Sunday, February 27, 2011

Slavery and the Bible


May the Word of God be in our minds, on our lips, and in our hearts.

Come Holy Spirit....

Greetings, and thank you for reading Scripture Demystified.

A few years ago, a TV personality and religion basher (especially Christianity) made the remark on his television show, after someone quoted the Bible, that, "The bible also says slavery is OK."

The Bible's commentary on slavery is not a new challenge for Bible readers. It has been debated for millenia, actually.  But his comment, like much of his, and others, anti-religion diatribes, comes from ignorance of true scriptural meaning as well as context. (A lack of context is the cause of many person's misunderstanding of Scripture, for that matter.) This is why understanding the translation of ancient languages is so important, and Bibles that use the most up-to-date translations of those languages are the best one to use for study, especially as scholar's understanding of those ancient languages is constantly improving.

American's views of slavery come from our unfortunate history of slavery using African blacks forced to come to America and working in chains against their will and with no chance for freedom or even compensation. It was one of the most brutal human rights abuses in history. But does that reflect "slavery" going back thousands of years?


slave –noun. 1. a person who is the property of and wholly subject to another; a bond servant.

The Bible uses the Hebrew term ebed to refer to slavery; however, ebed has a much wider meaning than the English term slavery, and in several circumstances it is more accurately translated into English as servant or hired worker.[3]

The bible speaks of treating your slaves/servants well, which is more consistent with Christ's teaching than what American's perception of slavery is. If you wanted to expand some of the biblical examples further, you could easily deduce that some of these servants, the ones that are spoken of as being property and having masters that own them, are the equivalent of an American indentured servant.

From PBS:

While the life of an indentured servant was harsh and restrictive, it wasn't slavery.

The evangelist St. Paul gives us further clarification, as some of those same Bibles that translate "ebed" into "slave" have Paul saying the following: 

Romans 1:1
 1 Paul, a slave of Christ Jesus, called to be an apostle and set apart for the gospel of God....

There are numerous other Apostles who are also "quoted" as calling themselves "slaves" of Christ, of God, etc. Think about that. If the Biblical languages meant slavery as we in America view it, does that even come close to our relationship with the Lord? Does he force us to do His will? Does he keep us in bondage and force us to worship Him? Of course not. He has given us free will do choose to follow Him or not follow Him. That is up to us to decide. He does not make us do anything, and if we were slaves as we know slavery, that would not be the case. However.....that does not mean we have not been purchased, as an indentured or hired servant might be:

You are bought with a price; be not the servants of men.

That is why St. Paul and the other apostles call themselves slaves of the Lord. The Lord has purchased us with the price of His body, his blood, his life! You'll notice my avatar on the right, it says, "Owned and Operated by Jesus Christ." That's because he does own me, he paid for my sins, and as a result I choose to be his servant.

Yes, there is a price to pay if we reject the salvation that the Lord has bought for us, just like one of the ancient servants would pay a price if they broke their contract early or violated any other agreement with their master. Our price is Hell, of course. If we choose to separate ourselves from our Master, then we have no where else to go when we die but Hell. By our choice and our choice only. That is where the free will comes in. It does not mean anything we do is OK by the Lord, it means we can choose to follow Him or not follow Him. But the end result is based solely on our decision. It is not a forced decision.We can leave our Master if we wish to, and we can also return to Him if we wish to. But at our Judgment, the consequences of our choice will be just. 

Some say, "Well how is that free choice? If I don't follow Him I go to Hell!"

You are bought with a price....

That is why God and Jesus can say that. Jesus paid the Ultimate Price for our salvation. He was tortured and killed in a cruel manner so we wouldn't have to be. That is a price greater than if we had been purchased with silver, gold, paper money, or any other form of currency. He will not force us to follow Him, but He can allow there to be a just consequence for not doing so because of that price He paid for us. A price He chose out of love for us. Not because He wants to own us for the sake of owning us, but because He loves us and wants us to spend eternity with Him in paradise, not in the Lake of Fire with the one who rejected God before anyone else, Satan. So He willingly paid the greatest price for us that He could pay. With God, it was the price of His only son, sacrificed for no other reason than His love for us (John 3:16.) With Jesus, it was His body and His life that He willingly gave up as payment for our sins, out of His love for us.

