Monday, June 23, 2014

A new covenant

Dr. Paul Manuel—2003

God states in Jer 31 that He will make a "new covenant" with His people and will write His law on their hearts.1
Jer 31:31 "The time is coming," declares the LORD, "when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah. 32 It will not be like the covenant I made with their forefathers when I took them by the hand to lead them out of Egypt, because they broke my covenant, though I was a husband to them," declares the LORD.
Some interpreters take this feature to be a (even "the") distinguishing innovation of the new covenant. God does indeed say that the new covenant will be unlike the old covenant. But in what way(s) will it be different? To highlight the contrast, He begins with elements common to both.2
Jer 31:33 "This is the covenant I will make with the house of Israel after that time," declares the LORD. "I will put my law in their minds and write it on their hearts. I will be their God, and they will be my people"3
Prominent in this description is Torah, which constitutes the terms of the covenant and distinguishes Israel as God's people.4

As generations after Sinai lapsed in their devotion to God, they failed also to transmit Torah and lost access to it, necessitating a review of the law prior to a renewal of the covenant. At two such times of national repentance, people listened to the reading of Torah, expressing astonishment and dismay over what they had missed. The first incident was in the time of Josiah, whose reign followed fifty-seven years of apostasy under Manasseh and Amon.

Sunday, June 22, 2014


Dr. Paul Manuel—2007

Because God takes a long view of history, much of what He plans is relevant over several generations. This is especially true of His covenants, the contracts the Lord establishes that indicate what He expects from His people and what they can expect from their God. Each new generation must recognize whatever covenant is in effect and follow its provisions or forfeit its protection. That decision may entail a simple review of the covenant or, after a period of apostasy, it may involve a formal renewal of the covenant.1

I. The Abrahamic Covenant

Before Israel became a nation, God established a covenant with Abraham promising to bless him and his descendants if they would recognize the LORD as their God.2
Gen 17:1 Now when Abram was ninety-nine years old, the LORD appeared to Abram and said to him, "I am God Almighty; Walk before Me, and be blameless.... 7 I will establish My covenant between Me and you and your descendants after you throughout their generations for an everlasting covenant, to be God to you and to your descendants after you. 8 I will give to you and to your descendants after you, the land of your sojournings, all the land of Canaan, for an everlasting possession; and I will be their God.... 10 This is My covenant, which you shall keep, between Me and you and your descendants after you: every male among you shall be circumcised.... 11b it shall be the sign of the covenant between Me and you.... 12a ...throughout your generations.... 13b for an everlasting covenant."
The terms of this contract were straightforward, and Abraham's descendants generally heeded their part,3 because God simply reiterates the promise later.4

Saturday, June 21, 2014

4. Dependable deliverance for God's people

Dr. Paul Manuel—2003

One of the most important aspects of life, something whose very nature encourages us to take it for granted, is that many events are predictable. However much we may like variety or surprises, we depend on a considerable amount of sameness to keep things going. In fact, more often than not, it is the disruptions in our schedule, the things we did not anticipate, that cause us anxiety.

Consider how much of your preparation to be here depended on a certainty that things would be as you expected them to be.
  • That the glasses or contacts you put on would be the same prescription this morning as they were yesterday.
  • That the road you took to get here went the same way it did last week.
  • That the coffee you heated in the microwave was not actually grape juice.
  • That the service would be in English and not in German.
We base our lives on the assumption that most things, at least, remain constant.1
It had been several years since Jack's last eye exam, and his wife was pestering him to make an appointment. Naturally, the more she pestered, the more he procrastinated. Finally, she made the appointment for him. The day before the appointment, he was in an affectionate mood. He gave her a big kiss, a warm hug, and said, "You really look good to me." "That's it," she replied. "I'm canceling your appointment." (Adapted from Hodgin 1998:17)
Change is not always an improvement. There are some things you would want to keep the same. Without consistency and certainty, you would not be able to plan; you would have no idea what the future holds. This is especially true in your relationship with God. The fact that He "does not change like shifting shadows" (Jms 1:17) makes Him reliable!2 Coupled with His constant concern for you, that reliability means that God Provides Dependable Deliverance for His People.

