Tag Archives: Religion

You Might Be a Sinner If…

I’m Sort of a Redneck

Yes, I confess. I am a redneck, especially considering how burned my neck is after standing out in the sun for five+ hours. Which leads me to ask a question of myself…why do I never remember sun screen unless I go to a beach?

And I also know that I am a redneck because Jeff Foxworthy told me so. If you remember, Foxworthy’s comic routine made famous the line, “You might be a redneck.” Here are some that I know have applied to me at least once over the 45 years of my life (as of tomorrow, the 17th).

I prefer old trucks to new ones. (No, this one’s not mine)

You might be a redneck if…

  • You read the Auto Trader with a highlight pen.
  • Every socket in your house breaks a fire code.
  • The taillight covers of your car are made of red tape.
  • Directions to your house include “Turn off the  paved road.”
  • Going to the bathroom at night involves shoes and a  flashlight.
  • You use the term “over yonder” more than once a month.

I’m a Sinner

Unlike a whole lot of people in this world (and in a world of their own), I can admit that I am a sinner. The only difference is that once I confessed my inability to change my nature, I traded my “filthy rags” for the imputed righteousness of Jesus Christ (Philippians 3:9). Now, I’m still a sinner, but I’m am a saved sinner.

So, based on the actions of Adam and Eve in the third chapter of Genesis, I took a cue from Jeff Foxworthy and came up with my own list of “you might be’s.” From that list I preached a message entitled “You Might Be a Sinner If…

You might be a sinner if…

  •   You have ever talked to a Serpent – and taken its advice (v. 2).
  •   You know the difference between “Naked” and “Necked” (v. 7). Side Note: If you consider fig leaves appropriate attire, you might be a sinner.
  •  You feel like running when the law shows up (v. 8).
  •  God is searching for you, and not the other way around (v. 9).
  •  You feel self-conscious or defensive about anything you’ve ever done (v. 9-10).
  •  You ever play the “blame game” – Others, “The devil made me do it” (v. 11-13).
  •  You were born (Romans 5:12).

Change of Status

Some people try on their own to change their status in life. Sometimes rednecks move away from Redneckville in order to become a different person. But what they find out is that Redneckville never left their heart. They still have those same desires to grill Spam and fish with dynamite.

In the same way, many people think, once they finally realize they are sinners, that change can come with a simple change of atmosphere, or the turning over of a new fig leaf.

The fact is that sinners don’t become “saints” on their own. It takes outside intervention.

If we confess with our sins, he is faithful to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. – 1 John 1:9

So, what are you? 

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Filed under Christian Living, Christian Maturity, clothing, Humor, Preaching, salvation, self-worth

It’s All About Being “Real”

The Following was written six years ago in May, 2011. Sort of a “squeeze” from the past 😉


Have you ever been completely spent? Worn out? Empty? I have. As a matter of fact, I woke up this morning feeling like a squeezed out tube of toothpaste.

Yesterday was a great day. I was blessed to be able to preach in the morning, the afternoon, and the evening. The only problem is that when you go all day, preaching your heart out, by the end of the day you’re exhausted. When I got up to drive the school bus, I looked at that tube of toothpaste and said, “That’s me.”

Over the next couple of hours a thought came to me: how can you tell when a tube of toothpaste is empty? Usually, it is flat and rolled up. The compacted tube shows evidence that all of its contents have been used – there’s nothing left. Then what about the hard, stand-up kind?

These new containers for toothpaste are deceiving. Unlike the old-fashioned tubes, they do not compact and show any visible signs of being empty. They always look full. Then it hit me – what hypocrites! Those new-fangled containers are just putting on a show and never give any hint of being used up. In other words, they’re not “real.”

I want to be “real.”

This is not a lesson on hypocrisy. This is not a lesson on being a whitewashed tomb full of dead men’s bones. This is about being “real.”

