New Year’s Ruminations

    Did you know that the New Year celebration is one of the world’s oldest holidays? DSCN2635BBefore 2000 BC (in Abraham’s time), the Babylonian New Year began at the first visible crescent of the New Moon after the Vernal Equinox, and could be the origination of the worship of Allah – the moon god. The moon had many names; the more popular being Nanna, Nannar, Asimbabbar, and Suen. (Suen evolved to Sin, and both are pronounced Seen.) The Babylonian New Year celebration lasted for eleven days, and our modern New Year’s Eve festivities pale in comparison to theirs.

     The Romans originally celebrated the New Year in March. In 153 BC the Roman Senate declared January 1 to be the beginning of the New Year, but the date bounced around a bit. Julius Caesar finally established the Julian calendar in 46 BC. However, because emperors had the irresistible compulsion to put their own spin on the calendar, they played with dates and got the calendar out of synchronization with the sun – again. Pope Gregory made corrections and approved the current Gregorian calendar in 1582.

     Janus was the Roman god of doors and gates, and had two faces: coming from either direction the traveler saw its face. Julius Caesar felt that the month (January) named after Janus would be the appropriate “door” to the year. One report claims that Caesar celebrated this New Year change by “ordering the violent routing of revolutionary Jewish forces in Galilee, and blood flowed in the streets.” In later years, Roman pagans observed the New Year by engaging in drunken orgies—a ritual they believed constituted a portrayal of the chaotic world that existed “before the gods conquered chaos and recreated order in the universe.”    

The early Church condemned the new years’ festivities as paganism – and rightly so. But as Christianity became politically accepted, the Church began adopting many of the pagan customs and the “Christian” New Year’s Day celebration became no different. Hypocritical Christians have always given the world reason to believe that the church was a farce; and that’s a major reason why Christians who are truly devoted to Jesus are often accused of being hypocrites. 

January 1 has been celebrated as a holiday by Western nations for over 400 years, and some churches erroneously observed the New Year’s Day festivity as the Feast of Christ’s Circumcision.

     The tradition of using a baby to signify the New Year started in Greece around 600 BC. PICT0012They celebrated their god of wine and drunkenness, Dionysus, by parading a baby in a basket. The baby represented the annual rebirth of Dionysus who was also the god of fertility. And, of course, public moral debauchery was part of the festivities.

     Traditions include using noise to welcome in a new year. This custom goes back to ancient times when people thought noise scared off evil spirits. Some eastern religions still believe this. New Year’s resolutions also date back to the early Babylonians. Their most popular resolution was to return borrowed farm equipment. That’s a good resolution – if they actually returned it.

     A 2007 study by Richard Wiseman showed that “88% of those who set New Year resolutions fail. Men achieved their goal 22% more often when they engaged in goal setting, while women succeeded 10% more when they made their goals public.” Frank Ra in his book “A course in Happiness” said: “Resolutions are more sustainable when openly shared with others.” That’s true because we find that peer-support (peer-pressure?) helps us stay on track.

     The lyrics of Auld Lang Syne (meaning “old long since” which essentially means “the good old days”) were partly collected and partly written by Scottish poet Robert Burns in 1788. The poem reminisces about and longs for the past. Good, positive traditions and memories are beneficial because they can balance our outlook on life and strengthen our character.

     So much for the past; what about the future?

     The New Year is often a time people attempt to turn over a new leaf. That means we finished writing on one page, then turn the page – turn the leaf – and write something new. It refers to changing an action, or starting something over.

     However, no matter our sincerity, merely deciding to change is meaningless without God’s help. Personal problems and national perplexities are looming on the horizon and we need help. What do we do?

     Two factors are necessary in making a substantive, permanent change. One is to seekBible.docx God’s guidance in making plans. Proverbs 3:5-6 (NCV) says, “Trust in the Lord with your whole life … He will direct your decisions.” The second is to rely upon God for the courage and integrity to fulfill His plans. Don’t get side-tracked. Psalm 111:10 (NLT) says “[Sincere] Reverence for the Lord is the foundation of true wisdom.”  And we need wisdom to succeed in doing what is right.

HAPPY NEW YEAR FRIENDS.

