Friday, March 17, 2017

Reasons


Here I will list reasons why I’m glad I was raised as one of Jehovah’s Witnesses. I’m doing this because it’s vital to reflect on your background and appraise positive benefits. Jehovah’s Witnesses as a whole strive to have the best understanding of the Bible. To that end, we’ve updated our interpretations of parts of it. That means that some things I was taught from childhood have been discarded and updated to make better sense of the Bible and history. I hope this process continues. With that said, these are things I’m glad I was raised with:
  • Deep respect for the Bible, using interlinears and multiple translations
  • Clear position on the Divine Name
  • Jehovah’s Universal Sovereignty, the vindication of his sovereignty and the sanctification of his name 
  • Soteriology—Jesus is the “last Adam.” 
  • Modern-language Bible translation with Jehovah’s name 
  • Theology 
  • Christology
  • Daniel’s prophecies (our explanations are lucid and maintain the intent of the prophecies)
  • Theocratic Ministry School: everyone is trained in public speaking!
  • Jesus is the antitypical Avenger of Blood 
  • Gentile Times prophecy and God’s Kingdom
  • Emphasis on personal study and thinking

See also:

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Friday, February 03, 2017

Did Jesus ever break the Sabbath?


See the new appendix to my blog entry: A Rebuttal of Trinitarianism
http://jimspace3000.blogspot.com/2015/02/a-rebuttal-of-trinitarianism.html

This is very important. The short answer is No, only his murderous enemies thought so.

Credits:
Picture from Plucking Grain on the Sabbath
https://www.jw.org/en/publications/books/jesus/ministry-in-galilee/plucking-grain-on-sabbath/

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Friday, January 13, 2017

A Word of Advice


When talking to others about:
  • When Adam was created
  • Noah’s Flood
  • Jesus’ death
Please stress the basics, not the specifics. Specifics tend to be less secure than the basics anyway.

The basics of these are:
  • Adam was created thousands of years ago.
  • Noah’s Flood destroyed the wicked human society, and select fauna were preserved on the ark which landed on one of the Ararat mountains.
  • Jesus was nailed upright to wood and furnished the ransom sacrifice.
Stress these basics on these topics and the conversation will go way smoother, and you’ll still get your main point across.

If you stress the specifics then you may find yourself getting bogged down in the specifics, which will then be the time to abandon the specifics and return to the basics.


Thank you for listening!

(Another thing to not be that specific on is whether or not Peter was ever in Rome. Interestingly, one Watchtower left the door open on Peter ever being in Rome. It said: “Even if Peter did preach in Rome, as some secular literature from the first and second centuries implies, there is no proof that he was head of the congregation there.” (2011 8/1 p. 25 Is the Pope “Saint Peter’s Successor”?) http://wol.jw.org/en/wol/d/r1/lp-e/2011571 Thus, the only point now being contested is that he was the overseer of the Roman Christians.)


Related blog posts:

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Sunday, January 08, 2017

Who will escape?


Joel 2:31 presents “the great and fear-inspiring day of Jehovah.” Who will escape it? The following verse (Joel 2:32) answers: “And everyone who calls on the name of Jehovah will be saved; For on Mount Zion and in Jerusalem there will be those who escape, just as Jehovah has said, The survivors whom Jehovah calls.”

The Greek Septuagint (LXX) presents the last part with a different twist. It states: “Those telling good news; those evangelizing [from εὐαγγελιζόμενοι, euaggelizomenoi] whom [Jehovah] calls.”

