January 12, 2009

"Heritage" - Bible in a year #02

Our church fellowship is studying through the Bible in a year based on the daily Bible readings at this link. The weekly audio teaching is in English with Russian translation at this link.

Last week in Genesis we left off with the unique promise of God’s victory through a unique man, as shown in Genesis 3.15. Genesis 3.21 then shows how God used “coats of skins” to cover the shame of Adam and Eve after their sin and “the fall.” This event foreshadows how Jesus would be slain as “the Lamb of God” for our sins. Hebrews 9:22 tells us that without the shedding of blood there is no remission of sin. At this point they also needed clothing to keep warm. It has been said about Eve who first ate the forbidden fruit, that “Eve ate them both out of house and home.” This was just the beginning of their problems.

Ever since being kicked out of paradise, mankind has been trying to find a way back. What is the way back to paradise and the tree of life? Gen 3.24 gives a clue. People seeking God’s truth and eternal life will eventually come in contact with the scriptures and the scriptures must be “quickened to us” by the Holy Spirit in order to be understandable . Gen 3.24 describes how there is an active, “flaming sword which turned every way, to keep the way of the tree of life.” Hebrews 4.12 describes God’s word as a living and active and like a sword. And the Holy Spirit is referred to as a fire in Acts chapter 2 and many other places. Until you have received and been pierced by the Word of God, you cannot enter the kingdom of God. I Peter 1.23 shows we are born again by the word of God “who is” ultimately Jesus Christ, who alone brings complete restoration, and is “the way, the truth and the life.” (Jn 14.6).

In Gen chapter 4 we see the first murder. Cain and Abel both brought offering to the Lord but Cain became jealous because “The Lord had regard for Abel and his offering, but He did not have regard for Cain and his offering” (Gen 4.4). Why did God not accept Cain’s offering? The answer is given in the NT - Heb 11.4 says Abel offered his by faith. Abel offered an animal by faith perhaps realizing the symbolic meaning – the need for God’s redemption, as God may have demonstrated in Genesis 3.21, in slaying animals for Adam and Eve. When things started to get a little violent, In Genesis 4.26 it says “Then men began to call upon the lord.”

Though some began to pray to God, most people got worse and worse. God decided He would have to wipe out his creation and start all over again. Genesis 5.24 shows how Enoch was taken up physically by God before the judgment of God came. He is a picture of the church which is described in I Thessalonians 4.17 and I Cor 15.52 as being removed before the Great Tribulation on the earth. God revealed His plan to Enoch that judgment was coming upon the whole earth (see Jude 14,15). That is why Enoch named his son “His death will bring.” At Methuselah’s death, the judgment would come. People must have been scared whenever Methuselah came down with a cold! But how God showed His mercy, Methuselah is recorded as the longest living human at 969 years! (Gen 5.27).

Genesis 5 lists the genealogy from Adam to Noah. At first glance it seems like a rather boring list of names, but look at the translations of each name listed

Hebrew vs. English
Adam = Man
Seth = Appointed
Enosh = Mortal
Kenan = Sorrow
Mahalalel =The Blessed God
Jared = Shall come down
Enoch = Teaching
Methuselah = His death shall bring
Lamech = The Despairing
Noah = Rest, or comfort.

Altogether these names form an interesting statement: “Man (is) appointed mortal sorrow; (but) the Blessed God shall come down teaching (that) His death shall bring (the) despairing rest.” The outline of the gospel, God's plan of redemption, is hidden within the Genesis text…There is a more in depth look at the gospel in Genesis at this link.

In Genesis 6, the great flood is introduced. You may think it is harsh - but consider how bad people had become. Gen 6.5 states: “And GOD saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually.” Genesis 6.11 also states “The earth also was corrupt before God, and the earth was filled with violence.”

Many claim the flood is a myth but the fossil record backs it up. All of the main complex species appear suddenly in the “Cambrian” fossil layer. It is called the Cambrian explosion because no gradual stages are seen below this layer. Evolutionists have had a difficult time trying to explain this.

We have a film, “The Rocks Cry Out” in Russian, which uncovers the fossil evidence in Crimea. You can borrow this film from our library.In 1999, an ancient freshwater coastline was found beneath the Black Sea dating back 7,600 years by Explorer Robert Ballard of Woods Hole. He said “…the science of the Black Sea flood stands undisputed.”

