By Pastor Jack
The Source III

I want to continue looking at the Bible as the only infallible and reliable source of holy Scripture that truly reveals to us the nature, character and will of God. Speaking of holy scriptures, there is one thing we did conclude: “We don’t speak God, but God speaks man.” What are we saying? There are only two languages that we speak. Those of men, and when enabled by the Holy Spirit, those of angels.   NIV 1 Corinthians 13:1 “If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, …”   The tongues of angels are something we do not command, nor comprehend. We must rely upon the Holy Spirit to give us the understanding in our own tongue. God has chosen to reveal himself through the languages of mankind and most specifically in the original language known as Hebrew. Ancient Hebrew is the language used making up approximately 77% of the Bible, 22% Greek, and the remaining 1% being Aramaic. Yes, Aramaic and Greek were also used by some of the authors of the Bible. But where the Aramaic and Greek portions are found, scholars agree that the language and culture of the Hebrews established a contextual foundation that heavily influenced the Aramaic and Greek portions. This makes it mandatory that the Hebrew meaning and context under these languages, must be taken into consideration if we are to have a complete and accurate translation and interpretation. This is not to imply that those portions written in Aramaic and Greek are any less inspired then the Hebrew. Absolutely not! What I am saying is that these two other languages are touched by and influenced by the Hebrew.   Dr. Walter Bauer, in his Introduction to the Lexicon of the Greek New Testament writes:   “The earliest Christian literature, with which this book deals, is made up of a number of writings which were composed in the Greek Language.” He goes on to explain that the “peculiarities of biblical Greek were not that of more ancient times”. This most peculiar form of Greek has been given the name “Koine Greek.” Bauer writes “so-called ‘Hebraists’ tried to explain the peculiarities of this Greek as due to the influence of the Hebrew. Their recognition of the special character of the Greek NT language constituted a strong impetus in the right direction.”   Can we see a small example of how the Hebrew language and culture is influencing the Greek of the New Testament? Here is something seemingly rather quaint and small in theological importance. But shows a Hebraic influence upon the text.   Luke 24:13 Now that same day two of them were going to a village called Emmaus, about seven miles from Jerusalem. Luke 24:15 As they talked and discussed these things with each other, Jesus himself came up and walked along with them;   We say this holy scripture is inerrant. The problem is the destination of their journey is unknown. Emmaus is not a known town. Is this historical account of Jesus walking with two men unreliable because their destination is refutable? Here we find three Judean men walking together outside of Jerusalem toward a town in the nearby Judean hillside.  “Older Bible Commentaries say that the site of Emmaus is unknown.” Lois Tverberg. Reading the Bible with Rabbi Jesus. pg 14)   How is this problem resolved? It is resolved when we look to find the Hebrew beneath the Greek word Emmaus. “The meaning of ‘Emmaus’ is disputed by scholars today. Today, three and a half miles to the east of Jerusalem, along an old (mostly buried) Roman highway, lies the small village of Motza. Emmaus is considered to be a transliteration of a Hebrew word.  That Hebrew word is ‘ha-mo-tza’ and it means “the spring”. “em-ma-oos” (Emmaus) is phonetically derived from the Hebrew ‘ah-mo-tza’.” Contextualized from Lois Tverberg. Reading the Bible with Rabbi Jesus. pg 14)   The mystery is resolved by understanding that many difficult words found in the Greek texts of the Bible are best understood when we uncover the Hebrew word(s) they intended to reveal. The point is that the language of the ancient Hebrews is the language (directly or indirectly) of the Bible. The language of the Bible, whether Hebrew, Greek or Aramaic in its origin, has been chosen by God to communicate with mankind. God is the author! Man was His instrument! Hebrew was the specific language and culture of the writers.   Professor Josef Stern, in his essay on ‘Language’, writes “Language, as it first appears in Genesis, is divine. The first spoken words ‘Let there be light’ (Gen 1:3) are God’s, and they not only announce the creation of light, but literally bring it into existence…  He who spoke and the world was created” is God. A pre-existent knowledgeable being, God, uses language, not only to communicate to man the mysteries of Himself and the universe, but to create. Contemporary Jewish Religious Thought. Language. Josef Stern. pg. 543.   For God, knowledge is shared through language and through this ‘God-breathed’ language things come supernaturally to life. What now is naturally formed, was first supernaturally created. The Holy Scriptures, though naturally written down by the hand of men, are wonderfully endowed with supernatural outcomes. Though in the natural dead, the content and messages are supernaturally alive. The spoken word of God brought forth life, and God himself is the word. Here is a deep mystery. Is the word the power or is the word empowered by God? BOTH! The answer is only understood supernaturally. What God says cannot be separated from what God is. What God says cannot in anyway be apart from who and what God is.  As part of His eternal supernatural being God cannot lie. His words are a perfect representation of Himself. God’s words, unlike our words, are not simply a representation of who He is, they are who He is! When scripture says “And God said…” it strongly implies the words spoken are not only His Will in action but His Character on full display! His words will not change over time because God does not change. Malachi 3:6

“I the LORD do not change…”

And these words are without repentance.   Romans 11:29 “for God’s gifts and his call are irrevocable.”   All of this applies to what we can believe and trust from God’s words concerning our salvation, our healing, our calling, our relationships, our destiny. What is the greatest revelation that God’s word is the embodiment of Himself? That they are undividable? That they are infallibly one? As the book of Genesis reveals God, it is still incumbent upon us to do a lot of interpretive study. This is far from a chore and is truly a blessing to our hearts and an encouragement to our pursuit of a deeper relationship with God. But those discoveries are still at times veiled from full and absolute disclosure of the nature and character of God. We still want more.   Satisfaction comes most intimately with the revelation of Messiah.   John 1:1 “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2 He was with God in the beginning. 3 Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made.  4 In him was life, and that life was the light of men.”   Yes, Jesus is the fulfillment of all of God’s words. John 6:68 Simon Peter answered him, “Lord (Jesus), to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life.   The answer is to know Jesus is have the words of the living God dwelling in you.   John 6:63 The Spirit gives life; the flesh counts for nothing. The words I have spoken to you are spirit and they are life.   Scripture is more than just a compilation of supportive ideas.  It is the revelation of God to man. It is life.