In this fourth and final installment of our series, the writer of Ps 62 makes dependability the theme of his poem, using the word "surely" six times in these twelve verses.3 Nowhere else in scripture does it occur this frequently. He wants people to recognize how the dependability of good things can help them to cope with the regularity of bad things. The psalm has three parts, set off by the repetition of a refrain in vv. 1-2 and 5-6, and by the repetition of the musical term Selah in vv. 4 and 8 (crescendo? pause?). The author opens with a most important aspect of dependability for his audience. To whomever else they may turn for aid, they can be confident that...

Friday, June 20, 2014

3. Final deliverance for God's people

Dr. Paul Manuel—2003

The pervasiveness of evil, that it rears its ugly head even where we might not expect it, often requires strong measures to eradicate it.
A woman purchased a parrot whose previous owner had taught him profanity, and she decided to reform him, so she taught him a number of Christian words and phrases. One day, the righteous owner caught the bird cursing. She grabbed him and said, "I'll teach You never to talk that way again." She put him in the freezer and shut the door. A few minutes later, she took him out and asked, "Have you learned your lesson?" The parrot shivered and replied, "Yes, Ma'am."
After a while, the lesson wore off, and she returned the parrot to the freezer but forgot him for some time, so he nearly froze to death. She finally retrieved him and leaned him in his cage to thaw out. When he began to move and talk a little, she asked him again, "Have you learned your lesson?" "YES, MA'AM!" he replied. He sat there quietly for a few minutes, shivering, and then said, "May I ask you a question?" "Certainly," she answered. "I thought I knew all the bad words there were," the parrot began... "but just what did that turkey in there say?" (Adapted from Hodgin 1994:284-285)
The parrot saw that evil may require strong measures to eradicate it.

The reason we need deliverance in the first place is because someone or something is preventing us from doing what God wants us to do. Consequently, deliverance often requires God to exercise force, even to the point of destruction. In the first message of this series, we noted that Pharaoh resisted God's attempts to deliver Israel and that it took the destruction of Egypt's crops, livestock, firstborn, and military before Israel was free. So it will be when God Provides Final Deliverance for His People. In the end...

Thursday, June 19, 2014

2. Spiritual deliverance for God's people

Dr. Paul Manuel—2003

One of the tests of a person's character is his ability to persevere in difficult times.
The Chicago Bears were losing a football game at half-time. In the locker room, their coach, Mike Ditka, wanted to illustrate the need for them to hang on and give it their best. He reached his hand into a bucket and, when he pulled it out, there was a snapping turtle clamped securely to it—not a pretty sight. With the turtle hanging on his wounded hand, Mike continued to lecture his astonished players. He assured the players that they could do the same thing if they were really committed and determined.

Then he asked for a volunteer. After an extended period of silence, one of the players stepped forward and agreed to go next. Ditka thanked him for his courage and said he could proceed as soon as the turtle was pried loose from his hand. The player said, "That's okay, Coach. You can leave the turtle where it is. Just stick out your other hand...and I'll bite that one instead." (Adapted from Hodgin 1994:257)
Perseverance, though not quite as this player understood it, does indicate the quality of a person's character, in sporting events as well as in spiritual matters. When you place your faith in Jesus' atoning work, God delivers you from the ultimate penalty of your sin: facing His wrath for all eternity. Instead, you can look forward to a long and glorious relationship with your deliverer. There is usually a transition period, however, between your justification—when God gives you a clean slate—and your glorification—when God gives you a new body. It is the current period, during which you struggle against what you once actively pursued or passively accepted. In this struggle, you have two powerful opponents, one internal (sin) and the other external (Satan), and there are times when you may feel hopelessly outgunned. Nevertheless, you are not defenseless, because God Provides Spiritual Deliverance for His People, enabling you to defeat these foes. Please follow in your Bibles, as we first consider...

A. How does God provide deliverance from sin?

Paul addresses this in Rom 6, where he answers a hypothetical question: If, in Jesus, God provides sufficient grace for all my sin, should I sin more to get more grace? Put another way, what motivation does a person have not to sin? Why should you choose right behavior over wrong behavior? The immediate answer is that...