Why this change? Why are the survivors evangelizers? For the answer we must look at the Hebrew text:

והיה כל אשר־יקרא בשם יהוה ימלט כי בהר־ציון ובירושלם תהיה פליטה כאשר אמר יהוה ובשרידים אשר יהוה קרא׃

The underlined word is ubassridim, “among the survivors or remnant (שרידים, sridim).” Now, to go from that word to euaggelizomenoi, evangelizers, can be accomplished through the following easy modification: if the initial “b” in ubassridim was taken as the initial letter of the word basar, “to preach, tell good news,” (instead of the particle “b” meaning “in” or “among”) along with confusing the similar “r” and “d” (ר and ד), then one Hebrew word was transformed into another similar Hebrew word, which was then translated into the LXX. As the late Solomon Landers[1] once said:
The similarity between “b.sr(idim)” [“among the survivors”] and “bsr(iyim)” [“evangelizers”] in an unpointed, paleo-Hebrew text—such as the LXX translators would have had—is striking.
But were the LXX translators that far off in their modification? As it harmonizes with the Great Commission that Jesus later gave in Matthew 28:19, 20 and described in Matthew 24:14, they were not off the mark. Ironically, while it was ultimately a mistranslation, it did harmonize with later divine revelation.

Thus, in closing, who will escape the Day of Jehovah? The evangelizers appointed by Jehovah.


Footnotes:
[1] Solomon Landers (1942-2013) was a very scholarly Jehovah’s Witness who also maintained an excellent collection of blogs on the Coptic translation of the scriptures.

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Sunday, December 25, 2016

The Festival of Dedication

A priest lighting the oil lamps of the Temple Menorah

At John 10:22 the Festival of Dedication is mentioned. As explained in one article,[1] this festival was held in “wintertime” and commemorated the rededication of Jehovah’s Temple in 165 B.C.E. It was held for eight days, beginning on the 25th day of the month of Chislev, close to the winter solstice. This festival is thus late and is not mentioned on the Hebrew Bible, and it is also the direct product of the Maccabean Revolt.

What sparked this insurrection? In 168 B.C.E., the Greek, Syrian Seleucid ruler Antiochus IV (Epiphanes) made an earnest effort to eradicate Jewish worship and customs, and to complete this purge, he had a pagan altar erected atop the altar in Jehovah’s Temple in Jerusalem. Upon it, he had sacrifices offered to the Greek god Zeus, including swine—animals considered unclean in Jewish worship.—Leviticus 11:7, 27.

As you can imagine, the Jewish reaction was nothing short of outrage and open revolt. Who took the lead in this uprising was Judah Maccabee, and he succeeded in recovering Jerusalem from the Seleucids, and then had the defiled altar demolished and a new one built in its place. Exactly three years after the altar had first been desecrated, Judah rededicated the cleansed Temple to Jehovah, and relit the sacred Temple Menorah lamp (which according to legend miraculously continued to burn after exhausting its oil supply). This “festival of dedication” (Hebrew, chanuk·kahʹ) has been celebrated in December by the Jews ever since. Today, the festival is known as Hanukkah.

Origin of the surname Maccabee
In the early days of the rebellion, Judah received the surname Maccabee. Several explanations have been put forward for this surname. One suggestion is that the name derives from the Aramaic maqqaba, “hammer” or “sledgehammer” in recognition of his ferocity in battle.

It is also possible that the name Maccabee is an acronym for the words found in Exodus 15:11 Mi Kamokha Ba'elim Jehovah (מכבי), “Who among the gods is like you, O Jehovah?”, his battle-cry to motivate his troops.[2]
What were the odds of success?
One scholar explains:
Realistically, the Maccabees had absolutely no chance of winning. The [Greek] Syrian army consisted of more than 40,000 men—it was another David vs. Goliath scenario—but, as in the story of David, God performed a miracle, and after a series of battles, the war was won.

When the Maccabees, miraculously, recaptured the Temple, they had to cleanse and restore it. They entered the Temple and cleared it of the idols placed there by the Syrians.[3]

Did the Maccabean Revolt enjoy divine support and intervention?
Answering this question:
There is no direct statement in the inspired Scriptures that Jehovah gave Judah victory and directed his repair of the Temple, its refurnishing, the making of utensils, and finally its rededication. Yet, for the prophecies regarding Jesus and his ministry to be fulfilled and for the Levitical sacrifices to continue until the great sacrifice of God’s Son would be accomplished, the Temple had to be standing and its services in operation at the time of the Messiah’s appearance. (Joh 2:17; Da 9:27) Jehovah had used men of foreign nations, such as Cyrus, to carry out certain purposes as regards His worship. (Isa 45:1) How much more readily might he use a man of his dedicated people, the Jews.[4]

