Posts Tagged ‘Trinity’

JESUS’ FULFILLMENT OF THE MOSAIC FEASTS

 

At the time of Jesus’ crucifixion, three events occurred in rapid succession: His crucifixion, His resurrection, and the Pentecost, where the Holy Spirit indwelt believers and empowered them to do exploits. All three of these events were imprinted in the minds of the Israelites over a millennium earlier by Moses in terms of feasts and observances.

The first event, Jesus’ crucifixion, was initially foreshadowed in detail by God’s call to Abraham to sacrifice his son Isaac, as related in Genesis 22. But the commemorative feast for this event is the Passover, as instituted by Moses just before the Israelites were to cast off their enslavement and depart for Egypt. The account of the institution of this feast is given in Exodus 12:1-3, 5-7, and 12 and 13:

And the Lord spoke unto Moses and Aaron in the land of Egypt, saying, This month shall be unto you the beginning of months: it shall be the first month of the year to you. 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 . . . Your lamb shall be without blemish, a male of the first year: you shall you shall take it out from the sheep, or from the goats. 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. And they shall take of the blood, and strike it on the two side posts and on the upper door post of the houses, wherein they shall eat it. And they shall eat the flesh in that night, roast with fire and unleavened bread; and with bitter herbs they shall eat it . . . For I will pass through the land of Egypt this night, and will smite all the first-born in the land of Egypt, both man and beast; and against all the gods of Egypt I will execute judgment: I am the Lord. And the blood shall be to you for a token upon the houses where ye are; and when I see the blood, I will pass over you, and the plague shall not be upon you to destroy you, when I smite the land of Egypt. And this day shall be to you for a memorial; and you shall keep it a feast to the Lord throughout your generations; you shall keep it a feast by an ordinance forever.”

The lamb was kept in the house for four days, just long enough for it to become a household pet with the formation of a loving bond between the people and this innocent creature. Then it was slain and its blood spread on the doorposts and lintel as a sign to God to spare the occupants within as He went out to slay the firstborn of Egypt.

The Passover Lamb was a type of Jesus, who was crucified on the day of preparation for the Passover, the exact time when the lambs were traditionally slain. He was described as the Lamb of God by the Apostle John, first in John’s Gospel and then in the Book of Revelation. Christians claim the remission of their sins and their spiritual salvation by the washing of Jesus’ blood: He is our Passover Lamb.

The second event that was linked to a feast was Jesus’ resurrection after three days and three nights in the grave following His crucifixion. The corresponding feast established by Moses is the wave offering of first fruits of the barley harvest, traditionally held during the week of the Feast of Unleavened Bread from the 15th to the 21st of Nisan. The exact day is given in Leviticus 23:11 as the day following the Sabbath. The Sabbath after Jesus’ crucifixion was Saturday, Nisan 16, making the Feast of First Fruits the following day, or Sunday, Nisan 17. The account is given in Leviticus 23:9-14:

“And the Lord spoke unto Moses, saying, Speak to the children of Israel, and say to them, When you are come into the land which I give unto you, and shall reap the harvest thereof, then you shall bring a sheaf of the first fruits of your harvest to the priest, and he shall wave the sheaf before the Lord, to be accepted for you: on the next day after the sabbath the priest shall wave it. And you shall offer that day when you wave the sheaf an he-lamb without blemish of the first year for a burnt offering to the Lord. And the meal offering thereof shall be two tenth parts of fine flour mixed with oil, an offering made by fire unto the Lord for a sweet savor: and the drink offering thereof shall be of wine, a quart. And you shall eat neither bread, nor parched corn, nor green ears, until that same day that you have brought an offering to your God: it shall be a statute forever throughout your generations in all your dwellings.”

The wave offering was intended to commemorate Jesus’ resurrection from the dead, as Jesus was the first fruit of resurrected mankind.

The third feast is related in Leviticus 23:15-21:

And you shall count to you from the next day after the Sabbath, from the day that you brought the sheaf of the wave offering; seven sabbaths shall be complete: even to the next day after the seventh sabbath shall you number fifty days; and you shall offer a new meal offering unto the Lord. You shall bring out of your habitations two wave loaves of two tenth parts; they shall be of fine flour; they shall be baked with leaven; they are the first fruits unto the Lord. And you shall offer with the bread seven lambs without blemish of the first year . . .”

The passage continues with additional offerings, ending with the command that the feast is a holy convocation, no work being permitted, and a statute forever.