Romans 8:29 “For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the likeness of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers.”
Matthew 6:33 “But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.”
Colossians 1:9-13
9 “For this reason, since the day we heard about you, we have not stopped praying for you and asking God to fill you with the knowledge of his will through all spiritual wisdom and understanding. 10 And we pray this in order that you may live a life worthy of the Lord and may please him in every way: bearing fruit in every good work, growing in the knowledge of God, 11 being strengthened with all power according to his glorious might so that you may have great endurance and patience, and joyfully 12 giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of the saints in the kingdom of light. 13 For he has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of the Son he loves,”
Let’s begin with a story to establish some background. Lois Tverberg writes: (Excerpts from Reading the Bible with Rabbi Jesus, 2017. pgs. 26 – 27.)
“Captain, the weather radar has helped us a lot.” These were some of the last recorded words on the black box of a Korean Airlines flight that crashed in Guam in 1997. The words were those of the copilot who was trying to communicate to the pilot that poor visibility had made it too dangerous to attempt to land by sight alone. This was his oblique [non-direct] way of saying that it was imperative that they recalculate their approach by relying on their scientific instruments. But thirty seconds later, the 747 crashed into the side of a mountain and more than 250 passengers were killed. For years the airline industry was perplexed by why certain countries like Korea had a surprisingly high record of plane crashes, despite the fact that the pilots had excellent training and state-of-the-art equipment.” What may have caused this particular accident was believed to be due to a culturally dictated form of communication found among Korean pilots.
All modern commercial airlines generally employ two pilots per flight. One is the pilot who is principally responsible to fly the plane. The other is the co-pilot who reads and cross-checks all controls and watches for any negative situations during the flight that the pilot may not see or has overlooked. The idea is that both are able to point out a problem and together come up with an agreed upon course of action.
“What is common in some countries like Korea, is a stronger sense of hierarchy, where people honor those of greater status by carefully couching their words. To call attention to an error or an overlooked problem…is gallingly rude.” This is an example of how cultural norms can and do have an impacting influence upon communication.
Unlike Korea, an American co-pilot would speak in a very direct manner without fear of offence and we agree that such speech would be proper in such a situation. But not so in other cultures. In 1990, a Columbian airliner crashed while flying into LaGuardia airport because the co-pilot was too polite to insist to ground traffic control that they needed to land immediately because they were critically low on fuel.
Misunderstandings like these can continue to be a problem unless we are able to not only understand what the words mean as defined, but also understand what the words reveal and imply in the context of the culture. From these stories we can see what some of the problems are that people of cross-cultures have when communicating. Some could say that a more obvious reason, other than culture, would simply be the differences in their languages. This of course is true when one person might speak Japanese, and another speaks French for example.
But this challenge can be overcome by being able to match word meanings from each language group through an interpreter who has a commanding knowledge of both languages. But this is only a partial solution in the communication matrix. Knowing the structure of a language is key but knowing how it is used within its culture is where we sometimes fall into error. Understanding the cultural background of the speaker is often just as important if we are to understand the meaning of the words being spoken.
Words are chosen because of the particular meaning of those words that are produced within the cultural experiences of the speaker. The holy scriptures were written at various times, in various locations, by various writers to a varying audience.
While we might think that the cultures are varying by time and place, and to some degree we would be correct, it should still be noted that all of the writers remained historically connected by a unique but uncommon culture. Noting the points of commonality, we have scholars who attempt to translate and interpret all of scriptures within these varying historical and cultural contexts.
Would this be wrong? No. It is actually a much more rewarding way to study and teach when we consider and include the cultural context. Specific language and cultural studies are valuable as they take into account the nuances of a particular period of time. So much of human history is divided into epochs. (NOTE: An epoch is less determined by time and more determined by the rise and fall of culturally centric kingdoms).
This interpretive method I support. However, it should be understood that while this focus is proper it is also limited. While a writer of scripture may have lived during a particular epoch of time, the Author of the Bible is over and outside of all time. Recognizing that the Author is of another culture is critical. The impact that this understanding had upon the completed manuscript (the Bible) is often misunderstood and understated in importance.
Good biblical interpreters will try to take into consideration the impact of culture upon the writer and the language of the book in order to gain a more accurate reading of the text. But while we look to gain insight through human language and culture, we are confronted by the fact that the Author (God) is of a completely different culture and God’s culture is being brought to bear upon the culture of those writers! So, man’s language and culture were being influenced by God’s culture.
The Bible itself is a historical and didactic (teaching) document that spans a period of over 5,000 years. The Jews have this calendar year of 2019 as being the year 5778. Moses compiled data from the many generations before him which had been faithfully passed down by memory orally and then he added a current original history of his generation along with the details of building the Tabernacle and its forms of worship along with extended instructions for righteous living which included man’s relationship to God, his fellowman and the caretaking of God’s creation. Plus a few prophetic words thrown in throughout the Torah.
Culture played a huge role in the telling of the historical peoples of the Bible. The basic characteristics of culture are language, religion, behavior, political systems and environment (common food, music, dress etc.). Once again, I have to state that to properly interpret the Bible, we have to understand the culture of the writers.
This may seem contradictory to what has already been said but, one reality and challenge is that the focus of scripture is principally not for us to know the culture of the people of the book but to know the culture of the author of the book (Bible).
Now we are aware that the culture of the writers remained amazingly constant. The culture of the people of the book was under constant pressure to change and conform to the cultures around them from the earliest accounts of the Patriarchs through the time of the disciples!
Despite this pressure from without, the unique culture of the writers of scripture remained constant even when the characters changed, the penned revelations remained consistent and without contradictions. Even though thousands of years had passed in the telling, certain attributes within the culture of the leading characters remained amazingly and remarkably consistent as well.
Those Biblical characters were not stereo-types. Some were male and others female. Some rich and others poor. Some were kings and others were slaves. Some were notoriously bad and others almost without fault. Some lived in cities and towns while others lived out in the hills. Some were merchants and others were fishermen. Some lived in 1200 BC and others in 33 AD. Some lived in Canaan and others dwelt along the Nile in Egypt. Some lived in independence while others lived in foreign lands among their enemies. Some were sick and others well in body. And yet, over all of those thousands of years, being constantly exposed to other cultures; when we read the scriptures we find that within those histories, all of the writers from across the expanse of time and the variation of places wherein they lived, they were able to hold onto a uniquely peculiar and unchanging culture!
How was that possibly? Was it due to their being convinced that all other cultures were inferior? Was it due to their being isolated from the world and other divergent cultures surrounding them? Was it due to their resistance to change and their unrelenting dedication to their own traditions?
The consistency is explained by this simple fact. God, through revelation, revealed His culture to them. He called them to pursue His culture and make it a part of their own culture. So, what was carried through the millennium of time and kept their culture constant was accomplished by each generation attempting to conform to the unchanging culture of God.
Through every generation God continued to call the people to conform to His culture and what we witness, as we interpret the scriptures, is that same calling is upon this generation to take upon ourselves God’s culture. The scriptures call us to transformation. Our culture is to conform to God’s culture! Scripture calls ‘God’s culture’ the ‘kingdom of God or heaven’. But some may be more comfortable in knowing that taking upon oneself God’s culture is conforming to the image of Jesus the Messiah.



