Category Archives: God

Imagining the “Copacavaca”

The Name

Deep in the black forests of Romania there may live a scary animal. The locals have a name for it: Vaca Care Locuieste in Copac. 

I call it: Copacavaca (because the other name is too long).

The Creature

In the early 90’s, shortly after the fall of Nicolae Ceaușescu, I had the privilege to spend about a month in Romania. There I visited many cities, including Bucharest, Alexandria, Timișoara, Arad, Pitești, etc. The people were more than wonderful. The forests, however, were darker than any I had seen before. Literally, they soaked up light like a sponge.

One day, while walking through one of these dark forests, I was made keenly aware of the possibility of some creature in the trees above me. Being mindful of the legends associated with Transylvania, I could not help but imagine myself as one of those hapless tourists pounced upon by some non-mythical monster heretofore thought imaginary.

I thought to myself, “What could be above me, right now, which I might never expect? What kind of creature would be impossible to believe, therefore capable of living in obscurity, except for when it feeds?” It couldn’t be a vampire or werewolf. It had to be something totally off the wall. It had to be something as unthinkably dangerous as Clark Kent was powerful…then it hit me (not literally)… “Vaca.”

Vaca

Just the day before I had learned the word. “What do you call those big animals in the field that go mooooooo?” I asked.

“Vaca” was the reply.

My mind now imagined an animal so dangerous, so heavy, so tired of being milked and eaten between buns, and in the trees right above me – the Vaca din Copac…

the Romanian Tree-Dwelling Vaca… 

the Copacavaca!

The Horror

Should you ever walk through the dark woods of Romania, be very careful. Just because you can’t see them, that doesn’t mean the Copacavaca aren’t there. They could be. If so, you could be in danger.

One thing you should know about the Copacavaca is that they cannot see very well – they hunt by hearing. It is when you walk through the woods and make noises like other animals (especially humans) that the Copacavaca realize you’re potential prey.

They wait for you to walk under the tree they are in, then fall from on high to crush you beneath their massive weight. Therefore, it is critical you sound like them when walking among the pines (or whatever leafy, woody, thingy that is nearby).

I asked a friend who was with me if she had heard of tree-dwelling vaca. When she told me “no,” I demanded, in order to be safe, that she make a sound to imitate the vaca. If not, the camouflaged, nearly invisible Copacavaca may have mistaken us for dinner.

Computer rendering of a Copacavaca attacking prey.

With a puzzled look she responded to my request with a nonplus “Mooo.” 

“Do it again!” I said. “But louder!”

“Moooooooo!”

“LOUDER!”

“MOOOOOOO!”

Finally, with a tone of quizzical frustration, she asked, “Why am I making the sound of a cow?”

“Because that’s what the Copacavaca is – a man-eating, tree-dwelling cow.”

For some reason the Romanian girl didn’t believe me. Later that night, shortly after she invited me to a knock-off discotheque (a one-room joint with a few tables and a mirrored ball hanging from the ceiling),  I was poisoned and nearly died (no joke – I got sick and nearly died).

Coincidence??

Here’s the Point

The imagination can be profitable, just as long as it magnifies truth.

Used properly, as God designed it, the imagination can help us to see God from different perspectives, in different colors, with different expressions. Just think of what C. S. Lewis was able to do with the Narnia series. But replacing the God that is with a god of of our own creation is more than dangerous; it’s idolatry.

Because that, when they knew God, they glorified [him] not as God, neither were thankful; but became vain in their imaginations, and their foolish heart was darkened. – Rom 1:21 KJV

Some people say, “My god would never judge anyone.” Others say, “My god understands me…he made me this way.”

Still, others are convinced that “God doesn’t care what road you take, just as long as you’re sincere.”

But what kind of god are they thinking up? Maybe a creature that lives in the woods, but certainly not the God of the Bible.

For More Information

If you want to know more about the Copacavaca, I can think of something. Who knows, we may be looking at the next Dracula, only with four legs and udders (quick, somebody contact Chick-fil-A).

However, if you want to know more about the God who really is, I suggest you read the Gospel of John in the Bible.

