Author’s Blog

Timeline 0 – Creation Week

by John Holbrook Jr.
A Biblical View, posted June 19, 2017

 This week, I am starting a series of timelines that will outline the history of the world which I have constructed and which conforms to the chronology of the Bible. This series will be interspersed among blogs on other subjects and will follow the structure in the table below.  

                                                   GENERIC TIMELINES
Timeline 0 – Creation Week (3977 BC)
Timeline 1 – Edenic Era (3977 BC)
Timeline 2 – Antediluvian Era (3977-2321 BC)
Timeline 3A – Postdiluvian Era’s early phase 3A (2321-1870 BC)
Timeline 3B – Postdiluvian Era’s late phase 3B (1870-1464 BC)
Timeline 4A – Turbulent Era’s early phase 4A (1464-1008 BC)
Timeline 4B – Turbulent Era’s middle phase 4B (1008-754 BC)
Timeline 4C – Turbulent Era’s late phase 4C (754-665 BC)
Timeline 5A – Early Historic Era (665-2 BC)’s part 5A (Occident)
Timeline 5B – Early Historic Era (665-2 BC)’s part 5B (Middle East)
Timeline 5C – Early Historic Era (665-2 BC)’s part 5C (Orient)
Timeline 6A – Late Historic Era (2 BC-present)’s part 6A (Occident & Middle East)
Timeline 6B – Late Historic Era (2 BC-present)’s part 6B (Orient)
Timeline 6C – Late Historic Era (2 BC-present)’s part 6C (Sacred)

—CREATION WEEK (3977 BC) —

  Creation of Universe – a summary

Creation of Universe is described in Genesis 1:1-2:3 (for a more detailed description, see my blog of February 27, 2017 entitled Natural History 2 – an introduction to biblical cosmology continued). It was accomplished in seven 24-hour days.

Day 1 – God created Universe ex nihilo. It consisted of two parts:

Part A – a giant globe of water (matter), illuminated on one side, at Universe’s center, and

Part B – a spherical shell (space) of unknown composition and thickness, above and surrounding the globe of water.

Day 2 – God divided the giant globe of water (matter) into three parts or spatial segments:

Part A1 – a small globe of water at Universe’s center, which the Bible calls “the waters which were under the firmament” (Genesis 1:7),

Part A2 – an intermediate spherical shell of water of unknown thickness, above and surrounding the small globe of water, which the Bible calls “the firmament” and

Part A3 – an outer spherical shell of water of unknown thickness,[1] above and surrounding the firmament which the Bible calls “the waters which were above the firmament” (Genesis 1:7) and which I call it the upper waters.[2]

Day 3 – God divided and transformed Part A1 – the small globe of water into three parts or spatial segments:

Part A1a – the land, which consisted of a solid globe of minerals at its center,

 Part A1b – the sea, which initially consisted of a spherical shell of water above and surrounding the land, and

Part A1cthe air or atmosphere, which consisted of a spherical shell of gases above and surrounding the globe. God then adjusted the interface between the land and the sea so that the surface of the matter below the air was divided into two segments: A single continent and a single sea, which surrounded the land. God then created flora on the land and in the sea.[3]

Day 4 – God transformed the firmament into interstellar space, which the Bible calls “the first heaven.” Its content by mass is primarily electromagnetic plasma (est. 96%) and secondarily astronomical bodies (est. 4%), such as stars, planets, moons, asteroids, and comets which are located within astronomical objects such as galaxies, nebulae, star clusters, and planetary systems – starting with the earth’s sun and moon.

Day 5 – God created the fish and the fowl – first the fish to populate the sea and then the fowl to populate the air.

Day 6 – God created animals and humans – first the beasts, insects, etc. to populate the land and then humans to populate and subdue (cultivate) the entire earth and to exercise dominion over all other living creatures. In other words, God made humans to be the stewards of the earth.

Day 7 – After finishing Universe, which consisted of the earth, the first heaven, the upper waters, and the second heaven. God rested from his work of creating and sanctified the seventh day as a day of rest.

Creation of Eden

The Creation of Eden probably occurred on Day 6 of Creation Week. It is described in Genesis 2:8-14, which reads as follows:

2:8 And the LORD God planted a garden eastward in Eden; and there he put the man whom he had formed. 9 And out of the ground made the LORD God to grow every tree that is pleasant to the sight, and good for food; the tree of life also in the midst of the garden, and the tree of knowledge of good and evil. 10 And a river went out of Eden to water the garden; and from thence it was parted, and became into four heads. 11 The name of the first is Pison: that is it which compasseth the whole land of Havilah, where there is gold; 12 And the gold of that land is good: there is bdellium and the onyx stone. 13 And the name of the second river is Gihon: the same is it that compasseth the whole land of Ethiopia. 14 And the name of the third river is Hiddekel: that is it which goeth toward the east of Assyria. And the fourth river is Euphrates. (KJV)

Verse 2:8 indicates that God created the Garden of Eden for mankind and then placed Adam in it. The phrase “eastward in Eden” is interesting. I believe it indicates that it was east of the Middle East where most of the Biblical events occurred. That would put it in Central Asia.

Verse 2:9 indicates that God put every tree and plant that was both pleasant to look at and good to eat in the Garden, including two special trees – the Tree of Life and the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil – which God placed at the center of the Garden. It is critical that we understand the meaning and significance of these two special trees.

The Tree of Life symbolizes life which is lived dependent upon the Word of God. In the description of New Jerusalem in Revelation 22, the Tree of Life stands adjacent to the river which flows out of the Throne of God and of the Lamb at the center of the City. The tree’s roots are nourished continually by the living waters of the Word of God.

The Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil symbolizes life which is lived independent of the Word of God – at least in part. That part is the determination of what is good and what is evil. That this determination belongs to God, the Serpent makes explicit when, as we shall see later, he suggested to Eve that, when she eats of the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil, “…your eyes shall be opened, and ye shall be as gods, knowing good and evil” (Genesis 3: 5). As gods? No. As God!

Verses 2:10-14 provide some geographical information about the Garden. A river went through the Garden and then, upon leaving the Garden, broke into four branches: the Pison, the Gihon, the Hiddekel, and the Euphrates. Although there have been many attempts to identify these rivers with rivers that exist today, in my opinion, none are convincing. In fact, I believe that the attempt to map the surface of the earth in Edenic and Antediluvian times is fruitless. Since those days, the topography of the earth has been significantly altered by the Flood of Noah and other more recent cataclysms.

The Edenic Covenant

The Edenic Covenant is described in Genesis 2:15-17, which reads as follows:

2:15 And the LORD God took the man, and put him into the garden of Eden to dress it and to keep it. 16 And the LORD God commanded the man, saying, Of every tree of the garden thou mayest freely eat: 17 But of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it: for in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die. (KJV)

 Verse 2:15 indicates that God told Adam that he put Adam in the garden “to dress it and to keep it.”

Verse 2:16 records the command that God then issued to Adam, which is called the Adamic Covenant. The command had three elements: a permission, a prohibition, and a sanction.

The permission is extraordinarily unrestrictive. Adam may eat anything in the garden that he wants with only one exception. Considering the variety of flora which must have been there – all past and present species – the permission amounts to almost total freedom.

The prohibition, on the other hand, is very restrictive and specific. Adam must eschew eating the fruit of only one tree – the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil.

The sanction for disregarding this prohibition is terrible. If Adam eats of the forbidden fruit, he shall die.

Here God freely gave Adam access to the Tree of Life, just as God freely gave Adam life. God withheld only one thing from Adam; the right to determine what is good and what is evil. God reserved that determination to himself. God would determine what is good and what is evil – not Adam.

Notice that God established the Edenic Covenant before he created Eve. Although the covenant applied to all mankind, he gave it to Adam as the first man and therefore the head of the human race. Adam, the man, was therefore responsible for ensuring that all his descendants understand and adhere to the terms of the covenant.

Adam’s First Task

Adam’s First Task” is described in Genesis 2:18-20, which reads as follows:

2:18 And the LORD God said, It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him an help meet for him. 19 And out of the ground the LORD God formed every beast of the field, and every fowl of the air; and brought them unto Adam to see what he would call them: and whatsoever Adam called every living creature, that was the name thereof. 20 And Adam gave names to all cattle, and to the fowl of the air, and to every beast of the field; but for Adam there was not found an help meet for him. (KJV)

In order to show Adam his need for a companion of a special sort, God gave Adam a specific task. Note that it was a scientific task – the taxonomic project of naming and ordering all living creatures. In doing so, Adam discovered that, whereas every other living species but mankind was created male and female, mankind lacked a female.

 The Creation of Eve – a Bride for Adam

The Creation of Eve – a Bride for Adam is described in Genesis 2:21-25, which reads as follows:

2:21 And the LORD God caused a deep sleep to fall upon Adam and he slept: and he took one of his ribs, and closed up the flesh instead thereof; 22 And the rib, which the LORD God had taken from man, made he a woman, and brought her unto the man. 23 And Adam said, This is now bone of my bones, and flesh of my flesh: she shall be called Woman, because she was taken out of Man. 24 Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife: and they shall be one flesh. 25 And they were both naked, the man and his wife, and were not ashamed. (KJV)

A few observations.

First, the word translated “rib” here is usually translated “side.” God took flesh and bone from Adam’s side with which to form Eve.

Second, the word translated “made” here bears the connotation of “formed” or “sculpted” – the female figure was not just a replica of the male body, but a divine work of art.

Third, there are some interesting family relationships here. God created Adam, and so Adam was a son of God. Now God wanted to present his son with a bride. To ensure that Adam and his bride were of the same species, God took genetic material from Adam’s side and with it he created a woman. Since God created the woman, she was a daughter of God and therefore a sister of Adam. Then the father of the bride gave away his daughter to the groom, just as happens in most Christian marriage ceremonies. Thus Adam and the woman were first brother and sister and then husband and wife, just as later Abraham and Sarah were first brother and sister and then husband and wife.

Verse 2:24 indicates that Adam recognized in the woman the mate that he had been lacking, and he took her to be his wife. Henceforth they would be an independent family.

Verse 2:25 indicates that Adam named his wife “Woman” or “Eve.” By doing so, Adam exhibited a biblical principle. The person in authority over another has the right to name or rename him. God named Adam. Adam named Eve. Later, we will see that God renamed Abram, calling him Abraham. Parents name their children.

 © 2017 John Holbrook Jr.
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[1] “Praise him, ye heavens of heavens, and ye waters that be above the heaven” (KJV Psalm 148:4).

[2] Above and surrounding Part A3 was the Part B – a spherical shell (space) described above, which I call the 2nd heaven.

[3] Processes must have been moving very fast at this point in order for seeds to germinate and mature within hours.

Russell Vought and Bernie Sanders

by John Holbrook Jr.
A Biblical View, posted June 12, 2017

The exchange between Mr. Russell Vought and Senator Bernie Sanders during the Senate hearing on June 7, 2017 concerning Mr. Vought’s appointment to Deputy Director of the White House Office of Management and Budget perpetuated and to some extent legitimized two erroneous ideas: (1) that the U.S. Constitution permits the application of a religious test for federal office and (2) that Christianity maintains that people are “condemned” for not believing in Jesus.

The first issue is straightforward and simple. Article VI of the U.S. Constitution states, “…no religious Test shall ever be required as a Qualification to any Office or public Trust under the United States.” That a US senator was ignorant of or – worse – chose to ignore this proscription is stunning. He should apologize to Mr. Vought or be censured by his colleagues.

The second issue is also straightforward, but more complex than the first. The Bible indicates that people are condemned by their sinfulness – not their unbelief in Jesus. In order to demonstrate this, I need to explain mankind’s predicament and God’s solution to it.

First, mankind’s predicament: Every man, woman, and child is born a sinner. King David wrote, “Behold, I was shaped in iniquity, and in sin did my mother conceive me” (KJ21 Psalm 51:5). That applies to Mr. Vought. That applies to Senator Sanders. That applies to me. That applies to you. There are no exceptions. Every person begins life condemned. Moreover, every person remains a sinner in God’s eyes. King David wrote, “…there is none that doeth good; no, not one” (Psalm 14:3, 53:3) and Paul wrote, “There is none righteous, no, not one” (KJ21 Psalm 14:3, KJ21 Romans 3:10). Finally, the penalty for sin is death – physical death and spiritual death. Paul wrote, “…the wages of sin is death…” (Romans 6:23). The foregoing is what I call the “bad news.”

