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If my people, who are called by my Name, humble themselves and pray (Part One)

The text, for those who have trouble with a rather individual cursive, reads as follows: Scandal after Scandal. No institution safe....

Sunday, 31 March 2013

The Risen Jesus; Mary can't touch Him, but Thomas can! How fair is that?

Have you ever wondered why Jesus wouldn't let Mary hold on to Him? John 20:17. Jesus tells her she cannot touch Him because He has not yet ascended. Then later that same day He is constrained by Cleopas and his friend on the Emmaus road, He shows the disciples His wounds and invites them to touch Him. Eight days later Thomas is asked to put his hand in His side. Jesus does not ascend into Heaven until ten days before Pentecost (Shavuot).

Sexist or what?

Well, it's what.The key is in understanding what Jesus is actually saying to Mary. Often when we hit a puzzle in the NT the answer is in the Tenach(OT). In this case, it is in the Torah (Pentateuch - the five Books of Moses).

One of the biggest developments in understanding the events of Christ's life and of Prophecy is the growing understanding of the Feasts of the Lord. I think it is a game-changer and there is still much to be learned. I will post more on this subject, in due course, together with links. This will be part of a medium to long-term series of posts.

As part of Pesach/Passover there are actually three specified Feasts or Divine Appointments. There are seven in total, but it is the Spring feasts that are relevant here and, in particular, the third of the four Spring Feasts.The fourth being Pentecost.

On the 14th. of Nisan will be the Passover, on the 15th. the seven-day feast of unleavened bread starts. This is a sabbath even if it is not a Saturday. On the 16th. is the first feast of First Fruits, to wit; the barley harvest. On that day, a sheaf of flour is offered as a wave offering, finely ground flour mixed with oil as a burnt-offering and a male lamb, one year old, without blemish as a burnt-offering. This barley was reaped, by the priests, from the same side of the Kidron valley as the Mount of Olives and Gethsemane. After sunset on the sabbath and during the night the flour was prepared. This flour was superfine so that the priest could put his hands into it and not a grain would adhere to his hands. This flour, mixed with oil and sprinkled with frankincense was offered to God.

Briefly, Passover is the Cross, the unleavened bread is His incorruptible Body, and the Barley Harvest is the Resurrection. Just as the type of the flour was to be presented in the Earthly Temple so the Anti-Type (Jesus) must present Himself in the Heavenly Temple, pure and on time! Until this had happened, any human being was leavened with sin. No-one could be allowed to touch Him, not just Mary. He hadn't got time to stay and chat with Mary.

Once He had presented Himself and was deemed acceptable then it was a different story.

This also answers the question I posed earlier this week, namely 'How many Ascensions were there?' We have, at least, two and both on the Feast of First Fruits. It is quite possible that there were more. The disciples had to sleep, even if the Risen Lord did not. However, these two are the prophetically significant ones.

Why the Risen Jesus has long hair! Oh yes, he does.

How can I possibly know the length of Christ's hair after the Resurrection? Because He told us so. Well, to be precise, it is a deduction from His words to the disciples at the Last Supper.

"I tell you I will not drink again of this fruit of the vine until that day when I drink it new with you in my Father’s kingdom.” Matthew 26:29. ESV.

Jesus took this vow at the end of the seder (Passover meal) when he had shared the last cup of wine and instituted what Christians know variously as : The Lord's Supper/Table, Holy Communion and Mass. Each name reflects a different theological understanding of His command.

Those who know their Old Testament/Tenach will recognise His words as a Nazirite vow. The person making the vow would abstain from all forms of the fruit of the vine, not just wine. Jesus is being quite clear in His wording. They would not cut their hair until the vow was ended and they could not be contaminated by corpses. 

Although Jesus would shortly die, His body was not thrown onto a waste heap with other corpses of condemned men but placed into an empty and unused grave (John 19:41). 
Therefore, I conclude that the Risen Jesus has long hair!

There are three other individuals who are thought to have been life-long Nazirites in the Bible. In the Tenach (OT), we find Samuel and Samson. In the Gospels, we find John the Baptist. All three shed some light on the ministry of Jesus.

Samuel was a prophet, a priest and a judge. He was also an anointer of kings. Jesus was a prophet in His earthly ministry, a priest from the Cross onwards, will return as King and Judge and who, with the Father, sends The Holy Spirit to anoint the Church.

Samson was a judge, a warrior and when seemingly helpless, destroyed the Philistines' power and thus delivered Israel. Jesus will be the Judge, He is the Victor of Sin and Death and wars against Satan and by His death he delivers all who believe.