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

1. Physical deliverance for God's people

Dr. Paul Manuel—2003

When preaching, I generally treat a single biblical book or a single passage rather than doing a topical study, but this series is on the subject of divine deliverance. In each session I will address a different kind of deliverance that God provides for His people:
  • Physical deliverance
  • Spiritual deliverance
  • Final deliverance
  • Dependable deliverance
There are times when you find yourself in a difficult predicament and hope, some how, to escape. The car begins to slide on an icy road. The cashier finishes totaling a month's worth of groceries, and you discover your wallet is at home. Whether endangering or embarrassing, such situations make us long for deliverance.
A blonde [no one in this congregation] decides to try horseback riding, even though she has had no lessons or prior experience. She mounts the horse unassisted, and it immediately springs into motion. It gallops along at a steady and rhythmic pace, but the blonde begins to slip from the saddle. In terror, she grabs for the horse's mane but cannot get a firm grip. She tries to throw her arms around the horse's neck but slides down the side anyway. The horse gallops along, seemingly ignorant of its slipping rider. Finally, giving up her frail grip, the blonde attempts to leap from the horse and throw herself to safety. Unfortunately, her foot becomes entangled in the stirrup, and she is now at the mercy of the horse's pounding hooves as her head strikes repeatedly against the ground. She starts to lose consciousness, but to her great fortune... Bobby, the Wal-Mart greeter, runs over and unplugs the horse.
Even better than Bobby, the Wal-Mart greeter, God is able to help when you need deliverance.

We will begin our series by looking at a passage that describes Physical Deliverance and asking quite a different question: Why does God even bother to deliver? Then we will extend the consideration to other passages to determine whether or not He is still in this line of work. Finally, we will try to predict when—that is, under what conditions—He might deliver. Because this is topical, I will either be moving through a large portion of text or referring to several passages, so please follow in your Bibles.

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

How should we think about the Sabbath?

Dr. Paul Manuel—2014

Because of the length of this study (35 pages) most of it is available only in this pdf.
Blessed is the man...who keeps the Sabbath.
(Isa 56:2)

Introduction    3
The Motivation of Sabbath Observance: Understanding the People and Purpose of the Sabbath—or—Why Should One Keep the Sabbath?
A. At the dawn of creation (Gen 2:1-3)
      Query: What does Jesus mean, "the Sabbath was made for man"?
B. After the exodus from Egypt (Exod 16:1-5, 21-30)
      Query: Does keeping 'one day in seven' meet God's expectation?
C. On the mountain of Sinai (Exod 19:3-6; 20:1-11)
      Query: Are the Ten Commandments universal?
D. In the wilderness of Sinai (Exod 31:12-17)
      Query: What is God's purpose for the Sabbath?
E. At the border of Canaan (Deut 5:1-3, 12-15)
      Query: What does the Sabbath commemorate?
F. During the exile in Babylon (Isa 56:3,6-8)
      Query: What was the status of the "foreigner"?
G. In the first century (Acts 15:5, 19-21)
      Query: To what extent do gentiles participate in the covenant?
The Method of Sabbath Observance: Understanding the Practice of the Sabbath—or—How Should One Keep the Sabbath?
A. Collecting manna (Exod 16:23-30)
B. Promoting rest (Exod 20:1-2, 8-11)
C. Eschewing work (Exod 31:12-17; 34:21; 35:1-3)
D. Gathering together (Lev 23:1-3; Num 28:1-2,9-10)
E. Collecting wood (Num 15:32-36)
F. Conducting business (Amos 8:4-5)
G. Transporting property (Jer 17:21-27)
H. Finding joy (Isa 58:13-14)
I. Picking grain (Matt 12:1-8)
J. Healing disease (Matt 12:9-14; Luke 13:10, 14-17)
K. Healing disease and transporting property (John 5:1-10, 16-18; 7:21-23)
The Measure of Sabbath Observance: Understanding the Principles of Setting Apart—or—How Should One Sanctify the Sabbath?
A. Setting apart from what constitutes work
     1. Preparing food
     2. Conducting business
B. Setting apart for what constitutes rest
     Worshiping together

Endnotes 39

Monday, June 16, 2014

Is the Sabbath a universal requirement?

Dr. Paul Manuel—2011

Linda and I came from a Baptist church that worshipped on Sunday, and we did not decide to keep the seventh day until we went away to college a few years after we were married. A Jewish friend had suggested that we consider the Sabbath, so we examined what the Bible taught about this and other aspects of God's law. For us, it was an exciting time of discovery. I was enthusiastic about what we learned and wanted to share this new information with other Christians but soon realized that they were not nearly as excited. Some people were unable to consider such a radical notion as the Sabbath; others were struggling with more fundamental issues; still others thought I was an extremist. Being in school during this period of change helped, as we could apply the tools of study we were acquiring to our research. Eventually, we discovered Seventh Day Baptists, and we were able to observe the Sabbath more easily.i Time and reflection also tempered my enthusiasm and allowed me to take a more nuanced approach, one that answered three questions that arise when examining the common Seventh Day Baptist claim that the Sabbath is a universal requirement, questions Seventh Day Baptists seem often unwilling or unable adequately to address.ii

