Observations on life; particularly spiritual

History and prophecy

Jesus put Nazareth on the map

Ursula Burns, CEO of Xerox 2007-2016Raised by a single mother in a New York City housing project, Ursula Burns worked hard at school. After graduating from high school, she earned a master’s degree in mechanical engineering. She worked as an intern at printing company Xerox, before being hired permanently. She rose through the ranks to become CEO in 2007-2016, earning the distinction of being the first black woman to lead a Fortune 500 company. So her background didn’t limit her career.

A change in status

Nazareth was a small farming village between the sea of Galilee and the Mediterranean Sea. In about AD 30 when Nathanael was told that Jesus was from Nazareth he asked, “Can anything good come from there” (Jn. 1:46NIV). But why did Nathanael say this? Was Nazareth insignificant, isolated, remote and outside the mainstream of Jewish life? Were most of the people poor? Or was his skepticism, scorn and derision inter-town rivalry –  Nathanael was from Cana (6km north of Nazareth)? (more…)


The benefits of Christianity

The benefits of ChristianityThe media generally presents a negative picture of Christianity. But what does history tell us?

Despite its humble origins, Christianity has made more changes on earth for good than any other movement or force in history. To get an overview of some of the positive contributions it has made through the centuries, here are a few highlights (Kennedy and Newcombe, 1994): (more…)


Biblical geology

Channelized runoff from the Flood carved canyons & valleys - e.g. Spider Rock in Canyon de Chelly, Arizona. If these valleys formed over millions of years, this spire should not be there and there would be more tallus beneath the cliff.sThis post comes from a book by Oard and Carter (2021).

Biblical geology is much more sophisticated than skeptics both inside and outside of Christianity assert. Over 60 years of research, often published in technical journals as well as popular books and magazines, have produced an impressive body of evidence. Sloppy examination of creation science, and their biases, often cause secular scientists, old-earth creationists, and theistic evolutionists to grossly misrepresent the nature of the debate and the quality of evidence supporting the historic Christian view. (more…)


The Bible is for our time, but not about our time

The Bible was written for us, but not to usThis post comes from Michael Bird, a theologian who lives in Melbourne, Australia.

The Bible is for us. It is the principal source for how to believe and behave as disciples of Jesus Christ. The Bible exists for us to have a God-centered view of creation, to understand God’s providence in history, to hear God’s promises, to know God’s words of warning and encouragement, to have the words of Jesus, to hear the apostles’ testimony about Jesus, and to look ahead to the kingdom in all its future fullness. The private and public reading of the Bible is for us in the sense that it is for our training, our edification, our transformation, and our encouragement. The Bible is for us since the Bible enables God to speak to people across the tide of history, through our manifold cultures and languages, and in a way that truly transcends human differences. Whether you are a second-century Christian in Rome, a fifth-century Arab Christian in the city of Tikrit, or a twenty-first-century believer in Zimbabwe, the Bible is God’s word for you, for them, and for us today. The Bible is for us, yesterday, today, and until the end of the age. (more…)


Tyre reminds us that God keeps His promises

Roman ruins at Tyre in LebanonTyre was an island 800m (0.5 miles) off the coast north of Israel with two harbors, which was part of Phoenicia, an ancient civilization of the eastern Mediterranean, primarily located in modern Lebanon. It was noted for its wealth, pleasant environment and security (Ezek. 27:3-25; Hos. 9:13). Tyre was wealthy because it was a great trading center (Isa. 23:8; Ezek. 27:12-14; 28:4-5). In Semitic languages, the name of the city means “rock” after the rocky formation on which the city was originally built. (more…)


John Lennox against the tide

Salmon swimming upstreamSalmon swim upstream to mate and lay their eggs in small rivers and shallow waters that protect them from predators and strong currents. In this post we look at someone swimming upstream against the tides of atheism.

This post is based on the documentary movie “Against the tide” by Pensmore Films, in which the actor Kevin Sorbo interviews Professor John Lennox to test belief in God. It looks at the existence of God in the age of science. Does the Christian faith stand up in our age of science and reason? In the movie John Lennox defends Christianity against the tide of atheism in academia. His statements are in italics. (more…)


John Lennox against the tide in history

Christianity is geared into historyThis post is based on the documentary movie “Against the tide” by Pensmore Films, in which the actor Kevin Sorbo interviews Professor John Lennox to test belief in God. In the previous posts we looked at God and the cosmos, and God and biology, and God and consciousness and suffering. Now we look at God and history. In this post the tide of atheism in academia is represented by statements by Peter Atkins, Richard Dawkins, Sam Harris, Christopher Hitchens, Michael Shermer and Peter Singer. (more…)


Extrabiblical evidence of 83 people in the Bible

Sennacherib - King of Assyria - 2 Kings 18:13Did you know that ancient history and archaeology have confirmed the existence of 83 people mentioned in the Bible? In articles in the Biblical Archaeology Review, Purdue University scholar Lawrence Mykytiuk presented documentary evidence of this (see References).