Too often, especially in ministry, we are forced to put on a façade, thereby making ourselves appear to be something we’re not. It’s not meant to be hypocritical. It is meant to spare others from the truth of our own inadequacies – our own emptiness. Sadly, because we don’t want to be a burden or a disappointment, we endure the emptiness…the loneliness…the fatigue. Being “real” is risky.

There are limits to how much dirty laundry a pastor can air in public without losing his ministry. There are limits to how vulnerable he can be around others. But may it never be said that we have to pretend to be something we are not. We are human. We have weaknesses. We have limitations. We can feel “used up.”

Fortunately, unlike a tube of toothpaste, we can be refilled. And for that matter, even a seemingly squeezed out tube always has just a little more to give. God gives us what we need, when we need it.  The important thing to remember is that we shouldn’t try to act full, when we are empty. When we do that, that is when we act in our own strength. Let us then admit our weakness and emptiness, and in turn our heavenly Father will refill us with what will bring Him glory. Who knows, maybe it is our emptiness He wants to use most.

“And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in necessities, in persecutions, in distresses for Christ’s sake: for when I am weak, then am I strong.” – 2 Corinthians 12:9-10 KJV

Just keep it REAL.

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“What Must I Do…?”

The Philippian jailer (Acts 16:30) asked Paul and Silas a question that is still asked today, “Sirs, what must I do to be saved?” In response that question, I have written the following, simple post and included it in a permanent page, Eternal Life. Please, take the time to read it, then consider what you read. This is what I believe, and I’ve staked my eternity on it.

“Now is our chance to choose the right side. God is holding back to give us that chance. It won’t last forever. We must take it or leave it.” – C. S. Lewis

My Story

One day, when I was a boy, I took the chance. I placed all my eggs in one basket (and we’re not talking Easter eggs). The fate of my eternal soul, as much as I could grasp the idea, was placed in the control of a Man I had never seen in person, nor heard with my ear, but one I believed loved me and died for me.

Now that I’m older, I can use words I never knew back then, such as justification, atonement, and propitiation. But the simple truth that led me to surrender my heart and soul to this Man can still be explained with simple words…words written thousands of years ago… “For God so love the world, that He gave…

What did God give?

Do you know what a gift is? Sure you do. It is something you give to another when you care. It is something you give with no expectation of payment in return. It is best when it is something that required some sacrifice, but it was a joy to purchase. It means even more when you know the gift was something needed, but unexpected.

A gift is something that is received. I have a friend that has no more family, so for Christmas he goes out and buys things for his self, wraps them, and places them under a Christmas tree. On Christmas morning, all alone, he opens them. How sad is that? Those are not real gifts – he bought them!

According to God, as written in His Word, the Bible, eternal life is a gift. That’s right, a gift. In the letter to the Romans we read that the “gift of God is eternal life…” (Romans 6:23). God is offering it to you for the taking. He is offering it to you for free! But it wasn’t cheep. It cost Him a whole lot – it cost him his Son.

God loved the world so much, that He gave his only begotten Son…” (John 3:16). Why did God give his Son? Well, so that you and I could be rescued from the eternal penalty we owe for our sins – our breaking of God’s laws. Our lies, our lusts, our broken promises, you name it: all of these things are sins. Each one deserved separation from a holy God. But God “so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son (Jesus), that whosoever [puts his whole faith] in Him, would not perish (be separated from God), but have eternal life.

Why did He give?

All men and women have broken God’s laws. And even though you may have not actually committed murder, or robbed a bank, or abused a child, James 2:10 (RSV) says, “For whoever keeps the whole law but fails in one point has become guilty of all of it.” So, you see, we need a Savior. We need the Gift that God is offering. Won’t you accept it?

The whole verse in Romans (6:23) goes like this: “The wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life, through Jesus Christ our Lord.” This is why C.S. Lewis said those words above. Eternal life is a gift, but it will not be offered indefinitely. You see, all of us will die, one day. Hebrews 9:27 says that it “is appointed unto man once to die; but after this, the judgment.” One day we must either give an account for our lawbreaking, or rest in the fact that our account has already been settled by putting our faith in Jesus.