The Bible clearly does not condone slavery as we know it. Those workers were servants, paid laborers, or indentured servants.And Christ taught that they must be treated fairly. Anyone who teaches otherwise is either a false teacher or is using outdated translations to further their agenda.

So, which translation did St. Paul and the other Apostles mean? Were they "slaves" or were they "servants" of Christ and of God? I'd say both would apply. We are owned by the Lord, bought for a heavy price. But we are also servants of the Lord, willingly serving our Master who loved us so much that He gave up everything as payment for our souls. 

I will willingly serve the One who rightfully owns me. He deserves no less from me. I belong to Him, not to the world. Who do you belong to?


Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Just How Old Are We, Anyways?


May the Word of the Lord be in our mind, on our lips, and in our hearts. 

Come Holy Spirit....

Greetings to one and all. I apologize for the length of time between entries, I can only post when I feel guided to do so and feel spiritually ready for something to come out. So here we are, again, and praise the Lord for that!

"Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, before you were born I set you apart; I appointed you as a prophet to the nations." Jeremiah 1:5

These words do not just apply to the prophet Jeremiah. If God knew Jeremiah before he was even formed in the womb, it stands to reason He knows everybody before they are even formed in our mother's womb. And so this divine insight was placed into sacred scripture for all of our benefits. But what does it truly mean for us?

God showed me something recently that then hearkened back to one of the insights I was shown as a child, but which never made sense until now. (Why God shows someone as unworthy as me anything shows how loving God truly is, and how He uses the least among us for His purposes. Praise Him and His Grace, always!) What follows is how it all ties in to God's words to Jeremiah.

I remember being told as a child that heaven is full of souls waiting to be placed into bodies on earth. When someone is created, they are given one of those souls. This would explain what God means in this verse. After all, how could God possibly know us before we are even conceived on earth? That can only happen if our souls are not initially created at conception, but were created and in existence with God even before then, and then were placed into our soon-to-be bodies at the very moment of conception.  "Before I formed you in the womb, I knew you."

The overwhelming message in scripture, is that our bodies are nothing more than a vessel for our souls. Our bodies are a temple (1 Cor. 6:19-20 "Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God?") But we are not our bodies. We are not of this world, just as Jesus was and is not of this world. We are our souls. That's why our bodies do not go to heaven when we die. Only our souls do. 

Some often say, "Since our bodies are temples, we should take good care of them." I do not disagree with this assessment. However, what about those born with birth defects, those who are crippled, those who cannot have what society considers a "perfect body?" Are they any less of a vessel for their souls, the same soul that God knew beforehand? No! Of course not. Our defects are the result of genetics. Our bodies are know by God, to the point of knowing the number of hairs on our heads, but what our body looks like and functions is created by genetics or perhaps other external factors, such as drug or tobacco use by our mothers, or even an accident or exposure to certain chemicals.

What about those who conceived via evil means, such as rape, incest, or via sin such as pre-marital or extra-marital sex? The means of creation is irrelevant to the value of our souls. 

And therein lies the real truth of the verse in Jeremiah.

What our bodies are, or under what circumstances our bodies are conceived, is immaterial to our inherent value as human beings. Why would God ever put a soul into a body that genetically has physical or mental or emotional challenges? Because His glory can be shown via those vessels, and His mercy and grace can be shown via how we treat those persons. Everyone has a different sized cross to bear, some are simply heavier than others (but all are lighter than the Cross that Christ bore for us. We sometimes forget that, myself included.)

What important is the condition of our soul when our bodies die. Not how our bodies came to be, not what challenges we face physically or mentally, but the condition of the only part of us that matters at the end, our soul. The same soul that started in heaven. Whether it ends in heaven is up to us and our choices during our worldly life.

This is why abortion is so immoral. We are human beings from the start. God places our souls that existed before our formation into us at formation, and by snuffing out that vessel for the soul prematurely, we are interfering with God's plan for that soul. Just like we do when we murder someone after they are born, we are playing God and prematurely ending the journey of that soul before God was done with it. Whether it is inside our outside of the womb, the end result is identical. The end result is exactly the same. A premature and artificial end to the life process, and the journey of that soul that God places within each of us.