Examining the Claim that the Sabbath is a Universal Requirement
  • The historical question:
  • How is the Sabbath, which God gave specifically to Israel, mandatory for all Christians?
  • The common Seventh Day Baptist position, that God gave the Sabbath to everyone, simply does not stand under close scrutiny, certainly not for the reasons Seventh Day Baptists usually give.
  • The theological question:
  • Why single out the Sabbath when it belongs to a much larger corpus of God's law?
  • The traditional Seventh Day Baptist view, that the Sabbath is part of the Decalogue, which God meant for all people and which has greater authority than His other commands, is a distinction that has no justification.iii
  • The practical (often personal) question:
  • Are Christians who do not regard the Sabbath as mandatory— the vast majority of the Church—doomed for their disobedience?
  • Here is where the issue comes closest to home, for unlike Seventh-day Adventists, who view Sunday worship as the mark of the beast and a sign of reprobation, Seventh Day Baptists recognize the gravity of disobeying God but are not ready to condemn to perdition those they actually know—their friends and family—who hold a different opinion on this matter.
The common Seventh Day Baptist position on the Sabbath does not address these problems, not in any consistent or rigorous way. It fails to consider all relevant passages, and it ignores important constraints of context. If this is what you believe, then you should be aware of the difficulties with the position and be able to support it, both carefully and comprehensively. While the result of my analysis brings me to the same point in the end, which is to keep the Sabbath, I arrive there on a different road and for different reasons.

Sunday, June 15, 2014

Why do Seventh Day Baptists Keep the Sabbath?

Dr. Paul Manuel—2005
(An earlier version appeared on this blog here)

How blessed is the man...who keeps from profaning the Sabbath.
(Isa 56:2)

Seventh-Day Baptists observe a day different from that of most other Christians. Instead of gathering on the first day of the week, Seventh Day Baptists meet together on the seventh day of the week, the biblical Sabbath. Why would they choose to separate themselves in this way? What scriptural reasons are there for worshipping and resting on the seventh day rather than on the first day? Seventh DayBaptists keep the Sabbath because...1
1. They note God's example, for He observed it at creation.2
By the seventh day God completed His work which He had done, and He rested on the seventh day from all His work which He had done. (Gen 2:2)
For in six days the Lord made the heavens and the earth...and rested on the seventh day; therefore the Lord blessed the sabbath day and made it holy. (Exod 20:11)
2. They recall God's redemption, for He established it after Egypt.3
See, the Lord has given you the sabbath; therefore He gives you bread for two days on the sixth day. Remain every man in his place; let no man go out of his place on the seventh day. (Exod 16:29)
You shall remember that you were a slave in the land of Egypt, and the Lord your God brought you out of there by a mighty hand and by an outstretched arm therefore the Lord your God commanded you to observe the sabbath day. (Deut 5:15)
3. They obey God's precept, for He commanded it on Sinai.4
Remember the sabbath day, to keep it holy. (Exod 20:8)
Observe the sabbath day to keep it holy, as the Lord your God commanded you. (Deut 5:12)

Saturday, June 14, 2014

The Law and the Sabbath (Matt 12:1-21)

Dr. Paul Manuel—Sabbath Emphasis Day—2009

When people are committed to something, they will usually put forth their best effort, even when the task is difficult or dangerous.
One night a fire broke out in a chemical plant outside a small town. Before long, the whole building erupted into flames, and an alarm went out to neighboring communities, with several fire departments responding. After fighting the blaze for over an hour, the president of the chemical company approached the fire chief and said, "Our formulas are in the vault in the center of the plant. They must be saved! I will give $50,000 to the engine company that brings them out undamaged!" As soon as the chief heard this, he ordered his men to strengthen their efforts. After two more hours of fighting the fire, which continued to rage out of control, the president of the company doubled his offer: $100,000 to the crew that could bring out the company's files.

