70 barrels a day, and about 18 million barrels in seventy years.
(3) The heart's anatomy and relation to the circulatory system includes a double pump: two atriums and two ventricles. The ventricles have a four ounce volume and the atria a five ounce volume.
(4) The thick muscular walls of the ventricles are primarily responsible to pump the blood. Used blood is low in oxygen and high in CO2. To be cleansed, the used blood enters the right atrium through the superior and inferior vena cava. Used blood is like false ideas we pick up in life.
(5) The right ventricle pumps blood through the pulmonary artery to the lungs where it discharges CO2 and picks up oxygen from the alveoli. Then the blood travels through the pulmonary veins to the left atrium which in turns pumps the oxygen in the refreshed blood out through the aorta to the entire body.
i So with metabolized doctrine (Bible doctrine that you believe): it is pumped through various valves and circulates through the brain, giving you a dynamic mental attitude.
ii Likewise, the CO2 of the soul, i.e., all the false and erroneous ideas we've learned, must be replaced by the oxygen of Bible doctrine. All that is accomplished in the heart or right lobe.
iii Just as breathing and the replenishing of oxygen is a day-by-day operation, so is the taking in of Bible doctrine, so that we might breathe out false doctrine.
(6) The function of the blood is to bathe tissues with fluid, preserving their slight alkaline condition, supplying tissues with food and oxygen, to provide building material for their growth and repair, distribute heat generated by cells and equalizes body temperature, carry hormones which coordinate and stimulate the activities of various organs, and convey antibodies and white blood cells which fight infection. Blood cannot support life unless it keeps circulating. Each day that we take in Bible doctrine, it is pumped throughout our soul (the doctrine which we believe) and it renews the thinking of the soul. Bible doctrine circulating in the soul as a result of the function of the Grace Apparatus for Perception (GAP) provides these same functions. This begins and is accomplished in the heart, or what we call the right lobe of your soul. When we do not take in Bible doctrine, then this is analogous to breathing in air which lacks oxygen.
(7) If blood flow is cut off to the brain, the person loses consciousness in three to five seconds; after fifteen to twenty seconds the body twitches convulsively; if more than nine minutes, the mental powers of the brain are irrevocably destroyed. The muscles of the heart can only survive loss of blood flow for thirty minutes. These facts emphasize the vital importance of the heart to our life. The energy used by the heart is fantastic.
(8) Many tissues of the body use as little as one-fourth of the oxygen brought to them by the blood. The heart uses eighty percent of the oxygen brought to it by the blood. Therefore, the amount of blood supplied to the heart is extremely important, especially when its activity raises its demand for oxygen. That is analogous to positive volition.
(9) Blood is piped into the heart muscle through two large coronary arteries which curl around the surface of the heart. The heart transforms chemical energy into the mechanical energy of contraction very similar to the conversion of energy in the automobile engine.
i In both cases, the human heart and the combustion engine, the fuel is suddenly exploded in exactly the same way, by electrical spark.
ii In both the human heart and the combustion engine, fuel is complex, and the explosions involve a series of chemical reactions.
iii In fact, in the human heart and the combustion engine, the explosion occurs in the cylinders. The cylinders of the human heart are muscle cells which not only contain fuel, but are able to replenish it themselves. The replenishment comes from products supplied by the blood.
iv Likewise, our spiritual heart transfers academic thought into spiritual energy.
(10) The mechanical efficiency of the cells, i.e., the fraction of the total energy that can be converted into mechanical energy, has not been equaled by anything made by man up to the pre-atomic age. Seventy-two times a minute your heart's pacemaker, the S-A node, generates electricity.
(11) All of these statements provide fantastic analogies to the heart or right lobe of the soul as the circulator of Bible doctrine into the thinking part of the soul. When Bible doctrine reaches the heart, Bible doctrine is converted into spiritual energy, i.e., the ten problem solving devices, divine viewpoint, and the momentum of the spiritual life. No one can grow spiritually except through perception of Bible doctrine. 2Peter 3:18a But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. (NIV). That is a command, not a suggestion!
(12) Until the atomic age, nothing man made ever came close to the efficiency of energy transfer compared to the heart.
(13) Psalm 139:13-14 For You formed my inward parts; You knitted me together in my mother's womb. I praise You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are Your works; my soul knows it very well. (ESV; capitalized)
i This passage recognizes what God has done in grace in providing the human body. The human body is a grace asset; we don't earn or deserve it. No matter what kind of person we are, we all can metabolize food and breathe air. Health is not determined by merit.
ii Health can be impacted by volition, however. Our daily decisions can impact what happens to our body.
iii The psalmist recognizes the wonder of the human body, which he understands from the right lobe of his soul.
2. The Great Analogy. Just as the physical heart is the pump that circulates blood throughout the body and thereby supports physical life, so the right lobe of the soul circulates Bible doctrine supporting the spiritual life of the believer. Bible Doctrine is actually perceived and understood in the left lobe of the soul, but it is in the right lobe where it is actually circulated and utilized.
1) The mentality of the soul is divided into two lobes: The left lobe, called the noús (νούς) [pronounced noose], meaning mind or thought; and the right lobe, called kardia (καρδία) [pronounced kahr-DEE-uh], meaning heart. This is noted in Job 38:36 "Who endowed the heart with wisdom, or who gave understanding to the mind?"
2) The right lobe is the dominant lobe designed by God to dominate the entire soul. Whenever you are logical, analytical, or categorical in your thinking, you are using your heart. 1Sam. 16:7 But the LORD said to Samuel, "Do not look at his appearance or at the height of his stature, because I have rejected him; for God sees not as man sees, for man looks at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart.
3) Proverbs 23:7 As a man thinks in his right lobe [heart], so he is. The verb to think is shâʿar (שָעַר) [pronounced shaw-ĢAHR], which means to split open; to reason [out], to calculate, to reckon, to estimate. Strong’s #8176 BDB #1045.
4) The mind is the staging area, where information is received; it is believed and then it is pumped throughout the soul. This can be truth, but this can also be false information.
5) This is the dichotomous action of the heart choosing for or against the ways of God through discernment based on what he has received in his heart, cosmic system thinking (demon influence) or the Word of God.
6) What we breathe into our heart circulates throughout our entire soul.
3. The Biblical Vocabulary. The Biblical nouns for heart always refer to the right lobe of the soul; they do not refer to the physiological heart.
(1) The Hebrew lêb (לֵב) [pronounced laybv] and the Greek kardia (καρδία) [pronounced kahr-DEE-uh] are both translated heart. Both are used outside the Bible for the literal heart, but never so used in the Bible.
(2) The usage of the words for heart is based on analogy. Just as the physical heart is the pump that circulates blood throughout the body and thereby supports physical life, so the right lobe of the soul circulates doctrine supporting the spiritual life of the believer. The doctrine is actually understood in the left lobe, but it is in the right lobe where it is actually circulated and utilized.
(3) The word "heart" connotes many things in English.
i The core of something.
ii In cards, it is a suit; also the game "hearts."
iii It is used for emotion, "He is all heart."
iv There is the false statement, “He has a head belief and not a heart belief.” The implication here is, the person did not involve his emotions when believing in Jesus Christ. However, there is a proper way to understand this—the gospel is heard by the mind, it is considered; and if it is believed, then it is transferred to the heart (and to the human spirit) where it becomes the most fundamental piece of spiritual information. Rom. 10:10 ...for with the heart a person believes, resulting in righteousness, and with the mouth he confesses, resulting in salvation. (NASB)
(4) The Bible never uses the heart for emotion (in the original languages). Faith comes from the heart because faith is thinking, not emotion. However, in some modern translations, words which do not mean heart are sometimes translated heart. This will be discussed in greater detail later on.
(5) The mentality of the soul is divided into two lobes: the left lobe, called the noús (νούς) [pronounced noose], meaning mind, thought; and the right lobe, called kardia, meaning heart.
(6) The left lobe is the reception area. It is the perception—you hear things and consider them in your left lobe. However, when you hear something and believe it, then it is transferred to the right lobe of the soul.
(7) The right lobe is the dominant lobe designed by God to dominate the entire soul. Whenever you are logical, analytical, or categorical in your thinking, you are using your heart. 1Sam. 16:7.
2) Kardia was used in secular Greek in both a literal and metaphorical sense.
(1) Among the Greeks, the noun kardia was primarily used literally in a physiological sense as the central organ of the body of man or beast (Homer Iliad, 10, 94).
(2) It also appears in the figurative sense, especially in the poets, infrequently in prose, for the heart as the seat of moral and intellectual life.
(3) The word was used to denote the seat of emotions and passions like anger (Homer, Iliad, 9, 646).
(4) Aristotle for whom the heart is primarily the center of the blood-stream, and hence the center of physical life in general, locates the emotions in the neighborhood of the kardia on the basis of his physiology of the senses.
(5) In Stoicism the heart is in some sense the central organ of intellectual life, the seat of reason, from which feeling, willing and thinking proceed (cf. Chrysippus).
(6) The noun kardia was also used figuratively of nature, the “inward part,” the “core” of a plant or “kernel” of a tree.
3) However, the Bible does not use the word heart to mean emotion.
(1) Emotions are designed to respond to thinking that comes from the heart of your soul, never the other way around. Faith too comes from the heart because faith is thinking, not emotion. Faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the Word of God (Rom. 10:17; NASB). The truth of Scripture is heard, evaluated by the mind, and then, ideally speaking, believed.
(2) 2Corinthians 6:11–12 Our mouth has spoken freely to you, O Corinthians, our heart is opened wide. You are not restrained by us, but you are restrained in your own affections (emotions). (translation probably by R. B. Thieme, Jr.) Notice that emotions and heart are in contrast in this passage. Therefore, emotions are not a part of the function of the heart/right lobe of the soul.
(3) Romans 1:21 For even though they knew God, they did not honor Him as God or give thanks, but they became futile in their speculations, and their foolish heart was darkened. This is a reference to the person who is negatively influenced and led by their emotions.
(4) Romans 6:17–18 But thanks be to God that though you were slaves of sin, you became obedient from the heart to that form of teaching to which you were committed, and having been freed from sin, you became slaves of righteousness. This is a reference to the person who has rejected emotional control of the soul and is instead led by the Word of God circulating in their soul which causes them to build upon their souls with more and more Bible Doctrine.
(5) However, bear in mind, in more modern translations, words for emotions (not heart) are translated heart from time to time.
4. First Mentions of Heart in the Bible.
1) Gen 6:5–6 Then the LORD saw that the wickedness of man was great on the earth, and that every intent of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually. The LORD was sorry that He had made man on the earth, and He was grieved in His heart.
(1) This tells us that in the days leading up to the flood man stopped taking in and applying the Word of God. He was not cycling the Word within his soul. As a result, God's heart was grieved by man's predicament.
(2) Here the word heart is used of both man and God. As for God this is both an anthropomorphism and an anthropopathism, as we know God is not built like man and is instead a spiritual being without the blood pumping organ or brain as we have, nor does He think the way we do, or have the emotions we have.
(3) Anthropomorphism is a physical attribute of man ascribed to God, which He does not literally possess in order for man to understand something about God and His policy toward man by the use of language of accommodation. Likewise an anthropopathism ascribes to God mental characteristics found in man to describe God's thinking and God's planning in human terms.
2) The First Mention in the New Testament, Matthew 5:8 "Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God."
(1) This verse tells us that when we have the cleansing of our soul through the circulation of the Word of God through our heart, we will come to have knowledge and understanding of who and what God is and our relationship with Him.
(2) Hebrews 10:22 let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed in pure water. (HCSB)
3) The Second Mention is in Matthew 5:28 "But I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman with lust for her has already committed adultery with her in his heart." The second mention tells us that our heart can also be a place of sin influence over our soul when we allow temptation from our Sin Nature to circulate through our heart/soul.
4) Just as the first two mentions of heart in the Old Testament had the meaning of sinfulness verses the thinking of God, the New Testament's first two mentions show the same potential dichotomy in man's heart but in reverse order.
5. The Heart is a Part of the Essence of the Soul. In Scripture, the heart is used for the right lobe of the soul. This distributes all knowledge, thinking, wisdom, and divine viewpoint throughout the entire mentality, just as the physiological heart distributes nourishment throughout the entire body.
1) The heart is used in the Bible for the place of thinking, the location of your vocabulary and categories of thought. Therefore, the heart is the thinking function of the soul. The Lord's evaluation of you is what you think. 1Sam. 16:7 The Lord said to Samuel, “Do not look on his outward appearance or how tall he is, because I have rejected him. God sees not as man sees, for man looks on the outward appearance, but the Lord looks on the heart.” Compare Prov. 23:7 As a man thinks in his right lobe [heart], so he is. (Translation probably from R. B. Thieme, Jr.)
2) The Lord looks in your heart and sees how much doctrine is circulating through the component parts of your right lobe.
3) The soul is composed of at least four invisible but real parts: self-consciousness (Acts 20:10), mentality (Prov. 19:2), volition (Acts 3:23), and emotion (Luke 12:19).
4) The mentality of the soul is divided into two parts: the left and right lobes. The right lobe is where you do your thinking, analyzing, applying of knowledge, and is the seat of common sense. The left lobe is your place of assimilating information and the area where your talent functions. R. B. Thieme, Jr. often calls this the staging area. It can be seen as the waiting room or the entry hall. This is where information comes first and is evaluated.
5) Brain scientists indicate that two persons inhabit our heads, each residing in the two separate hemispheres of our brain.
6) According to scientists, one is verbal, analytical, and dominant, while the other is mute and mysterious.
7) Scientists classify the non-speaking side as the right hemisphere (we call it the left lobe).
8) In the Bible we classify the mute side as the left lobe and the verbal hemisphere as the right
9) The two half brains are linked together by millions of nerves forming a thick cable called the corpus callosum.
10) In cases of severe epilepsy, this cable sometimes has to be cut. This results in some strange occurrences. The left side of the brain no longer knows what the right side is doing, yet the speaking half of the patient is controlled by left lobe. The person still insists on finding excuses for whatever the left side has done. His thinking part is severed from his non-thinking part and still operates under the illusion that he is one person, and that his lobes are combined. The two halves of the brain are integrated into a single mentality with the speaking half called the "heart" by the Bible.
11) Scientists say that the left hemisphere has a language ability and is analytical; and the right hemisphere is artistic and talented. Talented people tend to live using mostly the non-thinking part of their brain.
12) A child is about two years old before the link between his two hemispheres is completed. And it doesn't become completely functional until he is about ten years old. After age ten, one side of the brain is used for synthesis, spacial perception and music, while the other side performs sequential, verbal, analytical, and computer-like activities.
13) Scientists contend that excellence in one hemisphere tends to interfere with top level performance in the other. The conclusion is that most talented people aren't smart or analytical.
14) What does the Bible say? The heart is part of the essence of the soul; it is the thinking, reasoning part. It is designed to dominate the soul. Therefore, it must be the target for doctrinal teaching, 1Kings 3:9,12 Psalm 119:11 19:14. To reach the target, Bible doctrine must pass through two staging areas: the left lobe and the human spirit. (See the Doctrine of Operation Z.) Graphic of Operation Z, taken from Bible Doctrine Resources, but it is not original with them. R. B. Thieme, Jr. developed this concept and did the first graphics for it. This particular graphic may have come from Jim Oliver. See Country Bible Church for a similar graphic. All of these are accessed September 29, 2014.
6. Summary of the Compartments of the Heart. Throughout this doctrine we have been utilizing the analogy of a "filing cabinet" to explain how the kardia/heart of the soul works. Basically the Heart is the overall filing cabinet. It is the central resource center of your soul, the place where information is entered, stored, and available for recall and application. As we have noted in this doctrine, there are 6–8 compartments in the heart of your soul so we will use the "filing cabinet" analogy to describe these compartments.
1) The Frame of Reference is analogous to the various drawers within the filing cabinet. The drawers provide initial access to the central resource center for storing and finding information within our souls.
2) The Memory Center is the actual files you place within the filing cabinet. It is the actual storage of information within your soul.
3) Vocabulary Storage is analogous to the tabs or headings we put on files as a technical reference to the information within the files providing us easy access and recall.
4) Categorical Storage is the order and arrangement of files, the systematic grouping of reference material for application.
5) The Conscience is the scanning of information within a file to use as a basis of reference, establishing guidelines regarding the situations of life.
6) Finally, we arrive at the Launching Pad. The Launching Pad is the place where the things stored in the filing cabinet are gathered together for use and application. It is the animated process of removing a file and utilizing what is in that file. For example, you are faced with a disastrous situation in life. The Frame of Reference sends initial general reference points that are related to the situation. Then the Memory Center sends in recalled details and data regarding those reference points. This is followed by the Vocabulary sending technical specifications that can be used for the situation. Next, the Categorical Storage compartment sends supporting data from multiple reference points. Then the Conscience brings forth reasoning based on all the norms and standards built in your soul from accumulated Bible Doctrine that has flowed through it. Finally the Launching Pad gathers together all supporting materials, stages them for launch, and thrusts them forward within your soul so that the Wisdom of God flows throughout your soul and can be applied to the situation you are faced with. This all occurs under the function of your very own Royal Priesthood through the enabling power of God the Holy Spirit working within your soul.
7. Spiritual Growth is the Result of Building Up Your Heart with the Word of God.
1) As a result of having Bible doctrine in the Frame of Reference, moving it into the Memory Center, Vocabulary and Categorical storage, developing Norms and Standards in the Conscience coupled with faith application from the Launching Pad, we then have a growth factor from metabolized Bible doctrine which moves us to spiritual maturity.
2) Although the entire process can be quite complex, our involvement is quite simple.
(1) When we eat and breathe, our contribution is fairly simple. Breathing is automatic; and eating is according to our taste (although most of us realize that some foods are better for us than other foods).
(2) The process by which air taken into our lungs and then is sent throughout our bodies, refreshing and replenishing, is rather complex. No one knows the entire process and all that is involved. Most people don’t know much beyond the breathing in of oxygen and the breathing out of CO2. But, even though our knowledge of this function which sustains and renews our bodies is fairly difficult to understand, all we do is breathe. The body which God has designed takes care of the rest.
(3) The same thing is true of Bible doctrine in the soul. All we do is listen and believe. God has designed our human spirit to take care of the rest. We may understand that we take in doctrine in our perceptive lobe (the left lobe), believe it, and it become imprinted on our heart (the right lobe); but even if we don’t know this, it still occurs.
(4) Our contribution is simple. We need only have positive volition toward the Word of God. We listen, we believe, and God handles the rest.
3) This is the status in which spiritual growth is obtained as a result of momentum inside God's power system for your spiritual walk. This is accomplished through the enabling power of God the Holy Spirit and momentum from the Word of God metabolized within your soul. Learning God's Word provides momentum and motivation to learn more of God's Word. This is the momentum factor of spiritual phenomenon resulting in God's wisdom applied to your life.
4) There are two categories of spiritual growth.
(1) Normal spiritual growth that comes from the renewing of your mind post-salvation. Ephesians 4:23–24 And that you be renewed in the spirit of your mind, and put on the new self, which in the likeness of God has been created in righteousness and holiness of the truth. Romans 12:2 And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect. This is accomplished through the Grace Apparatus for Perception (GAP) which includes the three R's by means of the enabling power of God the Holy Spirit.
i Receptive comprehension, faith upon hearing.
ii Retention, the metabolization of Bible doctrine, converting gnosis into epignosis doctrine and storing it within the Heart of your soul.
iii Recall, the application of the Word resident within your soul from the Launching Pad of the Heart resulting in Wisdom.
(2) Accelerated spiritual growth as a result of suffering for blessing. The acceleration of your spiritual growth comes from the application of metabolized Bible doctrine and the function of the Problem Solving Devices when you are faced with pressure and adversity in life.
i As is the general rule, we tend to learn at an accelerated rate when we are faced with difficulties or perceived failures within our lives. This is in contrast to the times of success and prosperity when we are comfortable, think we are all set and "have it all down pat". In the latter the trend is to not turn to God, His wisdom or power.
ii But in times of difficulty and pressure, we find ourselves in a position of hopelessness and helplessness when it comes to human solutions and our human resources. In these times, like no other, we are narrowed in our application to utilize the power of God, His Word and Spirit.
iii This is called Suffering for Blessing, which is facing difficulties, disasters, or pressure when we are walking with God. This is in contrast to divine discipline, when due to our negative volition, God allows discipline to come into our lives to wake us up.
iv You can learn from divine discipline, punitive suffering, the law of volitional responsibility, and self-induced misery. But that is a slow process and does not necessarily advance you to Spiritual Self-Esteem. In those instances, if you wake up and get back in fellowship with God, the discipline is turned into Suffering for Blessing.
v Suffering for Blessing has three categories related to three stages of spiritual adulthood, which moves us forward and provides momentum to achieve further spiritual growth in spiritual adulthood.
vi 1Corinthians 9:24–27 Do you not know that those who run in a race all run, but only one receives the prize? Run in such a way that you may win. Everyone who competes in the games exercises self-control in all things. They then do it to receive a perishable wreath, but we an imperishable. Therefore I run in such a way, as not without aim; I box in such a way, as not beating the air; but I discipline my body and make it my slave, so that, after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified.
8. Happiness is related to the heart.
1) Prov. 17:22 A joyful heart is good medicine, but a broken spirit dries up the bones. Having a joyful heart means you share God's happiness (+H) in your right lobe.
2) Prov. 15:13-15 A happy heart makes the face cheerful, but when the heart is sad, the spirit is broken. The heart of the intelligent seeks knowledge, but the mouth of a fool feeds on folly. All the days of the oppressed are wretched, but the cheerful heart has a continual feast.
(1) God's +H in the right lobe makes for a cheerful face, a marvelous life, and animation. But the spirit is broken when the heart is sad, down, or complaining.
(2) But the spirit is broken meaning the heart is sad, down, or complaining when you do not have the Word in your right lobe.
(3) The heart of the intelligent seeks knowledge, means that your motivation for learning more Bible doctrine comes from the Bible doctrine you already have in your right lobe.
(4) Eventually your motivation for learning more doctrine comes from the doctrine you already have in your right lobe.
(5) The mouth of a fool feeds on folly refers to the believer or unbeliever who fills his heart with false doctrine.
(6) The continual feast means continuous circulation of Bible doctrine in the heart with never ending supply and sustenance.
3) 2Cor. 6:11-12 O you Corinthians, our mouth has been opened face to face with you [in teaching], because our hearts [right lobes] have been enlarged [by maximum doctrine in the right lobe of the soul]. Therefore, you have not been hindered by us [in your spiritual life]; you have been hindered by your own emotions [= bowels in the Greek]. (translation probably R. B. Thieme, Jr.)
(1) The Corinthians had receptive comprehension but no retention.
(2) Notice that emotions and heart are in contrast in this passage. Therefore, emotions are not a part of the function of the right lobe of the soul.
(3) You have may have made the mistake of arguing with a liberal and then quoted some bit of information, survey, scientific study, etc. Then, you wonder why you have not won the argument. They hear this in their left lobe (the mind), but, whatever consideration is given it still rejects the information due to the emotions controlling the soul. Therefore, it is never transferred over to the right lobe. The heart never accepts that information because they do not believe it. They may say, “Well, you heard that on Fox News” (which they may call Faux News); or they may say, “You can make a scientific survey (or poll, or whatever) say anything.” Their emotional understanding of the topic at hand prevents them from believing what you say. This is the problem of the Corinthians when hearing doctrine taught by Paul. Paul presented the absolute truth to them, but they rejected this truth because it did not line up with their thinking that was controlled by their emotions.
9. The heart is related to perception and thinking.
1) The heart is related to perception of Bible doctrine. Deut. 29:4 “Yet to this day the Lord has not given you a heart to know.”
2) The heart is related to thinking in terms of reversionism in Psalm 10:6, 11, 13 reveals the human viewpoint thinking of the reversionist related to the heart. He says in his heart, “I shall not be moved to all generations, I shall not be in adversity.” He says in his heart, “God has forgotten me, He has hidden His face from me. He will never see it. Why has the wicked [believer] spurned God?” He has said in his heart, “You will not hold me responsible.”
3) The thinking of the atheist is related to the heart. Psalm 14:1 The fool has thought in his heart, “There is no God.”
4) The heart is related to rationalizing mental attitudes. The rationalizing maladjustment to the justice of God is found in Isa. 47:10 “And you felt secure in your evil, and you said to yourself, `No one sees me.' Your evil wisdom and your human viewpoint knowledge has deluded you, for you have thought in your heart, `I am, and there is no one as good as I am.' "
5) False teachers communicate false doctrine from the deceit of their heart. Jer. 14:14
6) The heart is the place where people think they are superior to others. Luke 9:46-47 Now a controversy entered among them as to which of the disciples was the greatest. But Jesus, knowing the thinking in their hearts...
7) The heart is used for meditation on Bible doctrine. Luke 2:19 But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart.
10. Negative Functions of the Heart or Right Lobe. We have primarily studied the heart as related to the growth of a believer. However, that is not always the way heart is used. The heart is the right lobe for the souls of unbelievers and reversionistic believers as well.
1) The heart can reject Bible teaching, as in Prov. 5:12-14. The heart negative to Bible doctrine refuses to concentrate. When you don't like what you hear, then you are unteachable and a candidate for reversionism. How I have hated instruction of doctrine, and my heart has spurned reproof, and I have not listened to the voice of my teacher nor inclined my ear to the instructor. I almost came to ruin in the middle of the assembly of the congregation.
2) When doctrine (or, establishment truth, in the case of the unbeliever) is rejected, then there is a vacuum which sucks in that which is false. When this is the case, the heart is deceitful and desperately wicked. (Jer. 17:9)
3) Negative volition toward the standards of God, will result in a man’s thinking being filled with sin. Matt. 15:15–20 But Peter said to him, "Explain the parable to us." And he said, "Are you also still without understanding? Do you not see that whatever goes into the mouth passes into the stomach and is expelled? But what comes out of the mouth proceeds from the heart, and this defiles a person. For out of the heart come evil thoughts, murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false witness, slander. These are what defile a person. But to eat with unwashed hands does not defile anyone."
4) The heart is the source of discord and troublemaking, which leads to strife and conspiracy. Prov. 6:14, 18 The one who by distortion or perversity in his heart devises evil continually, he is the one who is the spreader of strife. A heart that devises wicked conspiracy, feet run rapidly to evil. (Translation probably by R. B. Thieme, Jr.)
5) The woman uses heart thinking to entice the male for personal gain without love.
(1) The heart of the prostitute is subtle. Prov. 7:10 And behold a woman comes to meet him dressed magnificently like a prostitute and very cunning of heart. (Translation probably by R. B. Thieme, Jr.)
(2) Eccles. 7:26 I have discovered more bitter than death the woman whose heart is snares and nets, and in her hands she has chains. However, the person who is pleasing God [doctrine in the right lobe] will escape from her. But the sinning one [arrogant male] will be captured by her. (Translation probably by R. B. Thieme, Jr.)
(3) A woman can often do a lot of thinking, but it's not objective, doctrinal, professional or academic thinking; it is thinking used to bring attention to herself in whatever way she wants attention. This is thinking in terms of "snares and nets", and in her hands she has chains. She will be very flattering and conniving, and once she catches you by your arrogance, your arrogance will chain you to her.
(4) One thing that will destroy wisdom, I.Q., and ability to look at life from the divine viewpoint is the dumb arrogant male succumbing to the flattery of a woman, using him for her own advancement or pleasure.
6) The heart suffers disappointment from broken promises, Prov. 13:12. The heart is the source of frustrations. Frustration is a thought. Hope deferred makes the heart sick, but desire fulfilled is a tree of life.
7) The heart is the environment for mental attitude sins.
(1) 2Sam. 6:16 Now when it came to pass that the ark of the Lord came into the city of David, then Michal, the daughter of Saul, looked out the window and she saw David dancing before the Lord; consequently she despised him in her heart. You hate and love in your right lobe. Both love and hate are a system and function of thinking.
(2) Prov. 14:10 The heart knows its own bitterness. Bitterness is one of the greatest of all sins of arrogance. It infiltrates the right lobe and neutralizes whatever doctrine is there. And a stranger does not share its joy.
(3) Sorrow and disappointment (Prov. 14:13).
(4) Pride (Prov. 21:4; Obad. 3).
(5) Arrogance is found in Prov. 21:4 Haughty eyes and an arrogant heart, the lamp of the wicked is sin. In other words, once you have arrogance in your right lobe, whatever its manifestation, this becomes your lamp for life and it sets aside all doctrine.