By Pastor Jack
Scripture reveals the culture of the Patriarchs from the time of the Hebrew disciples, a period of over 3000 years since Noah and the flood. Anthropologists, linguists, theologians, historians and archaeologists have made no small effort in their study of the Bible to uncover and present to the modern interpreter as much factual information about the land, culture and history of the people in the book.
The Bible was not written with a priority to reveal “all things about all things”. The stories, written within their cultural context, did not have as their primary purpose a comprehensive expose’ on the people, places and things of scripture. Some may be surprised that the Bible doesn’t go out of its way to fully detail all of the elements of interest to the reader. Take, for instance, the account of creation. This has been the subject of much debate and it simply starts with the words: “In the beginning…” One would ask the question “When would that be?” Is the answer 6,000 years ago as some have reckoned time using the recorded biblical genealogies? Or should we consider this: Recently astronomers have estimated that the origin of the universe occurred between 12 and 14 billion years ago but they say our solar system is less than 4 billion years old. Is that what “in the beginning” is supposed to mean?” Let’s take another example: the very general and somewhat obscure facts of where the Garden of Eden was situated.
Genesis 2:8
8“Now the LORD God had planted a garden in the east, in Eden; and there he put the man he had formed.”
Genesis 2:10-11
10 “A river flowed out of Eden to water the garden, and there it divided and became four rivers. The name of the first is Pishon…the name of the second river is Gihon.”
Genesis 2:14
14 “And the name of the third river is Tigris, which flows east of Assyria. And the fourth river is the Euphrates.”
“Many biblical scholars have debated the exact location and even the existence of Eden for centuries. Because the Tigris and Euphrates Rivers are clearly named in Genesis, it has been thought to be in the Middle East. Some have suggested Babylonia in Mesopotamia, and others Armenia, north of Mesopotamia. However, the other two rivers named, the Pishon and Gihon, are hard to identify.” (
They don’t seem to exist anymore. The eastern mountains of Turkey have been suggested as a possibility because the origins of the Tigris and Euphrates Rivers are found there. If that is so, then we are talking about an area 100 miles by 100 miles square, although, the mountainous terrain doesn’t sound ideal for a garden. However, and this is significant, these rivers are not from a single place, as the scripture reveals. The flow of the river does not start at the same source but end up flowing together through Iraq and into the Persian Gulf—the very opposite of what the scriptures tell us.
Are there other questions raised from scripture that we might like answers too? We can be silly with our questions, as some critics might be inclined to ask, such as “What did God have in mind when he created the Aardvark?” Some might ask “What is an Aardvark?” Well, it’s not an Aard-wolf if that helps. And yes, there are such animals!
Let’s ask some more adult questions that are left unexplained:
“Where did the wives of Cain, Able and Seth come from as their births are not announced? Where exactly is Ur of the Chaldees? What is the origin of Abram’s faith? When precisely was Jesus born? We know where he was born and where he grew up, but why not the year and day He was born? Did the disciples have to replace Judas by casting lots when all of the other disciples were called by Jesus? What was the thorn in Paul’s side? Is the rapture of the church before, during or after the tribulations period? Why can’t we know?
Some theories have been offered to answer all of these questions but without any real certainty. If scripture is a book of truth, why is it often so un-precise? Wouldn’t this lack of clarity be an argument that the Bible offers limited revelation?
The answer is the Bible does only offer limited revelation.
What do we mean by that?
The Bible limits itself in what it reveals, it is not a book that contains “all truth”, but it is a book that is “all true” in what it contains.
This means the Bible has a specific purpose for its existence. It was never intended to be a scientific journal although much that would intrigue and direct the scientific mind can be found within its pages. Historians can find within its pages names and events that correspond to, and give a fuller understanding of, ancient times. Archaeologists are uncovering the locations of ancient wells, roadways, citadels, villages, towns and cities because they were mentioned in the Bible but unknown and lost in the most ancient of the world’s libraries. Students of languages cross reference the original manuscripts of the Bible to determine and chart the development of both the Semitic and Romance languages. Cultural engineers take the stories and try to dissect and construct an understanding of male and female relationships, family units represented, the rise of ethnic and racial cultures, all because the Bible is one of the more reliable sources for this knowledge.
The Bible has many beneficial uses as we have noted without exhausting the possibilities, but that is not its primary purpose. As we stated in part 8 on Culture, we see a constancy of culture over the Bible even though it covers a period of time greater than 3,000 years. This constancy of culture wasn’t found in their dress, language, place or wealth, it was in their constancy of behavior. Anthropologists agree that the one constant is the behavior inherent to man as revealed in the Bible has not changed over time. Whether Romans, Egyptians, Greeks, Ethiopians, Chaldeans or Jews, etc., they all had basic human traits that remain unchanged. However, the book isn’t really about every culture of the world. It is about a certain people who embraced a specific culture.
The behavior of the principal characters of the Old and New Testaments remained remarkably consistent. This we explained was the influence of God upon the culture. God’s heavenly culture was being transplanted over the culture of men. Man adopted the culture of God, who is constant and unchanging, and their moral culture, which impacted their social culture, is observed to be remarkably consistent though people, places and times changed.
People who are on a Sacred Journey remain remarkably alike and consistent in their moral behavior, even if time and place change. Traits of this “God” culture can be observed around the world but they are not indigenous or ingenious to that group of people. These moral traits, while observed by some skeptics of the Bible to be common to man, are actually foreign or alien to man. Morality implies there is some inherent good in man. The Bible reveals that man is inherently evil.
Romans 3:10“As it is written: “There is no one righteous, not even one.”
1 Kings 8:46“When they sin against you–for there is no one who does not sin.”
Moral goodness is absent from natural man. It is beyond his inherent nature. To be moral, this knowledge, this change of culture must come from without. Moral goodness has only one source and that source is alien to us—that source is God’s culture. The main purpose of the Bible is to reveal the culture of God to His creation, mankind.
This is the answer to the “why question” that we seek. Why is scripture about God’s culture and not man’s? Because the revelation of God’s culture to man is meant to become the absolute focus of our Sacred Journey. Everything of eternal value that is relevant for man’s ‘good’ is only found in the scriptures.
This revelation is only found through the study and adoption of God’s Culture. If man does not recognize the true purpose of scripture, he can never hope to be truly good. He can only try to ‘act’ good. Again, scripture is given so that we may discover God’s Culture so that we may know how to adapt.
This adaption or adoption of God’s culture in continuous priority and action has been given the term religion because we adapt to God’s culture religiously. Man, chose to make God’s culture his culture and conform himself to match what God instructs man to do. Mankind actively becomes involved with the process by making it the highest priority of his life, not by his own choice, but by discerning God’s revelation.
Is man capable of hearing and discerning God’s revelation (often called His voice)? It is not dependent upon man’s capabilities but upon God’s Spirit.
“An omnipotent God…can certainly communicate His will to human beings in an unambiguous way if He chooses to do so.” To deny this is “to impose upon Him a limitation of dumbness that would insult the least of His creatures.”
-Rabbi Norman Lamm
“To say that religion is a creation of human beings and their communities in no way implies that religion is fiction.”
-Mordecai Kaplan
Religion is merely the taking upon oneself the culture of heaven. It is indeed a behavior that exhibits self-control, but it is not a solo act. It is entered into in communion with the One we are emulating. It is entered into in communion with others. This culture of heaven is vibrantly alive, and our participation brings us into life. The forms it takes do not make the religious communion alive, it is the relationship formed with God that makes us alive! The culture of God is revealed in scripture so that we might live!
What remains before us is the searching of the scriptures to know God and the characteristics of His culture.
Song of Solomon 3:2
“I will get up now and go about the city, through its streets and squares; I will search for the one my heart loves.”
Romans 2:13
“For it is not those who hear the law who are righteous in God’s sight, but it is those who obey the law who will be declared righteous.”
Isaiah 1:18
“Come now, let us reason together,” says the LORD. “Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red as crimson, they shall be like wool.”