Second, God’s solution to mankind’s predicament: The following is what God’s Word, the Bible, calls the Gospel or “good news.” In fulfillment of all the prophecies concerning the Messiah in the Tenakh (Old Testament), God sent his Son into the world in the person of Jesus, the Jewish carpenter from Nazareth, to save people – i.e. to die on a cross to atone for the sins of anyone who accepts Him as his or her Savior and Lord. As Isaiah prophesized, “All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way; and the LORD hath laid on Him the iniquity of us all” (KJ21 Isaiah 53:6). God did not send his Son into the world to condemn people. “For God sent not His son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved” (KJ21 John 3:17). Moreover, salvation is a free gift from God – not something a person can earn. “For by grace are ye saved through faith, and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God – not by works, lest any man should boast” (KJ21 Ephesians 2:8-9). It cannot be earned. It cannot be bought. It can only be received with humility and gratitude at the feet of a gracious sovereign.

Third, the universality and the exclusivity of the Gospel: The Gospel is universal, because it offers salvation to everyone. Paul wrote, “For I am not ashamed of the Gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one who believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek [or Gentile]” (KJ21 Romans 1:16). The Gospel is also exclusive, because the only source of salvation is faith and trust in the finished work of Jesus, the Jewish Messiah. Referring to “the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth” (KJ21 Acts 4:10), Peter said to the rulers, priests, and scribes of Israel, “Neither is there salvation in any other [name], for there is no other name under heaven given among men whereby we must be saved” (KJ21 Acts 4:12). God insists that sinners approach him through his Son, “For there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus, who gave Himself a ransom for all…” (21KJ 1 Timothy 2:5).

The difference between the approach to God advocated by the Gospel and the approach to God advocated by the world’s religions is that the Gospel focuses on what God has done to make people acceptable to himself whereas the approach to God advocated by the world’s religions, including Judaism, Islam, and even much of institutional Christianity, focuses on what a person must do to become acceptable to God. He or she must ascribe to certain creeds, wear certain clothing, eat or not eat certain foods, perform certain rites, undertake certain works, etc. A person can exhaust himself or herself doing all these things, but in the end he or she will fail to please God. To repeat myself, acceptance by God cannot be earned or bought.

If you sincerely want to be acceptable to God, start seeking Jesus. Start reading the Bible, for Jesus said, “Search the scriptures; …it is they which testify of me” (21KJ John 5:39). As you search, keep in mind the following verse: “…without faith it is impossible to please Him. For he that cometh to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of them that diligently seek Him” (KJ21 Hebrews 11:6).

I wish that my brother Russell had countered Senator Sander’s attack on him with a proclamation of the Gospel, not the refrain “I am a Christian,” which explained nothing. Perhaps next time.

© 2017 John Holbrook Jr.
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Homily on mission

by John Holbrook Jr.
A Biblical View, posted June 5, 2017

In lieu of a devotional, I delivered this homily at the March 18, 2011 meeting of the Diaconate of the New Lebanon Congregational Church in New Lebanon, NY.

Christianity is all about relationships. Consider the life of a church. It can be divided into three general categories: worship, community, and mission.

We relate to God through worship

We relate to one another through activities which build up the church community – that is, education, fellowship, and pastoral care.

We relate to others outside the church through mission activities – that is, evangelism, service, and the financial support of Christians who are doing evangelism and service elsewhere.

Of course, the life of any church depends upon someone attending to the activities which sustain the life of the church – that is, the support activities of administration, finance, property management, and communication.

Most churches in America divide their leadership into two groups. In Congregational churches, we call them elders and deacons. Other denominations use different titles. Whatever the titles, however, the normal understanding is that the elders attend to spiritual matters and the deacons attend to practical matters. Thus, the deacons tend to focus on the support activities which I identified above – administration, finance, property management, and communication. That is not biblical.

In the Bible, deacons focus on mission – that is, evangelism and service. Evangelism consists of the spreading of the Gospel of our Lord by word. Service consists of the spreading of His Gospel by deed. They must be undertaken together. Tim Keller calls service “doing justice.” It is the sign that convinces unbelievers that the faith which motivates us is worth investigating. What we do authenticates what we say.

(As an aside: I believe that the church in general might be better off having three categories of leaders: elders who focus on worship and community activities, deacons who assist the elders in attending to community activities, but who focus primarily on mission activities, and administrators or stewards who focus on support activities. That would clearly indicate the nature and importance of mission.)

Now, let us consider “doing justice.”  Tim Keller divides it into three categories or layers of help – relief, development, and social reform – all of which require believers to disadvantage themselves to advantage others, particularly the most vulnerable in society – that is, the poor, the oppressed, the ill, the handicapped, the infirm, the imprisoned, the widowed, etc.

Relief is directed at meeting the immediate needs of people who are suffering – that is, providing them with food, clothing, shelter, emergency medical aid, basic counseling, legal advocacy, etc.

Development is directed at helping people move beyond dependency to self-sufficiency. It includes education, job training and placement, home-making and child care training, and simple friendship.

Social reform is directed at attacking the root causes of failing communities – inadequate police protection (often the result of corruption), inadequate education (often the result of under-funded schools), housing (often the result of red-lining by banks), inadequate justice (often the result of judicial bribe-taking), and inadequate attention by the responsible levels of government (precinct, city, county, state, and federal).

How then do we “do justice?”  John M. Perkins identified three basic factors: relocation, redistribution, and racial reconciliation.

Relocation or “neighboring a community” is the concept that service providers to a community should live in it.

Redistribution or “reweaving a community” is the concept that financial, social, and spiritual capital must be directed into a community – not out of it, which is what happens when residents find jobs elsewhere, when local businesses are owned and staffed by non-residents, when health facilities are located outside the community or, if located in the community, staffed by non-residents, and when residents attend churches outside the community.

Financial capital refers to the presence in the community of employers that not only provide goods and services to the community, but keep the wealth of the community in the community.

Social capital refers to the presence in the community of trained leaders who can run businesses, schools, clinics, etc., thereby obviating the necessity of bringing in such leaders from outside the community.

Spiritual capital refers to the presence in the community of churches and ministries which convey to their members Christian faith and morals, thereby strengthening the members of the community as they attempt to build strong and healthy individuals, families, and communal institutions.

Racial reconciliation is the concept that skilled outsiders work with unskilled insiders to empower the latter to assume the leadership and control of the community’s development. Where failing communities are concerned, the skilled outsiders and the unskilled insiders are usually of different races and cultures, as well as educational levels, wealth, etc. Blending them into a partnership is difficult, but not impossible when the outsiders maintain a clear vision of the objective and behave humbly, tactfully, and lovingly. Such a partnership across racial boundaries is one of the signs of the presence and power of the Gospel of our Lord. It indicates that the bond between believers in Christ is stronger than the bond between members of any racial, cultural, or political group.

What practical steps can we take to start “doing justice?” There are at least two:

Ask community leaders what they need? They will be startled to discover that we are interested, let alone that we are motivated to do something to help.

Ask local ministers what they need? They too will be startled, because too often they find outsiders setting up alternatives to their own ministries.

There are a number of policy issues that we need to address before we plunge into “doing justice.”

How much should we help? Relief costs money. Development costs a lot of money. Social reform costs more than all but the largest and richest churches can afford. Moreover, in every situation, there is more need than hands to help in meeting the need.

Whom should we help? …individuals? …families? …neighborhoods? …communities?

Under what conditions should our help proceed or end? To what extent will we put up with disruption, ingratitude, intransigence, misuse of our financial assistance, obscenity, recidivism, etc.?

In what way should we help? …providing relief? …fostering development? …working for social reform? …a combination of two or all three?

From where should we help? …from the church; that might be appropriate for relief? …from an existing local ministry, …that might be appropriate for development? …from an existing community development organization? …from a community development organization which is formed by our church and operates independently of our church so as to leave our church’s elders unencumbered by its day-to-day problems? …from a local, state, or national advocacy organization; that might be appropriate for social reform?

There is nothing simple or easy about “doing justice,” but there is no question that Jesus commands us to do it. Jesus told His disciples to feed and cloth the poor, to welcome and show hospitality to the stranger, to provide care to the sick and infirm, to look after the widows and orphans, to visit the prisoners in jail, to befriend the friendless, to comfort the comfortless, to find and carry back to safety the lost. He did not say that doing any of these things was a means of obtaining salvation, but rather a sign that they possessed salvation already.

I gratefully acknowledge my debt in preparing this homily to Tim Keller’s new book, Generous Justice.[1] I will close with a couple of quotes from it.

When a city perceives a church as existing only for itself and its own members, the preaching of that church will not resonate with outsiders. But if neighbors see church members loving their city through astonishing, sacrificial deeds of compassion, they will be much more open to the church’s message (p. 142).

Don’t shrink, says the Lord, from spending yourself on the broken, the hurting, and the needy. I’m good for it (p. 185)

Read Keller’s book!

© 2017 John Holbrook Jr.
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[1] Keller, Timothy, Generous Justice – How God’s Grace Makes Us Just, Dutton, New York, NY 2010.

 

Church governance

by John Holbrook Jr.
A Biblical View, posted May 29, 2017

The Bible has a great deal to say about Church Governance.

Image of Messiah’s Church

Because so many Christians have grown up within denominational churches which have institutional structures, I must start with the Bible’s image of the Lord’s church.

The first chapter of the Book of Revelation gives us a clear picture of the church. Messiah or God-the-Son is standing in the middle of seven candlesticks or lamps, each of which is attached directly to Him. Here is the source of and reason for the seven-branched, gold candlestick that stood in the Holy of Holies in the original tabernacle and then in the Temple (see Exodus 25:31-37). The seven branched candlestick represents the Body of Messiah. Its stem is Messiah Himself. The seven lamps on its branches are seven individual congregations. The seven stars or messengers in Messiah’s right hand are the pastors of the congregations. Several things about this picture are worth noting.

Congregations are the only source of light in this fallen world. At the center of the image stands Messiah. His eyes are like “flames of fire,” his feet are like molten “brass… burn[ing] in a furnace,” and his countenance shines like “the sun.” Clearly He is a tremendous source of light to believers, of whom John is one. But He is not a source of light to unbelievers. After His resurrection, Messiah appeared only to believers, never to unbelievers. Not one unbeliever saw the risen Lord then, and not one unbeliever sees the risen Lord now. The light that the candlestick sheds in the darkness of the world radiates from its lamps, not from its stem, which is invisible to unbelievers. There is a principle here: A congregation is the physical presence of Messiah in its community and needs to shine His light into that community.

Congregations are independently connected to Messiah. In the image, each lamp or congregation is upheld and given life and energy by Messiah directly. The congregations are not connected to one another, and none is higher than the other. Thus each congregation is responsible only to Messiah – not to an association of other congregations or to a hierarchy of bishops, archbishops, cardinals, or pope in a denomination. Yet the congregations are mystically united in Christ and, as such, they together are the complete manifestation of the Body of Messiah in any given region. There is another principle here: A congregation should be independent.[1]

Pastors are teachers, not rulers. In the image, the stars or messengers are in Messiah’s right hand, not in or adjacent to the lamps. Messiah dispatches a pastor to a congregation with His Word (the Bible), bearing the responsibility to proclaim and explain the Word to its members so that they will be equipped to minister in Messiah’s name.[2] There is a third principle here: Every pastor must resist the temptation to see himself instead of Messiah as the head of his congregation. He must continually remind himself and his congregants that he is responsible for ministering to them – i.e. explaining the Holy Scriptures to them – but they are responsible for ministering to one another and to the world in Messiah’s name.

Roles in the Congregation

The Scriptures add to what the above image shows us.

First, Messiah is the head of both the church universal and every individual church.