Another source repeats:
Nevertheless, the Christian Greek Scriptures do record the fulfillment of Messianic Hebrew Scripture prophecies in the ministry of Jesus Christ. Some of these prophecies required that the Temple be in operation at the time of the Messiah’s appearance. (Daniel 9:27; Haggai 2:9; compare Psalm 69:9 with John 2:16, 17.) Thus, unless the Temple was cleansed and rededicated to Jehovah, these prophecies could not have been fulfilled. Clearly, God wanted the Temple to be rededicated. But was Judah Maccabee his chosen instrument for accomplishing this?

In the absence of an inspired record, we cannot say for certain. Of course, Jehovah had in years past used non-Jews, such as Cyrus the Persian, to carry out certain aspects of his will. (Isaiah 44:26–45:4) How much more so might God use someone from among his dedicated people, the Jews![5]

Did the Maccabean Revolt fulfill Bible prophecy?
This would be totally remarkable, and yet there are two scriptures in the 12 Prophets that seem to do so. The first is Micah 5:7-9.

These sources explain:
They would become like “dew from Jehovah,” which brings refreshment and prosperity, and they would be courageous and strong like “a lion among the beasts of a forest.” (Mic 5:7-9) This latter prophecy apparently had a fulfillment during the Maccabean period, resulting in the preservation of the Jews in their land and the preservation of the Temple, until the Messiah’s coming.[6]

A remnant from among the exiled Jews did indeed return to Judah and revive the worship of Jehovah at the rebuilt Temple in Jerusalem. In the outworking of Jehovah’s purposes, this remnant would become like “dew from Jehovah,” which brings refreshment and prosperity. They would also be courageous and strong like “a lion among the beasts of a forest.” (Micah 5:7, 8) This latter expression may have been fulfilled during the Maccabean period when the Jews under the family of the Maccabees expelled their enemies from the Promised Land and rededicated the Temple, which had been defiled. Thus the land and the Temple were preserved so that another faithful remnant would be able to welcome the Son of God when he appeared there as the Messiah.—Daniel 9:25; Luke 1:13-17, 67-79; 3:15, 21, 22.[7]

This prophecy may have had its first fulfillment during the Maccabean period when the Jews under the Maccabees expelled their enemies from Judah and rededicated the Temple. This made it possible for a remnant of the Jews to welcome the Messiah when he appeared.—Daniel 9:25; Luke 3:15-22.[8]

Second, there is Zechariah 9:13 foretelling the successful warfare of the ‘sons of Zion’ against Greece.[9] Spectacularly, this was specifically fulfilled during the successful warfare of the Maccabees.


In conclusion, we can see that the Maccabean Revolt was a sincere and devout rebellion lead by someone with great love for his God Jehovah and for pure, undefiled worship. Additionally, as it paved the way for Messianic prophecies to be fulfilled, and evidently fulfilled Bible prophecies in the process, it certainly enjoyed divine support in a mighty way, until its purpose was fulfilled.


Footnotes:
[1] Watchtower, 2011, 9/1 p. 14, seen here: http://wol.jw.org/en/wol/d/r1/lp-e/2011650#h=7

[2] Wikipedia, Judas Maccabeus https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Judas_Maccabeus

[3] Hanukkah Reflections for Christmas http://jewishstudies.eteacherbiblical.com/hanukkah-reflections-christmas/

[4] Insight on the Scriptures Vol. 1 Festival of Dedication p. 825 http://wol.jw.org/en/wol/d/r1/lp-e/1200001506#h=7

[5] Awake! 1990 12/8 p. 13 Hanukkah—Is It a “Jewish Christmas”?