(6) In Obad. 3, arrogance deceives you and causes you to make a fool of yourself. The arrogance of your heart has deceived you.
(7) Worry is found in Eccles. 2:23.
(8) Deceitfulness is found in Jer. 17:9 The heart is more deceitful than anything else and becomes a source of desperate wickedness.
(9) Women use the heart to trap men (Eccl. 7:26).
8) The frantic search for happiness is related to the heart in Eccles. 1:13.
9) Revolution and insubordination are described as being a part of the thinking of the heart. 2Sam. 15:6 So Absalom stole away the hearts of the men of Israel. Jer. 5:23 But this people have a stubborn and a rebellious heart. They have turned aside and departed from Me. See also Ezek 6:9.
10) Hypocrisy is related to thinking in the heart, for you can think one thing and express another thing overtly. Psalm 55:21 His speech was smoother than butter, but his heart was at war with me. His words were softer than oil, yet they were drawn swords, ready to stab me.
11) Superficial gaiety doesn't indicate the true state of the individual's heart or right lobe. Prov. 14:13 Even in times of laughter, the heart may be in pain, and the end of the party may be grief.
12) Reversionism is described in terms of the heart, Jer. 17:5 So says the Lord, “Cursed is the man who depends on mankind and makes flesh his strength. His heart has turned away from the Lord [negative volition to Bible doctrine].” Jer. 17:9 The heart is more deceitful than anything else and becomes a source of desperate wickedness.
13) The heart related to negative thinking:
(1) Thinking of reversionism (Psalm 10:6, 11, 13).
(2) Thinking of atheism (Psalm 14:1).
(3) Rationalization of education (Eccles. 1:13-18).
(4) Rationalization of mental attitude sins (Isa. 47:10).
(5) Communication of false teachers from the deceit of their hearts (Jer. 14:14).
(6) Meditation on doctrine (Luke 2:19).
(7) Ambitious thinking (Luke 9:46, 47).
(8) Reversionism in the heart results in national disaster (Deut. 28:47–48).
(9) Revenge is a malfunction of the heart (Prov. 24:1, 2 Ezek. 25:15-17).
(10) The heart is related to psychosis (Isa. 13:7, 8).
(11) Mental attitude sins relate the old sin nature to the heart (Psalm 66:18 101:5 Prov. 6:18 Matt. 12:35 15:18, 19 Luke 6:45 24:25).
14) So the heart is related to any kind of failure in life. In other words, the real you is what you think. Your life is not what others see overtly, though it may reflect good or bad thoughts, right or wrong priorities.
A more complete Doctrine of the Heart (which is 40 pages long) is found here: (HTML) (PDF) (WPD).
We have been studying Isaac and Jacob and Esau; and Jacob has stolen Esau’s end-of-life blessing from their father Isaac. Esau is so upset with this, he is comforting himself with the fantasy of killing Jacob. Now Esau hated Jacob because of the blessing with which his father had blessed him, and Esau said to himself, "The days of mourning for my father are approaching; then I will kill my brother Jacob." (Gen. 27:41; ESV) Not only does he incessantly think about this, but he talks about it as well, to the point where, even their mother Rebecca hears about it. Esau is allowing his emotions to dominate his soul. He is in emotional revolt of the soul.
How Esau feels cannot be changed by anyone but him. If he acts on this basis of his hatred against Jacob, then Jacob can only respond with a greater force. My guess is, based upon the fact that Esau is an outdoors man and Jacob is a man of the tents, that Esau is stronger and more fit than Jacob.
Application: There are foolish people who believe that they can establish some kind of a lasting peace between modern-day Israel and the Palestinians. That cannot occur. The people of Palestine suffer from emotional revolt in their souls. The only peace that they will agree to is peace that will allow them to rearm in order to prepare for war again. Their rage remains, and you cannot reason with rage. You cannot bring rage to a peace accord. You can control rage with one thing only—a greater force.
Application: Some people think that the bitterness between Jews and Palestinians goes back many centuries. Wrong! There have been periods of time when there was relative peace between the peoples; and there have been Palestinians who live in peace in Israel throughout the history of the new Israel since inception. Hatred and emotional revolt of the soul come from the teaching of one generation to the next; and the acceptance of the new generation of the hatred which they are taught. Every individual with hatred in his soul develops and nurtures that hatred on their own (although many have been taught this way from their youth).
Our study has taken us to the Doctrine of Hatred, the Doctrine of Emotions, the Doctrine of the Heart; and these doctrines lead us to study:
1. The heart is deceitful above all things, and it is exceedingly corrupt: who can know it? I, Yahweh, search the mind, I try the heart, even to give every man according to his ways, according to the fruit of his doings. (Jer. 17:9–10; WEB)
1) The heart is the thinking of the soul. In the English language, we have a close relationship between emotions and the word heart. That is not how it is used in the Greek and Hebrew. Just as the heart is grand central station for your blood, and your blood goes throughout your body and nourishes your entire system; so the thinking of the soul oversees everything else in one’s mentality. This thinking can be controlled by the human spirit and doctrine in the soul, or it can be controlled by the sin nature, the distorter of the soul.
2) The word translated deceitful is ‛âqôb (עָקֹב) [pronounced ģaw-KOHBv], which means deceitful, sly, insidious; slippery; foot-tracked; steep, hilly. Strong’s #6121 BDB #784. When this word is used in Isa. 40:4, it refers to the uneven grade of a hill. It is a road that is hard to travel along, because it is going up and down, and because there are potholes and such. That is your life being controlled by your emotion. In the KJV, the word is translated polluted, slippery in Hosea 6:8 (Gilead is a city of those who work iniquity, slippery with blood marks.—Green’s literal translation), the idea being, everywhere you looked in that city, there was blood. So there is a control factor and a saturation factor in this word. When the heart (the thinking part of the soul) is controlled by emotion, it is like traveling along an uneven, pock-marked road. It is saturated with emotion, meaning that the emotions are in control. That is emotional revolt.
3) Above, the heart is also described as exceedingly corrupt, which is the Qal passive participle of the Hebrew verb ʾânash (אָנַש) [pronounced aw-NASH], which means being weak (sick, frail); being incurable; being desperate or incurable, being desperately wicked, woeful, being very sick (metaphorically). Strong’s #605 BDB #60. When controlled by emotion, the heart is weak, incurable, desperate, desperately wicked.
4) God is able to look into our souls and evaluate our thinking and our motivations. He is able to accurately remunerate us according to our works.
5) For both believers out of fellowship (and who are controlled by the sin nature) and unbelievers, they can allow their thinking to be controlled by their emotions. That is emotional revolt of the soul.
2. The soul has an essence; the soul can be defined. It is not this ethereal thing that we do not understand or cannot define. The soul is composed of self-consciousness (that is, you aware of your own existence), faith (the primary way that we perceive information), mentality (which includes your vocabulary your memory, your ability to reason, your ability to interpret what you sense), volition, emotion, conscience (which includes your frame of reference and your norms and standards). The soul is the real you, which is housed within your physical body. No matter how attractive you are on the outside, when someone gets to know your soul, they might find you to be repellant (or, vice versa). Every man has known this exquisitely beautiful woman, and has thought, “I wish she would not speak.” When she speaks, she reveals her soul; and her soul might not be nearly as attractive as she is physically. Whereas, some women can be capable of exhibiting great empathy (I think greater than most men); there are those women whose world revolves around them, and they think about nothing other than themselves. Those are the women whom you just wish would never speak.
3. The soul has two lobes: the perceptive lobe (sometimes called the mind) and the dominant lobe (often called the heart). There is a parallel to the body. We breathe and we eat food. This is taken into our bodies and distributed throughout our bodies, ideally making us healthy or functioning to maintain our health. This stuff from the outside is taken in and becomes a part of us. That which we perceive from the outside comes in (through the perceptive lobe), is evaluated, and becomes a part of our thinking (if we believe it, then it takes up residence in our dominant lobe). R. B. Thieme, Jr. called the perceptive lobe the left lobe and the dominant lobe the right lobe.
4. Just as when you eat junk, it pollutes your body; the same thing occurs with what is taken into your left lobe. If all you do is take in junk, then that becomes a part of your thinking. Prov. 23:7a For as he thinks inside himself, so he is (UPDV). Or, ...for as he thinks in his heart, so is he... (MKJV) What you think is the real you. The word here is not actually heart, but it is nephesh (נֶפֶש) [pronounced NEH-fesh], which means, soul, life, living being; breath; mind; desire, volition; will. Strong’s #5315 BDB #659. What you think in your soul is the real you. The soul includes what you take in (your perception of what is around you) and then what you do with that. Furthermore, what you think is a matter of your volition; you choose what you take into your soul.
5. Another characteristic of the soul is volition. This means that you are capable of making decisions, and you are responsible for these decisions. Furthermore, it is your volition which chooses who and what you believe.
6. The soul also has emotions. We will be examining the emotions in this study.
7. Every soul, since the fall of Adam, has an old sin nature, or the Adamic nature, designated in Scripture by the terms flesh'(Rom. 8:3–4) and old self (Eph. 4:22) The sin nature has an area of weakness which produces personal sins, an area of strength which produces human good, morality and sentiment, a lust pattern, and trends toward asceticism and/or lasciviousness. It is the distorter of the soul.
8. The believer (not the unbeliever) also has a human spirit, in which spiritual information is stored. Accurate information finds its way into the human spirit, and, ideally speaking, we allow our lives to be controlled by this information. This is truth and this is the truth that sets us free. The first bit of truth stored in the human spirit is the gospel. When we believe in Jesus Christ, then, ideally speaking, we build upon Him. According to the grace of God which was given to me, like a wise master builder I laid a foundation, and another is building on it. But each man must be careful how he builds on it. For no man can lay a foundation other than the one which is laid, which is Jesus Christ. (1Cor. 3:10–11; NASB) Obviously, some believers never build upon that because they do not pursue the truth.
9. The believer can be controlled by the sin nature or by the Holy Spirit working through the human spirit. When we sin, we are under the control of the sin nature. When we name our sins to God, we are under the control of the Holy Spirit.
10. If you are controlled by the sin nature, that does not mean that you go sin-crazy and begin committing every sin that you can think of. That is true for some; but most believers adhere to certain moral standards, whether controlled by the Holy Spirit or by the sin nature. You can be very moral and still controlled by your sin nature.
11. When controlled by the sin nature, we simply imitate the unbeliever (1Cor. 3:3 Eph. 2:3). Not all unbelievers are out of control with sin. We have historical examples of unbelievers being out of control with their sin (the civilization before the flood; the people of Sodom); and we have contemporary examples as well (those who are addicted to drugs; many homosexuals; the radical elements of Islam—today, those who are in ISIS). However, there are also moral unbelievers, and most believers out of fellowship imitate the moral unbeliever. In fact, many believers, spend most of their lives out of fellowship, yet they adhere to a set of moral standards (partially learned in church and partially learned when growing up). As Paul said to the Corinthians, Do you not walk as men? (1Cor. 3:3b)
12. The right lobe (or the heart) has many components: a frame of reference, memory center, vocabulary storage, categorical storage, conscience, momentum, and wisdom. All people—believers and unbelievers, moral and immoral have a heart.
13. The right lobe is the place where you store your attitude toward country, toward life, toward your job, etc. When you began to think, you began to develop norms and standards. You have norms and standards about what is right and wrong, what things are proper, and so on. Some of your norms and standards may be compatible with God’s and some may not. Truth (that is, Bible doctrine) provides us with information whereby you can develop God's norms and standards.
14. Our soul has a viewpoint --- it is human viewpoint or God's viewpoint; or a mix of both. Your viewpoint on life and on right and wrong, is a combination of what you have in your frame of reference plus your norms and standards (conscience). You have a viewpoint about everything in life—art, music, sports, country, God, church, to name a few. Your viewpoint determines your attitude toward life and your capacity for life.
15. In order for the believer to think like God thinks and to see things as God sees them, he needs to have divine viewpoint. Divine viewpoint comes from the teaching of truth and believing that truth. 1Cor. 2:16 "For who has understood the mind of the Lord so as to instruct him?" But we have the mind of Christ. (ESV; Isa. 40:13). The Apostles have the mind of Christ; that is what they were teaching the early church; they taught the early church the thinking of Jesus Christ. Paul could say that he and the other Apostles had the mind of Christ because they were filled with divine viewpoint and the communicated that viewpoint.
16. Let’s return to the deceitful heart of Jer 17:10: A “deceitful heart’’ is the right lobe of the mentality filled up with mental attitude sins from the old sin nature. The mental attitude sins travel in the soul — from the sin nature to the right lobe. The deceitful factor is that mental attitude sins completely deceive you in your relationship with God. You are kidding yourself if you think that you have fellowship with God when you are involved in mental attitude sins (Isa. 55:7). The worst sinning in the world never gets outside the soul, though obviously the repercussions do. You can be jealous and bitter and yearn for revenge (this describes Esau in our study). Revenge becomes overt when you malign or gossip or when you attempt to harm the person you are angry with; but the mental attitude sin itself doesn’t leave the soul — apart from rebound (1John 1:9—naming your sins to God), of course.
17. “I, the LORD, search the heart, I test the mind...” (Jer. 17:10) These two verbs, “search’” and “test” are actually participles in the Hebrew text, and denote continuous action. In this case, there is never a time when God isn’t constantly searching the thinking—if it is human false reality; or God's Reality; thinking as He thinks—in order to provide maximum companionship and blessing (Job 7:17–18). The primary meaning of “search’’ means “to explore.’’ God is an Explorer. In eternity past God explored every right lobe; therefore, He knew how each one would operate. Because He is the Explorer of your soul. He provided salvation for your soul through the work of Jesus Christ on the cross (2Thess. 2:13).
1) Note that the exploration site is said to be the “heart.” This means that God is exploring the thinking of your right lobe in three areas: first, the frame of reference with its memory center; is being explored to see whether you have God's frame of reference.
2) Secondly, God explores your conscience to determine whether your norms and standards are compatible with His absolute norms and standards. Having God’s absolute norms and standards rather than human norms and standards is also know as Human Viewpoint Versus Divine Viewpoint (HTML) (PDF) (WPD).
3) Therefore, your viewpoint is searched by God. Does your right lobe contain the necessary Divine Thinking that will give you a Divine Viewpoint about everything in life? But when that One comes, the Spirit of Truth, He will guide you into all Truth, for He will not speak from Himself, but whatever He hears, He will speak; and He will announce the coming things to you. (John 16:13, Green’s literal translation)
18. How do you fill your right lobe with God's thinking and reality? Truth is communicated by a pastor-teacher through, isagogical, categorical, exegetical teaching (ICE teaching). It then enters the left (perceptive) lobe as a staging area. From there it must be transferred by faith to the human spirit. It is then cycled into the seven areas of the right lobe. With a maximum amount of "tested" truth and time filled with God the Holy Spirit—your heart is not only non-deceitful, but it will be blameless. See Acts 24:16 Eph. 1:4 Philip. 2:15 2Peter 3:14. Paul had to learn truth and build an edification complex, (ECS; or the temple in the soul). See the edification complex structure (HTML) (PDF) (WPD).
19. Once Paul had doctrine in his soul, then he could communicate absolute truth. The more truth he knew, the more he was able to teach. Thus his right lobe was enlarged or increased with knowledge of truth. Our right lobes are increased in the same way, and the result is spiritual maturity through an edification complex structure.
20. Emotions are designed to enjoy life; but they are not designed to control your life.
21. Emotional control: the Christian soul should be filled with the Holy Spirit, which means operating under the control of the Holy Spirit. When a person sins, the filling of the Holy Spirit is lost and the emotion may rise up to fill the void. The emotion has no allegiance. It has no thought content. It amplifies the good, the bad, and the ugly. It energizes the lust, sin, and greed of the old sin nature. It welcomes the evil and darkness of the cosmic system, and it greets Satan and his demons.
22. The emotion is only held in check when the soul is covered. The heart must be covered by faith—not thinking about faith in the mentality, but faith that has been believed. Emotion is tied to beliefs—not thoughts. When Bible doctrine is believed, it is transferred to the right lobe, where it is understood spiritually. Knowledge (Greek gnosis) becomes spiritual understanding (epignosis). Epignosis becomes the building blocks for the edification complex of the soul. The faith that covers the heart is the edification complex of the soul. "Whatever is not from faith is sin" (Rom 14:23b).
23. Emotional Revolt of Soul:
1) Thinking about fear is not a problem; but when fear is believed, it is a sin in the heart. The sin creates a hole in the covering of the heart through which the emotion erupts. The emotion amplifies the fear, and the adrenal glands pump out more adrenaline to exacerbate the crisis. The heart is overcome by emotion. Love and happiness are lost and fear takes over. The heart is like a ship with a hole in it. As it sinks, it takes the mentality down with it. The mentality falls into darkness. The soul is enslaved to sin. It becomes irrational and stupid (Psalm 73:21-22).
2) The flooding of the Heart with emotion following the breakdown of authority in the soul is called emotional revolt of the soul. Sin breaks down the authority and integrity of the soul. Sin has affinity for the cosmic system, the old sin nature, and the emotion. Sin opens the door for emotional revolt of the soul.
3) Hardness of the heart (a.k.a., scar tissue of the soul, Eph 4:19) sets the stage for emotional revolt of the soul by blocking the relationship with God. God's love, light, and grace are rejected. The heart is left in darkness with a hole in the covering, and with affinity to the old sin nature and to the cosmic system (John 3:19 Rom 1:21 Eph 4:18). Therefore, the heart responds to the sin nature (Jer 17:9). The emotion amplifies the response to the sin nature. The heart fills with emotion, and the mentality with darkness. The person walks (operates) in darkness (reversionism, carnality) (John 3:20 Eph 5:11 2 Pet 2:20).
4) God's Thinking should dominate the soul; but when the emotions revolt and start to dominate, the entire system is thrown out of kilter. For example, the heart should initiate viewpoints such as, patriotism, laws of divine establishment and divine institutions; but when the emotions are dictating, you have cowardice, support for gay marriage, socialism and even revolution. God's thoughts should initiate virtue-love; but when the emotions revolt, then jealousy, lust, fear, worry, bitterness and implacability come into play.
5) The heart with truth in the frame of reference initiates to the emotions and they respond with appreciation for truth, for who and what Christ is, for what God has given us; but when the emotions revolt and become the initiators, people get into the tongues movement, the “new age” movement, legalism, and many other weird activities where the emphasis is on how you feel rather than on thinking with truth. This is emotional revolt of the soul!
6) The more apostate Christianity becomes, the more emphasis there is on emotional activities — the emotions dictating to the right lobe. As a result we have people singing “Just as I am, was or hope to be” around a campfire, dedicating and rededicating, trying to get “the rosy glow” through some emotional experience. God wants us to get the greatest thing in the world; capacity for life, death, adversity, prosperity, love and happiness; but that capacity comes from truth, not from the emotions!
24. When we sin and get out of fellowship and quit thinking with God's reality, (singular = only one) the old sin nature sends out its mental attitude sins and realities, (plural = many) then the emotion takes those false thoughts and starts to dictate to the right lobe. What we have then, is: emotional revolt in the soul. This is a “deceitful heart”; THAT IS “desperately sick”! (Jer. 17:9) We are ALL born in this condition; and have to change our thinking (Rom. 3:10–12 6:17–18 12:2).
We have been studying several doctrines which are related to Esau’s mental attitude sins driving him to a point where he wants to murder his twin brother Jacob.
We have mentioned the term reversionism on several occasions; particularly in the past two doctrines. Therefore, this ought to be defined.
Reversionism is a state of being as well as a set of actions where a believer reverts back to a former state, habit, belief, or practice of sinning. Reversionism is the status of the believer who fails to execute the plan of God for the Church Age. He returns to his pre-salvation modus operandi and modus vivendi. Reversionism can also refer to the unbeliever who once embraced the laws of divine establishment and now rejects it.
1. Reaction and distraction. The believer goes negative toward the teaching of the Word of God. In reaction, something the pastor-teacher does or says throws you off, and you reject the teaching of Bible doctrine. You may be fine with the pastor’s teaching of the Bible, but then he suddenly expresses some strong conservative viewpoint in the realm of politics, and that throws you off. Maybe he seems mean, and that causes you to react. You choose to reject his teaching for some reason which is not related to his teaching—you have figured out that you really don’t like this guy (most people who attend church find it really important to like their pastor-teacher—liking your pastor ought to be a non-issue). You may catch him in a sin or doing something you don’t think he should be doing (which action on his part may or may not be legitimate). Or he may say something that you do not yet believe. As a result, you react to what he does or to who he is. Distraction is a more subtle form of negative volition. Distraction from Bible doctrine can be caused by apathy, indifference, wrong priorities, and the arrogance complex of sins. So your pastor does not necessarily do anything; you are simply distracted from the teaching of the Word of God. Something else caught your attention and became the priority (your work, a member of the opposite sex, your family, your social life).
1) Rom 12:2-3 Stop being conformed to this world [peer pressure; thinking as the world thinks], but be transformed by the renovation of your thinking, that you may prove what the will of God is; namely, the good of intrinsic value achievement [advance to spiritual maturity], the well-pleasing to God, the mature status quo [manufacture of invisible hero]. For I say through the grace which has been given to me to every one who is among you, stop thinking of self in terms of arrogance beyond what you ought to think, but think in terms of sanity [absolute truth] for the purpose of being rational without illusion as God has assigned to each one of us a standard of thinking from doctrine.
2) 1Tim. 4:1 But the same Holy Spirit explicitly communicates that in latter periods of time [between first and Second Advents of Christ], some believers will become apostate from doctrine, paying attention to deceitful spirits and concentrating [instead] on doctrines of demons.
3) 1Tim. 6:3-4 If anyone teaches a different doctrine and does not concur with sound doctrine, even doctrines pertaining to godliness, he has received arrogance, understanding nothing. Furthermore, he has a morbid obsession about controversies and verbal conflicts from which originate jealousy, discord, evil speculation. These translations have essentially originated from R. B. Thieme, Jr.
2. Frantic search for happiness. When you reject doctrine, then you have to replace it with something else. A frantic search for happiness does not mean that you give yourself over to lasciviousness. You may simply find another church where the pastor is nicer or does not express political opinions or appears to be much more loving. But if this pastor does not teach Bible doctrine, then you no longer grow spiritually. You are trying to find happiness where there is none. The believer in Jesus Christ can also go down a path of lasciviousness as well—which can include wine, women and song; or whatever. You may even try to find happiness in the realm of cuisine. So, on the outside, you don’t appear to be a lot different, but on the inside, you are searching for happiness apart from the intake of Bible doctrine.
1) Prosperity, success, power, approbation, status symbols, money, sex, pleasure, social life, or material things are really not a source of happiness. They are enjoyed by people with capacity for happiness and life, but they are a distraction to believers without capacity for life and love from doctrine.
2) The only true source of happiness for the believer in Jesus Christ is metabolized doctrine in the soul, which develops +H in the soul (+H is God’s happiness in you as a result of knowing the Word of God).
3) Heb. 13:5 Let your lifestyle be free from the love for money; be content with what you have, for He Himself has said, `I will never leave you nor forsake you.’
4) 1Tim. 6:6-7 But godliness is a means of great gain when accompanied by contentment [+H]. For we brought nothing into this world, with the result that we can take nothing out of it. And if we have food and clothing, with these we shall be content.
5) Philip. 4:11 Not that we speak on the basis of want, for I have learned to be content in whatever circumstances I am.
6) Rom. 16:17–18 Now I urge you fellow members of the family of God, be alert for those who are causing dissensions and apostasies [false, reversionistic teaching] contrary to Bible doctrine which you have learned, for such believers do not obey our Lord Jesus Christ, but they obey their own personal desires, serving themselves; and by smooth and flattering speech [the manipulation of others], they deceive the right lobes of the stupid [reversionists]. Also ultimately R. B. Thieme, Jr. translations.
7) The frantic search for happiness follows the trends of the sin nature in polarized fragmentation.
(1) The trend toward legalism results in moral degeneracy and no happiness.
(2) The trend toward antinomianism results in immoral degeneracy and no happiness.
(3) The trend toward legalism includes crusader activism, self-righteous arrogance, personality arrogance, the arrogance of Christian service, irrational (emotional) arrogance, the arrogance of unhappiness (subjective preoccupation with self), iconoclastic arrogance (role model arrogance, the feet of clay syndrome), so-called "victorious living,” the arrogance of asceticism, using Christian service as a means of spirituality.
(4) The trend toward antinomianism is related to multifarious sexual sins, drug addiction, violence, criminality, total self-indulgence, or debauchery.
(5) Others seek their happiness in a false emphasis on experience, the so-called "victorious life commitment,” holy rollers speaking in tongues, fundamentalist flagellation and self-denial, or in giving gimmicks like tithing for blessing.
3. Operation boomerang. The boomerang, an Australian weapon used by the aborigines of Australia, is a missile-type weapon, shaped like an elbow. When thrown with accuracy, it can hit the target and kill the animal on the spot. But if they miss, the boomerang comes back to them so they can try again.
1) Christians who miss the target and fail to execute the plan of God experience the boomerang effect of the frantic search for happiness.
2) In this stage, the frantic search for happiness boomerangs and returns to the believer in reversionism, intensifying the original reactor factors and his unhappiness, so that the believer loses control of his life.
3) When the frantic search for happiness boomerangs, frustration becomes greater frustration, misery becomes greater misery, and unhappiness becomes intensified unhappiness.
4) Every search for happiness makes happiness more elusive. Therefore, the believer is bored, disillusioned, frustrated, and miserable—and unhappy.
5) Pleasure, social and sexual distractions, and drug addiction only intensifies his problem in life. The same intensification of problems occurs with the distractions of the morally degenerate believer. All these only remove the believer farther away from happiness.
6) So the pursuit of happiness results in bad decisions from a position of weakness, and intensifies the unhappiness of the believer. This results in intensified frustration.
7) So operation boomerang means loss of control of your life and the intensification of fragmentation and reversionism.
4. Emotional revolt of the soul (which is what we have been studying).
1) The mentality is the male part of the soul. Emotion is the female part of the soul. God's design is the mentality dominate the soul, including the emotion. But when the emotion dominates the soul and takes over, the person becomes irrational and cannot think.
2) Emotion has no doctrinal content, no mentality, no rationality, and no virtue. Emotion is in its proper place only when it is under the control of the mentality of the soul, where doctrine resides.
3) As an appreciator, emotion is wonderful. But as the controller, emotion is a monster. Emotion takes control of the soul by controlling the soul.
4) In the spiritual life of the believer, emotion is designed to respond to metabolized doctrine in the right lobe. But once emotion revolts, it becomes the aggressor and loses all normal function, becoming distorted.
5) 2Cor. 6:11–12 O you Corinthians! Our mouths [which is the communication of Bible doctrine by Paul, Apollos, and Timothy] have been opened face to face with you; our right lobes have been enlarged [we were prepared]. Therefore, you have not been hindered by us [Paul, Apollos, Timothy], but you have been hindered by your own emotions. Translation by R. B. Thieme, Jr.
5. Persistent and nearly permanent negative volition. As a result of the reactor factors, the frantic search for happiness, operation boomerang, and an emotional revolt of the soul, the believer suffers loss of Biblical priorities, Biblical norms, and Biblical standards resulting in bad decisions from a position of weakness. This means the believer loses control of his life and a personal sense of destiny (if the believer ever had it). The believer can no longer be distinguished from an unbeliever.
1) So stage five is the malfunction of post-salvation epistemological rehabilitation. It is the beginning of Christian degeneracy.
2) Negative volition toward doctrine means that the believer can never understand God's will, plan, and purpose for his life. Therefore, he cannot grow spiritually. As a result, all his works are dead works and human good, totally unacceptable to God. He is operating in the energy of the flesh rather than in the power of God the Holy Spirit.
3) The believer in stage five has lost complete control of his life. He has replaced any doctrine he ever had with false doctrine and human viewpoint. In his thinking, he cannot be distinguished from his unbeliever counterpart.
4) This does not mean that the believer is on some kind of a sin-tirade. Very moral believers can suffer from persistent negative volition. A huge number of believers think that human morality is the spiritual life. They have a set of standards which they conform to, and to them, they are living the spiritual life.
5) 1Cor. 3:1–3 Brothers, I was not able to speak to you as spiritual people but as people of the flesh, as babies in Christ. I fed you milk, not solid food, because you were not yet able to receive it. In fact, you are still not able, because you are still fleshly. For since there is envy and strife among you, are you not fleshly and living like ordinary people? (HCSB) You are fleshly because (1) you are not filled with the Holy Spirit and (2) your thinking is not Bible doctrine. This leads to...