John was a prophet preaching repentance and the Kingdom, he was a baptiser and was innocent of any crime when he was executed. Jesus preached repntance and the Kingdom, He baptised in  the Spirit and was innocent of any crime when He was executed.

Jesus is utterly commited to ensuring that His disciples will reach His Father's Kingdom. To do that He was a  prophet, He is a priest making intercession for the saints, He has overcome sin and death, He will destroy Satan, He sends the Holy Spirit and, by His death, He has saved us.

Jesus is fulfilling His Nazirite vow on our behalf.

And He has long hair!

Who Killed Jesus? Murder or Suicide?

These are not  facetious questions, even though they may look as such to most Christians. There are three possible suspects if this is a murder case. The Jews, by which the New Testament (NT) means the Jewish Authorities (just as we refer to 'the Brits' or 'the French' when we are referring to their political establishments) ; the Romans, although most ignore them and, in today's increasingly Godless West, the charge is levelled, indirectly, at God Himself! This is usually by means of portraying Sacrifice and Atonement as some sort of Divine Infanticide  and then denying that it could be so.

As far as the Jews are concerned, this charge of murder is the most serious as all Jews, in all time and space, are lumped in with the Jewish Establishment of 2000 years ago and all are found guilty.

I am going to examine the evidence as presented in the Scriptures, but I will not be confining myself to the NT. Both the Tenach (Old Testament to Christians) and the NT are collections of Jewish books. Christians believe both sets of writings to have been inspired by the Holy Spirit. If that is so, as I believe it is, then we must look to Tenach to shed light on the NT and vice versa. "The New is in the Old concealed; The Old is in the New revealed".

I hope that I might have some interested Jewish readers, but I must warn them that I am not making any concessions on what I believe. If you bear with me I hope, as they used to say, that you will learn something to your advantage and that does not mean that I expect you to convert.

Are we dealing with a charge of Murder? My first witness is God Himself (!) as recorded for us by Moses. Genesis 3:15. This is taken by Christians to be the first promise of a deliverer and it isn't going to be easy. The deliverer will be hurt in the process but Satan will be destroyed. Also the promise is given to all Mankind.

I could write a book on this without leaving the Tenach and no doubt some have. For the sake of brevity, I am going to pick some classic highlights. My next witness is Joseph. His life is a picture, but not totally, of the Messiah. Rejected by his brethren, cast into a pit and slavery, then exalted but still not recognised but eventually saving both his people and the Egyptians. Jesus, rejected by his brethren, cast into the pit of death and the Suffering Servant of all, then exalted, not yet recognised by his brethren, but ultimately He will save both Jew and Gentile. 

Just a reminder, my purpose here is not to proselytise, (but if you are convinced or decide to give the Gospel further consideration, I won't complain).  Now I will turn to King David and Psalm 22 . Jesus actually quotes the first and last lines of this from the Cross; which makes Him my next witness!

I also call Daniel, that most profound prophet of all things Messianic , which means Anointed One in English and is Christos in Greek. Finally, I will call Isaiah and, in particular, the prophecy found in Ch. 53 . It is worth reading this in conjunction with the Gospel accounts of the Crucifixion. Daniel warns that the Messiah will be cut off and Isaiah portrays the Suffering Servant. The Rabbis teach that this is Israel. The Church teaches that this is Israel Personified in its greatest and the only pure Son.

My point so far, is that the Christian understanding of these texts is that there has always been a plan that would involve the death of the Messiah. In due course, I will show how this affects our understanding of the Murder charge.

Again, for the sake of brevity, I will pick a few witnesses from the New Testament. My first witnesses are one Simeon who was righteous and devout and Anna, a prophetess of the Tribe of Asher. Notice the warning of pain and the promise of revelation to both Jew and Gentile.

Next I turn to John the Baptist and his proclamations in the wilderness. Finally, I could adduce multiple texts from Jesus Himself, but I will content myself with one namely the Transfiguration. Matthew 17:1–9, Mark 9:2-8, Luke 9:28–36 Please note the subject matter of the conversation between Jesus , Moses and Elijah.

My understanding, and the understanding of all Christians who study the scriptures carefully, is that the death of Jesus was part of a long term plan. It was not a tragic accident which had to be rescued by Divine Intervention at the Resurrection.

