JESUS’ RESURRECTION OF LAZARUS

 

Chapter 11:1-44 of John’s Gospel describes the event of Jesus’ resurrection of Lazarus.

“Now a certain man was sick, named Lazarus, of Bethany, the town of Mary and her sister, Martha. (It was that Mary who anointed the Lord with ointment, and wiped his feet with her hair, whose brother Lazarus was sick.) Therefore, his sisters sent to him, saying, Lord, behold, he whom you love is sick. When Jesus heard that, he said, This sickness is not for death, but for the glory of God, that the Son of God might be glorified by it.

“Now Jesus loved Martha, and her sister, and Lazarus. When he had heard, therefore, that he was sick, he remained another two days in the same place where he was. Then, after that, he said to his disciples, Let us go into Judea again.”

Jesus’ disciples thought at first that Lazarus was merely asleep. They questioned Him as to why, if that were the case, he needed to go to him, along a route they knew was dangerous for him. Jesus responded directly by telling them that Lazarus was dead. He followed that with an enigmatic statement:

“And I am glad for your sakes that I was not there, to the intent that you may believe; nevertheless, let us go to him.”

By the time that Jesus got to Lazarus’ place, he had already been dead for four days. When Martha and Mary complained about His delay in getting to Lazarus, He reassured them that Lazarus would rise again. Then He made the following statement:

“I am the resurrection, and the life; he that believes in me, though he was dead, yet shall he live. And whoever lives and believes in me shall never die. Do you believe this?”

When Jesus saw Mary weeping along with Lazarus’ friends, He asked where Lazarus had been laid, and wept along with them. The friends marveled at this demonstration of Jesus’ love for Lazarus. When Jesus came to the cave where Lazarus was, He asked that the covering stone be removed. Martha responded with horror, reminding Jesus that after four days, Lazarus would have the stench of death. At this, Jesus reminded her that if she would believe, she would see the glory of God. When the covering stone was removed, Jesus lifted up His eyes and, for the sake of the belief of the onlookers, thanked His Father for hearing Him. With that, He commanded Lazarus,

“Lazarus, come forth.”

Lazarus responded to this command by stepping alive out of the cave, still in his graveclothes.

On the surface, this story is worthwhile for demonstrating Jesus’ compassion toward Lazarus, and for His supernatural ability to perform a resurrection. But the story prods us to look for a deeper significance, in the odd circumstance of Jesus waiting for another two days before performing the resurrection. Surely He knew how Mary, Martha and Lazarus’ close friends would be grieving, and that his loitering around would serve to prolong their suffering. It would almost seem that Jesus was rather indifferent to the whole business, a thought that clashes with the fact that Jesus made a hazardous journey to reach Lazarus, and that He wept, and that He did perform the resurrection.

The apparent contradictions of motive in the story point out that something else is in play here – that the resurrection was a far more important event than simply reviving Lazarus. Jesus was actually prophesying His own resurrection. Sense can be made that He waited until Lazarus was dead four days before resurrecting him only if there is a significance to the period of four days that is associated with this prophecy.

Verse 4 of Psalm 90 gives us an interesting clue as to what that significance might be.

“For a thousand years in your sight are but as yesterday when it is past, and as a watch in the night.”

If this was the only passage that presented a specific relationship among specific periods of time, one might be tempted to dismiss the association as reading too much into the verse. But there is another verse, 2 Peter 3:8, that describes that same relationship:

“But, beloved, be not ignorant of this one thing, that one day is with the Lord as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day.”

Moreover, the implication of Jesus raising Lazarus after the fourth day is not the only association of four days with Jesus’ appearance. There is an even more basic one, the Passover that pointed to Jesus as the Lamb of God. The Passover event, as described in Exodus 12, includes a significant four-day period in verses 3 and 6 just before the killing of the lamb:

“Speak you to all the congregation of Israel, saying, In the tenth day of this month they shall take to them every man a lamb, according to the house of their fathers, a lamb for a house . . . And you shall keep it until the fourteenth day of the same month; and the whole assembly of the congregation of Israel shall kill it in the evening.”