“From death to life”

Jesus said, “I tell you the truth, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life and will not be condemned; he has crossed over from death to life” (John 5:24 NIV).

Jesus also said, “Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life, but whoever rejects the Son will not see life, for God’s wrath remains on him” (John 3:36 NIV). And to those that put their faith in Jesus, he said, “I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any [man] pluck them out of my hand” (John 10:28 NIV).

The Apostle John wrote, “And this is the testimony: God has given us eternal life, and this life is in his Son. He who has the Son has life; he who does not have the Son of God does not have life” (1 John 5:11-12 NIV).

The Invitation

What can I say about the greatest gift ever, especially in a thousand words or less? I can’t cover all the bases, answer every question, or defend every point – but I can offer you Jesus.

Have you been searching for meaning, for hope, for unconditional love, for eternal life? Give your heart to Jesus. Make Him the Boss of your life. Confess your sins to Him, repent of the things that caused Him to have to die so that you could have life, and cross over “from death to life.” For “whosoever shall call upon the name [Jesus] of the Lord shall be saved” (Romans 10:13).

You could even pray a prayer, in your own words, similar to this: “Dear Jesus, I believe you are God’s Son, and that you died for me, and rose again, that I might have eternal life. I know I have sinned, and I confess. I also confess that I cannot earn heaven on my own. I need You! Please take my life. I give freely give it to you. Be my Lord, and my God. Amen.

If you prayed this prayer, honestly, and from your heart, then I would love to hear about it! I am sure many others would love to hear about it, too! If you accepted God’s gift of eternal life, let the world know in the comment section below.

If you would like to talk with someone, there is a phone line open 24 hours a day. Call 1-800-NEED-HIM (1-800-633-3446). Someone will be happy to show you how to be sure you have eternal life. Don’t wait.

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Don’t Get Angry, It’s Just a Comparison

The following was written in 2012, but still very applicable. But before you get mad at me for what you are about to read, it’s only a comparison, not a dogmatic definition of right or wrong. …But I might be more right than wrong.

In Line

Every Tuesday my wife and girls go to Precept Ministries (Kay Arthur) in Chattanooga for Bible study. On some days I go with them and use the time to study. It’s a nice place to study, believe me. However, I am writing this on a computer at Precept while Kay Arthur is talking to someone a few feet away. She is distracting me.

Then, there are other days when my wife and I leave the girls and sneak out to get a biscuit. Today we had to sit in line forever. For jelly biscuits.

Jelly Biscuit – May I insert just one question at this juncture? Why is it you always have to ask for jelly when you order a jelly biscuit? What is it about “jelly biscuit” that confuses people? If I ordered a plain biscuit, I would not expect jelly. But when I order a jelly biscuit, why don’t they assume I want jelly? Why do I always have to ask for it?! Good Grief!

I Hear a Song

It was while we were sitting in line that I heard a song on Christian radio (J103). The song caught my attention because of the lyrics. May I share with you the words from the chorus?

You make me happy…Uhhh
You make me feel the way I do…
You make me happy, Yeah!
I wish the whole world knew you, too! (and then the song ends with a bunch of “la-la-la’s.”)

I started to laugh. Honestly. Was I supposed to be blessed? Encouraged? Uplifted? Edified? Happy?

I know, I know, I know…I know that there are plenty of great, contemporary songs out there. Chris Tomlin, for one, has more than a few. I love several songs from Building 429, Avalon, and the Newsboys. But seriously, why can’t more of them take the subject matter at hand a little more seriously?

I Hear the Past

Some lines from the past need to be heard more often, especially if the best we can come with today is “uhh” and “yeah.”