And if you’d like, imagine yourself huddled next to a campfire, late at night, as an old, old man shares the amazing story of what he saw take place long, long ago…that you might believe (John 20:31).

I imagine the Truth will blow you away.

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Filed under General Observations, God, Humor, legalism, worship

Wise Men Give After-Christmas Gifts

“And when they were come into the house, they saw the young child with Mary his mother, and fell down, and worshiped him: and when they had opened their treasures, they presented unto him gifts; gold, and frankincense, and myrrh.” – Matthew 2:11

Late-Comers

Part of the Christmas story can be found in the book of Matthew, the first book in the New Testament. There, in chapter two, we read of several wise men, Magi, who followed the star till it rested over the place where the young Jesus was living.

But what most people fail to notice is that only the shepherds came to visit Jesus while he was still a baby in a manger. The Magi came later, once they were living “in the house” and Jesus was a “young child.” And, based on Herod’s decree that all male children 2 years old and younger should be killed (Matt. 2:16), Jesus could have been a toddler up and walking.

Simply put, generally every manger scene protested against by atheists is not a faithful representation of the Christmas story. How ironic is that? But I digress…

The Gifts

When the Magi came to Bethlehem in search of “he that is born King of the Jews” (Matt. 2:2), they brought with them three very rare and valuable gifts: gold, frankincense, and myrrh. They were not random gifts, but ones with specific political, spiritual, and practical importance; they were meant to recognize a literal, earthly, but also heavenly King.

gold frankincense and myrrhGold was a universally recognized precious metal, symbolic of all wealth. Frankincense was a substance primarily used as incense, but also mixed with other substances to create the holy anointing oil placed on high priests and kings. Myrrh was a substance used for things ranging all the way from cosmetics and antiseptics, to perfuming the living and embalming the dead.

According to Matthew 2:11, the Magi fell down before Jesus, which would have been an appropriate response when in the presence of royalty (and these men knew the difference). But the wise men did more than fall prostrate before royalty, they “worshiped him.”  This young king was more than just “King of the Jews,” but the long-promised Messiah, and they offered their gift to the Son of God.

Are You Wise?

As long as I can remember there have been sermons preached during and before Christmas entitled, “Wise Men Still Seek Him.” The sermons focus primarily on the seeking leading up to Christmas, but rarely, if ever, on the gifts given after the celebration is over. But today is different.

Today, I am going to ask you to consider three gifts we should give, now that the birthday celebration is over.

  • Gold. Gold represented wealth. In your worship of the King, will you give Him your wealth? In reality, God owns everything, including everything He loans unto you. But with your heart, are you willing to lay everything that is most valuable to you at His feet?
  • Frankincense. Frankincense represented worship. Would you be willing to fall down before Jesus, or do you hold back some of your Frankincense in reserve? Are there idols in your life – people or things – for which you reserve a little of that anointing oil, making those things lords of your life? Would you be willing to make Jesus Lord of all? Will you worship him without reservation?
  • Myrrh. Myrrh was symbolic of the beauty of life, from beginning to end. Would you give to Jesus everything that makes you happy? Everything that brings you hope? Everything that is sweet-smelling? Everything that hides your faults and failures, disguising your true self? Would you give Jesus your life? He can do more with it than you can do on your own.

Returns

For several days after Christmas people will stand in line to return and/or exchange unwanted gifts. Many will trade what others gave them for something they want more. Others will just ask for a refund or in-store credit.

Rest assured that when you give your gifts to Jesus, he will not return them, exchange them, or re-gift them next year. But will you, once you realize what you’ve given, want to take something back?

Don’t wait for a New Year’s resolution. Now that Christmas is over, be like the Magi and leave everything at Jesus’ feet, then “depart…another way.”

Once you give Jesus those three gifts, you’ll never be the same.

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Filed under Christian Living, Christmas, God, Love of God, salvation, wisdom, worship

Christmas IS the Gospel

This month will see a lot of Christmas sermons preached, and if you actually go to church somewhere, you might actually get to hear some 😉

But if you aren’t planning on attending any church services this December, or if you just can’t get enough of sermons on the subject of Christmas, I would encourage you to listen to the one I’m attaching below.