6. Blackout of the soul. When the soul rejects doctrine, and has turned from God (such a believer might still attend a church), then his soul becomes a vacuum which sucks in false doctrine, human viewpoint, the thinking of the cosmic system.
1) Eph. 4:17 Therefore, I communicate this, and because of the Lord, I insist that you no longer walk as Gentiles [unbelievers] walk in the vacuum of their mind. (Translation by R. B. Thieme, Jr.)
2) Through this vacuum comes the doctrine of demons, including religionism (man seeks God, man impresses God, man works for God’s approbation), liberalism, crusader arrogance, and anti-establishment thinking. 1Tim. 4:1.
3) The false doctrine passing through the vacuum of the soul is called demon influence (or doctrines of demons), or being influenced by evil. This is not the same as demon possession. The believer cannot be demon possessed because he is indwelt by God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit. But demon influence comes through false teaching. The believer's body is the temple of the Holy Spirit whether he's in or out of fellowship. So although the believer cannot be demon possessed, he is vulnerable to demon influence which comes from permanent negative volition, stage six of reversionism.
4) 1John 1:6 If we contend that we have fellowship with Him and we keep on walking in darkness, we are lying and we do not live the truth. John is writing to believers. He is not talking about unbelievers walking in darkness; he is talking about believers walking in darkness.
5) 1John 2:11 When anyone hates his fellow believer, he is in darkness and he walks in darkness, and he does not know where he is going because the darkness has blinded his eyes.
6) In order for the believer to have light, he needs two things: the filling of the Holy Spirit and Bible doctrine in his soul (which must ultimately come from an outside source—the accurate teaching of a pastor-teacher). The believer walking in darkness lacks the Holy Spirit and he either lacks doctrine in his soul or he has rejected the Bible doctrine which he has heard.
7) As an aside, you get little or no spiritual growth from reading your Bible. You grow by placing yourself under the authority of God’s man, who is a pastor-teacher. Authority is very much a part of the plan of God.
7. Scar tissue of the soul. Scar tissue of the soul is prolonged residence in the cosmic system. It is prolonged fragmentation unchecked. It is a reaction to any form of accurate Bible teaching, and strong reaction to those who communicate accurately the mystery doctrine of the Church Age.
1) This is tantamount to freezing the valves of the heart or right lobe, so that there is no more circulation of doctrine in the frame of reference, memory center, vocabulary storage, categorical storage, conscience, momentum department, wisdom department, and subconscious mind. In other words, divine viewpoint is no longer circulating throughout the soul, providing us day-to-day guidance. Sometimes an air conditioning system will stop functioning correctly because the coils will become covered in dirt and dust—so there is no longer the proper circulation of air. In other words, your AC has scar tissue of the coils.
2) The Scripture calls scar tissue of the soul "hardness of heart,” "hardening of the neck,” or "hardening of the face.
3) "Hardening the heart” is found in John 14:20; and the emphasis is on one’s thinking. "Hardening the neck” is found in Neh. 9:16-18; and the emphasis is upon one’s volition. The believer becomes insubordinate to God’s plan to the point of revolt. It is failure to be authority oriented in spiritual things (Jer 7:25-27). "Hardening the face” is found in Prov. 21:29–31.
4) Eph. 4:18 They are darkened in their way of thinking; they have been alienated from the life of God because of ignorance which is in them, because of the scar tissue of their right lobes.
5) 2Thess. 2:10–12 And with every deception of evil for those who perish [unbelievers], because they did not receive the love for the truth so as to be saved. And for this reason, God sends to them a deluding influence so that they might believe a lie, in order that they all might be condemned in judgment who do not believe the truth, but take pleasure in unrighteousness. (Translation by R. B. Thieme, Jr.)
8. Reverse process reversionism. This is the final stage of reversionism, a combination of the sixth and seventh stages.
1) Everything that is worthwhile and valuable in life is rejected; everything that is useless and nonsensical is accepted. Prolonged residence in the cosmic system causes a complete reversal of all mandates, all priorities, and all norms and standards related to the plan of God.
2) Christian degeneracy reaches its peak in reverse process reversionism. The believer in reverse process reversionism cannot be distinguished in any way from an unbeliever, although he cannot lose his salvation. 1Cor. 3:1
3) In reverse process reversionism, degeneracy is defined as decline from the normal standards of the plan of God. Therefore, the believer retrogresses into below normal stages of reversionism, and totally reverts from the divine standards found in the Word of God.
4) This is described in the Bible as the dog returning to his vomit. The believer learned, either through the laws of divine establishment or through Bible doctrine to believe A but to reject B. However, in reverse process reversionism, the believer first rejects A (some divine truth) and then he takes another look at B (which he was right to reject), and he changes his mind about it. These can be theological matters related to the plan of God; or these can be matters related to the laws of divine establishment. For instance, the believer might walk into a church when everyone is speaking in tongues and think, “This is crazy; I am getting out of here.” But, under reverse process reversionism, he goes back to that church (or to a similar one) and accepts speaking in tongues as a legitimate gift of the Spirit. A person originally recognizes that the food stamp program (and most systems of welfare) are evil; but, in reverse process reversionism, decides that the government is not giving enough assistance in the realm of food and other welfare programs.
5) 1John 2:15-16 Stop loving the cosmic system or anything related to it. If anyone keeps loving the cosmic system, the love of the Father [personal love for God, spiritual self-esteem] is not in Him. Because all that is in the cosmos [cosmic one], the lust of the flesh [the old sin nature controlling soul], and the lust of the eyes [motivational arrogance], and the arrogant pattern of life [functional arrogance], is not from the Father but from the cosmos.
6) Rev. 2:4-5 But I hold this against you [believers], for you have abandoned your first love. Therefore, recall to mind from where you have fallen, and change your mind [rebound], and execute the most important production [execution of the plan of God]. Otherwise, I am coming to you, and I will remove your lamp stand [dying discipline]. (translation by R. B. Thieme, Jr.)
From the Dictionary of Doctrine, accessed August 19, 2014; from the Dictionary of Doctrine accessed August 5, 2014, both of which were originally written by R. B. Thieme, Jr. The steps of reversionism come from Grace Bible Notes, which goes into much greater detail and is an excellent follow-up study. Accessed September 30, 2014. Also some information was gleaned from Bible News 1, accessed August 5, 2014.
This is where we last left off in our exegetical study of Gen. 27: Jacob has stolen from Esau the end-of-life blessing spoken by Isaac at the urging of their mother, Rebekah. Their father gives this end-of-life blessing (even though Isaac will actually not die for a long time) to Jacob, thinking that he is blessing Esau. When Esau finds out, then he is filled with hatred and rage toward his brother Jacob. His soul is controlled by the emotion of hatred.
Genesis 27:41 And Esau hated Jacob because of the blessing with which his father had blessed him. And Esau said in his heart, “The days of mourning for my father are at hand. Then I will kill my brother Jacob.”
Because of the hatred in his heart, Esau now fantasizes about killing his brother Jacob. When his father dies (and everyone expects that to occur relatively soon), then Esau will kill Jacob. And then he not only relishes this fantasy within his own soul, but he shares this fantasy with anyone who will listen. Because he shares this fantasy of fratricide, his mother hears about it, and seeks to save her favorite son, Jacob.
It was Esau’s emotion of hatred and his fantasy of killing Jacob, that took us off on a doctrinal detour for 4 lessons.
Genesis 27:42 And these words of her older son Esau were told to Rebekah. And she sent and called her younger son Jacob, and said to him, “Listen, your brother Esau comforts himself about you by planning to kill you.
Esau spends so much time talking about his desire to kill Jacob, that their mother, Rebekah, finally hears about it, and she speaks to Jacob and warns him.
Esau is not simply thinking about killing Jacob; he is thinking of all the ways that he might kill Jacob. He is developing plans by which this might be done. These thoughts give him so much pleasure that he is sharing them with others. So his heart is filled with hatred and thoughts of revenge.
Genesis 27:43–44 And now, my son, obey my voice and arise. Flee for yourself to my brother Laban, to Haran, and stay with him a few days until your brother's fury turns away,...
Rebekah tells her son Isaac to flee to the east, and to go to live with her brother Laban who lives in Haran (Charan). A few days appears to be euphemistic for a long time—it will take a few days to get anywhere near the border of the Land of Promise. Quite obviously, Rebekah did not want to lose her son for many years, so she speaks of this time as being just a few days. However, she will never see him again. Rebekah’s plot to steal the final blessing from Isaac was a serious mistake for both her and Jacob (Jacob is an adult male, so he has no excuse for his actions). This plan of Rebekah’s will result in her never being able to see her favorite son again.
Rebekah favored Jacob and she helped him plot to take Isaac’s end-of-life blessing meant for Esau. Neither of them really thought this through, and did not realize just how angry Esau would become.
We know in retrospect that such blessings from God as spoken by a man of God are not completely from the soul of the man of God, but often emanate from the Holy Spirit speaking through the man. Deception was not necessary; God has everything under control.
There is an extreme example of this in Num. 22–24, where a prophet of God was hired by the King of Moab to curse Israel, but he ended up blessing Israel instead. These cursings and blessings have meaning, and God overrules the intentions of man when it is necessary.
Therefore, we know that, when Isaac blesses Jacob, it will be the correct blessing, no matter what. However, what happened here is somewhat of a mess. All of these people are in the plan of God, and yet they have managed to screw everything up. Isaac and Rebekah are both playing favorites; and therefore, their sons are pitted against one another. Jacob believes that it is necessary to deceive his own father; and Esau believes that it is necessary to kill his own brother. God is able to take such family dysfunction and work it out to His Own glory.
Genesis 27:43–44 [Rebekah is speaking to Jacob]: “And now, my son, obey my voice and arise. Flee for yourself to my brother Laban, to Haran, and stay with him a few days until your brother's fury subsides,...
Since Jacob is heir to the promise, we might think that God would step in at this point, and say, “No, Jacob, you are in the Land of Promise right now; this is the land I am giving you. You should not leave it.” But God does not do that. God wants the biggest con-man west of Charan to meet his uncle Laban, the greatest con-man of their extended family. God wants Jacob to come face to face with someone who behaves just as he does; and to (ideally speaking) make judgments about his own behavior based upon the actions of his Uncle Laban. Jacob needs to know what it is like to have someone you trust lie and deceive you; and use your own good intentions in order to manipulate you.
Jacob and his mother pulled a switcheroo for this blessing; and not too far in the future, Leah and her father (Rebekah’s brother Laban) will pull a switcheroo on Jacob. We will find out that deception is both a family trait and an art form for Rebekah’s side of the family.
Genesis 27:45 ...until your brother's anger turns away from you and he forgets what you have done to him. Then I will send and bring you from there. Why should I also be bereaved of both of you in one day?”
Rebekah speaks of losing Esau and losing Jacob. If Esau killed Jacob, then Esau would either flee for his own life; or he would be executed for killing another man. Either way, Rebekah would lose both of her sons. With the few words that Rebekah has said, it is not clear whether she realizes that Esau will wait for the death of his father before killing Jacob. However, at this point in time, Isaac was not expected to live very long.
Now, let’s go back one chapter and read:
Gen. 26:34–35 When Esau was forty years old, he took Judith the daughter of Beeri the Hittite to be his wife, and Basemath the daughter of Elon the Hittite, and they made life bitter for Isaac and Rebekah. (ESV)
There are times that we have this or that passage (like the one above), and it is difficult to determine, why is this passage here? What does this have to do with my own spiritual advance? What do I get out of this?
First of all, not everything is about you. Secondly, this passage is integral to our exegesis. There is a problem which has plagued Isaac and Rebekah’s family for some time, and that is, the wives of Esau. We know nothing about these women individually except that they made life bitter of Isaac and Rebekah. So, even though Isaac favors Esau, he still has problems with the wives of Esau. We do not know the exact nature of these problems.
In v. 35, we have the 3rd person feminine plural, Qal imperfect of hâyâh (הָיָה) [pronounced haw-YAW], which usually means to be, is, was, are; to become, to come into being; to come to pass. Strong's #1961 BDB #224. This tells us that the wives of Esau initiate the action of the verb. Sometimes the verb to be can mean to have. What these two women have or are is, the feminine singular construct of môrâh (מֹרָה) [pronounced moh-RAW], which means bitterness, grief, sadness. This is the noun cognate for a verb which means to rebel, to resist, to oppose; to be bitter. Strong’s #4786 BDB #601. This is affixed to the feminine singular noun rûwach (רוּחַ) [pronounced ROO-ahkh], which means, wind, breath, spirit, apparition. Strong’s #7307 BDB #924. So these women are (or, these women have; or, these women exhibit) a bitterness of spirit toward Isaac and Rebekah.
If you know anything about in-laws, you know that they come in all categories. Some in-laws just blend right into the family and they become a part of your family. Some in-laws are not very close and have to be coaxed into family affairs. Some in-laws are stand-offish, and, although they may not exhibit any sort of overt hostility, they avoid all family gatherings. They have headaches, other engagements, work-conflicts; and they can never seem to be a part of the family, even though, in person, they do not appear to want to avoid the family. But then, there are those who are actively hostile to their new family. They look down on this new set of family members; and at family get-togethers, they may start fights, arguments; they might get exceedingly drunk; they may show up high. When they are at a family gathering, they manage to turn a festive gathering into a series of hostile and antagonistic confrontations. This latter description probably applies to the wives of Esau. They were opening hostile toward Isaac and Rebekah. We don’t know how, but my guess is, they disparaged their faith in the Revealed God. They either rejected the idea of God, or, to them, every sort of deity was the same. Maybe they were good at pointing out shortcomings and deficiencies in this family. Such things were abundant in Isaac and Rebekah’s family.
If a person clearly declares that he believes in the Revealed God, that is not something that they can just let go. Have you ever been with a childhood friend, and they know that you believe in Jesus Christ, and they pepper their speech with various profanities (quite obviously, I have). They use the royal name of Jesus Christ as an exclamation; they use God in a trivial way, using His essence title to damn this or that. Then they look at you, just to see how your react. Whatever these wives of Esau did, it was to establish a wall of bitter separation between themselves and Isaac and Rebecca.
Now we will see just how deceptive Rebekah can be. She will mix in truth with lies; so that she is never associated with the stolen blessing incident.
Genesis 27:46 And Rebekah said to Isaac, “I am weary of my life because of the daughters of Heth. If Jacob takes a wife of the daughters of Heth, like these of the daughters of the land, what good is my life to me?”
Rebekah describes to Isaac how she feels. She uses the 1st person singular, Qal perfect of qûwts (קוּץ) [pronounced koots], which means to loath, to abhor [due to an undercurrent of dread), to feel a sickening dread; to be weary. Strong’s #6973 BDB #880. She then uses the bêyth preposition, which means in; followed by the masculine plural adjective (which is used as a substantive here) chayyîym (חַיִּים) [pronounced khay-YEEM], which means, life, lives; a life of long duration, immortality; living, sustenance; refreshment; prosperity, welfare, happiness. Strong's #2416 BDB #311. “I am weary of my life;” or, “I abhor my life;” or “I feel a sickening dread in my life” and this weariness is based upon these daughters of Heth (that is, these Hittite women). These women are a bitterness of spirit to Isaac and Rebekah, to the point where Rebekah is weary of or sickened of her own life.
This is not coming out of nowhere. Rebekah is not saying this, and Isaac says, “Now, how long have you felt like this?” He knows all about it. It was mentioned in the previous chapter, indicating that this is an ongoing problem in their family.
Now, let’s try to put all of this dysfunction together.
1. Jacob has deceived his father Isaac, and Rebekah, Jacob’s mother, orchestrated this deception; but Esau and Isaac don’t know that Rebekah is in on it. Obviously, they know that Jacob deceived Isaac.
2. Rebekah knows about the deception, since she initiated it, and she knows about Esau’s murderous hatred because he has been telling his homicidal fantasies to everyone—therefore, she must get Jacob away from the family compound.
3. In order to save Jacob’s life, he must be moved to a different locale, and maybe for a significant period of time.
4. However, moving Jacob away cannot be tied directly to Jacob’s deception of his father, or Rebekah would be implicated in the whole affair. She cannot say, “Esau wants to kill Jacob; so Jacob is going to leave town for awhile.” If she says that, then that means that she knows all about the stolen blessing—and there is no reason for her to know about it (except that she caused it).
5. If Rebekah is implicated in this scheme, then her son Esau will hate her and Isaac, her husband, will never trust her again. That was not a part of her plan.
6. Therefore, in order to send Jacob away, Rebekah needs a cover story. Despite the size of their compound, there is every indication that Isaac spoke to Jacob and Esau privately; that this was not a well-attended ceremony, but a one-on-one meeting (with Rebekah in the background). We know this because, when Jacob presented himself as Esau, no one spoke up saying, “Hey, Isaac, that’s not Esau; that’s his twin brother. Don’t be fooled.”
7. While all this was going on, Rebekah would have been hovering in the background, providing the food and probably listening in; but no one else was there when Isaac blessed Jacob. Jacob knows that Rebekah is there, but Isaac does not and Esau does not.
8. Esau has no idea that his own mother plotted against him. Therefore, this is a private family affair; and only Jacob knows that Rebekah, his mother, encouraged him to deceive his father.
9. The reason that Rebekah needs a cover story is, she will live with Isaac for the rest of their days. She cannot have him know that she was a part of this deception. If she starts talking about Esau wanting to kill Jacob, her involvement in this situation might all come out. It is better that she seem as if she knows nothing about this latest problem between the two brothers. Yet, she needs to get Jacob out of there.
10. Fortuitously, she has the perfect excuse to remove Jacob without implicating herself in all of this deception: Esau married these heathen women that Rebekah cannot get along with; and she does not want her son Jacob to do the same thing. So what could seem more logical than to send Jacob back east to meet those of his own tribe to marry? After all, he is about 40–45 at this time. So it is about time that he got married.
Although Rebekah will pull this off, she will never see her son Jacob again.
Genesis 28 Prologue:
Although Gen. 28 is a literary unit in itself, it is dependent upon the previous chapter to understand all that is going on. In the previous chapter, Jacob stole the final blessing that his father Isaac meant for Esau, and this caused Esau to be mad enough to kill Jacob. Rebekah, their mother, was in on this deception, but did not want anyone else to know this. So she had to get Jacob out of town, but without seeming as if she was saving him from Esau. There is no reason for her to know about this dispute between Jacob and Esau; because it all took place in private. Despite the fact that Isaac was quite wealthy and had many men under him, when he blessed Jacob (thinking him to be Esau), they were alone (except that Rebekah was in the background all this time).
Because Rebekah instigated all this, the worst case scenario is, Jacob her husband hates her, if he finds out; and Esau, her son, kills Jacob and hates her as well. Through her own manipulation, Rebekah has set herself up for great potential harm. Therefore, she must get her son, Jacob, out of town so that Esau does not kill him, but without associating any of this with the stolen blessing.
Gen. 27:42–45 But the words of Esau her older son were told to Rebekah [where Esau has expressed a great desire to kill Jacob]. So she sent and called Jacob her younger son and said to him, "Behold, your brother Esau comforts himself about you by planning to kill you. Now therefore, my son, obey my voice. Arise, flee to Laban my brother in Haran and stay with him a while, until your brother's fury turns away--until your brother's anger turns away from you, and he forgets what you have done to him. Then I will send and bring you from there. Why should I be bereft of you both in one day?" (ESV)
Rebekah needs to get Jacob away from the family compound in order to preserve his life. She herself orchestrated his great deception of Isaac, and now, there is fallout that she was not expecting. The son who was deceived, Esau, wants to kill Jacob. She knows this, but her husband Isaac does not; and she cannot reveal that she knows this to him without revealing that she was a party to the deception—something which would have destroyed their marriage. However, she has come up with another plan.
Gen 27:46 Then Rebekah said to Isaac, "I loathe my life because of the Hittite women. If Jacob marries one of the Hittite women like these, one of the women of the land, what good will my life be to me?"
When you become older and your children are grown, you want your name, your traditions, your faith carried on—which is particularly important in this case as these are the very promises of God. Rebekah does not see any of this happening with Esau and his family because of the women he has married. This is a real problem for Rebekah, not something that she is just making up.
Clearly, Isaac does not know that Rebekah was in on this deception. He knows that he was deceived, but he does not know that Rebekah was behind it. Rather than tell Isaac, “Look, I persuaded Jacob to deceive you; and now, he has left the compound because Esau wants to kill him.” Instead, she says, “I cannot stand my daughters-in-law. Jacob is going to get a good woman from Charan. I am going to send him to my brother’s home.” Then, suddenly, Jacob is gone and therefore he is safe from Esau.
Isaac does not know that Esau has threatened to kill Jacob; and Rebekah knows, but really should not know. She has simply kept her ear to the ground, so to speak, to know this.
Rebekah speaks to Isaac and tells him what is going on; so Isaac will send his son Jacob away. Essentially, Rebekah says, “Listen, Isaac, I do not want Jacob to marry heathen women like his brother Esau has. That would be awful! I am going to send him to my brother’s ranch so that he can meet a decent woman from my brother’s family. That way, he will not marry some Hittite hussy.”
So, the cover story is, Esau married Hittite women, which both Isaac and Rebekah object to; and therefore, at this age, Jacob needs to go back east and marry a woman whose God is the Lord. All of this is legitimate; all of this is known to Isaac; so sending Jacob from the land of promise to Haran to marry a near relative is acceptable and understandable. Rebekah, Isaac’s wife, came from Haran and from this family. Therefore, Isaac would agree to this departure and he would not associate this with Jacob’s deception.
Esau married two Hittite women, which apparently were the bane of Rebekah’s existence. She is tired of living simply because of her daughters-in-law, which is a strong indictment of them. We are not told exactly what the problem is with Esau’s wives, apart from these wives being heathen. Going back one more chapter, we have Gen 26:34–35 When Esau was 40 years old, he took as his wives Judith daughter of Beeri the Hittite, and Basemath daughter of Elon the Hittite. They made life bitter for Isaac and Rebekah. That verse tells us that Rebekah’s complaint did not come out of nowhere. She is not suddenly springing this on Isaac, “You know, I cannot stand Esau’s wives.” “No, honey, I did not know that!” This is already well-known and documented.
The plan is for Jacob should take a wife from the family of Laban. What the problem is exactly, is never told to us; but I would guess that these Hittite women never accepted the God of Abraham and Isaac. They do not believe in this Revealed God; and they might even make fun of Isaac and Rebekah for their faith. Even though Abraham was instructed to leave his family behind, that does not mean that he comes from a heathen family or that his family did not trust in Yehowah Elohim. God simply needed for him to separate from his family—and there could be a variety of reasons for that.
So, the cover story is, “Jacob is taking off for Charan, because I want him to get a decent wife.” This is what Rebekah tells Isaac, and this is fine with Isaac. Isaac also has problems with Esau’s wives. This approach will get Jacob away from Esau, who would have possibly killed him, and Rebekah is never implicated in the great deception.
Gen 27:45b Then I will send and bring you from there.
The fact that Rebekah is confident that she can send a message to Jacob when he is 100+ miles away indicates that there has probably been some communication between the families over these past few decades. For her to say this indicates that communication between families did take place; and likely were sent along with traders who were going to cover this or that route. This all suggests that they have knowledge of the genealogies of their family to the east.
There is another simple principle at work here—out of sight and out of mind. If every day, Esau looks and there is Jacob—that lousy SOB who stole his birthright and then his blessing—Esau would continue to seethe with anger. However, with Jacob gone and out of the picture completely, this is something that Esau will adjust to. At some point, his animosity will subside and disappear completely. He cannot be jealous and angry at someone who is not there.
So, despite the deception, Isaac calls for Jacob to send him away. As the head of the family, it would be Isaac’s responsibility to call Jacob in and tell him to do this, and then send him away.
Genesis 28:1 And Isaac called Jacob, and blessed him, and commanded him. And he said to him, “You will not take a wife of the daughters of Canaan.
When Isaac makes this pronouncement, all of it appears to be his idea. No doubt Isaac will tell Esau this at a later time. He won’t tell Esau, “Your mother had this great idea about getting Jacob a wife from our relatives;” he will say, “I have sent your brother Jacob to get a wife from our relatives.” So, when this decision is made, it is going to appear as if Isaac made the decision, even though it is actually Rebekah trying to save her son Jacob from her other son Esau.
Esau and Jacob are the same age. Esau married around or before turning 40. However, here, it is clear that Jacob has not yet married, and Rebekah has convinced Isaac that he should not marry a woman of Canaan. There were many different groups of people who lived in Canaan, but the key was, they did not participate in Yehowah worship (although, as we have studied, there were believers in Yehowah throughout Canaan—and some because of Abraham).
Bear in mind that this is a cover story, to separate Jacob and Esau, so that Esau does not kill him—but there is a real concern here as well. For a plan that had to be developed on the fly, this is actually quite brilliant. Even Isaac and Esau will both think that the decision for Jacob to leave is Isaac’s decision. Rebekah barely leaves a fingerprint behind.
As an aside, I am not really certain that their relatives from the east were involved in Yehowah worship either, at this point in time. Later in Genesis, we will find out that some of them have little deity statues (Gen. 31:19–35 35:1–5). So the worship of heathen gods was widespread among them. This might explain why God wanted Abraham to separate from his immediate family (Gen. 12:1).
Isaac continues to speak to his son Jacob.
Genesis 28:2 Arise, go to Padan-aram, to the house of Bethuel your mother's father. And take a wife from there of the daughters of Laban your mother's brother.
Interestingly enough, although a servant went to the east to select a wife for Isaac, Isaac has told Jacob to do this personally. Perhaps it is this new generation that Jacob represents, where he himself chooses his wife. Whether there is influence from Rebekah here or not, we don’t know. “We shouldn’t leave choosing a wife up to a servant. Jacob needs to do this on his own.” I am speculating on discussion that may have taken place between Isaac and Rebekah.
As we have observed, Rebekah and Jacob both tend to be rather deceptive and manipulative. It is likely that Jacob gets this from his mother. This will turn out to be a family trait. Laban, Rebekah’s brother, will also turn out to be deceptive and manipulative. He will try to get things to work out to his own benefit. No matter what the circumstance or situation, Laban will figure out how to make that work to his own profit, and then he will move things in that direction. He is the kind of businessman who believes that, he needs to win every deal, he needs to come out on top every time—and if things are not working out for him, cheating and conning are legitimate. This is the man to whom Isaac is sending Jacob. Con-man Jacob will be sent to his Uncle Laban, who is even a greater con-man.
Now, Isaac will give Jacob a legitimate blessing, where Isaac knows that this is Jacob, and he knows that Jacob may be gone for awhile. Isaac has no idea if he will see his son again.
Genesis 28:3 And may God Almighty bless you, and make you fruitful, and multiply you, so that you may be a multitude of peoples.
Despite all that has happened and despite the sinful characteristics which Jacob has revealed of himself, Isaac apparently recognizes that the blessing of God will go to Jacob and not to Esau. This represents a great change in Isaac’s attitude toward Jacob.
These blessings are very similar to prayers, and God hears these blessings as do those in the periphery of Isaac (which is possibly just Jacob and Rebekah). Furthermore, whatever angels are watching, they also hear these prayers. Therefore, God would make an effort to fulfill such blessings. We may think of these blessings as being innocuous statements like, “Have a good time” when someone goes on vacation, but they are more than that. God specifically is named; a man of God is saying this; and he is saying this to the one who is next in line to receive the blessings of God. Therefore, God will take these words seriously. God hears these blessings and He acts upon them. Part of the reason is, there is this great angelic audience for all human activity. The angels learn about God’s character by observing us and how God interacts with us.
Let’s go backward in time to illustrate this. When God created the heavens and the earth, it was instantaneous. Gen. 1:1 lines up with the Big Bang theory quite nicely. The Qal perfect tense refers to a completed event or to an instantaneous event. The Qal imperfect would be used for a series of event or for a process. In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth. The verb is a Qal perfect. However, when God restores the earth, many of the verbs are imperfect, and the process occurs over a period of time (the 6 days of creation). Why didn’t God simply snap His fingers and restore the earth? Because He had an audience at this point—all of angelic creation were now in existence, so God reveals His power and intelligence by the restoration of the earth.