From the distance came the sound of a lone siren as another fire truck came into view. It was a volunteer company composed entirely of men over 65. To everyone's amazement, the engine raced through the chemical plant gates into the middle of the inferno. The other firemen watched as the old timers hopped off their rig and began to battle the fire with an effort they had never seen before. After some time of intense fighting, the company of senior firefighters had extinguished the blaze and saved the formulas. Ecstatic, the plant president announced that he would double the reward again to $200,000. After expressing his gratitude to each of the elderly volunteers, the president asked the captain of the group what they would do with the reward money. "The first thing we're going to do," the captain answered..."is fix the brakes on that truck!"
When people are committed to something, as these elderly fire fighters were committed to battling the blaze, it may not be for a reason you would expect or, as some Pharisees were committed to the Sabbath, it may not be for a reason you would commend. That is the case in Matt 12, where Jesus challenges them to reconsider their interpretation of The Law and the Sabbath.

During the Late Second Temple Period, the two great rabbinic schools of Hillel and Shammai debated a number of topics, some of which appear in the gospels. Pharisees of both schools would come to Jesus, wanting to know where he stood on such issues, especially when the schools differed. Although there is some speculation that Jesus was a student of Hillel (e.g., Falk 1985:115), he took an independent position.1 On some matters, he sided with the liberal view of Hillel (e.g., dedicated gifts); on other matters, he sided with conservative view of Shammai (e.g., vows, divorce). One of these debated issues was the manner in which a person should observe the Sabbath.

Friday, June 13, 2014

Time to reboot (Exod 23:12

TIME to REBOOT (Exod 23:12) 
Dr. Paul Manuel—Sabbath Emphasis Day—2005

Ministers look for ways to encourage their congregants to be more involved in the things of God and His church. Sometimes that effort is more successful than other times.
A minister was preoccupied with how he was going to ask the congregation to come up with more money than they were expecting for repairs to the church building. He very much wanted things to go smoothly and was a bit dismayed to learn that the regular organist was sick and that the deacons had to hunt for a substitute at the last minute. The minister barely had time before the service to let the substitute know what hymns the congregation would be singing, hurriedly adding, "You'll have to think of something to play after I make the announcement about the finances." During the service, the minister paused and said, "Brothers and Sisters, we are in great difficulty; the roof repairs cost twice as much as we expected, and we need $4,000 more. Any of you who can pledge $100 or more, please stand up." At that moment, the substitute organist played "The Star Spangled Banner." ...And that is how the substitute organist became the regular organist!
Some people just need the right incentive. That may be what God is doing as He exhorts His people to heed His commands, especially His command to keep the Sabbath.

Although Genesis records God's observing the Sabbath at creation, that first biblical book says no more about the seventh day.1 There is no indication that Adam and Eve, or Noah, or Abraham even knew about the Sabbath, let alone kept it themselves. It is not until the next book and Israel's exodus from Egypt that the Sabbath appears again, this time, with a prominence in God's plan for His people that it did not have before.2 What is the significance of the Sabbath, and how does it change life for those God has recently delivered?

Of the various passages we might consider, there is a single verse that offers some insight for us into the precept and purpose of the Sabbath. Please turn to...
Exod 23:12 "Six days do your work, but on the seventh day do not work, so that your ox and your donkey may rest and the slave born in your household, and the alien as well, may be refreshed.
Earlier in Exodus, God established...

Thursday, June 12, 2014

A time of consecration (Isa 56:2-8; 58:13-14)

A TIME OF CONSECRATION (Isa 56:2-8; 58:13-14) 
Dr. Paul Manuel—Sabbath Emphasis Day—2003

As we move along life's path, we depend upon God for such things as guidance and protection. When things do not turn out as we expect, we may have to revise our understanding of His involvement.
One Sabbath morning a little girl in her best dress was running so she wouldn't be late for church. As she ran she kept praying, "Dear God, please don't let me be late to church. Please don't let me be late to church...." As she was running, she tripped and fell. When she got back up, she began praying again, "God, please don't let me be late to church...but don't shove me either!"
Does God ever shove us? Does He help us along just so far and then push us out of the way or just leave us to fend for ourselves? That is a question some gentile believers in Babylon seem to be asking, as they hear Isaiah's prophetic message.

When the Southern Kingdom of Judah fell to invading Babylonian forces (587 B.C.), the people left the Promised Land for exile in a foreign land. How could they keep from suffering the same fate as their brethren in the Northern Kingdom of Israel, whom the Assyrians had deported earlier (722 B.C.) and who had apparently assimilated into the gentile milieu? How could the former residents of Judah maintain their identity as God's people? The answer lay in their covenant with God, a commitment they demonstrated by their obedience to His commands. That is what made them different from other people, and that is what marked them as God's people. Some instructions the Lord gave at Sinai had parallels in other Ancient Near East law codes (e.g., prohibitions against murder and theft). Other instructions were unique to His people (e.g., dietary regulations). One such command was particularly distinctive because it had a very apparent and recurrent display—observing the Sabbath.