Several years ago (2012) while pastoring at another church, I delivered a sermon entitled “Christmas Is the Gospel.” It was recorded on my iPhone that was sitting on the pulpit, so don’t expect too high a quality of production.

Why did the angels tell the shepherds what they are about to hear was “good tidings”? Pick up a Bible and turn to the book of Luke, chapter two, and follow along.

Listen: Christmas IS the Gospel

And remember, “sharing” is caring 🙂

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Filed under Christmas, God, Preaching, salvation

Don’t Be Intimidated

Some of you might be feeling discouraged, afraid, worn out, or intimidated by the Enemy and his minions. I hope this helps.


Don’t be intimidated… into silence with regards to your faith – share it anyway.

Don’t be intimidated… by those who want to deny the reality or historicity of your faith – their arguments aren’t as strong as they think.

Don’t be intimidated… by politicians and lawmakers, especially those who support every kind of deviancy known to man – they will have to answer to the High King of Heaven one day.

Don’t be intimidated… by unexplained phenomena – the universe and EVERYTHING in it was created by God for His glory.

Don’t be intimidated… by those who believe truth is relative and morality is based on the flip of a coin – they’re afraid of a higher law.

Don’t be intimidated… by children who think they know everything – because they don’t.

Don’t be intimidated… by a lack of experience or knowledge – get it.

Don’t be intimidated… by a mountain – it can either be climbed or tunneled through…or moved.

Don’t be intimidated… by the strength of others – if God be for us, who can be against us?

Don’t be intimidated… by the unknown – it’s not.

1Pe 3:14-16  – But and if ye suffer for righteousness’ sake, happy [are ye]: and be not afraid of their terror, neither be troubled; (15) But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts: and [be] ready always to [give] an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you with meekness and fear: (16) Having a good conscience; that, whereas they speak evil of you, as of evildoers, they may be ashamed that falsely accuse your good conversation in Christ.

2Ti 1:12  – For the which cause I also suffer these things: nevertheless I am not ashamed: for I know whom I have believed, and am persuaded that he is able to keep that which I have committed unto him against that day.

Rom 8:37 – Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him that loved us.

I don’t know what you’ve been going through, or what you’ve been facing, but I hope this helps. May the Holy Spirit use these words to minister to you, as they have to me, and give you strength to stand.

Don’t be intimidated… “greater is He that is in you, than he that is in the world” (1 John 4:4, the words of Jesus).

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Filed under Aliens, Apologetics, Christian Living, Christian Maturity, Culture Wars, General Observations, God, self-worth, Uncategorized, World View

Corresponding With a Muslim About Jesus

A couple of months ago I was asked to visit (as a guest) a mosque here in Chattanooga. It was not my intention to debate anyone. For that matter, I did my best to avoid conversation. However, there was a man there who had met my daughter the month before and had discussed with her the divinity of Jesus.  When he found out that I was there this time, he came over and began to talk to me. In other words, he started it, not me.

Hammad used to go a Baptist church, but converted to Islam after reading the Quran. Later he wrote The Evidence, a small book meant to prove that Jesus was never crucified and that He never claimed to be God. When he sat down to talk with me, he was amazed to discover that I had actually read his book. He asked, “So, what did you think about it?”

“Honestly,” I replied, “I thought it had a lot of errors in it.”

A little taken aback by my forwardness and honesty, he said, “Oh, really? Like what?”

From that point I began to point out places in his work where he had misapplied Scripture and made unrealistic claims that were obviously contradicted by other passages in the Bible. I told Hammad that if he really wanted his arguments to carry more weight, it might be good for him to better learn the Bible he was trying to discredit and deny.

One particular claim he made was that none of Jesus’ disciples saw him crucified, therefore there were no actual witnesses. That is why, as he explained, Jesus appeared to the disciples – to prove to them that He was alive…that He had not actually been killed.