  • My hope is built on nothing less than Jesus’ blood and righeousness.
  • A mighty fortress is our God, a bullwark never failing.
  • Alas! and did my Savior bleed, and did my Sovereign die? Would he devote that sacred head for such a worm as I?
  • I will cherish the old rugged cross.
  • Riches I heed not, nor man’s empty praise: be thou mine inheritance now and always; be thou and thou only first in my heart; High King of Heaven, my treasure thou art.

Dear Christian song writers, you can do better than “uhh’s” and “yeah’s” and “la la la la.”

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Filed under legalism, music, worship

Defining a Fool

April Fools Day

In 2012 I actually got to preach a sermon on April Fools Day. Since today is a Saturday, and I’m not a Seventh Day Adventist, I will have to wait a little longer for the opportunity to return. However, today’s post will give you a head’s up for what I will be preaching come Sunday morning April 2nd.

So, happy April Fools Day!…or, happy Atheists Day!…whichever you prefer.

You know, even though atheists think we are being smug and “snarky” by quoting Psalm 14:1, I believe the one who thinks there is no God really is a fool. But what I think matters little in the scheme of things. What matters to me is what God thinks. That is why I came up with a list.

What is a Fool?

What is a fool?  Believe it or not, Scripture lists several characteristics of a foolish person. The following is not an exhaustive list, but it’s a good start. So, why not do this Jeff Foxworthy-style?  

You might be a fool if…

  1. You are always right in your own eyes (Proverbs 12:15).
  2. You despise instruction (Proverbs 1:7; 15:5).
  3. You are unteachable (Proverbs 17:10; 23:9; 26:11)
  4. You’re always running your mouth, getting into trouble (Proverbs 18:6-7; 29:11).
  5. You are always trying to find yourself (Proverbs 18:2).
  6. You make fun of sin (Proverbs 14:9).
  7. You’re always meddling in other people’s business (Proverbs 20:3).
  8. You are a shame and a burden to your parents (Proverbs 17:25).
  9. You deny the obvious because the truth is inconvenient (Romans 1:18-22).
  10. You deny Jesus because you think the cross is foolish (1 Corinthians 1:18).

Don’t be a fool.

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Filed under Christian Maturity, General Observations, Life Lessons, Preaching

The Answer to a Jailer’s Question

The Philippian jailer trembling before Paul and Silas

Credit: Holman Bible Handbook

A jailer in the ancient city of Philippi once asked Paul and Silas a question that is still being asked today: “Sirs, what must I do to be saved?” (Acts 16:30)

Have you ever asked that question? Maybe the following post will provide you with an answer.

“Now is our chance to choose the right side. God is holding back to give us that chance. It won’t last forever. We must take it or leave it.” – C. S. Lewis

My Story

One day, when I was a boy, I took the chance. I placed all my eggs in one basket. The fate of my eternal soul, as much as I could grasp the idea, was placed in the control of a Man I had never seen in person, nor had heard with my ear, but I believed loved me and died for me.

Today, as a man, I can use words I never knew back then, such as justification, atonement, and propitiation. But the simple truth that led me to surrender my heart and soul to this Man can still be explained with simple words…words written thousands of years ago… “For God so love the world, that He gave…

What did God give?

Do you know what a gift is? Sure you do. It is something you give to another when you care. It is something you give with no expectation of payment in return. It is best when it is something that required some sacrifice, but it was a joy to purchase. It means even more when you know the gift was something needed, but unexpected.

A gift is something that is received. I have a man who has no more family, so for Christmas he goes out and buys things for his self, wraps them, and places them under a Christmas tree. On Christmas morning, all alone, he opens them. How sad is that? Those are not real gifts – he bought them!

According to God, as written in His Word, the Bible, eternal life is a gift. That’s right, a gift. In the letter to the Romans we read that the “gift of God is eternal life…” (Romans 6:23). God is offering it to you for the taking. He is offering it to you for free! But it wasn’t cheep; it cost him his Son.