Angels are created beings, and therefore, they have a beginning. When God tells them, “I created you for a purpose;” they either accept what God says as true or they doubt Him. Part of what indicates that God is Who He says He is, is the fact that He knows the future as if it were the present. Angels are subject to time and the sequencing of events, as are we.
So, these blessings which are given from generation to generation are done in front of an audience, even though there might only be 2 or 3 people actually involved. When Isaac blessed Jacob previously, no one else was there (except for Rebekah). Otherwise, someone would have blurted out, “That’s not Esau; that’s Jacob!” However, the audience was invisible, and they observe both the actions of man and the actions of God. God reveals His character as well as His great plan. God is able to bring His plan to fruition, despite the dysfunctions of this family.
We greatly enjoy movies and television shows (despite how distorted these things are as compared to real life). Human history is like that for angels. They are in the midst of a great morality play, as it were, with a cast of billions—observing. In many cases, God directs them to a particular place and time, just as we have been directed to studying the family of this semi-nomad Abraham.
There is no reason for you or I to know anything about Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. These are obscure shepherds from 4000 years ago. However, we know these men because these are the men upon whom God wants us to focus. At this time, there are great power struggles in the east; there are a series of fascinating dynasties in Egypt—but God is concerned with Abraham and his seed. Therefore, we are concerned with him as well.
We know very little about the great events of history from this era. Who is in power and where? And over what plot of ground does he rule? There are countries and kings and wars and great struggles occurring all over this area, but our focus is upon this nomadic shepherd family and their impact upon history and upon the plan of God.
Just as God literally gathers the angels to this place and says, “Watch this;” so we have been gathered to view this line of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob; and to study them and their relationship with God. We are to examine these lives because this is where God wants us to focus.
Isaac continues with his blessing to Jacob. This blessing is no longer marred by deception. Isaac knows who is before him; and his blessing is designed specifically for Jacob. And Jacob really is going away to the east to find a suitable wife.
Genesis 28:4 And may He give you the blessing of Abraham, to you and to your seed with you, so that you may inherit the land in which you are a stranger, which God gave to Abraham.”
At this point, Isaac is giving Jacob a blessing where there is no duplicity. It is Jacob who stands before Isaac; and Isaac knows this.
Isaac is still speaking to Jacob, and he seems to understand, at this point, that the blessings promised to Abraham would flow through him to Jacob. So, at this point, there is no favoritism. Isaac knows who Jacob is, and he passes along the covenantal blessing of God to him. God’s blessings will flow through Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.
Jacob is leaving the Land of Promise, but Isaac says that he and his seed would inherit this land—the land that God gave to Abraham.
So far we have studied the first four verses of Gen. 28:
Gen. 28:1–2 Isaac called for Jacob and he blessed him and gave him a stern command, saying, “Do you marry a Canaanite woman. Instead, rise up and go to Paddan-aram, to the house of Bethuel, your mother’s father, and take from the daughters of Laban a wife (Laban is your mother’s brother).
This all came about because Rebekah, Jacob’s mother, surreptitiously guided Jacob to deceive his father and receive the end-of-life blessing meant for Esau, Jacob’s twin brother. Esau became so angry over this, he wanted to kill Jacob. So Rebekah needed to get Jacob out of their periphery without revealing that she knew all about this. She would have lost the love and respect of both her husband Isaac (whom she had Jacob deceive) and her other son Esau.
Esau had married some Hittite women, and they were the bane of Rebekah’s existence. Isaac did not like them either. So Jacob was sent eastward to marry someone from their family, just as Isaac had done some 60 years previously. This plot would get Jacob out of town, but without compromising Rebekah’s involvement in the deception of Isaac.
Genesis 28:3–4 And God the Almighty will bless you, make you fruitful and multiply you into a great assembly of peoples. He will give all of the blessings of Abraham to your and to your own descendants. All this ground which you have traveled on will be yours—just as God had promised to Abraham.”
This time, the blessing given to Abraham is passed down through Isaac to Jacob. This time, there is no deception. Isaac says these words with Jacob before him, knowing that this son is Jacob. Jacob would have many sons (in the Hebrew, this means descendants); God would make him fruitful and God will multiply his seed so that he would have many descendants. All of the land that Jacob has traveled over—and much more—is hereby deeded to him, from God to Abraham to Isaac and now to Jacob. It is his line that God will bless.
This is not at all what we would have expected. Jacob had just deceived his father Isaac, and one might think that Isaac would hold back on this blessing—but he does not. The very blessing that God gave to Abraham, Isaac now passes along to Jacob.
Was there a divine influence at this time? Probably. In the book of Numbers, Balaam is hired to curse Israel. God appears to override Balaam’s original intent, and he blesses the children of Israel (all descendants of Jacob, by the way). Num. 24:1–9
Isaac may have simply realized that it is God’s will to pass this blessing along to Jacob, and that is what he does.
Genesis 28:5 And Isaac sent Jacob away. And he went to Padan-aram, to Laban, son of Bethuel the Syrian, the brother of Rebekah, the mother of Jacob and Esau.
With this, the active role of Isaac ends and the active role of Jacob begins. Although Isaac will be mentioned again, it will only be incidentally at the end of Gen. 35. Even though Isaac and Jacob are both alive at this point, our focus will now be upon Jacob.
Padan-aram is in the northeastern Mesopotamian area, and this is where a part of Abraham’s family has lived for some time now.
God told Abraham to separate from his family and go to the land of Canaan. Well, Abraham did not separate from his family—he brought them with—and he only got halfway to Canaan. We don’t know if everyone from Abraham’s family traveled with him at this time, or whether they came later. In any case, when Abraham eventually went to the land of Canaan, a portion of his family remained in Padan-aram.
Map of Padan-aram is from Bible-history.com and accessed February 26, 2014. The area marked Mesopotamia is also known as the Fertile Crescent. It was at this point where Abraham had to leave the Euphrates River to travel eastward to Canaan, which is where God had originally sent him. Jacob is in southern Canaan and he will move northward through Syria toward Paddan Aram.
Because Bethuel has lived in this area for a long time, he is called a Syrian. Laban, Bethuel’s son, is Rebekah’s brother and Jacob’s uncle. Many times in Scripture (and this fixes a great many so-called contradictions), people are referred to by the land where they live. I may be called a Texan by some and a Californian by others; however, I was not born in either state. Yet I feel a much greater affinity for Texas and California than I do for where I was born.
If a particular family is prominent in an area, then that area takes on the family name (Aram, Assyria, Canaan). But after the name has been clearly established, then other families who move to that area become associated with the name of that area.
V. 5 is again picked up by v. 10:
Gen 28:5 Thus Isaac sent Jacob away. And he went to Paddan-aram, to Laban, the son of Bethuel the Aramean, the brother of Rebekah, Jacob's and Esau's mother. (ESV)
Gen 28:10 And Jacob went out from Beer-sheba and went toward Haran. (Green’s literal translation)
vv. 6–9 deal with what Esau observes and what Esau does as a result. It would not be inaccurate to put parentheses around these 4 verses or to set them off in their own paragraph. Everything is framed by Esau’s perception (and Esau saw in v. 6a and v. 8a; followed by and Esau went in v. 9a).
Although it is possible that Esau hears about this blessing later on, the text suggests that Esau observes the blessing as it occurs. As a result, he will be motivated to make a change in his life.
Genesis 28:6 And Esau saw that Isaac had blessed Jacob and had sent him away to Padan-aram in order to take a wife from there, and that as he blessed him he gave him a command, saying, “You will not take a wife of the daughters of Canaan.” (WEB; emphasis mine)
Isaac’s blessing to Jacob was given in public and Esau observed it, recognizing that this blessing is given without coercion or deception. Jacob is also warned not to take a Canaanite woman for a wife, as Esau had done. Again, this is what Isaac believes this to be about. He is unaware that Esau wants to kill Jacob; and he does not realize that it is his wife who is getting Jacob out of town to save him.
Esau is either there, at this time, listening; or he will find out Jacob was sent east to find a proper wife; and therefore, Esau takes this to heart. He knows about Jacob being sent to find a wife—and this is because his parents have problems with his Hittite wives. As has been discussed, Isaac and Rebekah both showed favoritism toward Esau and Isaac, respectively; and this resulted in a great deal of sibling rivalry, competition and insecurity.
Esau will take all of this to heart. In the past couple days, Esau had been sent out to hunt for a deer, and he fully expect to enjoy a wonderful meal with his father and to receive the great blessing of Abraham. At this point, it is clear that this blessing will not be his. First, Isaac blessed Jacob because he had been deceived; but now Isaac blessed Jacob with his eyes fully opened, so to speak.
Esau hears that Jacob is being sent back east to take a wife from their family and Esau takes this to heart. He can not really obsess about killing Jacob, because Jacob is about to be gone—but this does cause Esau to become somewhat introspective. Esau knows that Isaac blessed Jacob in a unique way and without deception, so Esau will actually think about this and try to deal with it while Jacob is gone.
Genesis 28:7 And Jacob obeyed his father and his mother, and he went to Padan-aram.
Isaac and Rebekah did agree that Jacob should find a wife from their clan, and Jacob obeyed them. Now, bear in mind, Jacob is 40+ years old.
Jacob is leaving home for the first time, and this is the will of God, even though Jacob is obeying his parents and not God. God had not yet appeared to Jacob.
We will pick up with Jacob’s trip in v. 10. We are still in the parenthetical portion, where this is what Esau is observing. Isaac obeys his parents and goes to Padan-aram.
Genesis 28:8–9 And when Esau saw that the daughters of Canaan did not please Isaac his father; then Esau went to Ishmael, and took Mahalath the daughter of Ishmael, Abraham's son, the sister of Nebajoth, to the wives which he had for his wife.
V. 8 begins exactly as v. 6 began: and so Esau sees that... In v. 8, Esau takes what he knows about his parents’ feelings about his wives (or statements which they have made) and he add this to Isaac being blessed with the blessing Esau believed was his and he adds to this that Jacob is being sent east to find a wife from their family, Esau draws the conclusion that the daughters of Canaan did not please Isaac.
Esau got moderately introspective and he realized that his parents strongly disapproved of his wives, he added another wife, a daughter of Ishmael. The blessing which Isaac gave to Jacob in the previous chapter—that was all based upon Jacob’s deception so Esau felt only anger because of that. However, this time the blessing given by Isaac was significant and not based upon deception. This time the great blessing of Abraham is passed along to Jacob, and all of this is related to the fact that Isaac and Rebekah do not want Jacob to marry a Hittite woman. Esau decides to fix this problem with his parents by marrying someone from their tribe.
Now, recall that there is no animosity between half-brothers Isaac and Ishmael at this point in time. They consider one another to be family, as they are. Their mothers had differences because Abraham was the father of these two boys; and when Isaac and Ishmael were young, there was some animosity on the part of Ishmael. However, at this point in time, there are no ill feelings between the half-brothers. There was no reason for any anger to exist between them. They had gotten together for Abraham’s funeral and it appears that things were patched up between them (as their mothers would have been dead by this time).
Esau marries Mahalath, whose name is actually Machălath (מַחֲלַת) [pronounced mahkh-al-AHTH], which means stringed instrument (quite a beautiful name). Strong’s #4258 BDB #563.
Mahalath is said to be the sister of Nebaioth, who is the oldest of Ishmael’s sons (Gen. 25:13). Nebaioth (also spelled Nebajoth) is likely the head of a famous people mentioned in Isa. 60:7. ISBE: Josephus, followed by Jerome, regarded Nebaioth as identical with the Nabateans, the great trading community and ally of Rome, whose capital and stronghold was Petra. ISBE qualifies this, suggesting that there are reasons to discount this widely held theory. Assuming this connection, Fausset goes into much greater detail about this people at Bible-history.com.
Esau has felt that Jacob has swindled him out of everything; but, at this point, Jacob is gone. Jacob gets this final blessing from Isaac, and it is given without any deception being involved. So he now realizes that his wives have not made life pleasant for his parents.
However, the line of promise goes through Jacob. Therefore, we will follow Jacob closely and Esau less so.
God’s special promises to Abraham do not go through Ishmael or through Esau. This does not make either of these men evil. They likely believed in the Revealed God; but the covenant blessings of God to Abraham will not go to them. They will be blessed, and their family lines will be followed out briefly (we have seen some cluster genealogies of Ishmael; we will see cluster genealogies of Esau); but we will not view a linear genealogy of either man. Their lines are not going anywhere. Their lines will eventually produce the Arab peoples, who. in general, do not believe in the Revealed God; and who do not today believe in Jesus Christ (with brave and notable exceptions).
The illustration is, God’s promises go to those who have believed in Him; and His greater blessing goes to those who follow His will (which can only be done if you know God’s will and thinking).
Jacob has been given the blessing of Abraham from Isaac; and is now heading east to take a wife from his extended family.
Genesis 28:10 And Jacob went out from Beer-sheba, and went toward Haran.
So Jacob is heading northeast for two reasons: to save himself from Esau and to find a wife. To find a wife was the cover story that Rebekah used to save Jacob from Esau; but this is a real consideration.
God has Jacob going east for two reasons as well: to realize that he does not better himself or his situation by being a con-man; and to find a wife, through whom his seed would be perpetuated. God blesses Jacob as one in the promised line. God blesses Jacob out of grace. God does not bless Jacob because he is clever and conniving.
Genesis 28:11 And he [Jacob] came on a certain place, and stayed there all night, because the sun had set. And he took of the stones of that place, and placed them at his head. And he lay down in that place to sleep.
Jacob Is moving both north and east, and, when night fell, he lays down to sleep. Jacob would be walking for many days and many nights. However, this is a very significant night in his life. At this point, he is still in Canaan.
The certain place where Jacob is, is Bethel, which means House of God.
Map of Canaan (Bethel) from Bible-History.com, accessed November 17, 2014. Jacob was in Beersheba, he traveled up towards Haran (Gen. 28:10), and here, he is stopped at Bethel (Gen. 28:19; formerly called Luz). He has not traveled very far; but no doubt, the long trip ahead of him is weighing heavily on his mind.
Genesis 28:12 And he dreamed. And behold! A ladder was set up on the earth, and the top of it reached to Heaven! And behold! The angels of God were ascending and descending on it!
Twice we have the word behold. This is the demonstrative particle hinnêh (הִנֵּה) [pronounced hin-NAY], which means, lo, behold, or more freely, observe, look here, look, listen, note, take note; pay attention, get this, check this out. Strong’s #2009 (and #518, 2006) BDB #243. When this is a part of the narrative, but not a part of what a person is saying, the intent of this word appears to be something which is observed by those in the narrative. Understood in this way, this might be reasonably translated I see, he sees.
I should point out that, on occasion, when explaining something from the Hebrew, I don’t always take this from a particular Hebrew source (although I have many reference books on the Hebrew language and its usage). Sometimes my observations are from seeing this or that word used over and over again in a particular way. In this case, what we are doing, in part, is looking at an updated way of understanding this particle. After all, who in your acquaintance, when they want you to know something important that they saw, says, and behold!? Therefore, I attempt to update some words into a current vocabulary, and yet still maintain the word’s intent and/or meaning. Jacob saw these things in his dream; they struck him as being rather dramatic. In conveying this dream, he tries to put the reader into the midst of this vision. Jacob wants us to be able to see what he saw; but this is not some place at sunset that he can drag us to and say, “Whoa, check this out!” Instead, he says and behold! But, all Jacob is doing is telling us what he saw, with an emphasis upon the wow factor of it. I realize that translating this and he sees loses the wow factor of it all; but it is the best I can come up with so far (apart from, and suddenly he saw). This gives us:
Genesis 28:12 And he dreamed. And he sees a ladder was set up on the earth, and the top of it reached to Heaven! And he [also] sees the angels of God ascending and descending on it!
As a part of divine revelation, God allowed men to see some forms of reality in their dreams. God spoke to some men in their dreams. In a previous lesson, I alluded to angels who observe us. These are the angels who are constantly going between heaven and earth. We read in Job 1:6–7 Now there was a day when the sons of God [= angels] came to present themselves before the LORD, and Satan also came among them. The LORD said to Satan, "From where have you come?" Satan answered the LORD and said, "From going to and fro on the earth, and from walking up and down on it." (ESV). So angels, fallen and elect, have the ability to go between heaven and earth. Angels have the ability to go about the earth, traveling as they so choose, as God has allowed.
On some isolated occasions, God allows these angels to be seen (we have the example of the two angels who went to Sodom and rescued Lot in Gen. 19—they were seen by everyone, but not perceived to be angels).
Here, Jacob is seeing a bit of this reality—something which most people will never see during their lives on earth. However, there is no need for such revelation in this era, because we have the complete Living Word of God. We do not need to see visions of angels; we have been informed in Scripture of their existence and their purpose.
As believers, we are indwelt by God the Holy Spirit. We all have the same assets that Jesus Christ had in His humanity. Therefore, we do not need God whispering in our ears, “Up ahead, I want you to make a left turn, and then at the stop light, make a right.” This is why Peter tells us to follow in His steps (1Peter 2:21; see also John 13:15 1Cor. 11:1). What we do is based upon understanding the Word of God and not upon constant direction from on high.
Jesus Christ accomplished many things when He walked this earth. He fulfilled both the Law and the Prophets. Then He died for our sins, redeeming us. But he also test-drove the spiritual life for believers today. The life that He led, empowered by God the Holy Spirit, is the same life that we Christians live today. In His humanity, He grew spiritually. The Bible tells us that He did (Luke 2:52). He relied upon God the Holy Spirit; the Bible tells us that He did (Isa. 11:1–3). He accomplished the plan of God for His life without constantly requiring from God the Father whether he should make a left or a right turn up ahead.
As His children, we have received His spiritual life as our blessing. When we believe in Jesus Christ, we are given a full set of spiritual blessings. Therefore, we do not require dreams or visions to move us along. Such things are not needed to accomplish the will of God; such things are not necessary to grow spiritually.
Back to our verse:
Genesis 28:12a Then Jacob [lit., he] dreamed, and he saw [lit., behold] a staircase [ramp, ladder, elevator?] stationary on the earth;...
There are two unusual words found here. The first is çullâm (סֻלָּם) [pronounced sool-LAWM]. We really do not know what this word means, as it occurs only here. This is similar to the Jewish word for highway, raised way, public road. Jacob is describing the best that he can what it is that he sees (like the Apostle John in the book of Revelation). It is possible that what he sees is different than what we know technologically today (although, it is also possible that staircase or ramp may be good translations of this word).
The next unusual verb is the Hophal participle of nâtsab (נָצַב) [pronounced naw-TSAHBV], which means, being fixed [in one place]; being stationary; having been determined; standing in place. These are meanings specific to the Hophal participle. Here, the participle functions as an adjective. Strong’s #5324 BDB #662.
Jacob, with a vocabulary out of the 2nd millennium b.c., describes the best way that he can what it is that he is seeing here. There is a way for angels to go from earth to God in the 3rd heaven. Whether this is a wormhole, an elevator or a DeLorean fitted with a flux capacitor, we do not know. We do know that angels are constantly moving between heaven and earth. We don’t know if what Jacob sees is representative of this movement, or if he actually observed the means by which angels move between heaven and earth.
Genesis 28:12a Then Jacob [lit., he] dreamed, and he saw [lit., behold] a staircase [ramp, ladder, elevator, escalator?] stationary on the earth; and its top reached [into] the heavens.
The word for top is a very common Hebrew word: rôʾsh (רֹאש or רֹאֶש) [pronounced rohsh]; and it means, head [of a man, city, state, nation, place, family, priest], top [of a mountain]; chief, prince, officer; front, choicest, best; height [of stars]; sum. Strong's #7218 BDB #910. The verb here is nâgaʿ (נָגַע) [pronounced naw-GAHĢ], which is a Hiphil participle that means, being caused to touch, caused to reach [to anything]; coming to, attaining. Again, these meanings are particular to this stem and verbal type. Strong's #5060 BDB #619. So, whatever it is the Jacob sees, the top of it reaches into the heavens, into the domain of God.
A question which occurs to me: why this particular vision? Why does God let Jacob see the passage of angels between the earth and the heavens? Let me suggest that God is exposing Jacob to the fact that there is a lot more going on in life than his simple life. There is a lot more at stake than what Jacob gets or doesn’t get.
Jacob is a man who is completely out for himself; he will deceive his own father, if it is in his own best interest. God is telling Jacob that there is more going on than the blessings which he desires.
Furthermore, once Jacob arrives in Padan-aram, he will meet his uncle who will be every bit the con man that Jacob is—but to what purpose? What does his uncle receive by conning Jacob that he would not receive from the hand of God?
Jesus explained it in this way: "Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat, nor about your body, what you will put on. For life is more than food, and the body more than clothing. Consider the ravens: they neither sow nor reap, they have neither storehouse nor barn, and yet God feeds them. Of how much more value are you than the birds! And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life? If then you are not able to do as small a thing as that, why are you anxious about the rest? (Luke 12:22b–26) Jesus told the disciples, “What exactly are you going to accomplish for yourselves by worrying or by being anxious? Doesn’t God know about your needs?”
Jacob was making his way through life by lying and deceiving in or to better his station in life. Not only is this inappropriate for a man of God, but God could and would take care of blessing Jacob. God did not need Jacob’s help.
So Jacob is getting many things from this field trip:
1. He will find out that being dishonest and conning other people does not necessarily improve your own station in life.
2. He finds out here that there is much more going on in life than what he actually sees. There is a whole other thing going on (the Angelic Conflict) which is significant.
3. And Jacob will meet the love of his life have sire the children who will make up the Jewish people.
4. He will see that God can bless him greatly, no matter what his station in life, and without Jacob being a con-man.
5. None of what occurs will require Jacob to be dishonest.
Genesis 28:12 Then Jacob [lit., he] dreamed, and he saw [lit., behold] a staircase [ramp, ladder, elevator, escalator?] stationary on the earth; and its top reached [into] the heavens. And he saw [lit., behold] the angels of Elohim ascending and descending on it.
So, in his dream, Jacob sees some kind of a vertical passageway starting here on earth and going up into the heavens. That vertical passageway is populated by angels.
Angels observe what is going on, on this earth; and they also interact with God. And they travel from one place to the other, according to God’s plan. We may think about this angel or that; or this or that incident that is recorded in the Bible (like the two angels that rescued Lot and his family and then destroyed Sodom in Gen. 19); but there is a lot more going on with the angels than that.
Part of what they do—and I am referring to fallen and elect angels both—is they observe us. Sometimes a live play, where the theater venue is small, will place you into the middle of the action, from time to time. I saw the play Marat-Sade many years ago in a small theater, and underneath the raised seats where we sat was a passageway for the actors, that we could see. So, for those in the middle rows, there were actors in costume, in character—inmates of the asylum—wandering about behind you in this passageway, as well as acting on the stage in front of you. So, you felt as if you were right in the middle of the everything. That is what is going on with the angels who observe us. It is as if they are in the middle of this great morality play—one which reveals clearly the character and essence of God—and they are able to view our actions and reactions; our relationship to the Word of God and the plan of God; and there are some believers who live a life that has great impact and there are others who are simply marking time between now and eternity.
And just in case these angels do not get it, they have access to God, where the things that they observe are discussed. Think of it as you and a group of friends discussing the morality of a movie that you have just seen.
The angels that Jacob is observing continually travel between the throne room of God and to this earth; and they observe us on this earth in our day-to-day existence. In many ways, we bring the Word of God to life in what we do.
We find this exact same thing in the book of Job.
Job 1:6–7 Now there was a day when the sons of God [= angels] came to present themselves before the LORD, and Satan also came among them. The LORD said to Satan, "From where have you come?" Satan answered the LORD and said, "From going to and fro on the earth, and from walking up and down on it." (ESV)
There are regular meetings in heaven between the angels (fallen and elect) and God, and there is interaction between them. What is discussed, is often the behavior of individuals. In the example above, Job will be discussed. Job is a man of God, one who has believed in God and one who tries to obey the will of God. And Satan asks God, “Give Job over to me—I’ll make him squeal and I will make him reject You.”
You may recall that Jesus told Simon Peter: "Simon, Simon, behold, Satan has demanded permission to sift you like wheat;...” (Luke 22:31; NASB) Satan asked for permission to wreak havoc in the life of Job; and 2000 or so years later, he asks to do the same to Peter. Fallen angels do not want to simply observe what is going on; they want to interact with mankind (Gen. 6 Job 1–2 Jude 1:6).
We have already studied Gen. 6 and how angels were allowed to cohabit with man; and the result was a corrupted race of men, who were the product of fallen angels and fallen man—whose exploits have been recorded in nearly every people’s mythology.
Jude describes the fate of these angels in Jude 1:6 And the angels who did not stay within their own position of authority, but left their proper dwelling, He [God] has kept in eternal chains under gloomy darkness until the judgment of the great day– (ESV)
The angels of Gen. 6 were removed by God and placed in chains under gloomy darkness until the day of judgment.
In Job 1–2, Satan is given the opportunity to harm Job, and Satan unloads both barrels, wreaking as much damage and devastation to Job’s life as we could imagine.
So Jacob, in his sleep, his this vision, and he sees angels being conveyed from earth to heaven and from heaven to earth—a concept which is consistent with what we have already studied as the Angelic Conflict. The Angelic Conflict is an invisible war which is taking place which involves God, the elect angels and the fallen angels. Man was created to resolve the Angelic Conflict. See the Angelic Conflict (HTML) (PDF) (WPD).
Because this is a very long lesson, with a great many references to outside material, this will count as 3 lessons.
We have been studying Jacob’s dream in Bethel, where he observes angels going between heaven and earth.
There is a remarkable consistency throughout Scripture regarding the nature and function of angelic creatures. If the Scriptures are simply the recorded thoughts and actions and myths of men, collected over a period of 2000 years, with some arbitrary council deciding, what stays in and what is thrown out, the idea that there is a prehistoric race of creatures who are far superior to man, whose existence and function can be studied and conclusions drawn, how exactly did this happen? How do you have 40 or so authors writing over a period of 3000 years come up with a fairly consistent view of creatures that so few men have ever seen? The Bible critic would allege that angels do not even exist and that no one has ever seen an angel (except someone who has hallucinated). So that makes a consistent description in narrative form even more difficult to achieve. The Bible critic would say, it is all made up. How do a dozen or more authors just make up the concept of angels and somehow come up with a consistent function and understanding of these made-up creatures? After all, if there are contradictions in the Harry Potter series, the notion of one author (or in the Buffy the Vampire Slayer series; the creation of primarily one person), how do a dozen or so authors—most of whom have never interacted with one another—manage to keep their story straight on created beings that 99.99% of us have never seen?
This will be an extensive tangent, but we learn a great deal about Christian doctrine from a study like this.
The Bible critic alleges that, “The Bible is filled with contradictions.” The contradictions which follow are the first 20 listed on the website evilbible.com. We have already studied the first 5 in a previous lesson. Since this website groups and classified these contradictions, we will also look at the first 5 or so from each classification (in the next lesson).
One would hope that they will have given their best in the first 10 contradictions, in order to engage the reader.
God is satisfied with his works. Gen 1:31
God is dissatisfied with his works. Gen. 6:6
What God has designed is good; but God also created man and angels with free will. This free will is allowed by God to have real effects on His creation.
Here’s an analogous situation. A builder builds a house and it looks great; and he is very satisfied with his work. However, some night, a bunch of kids break into this newly-built house and cause all kinds of damage to it. The damage might be so great that he is even unhappy that he built this house in the first place. So, the builder on one day is very satisfied with his work; on the next day, he is unhappy that he built the house in the first place. There is no contradiction in this illustration.
God dwells in chosen temples. 2Chron. 7:12,16
God dwells not in temples. Acts 7:48
God can choose to manifest Himself in specific places for specific reasons. The incarnation of Jesus Christ is an example of this. Jesus Christ is God in the flesh, living among mankind (John 1:1–3, 14). However, God’s actual essence is spirit, which we cannot see, hear, feel or touch. Just as our souls are immaterial, so is God. But God is able to make Himself manifest. If God is able to create the universe, then it reasonably follows that He can interact with His creatures in this universe. That requires an infinite God to manifest Himself in a specific place and time.
The Temple is of particular interest, because the original Tabernacle (a very large tent which could be moved) represents Jesus Christ in the flesh in His 1st Advent; and the later Temple represents Jesus Christ on earth when He will rule over the earth in the Millennium. Therefore, we would expect God to specially manifest Himself both within the Tabernacle and later within the Temple. God voluntarily localized His Presence in both.