By Pastor Jack

Isaiah 40:6-8

6 A voice says, “Cry out.” And I said, “What shall I cry?” “All men are like grass, and all their glory is like the flowers of the field. 7 The grass withers and the flowers fall, because the breath of the LORD blows on them. Surely the people are grass. 8 The grass withers and the flowers fall, but the word of our God stands forever.”
“Our conscious mind seeks to understand structures of meaning.”
Neil Gillman, The Death of Death, pg. 38. 
Man (or humanity) has within his conscious mind an understanding that everything that has come into being, has purpose. It has been argued that some, or all things, happen randomly, or are meaningless, without purpose or explanation. Those people would be considered “the fatalists”—and they are the minority. Even atheist scientists look for the reason and purpose behind everything. If purpose or reason are not found in the universe, everything around us would be acting in random or inconsistent manners. Science would be undone. It would not be able to create theories on anything without constant structures that yield stable outcomes as predicted. This ‘stability’ allows us to put forward the “laws of nature” and not the “anything goes” of nature. How would we cope if gravity would only operate occasionally? As humans, we have been created in His image and have been placed within His creation. The stability of the universe is attributed to God.

Genesis 2:7-8

7 “The LORD God formed the man from the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living being. 8 “Now the LORD God had planted a garden in the east, in Eden; and there he put the man he had formed.”
Man is on a quest for meaning. The question needs to be asked then: Is it innate within man or is there another influence(r)? If man rationalizes that there is meaning, he is confessing that the universe is constant, and therefore, knowable. If he rationalizes that there is no meaning, he is confessing that the universe is inconsistent, and therefore, unknowable. But to confess the latter is to say that we have no way of knowing—so we know nothing. This means, that we have no way of knowing anything, making that statement nonsensical. The only truth statement is that the universe is constant and knowable. Implicitly everything has meaning.
God has placed meaning into everything, whether or not we believe this.
But we do believe this and are naturally asking the ‘why questions’ about everything.  Even if we do not, or presently cannot find a satisfactory answer, doesn’t negate the truth that everything has meaning. That is why we ask this hard question: “why is there death?” Or harder still: “Why does God allow death and his creation, man, to die?”  Or even harder still: “If death is God’s will what is its purpose and meaning?” Death wasn’t a part of the creation story of Genesis 1 but was introduced indirectly in Chapter 2 and directly in Chapter 3.
In Chapter 2, God intends part of His creation to provide for the physical needs of other parts of His creation. Man had to eat, which means that other parts of nature had to die (given up or ‘sacrificed’) so that man could live. Man couldn’t eat everything, though. Something would be denied to him.

Genesis 2:16-17

16 “And the LORD God commanded the man, “You are free to eat from any tree in the garden; 17 but you must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, for when you eat of it you will surely die.”
Death was permissible, even advantageous, but came with a cost. For one thing to live another had to die. Death was purposeful but not intended for everything, especially man. But for death not to come to man there were things he must do and things he mustn’t do. But man chose to do what he was not to supposed do and therefore mankind began to die.

Genesis 3:17-19  

17 To Adam he said, “Because you listened to your wife and ate from the tree about which I commanded you, ‘You must not eat of it,’ “Cursed is the ground because of you; through painful toil you will eat of it all the days of your life. 18 It will produce thorns and thistles for you, and you will eat the plants of the field. 19 By the sweat of your brow you will eat your food until you return to the ground, since from it you were taken; for dust you are and to dust you will return.”

Death has now been given a second purpose, judgment for disobedience to God’s Will.  So, we have the answers to the meaning of death.

  1. Some life is yielded up (death) so that other life can be sustained (live).
  2. Death is the punishment for the disobedience to God’s Will for all of creation including man.
But scripture (revelation) lets us know that death is not the final word on life.
Death originally had a purpose to sustain life, but now it has the additional purpose of penalty. The first was God’s perfect will, the second was in opposition to God’s perfect will. The second now must be the redeemed means by which God’s perfect will for His creation and man is to be restored. One question leads us to the unveiling of what was once a deep mystery. “Death must die for man to live!”  Is this an oxymoron?  Is it an enigma?  Presently, in the natural, we know that to live is to die. But through the revelation of scripture we know that to die is to live.
Let’s unpack this considering our Sacred Journey. Death, which is our current enemy, was never intended to be so. Sin or disobedience to the Will of God, unleashed death as a judgment upon all creation including mankind. Sin separated us from God who created us to have life without death but now was cursed, separated from the Will of God and sentenced to death. But death is not all-powerful, it has an Achilles’ heel or is under the heel of another.

Genesis 3:15

15 And I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and hers; he will crush your head, and you will strike his heel.”
For us, God makes death a means of restoration and life. It may sound strange, but even death needs restoration and God removes its sting upon mankind. The death of man was a perversion of the original intent of death. Death was a temporal means to bring about the preservation of life. The purpose of Death was corrupted by sin and now became a means of both natural and eternal death, life without God. So, a new law came into existence that man would die because of his sins. But the same God, who created death, which had become a curse, had the power to undo the curse. How? By doing the unthinkable, dying Himself.
Galatians 3:13
13 “Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us, for it is written: “Cursed is everyone who is hung on a tree.”
This next passage of scripture we normally understand it as applying to man. And this is a proper interpretation. But it can also be read as a statement concerning the first revelation, the first fruits, the first resurrection…the Messiah.

1 Corinthians 15:54

54 “When the perishable has been clothed with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality, then the saying that is written will come true: “Death has been swallowed up in victory.”
And just to drive home the point: 

1 Corinthians 15:55-57  

55 “Where, O death, is your victory? Where, O death, is your sting?” 56 The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law.  57 But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.  
Our Sacred Journey is not victorious because we have answers to the deep mysteries about ‘Why do we die?’  We are victorious because we not only know how death is defeated, we know the one who destroyed the power of death.