God loved the world so much, that He gave his only begotten Son…” (John 3:16). Why did God give his Son? Well, so that you and I could be rescued from the eternal penalty we owe for our sins (breaking of God’s laws). Our lies, our lusts, our broken promises, you name it: all of these things are sins. Each one deserved separation from a holy God. But God “so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son (Jesus), that whosoever [puts his whole faith] in Him, would not perish (be separated from God), but have eternal life.

Why did He give it?

All men and women have broken God’s laws. And even though you may have not actually committed murder, or robbed a bank, or abused a child, James 2:10 (RSV) says, “For whoever keeps the whole law but fails in one point has become guilty of all of it.” So, you see, we need a Savior. We need the Gift that God is offering. Won’t you accept it?

The whole verse in Romans (6:23) goes like this: “The wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life, through Jesus Christ our Lord.” This is why C.S. Lewis said those words above. Eternal life is a gift, but it will not be offered indefinitely. You see, all of us will die, one day. Hebrews 9:27 says that it “is appointed unto man once to die; but after this, the judgment.” One day we must either give an account for our lawbreaking, or rest in the fact that our account has already been settled by putting our faith in Jesus.

“From death to life”

Jesus said, “I tell you the truth, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life and will not be condemned; he has crossed over from death to life” (John 5:24 NIV).

Jesus also said, “Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life, but whoever rejects the Son will not see life, for God’s wrath remains on him” (John 3:36 NIV). And to those that put their faith in Jesus, he said, “I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any [man] pluck them out of my hand” (John 10:28 NIV).

The apostle John wrote, “And this is the testimony: God has given us eternal life, and this life is in his Son. He who has the Son has life; he who does not have the Son of God does not have life” (1 John 5:11-12 NIV).

The Invitation

What can I say about the greatest gift ever, especially in a thousand words, or so? I can’t cover all the bases, answer every question, or defend every point – but I can offer you Jesus.

Have you been searching for meaning, for hope, for unconditional love, for eternal life? Give your heart to Jesus, confess your sins to Him, repent of the things that caused Him to have to die so that you could have life, and cross over “from death to life.”

For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord [Jesus] shall be saved(Romans 10:13).

You could even pray a prayer, in your own words, similar to this: “Dear Jesus, I believe you are God’s Son, and that you died for me, and rose again, that I might have eternal life. I know I have sinned, and I confess. I also confess that I cannot earn heaven on my own. I need You! Please take my life. I freely give it to you. Be my Lord, and my God. Amen.

If you prayed this prayer, honestly, and from your heart, then I would love to hear about it! I am sure many others would love to hear about it, too! If you accepted God’s gift of eternal life, let the world know in the comment section below.

If you would like to talk with someone, there is a phone line open 24 hours a day. Call 1-800-NEED-HIM (1-800-633-3446). Someone will be happy to show you how to be sure you have eternal life. Don’t wait.

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YHWH vs BAAL: Should God Be an “Option”?

Last week I mentioned in a sermon how that I believed the different baals were actually one god, not multiple deities. Because my statement sounded controversial, I thought it might be good to repost something from a while back.

The following was part of a paper I wrote for a class atcTemple Baptist Seminary back in 2012.

Introduction

The question that needs to be asked is: did the people of Israel ever offer Yahweh as an alternative to Baal? Much of modern Christianity has resorted to offering Christ as an alternative to the gods of this world. They say, “Choose Christ,” or “Give Jesus a try.” But did the ancient followers of Yahweh do this? Did they ever consider their God one of many choices? Did they try to convince the Baal worshippers of the day that God was a “better” God to worship? Or, did the children of Israel present God as the only God to which there was no alternative?