Here is that same time period, when the lamb has been kept until after the fourth day, after which he was killed. Jesus as the Lamb of God was crucified after the fourth millennium from Creation.

Furthermore, God in Scripture makes other precise relationships among time periods, as in Ezekiel 4:6, where the following sentence may be found:

“I have appointed you each day for a year.”

In the sense of a day for a thousand years, Jesus came to Earth on the Fourth Day since Creation, confirming that His birth in the midst of a seven-millennium history of man of itself was a prophecy of His own resurrection.

It also confirms God’s use of time equivalence in Scripture.

JESUS QUOTES THE PROPHET ISAIAH

 

The prophet Isaiah, who lived in the eighth century B.C., is a prominent source of Old Testament prophecies that address the Jesus to come. Among these prophecies is the passage in Isaiah 7:14 where the prophet describes Jesus as being born of a virgin, and the passage in Isaiah 9:1 and 2, where Isaiah claims that Jesus will come from Galilee. Because so many of his prophecies depict such accurate facts about Jesus, some would-be Bible scholars attempted to claim that the Book of Isaiah was written after Jesus’ first advent. This claim was shown to be false by the discovery of the Dead Sea Scrolls in 1947, the documents of which were dated to before Christ and which contained the complete Book of Isaiah.

Jesus also quoted passages of Isaiah, confirming their truth. Isaiah 61:1-2a reads as follows:

“The Spirit of the Lord God is upon me, because the Lord has anointed me to preach good tidings to the meek; he has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to those who are bound; to proclaim the acceptable year of the

Lord . . .”

Jesus, in Luke 4:16-21, is quoted as saying essentially the same words as Isaiah. And well He should, as He was reading from a scroll.

“And he came to Nazareth, where he had been brought up; and, as his custom was, he went into the synagogue on the sabbath day, and stood up to read. And there was delivered unto him the book of the prophet, Isaiah. And when he had opened the book, he found the place where it was written, The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor; he has sent me to heal the brokenhearted, to preach deliverance to the captives, and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty them that are bruised, to preach the acceptable year of the Lord.

“And he closed the book, and he gave it again to the minister, and sat down. And the eyes of all them that were in the synagogue were fastened on him. And he began to say to them, This day is this scripture fulfilled in your ears.”

But what adds authority to Jesus’ words is that in quoting Isaiah, He didn’t finish the entire verse, the rest of which reads:

“. . .and the day of vengeance of our God; to comfort all that mourn; to appoint unto those who mourn in Zion, to give them beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning, the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness, that they might be called trees of righteousness, the planting of the Lord, that he might be glorified.”

Isaiah goes on to describe the blessings with which God will endow the nation of Israel.

Why did Jesus break off Isaiah’s prophecy in mid-sentence? Because in the synagogue He was describing just what He would accomplish regarding Isaiah’s prophecy in His first advent. The remainder of Isaiah’s prophecy was related to Jesus’ Second Coming, as foretold in the Book of Revelation.

Another passage of Isaiah that was quoted by Jesus is in Isaiah 6:9 and 10:

“And he said, Go, and tell this people, Hear you indeed, but understand not; and see you indeed, but perceive not. Make the heart of this people fat, and make their ears heavy, and shut their eyes; lest they see with their eyes, and hear with their ears, and understand with their heart, and are converted, and be healed.”

Jesus often spoke of the necessity of having eyes to see and ears to hear what He is teaching. In Mark 4:12, He quotes Isaiah 6:9 and 10 almost verbatim:

“That seeing they may see, and not perceive; and hearing they may hear, and not understand; lest at any time they should be converted, and their sins should be forgiven them.”

These passages seem to say that God gives a saving knowledge of Him to some people but denies it to others. Is this what He’s really saying? There is another passage, in Matthew 11:25-27 that seems so say just that.

“At that time Jesus answered and said, I thank you, O Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because you have hidden these things from the wise and prudent, and have revealed them to babes.