HEAVEN

     You have politics coming out your ears, but have you thought about heaven? The word “heaven” is in the Bible (KJV) 457 times so it must be important. What is Heaven?

Dumbbell nebula
Dumbbell nebula from NASA’s Spitzer Space Telesco

Heaven is contemplated on three levels: The firmament, or atmosphere; (Gen. 2:19); the stars or outer space (Matt. 24:29); and God’s throne (Deut. 10:14). Heaven has various names: New Jerusalem (Rev. 3:12), Everlasting Kingdom (2 Pet. 1:11), Eternal Inheritance (Heb. 9:15), a Better Country (Heb. 11:16), and My Father’s house (John 14:2). There is neither suffering nor evil in heaven (Rev. 21:4). 

     Where is Heaven? This is difficult to answer because the Bible doesn’t tell us. However, heaven is where God the Father is, and is where Christians go when our bodies stop breathing. But heaven is not a million miles away. Heaven isn’t “out there” somewhere. When believers close their eyes in death, they immediately wake up in Heaven.

     1Thessalonians 4:13-18 says (NLT) says:

DSCN0508B
Total solar eclipse from my camera

“And now, brothers and sisters, I want you to know what will happen to the Christians who have died so you will not be full of sorrow like people who have no hope. For since we believe that Jesus died and was raised to life again, we also believe that when Jesus comes, God will bring back with Jesus all the Christians who have died. I can tell you this directly from the Lord: We who are still living when the Lord returns will not rise to meet him ahead of those who are in their graves. For the Lord himself will come down from heaven with a commanding shout, with the call of the archangel, and with the trumpet call of God. First, all the Christians who have died will rise from their graves. Then, together with them, we who are still alive and remain on the earth will be caught up in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air and remain with him forever. So comfort and encourage each other with these words.”

 

     One little commentary on that Scripture: It appears that the Christians’ spirits will come back from heaven with Jesus and be reunited with their bodies coming out of the graves.

     How do we get to Heaven? Whenever we want to go somewhere: we know where we are, we decide where we want to go, we enter a vehicle and GO. So where are we? In a sinful world. Where do we want to go? To Heaven. How do we get there? Jesus is the only way to Heaven (John 14:6). We must accept Jesus into our life, and live for Him. And until Jesus returns, we go through the door called “death”. But for believers it is the “Door to Life”.

     Jesus said in John 14:1-3 (NLT) says: “Don’t be troubled. You trust God, now trust in me. There are many rooms in my Father’s home, and I am going to prepare a place for you. If this were not so, I would tell you plainly. When everything is ready, I will come and get you, so that you will always be with me where I am.”

     Jesus died to redeem mankind. Defeating death, He returned to life and will live forever. He wants you to live forever with Him. You will never have to lock your doors again. You will never be afraid again. You will never be hurt again. But if Jesus does not return soon, we all will die.

     What does that feel like? Many times our kids fell asleep on the couch or on the floor of the living room but woke up in their bed. In the morning they asked, “How

PICT0033
Our children – decades ago

did I get here?” And my Precious Wife told them, “After you fell asleep, your father picked you up and took you to your room.”

 

     That is what death is like for the Christian. Whether we leave this life because of sickness, an accident, or old age; we merely fall asleep here in our “living room”, but we wake up in Heaven because our Father took us to our new home.”

     Are you living the way God wants you to live? If you died today would you go through the door that I call LIFE and live with Jesus, or go through the other door? Is there anything you need to ask God to forgive you for? Don’t be afraid to talk to God about it. He loves you very much and wants to forgive you. He wants you in Heaven with Him.

CHRISTMAS QUESTIONS

Christmastime is almost here again. It seems like just last month people were resting up after last year’s Christmas-New Year’s rush. But here we are again, and in my mind I can hear Handel’s majestic Hallelujah Chorus.

Questions about Christmas have been asked for centuries, and I would like to give a brief response to two of those questions that people have asked me. Don’t laugh now, because they are serious questions.