Ancient Chinese pictographs reveal the Genesis account of creation and the flood in many different language characters. For example, the word for ship includes a character for the number eight. This is Interesting because 8 people entered the ark. We have a book in our library “The Discovery of Genesis” written by Chinese author C.H. Kang. You can browse the free eBook or download it at this link. There are many, many examples of Chinese characters which mirror the Genesis account from the creation of the world.

The Chinese language originated before 2,000 B.C. coinciding with the dispersion of races from the Tower of Babel in Genesis. Chinese people were monotheistic in culture, long before Taoism, Confucianism and Buddhism came about 2,000 years later. The Chinese record of events was recorded in their pictographic and ideographic types long before the books of Moses (The Torah) were written almost a millennium later.

Jesus verified the flood account, as shown in Matthew 24.38 “For as in the days that were before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day that Noe entered into the ark, And knew not until the flood came, and took them all away; so shall also the coming of the Son of man be.” These don’t seem like bad things, eating and drinking and marrying…The idea is that there was a general apathy among the people even though Noah was warning the people that judgment was coming. As he and his family were building the ark, Noah was a prophet warning people to repent. II Peter 2.4,5 says God “… spared not the old world, but saved Noah the eighth person, a preacher of righteousness, bringing in the flood upon the world of the ungodly.”

The animals and the eight people of Noah’s family entered. The rains came and God shut the door of the ark (Gen 7.16). This is a picture of salvation. We choose to heed the call of God to enter into Jesus Christ but once we do, we are ceiled by the Holy Spirit. As long as we remain in the ark, as we remain in Christ, we cannot lose our salvation. Noah could have “jumped ship” if he wanted to out of the top. We can leave our salvation but e can’t lose it.

After 150 days, the rains subside. When the ark finally lands –God lays down the law and then lays out a rainbow. The law God lays down is capital punishment. Gen 9.6 states “Whoever sheds man’s blood, by man his blood shall be shed; for in the image of God He made man.” Some people think capital punishment is not Christian or is cruel, but many believe it deters the death of more innocent victims. Edward Koch, former mayor of New York City, told about Luis Vera who burglarized a woman’s apartment and shot her in cold blood. "Yeah, I shot her," Vera admitted. "...and I knew I wouldn't go to the chair." This is one documented case where it would have deterred murder. The rainbow is a sign of God’s promise that He won’t flood the earth in this way ever again (Gen 9.12-16).

Chapter 10 is referred to as the “Table of the Nations.” It outlines the descendants who populated the earth from Noah’s sons Sham, Ham and Japheth. But before you get into the formation of the nations you have to look at the incident with Ham and Noah at the end of Ch 9. It’s a bit mysterious, but Ham seriously offended Noah to such an extent that he pronounced a curse on Canaan his son while he pronounced blessings on his two other sons. Gen 9.25-27: “And he said, Cursed be Canaan; a servant of servants shall he be unto his brethren. 26 And he said, Blessed be the LORD God of Shem; and Canaan shall be his servant. 27 God shall enlarge Japheth, and he shall dwell in the tents of Shem; and Canaan shall be his servant.”

Shem - Shem is given supremacy among mankind and this is shown mainly in a religious sense, because the spiritual element is the most important. A core group of three religions, Judaism, Islam, and Christianity, form the greatest religious grouping by far in the world and they are all from the Semitic family.

Ham – Though Ham was in the wrong – Canaan, his son, was cursed. The lineage of Canaan will be “servants of servants.” You can look at this in two ways. First these people literally became servants to those who conquered them. Canaan was the father of people of Phoenicia, Palestine, and Canaan who ended up becoming servants until the people groups were mostly killed off by war. The Phoenicians were largely killed off by the Romans…but recently DNA has shown the people of Malta have Phoenician roots. The land of Palestine was a wasteland for thousands of years. After 70 AD, The Roman Emperor Hadrian determined to wipe out the identity of Israel-Judah-Judea. Therefore, he took the name Palastina and imposed it on all the Land of Israel. Later it was conquered by the Persians in 614 AD. In 691 the Dome of the Rock Mosque was built. Later the Black Death and Crusades wiped out most of the population. In 1918, a Yiddish book by David BenGurion and Yitzhak Ben-Zvi, Eretz Yisrael in the Past and Present, showed how a large presence of Jewish farmers had always existed on the land despite the struggles.

