Garden of Gethsemane, a teaching tool for all ?

Garden of Gethsemane, a teaching tool for all ?

The story of Jesus on the night prior to his crucifixion has been written in the synoptic gospels in Mark 14:32-41, Matthew 26:36-45, Luke 22:39-54 and in John 18:1-12

This narrative is historically poignant as this is the first time in the life of man-Jesus when it was recorded that he prayed so fervently that he “sweated blood”, as in:

And being in agony, He prayed more earnestly. Then His sweat became like great drops of blood falling down to the ground” (Luke 22:44)

Notice that it was not exactly blood that Jesus was sweating; instead it was “like great drops of blood”. Otherwise, if it was real blood, he would have had hemorrhagic shock, no pun intended.

One can deduce from this description that the context must have meant “to sweat profusely”, like “bleeding out” sweat “falling down to the ground”. Such degree of diaphoresis suggests the intensity and severity of Jesus’ dilemma. For him, that night was a turning point with cosmic proportion, but why?

Jesus’ life of risks

What is so different at this time? His life has been in danger before, as in:

John 7:1 “After these things Jesus walked in Galilee: for: he would not walk in Jewry, because, the Jews sought to kill him.”

John 8:59 “Then took they up stones to cast at him: but Jesus hid himself, and went out of the temple, going through the midst of them, and so passed by.”

John 10:31 “The Jews took up stones again to stone Him.”

In all these instances, he slipped away and was not injured. They were like “no brainer” to split from these. These risks were predictably escapable and no harm would come to him. It was not yet his time to be sacrificed.

Also, the first time he was tempted to hurt himself or commit suicide was directly from Satan himself. This narrative was recorded in Matt 4:6; Mark 1:12-13 and Luke 4:9-12. He did not succumb to Satan and overcame him with wisdom with help of the “Helper”(John 14:26;Holy Spirit). Satan knew people, before Jesus, claimed to be the Christ, yet died and gone they were. Nonetheless, Jesus did not divulge his identity to Satan who needed proof that he was the “chosen one”(Isaiah 42:1).

Notice that in all of these risks in his life, he knew fully well that his “time was not yet”, as in John 7:6:

Jesus replied, “Now is not the right time for me to go, but you can go anytime.”

Notice that while his life was in real jeopardy in many instances, he knew that he would not be killed. It was not his time yet.

In contrast, that night in Gethsemane was very different. It was only on that night that it finally dawned on him the anguish of definite death that would come to him by crucifixion towards the end of that day. His life was on the line.

It was the night of Nisan 14 when before the day was over, that he was destined to be killed as a Passover. That night was a very agonizing moment for him that he sweat profusely. And, rightly so as he was in the crossroad of an earth-shaking dilemma, i.e.,to follow his “own will”, praying for the Father to spare his life or succumb to the Father’s will to die for mankind. A wrong choice on his part will spell eternal disaster to everything and everyone that was created, “visible or invisible” (Col. 1:16). His decision carries repercussions of infinite proportion. He understood from the experience of others and from what he saw about death by crucifixion, how this torture leads to excruciating pain, exhaustion and asphyxiation.

Jesus reached the crossroad

So, what decision would he make?

Considering that he is the “only way, the truth and life”(John 14:6) and that “no other name given …by which we must be saved”(Acts 4:12), took on an even compelling pressure on him to make the right and only decision. The wisdom that comes from Luke 17:33 (“he who loses his life will preserve it“) reverberated in his ears. Jesus knew that while he was imbued with the Holy Spirit at river Jordan (Luke 3:22) the Father will “not spare his own Son” (Rom. 8:32; Matt. 4:17).

This was the night that he genuinely recognized his “spirit is willing but the (his) flesh is weak”(Matt 26:41). Although if he chooses, he could be empowered by the Holy Spirit to overcome the “pull of his flesh” but at the expense of his life. Indeed, he has to die to “condemn sin in his flesh” as in:

For what the law could not do, in that it was weak through the flesh, God sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, and for sin, condemned sin in the flesh:” (Romans 8:3)

He had to “condemn sin in his flesh”, not by surviving and living through this dilemma, but by death through crucifixion. This is the only path as planned by the Father for his “flesh” to die before being resurrected with an immortal body. His choice did not come easily nor in a snap. And, him being composed of flesh, he realized that on his own, he was “weak” and needed to summon the strength that comes from the power of the Holy Spirit given to him at river Jordan. He had to “Walk in the Spirit, and ye shall not fulfil the lust of the flesh(Gal. 5:16).

Teaching moment for Jesus and for us?

On that night, his trust in the Father’s plan that there was no other way but to die, was shaken by the urgency of the reality that he has to finally decide to be a “Passover”(I Cor. 5:7)). He would not be forced into submission and he has to take it voluntarily and with conviction.

What then convinced him of the only correct choice? Reading Mark 14:41, Matthew 26:44 and in Luke 22:39-54, it took him the 3rd time seeing his disciples sleeping, reminding him that like him, the disciples’ “spirit is willing but flesh is weak”. This optic of similar weakness of his fellow-flesh, finally made Jesus to realize that “human flesh is weak” and he had to die for mankind, i.e., “take the cup”. By his own personal experience, and even with the Holy Spirit imbued in him, he in fact was initially preferring to stay alive instead of dying a horrifying death,i.e., “let this cup pass from me“. His spirit is willing to die, but his flesh was telling him otherwise. The spirit and the flesh were at odds, at war with another, as expressed by Paul (Rom. 7:15-25).