[6] Insight on the Scriptures Vol. 2 Remnant p. 770

[7] Watchtower, 2001 11/1 p. 11

[8] Live with Jehovah’s Day in Mind p. 170 footnote

[9] Insight on the Scriptures Vol. 1 Javan p. 1258

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Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Russia’s Legal System is in Serious Trouble


The following 3-part report on jw.org is absolutely incredible and sobering. There appears to be a reign of terror in Russia, complete with government-sanctioned police abuse—even worse than when under the Soviet regime.

Fortunately, this situation has not gone unnoticed by objective academicians, who have unanimously decried these abuses as seen here:

Part 1:

Experts Explain: Russia Uses Anti-Extremism Law as Ploy to Criminalize Jehovah’s Witnesses
https://www.jw.org/en/news/releases/by-region/russia/anti-extremism-law/

Exclusive Interviews
https://www.jw.org/en/news/releases/by-region/russia/anti-extremism-law-interviews/

Part 2:

Experts Decry Russia’s Threat to Ban the New World Translation of the Holy Scriptures
https://www.jw.org/en/news/releases/by-region/russia/threat-to-ban-new-world-translation/

Exclusive Interviews
https://www.jw.org/en/news/releases/by-region/russia/threat-to-ban-new-world-translation-interviews/

Part 3:

International Experts Discredit Russia’s “Expert Analysis” in Identifying “Extremism”
https://www.jw.org/en/news/releases/by-region/russia/expert-analysis-identifying-extremism-discredited/

Exclusive Interviews
https://www.jw.org/en/news/releases/by-region/russia/expert-analysis-identifying-extremism-discredited-interviews/


Other resources:

Recommended reading:

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Thursday, November 24, 2016

Foreknowing the Fall?


Did God create Adam and Eve knowing that they would fail to meet his standards and behave offensively and disobediently? (Romans 5:18, 19)

Two Pauline scriptures are used to argue that God indeed did that: 2 Timothy 1:9 and Titus 1:2, for both conclude with the phrase πρὸ χρόνων αἰωνίων, which literally means "before times everlasting."[1] The NET Bible has it rendered as "before the ages began" with a footnote saying "before eternal ages." The NIV however has it translated as "before the beginning of time," and the HCSB similarly has "before time began." This makes it appear like God began the redemptive process for humanity before the creation of the physical universe, as in foreknowing that the Fall would happen even prior to physical creation.

However, this would create a theodical problem, a problem affecting God's righteousness by making him party to the disastrous consequences of our primeval parents' fall into sin and death. As the book Reasoning From the Scriptures notes:[2]
Would it be just or loving to condemn a person for doing something that you yourself planned for him to do? ... Jehovah is a God of love. (1 John 4:8) All his ways are just. (Ps. 37:28; Deut. 32:4) It was not God's will for Adam to sin; he warned Adam against it. (Gen. 2:17) ... Perfection did not rule out the exercise of free will to disobey. Adam chose to rebel against God, despite the warning that death would result.
Interestingly, the NWT does not translate either scripture as seen above, but as "before times long ago" (2 Timothy 1:9) and as "promised long ago" (Titus 1:2).[3] Thus, the redemptive process began only when it needed to, thousands of years prior with the first redemptive promise expressed in Genesis 3:15, right after the Fall occurred and not before. The BDAG lexicon concurs with this handling of the Greek text, for it says on page 33 under αἰώνιος in boldface type that it pertains "to a long period of time, long ago," and only offers "before time began" as a secondary, possible rendering in those two pastoral scriptures.

Click to enlarge.

Even if the phrase is literally "before time began," this may be taken as hyperbole.

In closing, ones who think that God created with redemption in mind fail to appreciate that this would include God in the Fall, making him a party to it. Thus, having God create knowing in advance that his crowning creation, humanity, would rebel and offend him does nothing to support theodicy. Claiming that God being omniscient means that he knew in advance that humanity would offend him is ridiculous and assumes that knowing everything means that you know what someone else will do at all times and with all choices.[4] It is an anti-theodicy and is nonsense.