PEOPLE IN THE OLD TESTAMENT

These include Israelite kings and Mesopotamian monarchs as well as lesser-known figures. Their names appear in inscriptions written during the period described by the Bible and in most instances during or quite close to the lifetime of the person identified. (more…)


Extrabiblical evidence of six Jews in the New Testament

Did you know that ancient history and archaeology has confirmed the existence of many people mentioned in the Bible? In an article in the Biblical Archaeology Review, Purdue University scholar Lawrence Mykytiuk presented documentary evidence of six New Testament religious figures1.

We have already documented the extrabiblical evidence for Jesus of Nazareth. Six other religious figures were mentioned in the writings of the Jewish historian Flavius Josephus.

To make a firm identification, one must interpret ancient writings outside the Bible by other such writings, not the Bible, and then make sure that: (1) sources are genuine, not forged or unreliable; (2) the time-and-place setting of the person in the ancient writing matches the setting of the person in the Bible; and (3) marks of an individual, such as name, father’s name, title, or work location, distinguish two different people from each other and avoid the impression they are one and the same.

This post has been sourced from the Biblical Archaeology Society.

Medieval depiction of GamalielGamaliel the Elder

We’ll begin with the grandson of the great Jewish leader Hillel the Elder: Gamaliel the Elder, who makes a dramatic New Testament appearance in Acts 5:33-40. At that point in time, around 30 (or possibly 33) C.E., Jesus had already been crucified and, according to his followers, resurrected and ascended. After the Festival of Firstfruits, or Weeks (also called Pentecost), Peter had preached in Jerusalem, and large numbers of Jews had believed in Jesus. This result had aroused the opposition of priests and Sadducees, groups with whom Jesus had earlier come into conflict. They made Peter and John appear before the whole Jerusalem Sanhedrin, the full assembly of the elders of Israel. There they ordered these two not to proclaim or teach their message, but Peter and the other apostles repeatedly disobeyed the high priest’s orders. (The apostles were Jewish followers of Jesus, normally 12 in number, chosen and sent to spread his message.) Even when put in jail, the apostles escaped and resumed teaching in the Temple. (more…)


What is the meaning of the seven Jewish festivals?

Diagram of the seven Jewish festivalsThe phrase “Hindsight is 20/20” refers to the fact that it is easier to analyze and evaluate events after they have already happened, rather than beforehand or when you’re in the middle of them. Hindsight refers to looking back or reflecting on things in the past, and 20/20 refers to perfect vision. So when we look back on situations in the past, we see things clearly that were not clear to us at the time. The phrase has been applied to the COVID-19 pandemic. And it is applied to the Jewish Festivals in this post. (more…)


Outsiders became insiders at Damascus

Damascus in SyriaIn antiquity, Damascus (in Syria) was a great center for trade. The city’s location along a river at the crossroads of two major international highways (the Via Maris and the King’s Highway) ensured its prosperity and importance.

Although Damascus is close to the desert, ample supplies of water from two rivers allow the region to support vineyards and abundant crops of fruits, grains, nuts, cotton, wool, silk, and olives. The Abana River (known today as the Barada) is the primary water source for Damascus. It flows from the northwest mountains through a deep ravine into the city. The Pharpar River (now el-A waj) runs on the outskirts of Damascus, supplying the gardens and orchards. Together these rivers irrigate about 1040 square km (400 square miles) of land. (more…)


A time line for the book of Acts

The book of Acts in the Bible describes the first 30 years of the church. It’s an historical narrative that was written by Luke who was a companion of Paul (Col. 4:10-14; 2 Tim. 4:11; Phile. 24). He wrote it to educate Christians about the early church.

The main point of Acts is that God’s witnesses spread the gospel message and established churches.

A time line of major events in Acts (concentrating on Acts 1-12) is given below. And it is followed by a summary of the book (also concentrating on Acts 1-12).

Time line of the early church (more…)


Many battles at Megiddo

Arerial view of Tell MegiddoDuring the Bronze Age, Megiddo was an important Canaanite city-state and during the Iron Age, a royal city in the kingdom of Israel. The city was  located about 26 km (15 miles) east of the Mediterranean Ocean and about 40 km (25 miles) southwest of the Sea of Galilee.