How does that Plan affect the charge of murder? If Jesus was to be the sacrifice, who was to be the Priest? Clearly, in Jewish terms, not just anyone could offer sacrifice and no Jewish Priest would offer a human sacrifice. That went out with Abraham, Genesis 22. Jesus Himself would be the priest as prophesied by David in Psalm 110 and as confirmed in Hebrews 6:19-20

At this point, I would refer the reader to my previous post . Here again, you will see that Jesus exercises choice.

Crucifixion normally took several days to kill a man. However, as you will see from the gospel accounts when Jesus quotes from the last line of Psalm 22, he then 'gave up the ghost/spirit.' Having accomplished His work, Jesus dies and there is certainly a sense of a deliberate release. Indeed, a study of the Greek text of Matthew and John only confirms that.

Finally, I refer to the words of Jesus in the gospel of John 10:18  on the one hand and of Peter, on the other hand, in his sermon from Acts 2: 22 - 23. Here Peter specifically charges the Jews with killing by the hands of lawless men (Romans). Jesus has said that He lays down His life, but Peter charges the Jews with murder by proxy. Peter certainly speaks of the intent, but he also includes the proxy. Peter was addressing the Jews, and Gentiles - eventually, of his day and not all Jews for all time. We cannot charge the Jew with murder unless we also include the proxy - and the Roman Empire stands for the Gentile World. It is everyone or no-one.

Peter does not mention the Romans directly, but he is a Jew living under a military dictatorship. Also, this is the start of a new work. It was not the time to pick a fight, martyrdom would come later. Furthermore, his immediate audience was Jewish. If this text is wrenched out of the overall context that I have sketched out then it will become a pretext, which sadly, is what has happened over the centuries. Nor is Peter interested in abandoning Israel. In fact, he takes some persuading to admit Gentiles to the Church (Acts 10 and Galatians 2: 11 - 12

We must remember that Pontius Pilate had washed his hands of the affair. This did not exonerate him, as he hoped. It is what the Americans call malign indifference. He is complicit in the conspiracy to kill Jesus, but so also it seems is Jesus! 

So was it murder or suicide? In so far as it is the sinfulness of every human heart that has brought us to this place, then if we remain in rebellion all that can be seen is our anger against God. In that anger we stand with Cain and are guilty of murder for our sin has placed Him there. If we repent, we discover that He gave Himself for us as a willing sacrifice. It is a suicide of a particular sort. Durkheim, the great scholar of suicide, calls it 'altruistic suicide'. It is the fireman returning to burning building, the soldier who covers a grenade with his body, the husband who gives his life for his wife, the father who plunges into a raging torrent to rescue his child - most especially this latter.

It is murder for the unrepentant sinner and the gift of sacrificial love to the believer, without any discrimination.

Two conclusions that are sometimes drawn from this scenario are utterly unconscionable.

The first is to select any group of people and accuse them alone of being Christ-killers. That this charge has been laid against the Jew is biblically illiterate and theologically ignorant. The Jew is no more or less a Christ-killer than any other person.  It is the same category of error as taking Noah's curse on Canaan, applying it all Canaan's descendants, especially Cush and then using it to justify the enslavement of Africans.

It is worth reminding ourselves that this whole thing of salvation has been delivered to the Gentiles by the Jews, even if they don't always see that, but there are plenty of Gentiles who don't always see that as well.

The second is to accuse God of  Divine Infanticide and then deny that one believes in this and with that deny the Atoning Sacrifice. What this does is to put believing Christians into the same pariah category as Jews have been put into over the centuries. Both are then accused, for different reasons, but the same motive of God-hatred, of revelling in a dead Jesus; conveniently forgetting the Resurrection.

To summarise: Who killed Jesus? Directly, the coup de grace, the killing blow, as it were, was given by Jesus Himself when he released His spirit. Indirectly, everyone, because our sins put Him there. Was it murder or suicide? Murder, because all rebels seek to destroy the image of God and even to storm Heaven and destroy God. Suicide, because God seeks to reconcile us to Himself in Christ Jesus because He loves us so much, John 3:16 and John 15: 12 - 17.

At the school I attended from eleven to eighteen, we had a school chapel. Picked out in gold lettering around the panelling in the chapel were these words;


Saturday, 30 March 2013

My next post.

My next post will be on, "Who killed Jesus? Murder or Suicide?" Trust me, this is important to both Jews and Christians.

P.S. I know someone is reading this. Comments, questions and observations will be helpful.  

I had to change the title as people keep looking for almond trailers...?

What does the goddess Ninue have to do with anything?