The destruction of the Canaanites is largely described in the book of Joshua. There were exceptions though…Rahab was a Canaanite who was spared destruction and ended up being an ancestor of Jesus Christ.

Servant, in the second sense of the word, describes people who came up with many of the greatest inventions that served mankind. The Egyptians, the Babylonians, the Mayans, the Aztecs, all were Hamitic people. Some have said that all black people are cursed and justified slavery because of this verse. But Canaan and his descendants, the Canaanites Phoenicians and Palestinians were not black. Hams other sons ended up populating Africa. Cush became Ethiopia, Mirjam became Egypt and Phut became Libya. These ended up forming the black race which has a rich history in the Bible. Moses married an Ethiopian (Nu 12.1). The Queen of sheba (Magda) traveled from Ethiopia to visit Solomon (I Kings 10) and according to African tradition she became one of his wives and had a son by him in Africa. Many Africans believe she is buried in Eredo, Nigeria, especially since the discoveries noted at this link. Then there is the Ethiopian in Acts 8.27 who came to worship God in Jerusalem.

Japheth – He was promised enlargement. The Japhethic people are, in general, the peoples of India and Europe, most of the Western hemisphere. You can also see this in terms of the intellectual influence or enlargement. The Greeks, who began modern philosophy, are descendants of Japheth. “He shall dwell in the tents of Shem” may refer to the cross when the Jews rejected Jesus and the Gentiles began to spread the gospel throughout Europe.
We don’t have time to trace all of the Table of Nations. A retired physicist, Lambert Dolphin, has a good webpage, entitled “The Table of Nations,” with a more in depth study if you are interested.

Ukrainian - Russian Heritage

Because we are in Ukraine, it would be interesting to focus on the lineage of Ukrainians and Russians. Chuck Missler described the vast amounts of archaeological discoveries: “More than 1,200 graves were investigated by Alexander Leskov in the Crimean area between 1961 and 1972. These Soviet finds are proof of “the reliability of Herodotus as a source of knowledge of the Scythians…In July 1995, Russian archaeologists found a 2,500 year old Scythian horseman under more than seven feet of ice in Siberia... The horseman had been given his ceremonial burial in his fur coat and high leather boots, alongside his horse in a log-lined chamber in the Altai Mountains. He also had his ax, quiver, and dagger.” There was another similar find in 2006 in mongolia. Basically, the Scythians were nomadic, but their presence extended from Crimea to Siberia in the North and from the Danube River to the Don River in Western Russia.

Herodotus (484 – 409BC) described the Scythians in detail because he was fascinated that they overcame the Darius and his Persian army. A new war strategy was formed against the Persians called “defense in depth.” The enemy was allowed deep access but then was gradually defeated by “partisan” guerrilla warfare. This technique was affectively used by the Russians later against Napoleon and Hitler. By 3rd Century Scythians occupied only in lower Ukraine and Crimea because of drying conditions and a "desertification" of the steppe. The Scythians are also mentioned in the New Testament in Colossians 3:11 describing our unity in Christ above all nationalities “Where there is neither Greek nor Jew, circumcision nor uncircumcision, Barbarian, Scythian, bond nor free: but Christ is all, and in all.” In Christ there is no Russian, Ukrainian, Tatar, or American identity; we are first and foremost citizens of heaven. We need to watch out for prejudice or bitterness. This is a big problem in ukraine, even for Christians.

The Scythians battled with a people known as the Cimmerians. They are traced back to the late 11th Century BC in southern Ukraine. They are first mentioned in secular literature in The Odyssey and The Iliad of Homer (CVIII B.C.). The Cimmerians are famous for horse training and it is interesting that the first serious domestication and training of horses has been traced to an area south of Kiev at around 2500 B.C.

As you go even farther back in history, the names “Gog” and “Magog” begin to show up for this region and these people. 1st, Josephus Flavius (CI A.D.), clearly identified Magog: “Magog founded the Magogians, thus named after him, but who were by the Greeks called Scythians.” 2nd, Philo (CII B.C.), 3rd Hesiod (CVII B.C.), 4th Ezekiel, (also (CVI B.C.), who penned prophecies of them in chapters 38 and 39 of his book. But even before Ezekiel, we see the mention of them in Genesis chapter 10 by Moses (CXV B.C). There are also names attributed to the cities Moscow (Mescheck) and Tubolsk (Tubal) (Genesis 10.2). The name "Caucasus" appears to have been derived from the name Gog-hasan. Most of this information is from Chuck Missler’s article “The Magog Identity

There is also an overlap of Greek and Russian heritage. Cyril and Methodius, for example (CIX), were Byzantine missionaries from Thessalonica who devised the Glagolitic alphabet, which was the basis of the Cyrillic alphabet. Their desire was to spread the gospel to the Slavic peoples and this work was continued by their students after their deaths. The Greeks trace their ancestry back to a man named “Japetos,” which is pretty close to “Japheth” in Genesis 10.