Footnotes:
[1] Astronomer and creation apologist Hugh Ross argued like this in this podcast discussing his excellent new book Improbable Planet: http://www.reasons.org/audio/improbable-planet-2-3

[2] "Adam and Eve" page 29. http://wol.jw.org/en/wol/d/r1/lp-e/1101989205#h=23. See also under "Fate" page 142 http://wol.jw.org/en/wol/d/r1/lp-e/1101989229#h=29, and in Insight on the Scriptures under "Foreknowledge, Foreordination: Predestinarian view" p. 852 http://wol.jw.org/en/wol/d/r1/lp-e/1200001549#h=13

[3] It is interesting that Paul while writing under divine inspiration did not provide a chronological total here from Adam's sin to his day, not even a rough one (as in "about 4,000 years ago" per the 6,000-year interpretive paradigm), but simply left it as 'a real long time ago.'

[4] This explanation is called "Open Theism," which is defined as here at the Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy: http://www.iep.utm.edu/o-theism/.


Recommended video:
Depicting the Fall and Jesus' ransom sacrifice:
https://tv.jw.org/#en/video/VODBible/pub-jwbcov_201505_11_VIDEO

Related blog entry:
The Earth that Adam Knew?
http://jimspace3000.blogspot.com/2012/01/earth-that-adam-knew-what-did-earth.html

Additional reading:



Credits:
Opening picture from Learn From the Great Teacher chapter 8, seen here: https://www.jw.org/en/publications/books/learn-from-great-teacher-jesus/others-are-higher-than-we-are.

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Tuesday, November 15, 2016

Trinities Podcast Share


This is an excellent podcast (#51) from Dr. Dale Tuggy’s Trinities website that I feel compelled to share. It is a rejoinder to Dr. Ravi Zacharias, a former Hindu, on the Trinity, seen here:

trinities.org/blog/podcast-51-dr-ravi-zacharias-on-the-trinity

Here, Dale makes a simple response to the Trinitarian “love” argument, that is: “If God is love, then who was he loving before he created Jesus? Hmm? Checkmate! The Trinity must be true then as all three persons in the impersonal Godhead are eternal loving each other!” Later he made more sophisticated responses to this superficial reasoning in these podcasts:

Podcast 132 – 10 Apologists’ Mistakes about the Trinity – Part 2. The argument about love is addressed from ca. 3:50-9:40.
trinities.org/blog/podcast-132-10-apologists-mistakes-about-the-trinity-part-2
Podcast 157 – Listener Questions 2. The argument about love is addressed from 7:38-11:00.
trinities.org/blog/podcast-157-listener-questions-2

His response to the Trinitarian “love” argument is that God was loving himself before creation. The expected Trinitarian response to that though is the charge of narcissism.[1] However, this reaction attributes that sinful trait to God—and is thus sensational and wholly unconvincing.

What I find so special about this podcast 51 is that it covers a lot of issues that Zacharias so eloquently presented.

Footnotes:
[1] Trinitarian Kenneth Samples argued in that manner, and I have offered my cogent rejoinder to that here: Trinitarian Samples http://jimspace3000.blogspot.com/2016/04/trinitarian-samples.html.


Related Trinities Podcasts:


Related blog entries:

See also:


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Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Mormons seeing the man behind the curtain


Professor Dale Tuggy has presented a two-part podcast on Mormonism entitled "Mormons seeing the man behind the curtain," part 1 being here and part 2 being here.

After giving a fascinating review of everything Mormon, from its history to some of its most current issues, he applies the same dilemma facing Mormonism to the Evangelical Christian community.

These are very enjoyable to listen to, especially if you've ever been interested in Mormonism and its attendant issues.


Related blog entry:
See also:

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Thursday, September 15, 2016

Evolution, earlier life, and can openers


Here presented are a series of articles in succession regarding an amazing paleontological discovery in Greenland, and the ramifications for life's origins:
  1. Greenland Fossils, Earth's Oldest, Pose an Evolutionary Dilemma by David Klinghoffer
  2. Evolution Just Got Harder to Defend by Eric Metaxas
  3. Eric Metaxas on "Evolution's Can Opener" by David Klinghoffer

Related blog entry:

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