…Christ is the head of the church: and he is the saviour of the body (Ephesians 5:23)

Second, the Holy Spirit, who is also called the Comforter, is the guide of both the church universal and every individual church. Messiah said,

…it is expedient for you that I go away: for if I go not away, the Comforter will not come unto you; but if I depart, I will send him unto you. And when he is come, he will reprove the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment….Howbeit when he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will guide you into all truth: for he shall not speak of himself; but whatsoever he shall hear, that shall he speak: and he will shew you things to come. He shall glorify me: for he shall receive of mine, and shall shew it unto you (John 16:7-14).

Third, the elders are the leaders of each individual church. After prayer and fasting, the members of the congregation elect them and ordain them.

And when they had ordained them elders in every church, and had prayed with fasting, they commended them to the Lord, on whom they believed. (Acts 14:23)

In submission to Messiah and to one another and under the anointing and guidance of the Holy Spirit, the elders, of whom the pastor is usually senior, govern the church.[3] A critical aspect of elder leadership in the church is that the elders govern as a board,  not as individuals. No elder must “throw his weight around” in the church. This mode of governance is commonly called “rule by a plurality of elders.”

The elders are charged primarily with praying, preaching, and teaching. They feed the members of the congregation by proclaiming and explaining the Gospel of Messiah to them and opening up the Word of God for them.

Take heed therefore unto yourselves, and to all the flock, over which the Holy Ghost hath made you overseers, to feed the church of God, which he hath purchased with his own blood. (Acts 20:28)

As overseers, the elders are also responsible for everything that transpires in the church, whether it be the church’s core activities (worship, education, fellowship, pastoral care, evangelism, service, and mission support) or the church’s support activities (administration, finance, property management, and communications).

Not surprisingly, the elders of the Church in Jerusalem found themselves overwhelmed by the amount of work involved in attending to both the core functions and the support functions of the church. To solve this problem, the Lord led them to create the position of deacon. The elders would focus on worship, praying, preaching, teaching, and pastoral care and the deacons would focus on ministries such as preparing and serving meals and caring for widows and orphans.

…there arose a murmuring of the Grecians against the Hebrews, because their widows were neglected in the daily ministration. Then the twelve called the multitude of the disciples unto them, and said, It is not reason that we should leave the word of God, and serve tables. Wherefore, brethren, look ye out among you seven men of honest report, full of the Holy Ghost and wisdom, whom we may appoint over this business. But we will give ourselves continually to prayer, and to the ministry of the word. And the saying pleased the whole multitude: and they chose Stephen, a man full of faith and of the Holy Ghost, and Philip, and Prochorus, and Nicanor, and Timon, and Parmenas, and Nicolas a proselyte of Antioch: Whom they set before the apostles: and when they had prayed, they laid their hands on them. (Acts 6:1-6)

Clearly the deacons were called to direct the church’s ministries to the needy inside the church and presumably outside the church as well.

Confusion over the Deaconate

Unfortunately the role of the deacons proved to be more complicated than it appeared to be at first. The existence of two types of leaders in the church led many people to draw a distinction between the responsibilities of the elders and the responsibility of the deacons: the elders should attend to “spiritual matters” and the deacons should attend to “practical matters.” This erroneous distinction caused some serious problems.

First, because the handling of money is usually regarded as a “practical matter,” the deacons were given control of the money, which quickly translated into control of the church. The deacons decided how the congregation’s money should and would be spent.

Second, it prevented people from seeing that every matter in a church is a “spiritual matter” – including the manner in which money is raised and the manner in which money is allocated and spent. Money must be raised by teaching members of the congregation the importance of tithing. Tithing is a primary means by which Messiah teaches individuals to trust in and depend on Him. Moreover it is fully capable of providing all the funds which a congregation needs to sustain its activities.

Third, it led the deacons to focus on the support functions of the church (administration, finance, property management, and communications), not on ministry to the needy both inside and outside the congregation, which was and still is their primary calling. In how many meeting of diaconates over the years has discussion concentrated entirely on support functions and neglected ministry to the needy. One antidote to this mistake would be for the congregation to establish a third position of leadership: that of steward. The stewards would focus on the support functions, discharging their respective duties under the direction and supervision of the elders.

Fourth, it prevented people from seeing the proper relationship between the elders and the deacons. The elders are responsible for seeking Messiah’s will, establishing the congregation’s policies, supervising the execution of those policies by the deacons and other members of the congregation, and finally correcting the wayward when such correction is needed. The deacons are responsible for following the lead of the elders and executing the church’s policies that apply to them. They must not determine policy and they should not undertake actions without ensuring that their actions conform to what the elders have asked them to do. A simple way to obtain that assurance is to talk to the elders.

 Biblical Polity

The Kingdom of God is hierarchical, which people in this age of democratic civil government have a hard time understanding, let alone accepting.[4] Authority flows downward, first from Messiah to the elders, who must devote considerable time and effort trying to discern what the Lord and the Holy Spirit want, second, from the elders to the deacons, who must devote some effort to seeking guidance from the elders, and finally from the elders and deacons jointly to the members of the congregation, who must devote some effort to discerning what the leadership of the church is calling them to do.

The church is not a democracy! The full onus of leading the church falls on the elders, which is why the members of every congregation should assemble regularly to bathe the church in prayer, asking the Lord to give the elders clear direction and the pastor clarity of understanding and expression concerning what the Bible actually says.

Because the elders bear such momentous responsibility, the Scriptures admonish the members of a congregation to accord their elders the honor, submission, and obedience which is due to them.[5]

One last thought. While the elders are primarily accountable to the Lord, they will profit by an association with other elders who share their beliefs and commitments. They may find themselves confronting a significant problem which is new to them, but perhaps not new to older and wiser elders elsewhere, who are usually willing to provide advice and counsel and might even be willing to help out directly. The working out of this principle can be seen in the Presbytery with which the Presbyterian churches in a particular region are associated and in the Convocation of Anglicans in North America (CANA) with which many independent Anglican Churches in North America are associated.

© 2017 John Holbrook Jr.
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[1] Hierarchical denominations are probably abominations in God’s sight. There may be an association of pastors and elders who come together to wrestle with doctrinal issues (e.g. the Jerusalem Council), to evaluate a candidate for ministry (most lay people are not competent to do this), to install a minister in a congregation that has called him to pastor it, to mediate between a pastor and his congregation in the event of a dispute, or to pass judgment on a pastor or congregation that is behaving in an ungodly manner. Such an association might even be institutionalized (e.g. the presbytery in Presbyterian churches), but it must not be regarded as a superior body which rules a subordinate body (a congregation).

[2] Ephesians 4:11-12 indicates that the role of the pastor is to equip the saints for ministry.

[3] Acts 20:28.  Interestingly, John Carver proposes this model for the board of any organization which adopts his “policy governance.”  Individual board members do not possess any authority in the organization. Only the board as a whole exercises authority over the organization by establishing its ends and policies and by hiring, supervising, and firing its CEO..

[4] Despite the fact (a) that they are educated in hierarchical schools whose teachers specify what they must learn and then determine how well they are learning it and (b) that they work in hierarchical businesses whose executives specify what they will do and then determine how well they are doing it.

[5] 1 Thessalonians 5:12-13.

Examen

by John Holbrook Jr.
A Biblical View, posted May 22, 2017

The Scriptures tell us to examine ourselves periodically to identify our sins, repent of them, and ask God to help us avoid repeating them in the future. I wrote this Examen for my own use. Thus it contains sins to which I might be tempted. You the reader can use my Examen as a guide, but you should write your own.

Prayer

Lord, I acknowledge that I am a miserable sinner. As I examine all that I thought, said, and did since my last confession, help me to identify and repent of each instance in which I sinned against you and your holy laws. If I transgressed against another person, help me to acknowledge my fault and to make appropriate restitution.

As I contemplate my imperfections, I recall your admonition, “Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect” (KJV-Matthew 5:48). Although that seems impossible to me, you also said, “With men this is impossible; but with God all things are possible” (KJV-Matthew 19:26). Peter wrote to the saints in Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia, “…the God of all grace, who hath called us unto his eternal glory by Christ Jesus, after that ye have suffered a while, [will] make you perfect, stablish, strengthen, settle you” (KJV-1 Pet 5:10). Remove my imperfections, Lord, that your perfect work in me bear such perfect results.

Examen Through the Prism of The Ten Commandments

First: I am the Lord your God:…you shall have no other gods before me.

Did I put anyone or anything above you in my thoughts, words, and deeds? Did I trust in anyone but God-the-Father for the ordering of my life? Did I trust in anyone or anything but God-the-Son for the redemption of my life – both in time and in eternity? Did I trust in anyone or anything but God-the-Holy Spirit for the regeneration and sanctification of my life? Did I, from pride, put my trust in any of God’s gifts to me – all unearned and undeserved by me: my birth; my person; my character; my knowledge and competence; my possessions; my spiritual life; my destiny?

Second: You shall not make for yourself an idol.

Did I place undue importance on anyone or anything that might in anyway supplant or even weaken my worship of and trust in you: social position; comeliness, health, intelligence, strength, or prowess; goodness or integrity; knowledge or professional competence; wealth or material possessions; fame or honor – even spiritual knowledge, experience, and maturity?

Third: You shall not misuse the name of the Lord your God.

Did I refer to or address you disrespectfully or even carelessly: in my conversations; in my writings; in my prayers; even in my thoughts? Did I take you for granted in any way, accepting your gifts without gratitude or assuming your approval of whatever I chose to do? Did I ask you to do my will, rather than to help me do your will?

Fourth: Six days shall you labor and do all your work, but the seventh day is the Sabbath to the Lord your God.

Monday-Saturday: Did I neglect any work which you gave me to do today? Was I less than diligent in the work I did do? Sundays: Did I neglect the sabbath rest, fail to attend worship service, or engage in any godless activities today?

Fifth: Honor your father and your mother that your life may be long.

Did I dishonor my parents in any thought, word, or deed? Did I refer disrespectfully or even carelessly to anyone whom you have put in authority over me: an ecclesiastical elder; a secular boss; a civil magistrate? Did I even tell the truth about them unnecessarily?

Sixth: You shall not murder.

Did I get angry, annoyed, or even impatient with anyone? Did I attack anyone with deed, word, or even thought? Did I tell the truth about someone unnecessarily, thereby injuring him in another’s eyes? If  I was attacked or injured by another, did I fail to turn my other cheek and pray for him?

Seventh: You shall not be sexually impure.

Did I allow my hands, my eyes or even my thoughts to linger too long or longingly on a woman other than my wife?

Eighth: You shall not steal.

Did I take anything from another: an object, no matter how small; a word, no matter how commonplace; an acclaim, no matter how slight? Did I envy another, recognizing that he had something I would never have, and begrudging him the possession of it?

Ninth: You shall not give false testimony against your neighbor.

Did I say anything untrue about another? Did I exaggerate a truth? Did I even tell the truth unnecessarily?

Tenth: You shall not covet.

Was I discontent with anything that you have given to me in the way of worldly fame, fortune, food, friends, and fun? Did I seek more unnecessarily? Did I seek more recognition or higher position? Did I seek greater wealth? Did I eat more than I needed? Did I buy more books, clothing, food, furniture, etc. than I needed? Did I desire the attention of people who pay me no heed? Did I long to go somewhere or do something that my current circumstances would not permit? Did I fail to be generous to anyone less fortunate than myself?

Examen Through the Prism of The Seven Deadly Sins

Lord, sometimes I miss the full implications of your commandments. As I study The Seven Deadly Sins and their opposites, help me to see my failures in this regard. (Click on the following link: Examen Table.)