Tatars – Mainly of Turkish origin, they trace their roots back to Togarmah, a son of Gomer. But Turkey also has a heritage with Japheth’s sons Tubal, and Meshech. Noah’s ark landed on the border of Turkey and Armenia on Mt. Ararat.

Genesis 10.9,10 shows the founding of the kingdom of Babylon by Nimrod. The name Nimrod is from the Hebrew “marad,” thus meaning “we will revolt.” The city and kingdom was based on human pride, as shown in Chapter 11.4. The Tower of Babel was built in Mesopotamia and was a ziggurat not a skyscraper. Research has shown the idea of the tower was more for worshiping the heavens and the zodiac than trying to physically reach up to heaven. The word for heaven here is “shamayim” which also refers to astrology. The cult of Babylon is referred to as a “mystery religion” in the book of Revelation (17.5) and it is just that. But you can piece together different facts. Jeremiah 7.18, 44.17-19, 25 all refer to the worship of a goddess, the “queen of heaven.” Who was the “Queen of Heaven?” The ancient Canaanites worshiped the goddess Ishtar or Ashtoreth, but some believe the cult of Babylon was based on the worship of Nimrod’s wife Semiramis. Ezekiel 8.14 talks about women weeping for Tammuz and sun worship (V16). The Sumerian and Babylonian sun-god was called Dumuzu, which in Hebrew is translated Tammuz. One of the false cults begun in Babylon is based on Nimrod’s wife who claimed to have a son supernaturally, the rebirth of her late husband Nimrod. This became a pre-emptive counterfeit of the gospel story.

God scattered the kingdom of Babylon and its false cultic teachings but the seeds sown have been scattered with it. The “New Age” is not new at all. Its roots go back to Babylon. And Revelation shows the spirit of Babylon will permeate the world system more and more. In our day, we see the reality of the “New World Order” being formed step by step before our eyes. The EU was already formed and Central America and North America may have their own unions soon. Many groups are working towards world government. An “Earth Charter” supported by the United Nations and private groups was created in the late 1990’s and was drafted by in part by Steven Rockefeller, Maurice Strong and Mikail Gorbachev. The Earth Charter basically calls for a world totalitarian system and the loss of personal freedoms. You can read more at this link.

In Chapter 12 we see God’s calling of Abraham and His promises to him as described in verses 1-3. Abraham is called the “Father of Faith” because he believed God and was willing to leave his own people and travel to a place God would later show him. Abraham was far from perfect and even in this chapter we see him asking his wife to lie for him because he was afraid (V13). There is a difference between making mistakes and being flat out opposed to God.

Psalms 2 describes a people that are flat out opposed to God. Verses 1-3 describe a people restless and ambitious to cast off all moral restraint and oppose the ways of God. It says “the rulers take counsel together against the Lord.” It describes the arrogance of the earlier Babylonian kingdom and also the New World Order movement. Private elitist Societies meet together, the Bildergergs, the CFR, etc. and they plot how to subvert the existing democratic free world towards a totalitarian one world government. Though they may have success for a time, their days are numbered. God declares “I have set my King upon my holy Hill of Zion” (V6). At Jesus’ 2nd coming he will destroy the corrupt earthly kingdom and establish His everlasting kingdom (V9). Verses 10-12 are a recommendation for world leaders to repent of this foolishness, of opposing God and His ways.

Proverbs 1 at the end of the chapter describes people opposed to God’s ways. V 10 describes how those who have rejected God like to entice and seduce others into darkness. V18-19 shows that rejecting God is the path of self destruction. Greed takes the life from a person. It’s like the saying “to eat your heart out.” V 31 states “Therefore shall they eat of the fruit of their own way, and be filled with their own devices.” Sometimes we may be tempted to envy the wealth of the corrupt who seem to have everything. But this proverb sheds light on the real situation. There is no real internal fulfillment for these people and there is only certain destruction and darkness ahead. It’s really a terrible and uncertain reality.