The ancient city of Megiddo had a strategic location. It was at the intersection of two main roads and near a pass (Wadi Ara) through the Carmel mountain range. It was on the main route (the Via Maris) between Mesopotamia (present-day Iraq) and Egypt. (more…)


Converting ancient secular dates to biblical dates

There are two main explanations of the earth’s geological history. One (Biblical) is based on recorded history in the Bible and the other (Uniformitarian) is based on assuming that the present (processes today) is the key to the past (ancient processes) and on the hypothetical geologic time scale. The biblical explanation allows for catastrophic events (such as the flood of Noah), whereas the Uniformitarian explanation minimizes the role of catastrophic events (because it has a preference for gradual events). The biblical explanation mainly involves rapid processes over short periods of time, whereas the Uniformitarian explanation mainly involves slow processes over long periods of time. (more…)


Une nouvelle chronologie biblique

Comment lire la Bible dans l’ordre chronologique

Le gouvernement chinois a l’intention de réécrire la Bible pour «refléter les valeurs socialistes». Cette ordonnance a été proposée en novembre 2019, lors d’une réunion tenue par le Comité des affaires ethniques et religieuses du Comité national de la Conférence consultative politique du peuple chinois, qui supervise les questions ethniques et religieuses en Chine. Les nouvelles éditions de textes religieux ne doivent pas aller à l’encontre des croyances du Parti communiste. Toute partie jugée erronée ou contestée par les censeurs sera réécrite pour correspondre aux valeurs communistes. Ils affirment que cela empêchera les «pensées extrêmes» et les «idées hérétiques» d’éroder le pays. Dans cet article, nous examinons le contenu de ce livre «hérétique». (more…)


The telephone game

Did you know that researchers are more likely to believe oral stories that have been transmitted like the telephone game than written stories?More orally transmitted Aboriginal stories

A message can become unreliable if it passes through many intermediate speakers between the original speaker and the final listener. This is demonstrated in the telephone (Chinese whispers) game in which one person whispers a message to the ear of the next person through a line of people until the last player announces the message to the entire group. What usually happens is that the statement announced by the last player differs significantly from that of the first player. Obviously, if a message (or story) has been retold by many people, some of it can change if people forget parts of what they are told. (more…)


A new Bible timeline

Bible timeline - How to read the Bible in chronological order

How to read the Bible in chronological order

The Chinese government intends to rewrite the Bible to ‘reflect socialist values’. This order was proposed in November, 2019, during a meeting held by the Committee for Ethnic and Religious Affairs of the National Committee of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference, which oversees ethnic and religious matters in China. New editions of religious texts must not go against the beliefs of the Communist Party. Any parts deemed wrong or challenging by the censors will be rewritten to match communist values. They claim that this will prevent ‘extreme thoughts’ and ‘heretical ideas’ from eroding the country. In this post we look at the contents of this ‘heretical’ book.

The Bible describes events that occurred over a period of about 5,000 years. But the 66 books in the Bible are arranged according to categories like history, poetry, prophecy, gospel (good news about Jesus Christ) and letters. (more…)


Worshipping God and idols at Bethel

Good start, but bad finish

John Akhwari had a good start in the 1968 Olympic marathon race, but he also had a bad finish. He fell during the race and dislocated his knee but kept on going to finish last over one hour behind the winner. Likewise, the town of Bethel in Israel had a good start but a bad finish.

Geography

Bethel was 20 km (12 miles) north of Jerusalem; west of Ai (Gen. 12:8) and south of Shiloh (Jud. 21:19). It has been identified with modern Beitin (or Benin) or with el-Bireh. Bethel was on the ancient north-south ridge road that has been referred to as the Road of the Patriarchs. This road went through Shechem, Shiloh, Bethel, Jerusalem, Hebron and Beersheba.

Bethel was on the northern border of the land allocated to the tribe of Benjamin and Jerusalem was on the southern border. Bethel was assigned to the Benjamites, but they did not possess it, as the Ephraimites captured it from the Canaanites  (Josh. 18:21-22; Jud. 1:22-26). So Bethel was an Ephraimite town (1 Chron. 7:28). (more…)


Heads I win, tails you lose

Coin flipping is a way of choosing between two alternatives. The person who calls correctly wins. It’s often used to make decisions at the beginning of games and sports. But if someone says “heads I win, and tails you lose”, then you always lose! That’s not fair. But it’s how people often treat the Bible. They are willing to accept many ideas, as long as they aren’t based on the Bible.

For example, Australian researchers have investigated Aboriginal stories describing times when sea levels were lower than today (Reid et al, 2014). The orally-transmitted Aboriginal stories were written down after Europeans arrived in Australia in 1788. The stories describe coastal flooding which the researchers identify with the rise in sea level since the last ice age to its present level about 7,000 years ago on the geologic time scale (Appendix A). See Appendix B for the equivalent biblical dates. The team analyzed the contours of the land where the stories were told and used reconstructions of prehistoric sea levels to date the origins of each of the stories. They claim that these stories can be 10,000 years old which represents accurate oral transmission across 400 generations. Nunn and Reid (2015) expanded their analysis to 21 stories about coastal drowning that in most cases was considered likely to recall the effects of postglacial sea-level rise more than 7,000 years ago. They also noted that “no Aboriginal stories are known that talk of the sea level falling and exposing coastal lands”. (more…)


Conversation on the Bible

Here is a conversation on the Bible that is an extract from the comments after a blogpost. Check the post for the complete discussion that took place over a period of more than three months. As there were two commentators involved at the same time, the discussion with each is separated below.