“All things are delivered to me by my Father, and no man knows the Son, but the Father; neither knows any man the Father, but the Son, and Him to whomever the Son will reveal Him.”

Why would God deny knowledge of Him to some, as this passage clearly states? In Matthew 13:11-16, Jesus repeats this denial, and gives us an answer as to why, with a commentary similar to that in His Parable of the Talents (Matthew 25).

“[Jesus] answered and said to them, Because it is given to you to know the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven, but to them it is not given.

“For whoever has, to him shall be given, and he shall have more abundance; but whoever has not, from him shall be taken away even what he has.

“Therefore I speak to them in parables, because they seeing, see not, and hearing, they hear not, neither do they understand. And in them is fulfilled the prophecy of Isaiah, which says, By hearing, you shall hear and shall not understand, and seeing, you shall see and not perceive; for this people’s heart is become gross, and their ears are dull of hearing, and their eyes they have closed, lest at any time they should see with their eyes, and hear with their ears, and should understand with their heart, and should be converted, and I should heal them.

“But blessed are your eyes, for they see; and your ears, for they hear.”

What Jesus was saying is that some people are so full of selfishness and pride and so caught up in the secular, material world that they don’t think of God as even relevant to their lives. They cannot understand, primarily because they don’t want to. Paul picked up on this failing of secular-minded people in 1 Corinthians 1:18-25:

“For the preaching of the cross is to them that perish foolishness; but unto us who are saved it is the power of God For it is written, I will destroy the wisdom of the wise, and will bring to nothing the understanding of the prudent. Where is the wise? Where is the scribe? Where is the disputer of this age? Has God not made foolish the wisdom of this world? For after that, in the wisdom of God, the world by wisdom knew not God, it pleased God by the foolishness of preaching to save them who believe. For the Jews require a sign, and the Gentiles seek after wisdom; but we preach Christ crucified, unto the Jews a stumbling block, and unto the Gentiles foolishness; but to them who are called, both Jews and Gentiles, Christ the power of God, and the wisdom of God. Because the foolishness of God is wiser than men; and the weakness of God is stronger than men.

THE ROAD TO EMMAUS

 

This touching account in Luke 24:13-22 is notable on several levels. At its most poignant, it shows the loving intimacy with which the risen Jesus associates with the human race. He speaks to the two men as would a loving, compassionate Parent intent on comforting their grieving souls.

The story also shows how closely the Old Testament is associated with the New, and how highly Jesus regarded it. When He revealed to the two travelers how the Scriptures foretold Him, the only Scriptures that were available to them were those of the Old Testament.

“And, behold, two of them went that same day to a village called Emmaus, which was from Jerusalem about seven and a half miles. And they talked together of all these things which had happened since Jesus’ crucifixion.

And it came to pass that, while they talked together and thought of these events, Jesus himself drew near, and went with them. But their eyes were prevented from recognizing him. And he said to them, What manner of communications are these that you have one with another, as you walk, and are sad? And one of them, whose name was Cleopas, answered him, saying, Are you only a stranger in Jerusalem, and have hot known the things which are come to pass there in these days? And he said to them, What things? And they replied, Concerning Jesus of Nazareth, who was a prophet, mighty in deed and word before God and all the people; and how the chief priests and our rulers delivered him to be condemned to death, and have crucified him. But we hoped that it had been he who should have redeemed Israel; and, besides all this, today is the third day since these things were done. Yea, and certain women also of our company amazed us, who were early at the sepulcher; and when they did not find his body, they came, saying that they had also seen a vision of angels, who said that he was alive.

Then he said to them, O foolish ones, and slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken! Ought not Christ to have suffered these things, and to enter into his glory? And beginning at Moses and all the prophets, he expounded to them, in all the scriptures, the things concerning himself.

