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Questions and Answers

Bless Your Heart by Cindy Colley

Q & A: Sabbath Gathering and Rebellious Jews

Question: As our group has been studying Month 4, Keeping the Sabbath, a question has arisen that I need help answering. Jews in New Testament times met on the Sabbath in synagogues to study God’s Word. In the Old Testament, the Sabbath is described as a holy convocation…convocation meaning gathering. What did that look like for the Jews in the Old Testament? They clearly did not travel to tabernacle/temple every Sabbath once they reached the promised land. So where and how did they gather? Did they gather? Were they supposed to be gathered?

Response: As far as I can tell, the passages that really speak of a holy “convocation” (or gathering) are all similar to Leviticus 23:3 and speak of refraining from work as the centerpiece of this weekly holy day. If we want to know what that “looked like” we might need to examine what communal or corporate worship required in Old Testament times. National corporate worship had to happen in the right place. Early on, of course, this place was the tabernacle. After Solomon’s day, the place of worship was the temple in Jerusalem. Even a casual reading of Deuteronomy 12 or Deuteronomy 16 leaves no doubt about the designated place of corporate worship. Numerous other passages make this clear. It becomes plain when we look at this, that a corporate worship assembly was not occurring each week in ancient Israel. 

The important Sabbath-keeping injunction was physical rest. In Exodus 20:8-11 and Deuteronomy 5:12-15, the command enjoins rest from labor as the means of keeping the day “holy.” Other scriptures that mention or regulate the Sabbath in the Old Testament also define the Sabbath by rest; not by gathering at worship services. Look at the following passages, too: 

Exodus 31:12-17, Numbers 15:32, Nehemiah 13:15-22 and Jeremiah 17:19-27. 

You will note that the way to desecrate the holy day was by a failure to rest from physical labor; not by a failure to assemble corporately. 

The “convocation” of Leviticus 23:3, in light of these passages, had to refer to something other than a big assembly at the designated place of worship. I suggest that the gathering of Leviticus 23:3 was a gathering of families for rest, reflection and worship together at home… similar to the kind of worship we still have together around our tables and at bedtime in our dwellings today. 

Question: Were those Jews “fake” Jews who crucified Jesus? Was it fake Jews who reclaimed Israel as a sovereign nation in 1948? 

Response: Following the initial question we discussed above, a comment was made about how that “fake Jews” or false Jews existed by the time of Jesus (the Pharisees) and how it wasn’t real Jews who placed him on the cross, but those who were merely claiming to be Jews. There’s a sense in which this is true. TRUE Jews (those who had been studying Old Testament prophecies and were sincerely attempting to look for their fulfillments) would have certainly recognized and become humble before the Messiah. Certainly those who crucified the Lord did not possess the heart of true Judaism, which is loving the Lord with all of their hearts, souls and minds (Deuteronomy 6:5). A reading of Matthew 23, along with many other passages in which Jesus addressed the scribes and Pharisees, makes clear to us  that the hypocrisy and pride of these groups (at large) separated them from God. Very soon after their rebellious crucifixion of God, the Son, circumcised Jews were destroyed as a nation, and the spiritual Israel of God, today–that is, the church of Jesus–replaced them as God’s chosen people. Today, Israel consists of those who have been circumcised not in body, but in their hearts (See Romans 2, especially verses 25-29). 

(It is important to remember, though, that, while the Jews who rejected and crucified Christ were not faithful Jews [while killing their own promised Messiah], they were still called Jews by Inspiration in multiple places in the New Testament. It would be be more accurate to term them “rebellious Jews” than “fake Jews”. After all, Jews were Jewish by birth; not based on their characters. They were unrighteous Jews or hypocritical Jews.)

We also saw that the comments contained the statement that the fake Jews had done it again in 1948. We assume that the writer meant that Jews had rallied to take back Jerusalem in a bloody war with Palestine and Egypt; a war that was at least partly based on Biblical land promises that had, in actuality, already been fulfilled in the Old Testament (Joshua 21:43-45). This is also true. Since the Roman armies came to obliterate Judaism in A.D 70, all Jewish ancestral records were destroyed at that time. There is not a single Jew today who can trace his tribal lineage. In that sense, those who claim Judaism today are “false” in that claim. Jerusalem is no longer the earthly headquarters of the religion of Jehovah and there are no outstanding land promises. 