I said, “However, there were witnesses to the crucifixion, and one of those was an actual disciple. Jesus even spoke to him.”

“Who was that?” he asked.

“John. Jesus spoke to him and told him to take care of his mother, Mary, who was also there,” I replied.

“I’ve never read that before. Where’s it written?” Hamaad asked.

“In the book of John.”

“Really?” he said as he looked a little stunned. “Can you send me that in an email?”

“Sure,” I said. “I would be happy to.”

We agreed to correspond by email, therefore I sent him an email addressing some questions he’d asked. He sent an email in response, attempting to show me where I was wrong, using the Quran to prove it. He then went on to ask me to answer one question, if nothing else: “Where did Jesus ever say, ‘I am God’?”

I responded with two back-to-back emails, the first one dealing with the authority of Scripture, the second being the one I’m including in this post.

Yes, it’s long, but it’s here if you want to read it. Who knows, you might find something interesting in it.

Please pray for Mr. Hamaad. Pray that he will come to a better understanding of the faith that he left, that he will actually come to know Jesus as his Lord and Savior.


Greetings,

In my last email, I primarily focused on one thing: the veracity and authority of the Bible. I hope you understood it was not my intent to be offensive in any way, only to point out the differences between you and me, primarily that we have very different opinions of the Bible and the Quran. I hope it was helpful. It will certainly have a bearing on the subject matter of this email, that’s for sure.

There were some other questions you asked, and there were other issues in your book on which I disagreed, but I guess one question you asked me to address is surely one of the most important: Did Jesus ever claim to be God? It’s along the same line as the question Jesus asked His disciples in Matthew 16:13: “Whom do men say that I the Son of man am?

I am well aware that one of the cornerstones of your faith is the shahada: “there is no god but Allah, and Muhammad is the messenger of Allah.” I’m also aware of John 17:3, a passage Muslims typically use in an attempt to show that Jesus denied being God.

But aside from John 17:3, which could be debated at another time, I believe you issued the challenge to show anywhere in the Bible where Jesus actually spoke the words, “I am God.”  You were confident that I would never be able to provide you with those exact words, and rightfully so, for those exact words are not found in the New Testament.

However, I would like for you to consider the fact that even though Jesus never spoke THOSE exact words, He did say other words that carried the same meaning, thereby supporting the conclusion that Jesus did in fact believe and say that He was Divine, and Muslim interpretation of John 17:3 is out of harmony with the whole of Scripture.

But again, if at this point you are looking only for those three words – “I am God” – then nothing I say will be helpful. If you have already determined that you will reject similar statements that carry the same meaning, then I guess what I’m writing is futile. However, I will do my best to give you an answer to what you requested.

To begin with, I would like to take you back to the Old Testament, back to where the Messiah was foretold. Before Jesus was ever born, he was spoken of in terms that were nothing short of shocking: He would be “God with us.”

In Isaiah 7:14 we read the prophecy that the promised Son would be born of a Virgin and called “Immanuel.”

“Therefore the Lord himself shall give you a sign; Behold, a virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel.” – Isaiah 7:14

That this verse was speaking of Jesus was confirmed by Matthew when he recorded the words of the angel of the Lord as he comforted Joseph regarding Mary’s pregnancy:

Matthew 1:23 – “Behold, a virgin shall be with child, and shall bring forth a son, and they shall call his name Emmanuel, which being interpreted is, God with us.”

If Isaiah 7:14 wasn’t clear enough, Isaiah 9:6 states that the coming Messiah “shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace.”

Now, stop and think about that verse for just one moment. Who besides God could be called God? There is no other God but God, correct? Who besides God could be called “everlasting”? Even if this verse was not prophetically speaking of Jesus, is there any other person who could fit the bill? Who else besides God is uncreated (“everlasting”)?

Speaking of “everlasting Father,” what is a characteristic of God that no one else can have? There are several attributes that are unique to God (omnipotence, omnipresence, omniscience, etc.), but just looking at this one thing, only God can be eternal, correct? Only God has existed before time was created. Only God has always been, always in the present, eternal.