After the 3rd time coming back praying in Gethsemane, Jesus said,

Truly the flesh is weak” (Matt 26:41-45; Mk.14:38-42).

Finally, on that night in the garden of Gethsemane he decided,

Father, if you are willing, take this cup from me; yet not my will, but yours be done.”(Luke 22:42, NIV)

For emphasis, man-Jesus’ personal will (being drawn to the flesh) was not to die as a Passover for mankind. His weak flesh was battling against his spirit. But, without “taking the cup” he would not have been resurrected by the Father, nor subsequently gifted with the power of the Holy Spirit to us-ward. The Holy Spirit baptized into him at river Jordan was specifically for him. He had to get that same power, but this time after his resurrection, for him to give to us. The fact is, that he subjugated the personal pull of his flesh, to the will of his Father by the power of the Holy Spirit that guided him with wisdom. And that decision was no simple feat but rather a major one with eternal ramifications. He chose voluntarily to follow the will of the Father and said, “…not my will, but yours be done.” They are indeed, “one” with each other.

He restored his trust in the promise of his Father to be resurrected after his death. Again the emphasis in this story in the garden of Gethsemane is trust and the reality of the warring components of our body, i.e., flesh and spirit-of-man (1).

Subsequently, history shows that 3 days and 3 nights in the tomb, he was “manifested/declared as Son of God by resurrection from the dead”(Romans 1:4). Indeed, he was declared or called or named as “Son of God” after resurrection, went to heaven and received the Holy Spirit directly from the Father to be given to us (John 16:7). And, on the day of Pentecost it was gifted with openness and grandeur to the apostles and others(Read Acts Chapter 2) with the purpose of creating “many sons and daughters of God” as in:

Heb. 2:10 “In bringing many sons and daughters to glory, it was fitting that God, for whom and through whom everything exists, should make the pioneer of their salvation perfect through what he suffering.

Heb 4:15

“For we do not have a high priest who is unable to empathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are–yet he did not sin.” (NIV)

Summary

Death by crucifixion was the preferred torture and common during the Roman Empire. That night of Nisan 14 in the garden at Gethsemane was a seminal event that led to a major decision of Jesus. It was the turning point of colossal proportion in the road to salvation for all of us. A horrifying night to the “captain of our salvation“ who faced, not an escapable risk, but with his actual death through the horrifying anguish of crucifixion. Sweating profusely “like great blood” flowing down the ground, he emoted the gravity and intensity of his prayer and supplication to the Father to “spare the life” of his Son. But, there is only “one way” and “truth” towards eternal life and that the Father will not “spare the life” even of his only son. Jesus has to be the “Passover Lamb”, chosen specifically by the Father, for a “sweet offering” (Eph. 5:2) to reconcile man to the Father, to die rather than live (Luke 17:33). And this destiny, Jesus had to accept willingly and voluntarily, not mandated nor forced down his throat. And Jesus did accept the Father’s will, meekly and reverently!

The teaching moment was for all of us, including man-Jesus, the “pioneer” (trailblazer, author) of our salvation (Heb. 12:2). We all have to “live by faith” , follow the Holy Spirit that guides us to correct decisions and not succumb to the “pull of the flesh”. While we may have the Holy Spirit residing in us, we will still be tempted, like Jesus was, and undergo sufferings because of the “weak flesh” that man was composed of (1). Also, like what Jesus did, we have to follow (especially at the “last days “) the guidance of the Holy Spirit. Pray always that we will not be subjected to crucifixion which was replaced historically by “waterboarding” or any “enhanced interrogation techniques”(2,3). But, even when we do, just remember to “walk in the spirit” so as not to follow the “pull of the flesh”. And apostle Paul followed the example of Jesus, too.

To Paul, whose life seemed to be round-the-clock risk, the scriptures state:

Three times I was beaten with rods. Once I was stoned. Three times I was shipwrecked; a night and a day I was adrift at sea” (2nd Cor 11:25) and very often “in toil and hardship, through many a sleepless night, in hunger and thirst, often without food, in cold and exposure” (2nd Cor 11:27)

Finally, the strength to overcome the risk and pain of losing one’s life in this world or pull of the flesh is trust, anchored on faith that is evidence-based, and hope in the promise (4) that he who loses his life in this world will save it for the age to come. The optic of Jesus crucified on the cross is the epitome of trust in the Father that all of us must learn.

May God bless us all.🙏😇

References:

1. Kingdom of God in Human Anatomy, Retrieved 7/26/18 from

https://fact-s.net/2016/12/21/kingdom-of-god-in-human-anatomy/

2. Eric Weiner. Waterboarding: a Tortured History. Retrieved 7/28/18 from https://www.npr.org/2007/11/03/15886834/waterboarding-a-tortured-history

3. Waterboarding. Retrieved 7/28/18 from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/waterboarding

4. Faith vs hope, wishful thinking, trust. Retrieved 7/28/18 from https://fact-s.net/2015/10/27/faith-vs-hope-or-wishful-thinking/

Original post: July 28, 2018

What do the “tree of life” and tree with fruits of “knowledge of good and evil” mean to us?