Was there really a Santa Claus? My children want to know.PICT0540

Believe-it-or-not, there was a pastor named Nicholas in the third century AD in what is now Demre, or Kale, Turkey. The one to whom I refer came from a wealthy family, became the Bishop of Myrna, and upon the death of his parents used his inheritance to help the poor. Years after his death he was declared a Saint.

Nicholas became known by many titles in various areas of the world: four of which are Saint Nicholas, Saint ’Ch’las, and Sinterklaas, which were appropriate; and recently Santa Claus. The name Kris Kringle apparently originated in Germany from “Christkindl”, which means Christ Child (sometimes, referred as Christ’s Helper). But the image we have today of a fat, jolly ole St. Nick – Santa Claus – may be attributed to a poem in 1823 by Clement Clarke Moore: ‘Twas the Night Before Christmas (also called “A Visit from St. Nicholas”).

Why do we treat “Santa Claus” as a non-religious person? Post-Christian America builds up Christmas as they do Valentine’s Day or Halloween: it isn’t considered religious, but as a money-making endeavor. Also, it is politically correct to deny the reality of Jesus Christ, Biblical morality, and the intrinsic truth behind Jesus and the real Saint Nicholas.

     However, Saint Nicholas was a compassionate pastor who represented a caring, loving God. Nicholas represented Jesus Christ Who died for us, but raised from the dead three days later to redeem us from our sin. For many years, Pastor Nicholas gathered donations of clothing, shoes, and food, and distributed them to the poor; and not just in December. He did this year-round. Yes, there was a Pastor Nicholas whom some people called Saint Ch’las, or Santa Claus. 

Who were the three wise men?

     Matthew 2:1-2: “…wise men came from the east to Jerusalem saying … we have seen his star in the east….” Matthew 2:11: “When they entered the house, they saw the young child with his mother….”

     Many ethnic groups claim the wise men as their own, and the east is a big area so we need to know what eastern societies employed astrologers or astronomers. China, Persia, and India are prime candidates so let’s briefly look at them.

At that time China claimed their leader as god and viewed other national rulers with some contempt. So they are out. The basic religions of India were Jainism and Hinduism, and they were not astronomers nor would they have traveled anywhere to honor a new king. That leaves us with Persia. The main religion in Persia at the time was Zoroastrianism, and their priests were of a class called “Magi” – magician. (Zoroastrianism today is not the same as that in Ancient Persia.)

     Until about 220 AD, Zoroastrianism was sympathetic to any religion – including Judaism and Christianity – that taught kindness, justice, righteous thinking, truth, and monotheism. Daniel, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego introduced Judaism to Nebuchadnezzar and his empire around 586 BC; and after Nebuchadnezzar recovered from his illness, he declared to his empire that Daniel’s God was the supreme God of heaven (Daniel 4:37).

The wise men of Persia (Magi) were scholars or educated priests. They had various fields of expertise, of which astronomy/astrology was one. When a heavenly sign or starDSCN0716 indicated a royal birth (Psalm 19:1), a delegation (minimum of three) was sent to acknowledge that royal event; timing their arrival when the child would be six months to a year old (Matthew 2:11). For safety purposes, the royal delegation traveled with a large trade caravan, and there could have been five to ten Persian scholars or Magi who visited Jesus’ family at the house. The reason our tradition mentions three is because of the three gifts they brought: gold, frankincense, and myrrh.

Today, people ask: “Are you ready for Christmas?” That’s an interesting question, for it reveals their lack of understanding of the celebration. A more pertinent question would be: “Are you ready to publicly acknowledge Christ as did the shepherds and the Magi?”

     The good news is: God reveals Himself to whomever truly wants to know him. Jesus is no longer a baby-in-a-manger. He is our living God Who created the entire universe. (John 1:1-4, 14)

Is The Bible Historical or Merely Mythical? (pt.2)

In 2003 a New Mexico rancher named Jorge (pronounced Horheh; Spanish for George) asked me, “Why do you believe something just because it’s in the Bible?” 

My response was, “Have you read about Abraham Lincoln?” He said, “Yes.” “Have you ever seen him?” I asked.DSCN7975

“I may look that old, but I am only seventy-six!” he retorted.

I asked, “Do you believe Lincoln really lived?” He said, “Yes, of course.”