Philippians 2:8-9   

8 “And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself and became obedient to death—even death on a cross! 9 Therefore God exalted him to the highest place and gave him the name that is above every name.”
We also can embrace the idea of death because when given over into the hands of God, death is the means to life everlasting.

Philippians 3:10-11 10 “I want to know Christ and the power of his resurrection and the fellowship of sharing in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, 11 and so, somehow, to attain to the resurrection from the dead.”



By Pastor Jack
Luke 4:1-15
“Jesus, for the Holy Spirit, returned from the Jordan and was led by the spirit into the desert, where for 40 days he was tempted by the devil. He ate nothing during those days, and at the end of them he was hungry. The devil said to him, “if you are the son of God, tell this stone to become bread.” Jesus answered, “it is written: ‘Man does not live on bread alone.” The devil led him up to a high place and showed him in an instant all the kingdoms of the world. And he said to him, “I will give you all their authority and splendor, where it has been given to me, and I can give it to anyone I want to. So if you worship me, it will all be yours.” Jesus answered, “it is written: ‘Worship the Lord your God and serve him only.” The devil led him to Jerusalem and had him stand on the highest point of the Temple. “If you are the son of God,” he said, “throw yourself down from here. For it is written: “he will command his angels concerning you to guard you carefully; they will lift you up in their hands, so that you will not strike your foot against a stone.” Jesus answered, “it says: ‘do not put the Lord your God to the test.” When the devil had finished all his tempting, he left him until an opportune time. Jesus returned to Galilee in the power of the spirit, and news about him spread through the whole countryside. And he taught in their synagogues and everyone praised him.”’
Servants Who Lead
The 1st Temptation: To Be Relevant.
“The devil said to him, ‘If you are the son of God, tell this stone to become bread.” The Christian servant of the future is called to be completely irrelevant and to stand in this world with nothing to offer but his or her own vulnerable self.
Henri Nouwen tells his story:
“After 20 years in the academic world as a teacher of pastoral psychology, pastoral theology, and Christian spirituality, I moved from Harvard to L’Arche, a community for mentally handicapped people.So I went from teaching the best and brightest, those wanting to rule the world, to men and women who had few or no words and were considered, at best, marginal to the needs of our society. The first thing that struck me when I came to live in a house with mentally handicapped people was that their liking or disliking me had absolutely nothing to do with any of the many useful things I felt I had done until then. Since nobody could read my books, the books cannot impress them, and since most of them never went to school, my 20 years of teaching at Notre Dame, Yale and Harvard did not provide an impressive introduction. All of my considerable ministerial experience proved even less valuable. Once, when I offered some meat to one of the assistants during dinner, one of the handicapped men said to me, “Don’t give him meat. He doesn’t eat meat. He’s a Presbyterian!
Not being able to use any of the skills that had proved so practical in the past was a real source of anxiety. I was suddenly faced with my naked self, open for affirmations and rejections, hugs and punches, smiles and tears, all dependent simply on how I was perceived at the moment. In a way, it seemed as though I was starting my life all over again. Relationships, connections and reputations could no longer be counted on. These broken, wounded and completely unpretentious people forced me to let go of my relevant self— the self that can do things, show things, prove things, build things— and forced me to reclaim that unadorned self in which I am completely vulnerable… I am telling you all this because I am deeply convinced that the servants of the present are called to be completely irrelevant and to stand in this world with nothing to offer but his or her own vulnerable self. That is the way Jesus came to reveal God’s love.”
The great message that we have to carry, as witnesses/minister’s of God’s word and followers of Jesus, is that God loves us, not because of what we do or accomplish, but because God has created and redeemed us in love and has chosen us to proclaim that love is the true source of all human life.
Jesus’ first temptation was to be relevant: “turn these stones into bread.”
One of the main sufferings one may experience in the places of ministry is that of low self-esteem. Many servant ministers today increasingly perceive themselves as having very little impact. They are very busy, but they do not see much change, what some may call fruit. Setting ‘being relevant’ as a priority will make competency the standard by which to gauge our potential, our worth. If by attempting to be relevant, we do not see outcomes that the world measures and declares to be successful; we can fall into a deep current of despair. It is at this point that many would give up and walk away. Feeling irrelevant is a much more general experience than we might think when we, as servants, look at ourselves through the lens of a seemingly self-confident society. It is here, in the tension of those moments, that the need for a new definition of kingdom servant-hood becomes clear.
Servants who lead, who dare to embrace their irrelevance, who do not rely upon their own understanding, who put no undue emphasis upon their gifts, talents and reputation, (just filthy rags) have the potential to overcome the temptation to promote an “I am/I can” self-image and become a surrendered vessel who is totally dependent upon the God’s Word and power.
Zechariah 9:9: “Rejoice great”, O daughter of Zion! Shout in triumph, O daughter of Jerusalem! Behold, your King is coming to you; He is just and endowed with salvation; humble, and mounted on a donkey, even on a colt, the foal of a donkey.”
Our Response:
