Secret of the Magi

Richard Noel

As a child I was fascinated when I heard the story of the Magi coming to see the baby Jesus. At that time I was fascinated by the pictures of rich people coming on camels to Bethlehem and bringing valuable gifts for Jesus.

Later on, I began to wonder just how they were able to get to the right place at the right time. Out of that question comes this presentation. When we are done looking at this puzzle, I believe you will be amazed at the accuracy of two ancient prophecies and the faith of the men who believed them. I hope this will strengthen your faith in the Bible and your desire to trust in Jesus.

Continue reading Secret of the Magi

Dynamite

by Richard Noel

Power is a prominent subject throughout the scripture. The Greek term for ‘power’ is dunamis. This term is often translated “miracle” in the Bible. It is the word from which we get the word Dynamite. What makes us so afraid of letting God demonstrate His power in us???

Continue reading Dynamite

Horse Blinders

Richard Noel

As a child I remember the first time I noticed horse blinders. A horse was pulling a buggy. I wondered why the owner would limit the ability of the horse to see what was happening beside the horse. I learned that sometimes the horse is more cooperative when it is not distracted by what is happening beside it. With blinders, it would listen more to the voice of the owner and to the signals from the reigns. I have never seen a person ride a horse with blinders. The blinders are to focus the attention on the job at hand and reduce the element of surprise for the one working the horse. These are especially useful in training a horse for certain jobs.

I never was a horse person. I am neither a rider nor trainer. Others have taught me that horses used in handling cattle are never ridden with blinders. Also, they are some of the most fully trained horses in the world. They will respond to the rider giving the gentlest of vocal instructions. I have even seen horses respond to their rider whispering to them.

In the Christian life we sometimes need blinders in order to successfully learn some things. Continue reading Horse Blinders

Spirit, Flesh and Blood

Richard Noel

I have always puzzled over the language used by the Apostle Paul in describing the Christian life. My problem came in reading 1 Corinthians 15:50. The language seems so strange.

NAU 1 Corinthians 15:50: “Now I say this, brethren, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God; nor does the perishable inherit the imperishable.”

This raised a group of questions I will attempt to answer explicitly from the Word of God. I don’t object to logic, as long as it is firmly rooted in the facts of the Word.

  • Why is inheritance so important? Who do we inherit from? How?
  • What is it about “flesh and blood” that makes it impossible to inherit the kingdom of God?
  • What is the solution to this impossible situation?

I listened to many people give explanations. They all seemed to partly answer my confusion, but not completely. Finally, I gave up on other people giving me a satisfactory answer. I decided to see what Paul and the other Bible writers meant when they used words like “flesh”, “blood”, and “spirit”.

I had already figured out that these terms occasionally were used in an ordinary secular sense. Other times they obviously meant something I was still missing.

My search began with a concordance. These words are used many times. In the Bible:

  1. “flesh” is used over 300 times
  2. “blood” is used over 400 times
  3. “spirit” is used over 550 times

This could be a long study, so I will try to focus on the important points in a simple and practical way.

Context and other verses

Fortunately, only a few verses in the Bible use this special expression “flesh and blood“, let’s look at them first for the overall context. Matt. 16:17; 1 Co. 15:50; Gal. 1:16; Eph. 6:12; Heb. 2:14

Jesus used the expression in Matthew 16:17

“And Jesus answered and said unto him, Blessed art thou, Simon Barjona: for flesh and blood hath not revealed it unto thee, but my Father which is in heaven.” Obviously, God is not “flesh and blood”.

Paul used the expression 4 times including the text I am concerned about.

Galatians 1:16 , “. immediately I conferred not with flesh and blood: 17 Neither went I up to Jerusalem to them which were apostles before me; but I went into Arabia..” Here Paul seems to be referring to humans in contrast to God.

NAU Ephesians 6:12 “For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places .”

Clearly this separates supernatural forces from human powers.