My final question was, “Why do you believe in President Lincoln just because you read about him in a book?” Jorge admitted he was stumped on that one, but still did not want to believe in the Bible.

Did you get the point? The situation wasn’t that he couldn’t believe the Bible. Rather, he wouldn’t believe. It was a conscious decision.

Years ago, a colleague at a scientific laboratory challenged me to prove the veracity of a Bible story. When I answered his challenge using non-Biblical sources, he countered with, “You only know that because you know history.” Whereupon I responded, “If I didn’t know history, the story in the Bible would still be true. That verifies the truthfulness of the Bible. Read it; there’s a lot to learn in it.”

Those who challenge the historical veracity of the Bible normally have an ulterior motive: if they can do away with the Bible’s authenticity, they can do away with Jesus.

Even in their quest for the “historical Jesus,” many people attempt to establish a merely human Jesus. They quote scholars who are hostile to Jesus as Deity, but they ignore scholars with equal or greater credentials who accept Jesus as God. It is a conscious decision.

Major complaints given about the Holy Bible being historical are paraphrased here: “It was written so long ago, how can we assess its legitimacy? It has been copied so many times, how can we verify its integrity?”

Let’s apply those questions to other well-accepted writings.

Plato’s Republic was written in 400 BC. We have only seven copies, but the earliest copy is dated 1200 years after Plato’s death. We accept Herodutus’ History with only eight manuscripts; the earliest is dated 1300 years after Herodotus died. The earliest copies of Tacitus’ writings are dated about 1100 AD. Aristotle died in 322 BC, but we accept copies of his writings dated 1400 years later as being accurate. The earliest manuscript for Sophocles is dated 1400 years after he died, and Pliny’s was 750 years after his demise. And we blithely accept them all as being legitimate.

But we have many hundreds, if not thousands, of New Testament documents, many of IMG_1799Bwhich are dated only 35-100 years after Jesus resurrected. So, using the same reasoning, we should not doubt them. On the other hand, they are more credible than all the others put together.

The Old Testament was written from about 1500 BC to 350 BC, and the “Dead Sea Scrolls,” dated around 152-DSCN075963 BC, have substantiated the Old Testament texts. Archeologists have verified the existence of Biblical towns, civilizations, and events.

The New Testament was written around 45 AD to 95 AD. Men who have been historically verified were eye-witnesses to what was taking place, and wrote about it. Two of the writers were Jesus’ half-brothers: James and Jude. They initially rejected their half-brother as a lunatic and a fake. But they saw Jesus after He came out of the tomb, they became true believers. Refusing to lie about what they saw and knew, they were killed for their faith. Luke wrote the historical books of Luke and Acts to a Greek dignitary after interviewing numerous eye-witnesses.

Peter said in 2 Peter 1:16, “For we did not follow cleverly devised myths when we made known to you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but we were eye-witnesses of His majesty.” Peter was, also, murdered for his faith.

Even the next generation of church leaders recorded their personal interviews with these eye-witnesses. For example, Papias, born in 60 A.D. interviewed the Apostle John.

Forty authors wrote the sixty-six books of the Bible over a period of 1600 years, and all are in harmony with the whole. Historical? Yes, indeed!

Archeology has verified the existence of the Hittite civilization, Jericho’s destruction in DSCN0576Joshua’s time, Egypt’s conquering of Israel, Pontius Pilate, Herod the Great, and many other events and people named in the Bible. Non-Christian historians like Porphyry, Celsus, Josephus, Pliny, et.al. have confirmed events recorded by the New Testament writers. Tacitus, the leading historian of Imperial Rome wrote: “The author of that name (Christian) was called Christ who in the reign of Tiberius suffered punishment under his Procurator Pontius Pilate.” The Jewish historian Josephus wrote, “There was about this time, Jesus, a wise man….” And many other non-Christian writers have verified the events in the New Testament.

If we applied the same higher criticism (for judging the Biblical writings as mythological) to the writings of the other above-mentioned philosophers and historians, we would reject all of them post-haste.

My logical, literary, and scientific conclusion is this: An historical/spiritual guide that reveals God’s interaction with man and His redemption of man, the Bible is not mythological; but is a bona fide history book that can be trusted. It is the oldest history book in the world, and has been substantiated thousands of times.