Things to remember:

  1. Whatever assembling occurred on the weekly Sabbath in Israel was, very apparently, not a corporate multi-family assembly for worship.
  2. The primary sabbath injunction involved physical rest.
  3. Jews were false to the very heart of Judaism when they rejected Jesus and crucified him.
  4. Jesus strongly denounced the hypocrisy of many scribes and Pharisees of his day, while approving many faithful, God-fearing Jews, who believed on Him.
  5. All land promises to Israel were fulfilled in the conquest of Canaan in Old Testament times.
  6. Those who claim Judaism today cannot trace their tribal lineages because God meant to destroy Judaism (and did, through the Romans in AD 70, as prophesied) and replace it with Christianity. He did that replacement, as well, in a marvelous event at Calvary and on the following Sunday morning and on the day of Pentecost in Acts 2. I’m so glad because this Gentile grandmother in 2020 can be a spiritual Jew, bringing children and grandchildren to the Israel of God! Praise Him!

(Please feel free to comment further on the DD page. We always want to openly address any study related thoughts/questions. Thanks to those who took the time to comment previously on the postponed submission. Sometimes, we just cannot get to all of the page “traffic” as quickly as we’d like. Page “traffic” is a great thing. Whenever we stop having traffic, we will stop having a DD study!  Thanks for always understanding.)

Bless Your Heart by Cindy Colley

Questions and Answers: In Vitro Fertilization

Question: Is in vitro fertilization a process in which Christians can ethically participate?

I must write about this because my conscience pricks me powerfully. I know that I am not all-knowing, especially when it comes to the technological advances that have allowed us to implant embryos. I believe it’s very important for us to remember that, just because a process can medically be done, and just because it fulfills the deep desires of parenthood in those who are infertile, does not mean that it’s God-approved. It cannot be right for parents to bring life into the world with the INTENTION of not parenting to adulthood (and beyond) each of any children produced in the process. When we start viewing embryos as the tiniest of humans–when we see them as babies–it should be easy for us to see that it is unconscionable for us to select SOME of the children we have created, and then to reject others. It’s not the rescue of embryos already “orphaned” (for lack of a better word), that’s wrong. It’s the intentional bearing of “extra children”–knowing that there will likely be those children that I will not “use,” (and let me say there’s a separate eternal issue involved when passing them along to those who are not New Testament Christians). If we think about these “leftover” embryos as the children that they are, with complete genetics already formed by the Creator, it becomes impossible for us to consider that we could pre-determine, prior to conception, to “donate” our children to others for the teaching, provision, raising and loving. I know that this issue runs deep in the hearts of women, but we are failing to consider that we are endorsing the process of the biological parenting of children without intent to raise those children whenever we encourage parents to participate in IVF as commonly practiced. I love my sisters so very much and I am thinking that most women reading are doing so because they love God. But I’m praying for (and typing this for) the children that are at risk in the process that brings about their existence and, for many, their ultimate rejection by parents. IVF could only be God-approved if the parents who are bringing life into this world intend to nurture every life for which they are responsible…every fertilized egg.

Bless Your Heart by Cindy Colley

Q and A: About the Scope of the Ten Plagues…

Question: Which, if any, of the plagues were experienced in the land of Goshen, too?

Answer:

I’m not sure that we can definitively know. But I believe there are some strong scriptural indicators of the precise moment when God partitioned off Goshen in divine providence and protection.

It seems to me that the first plague rendered the Nile River, all across the land (which would include Goshen), a river of blood.  The text indicates that the magicians of Pharaoh did turn water into blood to try to downplay the power of God at work in this plague (7:22), but I do not believe, as some scholars do, that the magicians turned the localized Goshen part of the Nile into blood, so the Egyptians would suffer as well. I believe the entire Nile had already been rendered non-potable. After all, God had said “…the fish that are in the river shall die and the river shall stink, and the Egyptians shall loathe to drink of the water of the river…” I also believe that God could have provided pure water from any rock or well that he chose over in Goshen, during this time, for His people. I believe he cared for Israel.  I do not believe they were digging trenches, to no avail, around the Nile. While I would not be dogmatic about this,  I also believe that the Israelites woke up to a red river, just as did the Egyptians. The difference was that Israel had a prophet in Moses, to explain to them the purpose and the hope that lay in the river of blood. He was  somewhat like our prophet, Jesus the Christ who explained our hope in the blood. 

Similarly, the second plague of frogs was to be a plague for all the borders of Egypt. I believe this plague effectively shut down the economy of Egypt, just as the water-to-blood plague had done for seven days. Though the scripture says the magicians “made” frogs, too, I think, to believe that they could make frogs populate Goshen would be a gross overstatement of the power of tricksters. I believe that there were already frogs in Goshen. I believe Israel was witnessing the power of God, even as their leaders (Moses and Aaron) were being raised up for their deliverance. Goshen was situated right in the fertile delta of the Nile, in Egypt, and it seems a sure thing to me that these first two plagues were affecting all of Egypt. 