As it traditionally occurred fifty days after the Feast of First Fruits, this event is called the Feast of Pentecost. It is named after the root word pente, which means fifty. Pentecost is known by Christians as the mighty presence of the indwelling Holy Spirit that took place fifty days after Jesus’ resurrection and ten days after His return to heaven as related in Acts 1.

The event itself is described in Acts 2:1-18:

“And when the day of Pentecost was fully come, they were all with one accord in one place. And suddenly here came a sound from heaven like a rushing mighty wind, and it filled all the house where they were sitting. And there appeared unto them cloven tongues as of fire, and it sat upon each of them. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit, and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance. But Peter, standing up with the eleven, lifted up his voice, and said unto them, You men of Judaea, and all you who dwell at Jerusalem, be this known to you, and hearken to my words; for these are not drunk, as you suppose, seeing it is but [nine o’clock in the morning]. But this is that which was spoken through the prophet, Joel: And it shall come to pass in the last days, said God, I will pour out of my Spirit upon all flesh; and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, and your young men shall see visions, and your old men shall dream dreams; and on my servants and on my handmaidens I will pour out in those days of my Spirit, and they shall prophesy.”

We can glean a number of facts from this correspondence between the Mosaic feasts of the spring and major events associated with Jesus’ crucifixion.

First, Jesus’ crucifixion was a preplanned event. Some false theologians are fond of asserting that Jesus was caught unawares by His arrest. That notion violates the clear teaching of the Old Testament.

Second, Scripture is not only truthful, it is precise. It is truthful in every detail. The days of Jesus’ crucifixion, His resurrection, and the birth of the Church were set with precision over a thousand years before the events took

place.

Third, the Church is an integral part of God’s master plan. The mystery of Ephesians 5:25-31 wherein the Church is defined as the Bride of Christ is not trivial. It is essential.

Advertisements

ARK OF THE COVENANT IN FLESH AND SPIRIT

 

In the previous chapter the Ark of the Covenant was described as the enclosure located in the area of the temple known as the Holy of Holies. It was noted there that the ark of the covenant is mentioned again in Revelation, but that this ark is probably a very different one. In my novel Jacob, book three of the four-book Buddy series, Earl Cook connects this later ark with the earlier one in his talk to fellow Christians in a Bible study:

This one’s about the Ark of the Covenant. This ark was a wooden box, overlaid with gold and topped with two cherubs. Inside the box were relics of past interactions between God and man, including the staff that Aaron used, the one that turned into a snake in front of pharaoh, and a sample of the life-sustaining bread that fell from heaven during the great exodus from Egypt and, most important, the tablets upon which God had written the Ten Commandments and which he gave to Moses on the mountain. These tablets encapsulated the Law of the Old Testament in covenant between God and man. The Ark of the Covenant was placed within the Holy of Holies of the Tabernacle in the wilderness, and later in Solomon’s temple. At the dedication of both of these temples the glory of God, called the Shekinah, descended in a cloud and dwelt within the temples. There is a great significance to this indwelling of the Shekinah glory, and I’ll probably go into it in another sermon. But for now I want to focus on the Ark, which has had a very colorful history. There’s a question as to whether Menelek, the queen of Sheba’s son with Solomon, went back to Ethiopia with a copy of it or actually had stolen the real thing. To this day, that version is jealously guarded by Ethiopians. The ark that remained in Israel was eventually lost. Apparently, the prophet Jeremiah buried it in a cave toward the end of the sixth century B.C. when Jerusalem was in danger of being overrun by enemy forces. There’s another story in that too, but to forge ahead, the Ark of the Covenant is finally mentioned again toward the end of the Bible, in the Book of Revelation, where John sees it in heaven. But this may be a different Ark altogether.

Let me tell you why. In Revelation 12, immediately after John’s sighting of the Ark in heaven at the end of Chapter 11, he goes on to describe another heavenly wonder: a woman clothed with the sun, who gives birth to a man-child who is to rule the world, obviously Jesus. This woman has variously been identified as several different personages by people of differing faiths, each one being the favorite of one faith or another. Many have thought of this woman as representing Israel. Catholics have picked up on this passage, claiming her to be Mary. For reasons that I won’t go into now, I don’t think that’s quite accurate. But it’s very close. Whether this woman actually is Mary or not, it does evoke an image that makes me want to say, ‘Of course! It can be no other way.’ That image, which I cherish now with all my heart, I know to be true, and I want to share it with you now. Mary herself, in containing the Word of God in her womb, was herself the flesh-and-blood Ark of the New Covenant in Jesus Christ. That may well have been the Ark that John saw in heaven.”

