Language is Not Mathematics

123 or ABC

2+2=4 in every language, in every culture. Even among people with no written language, a girl having two sheep who gets two more sheep always ends up having four sheep. There is no room for ambiguity or nuance. The numbers don’t lie; they don’t hide the truth.

Language, however, cannot claim to be so straightforward. There are always two participants in language, the speaker/writer and the hearer/reader. Language always has nuance.

One could say, “He went to the store.” -Seems simple and straightforward, but the understanding is affected by the emphasis of the speaker. HE went to the store. He WENT to the store. He went TO the store. He went to the STORE. These all have different nuance of meaning.

More than speaking, writing adds another level of complexity. While the hearer has audio emphasis as well as possible facial expression and body gestures to aid understanding, the reader must gather by context which emphasis the writer means.

Language is always a conversation. Even a soliloquy must have a hearer. The hearer must always intuit the speakers meaning to some degree.

We come to the problem with translations.

The translator studies the context, and deciphers as mathematically as possible, but he can never translate without the bias of his own understanding, his own intuition.

I am not a language expert, but in my limited experience it seems that some languages are more mathematical than others. For instance, Latin is very mathematical in form and order while English leaves much freedom of order and even of form to the speaker/writer. Still, Latin is not as clearly unambiguous as mathematics.

A few years ago a series of tornadoes blew destruction across the southeastern US. Some of my neighbors discovered windblown mail from other states dropped by the swirling clouds into their backyards. Some letters were actually returned. Had I discovered a letter out of the blue and had read it, no doubt I would have found nuances that I could not intuit because I do not know the writer.

Here is my point. In order to fully understand a speaker, a hearer must know the speaker. Also, understanding is more apt to be accurate when the hearer is actually in the presence of the speaker, face to face, so to speak. Again, this is a problem for translators.

I can fully affirm my belief that the Bible is the “only infallible rule of faith and of practice.” Yet, I do not find a translation that I can fully trust to be infallible due to nuances intuited or not intuited by the translators. I study the text using several translations, paraphrases and lexicons, but none of them will ever yield a mathematically accurate understanding. I have resigned myself that I must know the speaker.

My father was a gentle, empathetic and kind man. If someone brought me a letter written in my father’s handwriting that could be interpreted as harsh, vindictive or unkind, I would reject that interpretation. Those characteristics were not in his nature. I would look into the context and the history to find clues about his meaning.

We have such clues to be used in Bible interpretation. The greatest clue as to the character of God is Jesus himself. In his own words, “If you have seen me, you have seen my Father also.” God is a spirit. It is hard for us to see Him. Jesus was “the image of the invisible God”. The best interpretation of any passage will be found by seeing God through the character of Jesus Christ. It reminds me of  the old saying, “What would Jesus do?”

 No man hath seen God at any time; the only begotten Son, which is in the bosom of the Father, he hath declared him.
John 1:18

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Building New Earth Now

New Earth Comes Forth


Let every man take heed how he buildeth thereupon.  11 For other foundation can no man lay than that is laid, which is Jesus Christ.  12 Now if any man build upon this foundation gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, stubble;  13 Every man’s work shall be made manifest: for the day shall declare it, because it shall be revealed by fire; and the fire shall try every man’s work of what sort it is.  14 If any man’s work abide which he hath built thereupon, he shall receive a reward.

1 Corinthians 3:10-14

Wood, hay, stubble, gold, silver, precious stones – That which we build will be tried as by fire. What is worthy will endure. Endure as what? Where?

Paul’s imaginative picture of wise master builders and workmen building a physical structure, a temple, reminds me of another imaginative story.

Ainulindale is the first part of J R R Tolkien‘s epic The Silmarillion. The name means The Music of the Ainur. It is the creation story of Tolkien’s mythology of Middle Earth. From the thought of Iluvatar the creator spring musical creatures called the Ainur. Iluvatar frees the Ainur to create music which culminates in a great symphony. They sing and make harmonious music until one of them becomes purposely dissonant and draws others after himself. Yet the music continues. After all the music has come to completion, Iluvatar opens the musicians’ eyes to see where before they were only able to hear and to make music. When given sight, the Ainur view the glorious world their music created. All along the music was initiating and developing the whole world of Middle Earth, even its histories and its characters.

What if what we are doing in this world is building a kingdom, The Kingdom of God – New Earth and New Heaven!

Of course Paul said that some of what we build will not endure. God will judge it.