You asked me to show anywhere Jesus said, “I am God.” Well, based on the above verses, it would seem, then, that a clear example would be found in John 8:58

“Jesus said unto them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Before Abraham was, I am.”

Speaking to the Pharisees, Jesus was clear enough to cause them to pick up stones to kill Him. In the present tense and indicative mood He made it crystal clear He was more than a man, more than a prophet, but actually the eternally existent, the “I am.” What did God say to Moses from the burning bush (Exodus 3:14)?

I Am that I Am…

The Pharisees knew exactly what Jesus meant when He said that, and that is why they wanted to kill Him.

Again, I believe that what you wanted from me was to show anywhere in the Bible where Jesus actually made the claim or said the words that He was God, correct? However, would you accept any other verses in the Bible that claim it for Him? For example, there is the classic passage of John 1:1-3. There, Jesus is referred to as the Word of God who was “with” God and “was” God.

“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. The same was in the beginning with God. All things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that was made.” – John 1:1-3

You know, many like yourself argue that Jesus was a created human being, not eternal. However, the above verses plainly state that all things were made by Him, and nothing that was made (and that would include any created being) was made without Him. Verse 4 of the same chapter goes even further to make this truth clear: Jesus was not just a man; He was the light and life of all men, which necessitated His pre-existence.

“In him was life; and the life was the light of men.” – John 1:4

And besides the many other places, the Book of Revelation makes it pretty clear Jesus was way more than just another prophet:

Behold, he cometh ewith clouds; and every eye shall see him, and they also which pierced him: and all kindreds of the earth shall wail because of him. Even so, Amen.  I am Alpha and Omega, hthe beginning and the ending, saith the Lord, which is, and which was, and which is to come, the Almighty” (Rev. 1:7-8).[i]

For that matter, it is in Revelation 1:17-18 that we read where Jesus Himself spoke of His death and resurrection: “…Fear not; I am the first and the last: I am he that liveth, and was dead; and, behold, I am alive for evermore, Amen; and have the keys of hell and of death.”[ii]

The “I Am” statements…

Now, if you will notice, just like in the last verse, there are a lot of places where Jesus claimed “I am…” this or “I am…” that.

In seven passages John records the well-known “I Am” sayings where Jesus describes himself using a graphic metaphor: “I am the bread* of life*” (6:35, 41, 48, 51); “I am the light* of the world” (8:12; 9:5); “I am the door of the sheep” (10:7, 9); “I am the good shepherd*” (10:11, 14); “I am the resurrection and the life” (11:25); “I am the way, the truth, and the life” (14:6); and “I am the true vine*” (15:1, 5).[1]

In each one of these statements Jesus was doing a lot more than illustrating with metaphor; He was declaring fact. Jesus didn’t say that He was just a door, or a way, or a light; He claimed to be THE Door, THE Way, THE Light. He emphatically declared that He was THE Truth and THE Life.

By declaring these things, Jesus was saying that all other “truth” was subordinate to Him. He was saying that there was NO other way – no path, no road, no pilgrimage, no hajj – to God but through Him. But even more, He was declaring that He was more than the One who spoke or demonstrated truth; He WAS Truth! The same applied to all the other “I AM” statements.

The “Truth” Claim…

If Jesus had never once said the exact words “I am God,” He essentially said the very same thing with the “I Am” statements. Why? Let’s just consider the word “truth.”

The Bible does not provide a systematic account of the nature of truth in either its theological or philosophical dimensions. Nevertheless great prominence is given to the idea of truth in Scripture because God is the God of truth (Pss 31:5; 108:4; 146:6) who speaks and judges truly (Pss 57:3; 96:13). God is the God of all truth because he is the Creator, and it is impossible for him to lie (Heb 6:18).[2]

If Jesus had been only a man, there would have been an element of untruth in Him. As a matter of fact, 1 John 1:8-10 states that if we say we have no sin, then we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. Even worse, if we say that we have not sinned, we make God a liar, and his Word is not in us! How, then, could Jesus have claimed to be “the way, the truth, and the life” (John 14:6)?