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

The seventh day (Lev 23:3)

Dr. Paul Manuel—Sabbath Emphasis Day—2002

What defines you as a Christian? How do other people know who you are? You can tell them, of course, but the most obvious indicator is how you act, especially under pressure.
A minister was on a plane, flying from Chicago to California, when it ran into severe turbulence. As it got worse, the passengers became more and more alarmed, and even the flight attendants began to look concerned. Finally, an attendant noticed that one of the names on the passenger list had "REV." in front of it. She approached him and said, "Sir, this is really frightening. Do you suppose you could...I don't something religious?" "Of course," the minister replied.... So he took up a collection.
There are many ways you can identify yourself as religious. One way, better than taking an offering, is your treatment of God's precepts, including The Seventh Day.

After the six days of creation, Genesis records that God rested from His labor on the seventh day, establishing a precedent for something He would recall many years later. That initial account gives few details, simply that...
Gen 2:3 ...God blessed the seventh day and made it holy, because on it he rested from all the work of creating that he had done.
What implications God's decision might have had for others is unclear—perhaps none. There is no command here; neither is there evidence that anyone in Genesis followed His example. In fact, the issue of the Sabbath does not come up again until the book of Exodus when God commands Israel to observe it. From that point, the Sabbath receives extensive treatment, along with the rest of the Pentateuch as it offers instruction for God's people.1 Some passages about the seventh day are fairly long, yet even the shortest can offer important information.
Lev 23:3 There are six days when you may work, but the seventh day is a Sabbath of rest, a day of sacred assembly. You are not to do any work; wherever you live, it is a Sabbath to the LORD.

Friday, June 6, 2014


Dr. Paul Manuel—2001

Because of the length of this study most of it is available only in this pdf.


I. Semantic Range of "Peace" in the Bible     2
A. The Hebrew verb
B. The Hebrew noun
C. The Greek verb
D. The Greek noun
II. Common Uses of "Peace" in the Bible
A. Relational Peace
  1. Interpersonal: harmony between individuals      8
  2. International: freedom from war     13
B. Personal Peace
  1. Physical: welfare, health, prosperity      22
  2. Mental: tranquility, confidence, contentment      27
Appendix: of "Other Verses"      31
Bibliography      47
Endnotes      48

After the terrorist attacks on September 11, the notion of peace has come under considerable scrutiny. What is it, and what price are we willing to pay for it? How do we achieve it? ...What comes to mind when you think of "peace"? The Oxford American Dictionary gives five uses of the word in American English (Ehrlich 1980:491):
  1. A state of freedom from war, cessation of war
  2. A treaty ending a war
  3. Freedom from civil disorder
  4. Quiet, calm, freedom from anxiety
  5. A state of harmony between people, absence of strife
In almost all cases, we use "peace" to mean the absence of something bad: war, disorder, anxiety, strife.

For example, on the international level, peace is the absence of war between otherwise hostile countries, and we label relationships accordingly. Sometimes, peace is not the right term, such as in characterizing our relationship with England. In that case, we say that Great Britain is "a friend" of the US rather than that Great Britain is "at peace" with the US, because the phrase "at peace" does not convey the close ties our country enjoys with England. On the other hand, "at peace" would be an accurate description of our relationship to the Soviet Union, at least before perestroika.

The Greek word for peace is eirene (irenic [adj.] "promoting peace", Irene [PN]). It means much the same as our English word: the absence of conflict. In biblical literature, however, the Greek word comes under the influence of its Hebrew counterpart shalom and the meaning—at least in the LXX and New Testament documents—takes on the significance of the word in the Hebrew Old Testament (Carr 1980 2:931; Beck 1976 2:780; Foerster 1964a 2:406). We will begin with a general survey and ask the question: How does the biblical definition of peace compare with the modern definition?

There is both a verb form and a noun form of this word in Hebrew and Greek. We will focus on the noun, but to show you the similarities I will list the major uses of the verb.1 ....

For the Study (46 pages) and its Bibliography and Endnotes, see the pdf here.