Judge nothing before the time, until the Lord come, who both will bring to light the hidden things of darkness, and will make manifest the counsels of the hearts: and then shall every man have praise of God.
1 Corinthians 4:5

We are laborers together with God: … I have laid the foundation, and another buildeth thereon. But let every man take heed how he buildeth thereupon… If any man’s work abide which he hath built thereupon, he shall receive a reward15 If any man’s work shall be burned, he shall suffer loss: but he himself shall be saved; yet so as by fire.  16 Know ye not that ye are the temple of God
1 Corinthians 3:9-16

What we do matters, and God will have His Temple.
Anybody who builds with unworthy materials “shall suffer loss: but he himself shall be saved; yet so as by fire.”

Like Tolkien’s musical Ainur, we will one day see what we are building, and it will be glorious!

 

Aside:

Why Children Should Be Taught Fairy Tales

 Mythology : Earthly Reality :: Earthly Reality : Heaven

Mythologies and fairy tales are imaginative descriptions of earthly realities.
Earthly reality is a shadow cast by Heaven.

 [Priests] who serve unto the example and shadow of heavenly things, as Moses was admonished of God when he was about to make the tabernacle: for, See, saith he, that thou make all things according to the pattern shewed to thee in the mount.
Hebrews 8:4-5  

Now we see shadows and patterns until He opens our eyes.

Your Equation of 12

Imagine that the number 12 represents you as a fully mature son of God, as in Ephesians 4:13.

Equation of 12Till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ.

 

Equations of 12

In our analogy the number 12 represents you, fully formed into the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ.

1 John 3:2-3  Beloved, now are we the sons of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that, when he shall appear, we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is.  3 And every man that hath this hope in him purifieth himself, even as he is pure. 

6+6=12                 5+8-1=12        

2+10=12                2 x 6=12      

4+4+4=12             24/2=12

3+3+3+3=12        100-88=12          950.4/79.2=12

There are an infinite number of ways to get to 12, but they all equal 12.

Cattle Chute

Cattle Chute

What if the choices we make every day are creating the equation of our lives?
What if God is NOT guiding us down a cattle chute toward our 12?

Maybe, as our poor choices send our equation off the mark, God brings situations that offer opportunities to correct our equation.

My equation interacts with your equation and many other equations.  We add to and subtract from one another’s equations.

All the time there is a Guiding Hand, not manipulating, but offering a path that leads to 12.

Jesus the Sin Offering and the Priest

Part of this post is an excerpt from my book He Who Bleeds available on amazon.com

Is God angry, raging and vengeful? Animal sacrifice? What a barbaric custom!  Gruesome, even cruel.  No wonder many Christian theologians separate the angry God of the Old Testament from the loving God of the New Testament.   

Who is Who?

There is a gospel in the Old Testament.  Jesus opened the Old Testament scriptures to the disciples on the road to Emmaus after his resurrection.

Beginning at Moses and all the prophets, he expounded unto them in all the scriptures the things concerning himself.  Luke 24:27

What is animal sacrifice?  I mean, what is it all about?   I know it is representative, but who is who?  I mean, who is the animal representing?  Maybe he is representing me, and I should die for my sin, but the innocent animal dies in my place so God can forgive me.  Is this really what is going on?

What if, in the gospel according to the First Covenant, the sacrificial animal takes the representative role of the victim of that sin?  To find the answer we must look into the ceremony of Atonement.

Atonement is a Legal Term

The Hebrew word in the Strong’s concordance is #3722 kaphar[1].  An example of kaphar as a legal term is in Isaiah 28:18 “your covenant with death shall be disannulled, and your agreement with hell shall not stand;” A covenant is a legally binding agreement, like a contract.  Disannulment  brings the contract to a legal end.  Disannulment frees the signers from further contract liability.  Disannulment is atonement, kaphar.

Atonement as referred to in Mosaic Law is the waiving of the required legal punishment.  Sins for which atonement is made are covered.  They are covered from the punishment of the law.  The process of atonement does not negate the need for repentance and restitution.  On the contrary, confession, repentance and making restitution are necessary steps to atonement[2].  According to Leviticus, after these first steps had been accomplished, then the priest shall make an atonement for him.

The Priest is the Acting Intercessor

How did the priest make an atonement for the sinner?  What did the priest do?  

In a case where the sinner confesses and repents to the victim, as long as the victim is satisfied with the repentance, they may declare peace with one another, and the incident is over. Like Jesus said in Matthew 5:25,  Agree with your adversary quickly, while you are on the way with him.  There is no need for the law to step in and provide an intercessor.   But what if the sinner repents, and still the victim refuses to make peace?  Then there is need for the law to provide an intercessor.  The intercessor acts in the place of the defrauded victim and makes an atonement for the repentant sinner.   

The earthly pattern that God gave Moses for atonement had two parts.  These were two actors, so to speak, in this earthly pre-enactment of the necessary action in the heavens.  The sacrificial animal and the priest both represent the victim of the sin.  The animal loses his life as the victim who has been defrauded of a portion of his life.  The priest, in the place of the victim, makes atonement, in other words, waives the charges against the sinner. 