Ninue,  Nina, Nana, Inanna was the goddess of Nineveh. And yes, the Midlands expression, "Me Nan" usually referring to a grandmother probably has linguistic roots that go all the way back to her, just as 'her' goes back to 'Her-a' the inspiration of 'Her-oes'. She was a mother goddess and associated with a fish. It seems that were a whole stack of fish gods and goddesses back then. 

To the Israelites, the sea signified chaos and disorder. It followed that fish signified the children of chaos i.e. the nations and their assorted deities. When Jesus said that His disciples would be fishers of men, He meant that they would be rescuing men from chaos and bringing them into Divine order.

There are depictions of Nina emerging from or having a split fish tail. After this, it all gets somewhat rude and crude. 

Now we turn to Jonah and the great fish. For readers new to the scriptures, 'Whale' was a mistranslation when people thought that the whale was a great fish and not a mammal. Jonah has rebelled against God and falls prey to the powers of Chaos, being the storm at sea. He chose to be thrown overboard in order to save the ship and was swallowed by a great fish . Jonah is now beginning to behave in a Christlike way. He is also in the belly of the demonic power behind the dominant empire of his time. Nonetheless, God is still in control. Jonah repents of his own sins, is released and goes on to win the gentiles of Nineveh to repentance. His experiences must have given them great cause for thought. 

The sign of Jonah is the three days and nights in the belly of the fish. Jesus will be three days and nights in the heart of the earth. This cannot refer to the tomb as it was only a scratch on the face of the planet. In Jonah's time the fish took us to the Gentile power of Nineveh. In Jesus' time that would be Rome and the puppet regime installed in Jerusalem.

When was Jesus 'thrown overboard' and by His own choosing as Jonah was? John 13: 21 - 29 . From this point on, we start counting the days and nights.

It should be noted that Jesus repented for our sins and not His, as He was the sinless, unblemished Lamb. But, like Jonah, he was delivered from the Gentile power and went on to bring the Gentiles to repentance.

Thursday night and Friday
Friday night and Saturday
Saturday night and Sunday morning (only just).

Three days and Three nights. Notice that we count inclusively as was the practice at the time. There is a reason for the 'only just' on Sunday which I will address later.

As for Nina, she is also known as Ishtar and Astarte and we will meet her again before this week is out.

Friday, 29 March 2013

Why did Jesus celebrate Passover on the wrong day?

The nub of the problem is this: It appears that Jesus celebrated Passover with His disciples. Certainly the Synoptic (Matthew, Mark and Luke) gospels say so but John clearly states that Jesus died at the same time as the Passover Lamb. Matt. 26: 17- 19; Mk. 14:12 - 16; Lk. 22:7 - 20; John 19:31 .

The first thing we need to realise is that the Last Supper was not on a different day to the Passover. Jewish reckoning was from sunset to sunset. This is a key to a number of apparent anomalies in the accounts. It looks like a different day to us because we reckon things differently. If we look at Genesis 1:5 we can see this right at the beginning. This is a death and resurrection pattern. First you sleep, then you awaken.

The problem then becomes one of timing. Clearly Jesus couldn't do both things at once, but, as He fulfilled the Law, was this meal a Passover? The writers of the synoptics thought it was and Jesus explicitly states that it was.

In recent years, it has been realised that there was more than one version of the calendar in use at that time.  We must also remember that Jerusalem was packed with Jews from all over the Empire for the Passover feast. The different calendars would enable a practical accommodation to get the lambs slaughtered and everybody able to celebrate the feast.  

It seems that the Pharisees, the Galileans and possibly some others celebrated the Passover on the same night as Jesus did. The Sadducees (including the priests), Judeans, and again, possibly others, followed later. John records when the High Priest would sacrifice the Lamb according to the Sadducean calendar.

I think that this is the most likely solution but it is not a definitive one. Why? Because there is not yet enough material from outside the scriptures to settle the question for most scholars. Take a wander round the Internet and you will find all sorts of solutions, some reasoned and with good evidence and others bordering on the loopy.

One thing is certain. Understanding the Jewish Passover is key to understanding the Last Supper. One interesting suggestion is that it was a Passover without a lamb. I think that this would have been mentioned in the scriptures, but it recalls Isaac's question to Abraham and with it Abraham's answer, "God will provide a Lamb". And so He did.

More on Maundy Thursday.

I had hoped to publish something last night but the Internet was weird. Download speeds were all over the place. Some sites were accessible and others less so, including Blogger. I intend to do a series of posts based on this season of the Church Calendar. 