But there may also be a yet greater Person to whom this later ark may be attributed, wherein the connection is spiritual rather than fleshly. The Biblical account of this ark is presented in Revelation 11:19 through 12:17:

“And the temple of God was opened in heaven, and there was seen in his temple the ark of his covenant; and there were lightnings, and voices, and thunderclaps, and an earthquake, and great hail.

“And there appeared a great wonder in heaven – a woman clothed with the sun, and the moon under her feet, and upon her head a crown of twelve stars. And she, being with child, cried, travailing in birth, and pained to be delivered.

“And there appeared another wonder in heaven; and, behold, a great red dragon, having seven heads and ten horns, and seven crowns upon his heads. And his tail drew the third part of the stars of heaven and did cast them to the earth; and the dragon stood before the woman who was ready to be delivered, to devour her child as soon as it was born.

“And she brought forth a male child, who was to rule all nations with a rod of iron; and her child was caught up unto God, and to his throne. And the woman fled into the wilderness, where she hath a place prepared by God, that they should feed her there a thousand two hundred and threescore days.

“And there was war in heaven; Michael and his angels fought against the dragon, and the dragon fought and his angels, and prevailed not, neither was their place found any more in heaven. And the great dragon was cast out, that old serpent, called the Devil and Satan, who deceiveth the whole world; he was cast out into the earth, and his angels were cast out with him. And I heard a loud voice saying in heaven, Now is come salvation, and strength, and the kingdom of our God, and the power of his Christ; for the accuser of our brethren is cast down, who accused them before our God day and night. And they overcame him by the blood of the Lamb, and by the word of their testimony; and they loved not their lives unto the death. Therefore rejoice, ye heavens, and ye that dwell in them. Woe to the inhabitants of the earth and of the sea! For the devil is come down unto you, having great wrath, because he knoweth that he hath but a short time.

“And when the dragon saw that he was cast unto the earth, he persecuted the woman who brought forth the male child. And to the woman were given two wings of a great eagle, that she might fly into the wilderness, into her place, where she is nourished for a time, and times, and half a time, from the face of the serpent. And the serpent cast out of his mouth water like a flood after the woman, that he might cause her to be carried away by the flood. And the earth helped the woman, and the earth opened her mouth and swallowed up the flood which the dragon cast out of his mouth. And the dragon was angry with the woman, and went to make war with the remnant of her seed, who keep the commandments of God, and have the testimony of Jesus Christ.”

Could this spiritual Woman be the same Shekinah who indwells Christian believers, as described in an earlier chapter? Could She be the same Holy Spirit of whom Jesus spoke in John 3 as giving spiritual birth? Could She be the spiritual Mother of Jesus?

Just as Revelation 11 and 12 symbolize Mary as the ark of the covenant in flesh, so do those same passages symbolize God the Holy Spirit as the ark of the Word, God’s covenant to mankind, in spirit.

HOLY CLOUD

 

If one looks up the word “cloud” in a Bible concordance, even a modest one, he will see well over forty entries. They don’t all have the same meanings, of course, but there are several that do. And some that do have the same meanings don’t seem to at first, because they are used in different contexts. The Biblical clouds that are mentioned here all have the same meaning, and that meaning is a holy one.

In Exodus 40 and 1 Kings 8, the Glory of the Lord, called by the Hebrews the Shekinah, indwelt as a Cloud both the tabernacle in the wilderness and Solomon’s Temple at their dedications. This indwelling feminine Presence was a type – a representative precursor to – the Holy Spirit who indwelt Jesus’ disciples at the Pentecost described in Acts 2 and now, as the Comforter promised by Jesus in John 14, indwells every constituent of Jesus’ entire Church, described by Paul as living temples of God.

The Shekinah Glory of the Wilderness Tabernacle is described in Exodus 40:33-38:

“And [Moses] reared up the court round about the tabernacle and the altar, and set up the hanging of the court gate. So Moses finished the work. Then a cloud covered the tent of the congregation, and the glory of the Lord filled the tabernacle. And Moses was not able to enter into the tent of the congregation, because the cloud abode thereon, and the glory of the Lord filled the tabernacle. And when the cloud was taken up from over the tabernacle, the children of Israel went onward in all their journeys; but if the cloud were not taken up, then they journeyed not till the day that it was taken up. For the cloud of the Lord was upon the tabernacle by day, and fire was on it by night, in the sight of all the house of Israel, throughout all their journeys.”