© 2017 John Holbrook Jr.
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Prayers for our nation

by  John Holbrook Jr.
A Biblical View, posted February 15, 2017

Americans are deeply divided over a myriad of issues arising in every important area of our nation’s life: border security, commerce, conservation, constitutional law, education, energy, foreign policy, free expression, governance, illegal immigration, infrastructure, intelligence, justice, law enforcement (internal), liberty preservation, medicine, military action (external), money, morality, religion, taxation, welfare, and many, many others. The Lord Jesus warned, “Every kingdom divided against itself is brought to desolation; and every city or house divided against itself shall not stand.”[1] Moreover, this division has engendered stunning displays of anger, hatred, incivility, slander, and threat of physical harm against some public figures and their supporters – even by some people who regard themselves as members of the affluent, educated, informed, and sophisticated elite. It is time for Christians to humble themselves before God, pray to God, seek God’s face, and turn away from our wicked ways if we hope to see this situation change. Here are a few prayers to start with:

 As we begin our prayers, we pray:

O Lord, hear our prayers, not according to the poverty of our asking, but according to the richness of your grace, so that our lives together in this nation may conform to those desires which accord with your will; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.[2]

 For our sins and relief from them, we pray:

 Almighty and most merciful Father; we have erred, and strayed from your ways like lost sheep. We have followed too much the devices and desires of our own hearts. We have offended against your holy laws. We have left undone those things which we ought to have done; and we have done those things which we ought not to have done; and there is no health in us. But you, O Lord, have mercy upon us, miserable offenders. Spare those, O God, who confess their faults. Restore those who are penitent according to your promises that were declared to mankind in Christ Jesus our Lord. And grant, O most merciful Father, for his sake, that we may hereafter live a godly, righteous, and sober life, To the glory of your holy Name. Amen.[3]

For our nation in general, we pray:

Heavenly Father, we thank you for our country, our Constitution, and our leaders. We pray for our President and for every elected and appointed official who serves with him. We pray that you will build a spiritual wall of protection around the marriage and family of every national, state, and local official. We pray that you will give them the wisdom and the courage to uphold our Constitution which established a republic based on your absolute laws, not a democracy based on the changing whims of man’s reasoning. We pray that you will rebuke Satan for the deception of his lie that we can be “as gods” in deciding for ourselves what is right and what is wrong. O Lord, may our leaders cast down every law, policy, and personal example which weakens marriages, families, or your moral standards. We pray that our leaders will understand and follow the principles of your Word. May they realize that all authority comes from you, not the voters, and that one day they will stand before you to give an account of the power you gave to them. We base this prayer on the promise of your Word, that if we will humble ourselves, pray, seek your face, and turn from our wicked ways, then you will hear from heaven, forgive our sins, and heal our land.[4] In the name and through the blood of the Lord Jesus Christ, we pray. Amen. [5]

Almighty God, who has given us this good land for our heritage; we humbly beseech you that we may always prove ourselves a people mindful of your favor and glad to do your will. Bless our land with honorable industry, sound learning, and pure manners. Save us from violence, discord, and confusion; from pride and arrogance, and from every evil way. Defend our liberties, and fashion into one united people the multitudes brought hither out of many kindreds and tongues. Endue with the spirit of wisdom those to whom in your Name we entrust the authority of government, that there may be justice and peace at home, and that, through obedience to your law, we may show forth your praise among the nations of the earth. In the time of prosperity, fill our hearts with thankfulness, and in the day of trouble, suffer not our trust in you to fail; all of which we ask through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.[6]

For our nation’s executives, we pray:

O Lord, our governor, whose glory is in all the world, we commend this nation to your merciful care, that, being guided by your Providence, we may dwell secure in your peace. Grant to the President, Vice-president, and all others in authority, wisdom and strength to know and do your will. Fill them with the love of truth and righteousness, and make them ever mindful of their calling to serve this people in fear of you; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, world without end. Amen.[7]

For our nation’s legislators, we pray:

O God, the fountain of wisdom, whose will is good and gracious, and whose law is truth: we beseech you so to guide and bless our Senators and Representatives in Congress assembled, that they may enact such laws as shall please you, to the glory of your Name and the welfare of this people; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.[8]

For our nation’s justices, we pray:

Almighty God, who sits on the throne of heaven judging right; we humbly beseech you to bless the courts of justice and the magistrates in all this land; and give to them the spirit of wisdom and understanding, that they may discern the truth, and impartially administer the law in the fear of you alone; through Him who shall come to be our Judge, your Son, our Saviour Jesus Christ. Amen.[9]

For our nation’s armed forces, we pray:

O Lord God of Hosts, stretch forth…your almighty arm to strengthen and protect the soldiers, sailors, airmen, marines, and coastguardsmen of our country. Support them in the day of battle, and in the time of peace keep them safe from all evil; endue them with courage and loyalty; and grant that in all things they may serve without reproach; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.[10]

For our nation’s police, firefighters, and emergency medical service personnel, we pray:

O Lord God, also lay your hand of protection on all the men and women in our communities who put themselves at risk daily to safeguard us from assault, disorder, fire, flood, inclement weather, injury, medical emergency, and theft as we go about our normal lives. Keep us ever mindful of their continuous, dangerous, faithful, and honorable service to us; through Jesus Christ our Lord, we pray. Amen.

Finally, in closing, we pray:

Almighty God, who has promised to hear the petitions of those who ask in your Son’s name: we beseech you mercifully to incline your ear to us who have now made our prayers and supplications to you; and grant that those things which we have faithfully asked according to your will, may effectually be obtained, to the relief of our necessities, and to the setting forth of your glory; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.[11]

© 2017 John Holbrook Jr.
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[1] KJV Matthew 12:25.

[2] Prayer by Reinhold Niebuhr, The Complete Book of Christian Prayer, #37 – adapted by JH.

[3] A General Confession, Book of Common Prayer (1928), p. 23 – adapted by JH.

[4] 2 Chronicles 7:14.

[5] Prayer for our nation by Anonymous – adapted by JH.

[6] Prayer for Our Country, Book of Common Prayer, 1928, p. 36 – adapted by JH.

[7] Prayer for the President of the United States and all in Civil Authority, Book of Common Prayer, 1979, p. 820 – adapted by JH.

[8] Prayer for Congress, Book of Common Prayer, 1979, p. 821 – adapted by JH.

[9] Prayer for Courts of Justice, Book of Common Prayer, 1928, p. 35 – adapted by JH.

[10] Prayer for the Armed Forces, Book of Common Prayer, 1928, p. 41 – adapted by JH.

[11] Prayer for the Answering of Prayer, Book of Common Prayer (1979), p. 834 – adapted by JH.

Numbers & numerical patterns in Scripture

by John Holbrook Jr.
A Biblical View, posted May 8, 2017

People in biblical times lacked numbers, which were invented by Hindu mathematicians in the early 1st millennium AD. In order to express mathematical values, they used the letters of their alphabets. For instance, in counting from 1 to 5, the Hebrews used aleph, beth, gimel, daleth, he,… and the Greeks used alpha, beta, gamma, delta, epsilon,…(click on Hebrew & Greek Alphabets). Thus letters, words, phrases, sentences, and paragraphs written in these languages carry numerical values. The existence of these values is real and undeniable. Thus anyone who is reasonably familiar with these languages can calculate them.

Determining the meaning and significance of numerical values and patterns in the Bible, however, is another matter. The study of them is very old and has many names, including gematria, numerics, and theomatics. The results of these studies often generate heated opposition and dismissal, because they indicate the presence of a single mind at work in the production of 66 different books by many different authors who wrote over many centuries – if not millennia.

What follows is a merely a brief sampling of what these studies have revealed: [1]

37 appears to be the base number on which all references to Jesus (God-the-Son) are structured

37 x 1 = 37 = God (Daniel 4:2) C-188

37 x 1 = 37 = Only Son C-188

37 x 1 = 37 = Power C-188

37 x 1 = 37 = Only begotten C-188

37 x 2 = 74 = A great God (Psalm 95:3) C-189

37 x 2 = 74 = Their Redeemer (Jeremiah 50:34) C-189

37 x 2 = 74 = Foundation C-189

37 x 2 = 74 = Everlasting C-189

37 x 3 = 111 = Jehovah God* (Genesis 3:9)

37 x 7 = 259 = Shepherd* (John 10:2)

37 x 10 = 370 = Everlasting righteousness (Psalm 119:142) C-188

37 x 10 = 370 = He lives (Isaiah 33:5) C-188

37 x 10 = 370 = He rules (Psalm 66:7) C-188

37 x 10 = 370 = God (Elohim) is my King of old (Psalm 74:12) C-188

37 x 12 =111 x 4 = 444 = Lamb for a burnt offering*[2] (Genesis 22:8)

37 x 14 = 518 = The door (John 7)

37 x 15 = 111 x 5 = 555 = Lord of hosts (1 Samuel 1:3)

37 x 15 = 111 x 5 = 555 = God* (NT)

37 x 15 = 111 x 5 = 555 = The holy one (Acts 3:14)

37 x 24 = 111 x 8 = 888 = I am Jehovah, I change not (Malachi 3:6)

37 x 24 = 111 x 8 = 888 = Jesus  A-50

37 x 24 = 111 x 8 = 888 = Her begotten* (Matthew 1:20) A-51

37 x 24 = 111 x 8 = 888 = Lord God* (Revelation 15:3)

37 x 24 = 111 x 8 = 888 = Lord of the Sabbath

37 x 25 = 925 = The Messiah* (John 1:41) A-63

37 x 26 = 962  = Godhead (Colossians 2:9)

37 x 27 = 111 x 9 = 999 = Lord (NT)

37 x 33 = 111 x 11 = 1,221 = And she will bear a son* (Matthew 1:21) A-51

37 x 33 = 111 x 11 = 1,221 = Lord Jesus**[3] (Revelation 22:20)

37 x 36 = 111 x 12 = 1,332 = The child Jesus* (Luke 2:27) A-53

37 x 37 = 1,369 = Image of God (2 Corinthians 4:4)

37 x 40 = 1,480 = Christ (NT)

37 x 42 = 111 x 14 = 1,554 = My beloved Son* (Luke 20:13)

37 x 43 = 1,591 = I am the good shepherd* (John 10:11)

37 x 48 = 111 x 16 = 888 x 2 = 1,776 = The lamb in the midst of the throne* (Revelation 7:17)

37 x 54 = 111 x 18 = 1,998 = Name of Jesus* (Acts 5:40)

37 x 57 = 111 x 19 = 2,109 = Worthy is the lamb Who was slain** (Revelation 5:12)

37 x 60 = 111 x 20 = 2,220 = Unto you that fear My name, there shall arise a son of righteousness, with healing in His wings (Malachi 4:2)

37 x 60 = 111 x 20 = 2,220 = Name of Christ* (1 Peter 4:14)

37 x 63 = 111 x 21 = 2,331 = Christ the Lord* (Luke 2:26)

37 x 64 = 2,368 = Jesus Christ

37 x 66 = 111 x 22 = 2,442 = Jesus, the name given by the angel (Luke 2:21) A-52

37 x 66 = 111 x 22 = 2,442 = Morning star** (2 Peter 1:19)

37 x 66 = 111 x 22 = 2,442 = Bright morning star** (Revelation 22:16)

37 x 69 = 111 x 23 = 2,553 = The marriage supper of the lamb* (Revelation 19:9)

37 x 72 = 111 x 24 = 888 x 3 = 2,664 = The Lord God is one (Matthew 12:29)

37 x 75 = 111 x 25 = 2,775 = The word became flesh and dwelt among us* (John 1:14)

37 x 78 = 111 x 26 = 2,886 = This child* (Luke 2:17) A-53

37 x 80 = 2,960 = Son of man (Matthew 13:37) A-47

37 x 81 = 111 x 27 = 2,997 = Behold, a virgin shall conceive and bear a son* (Matthew 1:23) A-51

37 x 84 = 111 x 28 = 3,108 = Her begotten of the spirit is holy (Matthew 1:20) A-51

37 x 84 = 111 x 28 = 3,108 = Name of the holy child Jesus (Actts 4:30) A-53

37 x 84 = 111 x 28 = 3,108 = His eternal power and godhead (Romans 1:20)

37 x 84 = 111 x 28 = 3,108 = The lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world* (John 1:29)

37 x 87 = 111 x 29 = 3,219 = The Lord God almighty* (Revelation 21:22)

37 x 90 = 111 x 30 = 3,330 = Name of the Lord Jesus* (1 Corinthians 5:4)

37 x 90 = 111 x 30 = 3,330 = The great shepherd of the sheep** (Hebrews 13:20)

37 x 93 = 111 x 31 = 3,441 = The one Who created the heavens and the earth* (Revelation 14:7)

37 x 93 = 111 x 31 = 3,441 = The light of the world* (John 8:12)