On the third of December, 2008, Pastor Rick Warren appeared on the Fox News program “Hannity and Colmes.” During an interview promoting his new book, The Purpose of Christmas, co-host Allan Colmes questioned Warren about his [Warren’s] belief in Jesus. Colmes asked, “All right. Let me ask you: you talk about, OK, so you think everybody needs a savior.” Warren responded with an “I do.” “Well, what about those people who don’t — you know, I happen to be Jewish? … What about — what does it say for all those people who do not accept Christ as their personal savior?”

Pastor Rick Warren: Wikipedia

Pastor Rick Warren: Wikipedia

The response that Rick Warren gave to Allan Colmes’ question on national television stunned many evangelicals. He said, “I’m saying that this is the perfect time to open their life, to give it a chance. I’d say give him [Jesus] a 60-day trial.” “Like the Book of the Month Club,” said Colmes. “Give him a trial,” replied Warren. “See if he’ll change your life. I dare you to try trusting Jesus for 60 days. Or your money guaranteed back.”[1]

Where does the Christian church of today find biblical support for such statements? Was that the kind of offers being made to the inhabitants of the Promised Land? Did Joshua ever tell the 12 tribes of Israel to go out into the land which the LORD had given them and offer a 60-day trial membership? Well, if they offered Yahweh as a “choice” among other gods, then they might have served well at Saddleback, Pastor Rick Warren’s church.

Let us therefore examine some of the differences and similarities between Yahweh and Baal; compare how each was worshipped; and then consider whether or not followers of Yahweh might have given the followers of Baal a “60-day challenge.”

Baal – The Canaanite god

By Unknown - Jastrow (2006), Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=723538

By Unknown – Jastrow (2006), Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=723538

Baal was the proper name of the primary competition to the God of Israel, Yahweh. However, it might be a little confusing to see both Baals (Heb. be˓ālîm, e.g., Judg. 2:11; 3:7; 8:33; KJV “Baalim”) and Baal (e.g., 6:25, 28; 1 Kgs. 16:32; 18:21) as worshipped by the surrounding peoples in the Old Testament.[2] Both were the names for the same deity, but one (Baalim) was the plural form, similar, but not exactly like Elohim. We also read in the Bible of Baal-hazor (2 Sam. 13:23) and Baal-hermon (Judges 3:3), and what has been assumed is that Baal was a generic term used for local gods, the last part of the name (such as Hermon and Hazor) being the city in which that local god was associated. However, recent scholarship has come to favor the idea that “only one deity specifically named Baal was worshipped in each region,” and the different names were only a reflection of that fact.[3] Baal, then, was probably not many different gods, but one male deity, with the additional suffixes attached to describe associations with regions where he was worshipped.

The idea that Baal was simply the name given to local idols and false gods does not give credit to the meaning of the name. The Hebrew word ba’al  carries with it the idea of a god that is multi-regional and overarching, not just one of many lesser gods. The name Baal means “master,” “possessor,” and “husband.”[4] Some have suggested that Baal was one of the classical gods of mythology, such as Zeus, Jupiter, or Hercules,[5] but the evidence to support that theory is lacking. More than just a local deity, or a small god, Baal was evidently thought of more as a god over all things, the supreme god, even amidst a polytheistic culture.

What made Baal worship so attractive to the Canaanites, and also the Israelites? Baal worship attracted the Canaanite, as well as the Hebrew, because the benefits promised appealed to natural needs and base senses. Essentially, it was a fertility cult. The “promise of agricultural, animal, and human fertility…sacred prostitutes, sexual activity, and imitative magic to insure fertility in every area of life”[6] made Baal worship not only hard to resist, but seem more exciting than Judaism. The three basic elements of the theology of Baal worship (Relation to cycles of nature; Immortality; and Polytheism) further enhanced its appeal.[7] But nowhere is it suggested in scripture that Baal worship was to be exclusive. Even though Baal may have been the chief god in the Canaanite pantheon, [8] other gods were also worshipped. It was not uncommon, even, for later Hebrew kings to attempt to serve both Baal and Yahweh.