The description “cloud of the Lord”, “fire by night” and “taken up” leaves no doubt that this “cloud” is equivalent to the Shekinah of the Red Sea adventure and of Isaiah 4:5.

The Shekinah Glory of Solomon’s Temple is described in 1 Kings 8:5-11:

And King Solomon, and all the congregation of Israel, who were assembled before him, were with him before the ark, sacrificing sheep and oxen, that could not be counted nor numbered for multitude. And the priests brought in the ark of the covenant of the Lord unto its place, into the inner sanctuary of the house, to the most holy place, even under the wings of the cherubim. For the cherubim spread forth their two wings over the place of the ark, and the cherubim covered the ark and its staves above. And they drew out the staves, that the ends of the staves were seen out in the holy place before the inner sanctuary, but they were not seen outside,; and there they are unto this day. There was nothing in the ark except the two tables of stone, which Moses put there at Horeb, when the Lord made a covenant with the children of Israel, when they came out of the land of Egypt. And it came to pass, when the priests were come out of the holy place, that the cloud filled the house of the Lord, so that the priests could not stand to minister because of the cloud; for the glory of the Lord had filled the house of the Lord.”

In Daniel 7:13 and 14, and Matthew 17:1-5, the Holy Spirit, still represented by a Cloud, accompanies Jesus in His spiritual appearance before men.

“I saw in the night visions, and, behold, one like the Son of man came with the clouds of heaven, and came to the Ancient of days, and they brought him near before him. And there was given him dominion, and glory, and a kingdom, that all people, nations, and languages should serve him; his dominion is an everlasting dominion, which shall not pass away, and his kingdom that which shall not be destroyed.”

“And after six days Jesus took Peter, James, and John, his brother, and brought them up into a high mountain, privately, and was transfigured before them; and his face did shine like the sun, and his raiment was as white as the light. And, behold, there appeared to them Moses and Elijah talking with him. Then answered Peter, and said to Jesus, Lord, it is good for us to be here; if you will, let us make here three booths; one for you, and one for Moses, and one for Elijah. While he yet spoke, behold, a bright cloud overshadowed them; and, behold, a voice out of the cloud, which said, This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased; hear you him.”

In Matthew 24:30, Acts 1:8-11, and Revelation 1:7 and 14:14 that same Cloud conveys Jesus between earth and heaven:

“And then shall appear the sign of the Son of man in heaven; and then shall all the tribes of the earth mourn, and they shall see the Son of man coming in the clouds of heaven with power and great glory.”

“But you shall receive power, after the Holy Spirit is come upon you, and you shall be witnesses to me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judea, and in Samaria, and to the uttermost part of the earth. And, when [Jesus] had spoken these things, while they beheld, he was taken up, and a cloud received him out of their sight. And while they looked steadfastly toward heaven as he went up, behold, two men stood by them in while apparel, who also said, You men of Galilee, why stand you gazing up into heaven? This same Jesus, who is taken up from you into heave, shall so come in like nammer as you have seen him go into heaven.”

“Behold, [Jesus] comes with clouds, and every eye shall see him, and they also who pierced him; and all kindreds of the earth shall wail because of him. Even so, Amen.”

“And I looked, and behold, a white cloud, and upon the cloud one sat, like the Son of man, having on his head a golden crown, and in his hand a sharp sickle.”

In 1 Thessalonians 4:16 and 17 and Revelation 11:11 and 12, the cloud also conveys from earth to heaven special humans, constituting the Church and the prophetic witnesses in Jerusalem at the last days of the age:

“For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God; and the dead in Christ shall rise first; then we who are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air; and so shall we ever be with the Lord.”

“And after three days and a half the spirit of life from God entered into [the two witnesses], and they stood upon their feet, and great fear fell upon them who saw them. And they heard a great voice from heaven saying unto them, Come up here. And they ascended up to heaven in a cloud, and their enemies beheld them.”

In each of the passages noted above, the settings, associations and contexts readily identify the Cloud as representing the Holy Spirit. But our appreciation of and involvement with the Holy Spirit is greater than mere recognition or even conveyance. As I noted in my book Marching to a Worthy Drummer, the connection between the precursor temple Presence and the indwelling of Christian believers is given in 1 Corinthians 3:16 and Ephesians 2:19-22, wherein Paul asserts that the Church herself, through her constituents, is a temple indwelt by the Holy Spirit:

“Know you not that ye are the temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwells in you?