KJV Hebrews 2:14 “Forasmuch then as the children are partakers of flesh and blood, he also himself likewise took part of the same; that through death he might destroy him that had the power of death, that is, the devil;”

This text tells us that Jesus participated in humanity, i.e . flesh and blood.

1. Why is inheritance so important? Who do we inherit from? How?

KJV Genesis 15:7 “And he said unto him, I am the LORD that brought thee out of Ur of the Chaldees, to give thee this land to inherit it.”

Clearly it is not a new idea for a human to inherit something from God. This seems to imply that God is the real owner or Abram could not inherit it from God. The fact is it is God’s creation so He is the real owner. But.. The Hebrew language is really different from English in this text. The word translated “inherit” can mean: to seize, dispossess, take possession off, inherit, disinherit, occupy, impoverish, be an heir.1

KJV Numbers 13:30 “And Caleb stilled the people before Moses, and said, Let us go up at once, and possess it; for we are well able to overcome it.”

Here is another usage of the same Hebrew word. In fact, this is the more common usage of the word. Many other texts confirm that this word refers to ” possession” more than to what we call “inheritance”.

Another Hebrew term is also used. It has similar meanings. In the following text it clearly refers to what we call “inheritance”. However, the basic meaning is “possess”.2

KJV Psalm 69:36 “The seed also of his servants shall inherit it: and they that love his name shall dwell therein.”

The Greek word used by Paul clearly contains the same group of ideas as the Hebrew words.3 Thus, it is impossible to force this text strictly into the mould of Western thought. We must allow for the idea of obtaining or receiving a possession.

Having gone this far, I still don’t see the impossibility of possessing the kingdom solved, so that I can obtain a place in the kingdom of God. Do we have to cease to be human to get into the kingdom?

Continue reading Spirit, Flesh and Blood

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  1. 3423 yarash {yaw-rash’} or vrey” yaresh {yaw-raysh’}

    Meaning: 1) to seize, dispossess, take possession off, inherit, disinherit, occupy, impoverish, be an heir
    1a) (Qal) 1a1) to take possession of 1a2) to inherit 1a3) to impoverish, come to poverty, be poor
    1b) (Niphal) to be dispossessed, be impoverished, come to poverty
    1c) (Piel) to devour
    1d) (Hiphil) 1d1) to cause to possess or inherit 1d2) to cause others to possess or inherit 1d3) to impoverish 1d4) to dispossess 1d5) to destroy, bring to ruin, disinherit [
    -]

  2. 5159 nachalah {nakh-al-aw’}

    Meaning: 1) possession, property, inheritance, heritage 1a) property 1b) portion, share 1c) inheritance, portion [-]

  3. 2816 kleronomeo {klay-ron-om-eh’-o}

    Meaning: 1) to receive a lot, receive by lot
    – 1a) esp. to receive a part of an inheritance, receive as an inheritance, obtain by right of inheritance
    – 1b) to be an heir, to inherit
    2) to receive the portion assigned to one, receive an allotted portion, receive as one’s own or as a possession
    3) to become partaker of, to obtain [-]

What on Earth Happened in 1844?

by Richard Noel

In the Autumn of 1844, William Miller, a Baptist in America had been preaching for a few years that he expected Jesus to come soon. He refined his calculations to October 22, 1844. Interestingly, he made a few mistakes in his calculations. First, he assumed that the prophecy was about the Day of Atonement. He expected Jesus to come and then destroy the earth by fire. None of these things happened on the date predicted. The disappointment of his followers was severe. The next day one of them (Hiram Edson) was walking through his corn field to avoid the road and the embarrassment of meeting his neighbors. He was going to meet with a few of his friends to try to understand what went wrong. In the corn field he had a very short vision.

Like many of the prophets he did not understand the vision. He related what he saw to his friends. He told them he had seen a vision of Jesus entering the Most Holy place in the Heavenly Sanctuary. They discussed the vision and came to the opinion that it meant that the prophecy was to be fulfilled in heaven not on this earth. From that conclusion they received comfort that God had not forgotten them.

Continue reading What on Earth Happened in 1844?