What do the “tree of life” and tree with fruits of “knowledge of good and evil” mean to us?

The narrative in the garden of Eden about the tree of life and the tree of good and evil summarizes the basic foundation of the plan of God, from the beginning, and revealed what actually is the “gospel of the kingdom of God”.

Who to believe?

Notice that Adam & Eve had a choice, viz., to eat all in the garden including the fruit of the tree of life that will make them immortal but not to eat the fruit of that one specific tree of good and evil, also in the midst of the garden, that will make them “like us“. That forbidden fruit of that tree, and when eaten, they “will surely die“(Gen 2:9,16;3:3-5).

In contrast to the “immortal fruit” that will make them spirit-beings like God, eating the fruit of the tree of knowledge of good and evil” would give them wisdom “like Elohim”; so they wrongly thought and prioritized. They believed this lie from Satan that, even by violating that command “not to eat” the forbidden fruit, they would not die and continue to live in the garden of Eden so they can afterwards eat the ” fruit of the tree of life” and have eternal life. Hence, prioritizing “wisdom“, the “knowledge of good and evil” over “tree of life” eternal.

Elohim, being the omnipotent, omniscient and Creator/Word of all, their “desire” to be like him was understandable and logical. But, eating the forbidden fruit has consequence of death. They believed Satan instead of God. Aside from disbelieving the Almighty God, the action they took to be “like Elohim” was misplaced and misguided. God practically was saying, ” this is not the way to be like me“. The Serpent hoodwinked them into believing a lie that appealed to their “desire“. It was a temptation they could not resist and to their peril. Adam & Eve sinned because of:

1. Disbelief in the Almighty-God(El Shaddai/YHVH), the one who stood for the Father at that time in Genesis. Belief is the core and hub that set the trajectory towards the future of humans. Without belief in him, no one can please God ( Heb. 11:6-8). Trust on what God said is the fundamental basis being set here.

2. The mechanism to be “like him” was not for the first Adam to reach that goal and to do it on his own,i.e., not his “own works”. That person would have to be the “last or second Adam” (Incarnated YAHWEH/man-Jesus) that was prophesied to reach that goal not on his own but by the power of the Holy Spirit given to him as a gift. Adam & Eve did not know this at that time but their sin was so seminal such that it can not be mitigated by lack of this knowledge.

Creation Goal

Notice the plan of God in the creation narrative:

1. He created the non-living, like the planets (universe), (he may have created first the angelic spirit-beings) then,

2. He created the living, like the plants and animals and different species within their “own kind”. The principle/law of Genetics was established; the plant kingdom and animal kingdom will stay within that kingdom although they may have different species within their kind. Simply stated, a plant cannot be an animal or vice-versa; no evolution from each other.

Much like darkness (non-living), the Word/Creator then said, “let there be light“. Darkness then light, non-living then life. After creating living plants and animals, the Word/Creator said, let us make man in “our image”, i.e. in the image of the Creator Elohim/YHVH, “like us“, not in the image of angels nor “plant or animal kingdom”.

Notice that YHVH was not creating spirit-beings, like angels. They were already created way before any other living creation. Nor was he creating a “human kingdom” or another animal kingdom. Nor was he evolving animals into humans. He was creating something unique from all creation,i.e., “likeness/image of YAHWEH ELOHIM(Lord God)”.

The Creator God was not creating a “human kingdom”. History shows that all “human kingdoms” failed from 1st Adam, Tower of Babel, Babylonian and its succession of kingdoms, Israel under Saul, etc. even Babylonian empire towards the “ten toes” ( Daniel 2:19-45). His plan was for man to be like him (Elohim), a new creation, a “kingdom of God”, not a human kingdom, much different and above angelic beings or “angelic species”. This is the “gospel of the kingdom of God”.

Strategic Plan for this New Creation

Much like any goal, there has to be strategic plan to reach it. Following through Biblical history one sees the following timetable:

1. Incarnation of the Creator God, the El SHADDAI, the YHVH, as in Exodus 6:3

“I appeared to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob as El-Shaddai–‘God Almighty’–but I did not reveal my name, Yahweh, to them”(New Living Translation) into JEHUSHUAH/man-Jesus/the WORD as in,

John 1:1 “ In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God

John 1:14 “The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.”

2. For Jesus, the carpenter-builder to be baptized with the power of the Holy Spirit. This occurred in river Jordan. He is the pioneer, trailblazer, captain, precursor ,Author..to start this process. See Heb. 2:10-11;12:2; 6:19-20). This power he used to overcome Satan and to do miracles, without which he would be “weak” like any human (Matt. 26:41; Mk 14:41). This power also sanctified him and guided him with wisdom. But more importantly, this Holy Spirit of power helped him to choose the Father’s will, not his own(Luke 22:42). To be completely convinced that “man is weak” without the Holy Spirit, he has to go back 3 times to see his disciples sleep instead of wait. Finally, he said “truly man is weak” and needed the Holy Spirit to be empowered. Without the power of the Holy Spirit in us, we will not be saved. Subsequently, he said “not my will but your will (Father) be done”. Jesus is indeed “one” with the Father(John 10:30; 17:21).

3. After Jesus’ death as the Passover Lamb, he was resurrected after 3 days and 3 nights, to receive personally and directly from the Father the gift, as promised, the Holy Spirit to then be given to those called in their time to empower them as well.