Philippians 2:5-11 “Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus: who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God: but made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men…” “And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross. Wherefore God also hath highly exalted him, and given him the name which is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee shall bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth; and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the father.”
The 2nd Temptation: To Be Spectacular
“And he said to him, ‘… I will give you all their authority and splendor, for it has been given to me, and I can give it to anyone I want to. So if you worship me, it will be yours.”
Henri Nouwen:
“I was educated in a seminary that made me believe ministry was essentially an individual affair. I had to be well-trained and well-informed, and after six years of training and formation, I was considered well-equipped to preach, administer the ordinances, counsel, and run a church. I was made to feel like a man sent on a long, long hike with a huge backpack containing all the necessary things to help the people I would meet along the way. Over the years, I came to realize that things are not as simple as that, but my basic individualistic approach to ministry did not change. However, when living at L’Arche this individualism was radically challenged. There I was one of many people who tried to live faithfully with handicapped people and the fact that I was a minister was not a license to do things on my own.Suddenly everyone wanted to know my whereabouts from hour to hour, and every movement I made was subject to accountability. One member of the community was appointed to accompany me; a small group was formed to help me decide which invitations to accept and which to decline; and the question most asked by the handicap people with whom I lived was, “Are you home tonight Henri?”
Once, when I had left on a trip without saying goodbye to Trevor, one of the handicap people with whom I lived, the first phone call I received when I had reached my destination was from a tearful Trevor, saying, “Henri, why did you leave us? We miss you so. Please come back.” I’ve learned how important the little things are and how much they mean to others and also how much they mean to me.”
The 2nd Temptation to which Jesus was exposed was precisely the temptation to do something spectacular, something that would win him great applause. Individualism can set a servant up to think of him or herself as deserving of the praise and gratitude offered from thankful congregants. We might give into the temptation to strive for significance through the spectacular efforts we accomplish; all when secretly boasting of our tireless work ethic and considerable human talents. For, after all, aren’t we called to do greater things than these? Diffusing this temptation through shared experience.
Jesus sent them out in twos. “Where two or three are gathered in my name.” “If two of you on earth agreed to ask anything at all.”
It is radically different when you travel alone than when you travel together. Together makes it almost impossible to be self-promoting, to take credit when the labor is shared. Nouwen:
“In the past I always went alone. Now every time I am sent by the community to speak somewhere, the community tries to send me with a companion. Being with Bill is a concrete expression of the vision that we should not only live in community but also minister in community. Bill and I were sent by our community, and the conviction that the same Lord binds us together in love, will also reveal Himself to us and others as we walk together on the same road [journey].”
James 4:10 “Humble yourselves before the Lord and he will lift you up.”
Our Response: John 3:30: “He must increase, but I must decrease.”
The 3rd Temptation: To Be Powerful
“The devil led him to Jerusalem and had him stand on the highest point of the Temple. “If you are the son of God,” he said, “throw yourself down from here. For it is written: “He will command his angels concerning you to guard you carefully; they will lift you up in their hands, so that you will not strike your foot against a stone.”
Henri Nouwen:
“Let me tell you now about a third experience connected with my move from Harvard to L’Arche. It was clearly a move from leading to being led. Somehow I had come to believe that growing older and more mature meant that I would be increasingly able to offer leadership. In fact, I had grown more self-confident over the years. I felt I knew something and had the ability to express it and be heard. In that sense I felt more and more in control (i.e. power). But when I entered my community, with mentally handicapped people and their assistants, all controls fell apart, and I came to realize that every hour, day, and month was full of surprises— often surprises I was least prepared for. When Bill agreed or disagreed with my sermons, he did not wait until after the service to tell me so! Logical ideas did not always receive logical responses. Often people responded from deep places in themselves, showing me that what I was saying or doing had little if anything to do with what/where they were living. When people have little intellectual capacity, they let their hearts— their loving hearts, their longing hearts— speak directly and often very unadorned. Without realizing it, the people I came to live with made me aware of the extent to which my leadership was still a desire to control complex situations, confused emotions, and anxious minds. It took me a long time to feel safe in this unpredictable climate. But I am getting in touch with the message that leadership in ministry, for a large part, means to be a servant who leads.”
The third temptation of Jesus was the temptation of power. What makes the temptation of power so seemingly irresistible to a servant who leads? Maybe it is that power offers an easy substitute for the hard task of loving. “For love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy it does not boast. It is not self-seeking it is not easily angered… it delights in the truth.” 1st Corinthians 13:4-5 Servants who do not share power cannot be love and love just so happens to be the chief defining characteristic of the God and Messiah whom we profess to serve.
2nd Corinthians 12:9a “but he said to me, “my grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.”
Our response: 2nd Corinthians 12:9b “…therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.”
Be blessed,
Pastor Jack