And so, it would seem from the text, the Israelites also experienced the lice, as well. In all of these first three plagues, God could have done whatever he wanted to provide cleansing, solace and healing, but it is my judgment, because of what is about to happen in plague number four, that they witnessed in Goshen, the destructive power of Jehovah, along with His protection. Work in Egypt would have been effectively shut down, during all of these first three plagues. I think it was a divine benefit to the people of Israel, for them to see these first three plagues, from the windows of their own homes, from their fields, and even perhaps in their homes, as Moses was leading them to trust in the delivering power of God. 

But then God did an amazing thing. 

And in that day I will set apart the land of Goshen, in which My people dwell, that no swarms of flies shall be there, in order that you may know that I am the Lord in the midst of the land. I will make a difference between My people and your people. Tomorrow this sign shall be. (8:22).

For the fourth plague of flies, God partitioned off his people, making a distinction. Can you just imagine the amazement of a man looking out to see a massive swarm of flies—a swarm that just had a miraculous  boundary and could not pass over into Goshen? Can you imagine the “talk” that God’s people had that day with Moses, who was speaking for God to them at this time? I think it’s possible even that God was humbling the people of Israel in the first three plagues, urging them to stop the groaning and the bitterness against God and look around at what He was doing. Then, in plague four, He just showed them a vivid distinction. I do think it is important to remember that they had a liaison in Moses who was speaking with God and who was also appearing in the palace of Egypt. He knew what was going on with all those flies in the palace and he could have been relating this disparity back in Goshen. I believe Moses, the one who relays this information to us through inspiration, could surely have been relaying it to the Israelites. I believe God drew a line in plague four that he had not drawn prior. 

Similarly , we have an explicit statement about the safety of the cattle in Israel. None of their cows died, while those cows that were considered sacred in a land of idolatry were destroyed. What a powerful lesson for the Israelites, who were, a short time later, to build a calf and worship it. Surely, in their punishment of Exodus, they were called on to remember the disparity between the cows for food and the cows of Egypt which, while a source of food and leather, were also idolized and worshipped. 

The boils were on the magicians and on all the Egyptians (9:11). This specific statement lends itself  strongly to our assumption that the boils were not affecting God’s people. In fact, the magicians could not stand before Moses because of the boils (9:11). But Moses had no trouble going to bed and getting up early to stand before Pharaoh (9:13) What a distinction!

The hail, interestingly, did not harm the cattle or personage of even the Egyptians who feared God. Verses 17-20 of Exodus 9 says that the Egyptians who did not exalt themselves against Jehovah, but rather feared God (and I bet there were getting to be a lot by now) were given warning and brought their cattle into the shelter before the hail came. In this plague, we see God providing for all who obeyed. (This seems a bit prophetic of the way that Gentiles will be given access to the warning and the saving place as the gospel would finally be revealed to us, as well.) 

Next, in the account of the locusts, there’s no definitive statement about the limit of the plague. The Scripture does say, though, that the locusts were going to finish up the crops that had not been destroyed by the hail (10:5). Since the hail had not even fallen in Goshen (9:26), we may assume that there was no damage in Goshen to “finish off.” Simply put, I think Goshen was protected fully from the time of the clear distinction God made in 8:22. He made a difference there, a distinction, a “setting-apart” that would be so faith-inducing that it would be a powerful preparation for the trust it was going to take to get out of that land of Goshen and be a different, a distinctive,  and a set-apart people of God through which the Messiah could come. 

Then there was darkness. In the darkness, we have a specific statement that there was light in all the dwellings of Israel, while the Egyptians could not see one another (10:23). I think Family Bible time must have been very powerful in those homes in Israel on the first day of this blackness. Imagine teaching your children the power of God in a pitch black environment where you were able to see each other in brightness and declare His glory in His specially provided light. I’m glad we can teach our children about the specially-provided Light, too, while the world around us is tripping all over itself in darkness (John 8:12). (I hope we are all being sure, during the great pandemic of 2020, that we are using this great trial to put into our children’s hearts that we are not stumbling around the darkness. Whether the world takes anything from this dark time or not, we, as Christians, take that we are totally dependent on our God and that true health and wealth and success can never be taken from His people! We are still walking in the light! Even if the pandemic should take our physical lives, it cannot keep us from leaving the slavery and entering the promised land!)

Of course, the last plague was reserved for those who disobeyed, too. The power of the blood on the doorposts was to begin an everlasting memorial that still occurs with God’s people each Lord’s Day. When we take the Lord’s supper we should remember that the Passover lamb distinguishes us from those who are in that spiritual darkness without the Lamb that takes away the sins of the world ( John 1:29).We’re rejoicing when we eat it, because of a great deliverance from slavery. 