4. Those who believed and trusted God that what he promised, he will deliver, will receive the Holy Spirit of power, also for their sanctification, guidance and wisdom to choose right from wrong. As humans, even with the Holy Spirit, they(like man-Jesus) will undergo trials, tribulations, challenges ...”to make them perfect through suffering “(Heb. 2:10).

5. Those who bear fruits of the Holy Spirit, endure, persevere through the end, will then receive “immortality/eternal life”(Gal. 5:22-23; Matt. 7:19; Luke 13:9; Rom. 2:7;James 1:12;2 Tim. 2:12; Heb 12:1-2;Rev.2:26-28).

Summary

The timetable for humans to be “like him” required the incarnation of YHVH to the man-Jesus who came “from above“, a “temple not made by hands”. This was not “of works” of Adam or any man; it is a gift of God by grace, an expression of love. Adam was indeed forbidden to do this on his own as he was a man “from the ground“(Gen. 2:7), not “from above” as Jesus was(John 8:23). This man-Jesus was initially created below angelic beings (Heb 2:1-10; Ps 8:3-9;) but subsequently became higher than them when “declared to be Son of God by the resurrection from the dead” (Rom. 1:4). The strategy is for Jesus to die for the sin of mankind, as Passover substitute for mankind to reconcile us to God, be resurrected to life, as in “we shall be saved by his life“( Rom. 5:10), so that the Spirit could be sent to dwell in us for our development into His body(the church), to be “one” as in, “we shall be like him”(I John 3:2; Gen. 3:5), our Elder Brother (Heb. 2:11)in this family of God. After Jesus fulfilled and declared as”Son of God” by the resurrection from the dead, he will then ” bring many sons to glory” ( Heb 2:10).

The kingdom of God is more than a government of God, more than a place. It is in fact higher than a plant kingdom, a animal kingdom, and angelic species. Great destiny and gift for mankind to be in the class of “Elohim” with Jesus and the Father. Let us therefore thank our Elder Brother Jesus.

Original Post: 7/1/18

Revised and Reposted: 7/20/18

Roe v Wade, why the controversy?

Roe v Wade, why the controversy?

After Justice Kennedy retired, POTUS45, by virtue of the US Constitution, has to nominate his successor. He then delivered on his promise during the campaign to nominate a “conservative judge”, Brett Kavanaugh. According to the “liberals”, this will likely tilt the direction of the Court towards “originalist or textualist” philosophy in interpretation of the US Constitution based on original writings of the “founding fathers”. Hence, the composition of SCOTUS is again a “flashpoint” in politics. The “progressives” are justifiably energized as they believe that the US Constitution is a “living and vibrant” document that has to be interpreted based on current situation. According to Podesta & Halpin, “Since the late 19th century (progressives) rejected the conservative interpretation of the Constitution as an unchangeable document…” (1). This renewed activism was self-imposed by the “left” and kindled by a call from conservatives to revisit Roe v Wade(2).

It is unlikely that Roe v Wade decision by SCOTUS will be overturned because of the principle of “stare decisis”, i.e., “to stand by things decided”. (3). It expresses the common law doctrine that court decisions should be guided by precedent. But this has been cautioned: “Although courts seldom overrule precedent, Justice Rehnquist explained that stare decisis is not an inexorable command”. (4)

Secular arguments

Aside from discord in the principle that guides interpretation of the US Constitution, the bone of contention in Roe v Wade is rooted in what is in the US Constitution as regards to:

1. right to life and

2. right to privacy.

Justification for abortion is founded on the “right to privacy”. Countered to that is the so-called Creator-given unalienable “right to life”. Let us then examine the arguments from which “pro-choice” and “pro-life” are based

Right to life

This is a commonly used argument. But, does the US Constitution really provide basis for “pro-lifers” to bank on this “right”? The preamble to the Declaration of Independence states:

“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal; that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights; that among these are Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness”

So the argument was based in the Declaration of Independence, not in the US Constitution. But, is the Declaration of Independence a legally binding document in USA?(5). This question has been answered by a pro-life conservative group, the Heritage Foundation:

The first of the four organic laws of the United States, the Declaration may lack legal force but remains nonetheless the source of all legitimate political authority.

If this document was legally enforceable, then why were some men (Blacks, Asians, Irish) not treated equally for another hundred years? Simple, because the Declaration of Independence cannot be used for legal precedent. It is a position paper, written by a collection of men stating their intent to form a new government.”

The preceding appears to be the “last nail hammered into the coffin” of this assumed “right to life”. Nevertheless, conservatives stay adamant on this principle based on the Declaration of Independence.

Right to Privacy (4th Amendment)

While the right to privacy refers to the concept that one’s personal information is protected from public scrutiny, this has been extended to justify abortion with certain limits. U.S. Justice Louis Brandeis called it “the right to be left alone.” (6). While not explicitly stated in the U.S. Constitution, some amendments provide some protections.

In Griswold v. Connecticut (1965),

the Supreme Court ruled that a state’s ban on the use of contraceptives violated the right to marital privacy (7). The case concerned a Connecticut law that criminalized the encouragement or use of birth control(8).

Clearly, there is no explicit “right to abortion” in the US Constitution and this right emanated from assumed penumbra of the “4th amendment right to privacy”. Then, Heninger, wrote in WSJ that “ Trump Blows away a Penumbra” (9).