God dwells in light. 1Tim. 6:16
God dwells in darkness. 1Kings 8:12 Psalm 18:11 97:2
God is light and in Him is no darkness. However, because God is omniscient and omnipresent, he is able to be everywhere simultaneously.
Would you allege that it is a contradiction for God to be able to see in the dark?
God is seen and heard. Ex. 33:23, 11 Gen. 3:9–10 32:30 Isa. 6:1 Ex. 24:9-11
God is invisible and cannot be heard. John 1:18 5:37 Ex. 33:20 1Tim 6:16
As already discussed, God is a spirit, which cannot be apprehended by the 5 senses. However, as God, He can choose make Himself manifest; He can choose to make Himself visible.
Many new parents have a baby monitor, so that they are in one room of the house, and, through the living room, and down the hall is the baby’s room. The parents may be sleeping and the baby wakes up and begins to cry. Immediately, one of the parents—who was previously unseen and could not be heard by the baby—suddenly appears and sees to the needs of the baby. For a few hours, the baby cannot see or hear his parents; and, suddenly, he can both hear and see his parents. There is no contradiction in this.
God is tired and rests. Ex. 31:17
God is never tired and never rests. Isa. 40:28
Many of the contradictions are based upon anthropopathisms and anthropomorphisms. An anthropopathism is the assignment of human feelings, passions or characteristics to God, attributing to Him feelings or characteristics which He does not actually possess. This often helps to explain God’s actions in human terms. For more information, see Bible Doctrine Resource on this topic.
Let’s look at Ex. 31:17, where God is speaking to Moses: “It is a sign forever between Me and the people of Israel that in six days the LORD made heaven and earth, and on the seventh day He rested and was refreshed.” (ESV; capitalized) The Hebrew word for to rest is shâbath (שָבַת) [pronounced shaw-BAHTH], and it means, to rest, to keep a day of rest, to celebrate the Sabbath; to sit down [still]; to cease, to desist, to leave off, to discontinue. You may recognize this word as related to the word for Sabbath. God did not rest because He was tired; He ceased because He was finished.
The second word in question is nâphash (נָפַש) [pronounced naw-FAHSH], which means, to breath, to take a breath, to refresh oneself; to cease from working. Now, God does not take a breath. Again, He stopped working because He was finished.
God is everywhere present, sees and knows all things. Prov. 15:3 Psalm 139:7-10 Job 34:22,21
God is not everywhere present, neither sees nor knows all things. Gen. 3:8 11:5 18:20–21
God is omniscient (He sees everything); He is omnipresent (He is everywhere). Generally speaking, when God appears not to be omniscient and He has to suddenly leave His throne and go down to earth and find out what is going on and then sort things out—that is an anthropopathism—assigning to God thoughts, feelings and characteristics which He does not actually have in order to better explain His actions and/or policies.
God can bring to pass any policy, punishment, correction or reward with a snap of His fingers. However, there is an audience for the progression of the human race—and that is the audience of fallen and elect angels. They watch us; they see our sins, failures and successes; and they see how God works in us, through us, and often against us (with divine discipline).
I have misstated two things here. God does not actually have fingers; He does not snap His fingers. That is an anthropomorphism. God’s divine discipline actually works in our favor, much the same way that we spank our own children. We don’t spank them to get our anger out; we spank them to correct them and guide them in the right way. From the child’s point of view, it may appear as if we are working against him; and when we are disciplined, it may appear to us as if God is working against us.
Have you ever had a child say, “Dad is mad at me” after receiving a whipping? His father delivers the whipping not because the father is mad but because the father loves his son. Saying, “Dad is mad at me” is somewhat of an anthropopathism. It assigns to the boy’s father emotions which he may not possess, but emotions which explain the father’s behavior to the boy.
Let’s look at these 3 references specifically which suggest that God is not everywhere present, neither sees nor knows all things (although we have already studied them). Gen. 3:8 11:5 18:20–21
Gen. 3:7–9 Then the eyes of both were opened, and they knew that they were naked. And they sewed fig leaves together and made themselves loincloths. And they heard the sound of the LORD God walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and the man and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the LORD God among the trees of the garden. But the LORD God called to the man and said to him, "Where are you?" (ESV) Believe it or not, God actually knew where Adam and the woman were. They are on earth and hiding from God in the Garden of Eden. God knew where to be to call out to them so that they could hear Him. This becomes a consistent occurrence in Scripture where people sin, and then God first speaks to them with a question—often a question which requires them to name the sin that they committed. God localizes His presence in order to interact with His creatures.
Gen 11:4–7 Then they said, "Come, let us build ourselves a city and a tower with its top in the heavens, and let us make a name for ourselves, lest we be dispersed over the face of the whole earth." And the LORD came down to see the city and the tower, which the children of man had built. And the LORD said, "Behold, they are one people, and they have all one language, and this is only the beginning of what they will do. And nothing that they propose to do will now be impossible for them. Come, let us go down and there confuse their language, so that they may not understand one another's speech." (ESV). In this example, God will actually do something miraculous among the people. They have been told to spread out across the earth, and yet they refuse to do so. The narrative here explains to angels what is going on and why God is doing this thing. Angels are not omniscient; so, from time to time, God will gather most angels to one particular place, to one particular person or incident, so that they can all view with their own eyes what is going on and what God will do about it.
Gen. 18:20–21 Then the LORD said, "Because the outcry against Sodom and Gomorrah is great and their sin is very grave, I will go down to see whether they have done altogether according to the outcry that has come to me. And if not, I will know." (ESV) This refers to Sodom and Gomorrah. God knows what is going on there. However, He brings with Him many angels in order for them to see and understand what He is doing and why He is doing that. As before, this is an anthropathism. The cry of the victims reaches heaven (which simply means, God hears their cries); and therefore, God must go down there and sort it all out. God could snap His fingers and destroy Sodom in an instant. However, like the Tower of Babel above, God uses man’s sin and His Own actions in order to teach divine truth. This is being observed by angels and what will happen to Sodom will be a spiritual lesson for all time. See Genesis 18 (HTML) (PDF) (WPD).
God knows the hearts of men. Acts 1:24 Psalm 139:2–3
God tries [= tests] men to find out what is in their heart. Deut. 13:3 8:2 Gen. 22:12
The first assertion is accurate. God knows the hearts of minds of all men. We have recently studied the emotions of man and emotional revolt of the soul. As we progress spiritually, God is constantly observing us, noting our spiritual growth and even touting it to the angels (see Job 1).
God knows what we are capable of individually. We do not know this nor do angels. Therefore, this is shown—our growth or lack thereof is put to the test.
The testing which we receive is for our benefit. This is also a testimony to the angels as well.
As a teacher, I pushed my students as much as I possibly could. Some of them learned and achieved things that they themselves did not realize that they were capable of. Testing as well as one-on-one interaction helped to facilitate this. The testing allowed the student to see for himself what he was capable of doing. This is analogous to God’s interaction with us in the spiritual life.
God is all powerful. Jer. 32:27 Matt. 19:26
God is not all powerful. Judges 1:19
God is all powerful (omnipotent), and yet we read in Judges 1:19 And the LORD was with Judah, and he took possession of the hill country, but he could not drive out the inhabitants of the plain because they had chariots of iron. (ESV). God is with Judah, but that does not mean that God would drive out all of their enemies. Judges 2:19–22 gives the general explanation as to why God did not remove all of Israel’s enemies from the land: But whenever the judge died, they turned back and were more corrupt than their fathers, going after other gods, serving them and bowing down to them. They did not drop any of their practices or their stubborn ways. So the anger of the LORD was kindled against Israel, and he said, "Because this people has transgressed my covenant that I commanded their fathers and have not obeyed my voice, I will no longer drive out before them any of the nations that Joshua left when he died, in order to test Israel by them, whether they will take care to walk in the way of the LORD as their fathers did, or not." It was not that God was not powerful enough to destroy Judah’s enemies; God simply allowed for Judah’s enemies to remain in the land, to be used to discipline the Jews when they needed it.
God is unchangeable. James 1:17 Mal. 3:6 Ezek. 24:14 Num. 23:19
God is changeable. Gen 6:6 Jonah 3:10 1Sam 2:30–31 2Kings 20:1, 4–6 Ex. 33:1, 3, 17, 14
God’s essence is immutable (unchangeable). However, God is said to change because He is responding to various actions of man. Again, this is an anthropopathism, something you would think these atheist webpage gurus would, at some point, figure out (I am sure that they receive emails and comments).
Jonah 3:10 When God saw what they did, how they turned from their evil way, God relented of the disaster that he had said he would do to them, and he did not do it. God’s actions are related to the behavior of man. As unbelievers, the Assyrians deserved eternal judgment; as believers in the Revealed God, they had been redeemed from that judgment. Jonah came and warned them of the judgment of Yehowah, and the Assyrians believed in his God.
Many of the contradictions are based upon this fundamental principle: our relationship to the God of the Universe affects our perception of God. God’s character and essence did not change; the people of Assyria changed, resulting in God changing His policy toward them (God would not destroy them).
God is just and impartial. Psalm 92:15 Gen. 18:25 Deut. 32:4 Rom. 2:11 Ezek. 18:25
God is unjust and partial. Gen. 9:25 Ex. 20:5 Rom. 9:11-13 Matt. 13:12
God is perfectly just and impartial. However, when He blesses a believer or takes care of a believer, it may appear to the person on the outside that God is favoring that person. When a person has rejected God’s grace or the offer of God’s salvation, then they may find God’s judgment upon them. God’s justice remains the same throughout.
We do not condemn a judge because on one day, he sets a man free and on the next day, he sentences another man to death, do we? We do not comment, “That judge is inconsistent!” The judge is ideally taking the same principles of law and applying them to different circumstances.
Let’s take a look at two of these passages individually.
Gen. 9:24–27 When Noah awoke from his wine and knew what his youngest son had done to him, he said, "Cursed be Canaan; a servant of servants shall he be to his brothers." He also said, "Blessed be the LORD, the God of Shem; and let Canaan be his servant. May God enlarge Japheth, and let him dwell in the tents of Shem, and let Canaan be his servant." Because of Ham’s impertinence, Noah pronounced a curse upon his son, Canaan. This curse against Canaan would be carried out because Canaan gets his values from Ham his father; and he passes along those values to his own sons, which makes them cursed by God.
Matt. 13:11–12 And he answered them, "To you it has been given to know the secrets of the kingdom of heaven, but to them it has not been given. For to the one who has, more will be given, and he will have an abundance, but from the one who has not, even what he has will be taken away.” (ESV) As believers in Jesus Christ, despite our own physical infirmities, we are all given an equal shot. Any one of us can be as great as the Apostle Paul—greater in fact. As a person moves forward in the Christian life, God gives that person greater grace (James 4:6). If you, as a believer, have chosen to fritter your life away, God may take you out of this life by means of the sin unto death. This is not arbitrary but in accordance with the plan of God and our relationship to God. There is no great contradiction that God disciplines some of His children and blesses others.
God is the author of evil. Lam. 3:38 Jer. 18:11 Isa. 45:7 Amos 3:6 Ezek. 20:25
God is not the author of evil. 1Cor 14:33 Deut 32:4 James 1:13
God creates man and angels with free will. God allows for the function of free will, which means the ability to choose against God. In this sense, even though God does not sponsor evil, creatures created by God with true volition might do evil things.
Have you ever heard two parents, and one of them says, “He did not learn that from me”? Most parents try to bring up their children with values and a sense of right and wrong; but that does not mean that the child will always obey them. They may intend that their child does not wreak havoc on earth, but every child has free will, which means some children do some very distasteful things. Children do act out and they do evil things which they have not seen done before.
God gives freely to those who ask
James 1:5 Luke 11:10
God withholds his blessings and prevents men from receiving them
John 12:40 Joshua 11:20 Isa. 63:17
God obviously makes Himself available to mankind. Paul, in one of his messages, said: “And He [God] made every nation of men of one blood, to live on all the face of the earth, ordaining fore-appointed seasons and boundaries of their dwelling, to seek the Lord, if perhaps they might feel after Him and might find Him, though indeed He not being far from each one of us.” (Acts 17:26–27; Green’s literal translation)
However, man does have the ability to reject God. God allows man to say no. The second group of passages will be examined below:
John 12:37–40 Though he had done so many signs before them, they still did not believe in him, so that the word spoken by the prophet Isaiah might be fulfilled: "Lord, who has believed what he heard from us, and to whom has the arm of the Lord been revealed?" Therefore they could not believe. For again Isaiah said, "He has blinded their eyes and hardened their heart, lest they see with their eyes, and understand with their heart, and turn, and I would heal them." (ESV; Isa. 53:1 6:10) Some people simply reject truth. The human soul is designed so, there is a point at which a hardening of the heart begins to occur, where the soul develops scar tissue regarding the truth. They go from a point of simply hearing and rejecting truth, to reenforcing their own rejection of the truth. How does this work?
Many of the miracles which Jesus did were undeniable. He would cure those who had suffered illnesses and disabilities for years and some for a lifetime. However, some people would reject Him anyway. Such negative volition needs to be strengthened into resolve, so such people will search out other explanations for what they just saw. One of those explanations during that time was, Jesus healed by the power of Beelzebub (the prince of dung; a name for Satan). See Matt. 12:22–37.
Today, people may initially reject Jesus Christ; but often, then will seek out others who have rejected Him or they will seek out books by famous atheists, and this helps to strengthen their resolve—in other words, this helps to build scar tissue on their souls. The Doctrine of Scar Tissue.
Joshua 11:18–20 And Joshua made war many days with all those kings. There was not a city that made peace with the sons of Israel except the Hivites, ones living in Gibeon. They took all in battle. For it was of Jehovah to harden their hearts, so that they should come against Israel in battle, so that they might be destroyed, so that they might have no favor, but that He might destroy them, as Jehovah commanded Moses. (Green’s literal translation) God set up the function of the soul. Believers are designed so that we can strengthen our souls through the study of the Word of God; however, the parallel function in the unbeliever would be to allow him to strengthen his resolve against God as well through similar means.
We see this with the souls of modern-day Palestinians, many of whom absolutely abhor the Jews and they built up and strengthen this hatred which they learn in their youth. One would think that, when a Palestinian child grows into an adult, he might begin to question the idea of Jews evolving from apes and pigs.
Now, whether God is actively involved in strengthening one’s negative volition, is a whole other topic which I am not ready to embark on as of yet. However, in any situation where God is said to harden the heart of a person, they harden their own hearts first—sometimes many times. The Pharaoh of the exodus is a good example of this. In Ex. 5, he demonstrates his negative volition toward God and God’s people over and over again by his successive actions.
Isa. 63:17–19 O LORD, why do You make us wander from Your ways and harden our heart, so that we fear You not? Return for the sake of Your servants, the tribes of Your heritage. Your holy people held possession for a little while; our adversaries have trampled down Your sanctuary. We have become like those over whom You have never ruled, like those who are not called by Your name. (ESV; capitalized) Israel, in the time of Isaiah, had been turning away from God. This is simply negative volition on the part of the people there against their God. Isaiah is bemoaning this state of affairs. God is not with Israel because they have first rejected Him.
God is to be found by those who seek him
Matt 7:8 Prov 8:17
God is not to be found by those who seek him
The context of Prov. 1:28 is, God made Himself known, He made Himself available, and yet this people rejected Him. Prov. 1:24–28 Because I have called and you refused to listen, have stretched out My hand and no one has heeded, because you have ignored all My counsel and would have none of My reproof, I also will laugh at your calamity; I will mock when terror strikes you, when terror strikes you like a storm and your calamity comes like a whirlwind, when distress and anguish come upon you. Then they will call upon Me, but I will not answer; they will seek Me diligently but will not find Me.
Putting aside, for the moment, the anthropopathism of God laughing, we all face eternal judgment and God allows us to believe in Him—something which is free and takes mere moments to do—and this little bit of faith saves us from eternal damnation.
God is warlike
Ex. 15:3 Isa. 51:15
God is peaceful
Rom 15:33 1Cor. 14:33
This is like saying, our military is warlike and our military is peaceful—and that this is a fundamental contradiction of some sort. We have had troops stationed in South Korea for many decades now, and, for the most part, these troops have been peaceful. However, their general demeanor depends upon what happens in North Korea.
God is cruel, unmerciful, destructive, and ferocious
Jer. 13:14 Deut. 7:16 1Sam. 15:2,3 1Sam. 6:19
God is kind, merciful, and good
James 5:11 Lam. 3:33 1Chron. 16:34 Ezek. 18:32 Psalm 145:9
1Tim. 2:4 1John 4:16 Psalm 25:8
The explanation here is very much what it is above. When a people has become very negative toward God (which, in the ancient world, was often expressed by its relationship to the people of God), God dealt with those people in what may seem cruel to us today. When we execute a murderer today—what that murderer did might have been extremely cruel and heartless—but even those who completely support the death penalty can feel a tinge of sadness at the state-induced death of such a person.
As we read in 1Sam. 2:30 Therefore the LORD, the God of Israel, declares: 'I promised that your house and the house of your father should go in and out before Me forever,' but now the LORD declares: 'Far be it from Me, for those who honor Me I will honor, and those who despise Me shall be lightly esteemed.’ (ESV; capitalized)
There are two sides in this world—there is Satan and there is God; and God’s attitude toward us depends upon which one draws our allegiance.
God's anger is fierce and endures long
Num. 32:13 25:4
God's anger is slow and endures but for a minute
Psalm 103:8 30:5
First of all, the anger of God is an anthropomorphism. It represents God’s judgment or His discipline (when directed toward a believer). The application of his judgment and discipline depends upon the situation. God overlooked King David’s many wives for a fairly long period of time; however, when King David took the wife of a soldier and then had that soldier killed, God put intensive discipline upon David for his actions.
For those who have raised children, you certainly do not bring the exact same judgment and discipline down upon them for each and every offense.
God commands, approves of, and delights in burnt offerings, sacrifices ,and holy days
Ex 29:18, 36 Lev. 1:9 23:27
God disapproves of and has no pleasure in burnt offerings,
sacrifices, and holy days.
Jer. 7:22 6:20 Psalm 50:13,4 Isa. 1:13, 11, 12
The burnt offerings, sacrifices and holy days looked forward to the Messiah and revealed truths about the coming Messiah. Israel was given the responsibility of preserving these ceremonies as a testimony to Jesus Christ.
However, there were two ways that the Jews could break their bond with the God Who made them: (1) they could reject the God of their youth, but continue with these sacrifices and offerings as unbelievers. Or (2) they could participate in these ceremonies in uncleanness. This might be ceremonial uncleanness, but it would be likely the uncleanness of their own souls (that is, they have unconfessed sins in their lives).
Ceremonies and rituals have no meaning if they are separated from the truth that they represent.
God accepts human sacrifices
2Sam 2:8, 9, 14 Gen. 22:2 Judges 11:30-32, 34, 38, 39
God forbids human sacrifice
Deut 12:30, 31
I have no idea what the references of 2Samuel are about. However, God asked Abraham to offer up his uniquely-born son to God; and Abraham would begin to comply with this. This particular incident confuses unbelievers greatly because they confuse God’s request and Abraham’s willingness to offer up his son as being the same as a human sacrifice. God stopped Abraham from offering up Isaac. This offering was to represent the sacrifice of Jesus Christ for our sins and is discussed in great detail in Genesis 22 (HTML) (PDF) (WPD).
In the second example of Judges 11, Jephthah does not offer up his daughter as a human sacrifice. She does, however, remain separated to the Lord for the rest of her life in an unmarried state. This is discussed in more detail in Judges 11 (HTML) (PDF)
God tempts men
Gen. 22:1 2Sam. 24:1 Jer. 20:7 Matt. 6:13
God tempts no man
There is tempting and there is testing and the word in the Greek is the same word. God promises us that: No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and He will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation He will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it. (1Co 10:13; ESV; capitalized) So, we are all tested by God from time to time; but we have the inner resources to pass the test and resist whatever temptation is involved.
However, God does not simply place us in situations where we are going to fail and give in to temptation.
God cannot lie
God lies by proxy; he sends forth lying spirits to deceive
2Thess. 2:11 1Kings 22:23 Ezek. 14:9
God allows man and angels in this world, and He allows them to exercise their free will (within some reasonable constraints). As a result, men will lie or stretch the truth, or present lies in such a way that they appear to be the truth.
God also allows some men to reveal all that is in their heart, which sometimes comes out in the way that they respond to that which is false.
We all have a choice. We can choose to pursue the truth, as God has revealed Himself in Scripture; or we can pursue after those who speak against God.
A study like this can help to clarify many passages that you may not have understood before.
Evil Bible breaks up its contradictions categorically. So let me hand the first few contradictions from each category.
These next 10 or so few come from the category of moral precepts. Unless otherwise noted, the ESV (capitalized) translation will be used.
Ex. 3:21–22 12:35–36
Lev 19:13 Ex 20:15
The Jews had been enslaved by the Egyptians, and God required payment for their centuries of work (Ex. 3:21–22 12:35–36). It is very likely that the person or persons who oversee the evilbible website believe in some form of reparations for American slaves—to them and to their children at the very least; and yet, somehow, post this as if it is a contradiction to you will not steal (Ex. 20:15). They are not stealing, they are being remunerated for work which they have done.
This is one of the many examples of the disingenuousness of many Bible skeptics. They probably believe in the principles taught in both passages, in context, and yet they act as if some this is some great contradiction.
Lying approved and sanctioned
Joshua 2:4-6 James 2:25 Ex. 1:18-20 1Kings 22:21,22
Ex. 20:16 Prov. 12:22 Rev. 21:8
In war, lying by those on the side of God is allowed. If a soldier is caught and being tortured, and being asked to give the position of his comrades so that they might be found and killed, do you really think that God requires this person—if he is a Christian—to tell the truth about where his fellow soldiers are? In the example of Joshua 2:4–6 James 2:25, Rahab the prostitute chose to ally herself with Israel and with Joshua.
In the second example of Ex. 1:18–20, Egyptian midwives lied to Pharaoh when they did not kill Hebrew children. In the military, when a soldier is given a bad order (to kill, for instance a village of women and children), that soldier has a duty to disobey that order. Do you really think that if some government official—even the president—ordered you to kill some of God’s people without cause, that it is your duty to do so? We are to obey our leaders, but there are also reasonable limits to this obedience (which limits are clearly taught in Scripture).
In 1Kings 22:21–22, Ahab is an evil king. God has sent prophets to him that spoke the truth to him. He rejected them and even persecuted these prophets. So God allowed Ahab’s personal prophets to lie to him—and Ahab believed the lie.
Hatred to the Edomite sanctioned
2Kings 14:7 (evilbible inexplicably cites v. 3; but forgets to cite 1Chron. 18)
Hatred to the Edomite forbidden
2Kings 14 is about a better than average king, Amaziah, who did good, but he came up short because of things that he did or did not do. He did not tear down all of the high places (the places of idolatry—2Kings 14:4); and he killed 10,000 Edomites (2Kings 14:7). These are given as examples of his shortcomings.
The relationship between the Edomites and the Jews is tricky, however, because they are all descended from Abraham; so they are cousins, as it were. Because of Abraham, God set aside an area for the Edomites; however, when the Edomites became cattywampus with the Jews, they were to be dealt with. We have an example of that in 1Chron. 18:11–13. In any case, hatred is not mentioned regarding David or Amaziah.
This ought not to be a difficult concept. Killing in war and executing a criminal is not the same as killing an innocent person. The Bible makes such a distinction; my guess is, the folks at evilbible make such distinctions as well. If a criminal was threatening your family with harm, do you really think God wants you to allow this to happen?
The blood-shedder must die
The blood-shedder must not die
There is a time frame here. In Gen. 4, there has been no commandment from God to execute murderers. The first commandment from God for man to execute murderers is given in Gen. 9. It is at this point that man is given that responsibility to execute murderers. In Gen. 4:15, Cain was punished, but this punishment was banishment from society.
The making of images forbidden
The making of images commanded
Ex 25:18, 20
God has always forbidden the making in images with the intent of using them to worship or as a part of worship.
There was sort of an exception to this. In constructing the Ark of God, two cherubim were carved and placed on both sides of the seat of mercy (which sat upon the Ark). The Ark itself is made out of acacia wood (representing the humanity of Jesus Christ) and overlaid with gold (representing the deity of Jesus Christ).
No one, in general, was to see this Ark (most of the time, it was within the Holy of Holies and the High Priest went into the Holy of Holies once a year on the great Day of Atonement to sprinkle blood on the mercy seat (representing the substitutionary death of Jesus Christ for our sins). The cherubim represent the angels of God—the fallen and the elect angels—who observe man and the things which occur here on earth—the most important event being the offering of Jesus Christ for our sins. No one was ever encouraged to worship the Ark.
Slavery and oppression ordained
Gen 9:25 Lev. 25:45,46 Joel 3:8
Slavery and oppression forbidden
Isa. 58:6 Ex. 22:21 21:16 Matt. 23:10 (this passage in Matthew is not actually a reference to slavery)
Slavery has been a part of man’s history from the very beginning until now. What few people seem to realize is, there are different forms of slavery found in Scripture—some are allowed and some are forbidden. A person can place himself into slavery in order to pay off a debt—however, there are time limits to this by the Mosaic Law, so that a debtor does not become a lifelong slave. Also, when a country is conquered, the people could be taken as slaves. Israel did not just go out willy nilly conquering countries. God had them conquer countries where there was great idolatry (like the offering up of their own children to Baal or to Molech).
There was a specific form of slavery which was forbidden: you could not just go into a country and capture 1000 or so men and force them into slavery. This was against the Mosaic Law. I believe the KJV refers to this as man-stealing.
I must admit that I did not know what improvidence meant. This makes me think Evil Bible copied this from elsewhere. Jesus is telling His disciples in Matt. 6:28–34 not to be concerned about how they will eat or be clothed, as God will see to their needs. In this passage, Jesus is speaking to His disciples (Matt. 5:1–2), and He was both preparing them for the kingdom that He was promising and preparing them to go out and spread this message of the Kingdom of God is at hand! The Jews rejected this message, so we did not proceed from the 1st advent of Jesus Christ directly into the 2nd advent. Jesus’ disciples were not being excused from work; they were being excused from menial work during the much of the time that they were with Jesus. Jesus public ministry was very short and the disciples were to concentrate on this ministry.
1Tim. 5:8 But if anyone does not provide for his relatives, and especially for members of his household, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever. God does not excuse the believer from work—work is one of the divine institutions. Work was a part of Adam’s life before he sinned (as well as after). We are not encouraged anywhere in the Bible to be layabouts.
Luke 6:30, 35
Improvidence condemned Prov. 13:22
Luke 6:30, 35 Give to everyone who begs from you, and from one who takes away your goods do not demand them back. But love your enemies, and do good, and lend, expecting nothing in return, and your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High, for he is kind to the ungrateful and the evil. Jesus is speaking directly to His disciples (Luke 6:20) preparing them for their very short and intense ministry under Jesus Christ. A specific time and a specific purpose.
Prov. 13:22 A good man leaves an inheritance to his children's children, but the sinner's wealth is laid up for the righteous. This passage is to be understood in two ways. First of all, it is normal and honorable to provide more for your children by your own life of hard work. Secondly, the book of Proverbs is all about wisdom—so one of the items that you leave for your children as an inheritance is wisdom.
There is more to be taken from Luke 6:35 than Jesus simply preparing His disciples. Our lives are not simply about the material and what is right before our face. It is possible to provide for your family, now and in the future, and still not be consumed by materialism.
Luke 12:3 Therefore whatever you have said in the dark shall be heard in the light, and what you have whispered in private rooms shall be proclaimed on the housetops. This passage was included by Evil Bible for the topic above, but I am not sure why. Perhaps they meant to include Jesus teaching His disciples to not make a great display of public prayers?
Eccl. 7:9 Prov. 22:24 James 1:20
Eccles. 7:9 Don't let your spirit rush to be angry, for anger abides in the heart of fools. Generally speaking, the believer is not to allow himself to become angry. When we do, then we rebound this sin (we tell God that we were angry), and we are cleansed of our unrighteousness. 1John 1:9
Eph. 4:26 requires more explanation (see below):
Eph. 4:26–27 "Be angry but do not sin;" do not let the sun go down on your wrath, LXX-Psalm 4:4; MT-Psalm 4:5 nor give place to the Devil. (Green’s literal translation) This first passage is a little tricky. Paul is quoting Psalm 4:4, which reads: Tremble and do not sin. (Green’s literal translation) The word tremble is râgaz (רָגַז) [pronounced rawg-GAHZ], which means, to be agitated, to quiver, to quake, to become excited, perturbed, disquieted. Strong’s #7264 BDB #919. The KJV translates this stand in awe. So, where many translations of the New Testament sound as if Paul is putting a fine point on anger, the passage that he is quoting is really putting a fine point on the first word that is used, limiting the means which may be used. Psalm 4:3 reads: But know that Jehovah has set apart the godly for Himself. Jehovah hears when I call to Him. (Green’s literal translation) Then the psalmist tells the hearer, “Stand in awe! Quiver, quake; become excited.” This is because the psalmist has invoked God Himself.