“Now, therefore, you are no more strangers and sojourners, but fellow citizens with the saints, and of the household of God; and are built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief corner stone, in whom all the building fitly framed together grows unto a holy temple in the Lord; in whom you also are built together for a habitation of God through the Spirit.”

SOLOMON’S WISDOM

According to 1 Kings 3:5-28, Solomon asked for wisdom and received it – in abundance:

“In Gibeon the Lord appeared to Solomon in a dream by night; and God said, Ask what I shall give you. And Solomon said, You have showed to your servant David, my father, great mercy, according as he walked before you in truth, and in righteousness, and in uprightness of heart with you; and you have kept for him this great kindness, that you have given him a son to sit on his throne, as it is this day. And now, O Lord my God, you have made your servant king instead of David, my father; and I am but a little child: I know not how to go out or to come in. And your servant is in the midst of your people whom you have chosen, a great people, who cannot be numbered or counted for multitude. Give, therefore, your servant an understanding heart to judge your people, that I may discern between good and bad. For who is able to judge this your great people?

“And the speech pleased the Lord, that Solomon had asked this thing. And God said to him, Because you have asked this thing, and have not asked for yourself long life; neither have asked riches for yourself, nor have asked the life of your enemies, but have asked for yourself understanding to discern justice, behold, I have done according to your words: lo, I have given you a wise and an understanding heart, so that there was none like you before you, neither after you shall any arise like unto you. And I have also given you that which you have not asked, both riches, and honor, so that there shall not be any among the kings like unto you all your days. And if you will walk in my ways, to keep my statutes and my commandments, as your father, David, did walk, then I will lengthen your days.

“And Solomon awoke, and, behold, it was a dream. And he came to Jerusalem, and stood before the ark of the covenant of the Lord, and offered up burnt offerings, and offered peace offerings, and made a feast to all his servants. Then came there two women, who were harlots, to the king, and stood before him. And the one woman said, O my lord, I and this woman dwell in one house, and I was delivered of a child with her in the house. And it came to pass the third day after that I was delivered, that this woman was delivered also, and we were together. There was no stranger with us in the house, except we two were in the house. And this woman’s child died in the night, because she lay on it. And she arose at midnight and took my son from beside me, while your handmaid slept, and laid it in her bosom, and laid her dead child in my bosom. And when I rose in the morning to nurse my child, behold, it was dead; but when I had looked at it in the morning, behold, it was not my son whom I did bear. And the other woman said, Nay; but the living child is my son, and the dead is your son. And this said, No; but the dead child is your son, and the living is my son. Thus they spoke before the king.

“Then said the king, The one says, This is my son who lives, and your son is the dead; and the other says, Nay; but your son is the dead child, and my son is the living. And the king said, Bring me a sword. And they brought a sword before the king. And the king said, Divide the living child in two, and give half to the one, and half to the other. Then spoke the woman whose the living child was unto the king, for her heart yearned over her son, and she said, O my lord, give her the living child, and by no means slay it. But the other said, Let it be neither mine nor yours, but divide it.

“Then the king answered and said, Give her the living child, and by no means slay it; she is the mother of it. And all Israel heard of the judgment which the king had judged, and they feared the king; for they saw that the wisdom of God was in him, to do justice.”

The wisdom of God indeed was in Solomon, far beyond imparting to him the ability as king to elevate the nation of Israel over all others in space and time. For his noble desire to place his service to God above self, God gave him an understanding of Wisdom as a Person, the Divine Member of the Godhead whom we know as the Holy Spirit and the Person of whom Solomon wrote in the Book of Proverbs.

In like manner God gave his father David an understanding of the Divine Will, the Holy Father. Subsequently, David wrote about Him in the Book of Psalms, of which David was the primary author.

The Psalms and Proverbs do more than inform us of the nature of God; they also informed the Jesus who came in the flesh about His own Divine Roots. To that end, the Book of Psalms was a loving letter of greeting and instruction from the Divine Father to His only begotten Son. In that circumstance, David was the surrogate Father who, in writing that letter, inserted that knowledge of the Father into Scripture for Jesus to read and study. Perhaps that is why Jesus called Himself the Son of David.