            Ceremonially, two actors were needed because the animal could lay down his life, but could not intelligently waive the charges.  The priest could waive the charges, but could not die or suffer equal defraudment for every sin he atoned.  So, the priest was required to eat the sin offering[3] to make himself one with the animal who was taking on the position of the victim.  It was imperative upon the priest that he eat the sin offering, and only the priest who offered the sacrifice was allowed to eat it. 

Because the priest representatively becomes the victim of my sin, he has the right to press charges against me or to waive the charges.  

What did he do?  The priest waived the charges in the stead of the victim and atonement was made.

            Jesus was able to be both sin offering and priest.  Jesus was “touched with the feeling of our infirmities[4].  He accepted the weight of pain and grief caused by every sin ever committed bearing it in his own body on the cross.  He is the Victim of all our sin, and He could choose to press charges or to waive the charges against us.  Thank God, he chose to intercede in the proceedings that were against us making atonement for our sins, not pressing the charges.  Only the victim or one who legally stands in the victim’s stead can do that.  Jesus is the True Victim who holds the right to forgive every sin; and he is our High Priest who “ever liveth to make intercession for us”.[5] 

Let’s go back to where we started.  Is this a barbaric picture of animal sacrifice?  Gruesome, even cruel?  Maybe; but who is cruel, God? or the sinner? 

Sin is cruel, and Jesus came to take away sin.

Behold! The Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!
John 1:29  

[1] 3722  kaphar {kaw-far’} From Strong’s Concordance
Meaning:  1) to cover, purge, make an atonement, make reconciliation, cover over with pitch 1a) to coat or cover with pitch  1b1) to cover over, pacify, propitiate 1b2) to cover over, atone for sin, make atonement for 1b3) to cover over, atone for sin and persons by legal rites 1c1) to be covered over 1c2) to make atonement for 1d) to be covered
Origin:  a primitive root
Usage:  AV – atonement 71, purge 7, reconciliation 4, reconcile 3, forgive 3, purge away 2, pacify 2, atonement…made 2, merciful 2, cleansed 1, disannulled 1, appease 1, put off 1, pardon 1, pitch 1; 102

[2] Leviticus 6:4-7  Then it shall be, because he hath sinned, and is guilty, that he shall restore that which he took violently away, or the thing which he hath deceitfully gotten, or that which was delivered him to keep, or the lost thing which he found,  5 Or all that about which he hath sworn falsely; he shall even restore it in the principal, and shall add the fifth part more thereto, and give it unto him to whom it appertaineth, in the day of his trespass offering.  6 And he shall bring his trespass offering unto the LORD, a ram without blemish out of the flock, with thy estimation, for a trespass offering, unto the priest:  7 And the priest shall make an atonement for him before the LORD: and it shall be forgiven him for any thing of all that he hath done in trespassing therein.

[3] Leviticus 6:26  The priest that offereth it for sin shall eat it: in the holy place shall it be eaten, in the court of the tabernacle of the congregation.

[4] Hebrews 4:15  For we have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin.

[5] Hebrews 7:25  Wherefore he is able also to save them to the uttermost that come unto God by him, seeing he ever liveth to make intercession for them.

The Last Amen – Christian Death

Christian Death

The words don’t go together, Christian death.  It’s an oxymoron, maybe it’s a diptych.  

The following is a guest post by Rae Shrock.  Rae is the editor and creator of the beautiful, slick, full color Daughters of Promise Magazine, available online and in hard copy.

 “The magazine has expanded to include many gifted writers, photographers, and fellow visionaries who share a common passion to encourage women in their faith. DOP is unique in that it is primarily written by women of the Anabaptist denomination. We are a diverse mix, but we share a common love for set-apartness, experiential Christianity, and Jesus.”

Christian Death

In Memory of
Elizabeth Brewer Ward
1981-2013

Rae was inspired to write this article, which is almost a poem, by the Christian deaths of friends and neighbors near her.  She is young, but death experiences reach us all on a deep and common level.  Rae’s gift with words will bring her experience close to your heart and gently warm you with her hope and ours.  The young mother, Elizabeth, whom she mentions toward the end is my precious daughter-in law.  My son is the husband who awoke that morning a widower.  Her three young children are my full-of-life grandchildren.  

Thank you, Rae, for bringing us all the Light of Hope in this article.

 

 

The Last Amen

By Rae Schrock

We live to die.

From the first filling of virgin lungs, the process begins.

Life. It is framed by the handles of time: when we begin, and when we end.

Grasped by the Giver and handed to us, a gift of grace.

Life is a gift.

And to most radiantly honor the Giver, the gift of life lived must glorify Him. Must be full to the brim of worship, one breath after another,

Inhaling Christ. Exhaling praise.

So, as we live to worship, we die to say ‘Amen’.