37 x 96 = 111 x 32 = 888 x 4 = 3,552 = His name was called Jesus, the name given by the angel** (Luke 2:21) A-52

37 x 102 = 111 x 34 = 3,774 = She bore a son and called the name of Him Jesus** (Matthew 1:25) A-52

37 x 102 = 111 x 34 = 3,774 = My beloved Son in Whom I am well pleased (2 Peter 1:17)

37 x 102 = 111 x 34 = 3,774 = The God of heaven (Revelation 11:13)

37 x 111 = 111 x 37 = 4,107 = This is my beloved Son* (2 Peter 1:17)

37 x 111 = 111 x 37 = 4,107 = Only begotten Son, Who is in the bosom of the Father (John 1:18)

37 x 120 = 111 x 40 = 888 x 5 = 4,440 = The Lord Christ (Colossians 3:24)

37 x 120 = 111 x 40 = 888 x 5 = 4,440 = The mediator, a man Christ Jesus* (1 Timothy 2:5)

37 x 120 = 111 x 40 = 888 x 5 = 4,440 = God sent his only begotten Son into the world (1 John 4:9)

37 x 135 = 111 x 45 = 4,995 = Jesus, the name given by the angel before He was conceived in the womb (Luke 2:21) A-53

37 x 144 = 111 x 48 = 888 x 6 = 5,328 = Melchizedek, king of Salem, priest of the most high God** (Hebrews 10:21)

37 x 146 = 2 x 37 x 73 = 5,402 = For in Him dwells all the fullness of the godhead (Colossians 2:9)

37 x 153 = 111 x 51 = 5,661 = You will conceive in your womb, and bear a son, and you shall call the name of Him Jesus (Luke 1:31) A-52

37 x 159 = 111 x 53 = 5,883 = And they will call His name Emmanuel, which is being  interpreted – with us God** (Matthew 1:23) A-51

37 x 168 = 111 x 56 = 888 x 7 = 6,216 = Yes Lord, I believe that Thou art the Christ, the Son of God* (John 11:27)

37 x 168 = 111 x 56 = 888 x 7 = 6,216 = Entered Jesus, the one having become a high priest forever after the order of Melchisedek (Hebrews 6:20)

37 x 168 = 111 x 56 = 888 x 7 = 6,216 = Holy, Holy, Holy, is the Lord God almighty, Who was and is and is to come** (Revelation 4:8)

37 x 192 = 111 x 64 = 888 x 8 = 7,104 = The power of the most high will overshadow you, and for that reason the holy offspring will be called thew Son of God* (Luke 1:35) A-52

37 x 201 = 111 x 67 = 7,437 = But in these last days, he spoke to us through a Son (Hebrews 1:2)

37 x 213 = 111 x 71 = 7,881 = In Him was life, and the life was the light of men (John 1:4)

37 x 219 = 111 x 73 = 3 x 37 x 73 = 8,103 = King of kings, and Lord of lords (1 Timothy 6:15)

37 x 225 = 111 x 75 = 8,325 = His name was called Jesus, the name given by the angel before He was conceived in the womb (Luke 2:21) A-52

37 x 240 = 111 x 80 = 888 x 10 = 8,880 = Behold, a virgin will conceive and bear a son, and they will call the name of Him Emmanuel, which is being interpreted – with us God* (Matthew 1:23) A-51

37 x 288 = 111 x 96 = 888 x 12 = 10,656 = The water which I shall give him shall become in him a fountain of water springing up to life eternal (John 4:14)

153 appear to be the base number on which references to “the redeemed” are structured

153 x 8 = 1,224 = Fishes (Luke 9:13)

153 x 8 = 1,224 = The net (John 21:11)

153 x 20 = 3,060 = Casting a net into the sea (Matthew 4:18)

153 x 37 = 5,661 = I say to you I am the door of the sheep* (John 10:7)

153 x 39 = 5967 = If anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in** (Revelation 3:20)

153 x 54 = 8,262 = Drew the net to land full of great fishes, a hundred and fifty-three (John 21:11)

153 x 64 = 9,792 = He called them, and they immediately left the boat, and their father, and followed Him (Matthew 4:21-22)

144 appears to be the base number on which references to “the chosen” are structured

144 x 6 = 864 = Saints (Revelation 8:3)

144 x 6 = 864 = Thousands* (Revelation 14:1)

144 x 6 = 864 = Jerusalem (Revelation 3:12)

144 x 7 = 1,008 = The faith (Revelation 14:12)

144 x 7 = 1,008 = The 144 thousands* (Revelation 14:1)

144 x 8 = 1,152 = New Jerusalem* (Revelation 3:12)

144 x 8 = 1,152 = Witness (Revelation 12:11)

144 x 8 = 1,152 = Seven churches** (Revelation 1:20)

144 x 9 = 1,296 = Seven lampstands (Revelation 1:12)

144 x 9 = 1,296 = Come out, My people (Revelation 18:4)

144 x 11 = 1,584 = Priests of God (Revelation 20:6)

144 x 13 = 1,872 = The ones who are clothed in white robes** (Revelation 7:13)

144 x 17 = 2,448 = Ones dying in the Lord (Revelation 14:13)

144 x 27 = 3,888 = The holy city, New Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven (Revelation 21:2)

144 x 28 = 4,032 = The ones coming out of the great tribulation (Revelation 7:14)

144 x 29 = 4,176 = As many as would not worship the image of the beast** (Revelation 13:15)

144 x 30 = 4,320 = He that endureth to the end shall be saved* (Matthew 24:13)

144 x 31 = 4,464 = Seal the servants of our God* (Revelation 7:3)

144 x 32 = 4,608 = And no one could learn the song except the 144 thousands, the ones purchased from the earth* (Revelation 14:3)

144 x 37 = 5,328 = The one who reads and those who hear the words of the prophecy* (Revelation 1:3)

144 x 38 = 5,472 = Blessed are those servants whom the Lord shall find watching when He comes* (Luke 12:37)

144 x 39 = 5,616 = They overcame him by the blood of the lamb and the word of their testimony (Revelation 12:11)

144 x 52 = 7,488 = Here is the endurance of the saints, who keep the commandments of God and the faith in Jesus* (Revelation 14:12)

144 x 74 = 10,656 = And I will write on him the name of My God, and the name of the city of My God, the New Jerusalem (Revelation 3:12)

144 x 98 = 14,112 = These have been purchased from mankind as firstfruits to God and the lamb, and in their mouth no lie was found, for they are blameless* (Revelation 14:4-5)

144 x 116 = 16,704 = And behold, the great multitude which to number it no one was able, from every nation, from all tribes** (Revelation 7:9)

276 appears to be the base number on which references to the Satanic kingdom are structured

276 x 1 = 276 = Satan* (Matthew 16:23)

276 x 1 = 276 = In hades** (Acts 2:27)

276 x 3 = 828 = Hell* (Matthew 23:33)

276 x 3 = 828 = Demon possession* (John 10:21)

276 x 4 = 1,104 = According to the operation of Satan* (2 Thessalonians 2:9)

276 x 4 = 1,104 = Power to cast into hell* (Luke 12:5)

276 x 5 = 1,380 = Lie* (John 8:44)

276 x 6 = 1,656 = Beelzebub* (Luke 11:15)

276 x 6 = 1,656 = The dragon* (Revelation 13:4)

276 x 6 = 1,656 = How art thou fallen from heaven, oh Lucifer, son of the morning (Isaiah 14:12)

276 x 6 = 1,656 = Time elapsed from the Fall to the Flood in years

276 x 7 = 1,932 = Hell fire unquenchable** (Mark 9:43)

276 x 8 = 2,208 = The evil one (1 John 5:19)

276 x 9 = 2,484 = Follow Satan* (1 Timothy 5:15)

276 x 13 = 3,588 = The accuser of our brethren (Revelation 12:10)

276 x 14 = 3,864 = I beheld Satan fall from heaven (Luke 10:18)

276 x 15 = 4,140 = He is a liar and the father of lies* (John 8:44)

276 x 15 = 4,140 = The prince of the power of the air** (Ephesians 2:2)

276 x 15 = 4,140 = The ruler of this world is coming* (John 14:30)

276 x 16 = 4,416 = The ruler of the demons (Luke 11:15)

276 x 20 = 5,520 = And He was in the wilderness forty days be  tempted by Satan** (Mark 1:13)

276 x 30 = 8,280 = A king, the angel of the bottomless pit, whose name in Hebrew is Abaddon, and in Greek he has the name Apollyon* (Revelation 9:11)

276 also appears to be the base number on which references, not to the law itself, which is perfect[4], but to man’s attempt to keep the law are structured

276 x 2 = 552 = Stone tablets* (2 Corinthians 3:3)

276 x 2 = 552 = The law says* (1 Corinthians 14:34)

276 x 2 = 552 = Religion* (Acts 26:5)

276 x 3 = 828 = Under law** (Galatians 4:21)

276 x 3 = 828 = Name of the beast[5] (Revelation 13:17)

276 x 4 = 1,104 = Tablets of the covenant (Hebrews 9:4)

276 x 4 = 1,104 = The letter killeth** (2 Corinthians 3:6)

276 x 5 = 1,380 = The inhabited earth* (Revelation 16:14)

276 x 6 = 1,656 = The first covenant (Hebrews 9:15)

276 x 6 = 1,656 = By works of the law*** (Galatians 2:26)

276 x 7 = 1,932 = Mystery of the woman[6] (Revelation 17:7)

276 x 8 = 2,208 = The Sabbath day (Luke 13:14)

276 x 9 = 2,484 = All things written in the law** (John 10:24)

276 x 10 = 2,760 = For through the law comes a full knowledge of sin (Romans 3:20)

276 x 11 = 3,036 = The customs which Moses delivered*

276 x 13 = 3,588 = The law in commandments in ordinances (Ephesians 2:15)

276 x 17 = 4,692 = Cursed is everyone who dos not abide by all things written in the law* (Galatians 3:10)

276 x 18 = 4,968 = The righteousness of the scribes and the Pharisees** (Matthew 5:20)

666 appears to be the base number on which references to the world system (the integration of commerce and hierarchical, coercive government) are structured

666 x 1 = 111 x 6 = 666 = Adversary* (1 Peter 5:8)

666 x 1 = 111 x 6 = 666 = Wonders (2 Thessalonians 2:9)

666 x 1 = 111 x 6 = 666 = In the world* (John 1:9)

666 x 1 = 111 x 6 = 666 = Merchants of the earth (Revelation 18:3)

666 x 1 = 111 x 6 = 666 = The kingdom* (Revelation 17:17)

666 x 1 = 111 x 6 = 666 = Where the harlot sits* (Revelation 17:15)

666 x 2 = 111 x 12 = 1,332 = The kingdoms of the world (Luke 4:5)

666 x 2 = 111 x 12 = 1,332 = Kings of the inhabited earth* (Revelation 16:14)

666 x 2 = 111 x 12 = 1,332 = Merchandise* (2 Peter 2:3)

666 x 3 = 111 x 18 = 1,998 = Elements of the world** (Galatians 4:3)

666 x 3 = 111 x 18 = 1,998 = Mouth of the dragon** (Revelation 16:13)

666 x 3 = 111 x 18 = 1,998 = Blasphemy against God** (Revelation 13:6)

666 x 3 = 111 x 18 = 1,998 = Those who had received the mark of the beast* (Revelation 19:20)

666 x 5 = 111 x 30 = 3,330 = The whole world wondered after the beast[7] *** (Revelation 13:3)

666 x 5 = 111 x 30 = 3,330 = The beast which carries her [the whore of Babylon] (Revelation 17:7)

666 x 6 = 111 x 36 = 3,996 = The man of sin, the son of perdition* (2 Thessalonians)

666 x 6 = 111 x 36 = 3,996 = The great city[8] having a kingdom over the kings of the earth** (Revelation 17:18)

666 x 6 = 111 x 36 = 3,996 = Those who worship the beast and its image Revelation 14:11)

666 x 6 = 111 x 36 = 3,996 = Whoever receives the mark of its name* (Revelation 14:11)

666 x 6 = 111 x 36 = 3,996 = According to the operation of Satan with all power and sings and wonders** (2 Thessalonians 2:9)

666 x 7 = 111 x 42 = 4,662 = Ruler of this world (John 16:11) A-47

666 x 8 = 111 x 48 = 5,328 = And the woman that you saw is the great city having a kingdom over the kings of the earth (Revelation 17:18)

666 x 9 = 111 x 54 = 5,994 = The men who bore the mark** (Revelation 16:2)

666 x 12 = 111 x 72 = 7,992 = Children, it is the last hour; and just as you hear the antichrist is coming* (1 John 2:18)

666 x 12 = 111 x 72 = 7,992 = And the dragon gave to it its power and its throne and great authority** (Revelation 13:2)

666 x 13 = 111 x 78 = 8,658 = Then the lawless one will be revealed whom the Lord Jesus will slay with the breath of His mouth (2 Thessalonians 2:8)

666 x 15 = 111 x 90 = 9,990 = The one therefore having wisdom, let him calculate the number of the beast: for it is the number of man, and it is six hundred and sixty-six (Revelation 13:18)

666 x 16 = 111 x 96 =10,656 = And it provides that no one should be able to buy or sell, except the one who has the mark, or the name of the beast, or the number of its name (Revelation 13:17)

666 x 40 = 111 x 240 = 26,640 = It causes all, the small and the great, and the rich and the poor, and the free men and the slaves, to be given a mark on their right hand or forehead** (Revelation 13:16)

I believe that God inspired the authors of the Bible to write exactly what they wrote – down to every letter, word, phrase, sentence, and paragraph – that he embedded in their work numerical meanings and patterns for our instruction, and that to ignore them – or worse, to deny them – is both foolish and offensive to him.