And they drew near to the village, to which they went; and he made as though he would have gone farther. But they constrained him, saying, Abide with us; for it is toward evening, and the day is far spent. And he went in to linger with them. And it came to pass, as he sat eating with them, he took bread, and blessed it, and broke it, and gave it to them. And their eyes were opened, and they recognized him, and he vanished out of their sight. And they said one to another, Did not our heart burn within us, while he talked with us along the way, and while he opened to us the scriptures?

Perhaps Jesus explained to the travelers how He had to die for their benefit, presenting that information in terms of Joseph in Genesis, and how Joseph suffered for the salvation of his brothers who hated him, and, in the end, how he did so willingly. He could have added the account of Abraham’s attempted sacrifice of Isaac, and of how that story foretold the Father’s suffering as He had to turn His head away in sorrow from the sin that Jesus had become on the cross. He also could have explained how Moses prophesied of Him becoming sin by holding up the bronze serpent on a pole to heal those in the wilderness who had been bitten by snakes. He could have topped that off with Psalm 22, which foretold in agonizing detail how it felt to be crucified.

Maybe Jesus also explained to them why He had to wait for four days before He resurrected Lazarus, and how in doing so he was prophesying of His own resurrection after the fourth millennium from Creation.

It could be that Jesus went on to speak of the love of God toward mankind, quoting from passages of the Song of Solomon to show the exquisitely romantic nature of that love. In looking forward to that day when the Church would become the Bride of Christ, Jesus could have noted His first miracle at the wedding in Cana, where He changed water into wine to make complete the joy of marriage.

PSALM 22

 

Psalm 22 was written by David about a thousand years before Christ and several hundred years before the punishment of crucifixion was known in Israel.

“My God, my God, why have you forsaken me? Why are you so far from helping me, and from the words of my roaring?

O my God, I cry in the daytime, but you hear not; and in the night season, and am not silent. But you are holy, O you who inhabits the praise of Israel. Our fathers trusted in you; they trusted, and you did deliver them. They cried to you, and were delivered; they trusted in you, and were not confounded. But I am a worm, and no man; a reproach of men, and despised to the people. All they who see me laugh me to scorn; they shoot out the lip, they shake the head, saying, He trusted on the Lord that he would deliver him; let him deliver him, seeing he delighted in him.

But you are he who took me out of the womb; you made me hope upon my mother’s breasts. I was cast upon you from the womb; you are my God from my mother’s belly. Be not far from me; for trouble is near; for there is none to help. Many bulls have compassed me; strong bulls of Bashan have beset me round. They gaped upon me with their mouths, like a ravening and a roaring lion.

I am poured out like water, and all my bones are out of joint: my heart is like wax; it is melted within me. My strength is dried up like a potsherd, and my tongue cleaves to my jaws; and you have brought me to the dust of death. For dogs have compassed me; the assembly of the wicked have enclosed me; they pierced my hands and my feet. I may count all my bones; they look and stare upon me. They part my garments among them, and cast lots for my vesture.

“But be not far from me, O Lord. O my strength, hasten to help me. Deliver my soul from the sword; my darling from the power of the dog. Save me from the lion’s mouth; for you have heard me from the horns of the wild unicorns. I will declare your name to my brothers; in the mides of the congregation will I praise you.

“You who fear the Lord, praise him; all you, the seed of Jacob, glorify him; and fear him, all you, the seed of Israel. For he has not despised nor abhorred the affliction of the afflicted, neither has he hidden his face form him; but when he cried to him, he heard. My praise shall be of you in the great congregation; I will pay my vows before them who fear him. The meek shall be satisfied; they shall praise the Lord who seek him; your heart shall live forever. All the ends of the world shall remember and turn to the Lord; and all the kindreds of the nations shall worship before you. For the kingdom is the Lord’s; and he is the governor among the nations. All they who are fat upon the earth shall eat and worship; all they who go down to the dust shall bow before him, and none can keep alive his own soul.

“A seed shall serve him; it shall be accounted to the Lord for a generation. They shall come, and shall declare his righteousness to a people that shall be born, that he has done this.”