By Pastor Jack
As part of our Pentecost Sunday Service, we did something we have never done before; we did a wave offering. We didn’t do the wave as you see at sporting events, no we collectively waved loaves of bread before the altar.
I had instructed the congregation to bring two loaves of wheat bread with them to church for Pentecost Sunday. I told them they would find out why when they came. For those who may not have heard the announcement we purchased small loaves to pass out. Many came with the loaves and we distributed all that we had purchased and asked them to make sure they were sitting near their spouse or family. Some had whole loaves and some bought packages of sliced wheat bread from their supermarkets. I had two loaves of wheat bread for my wife and I.
Why would a Christian church do such a thing as a wave offering? Well, we find the instruction to offer a wave offering before the Altar of the Lord of two leavened loaves of wheat bread given during Pentecost to the congregation in Lev. 23:15-17: 
‘From the day after the Sabbath, the day you brought the sheaf of the wave offering, count off seven full weeks. 16 Count off fifty days up to the day after the seventh Sabbath, and then present an offering of new grain to the LORD. 17 From wherever you live, bring two loaves made of two-tenths of an ephah of fine flour, baked with yeast, as a wave offering of firstfruits to the LORD.” The High Priest would lead the congregation in the wave offering but over time its full meaning and purpose is said to have been lost. But, not all is lost. Here is what remains today.