In the same way the Book of Proverbs also was a loving letter of greeting and instruction from Jesus’ other Divine Parent, the Holy Spirit.

If that is the case, He would have understood Psalms and Proverbs to have been written especially for His intimate understanding of his Divine Parents. Proverbs 1:8 is a particularly appropriate remark in that context:

“My son, hear the instruction of your father, and forsake not the law of your mother;”

Perhaps also Jesus would have rejoiced in reading Proverbs 8:22-31:

“The Lord possessed me in the beginning of his way, before his works of old. I was set up from everlasting, from the beginning, or ever the earth was. When there were no depths, I was brought forth – when there were no fountains abounding with water. Before the mountains were settled, before the hills, was I brought forth; while he as yet he had not made the earth, nor the fields, nor the highest part of the dust of the world. When he prepared the heavens, I was there; when he set a compass upon the face of the depth; when he established the clouds above; when he strengthened the fountains of the deep; when he gave to the sea its decree, that the waters should not pass his commandment; when he appointed the foundations of the earth, then I was by him, as one brought up with him; and I was daily his delight, rejoicing always before him, rejoicing in the habitable part of his earth; and my delight was with the sons of men.”

Perhaps a filial concern clouded Jesus’ features when he came to Proverbs 8:36:

“But he who sins against me wrongs his own soul; all who hate me love death.”

If so, it explains why Jesus spoke so protectively in Matthew 12:31 and 32 against blaspheming the Holy Spirit:

“Wherefore, I say to you, All manner of sin and blasphemy shall be forgiven men; but the blasphemy against the Holy Spirit shall not be forgiven men. And whosoever speaks a word against the Son of man, it shall be forgiven him; but whosoever speaks against the Holy Spirit, it shall not be forgiven him, neither in this age, neither in the age to come.”

NAMING THE ANIMALS

 

In Genesis 2, God pronounces it not good that Adam should be without a mate. 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 possibly 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 and at a total loss for words.

This reason also answers in part the second issue, the importance of Adam naming the animals. But there are other important reasons other than helping Adam to communicate with Eve, 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 of his book Undeniable: How Biology Confirms our Intuition that Life is Designed. There, under the heading “Life A La Darwin”, Axe 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 variety existed at the time of Adam, but also would make his 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 exists 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 some, but not all, 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.

PERFECTION IN IMPERFECTION

 

This chapter is a digression from the primary theme of this volume, but is included here because it is so closely related to the information regarding Jesus’ feedings of the multitudes.

Having finished the analysis of the feedings as described in the previous chapter, I was left with a sense of disappointment in the little deviations from what I had pictured as what would be an ideal description of the details. Things just didn’t come together as I would have wished. The missing company of eleven in the array of the five thousand, for example, gnawed at me. Why would God do that?

Then I remembered that Elijah had fed a hundred individuals with twenty loaves. Those hundred, in a 20 x 5 configuration, actually furnished the template for a company. If Elijah’s company were to be inserted into the missing slot in the array of five thousand, it would make a perfect rectangle. Did God actually intend to imply that this should be done? What was His point?

The point, I finally realized, may have been that the arrays were intended to be integrated together. Applying that factor to the problem with the array of the four thousand being at right angles to the first array, I was astonished at the figure that was emerging from the integration: the array of the four thousand, placed atop that of the five thousand, began to look like a familiar figure, but yet imperfect in itself.

At this point, it will be useful to explore the Scriptural meaning of bread, and of Peter’s role with respect to it. In John 21, the risen Jesus shares breakfast with His disciples, and then addresses Peter, asking him the same question three times:

“Peter, do you love Me?”

Peter responds each time by affirming his love for Him, to which Jesus follows with a command:

“Feed my sheep.”

Peter, not appreciating that Jesus was gifting him with a threefold pardon for his denying Jesus three times, responds to each question with increasing anxiety. With the coming of Pentecost ten days after Jesus has left the earth, Peter is filled with the indwelling Holy Spirit, enabling him to fulfill Jesus’ commandment to feed His sheep. He does so, three significant times. The first time he preaches Jesus to the salvation of three thousand.

But Peter’s feeding is with the word, not the bread. Perhaps, with the doing, he came to understand John’s characterization of Jesus in Chapter One of his Gospel that Jesus is the Word in the flesh. Maybe he began, then, to appreciate Jesus’ words, recorded in John 6:30-35 and 51-58, that the Word is the spiritual equivalent of material bread, and that the bread Jesus gave the multitudes was only incidental to the Word.