In Paul’s context, he is referring back to this passage, but he is using it in a different way (which sometimes causes the common reader of Scripture some consternation). Paul is speaking in a different context than the psalmist. Clarke interprets Paul as saying this: If you are angry, and if you think that you have cause to be angry; do not let your disaffection carry you to acts of rebellion against both God and your king. Consider the subject deeply before you attempt to act. Do nothing rashly; do not justify one evil act by another: sleep on the business; think about this using Bible doctrine upon your bed; consult your pillow. In other words, sleep on it before you act; and, if need be, name that sin to God.
The other option is, name that sin of anger to God, and do that soon (before you sleep).
Good works to be seen of men
Good works not to be seen of men
The pharisees made a big show of religious function. When they prayed, it was aloud in public. They were showing off their religiosity. Most unbelievers ought to be able to understand that this is not a good thing. On the other hand, the believer who is filled with the Spirit, who acts in accordance with doctrine, will exhibit behavior and works which are commendable.
Again, this is an example of something had those who post these contradictions read and reread, would understand that the false and phony religiosity is to be avoided; but that a believer in Jesus Christ will act in a way that is undeniably honorable (when he is filled with the Spirit and acting in accordance with the Word of God). Are these critics really saying, “I don’t understand what the Bible means when it tells me not to be a religious phony”? This is not a deep concept where Jesus tells His followers not to be religious phonies; and He also tells them, their faith ought to mean something to those in their periphery.
These things are posted—the stuff that they know can be explained along with the more difficult passages—with the intent of shaking the faith of a believer. The saying is, throw enough mud against a wall, and some of it will stick. It does not matter to them how legitimate or illegitimate their contradictions are. They need to have a lot of mud. They cannot post simply 10 well thought-out contradictions. They must post dozens in order to have the desired affect.
Judging of others forbidden
Judging of others approved
1Cor. 6:2-4 5:12
The confusion here is, the passage which Jesus tells His disciples, do not judge or you will be judged, has been distorted and misunderstood. It has come to mean, do not judge any sort of behavior, do not judge any set of standards different from yours. But that is not what Jesus said. Jesus said, you do not impute a sin to someone where there is some uncertainty. Further, you do not become overly concerned about the sins of others in a self-righteous way. Do not say to yourself, “My sins are more refined and less easy to spot than Charley Brown’s sins, so I am a better person.”
However, the believer is to be discerning. The believer has to make value judgments from time to time—about friends and activities. Much of the book of Proverbs is aimed toward the young person, warning him not to become involved with the wrong crowd; not to become involved in criminal activity. For a young person to decide not to hang out with Charley Brown because he is a drinker or he uses drugs or he sells drugs—that is discernment, and the Bible encourages that. This sort of judging is encouraged by Scripture.
Christ taught non-resistance
Matt. 5:39 26:52
Christ taught and practiced physical resistance
All of this could be summed up with the words time and place. Jesus did not teach situational ethics, but different circumstances call for different actions. The ability to worship God, whether rich or poor, was being infringed upon by the religious hierarchy, and Jesus put a temporary stop to that when He cleansed the Temple. This paralleled His words, “Come to Me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.” (Matt. 11:28). Jesus spoke these words to all mankind, rich or poor.
The passages in Matthew will be discussed below.
Matt. 5:39 But I tell you, don't resist an evildoer. On the contrary, if anyone slaps you on your right cheek, turn the other to him also. In this first passage, Jesus was preparing His disciples for a very intense, 3 or 4 year ministry, and they were not to get bogged down by petty disputes. “You have a specific mission to accomplish, and that is to proclaim the Kingdom of God. Do not allow yourselves to become side-tracked from this.”
Matt. 26:50b–52 Then they came up and laid hands on Jesus and seized Him. And behold, one of those who were with Jesus stretched out his hand and drew his sword and struck the servant of the high priest and cut off his ear. Then Jesus said to him, "Put your sword back into its place. For all who take the sword will perish by the sword.” In the second passage, Jesus was being seized to be taken to the cross. The reason that Jesus came to this earth was to die for our sins. Therefore, He is not going to resist the initial steps which take Him to the cross. If we were being tried and witness after witness stood up and lied about us, there would be a point at which we would stand up and shout, “Can they just lie about me in court?” Jesus, although dozens of witnesses (or more) stood up before the court and lied about Him, what He said and what He did, He did not object; He did not say a word (Isa. 53:7). All of this had to be fulfilled, so that He would be crucified.
Luke 22:35–36 And He said to them, "When I sent you out with no moneybag or knapsack or sandals, did you lack anything?" They said, "Nothing." He said to them, "But now let the one who has a moneybag take it, and likewise a knapsack. And let the one who has no sword sell his cloak and buy one.” This passage was also referenced by Evil Bible. The disciples were facing two sets of missions, but with different marching orders. The first mission was at the beginning of our Lord’s public ministry, and this was short and intense. After the crucifixion, their mission would be long and intense.
This next group is from Evil Bible listed under the heading historical facts:
Man was created after the other animals
Man was created before the other animals
Some of these contradictions are so simple to explain, it amazes me that they show up again and again on various websites and in various books. Gen 2:18–19 Then the LORD God said, "It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him a helper fit for him." Now out of the ground the LORD God had formed every beast of the field and every bird of the heavens and brought them to the man to see what he would call them. And whatever the man called every living creature, that was its name. (ESV) The only order which is clearly found here in the Hebrew is, God first formed the animals and then He brought them to the man to see what he would call them. This passage does not say, “God first created man; then God created the animals, and then God brought the animals to the man.” The order in which animals and man were created is found in Gen. 1.
Seed time and harvest were never to cease
Seed time and harvest did cease for seven years
Gen 41:54,56 45:6
Generally speaking, throughout the earth, we have seasons; and plants, trees and various crops grow according to these seasons. I don’t think many people can argue with that. Furthermore, this continued from Gen. 8 until today. I don’t think that anyone will argue with that.
However, in some particular areas, during some periods of time, there is a withholding of the rain, which makes crop production nearly non-existent. I fail to see a contradiction.
God hardened Pharaoh's heart
Ex 4:21 9:12
Pharaoh hardened his own heart
Most of these contradictions were simply copied from another website or from other reference material. Evilbible cites Ex. 4:21 and Ed 9:12 (which book does not exist; there is no book of Ed).
This is one of the more difficult sections of Scripture but, it is not contradictory for pharaoh to harden his own heart and for God to harden his heart as well, as this process occurred several times. Obviously, two forces can act upon the same object—simultaneously or at different times.
All the cattle and horses in Egypt died
All the horses of Egypt did not die
There is no contradiction here. God says that he would destroy all the Egyptian livestock in Ex. 9:3; but then, pharaoh’s soldiers mount up on horses a few chapters later and chase after the Israelites. Now, read all of the words in Ex. 9:3, and see if you can see why no contradiction exists: Behold, the hand of the LORD will fall with a very severe plague upon your livestock that are in the field, the horses, the donkeys, the camels, the herds, and the flocks. (ESV; emphasis mine)
Moses feared Pharaoh
Ex 2:14, 15, 23 4:19
Moses did not fear Pharaoh
Moses, being a normal person, was apprehensive of Pharaoh. He recognized Pharaoh’s power and ruthlessness. Therefore, he was reasonably afraid of pharaoh. Now, there are different kinds of fear. Some people are paralyzed by fear, where they cannot act. This was not Moses. God built up Moses in the faith, while Pharaoh simultaneously became more and more recalcitrant (hardened) toward God. Therefore, we read in Heb. 11:27 By faith he [Moses] left Egypt, not being afraid of the anger of the king, for he endured as seeing Him Who is invisible. (ESV; capitalized) In the end, God told Moses to lead the children out of Egypt, and he did that. Did Moses fear Pharaoh in the beginning? Of course he did. However, Moses’ faith was strengthened with each meeting that he took with Pharaoh.
There died of the plague twenty-four thousand
There died of the plague but twenty-three thousand
1 Cor 10:8
In both the Hebrew and the Greek Old Testament, 24,000 were said to die in all. The Hebrew allows for this to read: And those that died in [or, during] the plague were twenty-four thousand. (Num. 25:9).
Note what Paul writes does not contradict this: Nor let us commit fornication, just as some of them fornicated, and in one day twenty-three thousand fell;... (ESV; emphasis mine) Although it is not clear how long the plague lasted, most of the people died on one day. No contradiction. Carefully reading the text explains the alleged contradiction away.
John the Baptist was Elias
John the Baptist was not Elias
Elijah the prophet is to return in the final days during the Great Tribulation. Malachi 4:5–6 "Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet before the great and awesome day of the LORD comes. And he will turn the hearts of fathers to their children and the hearts of children to their fathers, lest I come and strike the land with a decree of utter destruction." (ESV). There is time frame set up in the Old Testament: the 1st advent of the Messiah; the 2nd advent of the Messiah (the Tribulation); followed by the Millennium. In the Old Testament, there is no clear distinction made between the 1st and 2nd advents of the Messiah. See the Doctrine of Intercalation (HTML) (PDF) (WPD). However, this is based upon God’s people accepting and trusting in God’s Messiah, Jesus Christ.
If God’s people accepted Jesus Christ, then Elijah would come and proclaim Him during the Tribulation. However, because God’s people did not accept Jesus Christ (as a whole), there is a period of time inserted (or, intercalated) between the 1st and 2nd advents of Jesus Christ. Jesus explains: “From the days of John the Baptist until now the kingdom of heaven has suffered violence, and the violent take it by force. For all the Prophets and the Law prophesied until John, and if you are willing to accept it, he is Elijah who is to come. He who has ears to hear, let him hear.” (Mat 11:12–15; ESV)
Because the Jews were not willing to accept Jesus as their Messiah, John the Baptizer is not Elijah.
The father of Joseph, Mary's husband was Jacob
The father of Mary's husband was Heli
There are two lines to Jesus Christ; one through Mary (who is actually the mother of the humanity of Jesus Christ—Luke 1:28–37) and one through Joseph, the legal but not physical father of Jesus (Matt. 1:1–16). These lines intersect back with King David (Matt. 1:6 Luke 3:23–38).
So, Jesus is the son of (or, descendant of) Heli (Mary’s father) in Luke 3:23—not Joseph.
The study of these two lines is fascinating. From the very beginning, the Messiah has been known as the Seed of the Woman (Gen. 3:15); because the sin nature is transmitted by means of the father (this is because Adam sinned knowingly and the woman was deceived). This is the reason for the virgin birth (Isa. 7:14).
We have already studied the Coniah Curse back in Lessons 265–266. (HTML) (PDF) (WPD). Coniah is in the line of Joseph, which is cut off before coming to Jesus (because Joseph is the legal, but not genetic father of Jesus). Coniah was told he would be cut off because of his evil. Coniah is a real historical figure but he is also a type which represents the sin nature. See the Coniah Curse (HTML) (PDF) (WPD).
The father of Salah was Arphaxad
The father of Salah was Cainan
There is a missing name in the Hebrew Bible. Cainan’s name has dropped out of the text (there are some textual errors in the manuscripts which we have). His name is found in the Greek Old Testament and in the New Testament. This is examined in detail in Genesis 11 (HTML) (PDF) (WPD).
Furthermore, the phrase the father of can mean the ancestor of.
There were 14 generations from Abraham to David
There were but 13 generations from Abraham to David
Matt. 1:17a So all the generations from Abraham to David were fourteen generations,...
Matt. 1:2–6: Abraham ⇒ Isaac ⇒ Jacob ⇒ Judah ⇒ Perez ⇒ Hezron ⇒ Ram ⇒ Amminadab ⇒ Nahshon ⇒ Salmon ⇒ Boaz ⇒ Obed ⇒ Jesse ⇒ David the king. I count 14 generations, which include Abraham and David.
There were fourteen generations from the Babylonian captivity
There were but thirteen generations from the Babylonian
captivity to Christ
Mat 1:17b ...and from David to the deportation to Babylon fourteen generations,...
Matt. 1:12–16: And after the deportation to Babylon: Jechoniah ⇒ Shealtiel ⇒ Zerubbabel ⇒ Abiud ⇒ Eliakim ⇒ Azor ⇒ Zadok ⇒ Achim ⇒ Eliud ⇒ Eleazar ⇒ Matthan ⇒ Jacob ⇒ Joseph the husband of Mary, of whom Jesus was born, who is called Christ. There are 14 generations, including Jeconiah and Jesus.
These are both memory tools—14 generations = 14 names.
The infant Christ was taken into Egypt
Matt 2:14, 15, 19, 21, 23
The infant Christ was not taken into Egypt
Luke 2:22, 39
Luke 2:22–23, 39 And when the time came for their purification according to the Law of Moses, they brought him up to Jerusalem to present him to the Lord (as it is written in the Law of the Lord, "Every male who first opens the womb shall be called holy to the Lord") But Matt. 2:14–15a reads: And he rose and took the child and his mother by night and departed to Egypt and remained there until the death of Herod.
From Cleaned-up Contradictions in the Bible: These are complementary accounts of Jesus' early life, and not contradictory at all. It is clear that it would take some time for Herod to realize that he had been outsmarted by the magi. Matthew's Gospel says that he killed all the baby boys that were two years old and under in Bethlehem and its vicinity. That would be enough time to allow Joseph and Mary the opportunity to do their rituals at the temple in Jerusalem and then return to Nazareth in Galilee, from where they went to Egypt, and then returned after the death of Herod.
Christ was tempted in the wilderness
Christ was not tempted in the wilderness
Mark 1:12–13 The Spirit immediately drove him out into the wilderness. And he was in the wilderness forty days, being tempted by Satan. And he was with the wild animals, and the angels were ministering to him. John 2:1 On the third day there was a wedding at Cana in Galilee, and the mother of Jesus was there. Jesus also was invited to the wedding with his disciples. The third day likely refers to the third day of our Lord’s public ministry (being tested/tempted by Satan is not a part of His public ministry.
Christ preached his first sermon on the mount
Matt 5:1, 2
Christ preached his first sermon on the plain
Luke 6:17, 20
These are different sermons with very similar content. In Matt. 5, Jesus actually moves away from the crowds, gathers His disciples to Him, and teaches them. In Luke 6, Jesus is teaching a much larger group of disciples (read the first few verses of each chapter to confirm this). There is no contradiction for Jesus to teach the same or similar material at different times. Have you never heard a pastor teach the same material? Have you never heard a pastor repeat a story, a doctrine, the teaching of a particular passage?
John was in prison when Jesus went into Galilee
John was not in prison when Jesus went into Galilee
John 1:43 3:22-24
Jesus did not just go to Galilee once. He was raised up in the Galilee district; this is where much of His ministry took place. Galilee is mentioned nearly 60 times in the gospels alone. For this to be a contradiction, we would essentially have to confine Jesus to one trip to Galilee.
The book of John was very different from the other gospels. I would guess that John read the other gospels and did not want to write an historical account that really added nothing to the history of Jesus. Therefore, in his gospel, John primarily covered incidents and perspectives not found in the other gospels; and he wrote from a perspective of many decades later.
Christ's disciples were commanded to go forth with a staff
Christ's disciples were commanded to go forth with neither
staffs nor sandals.
Mark 6:8–9 He charged them to take nothing for their journey except a staff--no bread, no bag, no money in their belts--but to wear sandals and not put on two tunics. Matt. 10:9–10 Acquire no gold nor silver nor copper for your belts, no bag for your journey, nor two tunics nor sandals nor a staff, for the laborer deserves his food. The key is the placement of sandals and staff in Matthew. In the Greek, this can indicate that they are not to take two pairs of sandals or two staffs. Some translations give us the gist of Matt. 10:10 Don’t carry a bag. Take for your trip only the clothes and shoes you are wearing. Don’t take a walking stick. A worker should be given the things he needs. (ERV) Don't take a traveling bag for the trip, a change of clothes, sandals, or a walking stick. After all, the worker deserves to have his needs met. (God’s Word™)
A woman of Canaan besought Jesus
It was a Greek woman who besought Him
Matt. 15:22 Just then a Canaanite woman came out of that area [Note: Mark 7:26 calls her a Syrophoenician Gentile], crying, “O Lord, son of David, have pity on me. My daughter is seriously troubled by an evil spirit.” (AUV–NT)
Mark 7:26 Now the woman was a Greek [i.e., a Gentile], a Syrophoenician by nationality. [Note: This was a region just north of Galilee and consisted of Syria and Phoenicia]. She begged Him to drive out the evil spirit from her daughter. (AUV–NT)
Nearly everyone is identified by where they are born and by where they are raised and by where they live. It is not a contradiction if someone calls me a Texan (where I have lived for decades) and if someone else calls me a Californian (where I was raised).
Two blind men besought Jesus
Only one blind man besought Him
Luke 18:35, 38
Matthew was physically at most of the events which are recorded in Scripture. Luke was not at any of them. Luke pulled together information from eyewitnesses and from existing documents (I think he referred to Mark and Matthew). Whoever Luke interviewed, remembered one blind man in particular; Matthew saw and remembered both blind men. This is not a contradiction nor is Luke’s narrative inaccurate. Missing a detail does not make a recollection inaccurate.
Here is another reason we know that these contradictions are copied from somewhere else. Do you really think the person or persons behind the website Evil Bible use the word besought in their day-to-day conversations?
Christ was crucified at the third hour
Christ was not crucified until the sixth hour
Mark calculates time according to Jewish time; John uses Roman time. John’s gospel was written long, long after the other 3 gospels; and John had become more Roman-ized over the years. Therefore, Mark recorded his gospel using Jewish time and John, many decades later, writes his gospel using Roman time.
When Critics Ask: According to Roman time, the day ran from midnight to midnight. The Jewish 24 hour period began in the evening at 6 p.m. and the morning of that day began at 6 a.m. Therefore, when Mark asserts that at the third hour Christ was crucified, this was about 9 a.m. John stated that Christ’s trial was about the sixth hour. This would place the trial before the crucifixion and this would not negate any testimony of the Gospel writers. This fits with John’s other references to time. For example, he speaks about Jesus being weary from His journey from His trip from Judea to Samaria at the “sixth hour” and asking for water from the woman at the well. Considering the length of His trip, His weariness, and the normal evening time when people come to the well to drink and to water their animals, this fits better with 6 p.m., which is “the sixth hour” of the night by Roman time reckoning. The same is true of John’s reference to the tenth hour in John 1:39 , which would be 10 a.m., a more likely time to be out preaching than 4 a.m.
The two thieves reviled Christ.
Matt 27:44 Mark 15:32
Only one of the thieves reviled Christ
Both of these men are hardened criminals, and it is likely that both men cursed an insulted Jesus at the beginning. However, one of the men changed his mind about Jesus Christ while on the cross—his impending death looming large in his own eyes. When Critics Ask suggest that, when the second criminal heard Jesus forgive His enemies, that may have begun to change his thinking.
One of the criminals who were hanged railed at Him, saying, "Are You not the Christ [= Messiah]? Save Yourself and us!"
But the other rebuked him, saying, "Do you not fear God, since you are under the same sentence of condemnation? And we indeed justly, for we are receiving the due reward of our deeds; but this Man has done nothing wrong." And he said, "Jesus, remember me when You come into your kingdom."
And He said to him, "Truly, I say to you, today you will be with Me in Paradise." (Luke 23:39–43) This sounds very much like a man who has spent a few hours in agony reconsidering his life and his deeds.
This final group of alleged contradictions from Evil Bible is listed under the heading Speculative Doctrines:
Christ is equal with God
John 10:30 Phil 2:5
Christ is not equal with God
John 14:28 Matt. 24:36
Jesus is fully God and fully man; this is known theologically as the Hypostatic Union. In His humanity, He is equal to man and tested in all points as we are; in His Deity, He is equal to God in every respect. In this way, Jesus is a True Mediator, as He is equal to both parties (man and God) in the mediation. John 14:6 1Tim. 2:5
Therefore, when speaking from His humanity, Jesus is not equal to God, but is subject to the same natural forces as we are. Jesus is able to be thirsty and hungry, for instance. However, in His Deity, He is completely equal to God. When Jesus says, “Before Abraham, I am”, He is speaking from His Deity. When He says, “I thirst”, He is speaking from His humanity. When He says, “I am the Way, the Truth and the Life”, He is speaking from His Hypostatic Union.
Jesus was all-powerful
Matt 28:18 John 3:35
Jesus was not all-powerful
This apparent contradiction is explained by the doctrines referred to above. The is the Doctrine of the Hypostatic Union (In the person of the incarnate Christ are two natures, divine and human, inseparably united without mixture or loss of separate identity, without loss or transfer of properties or attributes, the union being personal and eternal. ) and the Doctrine of Kenosis. During the dispensation of the hypostatic union, our Lord Jesus Christ voluntarily restricted the independent use of His divine attributes in compliance with the Father's plan for the Incarnation and the First Advent. This means that Jesus Christ did not use the attributes of His divine nature to benefit Himself, to provide for Himself, to glorify Himself, to act independently of the future protocol plan of God for the Church Age by the compromise of the prototype spiritual life. This so-called contradiction is key to the Person and work of Jesus Christ.
Jesus put Himself completely within the will of God the Father during His ministry on earth. He voluntarily gave up the free exercise of His Deity when fulfilling the plan of God on earth as a man. Over and over in the gospels we read about Jesus not doing His will but God’s will (referring to God the Father). Over and over again, Jesus refers to doing miracles by means of the Holy Spirit (which would mean, He is not using His Deity to perform these miracles). Jesus, in His humanity, obeys God the Father in all things. Jesus, in His humanity, does not depend upon His own power (the doctrine of kenosis), but He depends upon the power of the Holy Spirit.
Functioning in this way, Jesus accomplishes two objectives: (1) He lives His life legitimately as a man, subject to the same physical limitations that we have; and the same temptations that we face. In addition to this (2) Jesus test-drove the Christian life for believers today.
The law was superseded by the Christian dispensation
Luke 16:16 Eph 2:15 Rom 7:6
The law was not superseded by the Christian dispensation
Jesus Christ fulfilled the Law and the Prophets. He acted in accordance with the Mosaic Law, fulfilling all of its standards perfectly, and without sin. He also fulfilled the prophecies found in Old Testament, prophesying His coming. Jesus said: "Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them. For truly, I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not an iota, not a dot, will pass from the Law until all is accomplished. Therefore whoever relaxes one of the least of these commandments and teaches others to do the same will be called least in the kingdom of heaven, but whoever does them and teaches them will be called great in the kingdom of heaven.” (Matt. 5:17–19; ESV) Jesus accomplished all that was in the Law and the Prophets. What the Law required of Him, He performed; what the prophecies said about Him, He fulfilled.
In the new dispensation, called here the Christian dispensation; and also known as the Church Age, the Mosaic Law is set aside (although most of its principles are not set aside). God no longer works through nation Israel, but God works through the church, which is made up of all of those who have believed in Jesus Christ, Jews or gentiles. See the Doctrine of Dispensations (HTML) (PDF) for more information.
Most of us have seen a ‘57 Chevy and some of us have even driven one. Chevrolet (that is, GM) set that product aside in subsequent years. It no longer produces 1957 Chevrolets. A 2014 Chevy Camaro Coupe is not the same as a ‘57 Chevy, but it still uses many of the principles of the ‘57 Chevy.
There were portions of the Mosaic Law which were completely set aside—like the animal sacrifices, which pointed forward to the sacrifice of Jesus Christ. Once the reality came, there was no longer a need for that which was typical of the reality.
Heb 10:1–4 explains this: For since the law has but a shadow of the good things to come instead of the true form of these realities, it can never, by the same sacrifices that are continually offered every year, make perfect those who draw near. Otherwise, would they not have ceased to be offered, since the worshipers, having once been cleansed, would no longer have any consciousness of sins? But in these sacrifices there is a reminder of sins every year. For it is impossible for the blood of bulls and goats to take away sins. (ESV) The Law, being a shadow of the good things to come, is another way of saying that the animal sacrifices (along with the Tabernacle, the various holy days, etc.) are typical of the Lord Jesus Christ and the crucifixion. They point toward Him and His work.
Christ's mission was peace
Christ's mission was not peace
Jesus has come to establish peace between man and God. That is the reason we have phrases in the New Testament like the gospel of peace (Eph. 6:5). Paul is not talking about establishing world peace or peace between 2 or 3 nations, but peace between God and man. For there is one God, and there is one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus, Who gave Himself as a ransom for all, which is the testimony given at the proper time. (1Tim. 2:5–6; ESV; capitalized) It is the peace between God and man which is of primary importance to mankind. It is this that is meant by, "Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among those with whom He is pleased!" (Luke 2:14) Jesus did not come to establish peace between nations or even between individuals in the same family (Matt. 10:34 24:6), but between man and God.
Christ received not testimony from man
Christ did receive testimony from man
John 5:33–34 “You sent to John, and he has borne witness to the truth. Not that the testimony that I receive is from man, but I say these things so that you may be saved.” In context, Jesus is talking about those who are witnesses to Who He is, and He includes John the Baptizer in that list (who is a man). Unregenerate man and the religious types of His day would not be witnesses to His Hypostatic Union.
John 15:27 reads: “And you also will bear witness, because you have been with me from the beginning.” (ESV) Jesus, in preparing His disciples to carry on after He is crucified, resurrected and then taken up into heaven, tells them that they will be His witness from that time forward. Again, there is no real contradiction here.
Christ's witness of himself is true.
Christ's witness of himself is not true.
John 5:30–33 "I can do nothing on My Own. As I hear, I judge, and My judgment is just, because I seek not My Own will but the will of Him Who sent Me. If I alone bear witness about Myself, My testimony is not deemed true. There is another who bears witness about Me, and I know that the testimony that he bears about Me is true. You sent to John, and he has borne witness to the truth.” You will note the passive voice: My testimony is not deemed true. The Law requires 2 or 3 witnesses, so that is what Jesus is providing (Deut. 17:6 Matt. 18:16). Jesus is not saying that He is lying; He is saying that the Law requires at least one more witness.
Christ laid down His life for his friends.
John 15:13 10:11
Christ laid down His life for his enemies.
Jesus Christ died for all mankind. We are all inherently His enemies, because we all have Adam’s original sin imputed to us and we have committed personal sins and we all have sin natures. Despite that, Jesus Christ died for us. Rom. 5:8 God shows His love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.
Some believers will achieve a state of friendship with God (like Abraham in James 2:23); and Jesus Christ died for them.
It was lawful for the Jews to put Christ to death.
It was not lawful for the Jews to put Christ to death.
John 19:6–7 When the chief priests and the officers saw him, they cried out, "Crucify him, crucify Him!" Pilate said to them, "Take Him yourselves and crucify Him, for I find no guilt in Him." The Jews answered him, "We have a law, and according to that law he ought to die because he has made Himself the Son of God." The Jews knew that they were not allowed to execute anyone apart from Roman law, otherwise they would never have involved Pilate or anyone else of the Roman empire. There is nothing in the Old Testament about penalty for someone who claims to be God. There is probably nothing in the Jewish religious customs about this either (although I have not researched that).
Children are punished for the sins of the parents
Children are not punished for the sins of the parents
Often, the evil thinking of the parents is passed along to their children. These children, with their parents’ anti-God thinking, are also punished—but they are punished for their own viewpoint which they have taken up from their parents. God holds us responsible for the things that we do and the things that we think—whether they come from our parents or not.
Now, there are also natural results from actions that parents take. Our government is building up an horrendous amount of debt, and this will affect our children and grandchildren. The inflation and the economic chaos that will result are natural consequences.
Obviously, there are ways a parent can harm his children, and this harm continues for decades or longer.
Man is justified by faith alone
Rom. 3:20 Gal 2:16 Gal 3:11–12 Rom. 4:2
Man is not justified by faith alone
James 2:21,24 Rom. 2:13
There are at least 2 forms of justification: (1) Justification by faith alone in Christ alone (for salvation). (2) Justification by works: a believer in time by his actions glorifies God.