YHWH – The Hebrew God

The God of the Hebrews, and consequently the God of the Old Testament, was and is Yahweh. The name, spelled Yahweh today, was not the way it was originally spelled, because the original Hebrew did not include vowels. Known as the Tetragrammaton (meaning “four letters”), Yahweh was spelled YHWH.[9] The only thing is that because of such commands as not to take the Lord’s name in vain (Exodus 20:7), Jews started using the word Adonai (Lord) in the place of YHWH, which was spelled with all capital letters in most English translations as LORD. No one really knows, though, how YHWH is to be pronounced. However, “most scholars today believe that YHWH was probably pronounced Yahweh (Yahʹ weh).”[10] Jehovah (Jĕ hōʹ vah) is the English transliteration of Hebrew text’s current reading of the divine name Yahweh. [11]

Like with Baal, there are multiple names found in the Hebrew Scriptures for God. However, YHWH, or Yahweh (also spelled Jehovah) is the supreme name given by God to describe Himself to Moses.

“And Moses said unto God, Behold, when I come unto the children of Israel, and shall say unto them, The God of your fathers hath sent me unto you; and they shall say to me, What is his name? what shall I say unto them? And God said unto Moses, I AM THAT I AM: and he said, Thus shalt thou say unto the children of Israel, I AM hath sent me unto you.” – Exodus 3:13-14 KJV

“The name was given by God to Moses at the burning bush, and was linked to the Hebrew verb hāyāh (‘to be’). God defines himself as ‘I am’ and the word YHWH therefore means ‘he who is’.”[12] This name is then linked to other names, therefore describing the eternal characteristics of His nature, such as Jehovah-Heleyon, the high and lofty One that inhabits eternity (Isaiah 57:15), and  Jehovah-M’Kaddesh, the LORD who sanctifies (Leviticus 20:8).[13] The difference between Yahweh and Baal, however, is that each of these names is linked to one of His attributes and the way he deals with men and women, not simply the name of a location in which He is served.

An even greater distinction between Baal and Yahweh is that God desired to be personal in His relationship to His people, Israel (and by extension, all those who follow after the faith of Abraham). God told Moses, “And I will take you to me for a people, and I will be to you a God: and ye shall know that I am the LORD your God [YHWH], which bringeth you out from under the burdens of the Egyptians” (Exodus 6:7). In Numbers 15:41 Yahweh said, “I am the LORD your God, which brought you out of the land of Egypt, to be your God: I am the LORD [YHWH] your God.” And instead allowing for the idea of polytheism as with Baal, YHWH demanded total allegiance when He said, “Thou shalt have no other gods before me” (Exodus 20:3). Why did God bring Israel out of Egypt? It was so that Israel “might know that the LORD is God; there is no other besides him” (Deut. 4:35 ESV). God chose Israel that all the people “may know, from the rising of the sun and from the west, that there is none besides me; I am the LORD, and there is no other.” (Isa. 45:6 ESV).

YHWH an Option?

So, now the question should be asked, “Would the children of Israel, the Hebrew people called out of slavery by YHWH, the One who said, ‘I am the LORD, and there is no other,’ ever offered Him as a ‘choice’ among many gods, including Baal? Is it conceivable that the Hebrew people would have gone into the Land of Promise and said, “Try YHWH for sixty days, and if you don’t like Him, if He doesn’t meet your self-defined needs, then ask for your money back?” It seems highly unlikely, that is for sure. In Deuteronomy (6:13-14) we read where the LORD said, “Thou shalt fear the LORD thy God [YHWH], and serve him, and shalt swear by his name. Ye shall not go after other gods, of the gods of the people which are round about you…” The God of Israel went on to say in verse fifteen that “the LORD thy God is a jealous God among you,” so the option to serve other gods would have been out of the question, “lest the anger of the LORD thy God be kindled against thee, and destroy thee from off the face of the earth.” If YHWH was so particular about the fact that He was the only God, then what purpose would it have served to offer the option of anything other than total worship? It is the author’s opinion that Yahweh was never offered as an alternative or option to the gods being served by the Canaanites, rather He was introduced to the Canaanites as the ONLY God. There was “no other.”