1. It is a “firstfruits” offering. The first harvest for the Israelites is the barley harvest around the time of Passover and the Feast of Unleavened Bread. It was on the day of the “Feast of First-fruits” (Bikkurim) the 7th day of the Feast of Unleavened Bread that Jesus rose from the grave. The wave offering was of sheaves of raw barley (unprocessed and unleavened). Paul would refer to Jesus as the “first-fruits of the resurrection”. Pentecost was the second first-fruits festival but now of wheat. The third harvest festival would be held during the Feast of Tabernacles.

2. The offering wouldn’t be a sheaf of wheat, but two leavened and baked loaves of refined wheat bread. The measure of the loaves were of two-tenths of an ephah. An ephah was made up of 10 omers so the loaves were each two-tenths. Consider it a double tithe. Each family or individual was to bring the double tithe or “double portion”. What did this represent? Consider the fact that the portion (inheritance) given to the firstborn, was the “double portion”. Consider the request by Elisha of Elijah: “And Elisha said, I pray thee, let a double portion of thy spirit be upon me.” Elisha didn’t ask for twice as much but requested the firstborn’s portion of his spiritual father. Consider then that the loaves represented a harvest of the firstborn sons of a spiritual inheritance.

3. The loaves were two in number and leavened. Consider that at the first Pentecost the Word and the Spirit were given to both the Jews and the Gentiles. Sinners now refined by this same word and spirit, first-fruits of the redeemed. Consider the offer of a relationship to both Jews and Gentiles with Yahweh. Consider the calling upon Israel: NIV Exodus 19:6 “you will be for me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation.’ These are the words you are to speak to the Israelites” coupled with the prayer of Jesus: “NIV Matthew 9:38 Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field.” Further add this admonition by Jesus: NIV Acts 1:8 “But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.” The waving of the loaves on Pentecost represented not just firstborn among Jews and Gentiles but both being called to be spirit filled witnesses.
The Wave Offering Ceremony
Having established these truths during a short teaching we moved to the waving of the loaves as a congregation as prescribed by scripture. With two loaves for each household and each solitary worshiper and myself as the minister (acting High Priest) we acknowledged these truths revealed in the bringing and waving the loaves:
1. God provides. “Give us this day…”
2. We offer thanksgiving and praise for His provision
3. We gladly offer a portion (tithe) back to God
At this moment we waved the loaves in the pattern of the High Priest,
twice we waved them back and forth
then twice we waved them up and down
Here I paused and asked the congregation what symbol we had just reproduced, many now with tears responded “a cross!”. Again consider Paul’s confession concerning Jesus as “our first-fruits”. Did the High Priest know what he was prophetically signifying during the waving of the loaves? No I don’t believe so but we see a “sod” or “mystery” revealed.
As powerful as this was as a reflective and revelatory moment it wasn’t the end. At this point in the ceremony the High Priest would take a tenth of each loaf and throw it onto the altar to be consumed as a sacrifice unto the Lord. I asked the congregation to bring to the altar 1/10 of their loaves and lay it upon the communion table. Thus that brought the tithe to the Lord. I asked them if they were having fun bringing the tithe for they were now talking and laughing as the pile of bread on the table mounted up with just the tithe. I asked them to consider how much it was when we all give our tithe joyfully to the Lord.
I also asked them to now look at the 9/10 and consider how much God leaves us. And the good news is now that we have brought the tithe and offered it as a sacrifice unto the Lord, we get to eat what remains. I said “’Lets break bread together’ and don’t forget your neighbor”. There was plenty for everyone and plenty left over.
Be blessed,
Pastor Jack



By Jack Cairns
Judeans/Jews living before and during the time of Yeshua had been expecting a Messiah who would be both ‘Son of God’ and ‘Son of Man’. Son of God and Son of Man are descriptive titles (and roles) found within the Brit Chadashah and applied to Yeshua the Nazarite. The original idea of a Messiah was not invented to explain Yeshua since these Messianic titles existed prior to His birth, and were meant to define him and therefore help them to recognize him when he would appear. This is why so many Jews were prepared to accept Yeshua as Messiah for the application of the titles was not lost upon the Judeans.
The titles Son of God and Son of Man would be used to reveal Messiah to be both God and Man. The Messianic meaning of Son of Man originates in Daniel 7:13 were “Son of Man” is understood to be a divine figure. Mattityahu (Matthew 12:39-40) saw the Son of Man to be God the sovereign savior of the world. This was the title Yeshua would most often use for himself.
Son of God, finds its origins in Ps 2:2, 6-7, “You are my son; today I have begotten you,” and is an ancient understanding that Messiah would also be a human King, a descendant of David. (1 Chronicles 22:10; 2 Corinthians 6:18) The Brit Chadashah would also reveal that this term, while originally understood as a human King, was also divine. (Romans 1:1-4, 9) Son of God and Son of Man reveal that Messiah would be a descendant of King David, who will rule eternally, and also God, who brings salvation into the world through His resurrection from the dead.
1. Boyarin, Daniel. The Jewish Gospels. (New York: The New Press) 72 -73.
Be blessed,
Pastor Jack