The word here is dikaioô (δικαιόω) [pronounced dik-ah-YOH-oh], which means, to render righteous; to show, exhibit, evince, one to be righteous; to declare, pronounce, one to be just, righteous, or such as he ought to be. Thayer definition only. Strong’s #1344. In salvation, we are positionally pronounced righteous. In our life subsequent to salvation, we can produce divine righteousness by our actions.
If Paul, in the same letter (the Epistle to the Romans), speaks of justification in two ways, then it ought to be clear that there is no contradiction involved.
It is impossible to fall from grace.
John 10:28 Rom. 8:38,39
It is possible to fall from grace.
Ezek. 18:24 Heb. 6:4-6 2Peter 2:20–21
All believers have eternal security. Once we have believed in Jesus Christ, we cannot lose our salvation, no matter how sorry our subsequent lives are. This is because our salvation stands upon the finished work of Jesus Christ, and not upon our own works. See the Doctrine of Eternal Security (external links). Bible Doctrine Resources or Verse by Verse (click on printed doctrines and then go to Eternal Security).
Believers who sin can lose their lives under the sin unto death (as per Ezek. 18:24), but this is a loss of physical life; not a loss of salvation.
The final two passages noted are difficult passages, so we will handle them separately.
Heb. 6:1–6 Therefore let us leave the elementary doctrine of Christ and go on to maturity, not laying again a foundation of repentance from dead works and of faith toward God, and of instruction about washings, the laying on of hands, the resurrection of the dead, and eternal judgment. And this we will do if God permits. For it is impossible, in the case of those who have once been enlightened, who have tasted the heavenly gift, and have shared in the Holy Spirit, and have tasted the goodness of the word of God and the powers of the age to come, and then have fallen away, to restore them again to repentance, since they are crucifying once again the Son of God to their own harm and holding Him up to contempt. The context of this verse (Heb. 5:12–14) is there were many Hebrews who had believed in Jesus Christ, but were not spiritually progressing as they should. There are a set of basic principles (listed above) that the Hebrew believers ought to understand, but they did not. They reveal that they do not understand these basic principles (represented by the word repentance) because they continue to offer animal sacrifices (Heb. 7:27–28 9:25). As long as they continued to observe the various Hebrew rituals, they could not be restored to these basic principles. By engaging in animal sacrifices, they are continuing to crucify the Son of God over and over again, holding Him up to contempt. They could not grow spiritually as long as they continue to do that. If they kept offering up animal sacrifices, they could not be renewed to the fundamental principles of Bible doctrine.
2Peter 2:19–22 They [false teachers] promise them freedom, but they themselves are slaves of corruption. For whatever overcomes a person, to that he is enslaved. For if, after they have escaped the defilements of the world through the knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, they are again entangled in them and overcome, the last state has become worse for them than the first. For it would have been better for them never to have known the way of righteousness than after knowing it to turn back from the holy commandment delivered to them. What the true proverb says has happened to them: "The dog returns to its own vomit, and the sow, after washing herself, returns to wallow in the mire." In life, the unbeliever is not a child of God, and therefore, not subject to God’s discipline. He is subject to the consequences of his own actions. However, once a person believes in Jesus Christ, then God becomes his Father, and he is subject to the discipline of God. God’s discipline while on earth can be quite severe. Furthermore a person’s own bad decisions can also have a very negative impact on his life.
A dog who returns to his vomit has vomited up something which does not agree with him. But yet, he goes back and sifts through this rejected vomit to see if maybe there was something good still there. When you believe in the truth, you also reject things which are against God. However, as a believer, you may later reject the truth; which means you may often go back and try again things you were once smart enough to reject (like the dog returning to his vomit). So, as a believer, you may believe in Jesus Christ; but later, reject some doctrine that you hear (the Angelic Conflict or whatever) and find yourself rejecting Jesus Christ for that reason. Then you return to the vomit of your past life—that is, you return to doing and thinking things that you were smart enough to reject at one time. In time, your life will be worse than it was before. Eternity is a different matter; but Peter is speaking of the entanglements of life.
No man is without sin.
1Kings 8:46 Prov. 20:9 Eccles. 7:20 Rom. 3:10
Christians are sinless.
If you know any Christians at all, then you know that Christians are not sinless.
We do have periods of time when we are sinless. When we have named our sins to God, and are filled with the Holy Spirit (1John 1:9—the context), the believer then enjoys a period of sinlessness (that is, until he sins again). This period of time might be a few minutes, a few hours or even a day or so. That is what 1John 3 is all about.
There is to be a resurrection of the dead.
1Cor 15:52 Rev. 20:12,13 Luke 20:37 1Cor. 15:16
There is to be no resurrection of the dead.
Job 7:9 Eccles. 9:5 Isa. 26:14
The correct understanding is, believers will be resurrected.
Job says: "Remember that my life is a breath; my eye will never again see good. The eye of him who sees me will behold me no more; while your eyes are on me, I shall be gone. As the cloud fades and vanishes, so he who goes down to Sheol does not come up; he returns no more to his house, nor does his place know him anymore.” (Job 7:7–10) There is the sense that, when a person dies, they never return to their life again. There will be a point of time in all of our lives that, we die and we will never walk through the front door of our house ever again. Eccles. 9:5 reads: For the living know that they will die, but the dead know nothing, and they have no more reward, for the memory of them is forgotten. There is a distinct separation between those on earth living life and those who have died.
Isa. 26:14 is speaking of the unbeliever (see v. 10); and Isa. 26:19 reads: Your dead shall live; their bodies shall rise. So Isaiah is teaching resurrection for the righteous.
Reward and punishment to be bestowed in this world
Reward and punishment to be bestowed in the next world
Rev. 20:12 Matt. 16:27 2Cor. 5:10
Is this really a difficult contradiction to figure out? Does God not deal with us in time and in eternity; do we not receive blessings from God now and in eternity? Why does one necessarily contradict the other?
There are exceptions to this: some believers will receive great blessing in heaven because they endured so much difficulty here in time on earth.
Annihilation the portion of all mankind
Job 3:11,13-17,19-22 Eccles. 9:5,10 3:19–20
Endless misery the portion of all mankind
Matt. 25:46 Rev. 20:10,15 14:11 Daniel 12:2
Eccles. 9:5, 10 For the living know that they will die, but the dead know nothing, and they have no more reward, for the memory of them is forgotten. Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with your might, for there is no work or thought or knowledge or wisdom in Sheol, to which you are going. Ecclesiastes simply speaks of a complete separation from life.
When Critics Ask: [Solomon in Ecclesiastes 9:5) affirmed also that the dead do not know what is going on “under the sun” ( 9:6 ). But while they do not know what is happening on earth, they certainly do know what is going on in heaven (cf. Rev. 6:9 ). In short, these texts refer simply to man in relation to this present life —they say nothing about the life to come immediately after this one.
This completes our study of some of the alleged contradictions. For each section, I took the first 10, 15 or 20 so-called contradictions listed by evilbible.com (a fairly well-known anti-Bible site, which I accessed October 14, 2014 and several times since then) and explained them. No contradiction was left out; I simply did not cover the entire list for each section.
For most of the contradictions which I read, I can answer them without a web search and without having to search out the answer from my considerable personal resources. Sometimes they did not understand things like anthropopathism or the Hypostatic Union; and sometimes they simply ignore this or that phrase within the context which explains the apparent contradiction. Of their contradictions, only 2 or 3 were difficult to explain.
What will never happen is, one of these websites will read an explanation (such as, “although God is a Spirit, He can choose to manifest Himself in a way that He might be seen”), and then say, “Oh, I get it now. I see how this can be explained.” And then remove the contradiction. They don’t do that. They will never do that. These websites will not remove any of their contradictions, even when the explanation is quite simple. They are not in the business of disseminating honest information; they are in the business of persuading you that the Bible is not the Word of God. So every contradiction on their webpage will stand forever more, as if etched in stone.
These anti-Bible websites need to have a long list of contradictions. A webpage of contradictions is not very impressive if it only lists 3 or 4 contradictions. However, if they list 50 contradictions, and, from the outset, ban any classification of explanation that they do not like (like saying, you may not explain this using the word anthropopathism), it appears to be impressive and well thought out (although most of these contradictions were found elsewhere and put in this website—usually without attribution).
Most of these websites do not allow for discussion of their list.
On the other hand, I make every attempt to make my translation and interpretation of Scripture error-free. When I come across a mistake that I make (and I certainly do make them), I endeavor to go back and fix this error of mine. I do not need to protect my own ego.
I have several books on the topic of the Bible being evil or filled with contradictions. I recall with a smile one author who promises that he would make the Bible a thing of the past—he is, by the way, an author you have never heard of. The Bible is here and he is a thing of the past.
The progression of this study is as follows. Jacob observes angels; and I made the observation that quite a number of Biblical authors make reference to angels without contradiction. To the Bible critic, there is no such thing as angels. So, how can a dozen authors writing individually come up with a consistent picture of angelic creation—particularly, if such creatures do not exist? How exactly is agreement reached among a variety of writers over hundreds of years time—writers who have never met or consulted with one another—regarding something which skeptics do not even believe exists?
This led us to examine a few so-called Bible contradictions. We had examined a few of them before, but we studied a great deal more of them.
And this leads to a short study of the remarkable collection of the books of the Bible.
The Bible is quite a remarkable book or set of books. We should not be able to take a collection of ancient writings, by shepherds, kings, nomads, doctors, tax collectors and generals and end up with an authoritative delineation of the nature of God, of the plan of God, and the history of mankind. That defies human logic. Such a collection should seem disjointed, pointless, contradictory, and filled with a variety of opinions and myths (those who do not believe in the Bible believe that is a good description of the Bible). However, in reality, the Bible comes across as a cohesive whole, as if its writing had been directed by One Person.
1. Conservative Christians usually see the span of time for the writing of the Bible as 1500 years (from the writings of Moses to last words penned by John on the Island of Patmos). Liberal Christians and critics shorten that time to maybe a 1000 years or so, having all kinds of weird theories about the authorship. I believe that the greater part of Genesis was originally written by believers who actually experienced those events (the writing of Jacob in Genesis is intensely personal and filled with details). So I believe that the Bible was written over a period of 2000–4000 years, the writing of Genesis and Job being originally preserved by memorization, when man’s mind was much greater in its capacity than it is today.
2. From time of Moses to Jesus, there are about 50 generations. So the Bible was written over a period of greater than 50 generations. There are about 56 generations from Abraham to Jesus. What other book has been composed by so many different generations? I am not aware of any—not a single one. Is there even a book written over a period of 10 generations? Again, I am not aware of any. Wouldn’t people writing 500 or 1000 years later dismiss what has come before as outdated or primitive? That is how critics try to portray the Bible today—but no writer of Scripture 500 or 1000 years later ever besmirches or corrects any previous writer. Once Jesus fulfilled the Law and the Prophets, some portions of the Law were set aside—but only because He had fulfilled them. Those portions of the Law looked forward to Jesus, and were fulfill in Him and by Him. They could be set aside not because there was anything wrong with them, but because they had been fulfilled.
3. The authors of the Bible include nomadic shepherds (Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob); a man trained and educated to assume the throne of Egypt (Moses); a military general (Joshua); a priest/prophet given over to God (Samuel); a poet, musician, writer and king (David); a highly educated philosopher, engineer, builder and king (Solomon); a prime minister (Daniel); a tax collector (Matthew); a physician and historian (Luke); fishermen (Peter and John); a man who barely spoke the language in which he wrote (John) and a rabbi turned believer (Paul).
4. The Bible is also unique in its perspective of the key figures of human history. Most people who know anything about the Bible or about the Jewish race know Abraham; and some know a few things about him. Although Abraham was a very successful businessman, he was not a king—he was a wandering shepherd, and yet we know about him—but who could name a king from this same era? While Abraham was alive, there was no Israel. And yet we know about Abraham.
5. The Bible is unique in the perspective presented by its human authors. King David had about 10 wives and 10 mistresses and King Solomon had 600 wives and 300 mistresses. Both of them had errant sons. It is human nature to try to rationalize what you have done in your own life. So, in reading Proverbs or the Psalms, we might expect to read many diatribes against errant sons or some justification for having more than one wife. However, when it comes to young people, the emphasis of Proverbs is upon the importance of the good teaching of the father. When it comes to marriage, monogamy is always presented as the standard (which is, of course, true throughout the Bible). There is nowhere in Proverbs, Ecclesiastes or Song of Solomon where one might find justification for polygamy.
6. We find this honest approach to one’s own character over and over again in various books of the Bible. Elijah whines about being the only faithful man remaining, and God upbraids him for this. Jonah expresses his distinct disapprobation for the Assyrians that God sends him to evangelize—and God corrects him for his wrong notions (even though the Assyrians are generally not spoken of favorably in other passages of Scripture). The Apostle Paul, in the book of Acts, compromises the clarity of the gospel message in order to get a hearing with the Jews of Jerusalem—and he is disciplined by God for this. King David takes the wife of a soldier and then has that soldier killed. He is put under pressure/discipline by God for 10 years for doing these evil things. There is no question in our minds that what David did was wrong. The mistakes and wrongdoing of the saints are never glossed over or excused or rationalized.
7. The Bible was written under a variety of circumstances: Gen. 24 is clearly a bedtime story for children, recounted either by the children’s mother or by the slave of their grandfather; some portions were written under the stars as a shepherd (David; possibly Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob); some portions in the palace as a king (David and Solomon); in the desert on a 40 year march (Moses); during or following a military campaign to control the land of Canaan (Joshua); in a dungeon (Jeremiah); within a Roman prison (Paul); while isolated on the Isle of Patmos (John); and while traveling on a missionary tour (Luke).
8. The mental states of the writers varied dramatically. King David wrote during times of great pain and suffering; as well as during times of great happiness (as is so apparent in the Psalms). Solomon wrote while suffering great pangs of old age; he wrote as a younger man, confused by his pursuit of human excellence; he wrote as a man clearly understanding the importance of his father’s teachings; he wrote about his pursuit of and rebuff by a woman. Moses wrote while being very frustrated with the people of Israel who saw many signs and wonders and yet, they still acted like a bunch of idiots. Paul wrote letters to churches and individuals when suffering from a physical ailment, when under the pressure and threat of death, when in jail, and as a man confident of his theological approach.
9. The Bible was written in West Asia, Africa, and Europe.
10. The Bible was written in Hebrew, Aramaic and Greek; and in a variety of styles of each language. The most elementary Greek student can pick up the work of Luke and of John and note a striking difference in vocabulary, cadence, thought, and even intention.
11. There is a 400 year gap between the Old and New Testaments. The Old Testament was in constant and general use at the time that Jesus walked the earth. It had been translated into Greek by this time and was written about extensively by the Jews (although, they primarily distorted the meaning of Old Testament Scripture).
12. The topics of Scripture have been very controversial: the existence and character of God; the function of the free will of individuals; the function and purpose of civil government and the response to the function of civil government. The Bible discusses family, children, war, peace, discipline, slavery, capitol punishment, and the concept of right and wrong in society. Any one of these topics could start an extensive argument on the internet, yet, there is a moral agreement throughout Scripture. Our American society today does not agree with our society 50 years ago (the strongly anti-Communist and fiscally conservative Democrat John Kennedy of 1960 would find no place in the Democrat party today), and yet, there is a consistent God and a uniform morality throughout Scripture, though written over a period of thousands of years.
13. Probably the most controversial subject is man’s relationship to God; and the Bible has a unique approach to this, which not found in any other religious book.
1) God’s love cannot overrule His justice and righteousness; so, because we are all guilty of sin, God must condemn us. However, He took upon Himself the burden of our sin (Isa. 53:4–5, 11–12 Gal. 3:13 Heb. 9:28 1Peter 2:24 3:18).
2) Our relationship with God is established by faith in Him (Gen. 15:6 Psalm 106:31 John 3:16, 18, 36 Gal. 3:6–14 Eph. 2:8–9 Titus 3:5).
3) Every other religion has a series of steps or requirements which must be met in order for a man to be saved. None of them address man’s inherent sinfulness and the sins that he has already committed. These things seem to magically disappear in these other religions when man starts fulfilling the conditions of that religion.
4) However, the Bible remains consistent throughout regarding God; God’s love, righteousness and justice; man’s basic nature; and God’s relationship to man.
14. F. F. Bruce1 (The Books and the Parchments, Fleming H. Revell) observes that: "Any part of the human body can only be properly explained in reference to the whole body. And any part of the Bible can only be properly explained in reference to the whole Bible.” Bruce continues: "The Bible, at first sight, appears to be a collection of literature --- mainly Jewish. If we inquire into the circumstances under which the various Biblical documents were written, we find that they were written at intervals over a space of nearly 1400 years. The writer wrote in various lands, from Italy in the west, to Mesopotamia and possibly Persia in the east. The writers themselves were a diverse group of people, not only separated from each other by hundreds of years and hundreds of miles, but belonging to the most different walks of life. In their ranks we have kings, herdsmen, solders, legislators, fishermen, statesmen, courtiers, priests, and prophets, a tentmaker, a Rabbi and gentile physician, not to speak of others of whom we know nothing, apart from the writings they have left us. The writings themselves belong to a great variety of literary types. They include history, law (civil, criminal, ethical, ritual, sanitary), religious poetry, didactic treatises, lyric poetry, parable and allegory, biography, personal correspondence, personal memoirs and diaries, in addition to the distinctively Biblical types of prophecy and apocalyptic. For all that, the Bible is not simply a collection of writings, or anthology; there is a unity which binds the whole together. An anthology is compiled by an anthologist, but no anthologist compiled the Bible.”
15. McDowell: If you took 10 authors, all from one walk of life, one generation, one place, one time, one mood, one continent, one language, and just one controversial subject (the Bible speaks on hundreds of subjects in harmony and agreement). Would the authors agree? No! You would have a conglomeration!
16. This quotation is found many places on the internet without attribution: Imagine that a book began to be written during the time of the Roman Empire, continued down through the Middle Ages, and was completed in this 20th century, with many different writers contributing. What result would you anticipate if the writers were as diverse in their occupations as soldiers, kings, priests, fishermen, herdsmen, and doctors? Would you expect the book to be harmonious and coherent? `Hardly!' you may say. Well, the Bible was written under these circumstances. Yet, it is harmonious in its entirety, not just in overall concepts but in minute details too.
17. Do you know what the #1 selling book last month was? Well, you won’t find it listed that way anywhere, but it was the Bible. How about the month before that? The Bible. The best selling book 3 months ago? The Bible. Since the invention of the printing press, the Bible has been the #1 bestseller, month after month, year after year. The critic may claim, well, that does not prove it is the Word of God! And it doesn’t; but this does prove that the Bible is unique and above all other books.
18. Of course the Bible is translated and paraphrased into more languages than any other book in human history; and it was probably the first book or one of the first books translated into another language. The entire Old Testament was translated into Greek circa 200 b.c.
19. The Bible is unique in its survival.
1) McDowell: Written on materials that perishes easily, having to be copied and recopied for hundreds of years before the invention of the printing press, did not diminish it's style, correctness nor existence.
2) Bernard Ramm: Jews preserved it as no other manuscript has ever been preserved. They kept tabs on every letter, syllable, word, and paragraph. They had special classes of men within their culture whose sole duty was to preserve and transmit these documents with practically perfect fidelity ---- scribes, lawyers, massoreetes. Who ever counted the letters and syllables and words of Plato or Aristotle? Cicero or Seneca? 2
3) John Lea, in The Greatest Book in the World, compared the Bible to the more recent writings of Shakespear: In an article in the North American Review, a writer made some interesting comparisons between the writings of Shakespeare and the Scriptures which shows how much greater care must have been bestowed upon the Biblical manuscripts than upon any other writings, even when there was so much more opportunity of preserving the correct text by means of the printed copy than when all the copies had to be made by hand. He said: "It seems strange that the text of Shakespeare, which has been in existence less than two hundred and eight, should be far more uncertain and corrupt than that of the New Testament, now over eighteen centuries old. During nearly fifteen of which it existed only as a manuscript ... with perhaps a dozen or so exceptions, the text of every verse in the New Testament may be said to be so far settled by general consent of scholars, that any dispute as to its readings must relate rather to the interpretation of the words than any doubts as to the words themselves. But in every one of Shakespeare's thirty-seven plays there are probably a hundred readings still in dispute, a large portion of which materially affects the meaning of the passages in which they occur.” 3
20. The Persecution of the Scriptures:
1) Tens of thousands of men (or more) have attacked the Bible in a variety of ways. There are a huge number of books designed to end the Bible. I own one which promised to do so, by an author you have never heard of. Voltaire, an influential French infidel, said that, within a 100 years of his death, the Bible would be swept out of existence. 50 years after his death, the Geneva Bible Society used Voltaire’s press and house to produce copies of the Bible.
2) In a.d. 303, an edict was issued by Diocletian to destroy all Christian churches, to burn all their Scriptures, and to persecute all professing Christians. 25 years later, Constantinople, his successor, called for 50 copies of the Scriptures to be prepared at the expense of the government.
3) Interestingly enough, some of the greatest attacks upon Scripture comes from the Catholic church. At some point in time, popes decided that it was not a good idea for the common people to have copies of Scripture in a language that they understood. So the Catholic church actually went out of its way to keep this from happening—even persecuting those who tried to disseminate copies of Scripture. This period of time in human history is known as the Dark Ages.
21. The Bible has survived, despite intense criticism.
1) Bernard Ramm4 adds that: A thousand times over, the death knell of the Bible has been sounded, the funeral procession formed, the inscription cut on the tombstone, and committal read. But somehow the corpse never stays put. No other book has been so chopped, knifed, sifted, scrutinized, and vilified. What book on philosophy or religion or psychology or belles letters of classical or modern times has been subject to such a mass attack as the Bible? With such venom and skepticism? With such thoroughness and erudition? Upon every chapter, line and tenet? The Bible is still loved by millions, read by millions, and studied by millions.
2) Christians theologians and those posing as Christian theologians came up with a preposterous notion known as documentary hypothesis or the JPED theory. They begin with the assumption that nobody was writing stuff down during the time of Moses, and therefore, developed very unusual theories about the authorship of Scripture, based upon that assumption. Well, now we know that assumption is false, but this theory is still taught as fact in hundreds of seminaries all over the United States and elsewhere. So we might say that the Bible is also attacked by those within the tent as well as by those without. See Documentary Hypothesis (HTML) (PDF) (WPD).
3) If you search Bible, Bible contradictions, Bible problems or whatever on Amazon, you will find hundreds of books dedicated to taking down the Bible. Many of them will profess that they will be the author to remove the Bible from its lofty perch. One generation passes away, and so does that author and usually his book.
22. No one in the Bible is presented as sinless; not the patriarchs, not the kings of Israel, not the prophets or priests of God, not even the disciples of our Lord. Even the great Apostle Paul in the book of Acts reveals some serious shortcomings in at least one of the important decisions which he made (to offer a vow in order to get a hearing by the Jews). Only one man is presented as sinless, and that man is Christ Jesus.
23. Science and the Bible. The Bible is primarily an historical work, but there are principles of science found throughout Scripture which are quite remarkable.
1) From George DeHoff’s Why We Believe in the Bible (accessed December 2, 2014): Herbert Spencer (1820-1903) first announced that there are only five "manifestations of the unknowable" in existence--time, force, action, space and matter and that all else is based on these fundamentals. Interestingly enough, Gen. 1:1 reads: In the beginning [time], God [force] created [action] the heavens [space] and the earth [matter].
2) The creation of the heavens and the earth appear to parallel the concept of the Big Bang theory, which would make sense. The creation of the heavens and the earth in Gen. 1:1 is not the same as the restoration of the earth which follows in vv. 3–31.
3) In Genesis, the earth appears to have been around a lot longer than man.
4) In the restoration of the earth, there is at least the suggestion that the earth was packed in ice. The Holy Spirit broods over the earth.
5) Also from DeHoff: All men once held with Sir Isaac Newton the idea that light is an emanation from the sun and other luminous bodies, but in recent years men think they have proved that light existed before the sun. There are many theories concerning light but all scientists are apparently agreed that light existed before the sun was made its governor. In Gen. 1:3, we have light (on the first day); and in Gen. 1:14–16 (on the 3rd day), we have the sun and stars being made.
6) God spends a full day making the atmosphere for the earth; yet the concept of atmosphere man has only begun to appreciate in the past few hundred years. God does this before He creates plants, animals or people. You might say, “Well of course—you cannot have plants, animals or people without atmosphere.” And you are right. But how did some uneducated and superstitious shepherd know this millennia before any scientist?
7) From DeHoff: Scientists now teach that there are three great kingdoms mineral, vegetable and animal. This scientific division is a comparatively recent innovation. Neither the cuneiform records of Babylon and Assyria nor the hieroglyphics of Egypt reveal that the ancients knew of such a division. It is thought that Linnaeus was the first to recognize these three kingdoms and he made his announcement in A.D. 1735. In Gen. 1, the first 10 verses are about the mineral material kingdom, the next nine verses are about the vegetation, and the remainder of the chapter is devoted to the animal kingdom (which includes man).
8) The body of man is made out of the chemicals of the earth—not really an intuitive concept. However, life must be breathed into us. Even today, we don’t know how this happens. We cannot give life to something which has no life. We cannot take non-living chemicals from the earth and turn them into living organisms.
9) God makes Eve by means of modified cloning. I did not understand how God could take a rib and use the genetic material to make the woman when I first read this passage 40 years ago. Today, we actually understand theoretically and to a limited degree what this process is.
10) God compares the stars of the sky to the sands of the sea in number. Until the past hundred or so years, this would have seemed to be a preposterous comparison. From DeHoff: The ancients believed that there were only a very few stars in the heavens. In 150 B.C. Hipparchus said that there were less than three thousand. In A.D. 150 Ptolemy said there were not more than three thousand. This was considered a high estimate. But, 2000 years before that, God suggested that there were billions upon billions of stars by comparing the stars of the heavens to the sands of the sea.
11) The earth is said to be a circle or a sphere in the book of Isaiah (Isa. 40:22).
(1) From Answers.com (accessed December 2, 2014): '''The shape of the earth'''. The ''Encyclopedia Americana'' said: "The earliest known image that men had of the earth was that it was a flat, rigid platform at the center of the universe. ... The concept of a spherical earth was not widely accepted until the Renaissance." Some early navigators even feared that they might sail off the edge of the flat earth. But then the introduction of the compass and other advancements made possible longer ocean voyages. These "voyages of discovery," another encyclopedia explains, "showed that the world was round, not flat as most people had believed."
(2) When Jesus describes the coming of the Son of Man, it is an event which is sudden (Luke 17:24), and yet happens to some people in the daytime (Luke 17:31, 35) and others at night (Luke 17:34). This requires a spherical earth.
12) And God is said to hang the earth upon nothing (Job 26:7). There were ancient theories from ancient times: Some believed that the earth was supported by four elephants standing on a big sea turtle. Aristotle, a Greek philosopher and scientist of the fourth century BCE, taught that the earth could never hang in empty space. Instead, he taught that the heavenly bodies were fixed to the surface of solid, transparent spheres, with each sphere nested within another sphere. Supposedly the earth was on the innermost sphere, and the outermost sphere held the stars...The Bible's accurate statement predated Aristotle by over 1,100 years. Yet, Aristotle's views continued to be taught as fact for some 2,000 years after his death! Finally, in 1687 C.E., Sir Isaac Newton published his findings that the earth was held in space in relation to other heavenly objects by mutual attraction, that is, gravity. But that was close to 3,200 years after the Bible had stated with elegant simplicity that God hangs the earth upon nothing. Quotations are from Answers.com accessed December 2, 2014.
13) Isa. 40:22 God is enthroned above the circle of the earth; its inhabitants are like grasshoppers. He stretches out the heavens like thin cloth and spreads them out like a tent to live in. (HCSB) Isaiah is describing the atmosphere which is stretched out over the earth like a thin cloth (it is both very thin and you can see through it). The atmosphere is absolutely required in order for us to live on the earth. Compared to the mass of the earth, the Troposphere is like a thin layer stretched out over the earth—just as Isaiah described. Most of the atmosphere is within 10 miles of the surface of the earth—an earth which has about an 8000 mile diameter—so Isaiah describes quite well the atmosphere of the earth, in 700 b.c., long before man knew that there even was an atmosphere.