The modern idea of offering God as an “alternative” or “option” among many other choices (gods), in the author’s opinion, would have been out of the question in Joshua’s day. The children of Israel were chosen by God to take the glory of His name unto all the nations, to declare Him as the only God, and to declare all other gods dead, dumb idols made by men. The Hebrew mind would have thought completely heretical the idea of offering a trial relationship with the great “I AM.” Why then should the modern believer in Jesus (who said, “Before Abraham was, I AM”) offer Him with a “money-back” guarantee? Jesus said, “If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me” (Matt. 16:24). Nothing about being nailed to a cross implies a temporary trial relationship. Following Christ, as was following Yahweh, is a total commitment. And part of that commitment is the understanding that there is “no other gods” from which to choose.

Presenting Jesus Christ should never be done in such a way that implies that other gods could, in theory, be a better alternative. To offer Jesus as an “option” who could be “tried” for a period of time implies that the one offering may concede that other options may be “better,” hence the offer of a “money-back” guarantee. Worshipers of Yahweh knew better. So should we.

 

[1] The transcript for this conversation can be found at http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,461685,00.html.

[2] Allen C. Myers, The Eerdmans Bible Dictionary (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 1987), 113-14.

[3] Myers, Eardmans, 113-14.

[4] D. F. Payne, “Baal” In , in New Bible Dictionary, ed. D. R. W. Wood, I. H. Marshall, A. R. Millard et al., 3rd ed. (Leicester, England; Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 1996), 108.

[5] James M. Freeman and Harold J. Chadwick, Manners & Customs of the Bible (North Brunswick, NJ: Bridge-Logos Publishers, 1998), 167-68.

[6] Lamar Eugene Cooper, vol. 17, Ezekiel, The New American Commentary (Nashville: Broadman & Holman Publishers, 1994), 26.

[7] Cooper, The New American Commentary, 26.

[8] Holman Illustrated Bible Dictionary, ed. Chad Brand, Charles Draper, Archie England et al. (Nashville, TN: Holman Bible Publishers, 2003), 1172.

[9] Holman Illustrated Bible Dictionary, 1695-96.

[10] Ibid., 1696.

[11] Ibid., 878.

[12] New Dictionary of Biblical Theology, ed. T. Desmond Alexander and Brian S. Rosner, electronic ed. (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 2001).

[13] Stelman Smith and Judson Cornwall, The Exhaustive Dictionary of Bible Names (North Brunswick, NJ: Bridge-Logos, 1998), 86.

 

Bibliography

Cooper, Lamar Eugene. Vol. 17, Ezekiel. The New American Commentary. Nashville: Broadman & Holman Publishers, 1994.

Freeman, James M. and Harold J. Chadwick. Manners & Customs of the Bible. North Brunswick, NJ: Bridge-Logos Publishers, 1998.

Holman Illustrated Bible Dictionary. Edited by Brand, Chad, Charles Draper, Archie England et al. Nashville, TN: Holman Bible Publishers, 2003.

Myers, Allen C. The Eerdmans Bible Dictionary. Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 1987.

New Dictionary of Biblical Theology. Edited by Alexander, T. Desmond and Brian S. Rosner. electronic ed. Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 2001.

Smith, Stelman and Judson Cornwall. The Exhaustive Dictionary of Bible Names. North Brunswick, NJ: Bridge-Logos, 1998.

The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. Wheaton: Standard Bible Society, 2001.

The Holy Bible: King James Version. electronic ed. of the 1769 edition of the 1611 Authorized Version. Bellingham WA: Logos Research Systems, Inc., 1995.

Wood, D. R. W. and I. Howard Marshall. New Bible Dictionary. 3rd ed. Leicester, England; Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 1996.

 

 

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