“They said, therefore, to [Jesus], what sign do you show us, then, that we may see, and believe you? What do you work? Our fathers ate manna in the desert; as it is written, He gave them bread from heaven to eat.

“Then Jesus said to them, Verily, verily, I say to you, Moses gave you not that bread from heaven; but my Father gives you the true bread from heaven. For the bread of God is he who comes down from heaven, and gives life to the world. Then they said to him, Lord, evermore give us this bread. And Jesus said to them, I am the bread of life; he who comes to me shall never hunger, and he who believes on me shall never thirst.”

“I am the living bread who came down from heaven; if any man eat of this bread, he shall live forever; and the bread that I will give is my flesh, which I will give for the life of the world.

“The Jews, therefore, strove among themselves, saying, How can this man give us his flesh to eat? Then Jesus said to them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Except you eat the flesh of the Son of man, and drink his blood, you have no life in you. He who eats my flesh, and drinks my blood, has eternal life; and I will raise him up at the last day. For my flesh is food indeed, and my blood is drink indeed. He who eats my flesh, and drinks my blood, dwells in me, and I in him.

“As the living Father has sent me, and I live by the Father, so he who eats me, even he shall live by me. This is that bread which came down from heaven, not as your fathers ate manna, and are dead; he who eats of this bread shall live forever.”

Appreciating that the bread of significance in Scripture is the immortal Word of God, Peter’s feeding of three thousand with the Word took on real importance, to the extent that it should be integrated into the figure that was being formed. Accordingly, the three thousand were encapsulated in an array of ten symbolic rows of companies of 100 by three columns.

When this was added atop the array for the four thousand, which itself was atop the array of five thousand, the resulting figure stood out as a cross.

But what about that extra little three-company array? The answer was found in Matthew 27:37, which declares that a sign was placed on the cross over his head that stated in three languages, Hebrew, Greek and Latin, “This is Jesus of Nazareth, the King of the Jews” The sign is called the titulus, and belongs with the cross.

In passing on this message of the sign of the cross in Jesus’ feedings, I encountered a person who pointed out to me that my assumption that all the baskets had the same size was false. The basket for the feeding of the five thousand, I was told, was a small handbasket, whereas the basket for the feeding of the four thousand was larger. The smaller handbasket would be appropriate for 5 loaves per basket, but the larger basket could hold more.

Actually I didn’t assume a common basket size; rather, I assumed that the leftovers from the feeding of the menfolk were of a common number of five per basket.

There were women and children in addition to the menfolk in both feeding events. According to Mark 7:31 the four thousand were fed near Decapolis on the south shore of the Sea of Galilee, while, according to Luke 9:10, the five thousand were fed near Bethsaida on the north shore, the implication being that the four thousand were mostly Gentile, while the five thousand were primarily Jewish. Further weight is given to this difference by the fact that the seven baskets of the four thousand correspond to the seven representative Churches that Jesus addressed in Revelation 1:20, while the twelve baskets of the five thousand match the twelve tribes of Israel.

Christianity is more inclusive of women than Judaism as suggested in Acts 2:16-18, and this difference supports the possibility that the larger baskets for the four thousand included the leftovers from the womenfolk as well as those for the men. Yet the contribution from the menfolk in each basket would have remained at five.

THE GOOD SEED

 

Matthew Chapter Thirteen begins with Jesus speaking the Parable of the Sower to a multitude of people from a boat. In that parable of seeds that represent people who hear the salvation-promising Word of God, only a portion of them are able to understand what they heard, bring it in fullness into their hearts, and maintain it through the tribulations and attractions of the material world. Jesus finishes this parable with an obscure reference to numbers, saying that these will bear fruit, some a hundredfold, others sixtyfold, and yet others thirtyfold. He places no difference in attributes or character among those who produce more fruit and those who produce less.

The only arithmetic relationship that I have found among these numbers that is both simple and meaningful is the partial sums of the arithmetic sequence

KMn=1 (n + (n+1) + (n+2) + (n+3) + . . .)