Matthew 27:46 records Jesus, after suffering for at least three hours after He was nailed to the cross, as echoing the cry given by David at the start of his psalm:

“And about three o’clock in the afternoon, Jesus cried with a loud voice, saying, Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani? that is to say, My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”

It was noted in another volume of this series that God had to forsake Jesus, as He, in his moral perfection, could not look upon the sin that Jesus had personified. Jesus knew this beforehand, probably no later than while praying in the Garden of Gethsemane the evening before, and this knowledge may have contributed greatly to his agony there. He certainly agonized over it on the cross, but He also may have intended this utterance to point the future reader of Scripture to that Psalm.

Psalm 22 itself described in detail the physiological effects of crucifixion. The account has a supernatural element, as the Psalm preceded the punishment of crucifixion in Israel.

RUTH FORETELLS THE CHURCH

 

The Book of Ruth in the Old Testament is another story that is short, almost the size of the tiny book of Jonah. But it is magnificent in its beauty as it describes the future Marriage of Jesus with His beloved Church.

As the story takes place during the barley harvest in the Fall, the Book of Ruth is traditionally recited in the Jewish community during the Feast of Pentecost, which also occurs during the same time. The subject of the story is much the same as the tale of Rebekah in Genesis 24, but fills in some additional details of the romantic relationship between Jesus and His Church.

The grand design of God that included mankind as an eventual member of the Heavenly Family was foreshadowed in the romantic book of Ruth. From the very beginning of man in Adam, God has jealously guarded the bloodline of the Jesus to come. This was well understood by the rulers of this world, from Pharaoh to Herod. At times that were interpreted as Messianic, these rulers were given to killing off the male forebears of Mary. They instinctively knew that the bloodline was intended to remain within the Semites, passing down through the Hebrews to the Israelites under Abraham. It was to rest on the specific tribe of Judah, through whom came King David, his son Solomon, and, finally, both Mary and her husband Joseph.

But an exception was granted, one of a very few in number. There was a gentile woman named Ruth who, after the untimely death of her first husband, demonstrated a godly loyalty to her mother-in-law Naomi, who had lived in Moab with her Israelite husband. After the death of Naomi’s husband as well, Naomi decided to move to her husband’s homeland of Israel, which God had favored with bountiful crops. Because Ruth was a native of Moab, Naomi thought she would be more comfortable staying there, rather than moving to Israel. Or could she have been testing Ruth?

“And Naomi said, Turn again, my daughters: why will you go with me? Are there yet any more sons in my womb, that they may be your husbands? Turn again, my daughters, go your way: for I am too old to have a husband. If I should say, I have hope, if I should have a husband also to night, and should also bear sons; Would you wait for them till they were grown? would you stay for them from having husbands? no, my daughters; for it grieves me much for your sakes that the hand of the Lord is gone out against me. And they lifted up their voice, and wept again: and Orpah kissed her mother in law; but Ruth clave unto her.

And she said, Behold, your sister in law is gone back unto her people, and to her gods: return you after your sister in law.

And Ruth said, Intreat me not to leave thee, or to return from following after thee: for whither thou goest, I will go; and where thou lodgest, I will lodge: thy people shall be my people, and thy God my God: Where thou diest, will I die, and there will I be buried: the Lord do so to me, and more also, if ought but death part thee and me.”

So, after making this immortal statement of loyalty, Ruth followed Naomi back to her husband’s people, and in poverty gleaned corn in the field of Naomi’s relative Boaz.

“And Naomi had a kinsman of her husband’s. a mighty man of wealth, of the family of Elimelech; and his name was Boaz. And Ruth, the Moabitess, said unto Naomi, Let me now go to the field, and glean ears of grain after him in whose sight I shall find grace. And she said unto her, Go, my daughter. And she went, and came, and gleaned in the field after the reapers; and she happened to come to a portion of the field belonging to Boaz, who was of the family of Elimelech. And, behold, Boaz came from Bethlehem, and said unto the reapers, The Lord be with you. And they answered him, The Lord bless you. And then said Boaz unto his servant who was over the reapers, Whose lady is this?”