According to him, “Griswold is worth recalling because it established a right to privacy, though the Constitution says nothing about any such right. Justice William O. Douglas famously explained how this could be, arguing that “specific guarantees in the Bill of Rights have penumbras, formed by emanations from those guarantees that help give them life and substance.”  Douglas’ “penumbras” decision, though ridiculed, defined the post-’60s era of “judge-made law,” in which achieving a result that reflected liberal values or policy goals mattered more than the legal reasoning to justify it. This results-driven view is what routinely sent Justice Antonin Scalia into eloquent and volcanic dissents.

Though capable of rigor in his reasoning, Anthony Kennedy was willing to swing toward decisions that simply affirmed what he thought were ascendant cultural mores. With the Trump Supreme Court nominations, this long era of judge-made law is at risk, if not over.”

These facts of the argument notwithstanding, passion on both sides continue to “stoke the fire” regarding principle of originalism(10) and judicial activism (11). Change has occurred in the last three generations through judicial interpretation rather than the amendment process that is embodied in the Constitution.

Because of the preceding, the course of direction as to how SCOTUS will decide on a particular issue, depends on what is the “composite intellectual and emotional bias” of the nominee and eventual composition of the SCOTUS. Hence, POTUS holds the cards as to who that person is and Congress will “advise and consent”. Nevertheless, any justice of SCOTUS can swing decision either way. There are no guarantees.

Religious arguments

The religious viewpoint centers on 2 positions of discord, viz.,

1. Does the unborn have legal status as citizen of the state?

2. When does life begin?

On the issue of legal status for the unborn, one can look back as to how traditional Judaism understood this subject. Traditional and Reformed Judaism differ on this matter. According to Fred Rosner, Professor of Medicine at New York’s Mount Sinai School of Medicine (12) “An unborn fetus in Jewish law is not considered a person (Heb. nefesh, lit. “soul”) until it has been born.” A case of accidental abortion is discussed in Exodus 21:22‑23, where Scripture states:

“When men fight and one of them pushes a pregnant woman and a miscarriage results, but no other misfortune ensues, the one responsible shall be fined as the woman’s husband may exact from him, the payment to be based on judges’ reckoning; case of property damage — not murder. But if other misfortune ensues, ( the mother dies) the penalty shall be life for life.”

“None of the rabbis raise the possibility of involuntary manslaughter being involved because the unborn fetus is not legally a person and, therefore, there is no question of murder involved when a fetus is aborted.

The Mishnah elsewhere states: “If a pregnant woman is taken out to be executed, one does not wait for her to give birth; but if her pains of parturition have already begun [lit. she has already sat on the birth stool], one waits for her until she gives birth.” One does not delay the execution of the mother in order to save the life of the fetus because the fetus is not yet a person (Heb. nefesh), and judgments in Judaism must be promptly implemented. The Talmud also explains that the embryo is part of the mother’s body and has no identity of its own, since it is dependent for its life upon the body of the woman. However, as soon as it starts to move from the womb, it is considered an autonomous being (nefesh) and thus unaffected by the mother’s state. This concept of the embryo being considered part of the mother and not a separate being recurs throughout the Talmud and rabbinic writings.”

In Jewish law (13), “it does not share the belief common among abortion opponents that life begins at conception, nor does it legally consider the fetus to be a full person deserving of protections equal those accorded to human beings. A fetus attains the status of a full person only at birth. Sources in the Talmud indicate that prior to 40 days of gestation, the fetus has an even more limited legal status, with one Talmudic authority (Yevamot 69b) asserting that prior to 40 days the fetus is “mere water.” Elsewhere, the Talmud indicates that the ancient rabbis regarded a fetus as part of its mother throughout the pregnancy, dependent fully on her for its life — a view that echoes the position that women should be free to make decisions concerning their own bodies.

“The Jewish position on abortion is nuanced, neither condoning it nor categorically prohibiting it. Judaism teaches that the body is ultimately the property of God and is merely on loan to human beings. Multiple prohibitions in Jewish law— including prohibitions on suicide, getting tattoos and wounding oneself— collectively serve to reject the idea that individuals enjoy an unfettered right to make choices regarding their own bodies.

In the Commentary of Ernest Martin & David Sielaff(14):

In the Didache (a late 1st or early 2nd century C.E. church document otherwise known as the “Doctrine of the Twelve Apostles”) there is a discussion about the commandments

“…thou shalt not murder a child by abortion nor kill them when born.

• Didache 2.2,

Note that both abortion and infanticide were termed “murder.” The historical ekklesia has been consistent that in its expression that both abortion as well as infanticide were murder.“

Beyond legal status, the question as to when life begins is another issue. Everyone can see that a sperm and ovum have to be “alive” for fertilization to occur. It suspends credulity to think otherwise. A zygote (fertilized egg) is a “new creation” and is alive. An abundance of proof traces a “new life beginning at conception”(15). Concurrence also came from the American College of Pediatricians(16), US Health and Human Services(17) and Medical textbooks(18).

Summary

Even with the preceding facts, opponents on both sides of the issue will continue this political skirmish. This is just the nature of current atmosphere among protagonists in this issue. People will remain conflicted and conflated by this dilemma.