What man, even a perfect man, could be the actual embodiment of Truth? Only God, who took on flesh, could claim such a thing and not be a total liar.

Like I said in the last email, all that I’ve just written will carry little weight unless you believe that the Bible is the inspired Word of God. If you approach it as flawed, misinterpreted, corrupted by men, and superseded by the Quran, then does it really matter what Jesus said? If your only accepted record of Jesus is found in a book that was written long after the Gospels, over 400 years after the last book written by John (around 90 A.D.), what does it matter what Jesus said in the Bible? He could have plainly said “I AM GOD!” a thousand times, but it wouldn’t matter to you, would it?

Think about it… You trust the words of a denier of the divinity of Jesus over the record of His own words and those who actually walked with Him.

The only logical way for you to prove to me that Jesus is not God, or at least that He did not claim to be God, is to show it to me in the cannon of Scripture. And as I have just now written, that will be a difficult challenge, indeed.

Please forgive me if I have in any way offended, for I am not fully versed in what is appropriate and what is inappropriate when discussing Islam with a Muslim. It is my hope that since you came from a Christian background, you can discern my intentions are genuine and in the spirit of love.

I would like to close this email by suggesting you ask for a copy of the late Nabeel Qureshi’s book No God but One: Allah or Jesus? Qureshi was a Muslim who converted to Christianity, but only after he was able to answer for himself the question you have asked me. You might find his perspective enlightening.

Thank you, again, for the opportunity to correspond, and happy Thanksgiving!

Respectfully,

Anthony Baker


[1] G. M. Burge, “‘‍I Am‍’ Sayings,” ed. Joel B. Green and Scot McKnight, Dictionary of Jesus and the Gospels (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 1992), 354.

[2] Walter A. Elwell and Barry J. Beitzel, “Truth,” Baker Encyclopedia of the Bible (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Book House, 1988), 2108.

[i] The Holy Bible: King James Version, Electronic Edition of the 1900 Authorized Version. (Bellingham, WA: Logos Research Systems, Inc., 2009), Re 1:7–8.

[ii] The Holy Bible: King James Version, Electronic Edition of the 1900 Authorized Version. (Bellingham, WA: Logos Research Systems, Inc., 2009), Re 1:17–18.

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Filed under Apologetics, Christianity, God, Theology, Witnessing

Just Stomp Me. Selah.

“Let the enemy persecute my soul, and take [it]; yea, let him tread down my life upon the earth, and lay mine honour in the dust. Selah.” – Psalm 7:5

FullSizeRender (1)Selah. A musical notation calling us to pause, to rest for moment and consider what has just been said. In this verse David asks God to let his enemy “persecute” him and essentially pound him into the earth! Why? Let’s think about it.

Out of Context

Should we read this verse as a stand-alone statement, apart from the context in which it was written, David would appear to have some serious mental problems. Is that what he is telling us to think about?

In this one verse there are three separate actions for which David is asking God to allow.

  1. Let the enemy persecute and take my soul.
  2. Let the enemy tread down (walk all over and stomp on) my life.
  3. Let the enemy lay my honour in the dust.

Why would David ask God to allow these things? Was he crazy? Not hardly.

In Proper Context

When we examine the full context of Psalm 7,  what we see is David crying out to God for deliverance from another one of his enemies, Cush the Benjamite. Evidently Cush had made some serious accusations concerning David’s actions, accusing him of some very bad things.

“O LORD my God, if I have done this: If there is iniquity in my hands, If I have repaid evil to him who was at peace with me, Or have plundered my enemy without cause…” – Psalm 7:3-4 NKJV

Iniquity…doing evil to the one with whom he was at peace…plundering his enemy without cause… What in the world did Cush think David did? We may never know.

However, David was so confident that whatever Cush was accusing him of was a fabrication – a lie – that he was willing to suggest his own destruction should the accusation be true.

Making Application

Are you living in such a way that you could pray with confidence: “Lord, let my enemy destroy me, even drag my soul to hell, should I actually be guilty of whatever he’s accusing me of.”

If not, then maybe we should pray another prayer, one in which David asked God to show him anything that needed changing.