Ruth, being a pretty woman, obviously had caught Boaz’ eye. The feeling was mutual, and out of this first encounter began the first stirrings of a romance. Ruth confided her feelings to Naomi, who advised her to show her interest to Boaz.

“And [Ruth] went down to the [threshing] floor, and did all that her mother-in-law told her to do. And when Boaz had eaten and drunk, and his heart was merry, he went to lie down at the end of the heap of grain; and she came softly, and uncovered his feet, and lay down. And it came to pass at midnight, that the man was startled, and turned himself; and, behold, a woman lay at his feet. And he said, Who are you? And she answered, I am Ruth, your handmaid. Spread, therefore, your skirt over your handmaid; for you are a near kinsman.

“And he said, Blessed be you of the Lord, my daughter: for you have shown more kindness in the latter end than the beginning, as you followed not young men, whether poor or rich. And now, my daughter, fear not; I will do to thee all that you require; for all the city of my people does know that you are a virtuous woman.”

There was a tradition in Israel, instituted by Moses from the Word of God, that if a woman’s husband died, a near kinsman was obligated to marry her and raise up children for her. By lying at Boaz’ feet, Ruth was claiming that obligation to Boaz. Boaz, in turn, enthusiastically agreed to fulfill that obligation. Ruth conceived a child through this man. His name was Obed:

“And Naomi took the child, and laid it in her bosom, and became nurse unto it. And the women her neighbors gave it a name, saying, There is a son born to Naomi; and they called his name Obed: he is the father of Jesse, the father of David.

Now these are the generations of Pharez: Pharez begat Hezron, And Hezron begat Ram, and Ram begat Amminadab, And Amminadab begat Nahshon, and Nahshon begat Salmon, and Salmon begat Boaz, and Boaz begat Obed, and Obed begat Jesse, and Jesse begat David.”

This genealogical record is repeated in the Gospels of Matthew and Luke. As noted in Matthew:

“. . .And Salmon begat Booz of Rachab; and Booz begat Obed of Ruth; and Obed begat Jesse; And Jesse begat David the king; and David the king begat Solomon of her that had been the wife of Urias;. . .And Jacob begat Joseph the husband of Mary, of whom was born Jesus, who is called Christ.”

It is striking how the Bible can so dramatically convey passion by means of a simple genealogical list. By the grace of this exception that is immortalized in the begats like a medal of honor, the gentiles were permitted to participate in the creation of the physical Jesus. This gentile participation in the bringing forth of the Jewish Messiah is a type of the participation of man in the Godhead.

As Boaz prefigures Jesus Christ, the marriage between Boaz and Ruth also foretells the union between Jesus and His Church. The hint of this relationship is given substance by Paul in Ephesians 5:22-32:

“Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands, and to the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife, even as Christ is the head of the church; and he is the savior of the body.

“Therefore, as the church is subject unto Christ, so let the wives be to their own husbands in everything. Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it, that he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word; that he might present it to himself a glorious church, not having spot or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish.

“So ought men to love their wives as their own bodies. He that loves his wife loves himself. For no man ever yet hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, even as the Lord the Church; for we are members of his body, of his flesh, and of his bones.

“For this cause shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall be joined to his wife, and they two shall be one flesh.

“This is a great mystery, but I speak concerning Christ and the church.”

THE FULFILLMENT OF HANNAH’S VOW

 

The two books of Samuel in the Bible were written over a thousand years before Jesus Christ was born, when Israel was still a young nation. The first chapter of First Samuel is occupied with Hannah, a woman of Israel from the tribe of Ephraim.

Hannah wanted to have a son very badly, but she didn’t seem to be able to have one. Yet she remained faithful to God, and every year she went with her husband up to a city in Israel called Shiloh to make their yearly worship and sacrifice. Year after year she did this, hoping to have a son by the next year. Finally, one year while she was praying, she broke down and wept in the sight of the priest for her lack of a son. In her misery, Hannah prayed to God, making a promise to Him if He would show His kindness toward her by giving her a son. Her vow went like this:

O Lord, of hosts, if you will look on the affliction of your handmaid, and remember me, and not forget me, but will give to your handmaid a male child, then I will give him unto the Lord all the days of his life.”