There is “new creation“ ongoing (19) and in the process of full development and subsequent birth. Metaphorically, the “sperm”(Holy Spirit of power is being given to those who are called for their “ovum” (spirit-of-man) to be “fertilized”(nourished and nurtured). The HS is writing in the “fleshly tables” (2 Cor. 3:3) of our temple, it’s laws and opening our “deaf ears and blind eyes” (Isaiah 35:5; 43:8; Luke 8;8; Mark 8:18; Matthew 13:16) to the truth and will empower us to bring “fruits of the Holy Spirit”(Gal. 5:22-23). Through following the guidance, direction, and wisdom of the HS, this “spiritual zygote”, will eventually reach full development, maturity and manifest or declared itself “by resurrection from the dead” (Rom. 1:4) worthy of the category to be named “son of God” (20) with Jesus as “elder brother”(Heb. 2:11).

But, a heightened awareness now gives a recurring warning from God to those called and received the Holy Spirit of power to reach full development and not to “abort themselves in the womb of the church” as in 2 Peter 2:22

They prove the truth of this proverb: “A dog returns to its vomit.” And another says, “A washed pig returns to the mud”(NLT).

Let us not go back to our sinful past. Instead, let us be firm, passionate and determined to follow the Holy Spirit and bring forth “fruits of the Holy Spirit”.

Remember the admonition in:

Matthew 24:13 Jesus says “He that shall endure unto the end, the same shall be saved” (KJV), or, as the NIV has it, “The one who stands firm to the end will be saved.”

Rev. 3:21 “ To him who overcomes I will grant to sit with Me on My throne, as I also overcame and sat down with My Father on His throne”

Only those called in this dispensation, received the Holy Spirit of empowerment, developed into full-term maturity, endured-overcame through the end, will have “immortal-Spirit-composed bodies, eternal life.”

So, let us follow the guidance and direction of the Holy Spirit, even in “sweating of blood” scenario that Jesus went through in the garden of Gethsemane(21).

God bless🙏😇

References

1. Podesta and Halpin, The Constitution is Inherently Progressive. Retrieved 7/12/18 from https://www.americanprogress.org/issues/courts/news/2011/10/11/10444/the-constitution-is-inherently-progressive/

2. Roe v Wade Retrieved 7/12/18 from

https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Roe_v._Wade

3. Stare Decisis Doctrine. Retrieved 7/12/18 from https://study.com/academy/lesson/stare-decisis-doctrine-definition-example-cases.html

4. Stare Decisis. Retrieved 7/12/18 from https://www.law.cornell.edu/wex/stare_decisis

5. Eric Beasley, Fact Check: Does the US Constitution guarantee a right to life? February 29, 2016 Retrieved 7/12/18 from https://aminerdetail.com

/fact-check-does-the-us-constitution-guarantee-a-right-to-life/

6. Sharp, Tim. Right to Privacy: Constitutional Rights & Privacy Laws, Retrieved 7/12/18 from https://www.livescience.com/37398-right-to-privacy.html

7. Griswold v Connecticut. Retrieved 7/12/18 from https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Griswold_v._Connecticut

8. The Supreme Court . Expanding Civil Rights . Landmark Cases. Retrieved 7/13/18 from https://www.thirteen.org/wnet/supremecourt/rights/landmark_griswold.html

9. Trump blows away a penumbra. Retrieved 7/13/18 from https://www.google.com/amp/s/www.wsj.com/amp/articles/trump-blows-away-a-penumbra-1530722910

10. Originalism. Retrieved 7/14/18 from https://constitutioncenter.org/interactive-constitution/articles/article-v/originalism-an-essential-ingredient-of-the-constitutional-amendment-process/interp/22

11. Strauss, David. How we change the Constitution (Judicial activism) Retrieved 7/14/18 from https://constitutioncenter.org/interactive-constitution/articles/article-v/how-we-change-the-constitution-hint-its-not-by-amending-it-by-david-a-stra/interp/22

12. Rosner, Fred. The Fetus in Jewish Law. Retrieved 7/18/18 https://www.google.com/amp/s/www.myjewishlearning.com/article/the-fetus-in-jewish-law/amp/

13. Abortion and Judaism. Retrieved 7/18/18 https://www.google.com/amp/s/www.myjewishlearning.com/article/abortion-in-jewish-thought/amp/

14. Abortion and the Bible. Retrieved 7/28/18 from

http://www.askelm.com/doctrine/d050201.htm

15. Life begins at fertilization. Retrieved 7/19/18 from https://www.princeton.edu/~prolife/articles/embryoquotes2.html

16. When human life begins. Retrieved 7/19/18 from https://www.acpeds.org/the-college-speaks/position-statements/life-issues/when-human-life-begins

17. Life begins at conception. Retrieved 7/19/28 from http://thefederalist.com/2017/10/13/life-begins-at-conception-says-department-hhs/

18. Quotes: Human life begins at conception Retrieved 7/19/18 from http://www.lifenews.com/2015/01/08/41-quotes-from-medical-textbooks-prove-human-life-begins-at-conception/

19. Ongoing Creation. Retrieved 7/19/18 from https://fact-s.net/2018/06/30/ongoing-creation/

20. Son of God, Whar does it mean? Retrieved 7/19/18 from https://fact-s.net/2016/12/23/son-of-god-what-does-it-mean/

21. Garden of Gethsemane, a Teaching Tool for all? Retrieved 8/11/18? from
https://fact-s.net/2018/07/26/garden-of-gethsemane-a-teaching-tool-for-all/

Original post: July 19, 2018

Revised and reposted 8/11/18

Two goats of the Day of atonement?