Commentator 1 September

Much of the old testament is filled with violence and genocide the likes of which would keep today’s UN war crimes tribunals busy for an eternity.

How can we rely on the Christian scriptures as you have said when we have no proof only faith of their authenticity? Faith is in no way empirical evidence of the divine origin of the texts.

George’s reply 24 September

You asked, “How can we rely on the Christian scriptures as you have said when we have no proof only faith of their authenticity?” Please read my post on “Can we trust our Bibles”. It concludes that our Bibles are very close to the original because early manuscripts have been preserved, scholars have reconstructed the original text and languages have been translated accurately. Because of this and the numerous manuscripts that have been preserved, the Christian Bible is one of the most reliable ancient texts that are available today. (more…)


Life in the Ice Age

Scientists believe that the Earth goes through cycles of climatic change. Periods of lower temperatures are assumed to result in long-term periods of glaciation, which are known as an ‘Ice Age’. As the causes proposed for these Ice Ages seem to be deficient, there is reason to believe that there was only one Ice Age.

This post is based on a children’s book by Hughes and Cosner (2018).

Was there really an Ice Age?

Evolutionists say that there have been many Ice Ages throughout history (Appendix A). Actually there was only one Ice Age, and it was caused by Noah’s Flood. Though the Flood lasted only one year, its effects on the climate lasted for centuries! Hot underground water was a major source of Flood waters, so even after they retreated back into the oceans, the water stayed warm. Also, massive volcanic eruptions would have poured ash into the air, which blocked out much sunlight over the land. So the land would have been much cooler. Then some of the warm water evaporated into clouds which then dropped much snow over the cold land. Over centuries, this packed into huge ice sheets covering a third of earth’s land. We can even see the effects the snow and ice had on the earth today; the ice at the North and South Poles is left over from this (about 10% of the earth is covered in ice); the alpine glaciers; and the glacial landforms and sediments. Because these effects are seen on the current land surface, it is clear that the Ice Age occurred after the Flood. (more…)


Nineveh experienced God’s mercy and justice

The ancient city of Nineveh was located on the east bank of the Tigris River near the site of the modern city of Mosul in northern Iraq. Nineveh was an important junction for commercial routes crossing the Tigris on the great highway between the Mediterranean Sea and the Indian Ocean, thus uniting the East and the West. It received wealth from many sources, so that it became one of the greatest of all the region’s ancient cities, and the capital of the Assyrian Empire.

According to the Bible, Nineveh was established in about 2000 BC (a round number) by Nimrod, a great-grandson of Noah (Gen. 10:11). It or Assyria are mentioned in the Bible books of Psalms 83 (~980BC), Jonah (~750BC), Hosea (~720BC), 2 Kings 19 (~700BC), Isaiah (~700BC), Micah (~700BC), Zephaniah (~630BC) and Nahum (~620BC). The Assyrian kings mentioned in the Bible reigned between 745BC and 627BC. (more…)


Good times ahead

Freedom from the presence of sin

Do you look forward to good times on weekends and vacations? It’s relaxing to get away from the pressures of life. John Bunyan likened the Christian life to a journey which he called “The Pilgrim’s Progress” (Appendix A and B). The journey begins with justification (deliverance from the penalty of sin), continues with sanctification (deliverance from the power of sin) and ends with glorification (deliverance from the presence of sin). (more…)


Rebellion and deception at Samaria

trojan horse as depicted in vergilius vaticanus 400pxThe Trojan Horse is a story by Homer about the deception that the Greeks used to enter the city of Troy and win the Trojan War. After a 10-year siege, the Greeks constructed a huge wooden horse, and hid a select force of men inside. The Greeks pretended to sail away, and the Trojans pulled the horse into their city as a victory trophy. That night the Greek force crept out of the horse and opened the gates for the rest of the Greek army, which had sailed back under cover of night. The Greeks entered and destroyed the city of Troy, ending the war.

In this post we look at an older example of deception.

A promise and warning

After king Solomon had finished building the temple, God promised that if he was obedient his dynasty would always rule over Israel (1 Ki. 9:1-9; 2 Chron. 7:17-22). But if his descendants turned to follow other gods there would be disaster and they would be cut off from their land and the temple would be destroyed. (more…)