Could this be the point of it all? To have lived so well that the last breath I draw simply echoes the brevity of all my time here, an exclamation point to the life He gave? God, glorified. Christ, adored. Worship pulsing, filling, spanning the whole of my one solitary life. Death, pronouncing the awe-choked, hands-raised ‘Amen’, to a life fully lived. A glorious ‘Let it be’ to the worship of a life fully laid down to Christ.

If I live to worship,

If I live to die,

Then let death be my final declaration of love. Let it be shouted from my slow- beating heart and emptying lungs that HE was why I lived. That every moment; every bead of choking grief, exhausting labor, tempestuous trial, was encapsulated in the radiant joy of being His. Pearls strung along the strand of time, my every moment was meaningful because it was for Him.

I see the Garden. And beyond, the cross. I glimpse the Son of Man, torn with grief, writhing against the weight of humanity’s sins & the crushing blows of death itself, laying open tattered ribbons across His back. And as blood-caked, sun-scorched lips part to breathe last words, the words that split sky, shook earth, slashed listening ears of demons, & leaped in the hearts of every man who has caught their reverberations throughout the ages; as Jesus embraced what all humanity must, He embraced us more.

It is finished.

Not life, but death!

The words thunder in my heart. They shatter fear, split doubt … Continue reading

Three Days and Three Nights, The Biblical Sequence

In order to prove that Jesus was in the tomb, that is, the heart of the earth, for three days and three nights, we must see the parallel of the Gospels to get the time sequence.

The Biblical Sequence, Three Days and Three Nights:shining-cross-5_1039316910
The days of the week apply to the particular year of Jesus’ crucifixion since the Passover may land on any day of the week depending on the sighting of the first new moon each year.

1. The Evening Prior to the Daytime of the Preparation for the Passover [Tuesday night]:
The Last Supper, the Garden of Gethsemane, the arrest, the trial before the Sanhedrin

2. The Day of Preparation for the Passover [Wednesday]:
Taken before Pilate, taken to Herod, the beating, the crucifixion and His death, the burial
Night One

3. The 1st day of Unleavened Bread, a high day Sabbath [Thursday]:
Pharisees demand a seal of the tomb and a watch of soldiers.
Day One
Night Two

4. The 2nd Day of Unleavened Bread [Friday]:
The women buy and prepare spices.
Day Two
Night Three

5. The 3rd Day of Unleavened Bread, a weekly Sabbath day [Saturday]:
The women rested according to the commandment.
Day Three

6. The 4th Day of Unleavened Bread, the 1st day of the week [Sunday]:
The women bring the prepared spices to the tomb early in the morning while it is yet dark and find He is already risen.

So Jesus must have returned to his fleshly body late Saturday afternoon.  By 3 pm, the full three days and three nights prophecy would have been fulfilled.

Discrepancy? Do the Gospel writers disagree?

I would like to clear up an apparent discrepancy in Mark 14:12.
And the first day of unleavened bread, when they killed the Passover, his disciples said unto him, Where wilt thou that we go and prepare that thou mayest eat the Passover?

1. We know that the 1st Day of Unleavened Bread is NOT the day on which the Passover lamb was killed. Continue reading

Crucifixion to Resurrection Three Days and Three Nights? How’s that?

Let’s see …Three days and three nights, right?

Well, we’ll count Friday, Good Friday, as day one.  That’s when they say Jesus was crucified, so he died that afternoon and was buried that day before dark.  Day two must be Saturday.  Uh oh, everyone knows Easter Sunday is Resurrection Day, and he was alive early in the morning when Mary came to the tomb.  Anyway, even if they aren’t full days, we have counted three days, Friday, Saturday and Sunday.  The three nights?  Friday night, Saturday night, …no Sunday night.  How can we make it work?  And why does it matter? It’s just tradition, and I guess the early church had a little trouble counting.

But there is more to it than just tradition.  Jesus himself laid his whole claim to Messiahship on these three days and three nights.  It was to be his proof, his sign.

Matthew 12:38-40 Then certain of the scribes and of the Pharisees answered, saying,
Master, we would see a sign from thee.
But he answered and said unto them, Jonah and Whale pic
An evil and adulterous generation seeketh after a sign;
and there shall no sign be given to it, but the sign of the prophet Jonas:
For as Jonas was three days and three nights in the whale’s belly¹;
so shall the Son of man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth.

Before we go to pieces and begin to doubt our faith, let’s look again at the account.  Thankfully, we have four separate witnesses to these three days and three nights; Matthew, Mark, Luke and John.  And, yes, each day and each night is present and accounted for.

Sabbath Day Confusion

The confusion over the time sequence between Jesus’ death and His resurrection is caused by our lack of familiarity with the Law. Certain feast days were also Sabbath days, Continue reading