In Matthew chapter 2, King Herod the Great is described. We usually think of Christmas Eve as a peaceful time, but there was a “dark side” to the Christmas story, especially in Bethlehem. Herod had heard about the birth of the “Jewish king” and was totally insecure. Thus began the “massacre of the innocents.” He actually fulfilled prophecy, Jeremiah 31.15. But this was not his only killing. Like Stalin in The former USSR, Herod’s insecurities lead to a continual killing spree. First to be killed was his brother-in-law and high priest, Aristobulus, then his uncle Joseph, then Mariamne his 2nd wife and her mother, then his two sons by Mariamne, then the eldest son by his first wife, Antipater. Augustus Caesar said that he would rather be Herod's pig than Herod's son! All in all he had 10 wives but that wasn’t enough, he had relations with his sister also. As we read in Proverbs 1, a wicked man will eat “the fruit of his own way” and in Herod’s case, the fruit of his own way ate him…history records that Herod was eaten by worms (maggots) in a slow and painful death (See Acts 12:20-23) while experiencing an excruciating fever. He had tried to commit suicide earlier but failed.

Herod was called “Herod the great” because of his many building projects. But he was great in name only. Before his death he ordered that many popular Jews be killed the same day he died so that there would be weeping when he died. All in all, he was a man who had great power and wealth but he also had great emptiness.

Matthew 3 describes Jesus' baptism in water by JB. Immediately He is filled with the Holy Spirit. Here you see the Trinity clearly (V16-17), the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. In Matthew 4, Jesus is sent by the Spirit into the desert to be tempted 40 days and nights. The word tempted here also means to be tested and proven. It is only after these experiences that Jesus begins his ministry work at 30 yrs of age. He begins to teach, to invite His disciples to follow Him and to heal the sick.

Matthew 5 begins the famous “Sermon on the Mount” which seems like a message from another world because it is! Jesus speaks forth the radical new principles of the New Covenant with authority. There are 9 “beatitudes,” from Latin “beatus,” which means basically “ways of blessedness” or happiness.

There seem to be three general reactions to this sermon – to ridicule it, to revise it or to receive it as it is. Many don’t want to really know what it means and light heartedly dismiss it. Monty Python’s “Life of Bryan” film was a mockery of this text. The next reaction is to revise it. Religious groups who want to include Jesus in their camp often refer to this sermon as a way of presenting k.lJesus simply as a great teacher. In a United Nations teacher’s book called “New Genesisit says "The ecumenical teachings of the Christ [not the Biblical Jesus] - peace, justice, love, compassion, kindness, human brotherhood... must also find their way in world-wide global education.” But Jesus never presented Himself merely as a good teacher. This sermon here sets you up for the gospel by setting an impossibly high standard. Jesus warns… “For I say unto you, that except your righteousness shall exceed [the righteousness] of the scribes and Pharisees, ye shall in no case enter into the kingdom of heaven.” (V20) Then He says any hatred, unforgiveness, or lust etc. disqualifies us from God’s perfect standard (V21-28). So then how is it possible to enter the kingdom? It’s possible only by receiving Jesus Christ by grace and by faith, as described in Eph 2.8 “For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God.” The gift is through the righteousness of Jesus Christ Himself imparted to us…“Even the righteousness of God which is by faith of Jesus Christ unto all and upon all them that believe…” (Rom 3.22)

Abel offered sacrifices to God by faith and he was accepted by God. Abraham received God’s promises by faith and followed in relationship with God. And today we can receive Jesus Christ by faith and live for Him as He lives in us. God offered His first covenant to Abraham and the Jews, but the New Covenant is available to everyone.

We see the futility and darkness of the humanist world system even before it is fully in place. General Omar Nelson Bradley once said "We live in a world of nuclear giants and ethical infants, in a world that has achieved brilliance without wisdom, power without conscience. “We have solved the mystery of the atom and forgotten the lessons of the Sermon on the Mount. We know more about war than we know about peace, more about dying than we know about living." As in the days of Noah, people today are generally apathetic about God but more and more throwing off all restraint when it comes to sin. But like the name Noah, we can have peace in the storm as we abide in Jesus Christ.

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