“Search me, O God, and know my heart: try me, and know my thoughts: And see if [there be any] wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.” – Psalm 139:23-24 KJV

I’d say it’s far better to let God do a work on us before our enemy does a number on us.

 

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We’re All Sinners. Selah.

“Stand in awe, and sin not: commune with your own heart upon your bed, and be still. Selah.” – Psalm 4:4

FullSizeRender (1)Selah. A musical notation calling us to pause, to rest for a moment and consider what has just been said. In this verse, we are told to “commune” with our own hearts upon our beds. What about? Let’s think about it.

How Long?

Before, in the previous selah in Psalm 4:2, David was asking the question “How long?” How long would those whom he had once trusted betray him? How long would his former friends treat him like an enemy? How long would they promote lies over truth, and turn his “glory into shame?”

You and I may not be kings in exile, or have former commanders in our personal guard out for our head. However, there may be people who lie about you; spread untruths about you at work; misrepresent you to your children, or withhold that little bit of evidence just to win their case against you. How long will they get away with it?

You observe the culture. You watch the news and see the movies. You shake your head with disgust as you witness sin and shame, practically every deviancy known to man, promoted like it was the new gospel. You narrow your eyes and grit your teeth and whisper under your breath, “They should be glad I’m not God.” How long will God let them get away with it?

Awful Angry

Stand in awe, and sin not…” The Septuagint renders it “Be ye angry, and sin not…” The same is repeated by the Apostle Paul in Eph. 4:26 when he says, “Be ye angry, and sin not: let not the sun go down upon your wrath.” So why awe in one and angry in the other?

The word translated both as “awe” and “angry” is an interesting one. Consider Strong’s treatment of it:

רָגַז râgaz, raw-gaz’; a primitive root; to quiver (with any violent emotion, especially anger or fear):—be afraid, stand in awe, disquiet, fall out, fret, move, provoke, quake, rage, shake, tremble, trouble, be wroth.

So, when David is telling us to stand in “awe,” he is not telling us to do something like look up to the stars and go, “WOW!” No, David is giving us permission, as Paul did, to be angry; angry to the point of violently shaking, full of emotion and rage.

Just without sin.

Go to Bed?

So, just to make it clear, it’s OK to get angry, just as long as it’s a righteous anger (the last thing we want to be found guilty of is a lack of emotion when confronted with perversion and injustice; apathy is its own sin).  But in an apparent contrast with the later writing of Paul, what does King David suggest we do?

Go to bed and think about it? He said, “…commune with your own heart upon your bed, and be still. Selah.

But wait! I thought the Apostle Paul said we shouldn’t go to bed angry? What’s the difference?

The difference is GRACE, pure and simple. And hallelujah for that!

Humble Communion

Go ahead, get angry at the sin of the world. Go ahead, tremble with indignant anger at the way the glory of God is impugned on a day-to-day basis. Go ahead, quiver and shake with anger over the way people have been treating you – you have that right. But there’s something else you need to do: Remember the grace of God.

No, David is not telling us to go to bed angry and stew on it; he is encouraging us to remember that we are sinners, also.

To “commune with your own heart” means to reflect on yourself and your own condition. And when we add to that the words “be still” (דָּמַם [dā·mǎm]), which according to some* carries with it the idea of wailing and lamenting, along with being silent, what we have is the suggestion to be angry, but to remember we are sinners, too.

When David was treated horribly, he got angry, but he also remembered that if it wasn’t for God’s mercy he would suffer the same fate as the wicked. So, although we should get angry, at times, it is important for us to remember that although God is righteous, He is also gracious and good.

Thank Him for His mercy as you commune with your soul, and let Him handle those other people. Selah.

 


 

*William Lee Holladay and Ludwig Köhler, A Concise Hebrew and Aramaic Lexicon of the Old Testament (Leiden: Brill, 2000), 72.

*James Swanson, Dictionary of Biblical Languages with Semantic Domains: Hebrew (Old Testament) (Oak Harbor: Logos Research Systems, Inc., 1997).

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