While I cannot be absolutely sure about this answer, it seems most reasonable and verifiable from the Scriptures to me. I do not know all the answers But this one thing I know: He is glorious, even in the plagues. He is glorious, even in a pandemic. And I am glad that he has set us apart. 

Keep praising Him. 

Bless Your Heart by Cindy Colley

Q and A: Family Bible Time for Ages 6-12

Question: Okay, I have a couple of questions about Family Bible Time. I know how you would do a family night with the younger kids…but what about Ariel’s age 10 going on 16?  I guess if you could just give me examples of what you and Glenn did, that would be helpful.  Also, did you give a prize EVERY night or just sometimes?  I have given her candy if she recites 5-10 verses depending upon circumstances. I could see where we could play games while listening to Hannah’s 100 in the background – repetition does work it’s magic.  It makes me laugh because if I come across a passage that we’ve learned through your family, I sing it while I’m reading it 🙂

Answer: Well, for Ariel’s age, I think your reading Discovery and the Beginners Evidences Correspondence course from Apologetics Press (Apologeticspress.org) would be a good start at Bible time. if you read a section and talk about it and then have her fill in some of the questions (a very limited amount) or work a puzzle from discovery before the next night, that would be a start. Then I would recommend (for your husband’s benefit) studying “Headed to the Office” (colleybooks.org) as a family. You could tell Ariel that you were putting it in her head so that she could start knowing, even now, what kind of man she was going to look for in a husband one day. I think also, for her age, playing Bible Twenty Questions (let me know if you don’t know how to play Twenty Questions) would be a good thing…and Bible charades. (Don’t have a prize every night…maybe once every two weeks.) Have one night where you have found a faithful missionary to whom Ariel can compose a letter to ask questions about the culture and work and send her small contribution. Let her write for the Bible time. Have another night each week when you find a passage or Psalm about someone who was very grateful (the leper or Mary and Martha) and let her write thank you notes to all the people who have given her gifts or blessed her life in other ways. Have Digger Doug nights, where you watch an episode of Digger Dug’s Underground together (apologeticspress.org). Have a night where she reads aloud a chapter of Ruth from the Easy-to-Read version. Do this for four nights and then on the fifth and sixth nights, get her to make a flip chart (just use a school notebook) of pictures of the story. Then on the seventh night, let her tell you the story using her flip chart. One night have her go outside and pick a flower and then find what Jesus said about flowers in the Sermon on the Mount. One night let her tell you all the things salt is good for…look online. This lesson goes on and on. Then let her find what Jesus said about salt in the Sermon on the Mount. One night, let her find a Bible lands map of the Holy land online and print it off. Then on the following nights you can read through the missionary journeys of Paul in the book of Acts and let her draw the arrows and tiny pictures of what happened in these places as you read through his journeys. Light a candle in your dark house and read by candlelight what Jesus said about candles in the Sermon on the Mount. We also loved certain stories from “The Book of Virtues.” We would read a story out loud to the kids and then let them find verses that taught the same lesson from the Bible. When we studied Genesis together, we put a roll of white paper all around the wall of one of our rooms and each night we let the kids draw what we had read about that night, till we had a whole timeline of Genesis starting with creation and ending with Joseph’s family down in Goshen. Sometimes they would paste things on the time line, like a miniature “coat of many colors” they had cut out of striped fabric or kernels of corn to fill in the shape of a number 7 to signify Joseph’s solution about saving up the corn during the seven lean years. Tell Ariel to let me know when she can sing the whole book of James and I will send her something I want her to have. Be sure to video some of her memory work, so she will know you think it is very important.  Sometimes we just went around the room and quoted verses. You had to quote a verse that began with any word that was in the person’s verse who went directly before you. To make it competitive, sometimes we would challenge dad to quote a verse before or after any verse that we could quote. Sometimes we went through the books of the Bible and challenged each other to say one verse in each book. For sheer fun, we challenged each other to say all of the books of the Bible in one breath. One of us, who is particularly long-winded, can say them through twice in one breath. And, finally, some of our favorite nights were under the stars or in our little living room or in our van…just singing praises. We just went from one person to the next choosing the song…pretty much favorite times we remember. Every time we ended with prayer…still do.  This is a start. Let me know if you need more, but I’m pretty sure they will come to you naturally and you will quickly become a Deuteronomy 6 “all day long” mom. Much love to you and all moms who are molding hearts and lives for eternity!