14) From DeHoff: In March, 1919, the government of the United States launched its first concrete ship at San Francisco. The dimensions were 300 feet, by 50 feet, by 30 feet. This is the same proportion as the ark which Noah built. Even with all our modern development in shipbuilding we still hold to approximately the same proportions as those used by Noah in building his boat. Who taught Noah how to build ships? How did he know what proportions to make his ark?
15) From DeHoff: Matthew Fontaine Maury, "the pathfinder of the seas", and the founder of the science of Oceanography, was a firm believer in and a close student of the Bible. His teaching caused the Annapolis Academy to be founded and his memory is honored and respected throughout the world. On monument row in Richmond, Virginia, is a statue of the great scientist sitting with the Bible in one hand and his charts of the sea in the other. Behind him is a globe of the earth which he helped to explore. Before Matthew Fontaine Maury lived there were no sailing lanes and no charts of the sea. One day, when he was ill, his son read to him from the eighth Psalm. He read that God put under man "...the fowls of the air, the fish of the sea, and whatsoever passeth through the paths of the sea." "Read that again," he said. Upon hearing it the second time, the venerable scientist said, "If the Word of God says there are paths in the sea, they must be there. I will find them." Within a few years he had charted the principal lanes or paths of the sea and these are followed by oceangoing vessels to this day. How did David know of these paths of the sea?
16) There are dozens of examples of how the Scriptures lines up with modern science, even though the writers of Scripture were not scientists.
24. Modern Historians:
1) The historian Phillip Schaff vividly describes the uniqueness of the Savior of the Bible: This Jesus of Nazareth, without money and arms, conquered more millions than Alexander, Caesar, Mohammed, and Napoleon; without science and learning, He shed more light on things human and divine than all philosophers and scholars combined; without the eloquence of schools, He spoke such words of life as were never spoken before or since, and pronounced effects which lie beyond the reach of orator or poet; without writing a single line, He set more pens in motion, and furnished themes for more sermons, orations, discussions, learned volumes, works of art, and songs of praise than the whole army of great men of ancient and modern times.5
2) From the unbeliever historian Will Durant: The discoveries here summarize have restored considerable credit to those chapters of Genesis that record the early traditions of the Jews. In its outlines, and barring supernatural incidents, the story of the Jews as unfolded in the Old Testament has stood the test of criticism and archeology; every year add corroboration from documents, monuments, or excavations...We must accept the Biblical account provisionally until it is disproved.6 Durant has written one of the greatest set of volumes on Ancient History. He rejects anything supernatural, and yet confirms that the historicity of Genesis is, so far, unimpeachable.
25. Ancient Historians and Jesus. I have read and listened to people who dogmatically assert that Jesus is a made-up character. Since Jesus is the heart of the Bible, it is reasonable to ask, are there any historical references to Jesus Christ outside of the Bible? These references are from Everystudent.com
1) Cornelius Tacitus (A.D. 55-120), an historian of first-century Rome, is considered one of the most accurate historians of the ancient world. An excerpt from Tacitus tells us that the Roman emperor Nero "inflicted the most exquisite tortures on a class...called Christians. ...Christus [Christ], from whom the name had its origin, suffered the extreme penalty during the reign of Tiberius at the hands of one of our procurators, Pontius Pilatus...."7 How do you have Christians without Christ?
2) Flavius Josephus, a Jewish historian (A.D. 38-100), wrote about Jesus in his Jewish Antiquities. From Josephus, "we learn that Jesus was a wise man who did surprising feats, taught many, won over followers from among Jews and Greeks, was believed to be the Messiah, was accused by the Jewish leaders, was condemned to be crucified by Pilate, and was considered to be resurrected."8
3) Suetonius, Pliny the Younger, and Thallus also wrote about Christian worship and persecution that is consistent with New Testament accounts.
4) Even the Jewish Talmud, certainly not biased toward Jesus, concurs about the major events of his life. From the Talmud, "we learn that Jesus was conceived out of wedlock, gathered disciples, made blasphemous claims about himself, and worked miracles, but these miracles are attributed to sorcery and not to God."9
5) The author of this Every Student article concludes: This is remarkable information considering that most ancient historians focused on political and military leaders, not on obscure rabbis from distant provinces of the Roman Empire. Yet ancient historians (Jews, Greeks and Romans) confirm the major events that are presented in the New Testament, even though they were not believers themselves.
26. Jesus spoke of false prophets, using the well-known phrase, “By their fruits, you will know them.” (Matt. 7:16).
1) Have you ever heard the testimony, “I used to steal, lie, drink, use and sell drugs, abuse my family, cheat on my wife; but then I came across these books on atheism, and now, I have paid all of my debts, I no longer drink or use drugs, and have patched things up with my family.” Of course not! We hear a testimony like this from someone who has believed in Jesus Christ. Paraphrased from DeHoff.
2) From DeHoff: In the days of the Old Testament all nations. except the Hebrews, were built on slavery. The Hebrew nation, even when it permitted slavery surrounded it with many alleviations and held no one in servitude more than seven years. The Roman nation with a population of about one hundred and twenty-five million held more than sixty million in the basest sort of slavery. Overworked, underfed and killed at the pleasure of their owners, these slaves were indeed "without God and without hope" in the world. But lo, the Christ came and died, and from the very beginning slaves were received into the churches of Christ on the same basis as their masters. The New Testament teaches the universal Fatherhood of God and the universal brotherhood of man. Where Christianity has gone, slavery has either retreated or been destroyed. While Mohammedanism has enslaved millions, Christianity has freed millions.
3) From DeHoff concerning the place of women in society: In ancient times women held a degraded place among all nations except the Hebrews. In Rome a man might put his wife to death without a trial; in Greece the women who ministered to the lowest passions were highly honored. The Hebrews honored their wives and sisters. Who has not heard of Rebekah and Rachel, Ruth and Hannah, and Deborah and Esther? And time would fail us to tell of the woman who was once the virgin Mary, Mary and Martha of Bethany, Mary Magdalene, Dorcas, Lydia, Priscilla and a host of women who are highly honored in the Bible. The position of women in many eastern countries today is lower than that of the Hebrew women in 1,000 B.C. It is only in Christian lands that men and women stand side by side in doing the work which the Heavenly Father gave them to do.
28. We could have also examined fulfilled prophecies of Scripture. Although I have not carefully examined this page, 100 Prophecies might do a good job on this. Also examine Jesus in the Old and New Testaments (HTML) (PDF) (WPD).
29. There is a great deal more which can be done on this topic. Josh McDowell’s books are among the best in this realm. George DeHoff’s book, (available online) is also excellent.
The quotations from answers.com (and other similar sites) obviously came from someone’s book as opposed to having been written by someone who simply sat down and answered the question to the best of his own ability. However, these exact quotes are spread so far and wide across the internet, I don’t know who to properly attribute them to.
There is an interesting contrast between the written Word of God and the Living Word of God, Jesus Christ. Jesus did not write anything down, nor did He instruct anyone to write anything down. His public ministry was quite short—3 or 4 years. It is so short that we should not know anything about Him. The ground that He walked upon was quite limited. Primarily He walked between Galilee and Jerusalem, covering a distance of less than 100 miles north to south. He was struck down in the prime of His youth. Of all the known religious figures of history, His public ministry was the shortest, the amount of material that he wrote down was the least, and the area where He proclaimed His message was the smallest. We should not even know that Jesus exists. However, most Christian scholars agree that the material which makes up the New Testament was all composed by the people who are said to have composed it during the 1st century a.d.
Regarding the 1st century Christians who wrote the New Testament and who evangelized the world—they were not rewarded for their efforts. They were not held in high esteem throughout the Roman empire. Although respected in the churches that they founded, they were persecuted, jailed, executed, martyred, and banished from society. We know this through their own words, through historical records, and by tradition. These men knew whether or not the information they were writing about was true or not. They knew whether or not they saw the risen Christ. They knew their own writings to be the truth or stuff that they just made up. And yet, to a man, they all suffered for what they wrote and publically taught. 11 of the 12 Apostles were put to death for their testimony of the Lord. Any one of them could have recanted his testimony or his writings when facing certain death—again, things they knew were true or false. And yet, in this period of great prolific writing, we have nothing to indicate that these men backed down from their testimony of speaking with the Risen Christ.
People die as religious martyrs all the time; people die for things that they believe in all the time; but how often do people willingly die for things they know to be false? Fundamental to the testimony of the Apostles was, every one of them had seen the risen Christ on several occasions. Remember that Thomas, hearing this testimony from the others, still doubted them—until he saw Jesus with his own eyes. All of that has to be the truth or a load of lies—and yet, every Apostle was willing to suffer persecution and to eventually die for this testimony.
Remember how the disciples behaved when Jesus was taken into custody in the Garden of Gethsemene? What did they do? The scattered like sheep; they ran for their lives. That is how the disciples of Jesus responded, even after spending 3 years with Him teaching; even after spending 3 years observing His miracles. They still ran to preserve their own lives. John remained for the crucifixion, and Peter remained until he denied the Lord thrice, and then he left, experiencing personal disgust for himself. Yet, one week later, the acts of the disciples revealed remarkable bravery, which continued throughout their lives. What happened? According to the Bible, there was something that happened. They all saw the Risen Christ.
The basic points were taken from Josh McDowell, Evidence That Demands a Verdict Volume I; Here’s Life Publishers; ©1979 Campus Crusade for Christ; pp. 14–24. Many were expanded upon.
1 Cut and paste from http://home.surewest.net/dfrench/evidence/unique.htm accessed October 14, 2014; but I originally read this in Evidence That Demands a Verdict Volume I; p. 17.
2 From above, but originally from Bernard Ramm; Protestant Christian References; Moody Press; 1957; pp. 230–231.
3 Cut and paste from above. McDowell’s book, Evidence That Demands a Verdict Volume I, pp. 19–20.
4 Cut and paste from above, but originally from Bernard Ramm; Protestant Christian References; Moody Press; 1957; pp. 232–233.
5 Cut and paste from above, but originally from Philip Schaff The Person of Christ; American Tract Society, 1913; quoted by McDowell in Evidence.
6 The Story of Civilization; 1. Our Oriental Heritage, by Will Durant; MJF Books, ©1963; p. 300 (footnote).
Footnotes 7–9 are from http://www.everystudent.com/features/bible.html accessed October 15, 2014. Their references are noted below:
7 Tacitus, A. 15.44.
8 Wilkins, Michael J. & Moreland, J.P. Jesus Under Fire (Zondervan Publishing House, 1995), p. 40.
Returning to our narrative:
Genesis 28:10–11 Jacob left Beersheba and went toward Haran. And he came to a certain place and stayed there that night, because the sun had set. Taking one of the stones of the place, he put it under his head and lay down in that place to sleep. (ESV)
You will recall that Jacob deceived his father Isaac and received a blessing meant for Esau, his twin brother. Esau became so angry, he was ready to kill Jacob; so Rebekah, their mother, believed it best if Isaac leave town for awhile. In fact, he was going to leave Canaan.
Rebekah could not reveal that she knew about Jacob deceiving Isaac, because she put him up to it. So, the cover story was, Jacob needed a wife—not a Canaanite or a Hittite—so he was sent back east to find one from their stock. This was not racial purity; this was religious purity. See the Doctrine of Racial Intermarriage (HTML) (PDF) (WPD).
Neither Rebekah nor Jacob had any idea how long Jacob would be gone or what would transpire. He will be gone from the land for 20 years. It appears that Rebekah will die before he returns as we will not hear from her again. Also, there is perhaps one recorded meeting between father and son (between Isaac and Jacob) in Gen. 35:27. There is no indication that Jacob returned to the Land of Promise and then tried to find his parents.
At this point in our narrative, Jacob is still in the Land of Promise. He has only begun his journey to head east; he has only traveled a short distance north.
Genesis 28:12 Then Jacob [lit., he] dreamed, and he saw [lit., behold] a staircase [ramp, ladder, elevator, escalator?] stationary on the earth; and its top reached [into] the heavens. And he saw [lit., behold] the angels of Elohim ascending and descending on it.
But the key to all of this is the plan of God. Angels are just as much a part of God’s plan as we are. They are not peripheral beings, floating about on clouds playing harps, as they have been falsely portrayed. They are clearly participants in this earthly life, but we are given very little by way of particulars on this (in Gen. 32, we will look at the functions of angels).
So Jacob, in a dream, sees angels, going to pint heaven, and returning back to earth. Jesus will make reference to this phenomenon in John 1:51. He has called Nathaniel as a disciple and Nathaniel recognizes that Jesus is the Son of God. Jesus then tells Nathaniel: “Point of doctrine: I say to you, you will see heaven opened, and the angels of God ascending and descending toward the Son of Man.” As an aside, this is one of the many times that Jesus affirms His Deity. He is the Son of Man, and here He told Nathaniel that the angels of God (elect angels) will ascend and descend toward Him. Now, Who is standing at that top of this staircase (ladder, escalator, elevator)?
Genesis 28:13a And behold! Jehovah stood above it [the staircase, the ladder],...
Here, Yehowah (Jehovah) stands over this place; and in John 1:51, Jesus promises Nathaniel that he will see Jesus stand there.
For some reason, there are critics who think that this is some great contradiction that Jacob sees God and yet Jesus said, “God is a Spirit and no man has seen God at any time.” God the Son makes Himself manifest in a variety of ways since the beginning of time. Adam and the woman spoke with God and, in that form, He walked through the Garden of Eden. Abraham had met God on many occasions—this would be God the Son, the 2nd Person of the Trinity, the Revealed God (or the Revealed Lord). We know Him as Jesus, but He was known by many other names prior to the incarnation.
Jesus said that “God is a Spirit” while people were looking at Him. He was speaking of God the Father; but not of His manifestation on earth as the God-man (which manifestation was real and perceived by all the sense of man).
Genesis 28:13 And behold! Jehovah stood above it [the staircase, the ladder], and said, “I am Jehovah, the God of Abraham your father, and the God of Isaac! The land on which you lay, I will give to you and to your seed.
God is standing above this escalator (or elevator or whatever), with angels going up and down. And God speaks to Jacob.
In this era, God did speak to some people through dreams. Now, simply because something has happened in the past, that does not mean that is how things will be done forevermore. Moses will turn water into blood and Jesus will turn water into wine, but that does not mean that Christians do that today. I have never seen water turned into blood or into wine; nor do I expect to. It is not that I doubt the power of God to do this; I simply recognize that is not His modus operandi for the Church Age.
God’s promise here to Jacob is not based upon Jacob outsmarting his father Isaac. God’s promises are not based upon Esau selling him his birthright. God promises are based upon God’s plan. God continues the promise to Jacob that He originally gave to Abraham (Gen. 13:14b–16, which reads: "Lift up your eyes and look from the place where you are, northward and southward and eastward and westward, for all the land that you see I will give to you and to your offspring forever. I will make your offspring as the dust of the earth, so that if one can count the dust of the earth, your offspring also can be counted.”—ESV) God made a similar promise to Isaac in Gen. 26:3–4. Now God makes a similar promise to Jacob, despite his acts of deception.
Genesis 28:14a And your seed will be like the dust of the earth,...
So far, there have been 3 patriarchs, and Abraham, the eldest, is dead; and Isaac is near death. Jacob is not married; therefore, he has no children. But God tells him that his seed will be like the dust of the earth. The amount of dust on the earth is impossible to even fathom, but this is both hyperbole and illustrative. Hyperbole means that there will not be a one-to-one relationship between the number of Jews and the number of dust particles on the earth. There will simply be a lot of them. Furthermore, the illustrative aspect is that the Jews will cover the earth just as dust covers the earth.
Genesis 28:14 And your seed will be like the dust of the earth, and you will spread abroad to the west, and to the east, and to the north, and to the south. And in you and in your Seed will all the families of the earth be blessed.
You will note that the word seed is in the lower case at the beginning of this verse, but capitalized near the end. There is actually no difference between the words in the Hebrew. The word is found in the singular nearly always (always as far as I know), yet can be translated seed, Seed or descendants.
When the Bible refers to seed as in many, then we know that we are talking about the descendants of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. But the final phrase reads: And in you and in your Seed will all the families of the earth be blessed. This has a double-meaning. It certainly refers to the descendants of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob; and wherever Jews are made welcome, in whatever nation, that nation is prospered. This also refers to Abraham’s Seed, Who is Jesus Christ; and all who believe in Him are blessed as well. All families who have exercised faith in Christ are greatly blessed.
Genesis 28:14 And your seed will be like the dust of the earth, and you will spread abroad to the west, and to the east, and to the north, and to the south. And in you and in your Seed will all the families of the earth be blessed.
God appears to repeat this blessing to Jacob, which is almost the same blessing He had given to Abraham and to Isaac. However, God adds that the Jews (those who descend from Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob) would be spread throughout the world. And this is the case today—there are Jews spread across the world in nearly every nation (as far as I know, Jews can be found in every nation).
There are even Jews in Muslim nations, although Muslims are doing their best to keep the Jews out, and to kill those who are living in their nations. There are Jews among the Palestinians today, although they are there covertly. There are Jews in every Muslim nation, although many of them keep their heritage a secret. There are some Jewish children in these Muslim nations that do not find out that they are Jewish until they become of age. This information is kept from them in order to protect them (throughout history, when Jews have been persecuted, some have hidden their identities as Jews).
Because it is God’s plan for Jews to be found in every nation, obviously we would expect some nations to try to cleanse themselves of Jews, either by killing them or driving them away.
And Jews are clearly found throughout Europe, Asia and the Americas. This is God’s plan; and the nation that is the most welcoming, is the nation that is the most blessed. At one time, this was Great Britain; today, this is the United States. Tomorrow, it might be South Korea or China (large Christian populations always provide a haven for Jews).
This explains the great movements in human history to destroy the Jews. God’s plan is stated above—to have Jews throughout the world, to the west, east, north and south of where Jacob lay. So what would Satan’s plan be? To do just the opposite. Therefore, wherever Satan has the most influence, that is where we would expect Jews to be persecuted the most. That is where we would expect Jews to be expelled. And the religion which worships Satan is going to be the most vigorous religion when it comes to persecuting the Jews.
Ideally speaking, Satan would like to concentrate the Jews into one area and then to destroy that area. This is why there are so many Middle Easterners who are appalled at the Jewish settlement in Israel, despite the fact that Israel is approximately 0.2% of the Middle East.
The Jewish people are emblematic of believers (either in the Revealed God of the Old Testament or of Jesus Christ in the New). God sends believers to all nations and to all peoples to evangelize them.
We made a great many mistakes in Iraq, but the greatest mistake of them all was not allowing soldiers to evangelize. If the army wanted to require them to do this on their own time using their own funds, fine; but being antagonistic toward evangelizing the Iraqis was a big mistake.
We evangelized the people of Japan, Germany and South Korea, and, as a result, these are strong, free and prosperous nations today—and they are our allies. Whereas General Douglas MacArthur encouraged evangelizing, asking for Bibles and missionaries; our official military policy in Iraq was against evangelizing the people. This is one of the reasons Iraq is in chaos today.
Genesis 28:15 And, behold, I am with you, and will keep you in every place where you go, and will bring you again into this land. For I will not leave you until I have done that which I have spoken of to you.”
It is apparent that God’s geographical will for Jacob is to leave the land of his fathers and to go east (recall that God stopped Isaac from leaving the Land of Promise in Gen. 26:1–6). God would be with Jacob outside of the land and God would again bring Jacob back to this land.
Jacob, although he has not been what we would consider to be a great servant of God, is in God’s geographical will. God does not tell him, “Look, Jacob, I am blessing you and your seed with this land—so you need to stay here.” Instead, God says, “Listen, I am with you, and I will keep you in every place where you go, and I will bring you again into this land.” Jacob has made a mess of things—something which most of us are quite capable of doing in our own lives—and God tells Jacob, “I have got it covered. I am with you wherever you go, even if you are back in the land of Padan-aram. When it is time, I will bring you back to Canaan.”
God could have easily added, “Jacob, I have been with you everywhere you have gone; and I will continue to be with you, even outside of the Land of Promise. But you are one sorry believer and there are times when you just make Me sad.”
Jacob might be thought to, in this way, to represent the dispersion of the Jews. God has allowed His people to spread across the world, and at some point in the future, He will regather them to the land (Ezek. 37:12 Isa. 11:10–12 Jer. 30:3–4).
God would remain with Jacob until God brought Jacob back to this land where he was. As God told Jacob: “For I will not leave you until I have done that which I have spoken of to you.” We find a similar promise generalized in both the Old and New Testaments. Keep your life free from love of money, and be content with what you have, for He has said, "I will never leave you nor forsake you." (Heb. 13:5; Deut. 31:6b, 8b; ESV; capitalized)
God said to Jacob, “For I will not leave you until I have done that which I have spoken of to you.” That which God spoke to Jacob are the promises which He has now made to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.
So far, this is what we have studied:
Gen. 28:10–11 Jacob left Beersheba and went toward Haran. And he came to a certain place and stayed there that night, because the sun had set. Taking one of the stones of the place, he put it under his head and lay down in that place to sleep. (ESV)
Jacob has made his twin brother Esau so upset, that Esau was ready to kill him.
Gen 28:12 And he dreamed, and behold, there was a ladder set up on the earth, and the top of it reached to heaven. And behold, the angels of God were ascending and descending on it! (ESV)
Jacob, while still in the Land of Promise, dreams of angels ascending into heaven and descending back to the earth. We studied how angels have a real involvement in world affairs, even though we do not see them (or, if we see them, we do not know that they are angels—Heb. 13:2).
Gen 28:13–15 And behold, the LORD stood above it and said, "I am the LORD, the God of Abraham your father and the God of Isaac. The land on which you lie I will give to you and to your offspring. Your offspring shall be like the dust of the earth, and you shall spread abroad to the west and to the east and to the north and to the south, and in you and your offspring shall all the families of the earth be blessed. Behold, I am with you and will keep you wherever you go, and will bring you back to this land. For I will not leave you until I have done what I have promised you." (ESV)
Isaac, Jacob’s father, gave Jacob a real blessing when he was leaving—without being duped. And here, God blesses Jacob as well, despite the fact that Jacob is quite duplicitous.
Genesis 28:16 And Jacob awakened from his sleep. And he said, “Surely Jehovah is in this place, and I did not know.”
Jacob has given very little thought to God. If he knew, understood and believed the promises that God made to his father and grandfather, none of this would have happened. He would not have gotten Esau to sell his birthright to him—he would not have needed to do that; and he would not have cheated Esau out of the blessing from Jacob. All of this is unnecessary. These sorts of things are not a part of God’s plan; and they call into question the character of His people. Jacob only needed to study and learn the Word of God; and allow life to simply unfold.
It appears that his mother, Rebekah, had some understanding of the blessing that would come from Isaac, but she believed that duplicity was needed in order to secure it.
Genesis 28:16 After waking up, Jacob said, “Surely Jehovah is in this place, and I did not know.”
You may not realize it, but this is quite an impressive statement for Jacob to make. How did he use God’s name before? He was putting one over on his own father, pretending to be Esau, and Isaac asked him, “How did you track and kill wild game so quickly?” And Jacob answered, “Yehowah granted me success!” He lies using God’s personal name! He was lying to his father and trying to manipulate his father, and he used God’s name in order to do this. Do you see what a no-account Jacob has been? And now God has spoken to Jacob and this turns Jacob and his attitude around quite a bit. However, Jacob is going to be much different from Abraham. Abraham made some mistakes and had stumbled now and again, but he steadily moved forward—he learned more and he began to trust God more. Jacob will be up and down, up and down. He will say and do things which suggest spiritual progress, and then he will revert back to the same old so-and-so that he has always been.
Jacob has not has a great many meetings with God. This is the first. He has heard about the God of Abraham and Isaac, but has not encountered Him until now. Jacob had no doubt heard at least Rebekah speak of Yehowah Elohim, and possibly his father as well. We do not have any interaction recorded between Abraham and Jacob, so we do not know if he learned anything from Abraham.
Barnes describes Jacob’s new attitude: [Jacob] knew of God’s omnipresence; but he did not expect a special manifestation of the Lord in this place, far from the sanctuaries of his father. He is filled with solemn awe, when he finds himself in the house of God and at the gate of heaven.
There was one thing, however, that was quite amazing about this family line: God had now spoken to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. All of these men had encounters with God; this being the first one for Jacob.
Jacob’s spiritual life is much different than our own. First off, he has almost no spiritual life, this being his first religious experience (and don’t misunderstand me; I am not saying that having some sort of religious experience is necessary for the believer).
In any case, Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob have all spoken to God; and more importantly, God has spoken to them. That is a lot different than believers today. I speak to God, but I do not hear an audible voice—not a loud booming one or almost indiscernible voice. Only a tiny percentage of Christians make such a claim to hear God, and most of those who do are nutballs.
The fact that Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob all interacted with God, and that fact that you and I will never interact with God while we are still alive on earth, should suggest to you that things are different now.
We are really comparing spirituality between those of the Age of Israel and believers in the Church Age (this is the time frame during which we are living).
New Testament Church Age
The Word of God is still being written. As a result, God contacted some believers and spoke directly to them. This was a part of assembling the Word of God.
The Word of God is complete. Because God’s Word is complete, God does not need to contact any one of us individually to give us guidance or truth. All of that is found in the Bible already.
Spiritual revelation is still being given in a variety of ways—and it is designed both for the person who receives this revelation, as well as for us today.
There is no new revelation given to believers today. There is no cult somewhere where some really holy guy gets his marching orders from God each day (or month or year). No one is recording new personal interaction with God. Anyone who is, is suffering from some kind of mental disease.
There are two possible options here for us in the Church Age. If a person claims to have interaction with God, either what he teaches lines up with the Bible or it does not. If it lines up with the Bible, then why would God need to talk to him? If such a person says things which contradict the Bible, then we know him to be a false prophet/teacher (and, obviously, is not really talking to God).
Believers depended upon the laws of divine establishment and the Scripture which existed at that time. Nation Israel followed the laws of divine establishment, which was a big part of the Mosaic Law.
We have the complete Word of God to study. The laws of divine establishment, which have been shown to work historically, are designed for believers and unbelievers.
Believers in the Old Testament also grew spiritually and learned from the Word of God, as it existed. Many of the citizens of Israel simply learned and obeyed the laws of divine establishment. The made Israel a great nation.
Primarily, believers grow today within a local church. A pastor-teacher, who has been trained in the Word of God, teaches the Word of God; as well as the mechanics found in the Word of God, and we grow by that (and by, of course, the application of our volition). Believing what we hear is a necessary part of our spiritual growth.
Believers in the Age of Israel obey the Mosaic Law, which involved animal sacrifices. Animal sacrifices look forward to the cross of Christ.
Believers in the Church Age look back to the cross. We do this in our own thoughts, when it is taught to us, or in communion, which represents our Lord and His work on the cross. Luke 22:19 1Cor. 11:23–25
Believers in the Age of Israel observe special days and follow various dietary laws. The days spoke of future events; the dietary laws preserved Israel during a time of no refrigeration. These laws preserved the people of Israel.
Believers in the Church Age do not follow any set of days or dietary laws. Col. 2:16
There were a limited number of men who had the potential for spiritual greatness.
The potential for greatness exists in all Church Age believers. All believers possess a spiritual gift (or gifts). 1Cor. 12:20–22
Only some believers had the Holy Spirit and it could be lost due to excessive carnality. Psalm 51:11
All believers have the Holy Spirit during the Church Age. We lose the filling of the Spirit when we sin, but never the indwelling. 1Cor. 12:13 Eph. 5:22
The Holy Spirit is given to some believers for some specific tasks. See 2Sam. 23:2 Matt. 22:43 Luke 1:15, 41 2Peter 1:21.
The Holy Spirit is given to all believers; every believer has a purpose in the Church Age. 1Cor. 12:15
Specific believers have been chosen by God to do specific things.
All believers have the potential of spiritual greatness. For many, this will sound blasphemous, but you can be as great as the Apostle Paul (and that statement is not blasphemous). In fact, you can be greater than Paul (or Peter or John).
Believers during the Old Testament had little or no access to God’s Word. This is because writing materials were quite ephemeral and reproducing Scripture was an arduous task.
In many countries, believers have complete access to the full Word of God in a variety of translations and languages. It is both ubiquitous in written and digital form. Where there is positive volition, there is greater access to God’s Word.
The teaching of God’s Word was limited and we know very little about it, apart from the synagogues, where God’s Word was read.
Today, teaching can be found on the radio, television and the internet (although the quality of teaching can vary dramatically). Despite the variety of outlets, the believer is still to grow as a part of a local church.
God worked through nation Israel. Israel stood as a witness to God. Isa. 43:10