Two goats of the Day of atonement?

Controversy continues as to what these 2 goats of the Day of atonement represent.

What is undeniable is that these 2 goats are for the atonement of sins. But, whose sins? From the narrative in Leviticus 16, the goat casted for YHVH (Lord) was killed and the scapegoat(Azazel, for departure) was presented alive to YHVH (Lord). The 1st goat was for the atonement of sins of mankind. But, what about the 2nd goat? Could the 2nd goat be for atonement of sins of the “fallen angels“?

Notice that in v-15, the killed goat was a sin offering for the sins of Israel and by extension includes that of Gentiles. On the other hand, in v-10, the “scapegoat” was presented alive and was sent into the “wilderness” (v-22, land not inhabited). But why should Aaron after atonement of sins of Israel through the death of the first goat in v-16, again, in v-21, “lay both his hands upon the head of the live goat, and confess over him all the iniquities of the children of Israel, and all their transgressions in all their sins..”?

Looking back at creation, angels and humans were all created by YHVH, the Word-Creator. Adam, representing humans, sinned and death came to all mankind. Similarly, Lucifer sinned and in fact took away with him a third of angelic beings. To be a substitute for humans, the second Adam (Jesus) has to be human as well.

YYHVH has to incarnate as man-Jesus to die for mankind. The parallel here, is shared by many, that the 1st goat that was killed represented the atoning sacrificial death of Jesus to reconcile mankind to God. But, how about the sins of angelic beings? Notice in V-10

“But the goat, on which the lot fell to be the scapegoat, shall be presented alive before the LORD, to make an atonement with him, and to let him go for a scapegoat into the wilderness.”.

Notice that the purpose of the live-goat was also for atoning of sins. But this time for whom? As the killed goat represented the Passover Lamb/Jesus for mankind, this time the atonement is for those in the “uninhabited land“, to reconcile them to God. There is no other created beings outside of humans who needed atonement but the “fallen angels”. And, they are indeed in the land not inhabited by humans. They are in “tartaros“(hell); not in “hades” where dead humans are.

As a goat that was killed, so was the man-Jesus killed. But as a resurrected Jesus, “he went and preached unto the spirits(fallen angels) in prison” (I Pet. 3:19). These fallen angels are in “… chains of darkness,..”(2 Pet 2:4), “… everlasting chains...”(Jude 1:6).

The live-goat (resurrected Jesus) with sins of mankind “upon the head of the goat” as proof, was showing these “fallen angels” about what he already did. That, as he did his atoning sacrifice for man, Jews and extended to Gentiles alike, so was he extending this atonement towards the “fallen angels” and they have to repent. As Jesus reconciled mankind to God with his death, having been resurrected and alive he can also atone and reconcile the “fallen angels” as he will be sitting in “the right hand of God”.

As YHVH, and the Word-Creator being the incarnate Jesus, these 2 goats foreshadow what Jesus would do in the future. He has provided a mechanism for atonement of all sins to reconcile all to God.

All created beings, humans and angels, will have a chance for atonement and salvation.

God bless 🙏😇

Original post: July 16, 2018

What do the “tree of life” and tree with fruits of “knowledge of good and evil” mean to us?

What do the “tree of life” and tree with fruits of “knowledge of good and evil” mean to us?

The narrative in the garden of Eden about the tree of life and the tree of good and evil summarizes the basic foundation of the plan of God, from the beginning, and revealed what actually is the “gospel of the kingdom of God”.

Who to believe?

Notice that Adam & Eve had a choice, viz., to eat anything in the garden including the fruit of the tree of life that will make them immortal but not to eat the fruit of that one specific tree of good and evil, also in the midst of the garden, that will make them “like us“,i.e., like Elohim. That forbidden fruit of the tree, when eaten, they “will surely die“(Gen 2:9,16;3:3-5).

In contrast to the “fruit of the tree of life” that will give eternal life by becoming spirit-beings like God, eating the fruit of the tree of knowledge of good and evil” would give them wisdom “like Elohim”; so they wrongly thought and prioritized. They believed this lie from Satan that, even by violating that command “not to eat” the forbidden fruit, they would not die and continue to live in the garden of Eden so they can afterwards eat the ” fruit of the tree of life” and have eternal life. Hence, prioritizing “wisdom“, the “knowledge of good and evil” over “tree of life” eternal.

Elohim, being the omnipotent, omniscient and Creator/Word of all, their “desire” to be like him was understandable and logical. But, eating the forbidden fruit has consequence of death. They believed Satan instead of God. Aside from disbelieving the Almighty God, the action they took to be “like Elohim” was misplaced and misguided. God practically was saying, ” this is not the way to be like me“. The Serpent hoodwinked them into believing a lie that appealed to their “desire“. It was a temptation they could not resist and to their peril. Adam & Eve sinned because of disobedience to his command. Disobeying resulted from:

1. Disbelief in the Almighty-God(El Shaddai/YHVH), the one who stood for the Father at that time in Genesis. Belief is the core and hub that set the trajectory towards the future of humans. Without belief in him, no one can please God ( Heb. 11:6-8). Trust on what God said is the fundamental basis being set here.