Thursday, June 5, 2014

Standing up to peer pressure

Dr. Paul Manuel—Scout Sabbath—2007

Because we have several additional young people here this morning, I thought it would be a good opportunity for the rest of you to impress them with your biblical knowledge, so that they could see what you have learned in your many years of study. To that end, I am going to give the adults here a brief quiz, just nine questions. You can jot the answers on the back of the sermon outline.
Q: What was Noah's occupation? ...Was he a farmer, a bricklayer, or something else?
A: He was an arkitecht.

Q. Why was Noah the greatest financier in the Bible?
A. He was floating his stock while everyone else was in liquidation.

Q: What was the name of Noah's wife? (This is really trivia.)
A: Joan of Ark

Q: While Noah was on the ark, why did he not spend time fishing?
A: He only had two worms.

Q: Why did those two worms not get on the ark in an apple?
A: Because everyone had to go on in pairs (pears)

Q: Where did Noah keep the bees?
A: In an ark-hive

Q: How did Noah keep track of the animals at night?
A: He used floodlights.

Q: What is the one tool Noah wished he had during the construction?
A: An ark-welder.

Q: What was Noah's theme song?
A: "Raindrops Keep Falling On My Head"
However difficult you may have found the questions of that quiz, it was nothing to what Noah faced, even before the flood, as he encountered the Problems and Prospects of Peer Pressure.

After God created the world, people did what most people do, and the Bible records some of what that entailed. They had jobs, got married, and raised families, but life was not always smooth.1
  • Adam and Eve were expelled from the Garden of Eden for their disobedience.
  • Cain, angry that God rejected his offering but accepted his brother's offering, murdered his brother Abel.
  • Lamach, one of Cain's descendants, was an even more violent man and boasted about having killed many people.
To be sure, there were some bright spots in man's early history.2
  • Seth and his son Enosh seem to have started a trend as "men began to call on the name of the LORD" (Gen 4:26b).
  • Their descendant Enoch is recorded to have had an especially close relationship to God for "300 years" (Gen 5:22a).
The general direction of society, though, is downward, away from God, as people grow more completely sinful. After several generations, man's wickedness hits bottom. Please turn to Gen 6, where we read that by then...

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Trust and obey

Dr. Paul Manuel—2006

To be successful, you must be properly motivated, willing to give whatever challenge you face your best effort.
A mother was telling a friend about her six-year-old son, who was playing in his first ball game. The boy went up to bat, and on his second swing he connected with a two-base hit. Whether there was a lack in his coaching or a lapse in his concentration, the boy took off for the pitcher's mound and tackled the pitcher. Then he turned around with a big grin and threw a "thumbs up" sign at his surprised father in the stands. The mother's friend asked how the boy's father responded. "Why, he stood up and clapped, of course."
To be successful, you must be willing to give your best to whatever challenge you face. It also helps to receive positive reinforcement along the way, assurance that someone recognizes your efforts.

While Abraham is living in Canaan,1 he decides to arrange a marriage for his son Isaac, he sends a servant to the other branch of his family in order to find a suitable mate. It is a venture fraught with uncertainty but one that demonstrates The Secret of Success.2 Please turn to Gen 24, where, in the opening verses...

I. The servant wonders about success.
Gen 24:1 Abraham was now old and well advanced in years, and the LORD had blessed him in every way. 2 He said to the chief servant in his household, the one in charge of all that he had, "Put your hand under my thigh. 3 I want you to swear by the LORD, the God of heaven and the God of earth, that you will not get a wife for my son from the daughters of the Canaanites, among whom I am living, 4 but will go to my country and my own relatives and get a wife for my son Isaac."
For whatever reason, Isaac, who is forty years old,3 is still a bachelor, and it falls to this trusted servant to find a wife for his master's son.4 The task will not be easy. Abraham is adamant about Isaac's not marrying a Canaanite woman, insisting upon finding a wife from among his brother's clan, perhaps because the family ties will be stronger or because he does not want to establish any ties to a people God will eventually destroy.5

Tuesday, June 3, 2014


How Do the Various Models Compare
Who's Been Monkeying with the Family Tree?
Dr. Paul Manuel—2000

Until the twentieth century, most of Christianity, indeed, most of western civilization attributed the world in which we live to the creative act of God. The popularization of Darwin's theory of evolution and its adoption by scientific and academic communities radically changed that perception. The prevailing opinion in society today is that all higher life forms developed from lower life forms without any involvement from God. This fundamental shift in our collective view of how it all began presents a dilemma for Christians.
  • They want to believe the biblical account of creation but do not know how to square what scripture says with what science teaches.
  • They want to communicate their faith but do not know how to answer the objection that, right from the beginning, science disproves the Bible.
How should we answer The Question of Origins, and does science contradict the Bible on this issue? We will examine four models, each of which appears at a different place on a continuum of Options for the Question of Origins, views that treat the biblical account of Genesis in various ways. Let us begin by reading that account (Gen 1:1-2:3).