So, what does this say about our inherent value? It proves that no matter the circumstances our our physical creation, we are valuable and loved by God. We are our souls and our souls are us. The physical creation of our bodies, or the physical situation our bodies are in, are not important. It doesn't mean we are evil or more sinful than others. It doesn't mean we are less than anyone else. God knew us and loved us before He formed us in our mother's womb, and He loves us with the same fervor after our creation in the womb, and after our birth. Our inherent value does not change one iota based on whatever physical circumstances there were.

Our physical journey is so short relative to the greater journey of our souls, words could not adequately describe it. A blink of God's divine eye would probably takes several times longer than our physical existence relative to the existence of our soul. God knew us for eons before our birth, we live our lives, however long they may be, and, based on our choices during this life, our soul continues for all eternity either back in Heaven, alongside God where we started, or Hell, separated from God by our choice. That's why when making choices we should remember that we'll be physically dead far longer than we'll be alive, and we'd better prepare our souls for where we'll be spending eternity, as a result, and not worry about worldly things, so much.

We are eternal beings, because we are our souls. Before, during, and after our earthly existence. What happens in this world is not as important is it seems, for it is fleeting. And Christ overcame this world for us and our souls, we must only follow Him to also overcome this world.

I know of people who mistaken think our bodies are God, or our brains. This is close to heresy. God is god, Christ is Christ, They do not need us in order to exist, but they want us to exist with them out of their love for us.  Unworthy as we are. They want us to spend eternity with them because they love us and have literally known us (our souls) forever, despite not having any actual need for us to further their own divine existence. Now THAT is unconditional love. And that love started with the formation of our souls long, long before we were ever formed in our mother's womb. Praise be to God.

Godspeed and God bless.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Aunt Millie is the Anti-Christ!!!!!!

Or so it would seem, anyways. (For those who don't know, Aunt Millie is a maker of bread and bread products.)

Needless to say, that was never a headline I ever thought I'd be typing!

But, I recently had a conversation with a lady friend of mine. She and her parents were Mennonite at one point in their lives. Even thought they have since left that group, my friend told me something rather shocking.

According to her parents, after reading the book of Revelation, they have determined that Armageddon will arrive......when bread hits $5 per loaf!!!!! It's also possible that the price of milk is also somehow involved, but she wasn't sure.

Well, needless to say, this led to quite the theological conundrum for me! I said, every brand of bread is a different cost, and each store has slightly different prices, which one should we be watching for? There was no clear answer to my question. With all of the imagery and symbolism found in Revelation, to narrow it all down to the price of a loaf of bread is quite impressive, to say the least.

OK, even though the above conversation is 100% true, obviously I am not too serious in my reaction. Scripture clearly quotes Jesus as saying in Mark 13:32 that no one knows when the final hour is to arrive, not even the angels or Christ, Himself. Only God knows. And we do not know of it is a fixed time, or moveable based on the actions of the world (it seems pretty set, to me, but we should always be ready, Jesus warns.)

Sure, there will be certain signs and wonders, but even many of those will originally be false or misleading for various reasons. Many of the events in Revelation happen all of the time (earthquakes, wars, etc.) But the final battle, itself, will be pretty unmistakable due to it's enormity. Stocking your shelves or building a bomb shelter as if it's WWIII is silly. This is a war to end not all wars, but to end everything. The world as we know it will come to an end. Your food supplies and shelters will become meaningless. Instead, store up your treasures in Heaven by your actions. Those treasures will never fade away, and will be the only ones God recognizes at the Final Judgment.

And I am pretty sure Aunt Millie will not be a factor in any of this.


Monday, February 7, 2011

Are You A Super Fan For The Lord?


Come holy spirit...

Well the 2011 Superbowl has come and gone, and the NFL season (sadly) has ended. On the plus side, the first words out of the mouth of the first member of the World Champion Green Bay Packers that was interviewed were: "To God be the glory!" Amen to that!

Now, we are onto baseball and NASCAR, among other warm weather sports.