© 2016 John Holbrook Jr.
_________________________________

[1] References are as follows: (A) Theomatics by Del Washburn, (B) Theomatics II by Del Washburn, (C) Beginnings – The Sacred Design by Bonnie Gaunt.

[2] * indicates that the numeric value of the text is one more or one less than the total to the left.

[3] ** indicates that the numeric value of the text is two more or two less than the total to the left.

[4] 700 = 7 x 100 = The law (Ephesians 2:15)

[5] The beast-out-of-the-earth symbolizes false religion.

[6] The whore of Babylon recalls Semiramus,, the stunningly beautiful prostitute who became the wife of Nimrod, the founder of Babylon. She seduces the unwary with appeals to “…all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life…” (KJV1 John 2:16).

[7] The beast-out-of-the-sea represents the world system – the integration of commerce and hierarchical, coercive government.

[8] Babylon the Great, another name for the beast-out-of-the-sea.

The Biblical Canon

by John Holbrook Jr.
A Biblical View, posted May 1, 2017

Following Ivan Panin, I consider the Biblical Canon to consists of 66 books – the 39 books of the Hebrew Masoretic text of the Tenakh or Old Testament (where Samuel, Kings, and Chronicles have each been split into Books I and II) and the 27 books of the Greek Messianic Writings or New Testament.

I – THE LAW (5 books)

01 – Genesis – It was written by Anonymous (undoubtedly Moses) who compiled the records of previous patriarchs into a single volume. I will call the original records chronicles: [1]

Chronicle 0 – The Creation Chronicle – – It starts in Genesis 1:1 and ends in Genesis 2:3 – It must have been dictated to Adam by God.

Chronicle 1 – The generations of the heavens and the earth – It starts with the toledoth in Genesis 2:4 and ends in Genesis 4:26 – It was probably written by Adam.

Chronicle 2 – The generations of Adam It starts with the toledoth in Genesis 5:1 and ends in Genesis 6:8 – It was probably written by Adam.

Chronicle 3 – The generations of Noah It starts with the toledoth in Genesis 6:9 and ends in Genesis 9:29 – It was probably written by Noah.

Chronicle 4 – The generations of the sons of Noah It starts with the toledoth in Genesis 10:1 and ends in Genesis 11:9 – It was probably written by Shem.

Chronicle 5 – The generations of Shem It starts with the toledoth in Genesis 11:10 and ends in Genesis 11:26 – It was probably written by Shem.

Chronicle 6 – The generations of Terah – It starts with the toledoth in Genesis 11:27 and ends in Genesis 25:11. It was probably written by Terah.

Chronicle 7 – The generations of Ishmael – It starts with the toledoth in Genesis 25:12 and ends in Genesis 25:18 – It was probably written by Ishmael.

Chronicle 8 – The generations of Isaac – – It starts with the toledoth in Genesis 25:19 and ends in Genesis 35:29. It was probably written by Isaac.

Chronicle 9 – The generations of Esau, who is Edom – It starts with the toledoth in Genesis 36:1 and ends in Genesis 36:8. It was probably written by Esau.

Chronicle 10 – The generations of Esau, the father of the Edomites – It starts with the toledoth in Genesis 36:9 and ends in Genesis 37:1. It was probably written by Esau.

Chronicle 11 – The generations of Jacob – It starts with the toledoth in Genesis 37:2 and ends in Genesis 50:26 – It was probably written by Jacob.

02 – Exodus – It was written by Moses.

03 – Leviticus – It was written by Moses.

04 – Numbers – It was written by Moses.

05 – Deuteronomy – It was written by Moses.

II – THE PROPHETS (21 books)

06 – Joshua – It was written by Anonymous.

07 – Judges – It was written by Anonymous.

08 – 1st Samuel – It was written by Anonymous.

09 – 2nd Samuel (E[2]) – It was written by Anonymous.

10 – 1st Kings (E) – It was written by Anonymous.

11 – 2nd Kings (E) – It was written by Anonymous.

12 – Isaiah (E) – It was written by Isaiah.

13 – Jeremiah (E) – It was written by Jeremiah.

14 – Ezekiel – It was written by Ezekiel.

15 – Hosea – It was written by Hosea.

16 – Joel – It was written by Joel.

17 – Amos – It was written by Amos.

18 – Obadiah – It was written by Obadiah.

19 – Jonah – It was written by Jonah.

20 – Micah – It was written by Micah.

21 – Nahum – It was written by Nahum.

22 – Habakkuk – It was written by Habakkuk.

23 – Zephaniah – It was written by Zephaniah.

24 – Haggai – It was written by Haggai.

25 – Zechariah – It was written by Zechariah.

26 – Malachi – It was written by Malachi.

III –  THE HAGIOGRAPHA (or WRITINGS) (13 books)

27 – Psalms – It was written by David.

28 – Proverbs – It was written by Solomon.

29 – Job – It was written by Anonymous.

30 – Song of Songs – It was written by Solomon.

31 – Ruth – It was written by Anonymous.

32 – Lamentations – It was written by Anonymous.

33 – Ecclesiastes – It was written by Son of David.

34 – Esther (E) – It was written by Anonymous.

35 – Daniel (E) – It was written by Daniel.

36 – Ezra (E) – It was written by Ezra.

37 – Nehemiah (E) – It was written by Nehemiah.

38 – 1st Chronicles – It was written by Anonymous.

39 – 2nd Chronicles (E)It was written by Anonymous.

IV – THE GOSPELS (4 books)

40 – Matthew – It was written by Anonymous.

41 – Mark – It was written by Anonymous.

42 – Luke – It was written by Anonymous.

43 – John – It was written by Anonymous.

V – THE ACTS (1 book)

44 – Acts (E) – It was written by Anonymous.

VI – THE EPISTLES (21 books)

45 – James (E) – It was written by James.

46 – 1st Peter (E) – It was written by Peter.

47 – 2nd Peter (E) – It was written by Peter.

48 – 1st John (E) – It was written by Anonymous.

49 – 2nd John (E)It was written by Anonymous.

50 – 3rd John (E) – It was written by Anonymous.

51 – Jude (E) –  It was written by Jude.

52 – Romans (E) – It was written by Paul.

53 – 1st Corinthians (E) – It was written by Paul.

54 – 2nd Corinthians (E) – It was written by Paul.

55 – Galatians (E) – It was written by Paul.

56 – Ephesians (E) – It was written by Paul.

57 – Philippians (E) – It was written by Paul.

58 – Colossians (E) – It was written by Paul.

59 – 1st Thessalonians (E) – It was written by Paul.

60 – 2nd Thessalonians (E) – It was written by Paul.

61 – Hebrews (E) – It was written by Anonymous.

62 – 1st Timothy (E) – It was written by Paul.

63 – 2nd Timothy (E) – It was written by Paul.

64 – Titus (E) – It was written by Paul.

65 – Philemon (E) – It was written by Paul.

VII – REVELATION (1 book)

66 – Revelation (E) – It was written by John.

————————————————-

Some Numeric Statistics

The number of categories of books is 7, whose factors are 1 x 7.

The number of books in Category I is 5, whose factors are 1 x 5.

The number of books in Category II is 21, whose factors are 1 x 3 x 7.

The number of books in Category III is 13, whose factors are 1 x 13.

The number of books in Category IV is 4, whose factors are 1 x 2 x 2.

The number of books in Category V is 1.

The number of books in Category VI is 21, whose factors are 1 x 3 x 7.

The number of books in Category VII is 1.

The total number of books is 66, whose factors are 1 x 2 x 3 x 11.

The number of books by known authors is 44, whose factors are 1 x 2 x 2 x 11.

The number of known authors is 25, whose factors are 1 x 5 x 5.

The numeric value of the known authors’ names is 7,931, whose factors are 1 x 7 x 11 x 103.

The number of books by unknown authors is 22, whose factors are 1 x 2 x 11.

The number of epistolary books is 33, whose factors are 1 x 3 x 11.

The Numeric Meaning of Some of the Above Numbers

1 is the number of unity, primacy, God, beginning.

2 is the number of separation, division, difference; also something versus its opposite (2 = 1 + 1).

3 is the number of divine perfection, tri-unity or Trinity, the Godhead (3 = 1 + 1 + 1).

4 is the number of creation, material completeness, mankind as creature; also God plus something outside of God (4 = 3 + 1).

5 is the number of grace, redeemed mankind; also mankind as creature plus something added from God (5 = 4 + 1).

6 is the number of fallen mankind, imperfection; also mankind as creature plus enmity against God (6 = 4 + 2); also grace plus something added by man that renders grace to no effect; also something less that spiritual perfection (6 = 7 – 1).

7 is the number of spiritual perfection, completeness, fullness, rest.

11 is the number of both (a) disorder, division, disintegration, disorganization, imperfection; also divine order plus something (11 = 10 + 1); also divine government minus something (11 = 12 – 1) and (b) judgment.

12 is the number of divine government, governmental perfection, the chosen; also the heavenly number times the earthly number (3 x 4).

13 is the number of rebellion, apostasy, defection, corruption, depravity, superstition

103 is probably the number of divine wisdom, abundance.

© 2016 John Holbrook Jr.
_________________________________

[1] For many years, I believed and taught that toledoths mark the ends of the Genesis chronicles, that they are like closing signatures. In this I was following the arguments of Henry Morris in his commentary on Genesis, The Genesis Record. I was never, however, entirely comfortable with the idea. First, in a number of cases, the so-called signature falls in the next chapter and the final signature even falls in the next book (Exodus), even though the word “generations” is not used in the latter case. Second, regarding toledoths as ending signatures results in attributing a lengthy and important passage like Genesis 11:27-25:11 to Ishmael rather than Terah, which makes little sense to me. Third, regarding the “generations of the heavens and the earth” as a signature to the Creation Chronicle makes no sense to me whatsoever. The Creation Chronicle should be signed by God. Fourth, the words “generations of” implies “children, descendants, or progeny of,” “successors to,” or “results from.” Thus, for example, “the generations of Adam” implies “what followed from Adam.”  Recently I read Jonathan D. Sarfati’s The Genesis Account. Sarfati argues that the toledoths mark the beginnings of the chronicles, not their ends. They are titles, not signatures. His arguments make sense to me. They are convincing. Moreover I am persuaded by them to give the number zero to the Creation Chronicle, because it lacks a toledoth. In its place is Genesis 1:1, which let us know that God created everything – seen and unseen.

[2] E = an epistolary book – that is, either an epistle (letter) or a book that contains an epistle – per Ivan Panin.