After speaking to God, Eli the Priest blessed her, and she trusted God and was no longer sad when she returned home with her husband.

“And the Lord remembered Hannah. And she bore a son, and called his name Samuel, saying Because I have asked him of the Lord. And when she had weaned him, she took him up with her along with sacrifices to the Lord. And they brought the child to the priest Eli. And Hannah said, O my lord, as your soul lives, I am the woman who stood by you here earlier, praying to the Lord. For this child I prayed; and the Lord has answered my prayer which I asked of Him. Therefore also I have lent him to the Lord; as long as he lives he shall be lent to the Lord. And he worshiped the Lord there.

Hannah did as she had promised God: she left her son Samuel with Eli the priest to live with him and learn the deep things about God from him. Then Hannah prayed again, this time to thank God for His kindness toward her:

“And Hannah prayed, and said, My heart rejoices in the Lord, my horn is exalted in the Lord; my mouth is enlarged over my enemies, because I rejoice in your salvation. There is none holy like the Lord; for there is none beside you, neither is there any rock like our God. Talk no more so exceeding proudly; let not arrogancy come out of your mouth; for the Lord is a God of knowledge, and by Him actions are weighed. The bows of the mighty men are broken, and they that stumbled are girded with strength. They who were full have hired out themselves for bread; and they who were hungry no longer hungered; so that the barren has born seven; and she who has many children has become feeble. The Lord kills and makes alive; he brings down to the grave and brings up. The Lord makes poor and makes rich; he brings low and lifts up. He raises the poor out of the dust, and lifts up the beggar from the dunghill, to set them among princes, and to make them inherit the throne of glory; for the pillars of the earth are the Lord’s, and he has set the world upon them. He will keep the feet of his saints, and the wicked shall be silent in darkness; for by strength shall no man prevail. The adversaries of the Lord shall be broken to pieces; out of heaven He shall thunder upon them. The Lord shall judge the ends of the earth; and He shall give strength to his king, and exalt the horn of His anointed.

“And Elkanah went to Ramah to his house. And the child did minister to the Lord before Eli, the priest.’

Samuel was raised among the priests, where he learned much about God. Then God used him in a mighty way. He became a great prophet, one of the greatest in Israel.

Listen to the words that Hannah spoke in thanksgiving to God for His gift of Samuel: ‘The bows of the mighty men are broken, and they that stumbled are girded with strength.’ God humbles the proud and lifts up the humble. Hannah was a prophet herself. She foretold in the Old Testament another woman’s prayer, far into the future, in the New Testament. This other woman’s name was Mary. Listen to Mary’s ‘Magnificat’ in Chapter 1 of Luke’s Gospel, which she spoke after learning that she was to give birth to our Lord Jesus Christ:

“’And Mary said, My soul magnifies the Lord, and my spirit has rejoiced in God my Savior. For he has regarded the low estate of his handmaiden, for, behold, from henceforth all generations shall call me blessed. For he that is mighty has done to me great things; and holy is his name. And his mercy is on them that fear him from generation to generation. He has shown strength with his arm; he has scattered the proud in the imagination of their hearts. He has put down the mighty from their seats, and exalted them of low degree. He has filled the hungry with good things; and the rich he has sent empty away. He has helped his servant, Israel, in remembrance of his mercy; as he spoke to our fathers, to Abraham, and to his seed forever.’

We can learn something from this. The Old Testament is very important by introducing to us to things about God that He describes more fully in the New Testament. Just about everything that Jesus said and did when He came in the flesh was done before in the Old Testament by people of faith who were willing to be directed by the Holy Spirit. The same is true of those who were the closest to Him, like Mary.

We also can learn something else from this. God is our maker, and He loves each of us with a very great passion. But He doesn’t like it when we puff ourselves up as important, or when we get upset with ourselves because we don’t always win. He made us how He wanted to make us. Perhaps we should think less about how God should make us as perfect as possible and more about how we can be used by God and for His purpose the best that we can with what He has given to us to use.