During the course of the NFL season, there was no shortage of over the top displays of "fan-dom" People wore face paint in the colors of their team, they wore their teams clothing, they waved towels, they tailgated, they decorated their vehicles with their team's colors and logos, etc. You sometimes see this in other sports, too, but not quite like you would in football. Maybe in Detroit during hockey season. Often, you will also find a person's love for their sports team at their home. Maybe on their walls or with a flag in their yard.

There's even a now-famous commercial for the "Never Miss A Superbowl Club." Four men who literally had never missed a Superbowl since it started 45 years ago. (Sadly, and ironically, one of the gentleman was a Packers fan, and he suddenly got very sick and had to make this the first Superbowl he ever missed, the one the Packers won. My prayers are with him and his heath.) Some of these men bragged that they had missed out on weddings and babies being born to attend every Superbowl.

There was another ad with the actor saying that the only reason for Sundays was for football. (Yes, I cringed, as well.)

In one of my earlier blog posts, I discussed how we are to love the Lord above all else. That is one of the two "Greatest Commandments." 

How many of us sports fans can say we love the Lord more than our sports teams? Would we wear His "uniform" or clothing? For example, a cross or crucifix, or a shirt that says WWJD? Would we display our faith on our vehicles? Would we adorn our walls with crosses or crucifixes? What about pictures of Jesus? Would we fly a Christian flag? How about a Christian statue in our garden or near our house? Or a Nativity scene in our yard during Advent and Christmas? (If every Christian who complained about Nativities not being on public property placed one on their own private property, our cities would be overrun with Nativity scenes!)

For those of us who do do some or all of these things, are they to the same level us our sport team paraphernalia? 

Based just on my general observations, the answer seems to be "No." I see people happily expressing their support of their favorite teams all over the place, but by comparison, I do not see very many religious displays indicating that we are fans of the Lord.

Why is that, do you think?

Are we embarrassed by our faith? Are we embarrassed by our Lord? If so, He will be embarrassed by us when we meet him in Heaven. (Matthew 10:33)

Are we afraid we'd be called fanatics? Well, the base word for fanatic is fan. Some might say religious fanatics are the ones who resort to violence and disorder, but being a sports fan is harmless, right? I can tell you, anyone who thinks that has never been to an Oakland Raiders game! What about sports fans who riot after their team wins the championship? It isn't just people of faith who can take their love too far! It's obviously up to us to know where to draw the line.

But, needless to say, we should never be afraid to display our love for the Lord. We should be His biggest fans!  The Lord should be the one who receives the adoration that is more frequently reserved for sports teams. There is nothing wrong with being a sports fan, sporting events were a part of society back in Jesus' time, and the apostles often make reference to them in the Gospels.

But, the Lord should be the one glorified above and beyond everything else in our lives. Worshiping Him is the #1 reason for Sunday, everything else comes 2nd. Worshiping Him and pleasing Him is our #1 priority any day of the week, really.

So, if you look around, and you see more sports paraphernalia than religious paraphernalia, you may want to examine your conscience, your priorities, and ask yourself why. Then apologize to the Lord if your outward adoration of a sports team was beyond what it has been for Him and endeavor to do better from this point forward. Yes, you can worship and adore the Lord privately, but you can do the same for a sports team, so that is no excuse either.

Our walk of faith requires a constant reexamination of our priorities and conscience and we always have to make choices. Go ahead and be proud of your favorite sports teams, just make sure your pride for the Lord is even greater, and don't be afraid to show it!


Thursday, February 3, 2011


Remember that Christians don't believe in luck, we believe in God! There is no such thing as "luck" in the universe. Just like there are no coincidences. Luck has no power over us, no influence, nothing. It's a false God, for all practical purposes (and we know false gods are prohibited in the 10 Commandments.)

I wonder how many atheists and agnostics call something "lucky" when it was, in fact, God, himself, trying to reach out to them? How many times have we done the same thing? More than we'd care to admit, I bet.

Don't risk offending God by attributing something to "luck." Give Him all credit for all good things, without exception. Never hesitate to thank and praise Him for blessings. And if it's "bad," ask Him for wisdom, strength or guidance regarding it, and He will see you through it.

Because we don't believe in luck, we believe only in God.