 

 

A lesson regarding public charity

by John Holbrook Jr.
A Biblical View, April 24, 2017, revised April 26, 2017

Preamble

During the 20th century, the idea took hold that public charity – i.e. the use of public funds for private benefit – is a legitimate function of federal, state, and municipal governments. Now in the 21st century, few people question this idea. Indeed most people regard the claim that public charity is an illegitimate function of any level of government as preposterous. Such was not always the case.

In his biography of Davy Crockett, Edward S. Ellis gives an account of a meeting between Crockett and Horatio Bunce. At the time, probably 1831, Crockett was a congressional representative from Tennessee. Seeking reelection for another term, he was traveling through his congressional district and talking to his constituents. Bunce was a simple farmer and one of those constituents. Bunce indicated that he would not be voting for Crockett in the future and explained why. During his previous term, Crockett had apparently voted in favor of the federal government providing support to a private person. Bunce predicted that, once the federal government started down the road of dispensing public charity, what had begun as a trickle would become a torrent.

Later Crockett credited Bunce’s remarks with causing him to reverse his position with respect to public charity. I will let those remarks speak for themselves and avoid further comment – except to say (a) that the US Constitution is the Law of the land, (b) that the U.S. Constitution does not give to any branch of the federal government the power to dispense public funds to private entities, (c) that the Bible admonishes us to obey the laws of duly constituted civil government, and (d) that, in view of the excerpt from the Congressional Research Service Report below regarding federal spending in 2011- six years ago; the situation is far worse today – Bunce’s prediction of the future of public charity was remarkably prescient.

Horatio Bunce’s Remarks to Davy Crockett[1]

…I know who you are; you are Colonel Crockett, I have seen you once before and voted for you the last time you were elected. I suppose you are out electioneering now, but you had better not waste your time or mine. I shall not vote for you again.

Colonel, it is hardly worthwhile to waste time or words upon it. I do not see how it can be mended, but you gave a vote last winter which shows either you have no capacity to understand the Constitution or that you are wanting in honesty and firmness to be guided by it.

In either case you are not the man to represent me. But I beg your pardon for expressing it in that way. I did not intend to avail myself of the privilege of the constituent to speak plainly to a candidate for the purpose of insulting or wounding you.

I intend by it only to say that your understanding of the Constitution is different from mine; and I will say to you what, but for my rudeness, I should not have said, that I believe you to be honest….but an understanding of the Constitution different from mine I cannot overlook, because the Constitution, to be worth having, must be held sacred, and rigidly observed in all its provisions. The man who wields power and misinterprets it is the more dangerous the more honest he is.

Though I live here in the back woods and seldom go from home, I take the papers from Washington and read very carefully all the proceedings of Congress. My papers say that last winter you voted for a bill to appropriate $20,000 to some sufferers by a fire in Georgetown.

It’s not the amount, Colonel, that I complain of; it is the principle. In the first place, the government ought to have in the treasury no more than enough for its legitimate purposes. But that has nothing to do with the question. The power of collection and disbursing money at pleasure is the most dangerous power that can be entrusted to man, particularly under our system of collecting revenue by tariff, which reaches every man in the country, no matter how poor he may be, and the poorer he is, the more he pays in proportion to his means.

What is worse, it presses upon him without his knowledge where the weight centers, for there is not a man in the United States who can ever guess how much he pays to the government. So you see that while you are contributing to relieve one, you are drawing it from thousands who are even worse off than he.

If you had the right to give him anything, the amount was simply a matter of discretion with you, and you had as much right to give $20 million as $20,000. If you have the right to give to one, you have the right to give to all; and, as the Constitution neither defines nor stipulates the amount, you are at liberty to give to any and everything which you believe, or profess to believe, is a charity, and to any amount you may think proper.

You will very easily perceive what a wide door this would open for fraud and corruption and favoritism, on the one hand, and for robbing the people on the other. No, Colonel, Congress has no right to give charity. Individual members may give as much as they please, but they have no right to touch a dollar of the public money for that purpose.

If twice as many houses had been burned in this district as in Georgetown, neither you nor any other member of Congress would have thought of appropriating a dollar for our relief. There are about 240 members of congress.

If they had shown their sympathy for the sufferers by contributing each one week’s pay, it would have made over $13,000. There are plenty of wealthy men in and around Washington who could have given $20,000 without depriving themselves of even one luxury of life. The congressmen chose to keep their own money, which, if reports be true, some of them spend not very creditable. And the people about Washington, no doubt, applauded you for relieving them from the necessity of giving by giving what was not yours to give.

The people have delegated to Congress, by the Constitution, the power to do certain things. To do these, it is authorized to collect and pay moneys, and for nothing else. Everything beyond this is usurpation, and a violation of the Constitution.

So you see, Colonel, you have violated the Constitution in what I consider a vital point. It is a precedent fraught with danger to the country, for when Congress once begins to stretch its power beyond the limits of the Constitution there is no limit to it, and no security for the people. I have no doubt that you acted honestly, but that does not make it any better, except as far as you are personally concerned, and you see that I cannot vote for you.

Excerpts from the
Congressional Research Service Report on Welfare Spending[2]

Ranking Member Sessions and the minority staff of the Senate Budget Committee requested from the nonpartisan Congressional Research Service (CRS) an overview of cumulative means-tested federal welfare spending in the United States in the most recent year for which data is available (fiscal year 2011). The results are staggering. CRS identified 83 overlapping federal welfare programs that together represented the single largest budget item in 2011—more than the nation spends on Social Security, Medicare, or national defense. The total amount spent on these 80-plus federal welfare programs amounts to roughly $1.03 trillion. Importantly, these figures solely refer to means-tested welfare benefits. They exclude entitlement programs to which people contribute (e.g., Social Security and Medicare).

A list of all 83 federal welfare programs examined by CRS follows:
o  Family Planning
o  Consolidated Health Centers
o  Transitional Cash and Medical Services for Refugees
o  State Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP)
o  Voluntary Medicare Prescription Drug Benefit—Low-Income Subsidy
o  Medicaid
o  Ryan White HIV/AIDS Program
o  Breast/Cervical Cancer Early Detection
o  Maternal and Child Health Block Grant
o  Indian Health Service
o  Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) (cash aid)
o  Supplemental Security Income
o  Additional Child Tax Credit
o  Earned Income Tax Credit (refundable component)
o  Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP)
o  School Breakfast Program (free/reduced price components)
o  National School Lunch Program (free/reduced price components)
o  Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and         Children (WIC)
o  Child and Adult Care Food Program (lower income components)
o  Summer Food Service Program
o  Commodity Supplemental Food Program
o  Nutrition Assistance for Puerto Rico
o  The Emergency Food Assistance Program (TEFAP)
o  Nutrition Program for the Elderly
o  Indian Education
o  Adult Basic Education Grants to States
o  Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant
o  Education for the Disadvantaged—Grants to Local Educational Agencies (Title   I-A)
o  Title I Migrant Education Program
o  Higher Education—Institutional Aid and Developing Institutions
o  Federal Work-Study
o  Federal TRIO Programs
o  Federal Pell Grants
o  Education for Homeless Children and Youth
o  21st Century Community Learning Centers
o  Gaining Early Awareness and Readiness for Undergraduate Programs (GEARUP)
o  Reading First and Early Reading First
o  Rural Education Achievement Program
o  Mathematics and Science Partnerships
o  Improving Teacher Quality State Grants
o  Academic Competitiveness and Smart Grant Program
o  Single-Family Rural Housing Loans
o  Rural Rental Assistance Program
o  Water and Waste Disposal for Rural Communities
o  Public Works and Economic Development
o  Supportive Housing for the Elderly
o  Supportive Housing for Persons with Disabilities
o  Section 8 Project-Based Rental Assistance
o  Community Development Block Grants
o  Homeless Assistance Grants
o  Home Investment Partnerships Program (HOME)
o  Housing Opportunities for Persons with AIDS (HOPWA)
o  Public Housing
o  Indian Housing Block Grants
o  Section 8 Housing Choice Vouchers
o  Neighborhood Stabilization Program
o Grants to States for Low-Income Housing in Lieu of Low-Income Housing         Credit Allocations
o Tax Credit Assistance Program
o  Indian Human Services
o  Older Americans Act Grants for Supportive Services and Senior Centers
o  Older Americans Act Family Caregiver Program
o  Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) (social services)
o  Child Support Enforcement
o  Community Services Block Grant
o  Child Care and Development Fund
o  Head Start HHS
o  Developmental Disabilities Support and Advocacy Grants
o  Foster Care
o  Adoption Assistance
o  Social Services Block Grant
o  Chafee Foster Care Independence Program
o  Emergency Food and Shelter Program
o  Legal Services Corporation
o  Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) (employment and training component)
o  Community Service Employment for Older Americans
o  Workforce Investment Act (WIA) Adult Activities
o  Workforce Investment Act (WIA) Youth Activities
o  Social Services and Targeted Assistance for Refugees
o  Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) (employment and training)
o  Foster Grandparents
o  Job Corps
o  Weatherization Assistance Program
o  Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP)

© 2017 John Holbrook Jr.
_________________________________

[1] From The Life of Colonel David Crockett (1884) by Edward S. Ellis. Bunce’s remarks were spoken to Crocket, then reported by Crockett to Ellis, and then reported by Ellis to his readers. Thus I doubt that we have a verbatim record here. Moreover, there are other problems with Ellis’s account. He identifies the beneficiary of Congress’s largesse as the victim of a devastating fire in Georgetown, but there are two things wrong here. House records indicate that the location of the fire was Alexandria VA and the time of the vote was 1827, prior to Crockett’s assuming his seat in the House. The victim may have been Widow Brown, the wife of a deceased general and another beneficiary of public funds, approval for which was given by both House and Senate in 1828, after Crockett took his seat in the House. Despite the errors and inconsistencies in Ellis’s account, however, Bunce’s remarks have the ring of authenticity to them and undoubtedly reflect the tenor of what he said to Crockett with some accuracy.

[2] https://www.budget.senate.gov/imo/media/doc/CRS%20Report%20-%20Welfare%20Spending%20The%20Largest%20Item%20In%20The%20Federal%20Budget.pdf

 

The future of the United States

by John Holbrook Jr.
A Biblical View, April 17, 2017

Regarding the future of the United States, it is hard to avoid being pessimistic. I see many trends that presage the USA’s doom. Here are four, of which the last is by far the most important: (a) the replacement of production with plunder as the primary path to getting rich, (b) the replacement of a constitutional republic with a pure democracy as the polity of the nation, (c) the replacement of the wealth-producing private-sector with the wealth-consuming, public-sector as the primary employer in the land, and (d) the replacement of Christianity with Secular Humanism as the primary religion of the country and its citizenry, particularly the elite on the Atlantic and Pacific coasts.

 A – From Production to Plunder

In the USA’s early years, America’s businessmen focused on producing things: (a) buildings, (b) farms that grew food and raised livestock, (c) infrastructure which facilitated communications, the distribution of electric power and water, and travel, (d) manufacturing plants which generated a seemingly endless flow of clothing, equipment, furnishings, furniture, tools, etc. Wealth was a by-product of these enterprises, not their primary objective. In recent years, however, businessmen have increasingly focused on making money.

Before tracing this trajectory, however, I need to point out the role of sin in what has happened. Two of the Seven Deadly Sins are involved: greed and envy.