Options for the Question of Origins
Fiat Creationism    Progressive Creationism   Theistic Evolution    Secular Evolution
Gen 1 is actual.    Gen 1 is abridged Gen 1 is mythical.   Gen 1 is false.

At one end of the continuum, is the biblical model familiar to most people...

I. Fiat (young earth) creationism1
A. Presuppositions
  1. System: We live in an open universe that includes natural and supernatural forces.
  2. God: The supreme being is author and sustainer of all things.
  3. Bible: The scripture is a fully reliable source of information about the origins of life.
  4. Origins: The biblical account of the beginning is actual (in real time).2
B. Premises
  1. Cause: God created everything in six literal and consecutive days.
  2. Process: Each species is distinct and separate (reproducing "after its own kind").
  3. Fall: Adam's sin introduced physical death for all.
  4. Flood: The deluge was global and accounts for most of the fossil record.
C. Problems
  1. Astronomical: It fails to explain why the light from distant stars (e.g., Andromeda galaxy) required millions of years to reach earth (Newman in Moreland 1999:108).
  2. Geological: It fails to explain why the fossil record shows different types of sedimentary layers (e.g., from shells, from soil, from evaporation) deposited under different conditions (Bradley in Moreland 1999:77) and during different periods (Newman in ibid., P. 111).3
  3. Methodological: It justifies the universe's extreme antiquity by asserting that it merely has the appearance of age.
The way Fiat Creationists deal with the extreme antiquity of the universe, which abundant scientific evidence seems to support, is by asserting that God created the universe with the appearance of age. Adam, for example, would have had a naval despite the fact that he was not born (and, therefore, had no umbilical cord). Unfortunately, while this "solution" may resolve one problem, it raises more difficult ones, not the least of which is why God would use such a deceptive or, at least, misleading method (see Moreland 1999:86-87).4

At the opposite end of the continuum, is the secular model familiar to most people and its religious counterpart. Because these appeal almost exclusively to the findings of science, it will be helpful to review the task of science before we look at those models,. Despite the aura of authority the scientific community projects, the scientific process is not open-ended. There are limits to what we can realistically expect when attempting to answer the question: What can science discover?

Monday, June 2, 2014

Who were "the sons of God" in Genesis?

Dr. Paul Manuel—2000

We know so little about the period before the flood that some references are more puzzling than illuminating. For example, there is the obscure mention of intermarriage in...
Gen 6:1 When men began to increase in number on the earth and daughters were born to them, 2 the sons of God saw that the daughters of men were beautiful, and they married any of them they chose. 3 Then the LORD said, "My Spirit will not contend with man forever, for he is mortal; his days will be a hundred and twenty years." 4 The Nephilim were on the earth in those days—and also afterward—when the sons of God went to the daughters of men and had children by them. They were the heroes of old, men of renown.
Who are these two parties ("sons of God" and "daughters of men"), and who are the Nephilim? Commentators have generally adopted one of two positions in answering the question...

I. What is the nature of the union?
A. It is inter-species.
1. "Sons of God" are angelic beings.
a. That is their designation.1
  • Job 1:6 [= Job 2:1] One day the angels [lit. sons of God] came to present themselves before the LORD, and Satan also came with them.
b. That is their transgression.2
  • 2 Pet 2:4 For if God did not spare angels when they sinned, but sent them to hell, putting them into gloomy dungeons to be held for judgment;
  • Jude 6 And the angels who did not keep their positions of authority but abandoned their own home—these he has kept in darkness, bound with everlasting chains for judgment on the great Day.
2. "Daughters of men" are human beings.
  • Ps 11:4 The LORD is in his holy temple; the LORD is on his heavenly throne. He observes the sons of men; his eyes examine them.
  • Eccl. 3:10 I have seen the burden God has laid on [the sons of] men.
B. It is intra-species.3