Is The Bible Historical or Merely Mythical? (pt.1)

I would like to address this question directly, but because there are so many side-issues involved, I must start somewhere else.

IMG_1799BThis question the historical reality of the Bible is often asked by adherents of an evolutionary hypothesis, some of whom are agnostics and atheists. Let me begin with the concept of evolution because that is normally the direction of the question. Let’s look at three words.

HYPOTHESIS: an assumption; an unverified idea; something assumed to be true for the sake of argument or investigation. Hypotheses are starting points.

THEORY: a speculative or conjectural viewpoint; a plausible but unproven concept; a potentially reasonable hypothesis with some substantiation.

FACT: a proven theory; knowledge based on reality; proven or demonstrated to exist or have existed; an actual, verified event.

The basic concept of evolution – the universe originating from a bang, and organic life evolving from rocks – is an hypothesis, which is called a theory, and taught as fact; andIMG_1797 that is not science. In every other scientific endeavor, a concept must be proven to be called a fact. But if you study the evolutionary hypothesis critically, it falls light-years short of explaining how humanity and the cosmos originated.

Remember: matter (atoms, energy, mountains, water, air, whatever) can be neither created nor destroyed. That is a well-established scientific principle, and that negates a big-bang hypothesis. Matter can change form, shape, or nature (ice to water, water to vapor, etc.), but it cannot be destroyed or annihilated.

I am aware of the anti-matter concept, but it is merely hypothetical.

Now: since matter can be neither created nor destroyed, yet the universe does exist, we add the phrase “except by a force outside time and space.” That supports both the science aspect and Biblical creation; therefore, it introduces the supernatural.

Treating hypotheses as facts and arguing over them is waste of time. Without proof, call it what it is: an hypothesis. Then teach and debate it as such. Don’t mock true science and don’t deny the reality of a Creator. Since it is impossible for stuff to magically appear out of nowhere, let’s admit that someone had to create it.

Actually, it takes faith to believe either way: Biblical creation, or in the evolutionary origin of the cosmos. But it takes an unsubstantiated faith – almost blind faith – to believe in a spontaneous, self-materialized cosmos where rocks morph into organic life. Why? Listen carefully now.

In the spontaneous, self-materialized cosmos, nothing or no one created everything out of nothing. (Read that again.) However, Biblical faith rests on the acceptance of a self-existing Creator. He is the first cause outside of time and space who designed and created the invisible stuff out of which everything was created. (Read THAT again.)

You’ve probably heard that there are over 6,000,000 parts to a Boeing 747-100, with over Boeing 747-4003,000,000 of them being rivets, screws, bolts, etc. Each rivet, window, cable, seat, etc. has a position to fill in order to complete the 747. Can there be variations in placement of parts? Yes. Seats are interchangeable. Rivets can exchange places with like rivets. And so on. Every part has a place it must fill; but when like parts are shuffled, the plane does not change.

There are also four complete computer systems in the plane. The primary computer system runs the plane, with three complete in-line backup systems. We have proof that every individual part of the plane was intelligently designed and purposely placed in their strategic locations. I know because I helped build them.

But you probably know that the Boeing 747 cannot self-assemble no matter how many billions of years the pre-fabricated plastic, aluminum, steel, wiring, etc. parts are tumbled together.

Now, let’s get really simple: DNA is needed in order to create RNA, and RNA is needed in order to create DNA; therefore, neither one can self-generate or evolve. Not only that, I read that there are over eighty-one billion trillion possible combinations in the human genetic code, and each sub-microscopic piece of the strand has its own individual place it must fill. Chance? More like a miracle.

This introduces God into the equation, but that invalidates modern evolutionary synthesis, natural selection, cosmic evolution, population genetics, and all the rest.

DSCN7715If you read this article critically, you find that spontaneous self-materialization is impossible. Rocks cannot become organic. An intelligent designer-creator is mandatory. There must be a first cause and that first cause, by nature, will not be bound by time and space. This first cause will be intelligent because design and order do not result from time plus chance.  Chaos is the product of time plus chance. Ask any farmer or botanist.