1 – GREED. It is the desire for “more.” Most men want “more” (for all men are sinners and greedy to some extent), but some men devote their lives to obtaining “more” – more things than they can use, more money than they need, more money than they can spend, sometimes more money than they can give away if they become so inclined.[1] In 1906, Vilfredo Pareto observed that 80% of Italy’s wealth was owned by 20% of its population. He then carried out a survey of other countries and discovered the same distribution. All societies seem to be divided into two groups: the wealthy minority which owns 80% of the society’s wealth, and the poor majority which owns 20% of the society’s wealth. As I look at the wealthy minority, I see two distinct groups of people within it: the producers who create wealth and the manipulators who shift much of that wealth into their own hands.

a – THE PRODUCERS. Wealth is the result of production. Someone or some group must conceive of a new product, develop its design, raise the capital necessary to pay for its production, create the organization, facilities, and machinery necessary to implement its production, and then market and sell it. Much of the resulting wealth ends up in the hands of the original producers. Producers are happy to receive a lot of money for their ideas and efforts, but they are not primarily driven by the desire for more money. Instead, they envision the product and its benefits and are primarily driven to see their vision for them fulfilled. They want to produce the product and therefore they do not think of – let alone undertake – squeezing every last dollar out of their enterprise.

b – THE MANIPULATORS. There is another group of people, however, who are skilled, not at producing, but at making money off the producers. I call them the manipulators. They “financialize” assets. For example: they buy a strong, healthy company which has a good income and little debt; next they (a) reduce the quality of its products and the size of its staff to minimize expenses and (b) raise its products’ prices to increase income; then they (a) increase the company’s debt to the maximum that its income will allow and (b) distribute the resulting cash to themselves; and finally they sell the company – either in its entirety or in pieces, depending upon which alternative will produce the greater funds. What they leave behind is a weak company with little capital and much debt that is vulnerable to any downturn in sales, which is almost inevitable once its customers discover that the quality of its products has decreased. Many such companies go out of business, thereby resulting in the loss of their new owners’ equity, the bankers’ loans, the employees’ jobs, and the community’s tax revenues. The manipulators are essentially parasites that suck the life blood out of their hosts (the producers), and they are driven by greed.

2 – ENVY. Jealousy is the emotion that says, “I want what you have.” Envy is the emotion that says, “I want what you have, but I know I will never have it. So I want government to make sure that you can’t have it either.” As the wealth of the manipulators soars and the disparity between the wealthy minority and the poor majority in a society grows ever and ever larger, jealousy and envy flourish. In the wealthy minority, the multimillionaires are jealous of the billionaires, but strive to join them in the financial stratosphere if they can. In the poor majority, where the unemployed who don’t want or can’t find jobs and the employed who are struggling to keep their jobs and their homes envy the rich and famous, because they have no hope of ever emulating their conspicuous lifestyles – excepting, of course, through winning the lotto.[2]

B – From a constitutional republic to a pure democracy

 The founders of the USA detested pure democracy (i.e. the political system based on the simple equation: one man, one vote). They noted that every democracy in the past had succumbed to the same defect. Not long after a pure democracy’s is established, the majority realized that it can seize the wealth of the minority by voting into office men who will cater to the demands of the majority in order to attain and maintain power and prestige. Thus the founders expended considerable effort in crafting a constitutional republic that would create obstacles for any single group or branch of government to achieve ascendancy over the rest.

The USA is rapidly replacing this constitutional republic with a pure democracy. Ignoring the US Constitution, the Supreme Court has been changing the manner in which senators and representatives are voted into office. Next they will address the manner in which presidents are elected, probably doing away with the electoral college and thereby disenfranchising the majority of the states.

This transition from republicanism to democracy has had a wholly predictable effect on the handling of wealth. As the majority sees the wealth of the minority getting greater and greater, they vote ever more politicians into office who will increase taxes on the wealthy (producers and manipulators alike) and increase welfare benefits for the majority. To attract votes from even some in the wealthy minority, these politicians will also increase subsidies for quasi-public entities like the Public Broadcasting System (PBS) and the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) that provide access to news and support for the arts. Of course journalists and artists approve of these subsidies, as do culture-consumers in the country’s major metropolitan areas, many of whom are unwilling to pay the full cost of informing and entertaining themselves out of their own pockets.

Not surprisingly, as the property of the producers is appropriated by various levels of government to pay salaries to their employees, benefits to welfare recipients, and subsidies to news and culture outlets, the producers cease producing,[3] the prosperity of the nation declines, and there is less property for all levels of government to seize. Meanwhile the percentage of wealth being consumed by all levels of government increases inexorably. With so much blood being sucked out of the host by parasites, the survival of the host becomes problematical.

 C – From private sector to public sector employment

Following the one-two punches of the New Deal in the 1930s and World War II in the 1940s, both of which caused the proliferation of government agencies in Washington, the US Government now controls almost every aspect of American life.  Meanwhile, as the nation’s prosperity has declined, the majority has perceived that, at least in the short term, there is more job security in government, which can seize wealth, than in private enterprise, which must create wealth in an increasingly hostile environment of government taxation and regulation. Thus more and more people have sought work in government rather than in business. (I read somewhere that, by the end of 2008, 42% of working Americans were employed by federal, state, county, and municipal governments, and that the percentage is rising steadily.)

As the number of government workers has increased, their political power has grown, and they have been able to insist on ever-increasing salaries and benefits. (For some time now government salaries and benefits in the USA have been rising while business salaries and benefits of all but the managerial elite have been falling.) Thus the country’s ability to increase wealth has fallen, particularly since the wholesale export of jobs to the Far East. Significant portions of former industrial cities like Bethlehem PA, Detroit MI, Pittsburg PA, and San Diego CA have lost their private-sector employers, leaving the residents who remain to compete for coveted public-sector jobs or low-paying, service-sector jobs.

D – From Christianity to Humanism

As I noted above, the fall of faith in the Lord Jesus Christ (Christianity) and the rise of faith in man himself (Secular Humanism) is by far the most important trend of the four. For some time now, the USA in general and its citizens in particular have been turning away from the God of our country’s youth and engaging in all kinds of behavior which God has identified as abominations. They have either forgotten or choose to ignore the biblical warnings regarding the consequences of doing so.

In my blog of August 15, 2016, entitled “What issue is missing from the 2016 election debates?,” I pointed out that God’s only criterion for blessing or cursing a nation is whether or not it honors him and obeys his commandments. I cited two passages from Deuteronomy:

“And it shall come to pass, if thou shalt hearken diligently unto the voice of the LORD thy God, to observe and to do all his commandments which I command thee this day, that the LORD thy God will set thee on high above all nations of the earth: And all these blessings shall come on thee, and overtake thee, if thou shalt hearken unto the voice of the LORD thy God” (verses 1-2).

“But it shall come to pass, if thou wilt not hearken unto the voice of the LORD thy God, to observe to do all his commandments and his statutes which I command thee this day; that all these curses shall come upon thee, and overtake thee” (verse 15)

 Accompanying these verse were others that explain how God will bless or curse a nation. I regard the following as the most poignant:

Addressing a faithful nation, God said, “Blessed shalt thou be when thou comest in, and blessed shalt thou be when thou goest out” (verse 6).

Addressing a faithless nation, God said, “Cursed shalt thou be when thou comest in, and cursed shalt thou be when thou goest out” (verse 19).

These verses indicate that God will bless or curse a nation’s actions regardless of how well or badly it performs any of them – from dealing with other nations to waging war to educating its children to managing health care, to constructing infrastructure. For example, consider the last, constructing the bridges, dams, electric power lines, railways, tunnels, water conduits, etc. on which a developed nation depends. Those of a faithful nation will endure for generations; those of a faithless nation will soon fall apart. Ours are crumbling.

Given our apostasy, it is a wonder – or rather a testimony to God’s long-suffering and merciful nature – that the USA is still standing. As you consider the first three trends above, keep in mind the questions: Might they be the consequences of the last trend? Do they represent curses that God is meting out to the country? Might God be lifting his hand of protection and his horn of plenty?

Did I hear a reader say, “Pshaw! God doesn’t control events?” If I did, I would remind the reader of the biblical injunctions: “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom” (Psalm 111:10, Proverbs 9:10) and “Be thou in the fear of the Lord all the day long” (Proverbs 23:17). As the author of Hebrews wrote, “It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God” (Hebrews 10:31).

 E – My hope and prayer

 The above trends cannot be sustained. The first three trends will run their courses. Production will collapse under the loads imposed upon it by the parasites – i.e. the nation’s non-producers like the financial manipulators and government employees. The producers will stop producing. The financial manipulators will run out of enterprises to plunder. The government will run out of wealthy people to loot. Then it will seize all wealth in the country (bank accounts, pensions, real estate, etc.) to sustain its juggernaut. At that point, everyone will be working for a federal, state, county, or municipal government. The economy will collapse and the entire system will implode. Do you think that I exaggerate? Recall what happened in the Soviet Union, which Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn blamed primarily on its people having turned away from and forgotten God.

One might argue that these trends can be reversed if enough citizens become aware of the danger. Unfortunately, an academic, business, and governmental elite has been working hard since the early 20th century to dumb-down public schools so that the majority of their graduates can barely read, write, and compute – let alone understand the principles of business enterprise, constitutional polity, or macro-economics, – and will be satisfied with jobs in the system that do not challenge them. They have been socialized, not educated. Meanwhile the private schools and universities are training malleable, middle-level apparatchiks for the bureaucracies of the New World Order. Even the country’s churches are contributing to the problem by ignoring the biblical Gospel of Christ, turning worship into entertainment, and tolerating – some even approving – a “politically correct” lifestyle. The result: an increasing percentage of the population is content to live godless lives, cede control over their lives to the government, and settle for limited financial security and the anodynes of TV programs, sporting events, and other mass diversions.[4] Alas, the fervent love of liberty that engendered the American Revolution has been almost extinguished.

The country’s only hope lies in a return to the God of our youth. Consider what President Abraham Lincoln had to say in 1863:

…whereas, it is the duty of nations, as well as of men, to owe their dependence upon the overruling power of God; to confess their sins and transgressions in humble sorrow, yet with assured hope that genuine repentance will lead to mercy and pardon; and to recognize the sublime truth, announced in the Holy Scriptures and proven by all history, that those nations only are blessed whose God is the Lord:

 And insomuch as we know that by his divine law nations, like individuals, are subjected to punishments and chastisements in this world, may we not justly fear that the awful calamity of civil war which now desolates the land may be but a punishment inflicted upon us for our presumptuous sins, to the needful end of our national reformation as a whole people? We have been the recipients of the choicest blessings of heaven. We have been preserved, these many years, in peace and prosperity. We have grown in numbers, wealth and power as no other nation has ever grown; but we have forgotten God. We have forgotten the gracious hand which preserved us in peace, and multiplied and enriched and strengthened us; and we have vainly imagined, in the deceitfulness of our hearts, that all these blessings were produced by some superior wisdom and virtue of our own. Intoxicated with unbroken success, we have become too self-sufficient to feel the necessity of redeeming and preserving grace, too proud to pray to the God that made us:

 It behooves us, then, to humble ourselves before the offended Power, to confess our national sins, and to pray for clemency and forgiveness:….[5]

I say “Amen!” to that. Our country’s only hope lies in the greatness, goodness, glory, and mercy of our Creator. Pray to him for clemency. Pray to him for genuine, spiritual revival in our land. He will not turn a deaf ear to such prayers.

© 2017 John Holbrook Jr.
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[1] This observation may seem untrue, but very wealthy philanthropists quickly discover that they can destroy needy people and needy organizations by giving them too much money, more money than they can handle without undergoing a significant change of character.

[2] I see the lotto as fueling envy. It is promoted on the basis that winning a $100 million will catapult one into the elite and thereby solve all life’s problems. Millions of people buy lotto tickets, but only a handful of them win the prizes. Moreover the lives of many winners are destroyed by their sudden wealth. They find themselves ill-equipped to deal with such riches, dissatisfied with endless leisure and the acquisition of expensive possessions (a larger house, a larger boat, a better motorcycle, etc.), bored by pleasure cruises and sight-seeing trips, and beleaguered by family and friends who want some of their money.

[3] Although I disagree with Ayn Rand’s theology and excoriation of selflessness, I acknowledge the correctness of her analysis of the producers’ response to the socialists’ appropriations of the fruits of their productivity. They will ultimately go on strike! See Atlas Shrugged.

[4] In the late 18th century, average American men would gather in pubs to sip a pint of beer and discuss last Sundays’ sermons or the most recent issue of the Federalist Papers (eighty-five essays written in 1787-1788 by Alexander Hamilton, James Madison, and John Jay under the pen name Publius) in their local newspaper. Today, they gather in bars to guzzle beer and watch a baseball, basketball, football, hockey, or soccer game, each rooting for his favorite team. Moreover, when the game is over, the conversation turns to rehashing what they have just seen. Generally ignored are the critical issues of life and of the day.

[5] President Abraham Lincoln’s “Proclamation Appointing A National Fastday” (1863)