P.S. There’s also a three week guide for Family Bible Time in the back of the book “Picking Melons and Mates” that’s great for jump-starting your daily time together. It’s an easy DIY kind of outline. You can get it here: https://thecolleyhouse.org/store#!/Children/c/3290196/offset=0&sort=normal

 

Bless Your Heart by Cindy Colley

Sister to Sister: Q&A–About the Order of Creation…?

QuestionMarkQuestion: It appears to me that the first contradiction in the Bible comes early on in Genesis one and two. In Genesis one, trees came before  Adam. In Genesis two, they are after Adam. It is the same with birds. In Genesis one, Adam and Eve were created at the same time. In Genesis two, Eve was created some time after Adam’s creation. How do Bible-believers reconcile these contradictions? 

Response:

Well, the purposes of Genesis one and two are different. I do not believe there are contradictions in the chronology. Chapter one is a chronological accounting of the creation without intense attention to detail. Chapter two is a retelling, but is done topically, rather than emphasizing the order in which the creation occurred. Chapter two adds much detail. But I cannot see at all that chapter two indicates that the plants were made after man…perhaps the plants of the garden of Eden were planted after the man was made, but many gardens have been planted since the making of man. Similarly, chapter one tells us that God made man and woman on the sixth day. Chapter two adds to that account the details of what occurred in between the creation of man and the creation of woman on that day. The details of day six are omitted in chapter one and given in chapter two. 

Scholars also tell us that the Hebrew word for “formed” in Genesis 2:19 really could just as well have been translated “had formed” so that it could have been translated “Out of the ground, the Lord God had formed every beast of the field.”  The Hebrew word is “yatsar” and it means “molded” or “had molded”. This is a second explanation for this alleged contradiction. It is important to remember that there must be only one possible way to reconcile two seemingly contradictory passages, in order to validate the veracity of the text in question. 

Chapter one is an overview. Chapter two is a “rewind” with details added. Add to that the Hebrew meaning of the word “yatsar” and you have dissipated any contradiction between the first two chapters of Genesis. It’s often laborious to examine each passage the skeptics bring in their attacks on the veracity of the Word of God. But it is faith-building and it is the only way to answer the critics: one passage, one possible explanation at the time.

(Excellent articles more fully detailing these issues are found here: https://www.christiancourier.com/articles/749-do-the-first-two-chapters-of-genesis-contradict-one-another—–and here: http://apologeticspress.org/AllegedDiscrepancies.aspx?article=643&b=Genesis)

 

Bless Your Heart by Cindy Colley

From the Archives: All Dirty Uniforms Welcome!

softball-340488_960_720Question:When ball games, work, or other activities in which our young people may participate require them to leave mid-game, mid-practice etc…in order to make it to the services of the church, is it a wrong thing for them to wear their uniforms to worship services or Bible classes?

Answer:

Are you kidding me? What better statement to the church, the world, the Lord and the devil can a young person make than the one he wears to that service! He says “I was involved in what many people consider to be the most important part of life: sports. But that’s not the most important thing to me.” She says “ I’ve had to make it clear to those on my team and to my coach that my participation in this activity is a distant second to my faithfulness to the assemblies of God’s people.” It is a statement that so many of our adults need to hear.

When our young people wear ball uniforms to worship, my husband stands from the pulpit and makes a very clear object lesson from the young people who sit there in that attire. He says something along these lines: “We are so blessed to have young people of faith who chose to be at the gospel meeting tonight. Look at these guys in their uniforms. They left the field at the bottom of the seventh inning. They don’t know whether their team has won or lost. But there is one victory they are determined to win and it is the most important one. We are privileged to have men in uniform in our midst. And it’s a blessing to get to clean up a little dirt if it falls from the cleats of these guys. I know you will tell them how proud you are of the choice they made tonight.”

I have, unfortunately, heard of those who have criticized these young people for wearing uniforms to services. How could any church member get his conscience’s consent to discourage a teen or child who has made such an extremely difficult decision by criticizing the wearing of the uniform? I would be afraid of the wrath of Diety who called a little child to him and said “Whosoever therefore shall humble himself as this little child, the same is greatest in the kingdom of heaven…But whoso shall offend one of these little ones which believe in me, it were better for Him that a millstone were hanged about his neck, and that he were drowned in the sea.”

For every one of these children who show up in uniform there are generally several adults who made conscious choices to be elsewhere that Wednesday night or during that particular service of the meeting. Perhaps our time would be better spent addressing the decisions of those who are failing to seek first the kingdom (lovingly helping them arrange priorities), than addressing whether or not the kids who made courageous decisions to fly in the face of negative peer pressure are spic and span when the first song begins. May their souls always be clean. May their lives always be unspotted. But let all dirty uniforms be welcome!