For the values K = 10 and M = 2, 3 and 4, the corresponding sums are 30, 60 and 100. I presented this pictorially in Part 5, Chapter 2 my book Family of God as four columns of people, where each column consisted of the number of people associated with a particular value of M, and where the top person in the first row bore fruit by passing the Word of God to those behind them, and, if there was an adjacent column, to the top person in the next column. In that pattern, the top person in the column would feed 30 people if there were two columns, 60 if there were three columns, and 100 if there were four columns. In such an arrangement, the amount of fruit that the top person in the first column would bear would be entirely dependent on the number of adjacent columns, which would be beyond his control, and, in fact, something he might not even know if he was able to perceive only his column and the next. I saw in this parable and the associated numbers an intimate connection between it and the accounts of Jesus’ feedings of the multitudes, as both processes resulted in manifold increases. In numerous places, especially in the Gospel of John, Jesus clearly equates bread and eating with Himself as the Word of God. When He was feeding the multitudes He also was delivering the Word of God. The expansion of bread in these acts may be seen as merely symbolic of how the word of God is multiplied through word-of-mouth distribution. In fact, the miraculous element of the feedings was simply the restoration of the broken pieces of bread to wholeness with their transfer from one hand to the next, which is symbolic of the indestructible nature of the Word of God as it is handed from mouth to ear.

If some reasonable assumptions are made beforehand, there is sufficient numerical information in Scripture to calculate the answers to the numbers missing in the feeding accounts and to establish patterns by which the multitudes would have been fed. A vital piece of information beyond the Gospel accounts of the feeding of the five thousand and the four thousand is the account in 2 Kings 4 of Elijah feeding a hundred people with twenty loaves of bread; another piece of information is the account, in Acts 2, of Peter feeding three thousand with the Word of God.

Picturing the feedings to be a process within an orderly array of people breaking bread, retaining a portion and passing the other to neighbors, I established the following restraints and relationships, particularly the ones that Jesus reminded His disciples about in Mark 8:

For the feeding of the five thousand: 5 thousand, 5 starting loaves given to His disciples to distribute per Matthew 6, 12 baskets of remainders.

For the feeding of the four thousand: 4 thousand, 7 starting loaves given to His disciples to distribute, 7 baskets of remainders.

All the twelve apostles, and only the twelve apostles, would participate in the initial distribution of loaves; thus five apostles would distribute for the five thousand and seven apostles would distribute for the four thousand.

The apostles would give one loaf each to a single company nearest them.

The basic organization of the men would be in companies of 50 and 100 per Mark 6, where the companies, per Elijah’s feeding in 2 Kings 4, would be arranged in a pattern of 20 x 5 for a company of 100, and 10 x 5 for a company of 50.

The collection of leftover bread would be on the basis of individuals rather than companies; each person in the final position would hand his leftover to a collector with a basket.

Performing the required calculations, the relationships were used to solve first the number of remainders per basket from the menfolk. The resulting number of 5 supported the following details:

For the five thousand, there were 5 columns corresponding to the 5 loaves and 5 apostles participating in the initial distribution; the center column consisted of companies of 100; the four outside columns consisted of companies of 50, resulting in 60 columns of individuals and 12 baskets of remainders; there were 17 rows of companies, resulting in 85 rows of individuals and producing 5100 individuals; one company of 100 was subtracted from this array to produce an exact number of 5000 individuals.

For the four thousand, a solution demanded that the orientation of this array be at right angles to that of the five thousand, requiring a substitution of rows for columns. With that orientation, there were 7 rows corresponding to the 7 loaves and 7 apostles participating in the initial distribution; all companies were of 50, resulting in 35 rows of individuals and 7 baskets of remainders; there were 11 columns of companies, resulting in 110 columns of individuals and producing 385 individuals, and leaving a much smaller array of 150 individuals in 3 companies of 50.

These patterns weren’t perfect. Jesus’ two feeding events seemed to generate three arrays rather than two, the largest array had a missing piece, and two of the arrays were at right angles to each other.

Yet the derived numbers matched perfectly with the numbers given in the Gospel accounts, and the patterns described above were the only ones that did so.

I found that once the calculations established the patterns for the feedings, the math was not necessary to verify the satisfaction of all the information in the Gospel accounts. A mere visual inspection of the patterns is all that is needed to confirm that they correctly represent that information. The calculations are presented as appendices in Family of God. A verbal description of the feedings with figures is included in my book Marching to a Worthy Drummer as Appendix Two. A strictly verbal description also is given in my novel Cathy.

If there is nothing else to say about the results, it is their proof of the amazing self-consistency of Scripture, even down to the smallest details. Scripture, as the Word of God, is pure truth.

But there is more to say about the results. It turns out that there is a message in the very characteristics that are thought of as imperfections. That will be the topic of the next post.