2. Taking on being “like him” by themselves. It was not for the first Adam to reach that goal and to do it on his own,i.e., not his “own works”. That person would have to be the “last or second Adam” (Incarnated YAHWEH/man-Jesus) that was prophesied to reach that goal not on his own but by the power of the Holy Spirit given to him as a gift. Adam & Eve did not know this at that time but their sin was so seminal such that it can not be mitigated by lack of this knowledge.

Creation Goal

Notice the plan of God in the creation narrative:

1. He created the non-living, like the planets (universe), (he may have created first the angelic spirit-beings) then,

2. He created the living, like the plants and animals and different species within their “own kind”. The principle/law of Genetics was established; the plant kingdom and animal kingdom will stay within that kingdom although they may have different species within their kind. Simply stated, a plant cannot be an animal or vice-versa; no evolution from each other.

Much like darkness (non-living), the Word/Creator then said, “let there be light“. Darkness then light, non-living then life. After creating living plants and animals, the Word/Creator said, let us make man in “our image”, i.e. in the image of the Creator Elohim/YHVH, “like us“, not in the image of angels nor “plant or animal kingdom”.

Notice that YHVH was not creating spirit-beings, like angels. They were already created way before any other living creation. Nor was he creating a “human kingdom” or another animal kingdom. Nor was he evolving animals into humans. He was creating something unique from all creation,i.e., “likeness/image of YAHWEH ELOHIM(Lord God)”.

The goal of the Creator God was not creating a “human kingdom”. History shows that all “human kingdoms” failed from 1st Adam, Tower of Babel, Babylonian and its succession of kingdoms, Israel under Saul, etc. even towards the “ten toes” ( Daniel 2:19-45). His goal was to create man as a template , an image of him, to be “like him” (Elohim), and eventually a new creation, a “kingdom of God”, Spirit-composed, not a human kingdom, much different and above angelic beings or “angelic species“. This is the “gospel of the kingdom of God”.

Strategic Plan for this New Creation

Much like any goal, there has to be strategic plan to reach it. Following through Biblical history one sees the following timetable:

1. Incarnation of the Creator God, the El SHADDAI, the YHVH, as in Exodus 6:3

“I appeared to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob as El-Shaddai–‘God Almighty’–but I did not reveal my name, Yahweh, to them”(New Living Translation) into JEHUSHUAH/man-Jesus/the WORD as in,

John 1:1 “ In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God

John 1:14 “The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.”

2. For Jesus, the carpenter-builder to be baptized with the power of the Holy Spirit.This occurred in river Jordan. He is the pioneer, trailblazer, captain, precursor ,Author..to start this process. See Heb. 2:10-11;12:2; 6:19-20). This power was used to overcome Satan and to do miracles, without which he would be “weak” like any human (Matt. 26:41; Mk 14:41). This power also sanctified him and guided him with wisdom. But more importantly, this Holy Spirit of power helped him to choose the Father’s will, not his own(Luke 22:42). Jesus is indeed “one” with the Father(John 10:30; 17:21).

3. After Jesus’ death as the Passover Lamb, he was resurrected after 3 days and 3 nights, to receive personally and directly from the Father the gift, as promised, the Holy Spirit to then be given to those called in their time to empower them as well.

4. Those who believed and trusted God that what he promised, he will deliver, will receive the Holy Spirit of power, also for their sanctification, guidance and wisdom to choose right from wrong. As humans, even with the Holy Spirit, they(like man-Jesus) will undergo trials, tribulations, challenges ...”to make them perfect through suffering “(Heb. 2:10).

5. Those who bear fruits of the Holy Spirit, endure, persevere through the end, will then receive “immortality/eternal life”(Gal. 5:22-23; Matt. 7:19; Luke 13:9; Rom. 2:7;James 1:12;2 Tim. 2:12; Heb 12:1-2;Rev.2:26-28).

Summary

The timetable for humans to be “like him” required the incarnation of YHVH to the man-Jesus who came “from above“, a “temple not made by hands”. This was not “of works” of Adam or any man; it is a gift of God by grace, an expression of love. Adam was indeed forbidden to do this on his own as he was a man “from the ground“(Gen. 2:7), not “from above” as Jesus was(John 8:23). This man-Jesus was initially created below angelic beings (Heb 2:1-10; Ps 8:3-9;) but subsequently became higher than them when “declared to be Son of God by the resurrection from the dead” (Rom. 1:4). The strategy is for Jesus to die for the sin of mankind, as Passover substitute for mankind to reconcile us to God, be resurrected to life, as in “we shall be saved by his life“( Rom. 5:10), so that the Spirit could be sent to dwell in us for our development into His body, to be “one” as in, “we shall be like him”(I John 3:2; Gen. 3:5), our Elder Brother (Heb. 2:11)in this family of God. After Jesus fulfilled and declared as”Son of God” by the resurrection from the dead, he will then ” bring many sons to glory” ( Heb 2:10).

The kingdom of God is more than a government of God, more than a place. It is in fact higher than a plant kingdom, an animal kingdom, and angelic species. Great destiny and gift for mankind to be in the class of “Elohim” with Jesus and the Father. Let us therefore thank our Elder Brother Jesus and our God the Father

God bless

Original post: 7/1/18.