Now, since inanimate material cannot think (that sounds silly, but follow the thought), stuff cannot modify itself. It takes a person – one who can rationalize, understand consequences, set goals. It takes One who is outside time and space; One Who is not affected by any process or lack of process. And One Who is not affected by whether or not someone believes in Him. Since God, Jehovah, our Creator, fills that status, we revert to the Bible because that is where we learn about God.

And let’s get real: since creation – in any way you want to consider it – requires a creator, stop making up fantastic hypotheses to rationalize God out of the picture. Our Creator has already made Himself known to us. He is what the Bible is all about.

Next time we’ll look at the other side of this story: history.

Life After Death

Joe asked, “Stephen Hawking made the statement that there is no life after death. Wouldn’t that mean that Jesus is still dead? How might Scripture respond to his comment?”

The following is a quote from No Heaven? Why Stephen Hawking’s Comment Doesn’t Matter by Stephanie Pappas on May 16, 2011. “I regard the brain as a computer which will stop working when its components fail,” Hawking said in The Guardian. “There is no heaven or afterlife for broken down computers; that is a fairy story for people afraid of the dark.”

I appreciated Joe’s question, but here is an eye-opener: Hawking’s statement is nothingIMG_1085B less than a statement of faith. Why? Because believing that there is no God is a religious conviction. Hawking was a dedicated scientist with a background in mathematics, physics, and cosmology; not religion or theology. Also Hawking had Lou Gehrig’s disease, was a quadriplegic, was confined to a wheelchair, and had no use for a god who wouldn’t heal him. His humanistic faith was based on the fact that he could not see God and couldn’t prove that there is a God.

Going one step further, Mr. Hawking placed his faith in science. In reality, that made science his god.

This is indeed a shaky foundation, because many scientists throughout history were and are devout followers of Jesus Christ and Jehovah God. Their scientific endeavors have verified to them that there IS a God.

I am continually surprised by the number of people who put faith in famous actors, theologians, scientists, and philosophers who disavow faith in Almighty God. We need to wake up. Fame doesn’t grant access to sources of spiritual knowledge that are inaccessible to the rest of mankind.

Some say that we Christians and Jews cannot prove there is a God, and they are correct. By the help of the Holy Spirit and through Scripture we can know Jesus, but we cannot prove to others He is alive or that He is God. Believing in someone or something we Atheist Symbolcannot prove is, by definition, faith.

But hold on now: NOT believing in someone or something without proof is also, by definition, faith. Hawking did not believe in life after death because that includes heaven and hell; which, in turn, requires a belief in a Creator: God. Mr. Hawking had a very strong faith that declared there is no god.

Psalm 14:1-3 describes the condition of those who refuse to believe in God. Psalm 14:1 and Psalm 53:1 say that whoever does not believe in God is foolish. I didn’t say that; Scripture did. Also, Proverbs 18:2 informs us that whoever is not interested in gaining [spiritual] understanding is foolish, for they are interested only in expressing their own opinions.

There is no scientific proof for or against life after death; either way it is a matter of faith. And believing that God is either real or a myth are both matters of faith. But there is more to faith in God and Jesus Christ than mere believing.

In the Bible and throughout history many people have spoken of their interaction with God. People have experienced, in powerful, personal ways, strong affirmations of God’s healing, presence, and provision in this world as well as His promises concerning life in the next (Luke 23:43; John 14:1-6; Rev. 21-22). Untold millions of people have studied Biblical claims and extra-Biblical claims; some have returned after dying and have a dynamically different conclusion from Hawking’s. Scripture teaches us about life after death which is called eternal life. Scripture alone is proof for us, but we cannot, in turn, prove it to anyone else. It’s a matter of faith.

Billy Graham could not speak authoritatively on science or the universe, but he was aSatellite Dish giant in the kingdom of God. In like manner, Mr. Hawking has credibility in cosmology and physics because of his work in the field (although I don’t agree with him on several scientific issues); but he has no credibility in the realm of Scripture or spiritual matters.

We all have faith, but the Bible leaves it up to each individual regarding where we will place our faith. Nevertheless, the historical declaration in Scripture is: Jesus Is Alive! There is life after death.