NAMING THE ANIMALS

 

In Genesis 2, God pronounces it not good that Adam should be alone. But before He proceeds to do something about it, He brings the animals of His Creation to Adam and asks him to name them. Then he forms Eve out of Adam’s rib.

“And the Lord God said, It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him an help fit for him.

“And out of the ground the Lord God formed every beast of the field, and every fowl of the air; and brought them unto Adam to see what he would call them: and whatsoever Adam called every living creature, that was the name thereof. And Adam gave names to all cattle, and to the fowl of the air, and to every beast of the field; but for Adam there was not found an help fit for him.

“And the Lord God caused a deep sleep to fall upon Adam, and he slept: and he took one of his ribs, and closed up the flesh instead thereof. And the rib, which the lord God had taken from man, made he a woman, and brought her unto the man.”

This passage raises a number of questions, particularly in the sequence of events, but with other issues besides. Why did God insert the naming of the animals between His concern over Adam being alone and His forming of Eve? What was so important about Adam naming the animals? How could he name all the animals, given the enormous diversity of life?

As to the first issue, the sequence of the Biblical narrative, I like best an answer picked off the Internet on the Creation Moments website: God was using the simple tool of names to teach Adam to communicate, a skill that he would then pass on to Eve, enabling them to bond through joint communication. That answer is appealing, as it would be a valid prerequisite to the event of bringing Adam and Eve together, much to be preferred to the two staring dumbly at each other, at a total loss of words.

This reason also answers in part the second issue, the importance of Adam naming the animals. But there are other important reasons, one of which is that in having Adam name the animals, God was asserting that these creatures were fixed kinds, finished designs whose basic properties would remain intact throughout history. Thus, this episode in Adam’s life is a slap in the face to Darwin’s theory of evolution, which postulates that life is unceasingly undergoing change. In Darwin’s view, all life is in constant transition from one form to another, so that the animals we see now are simply snapshots in time of what may be very different in the future.

Noted biochemist Douglas Axe captures the essence of this contrast between God’s stability of form with Darwin’s corresponding instability in Chapter 6 his book Undeniable: How Biology Confirms our Intuition that Life is Designed. There, under the heading “Life A La Darwin”, he speaks of the salmon and the Orca whale, each very different but “utterly committed to being what it is”. Life, as Axe sees it, magnificently represents completion of form, creatures living precisely as God designed them to live.

This stability of form leads to the next issue, the question as to how Adam could have named all the animals, even within his very long lifetime. If all kinds of life are stable as was asserted above, the very diversity of life would not only indicate that this diversity existed at the time of Adam, but also would make this task extremely difficult. At this point I’ll make a statement that appears to directly contradict this supposed stability of life: there were a relatively few “kinds” of animals that Adam was asked to name; first they were limited to birds and the larger animals; second, these “kinds” were the much-fewer basic precursors whose offspring branched out after Noah’s Flood to the diversity we see today. But then one might say, “See? Animals aren’t stable in form at all!” But the post-Flood diversity has much more to do with designed-in adaptability than actual change corresponding to the evolutionary model. The difference is that God’s engine of change is His inclusion in DNA of pre-existing alternate design modifications, whereas Darwin’s “engine” is dumb, random variation.

Take, for instance, the dog. There exist today an enormous variety of dogs of varying shapes, sizes and attributes. But they’re all still dogs, having the wolf as a common ancestor. The DNA of the wolf is information-rich, capable of accommodating plans “B”, “C”, and so on according to environmental conditions or the human interference of breeding. Most common breeds today are the product of the intelligent operation of selective breeding, and many of their features would quickly revert back to those of their common ancestor if they were to be divested of their human overseers and go into the wild. It is true the Mexican hairless creature would be in serious trouble in another ice age because some features such as length of hair might be incapable of reversion. But that would be due to DNA information loss arising from forced breeding.