The darkness to which Hawking refers is reserved only for those who reject God. And that statement refers to God as found in the Holy Bible – not some other god. Therefore, examine Scripture, seek the truth, and choose life.

BibLe cOdeS?

You might think the Bible Code fad had faded into oblivion, but that isn’t the case. When IMG_1799BI was asked about it, I found it is alive, and it’s been thriving for millennia. I don’t believe in hidden messages in so-called Bible Codes, but it is interesting.

     From the Gnostics in Jesus’ time who prided themselves for possessing hidden knowledge, to the Rosicrucian’s who held to “esoteric truths of the ancient past concealed from the average man”, to Sir Isaac Newton who predicted that the world would NOT end before 2060, to Dan Brown’s novel “The Da Vinci Code”, the concept of hidden knowledge in the Bible has attracted world-wide interest. The original Bible Code was known as the Torah Code.

     There is a Jewish tradition about “hidden text” in the Pentateuch (the Torah, first five Books in the Bible), consisting of words or phrases expressed in the form of Equidistant Letter Sequences (ELS’s); that is, selecting sequences of equally spaced letters in the text. Since this tradition was passed on orally, not much is really understood of the early legends. Rabbi H.M.D. Weissmandel was the first modern scholar to try to show the possibility of such a “hidden text” in 1958 by finding patterns consisting of ELS’s. This concept has been described as “a method by which specific letters from the text can be selected to reveal an otherwise obscured message.”

     Using the ELS system, I’ve been told every 50th letter of the Book of Genesis (in Hebrew) starting with the first taw (“T”), the Hebrew word “torah” is spelled out. The same may happen in the Book of Exodus. Computers have been used to search for similar patterns and more complex variants. Bible code proponents usually use a Hebrew Bible, and most Jewish proponents use only the Pentateuch. The Jewish group Aish-HaTorah uses Bible Codes in their Discovery Seminars to persuade secular Jews of the divinity of the Torah, and to encourage them to trust in its traditional Orthodox teachings.

     The general public learned of Bible codes due to Michael Drosnin’s book titled “The Bible Code.” Instead of reading the words of a text normally, hidden words are found by picking every 2nd, 3rd, or 4th, (etc.) letters, skipping over the letters in between. This can become very complex, and a skip pattern can be over 8,000 letters. Using pre-programmed spacing, computers are used to look for matches for selected names or words, and the skip spacing is adjusted until the programmer “discovers” what he/she wants. This produces self-fulfilled predictions. Not good, but interesting.

     Dr. Dave Thomas, physicist and mathematician, wrote in 1997, “Hidden messages can be found anywhere, provided you’re willing to invest time and effort to harvest the vast field of probability. All you need is the power of chance combined with the brute force of computers.” And he proved it by applying code programming to Tolstoy’s “War and Peace” finding many words, names, and predictions “imbedded” therein.

     The theologian Grant Jeffrey said, “Hebrew codes do not contain any hidden theological or doctrinal messages. There are no secret sentences, detailed messages, or sentences about theology in the [supposedly] encoded words. God’s message of salvation and His commandments for holy living to humankind are found only in the open words of the Scriptures.” And I say, “Amen!”

     Those who favor Bible codes ask, “How could words and “messages” be a product of random chance?” But I ask, “With a computer, imagination, and innumerable attempts, how can we NOT find them?”

     As mentioned above, I do not believe in so-called “Bible Codes” because we also find numerous negative concepts. If “Bible Codes” are really inspired by God, then how do we account for the following “codes” which have all been found in the Torah?  ‘Jesus is Satan”; “Please drive out Jesus”; “God is not YHWH”; “There is no God”; “Jehovah is a liar”; and many others. 

     We must get back to what the Bible is, and its purpose. Second Timothy 3:16-17 says, “All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: That the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works.”

     And Jesus said in John 14:26, “But when the Father sends the Advocate as my representative—that is, the Holy Spirit—he will teach you everything and will remind you of everything I have told you.” Jesus does not want anything to be hidden.

     Let’s invest our limited time in studying the revealed word of God, not in self-generated revelations.