I will be looking at interesting and revealing details and puzzles in the story of Holy Week. For example:

  • Why did Jesus celebrate Passover on the wrong day? 
  • How do you get three days and three nights if Jesus was crucified on Friday?
  • What does the goddess Ninue have to with anything?
  • Why does the Risen Jesus have long hair? Oh yes, he does!
  • Why did the Risen Jesus not allow Mary to touch him but invited Thomas to put his hand in the wounds?
  • How many Ascensions into Heaven were there?
  • Why what the festival we shouldn't call Easter is not about new life.

I will also be considering some of the other Passovers that are mentioned in the Bible. They all shed light on what happened at the Cross.

Thursday, 28 March 2013

Maundy Thursday and me.

It's exactly 47 years since I was confirmed into the Church of England and 47 years less 10 days since I took my first communion at what was then my local Parish Church of St Mary's . It is a beautiful church that has been paganised, in my opinion, by the addition of a Labyrinth. It wasn't there when I was confirmed.

Since then I have always tried to observe that anniversary and have often attended memorable services as a result. Ones that stick in the memory are a service at Norwich Cathedral, many years ago and three Passover style celebrations at City Road Methodist Church Birmingham (CRMC), All Saints' West Bromwich and Holy Trinity West Bromwich . I'm still listed as a Local Preacher at the CRMC website! All Saint's is the nearest to home and Holy Trinity (HTWB) is where I regularly worship. 

The very first Communion was a Passover meal so it is always interesting to see the service set in that context and last year I researched the seder meal to produce a Passover style service for HTWB.  I intend to revise it for more general use and make it available once I have worked out the best way of doing that! It's too late for this year but will, I hope, be helpful for future use to anyone who might need it.

I'll post a bit more on this subject later.

Wednesday, 27 March 2013

"Professional" mourners in the 21st Century!

Remember all the people Jesus kept outside when he raised Jairus' daughter? (Luke 8:51ff) Most commentators tell us all about the professional mourners of the time. It still goes on. What's new is an article in the Daily Mail, which I have researched and it is accurate(!). I'm not linking. You can look this up for yourself, just Google it. 

What bothers me is what it tells us about our current approach to death. We have seen an explosion in roadside shrines, what used to be called grave goods and offerings and the like. Just opposite where I live is a cemetery. 

[We have an agreement. They stay on their side of the road and we keep an eye out for robbers and vandals. It works.  ;-) ]

It is the municipal cemetery and many recent graves now have mementoes of the deceased, and, especially in the case of children, toys and other such items. This speaks, if you will pardon the pun, of a monumental failure on the part of the Church, of Judaism and of Atheism. All these creeds are quite clear that we cannot take anything with us. (http://bible.cc/job/1-21.htm and http://bible.cc/luke/12-20.htm). Apparently, people are now behaving as if they think that something can go with the deceased. Well, stuffed toys are better than mummified retainers, I suppose.

It seems to me that the people who should be beating their breasts and wailing are our pastors, preachers and teachers, evangelists and all other ministers of the Gospel because we have failed to show our nation the true hope of life before and after physical death. (John 3:16 and 1 Thess 4:13ff )

Economics, compassion, and the need for warmth i.e. Spring!

It may seem odd to ask people to pray for Spring as it must eventually arrive. We are promised that the seasons will not fail (Genesis 8:22), despite what Climate Change/Global Warming alarmists tell us. Nevertheless, it is delayed.

Lambs are dying in the fields whilst farmers struggle to find them. Wild creation starves and dies. Creatures are hibernating when they should be up and about. The elderly, the infirm and the poor shiver and green taxes raise the price of energy to ridiculous levels. We are destroying power stations to 'save the world'.(Jesus never knew ;-) !) Meanwhile, India and China build tens of such stations to every one of ours lost.

For once compassion and economics speak with the same voice. We must be warm and where governments fail through incompetence and impotence then we must needs pray. Is it such a hard thing to ask the Church to pray? Let us confess our sins and intercede for this land. Having the righteouness of Christ, our prayers should be of great effect. James 5:16

Tuesday, 26 March 2013

The glue that holds a nation together

Recently on WorldNet Daily, an article arguing that patriotism was the glue that held a nation together was published. http://www.wnd.com/2013/03/this-is-glue-that-holds-america-together/

 It is the product of American militarism and , although not without merit or interest, is wrong in its initial assumptions. I posted a reply which was ignored. Usually, a disssenting opinion is heaped with abuse and the occasional reasoned reply - par for the course on the internet. Perhaps they couldn't think of an answer, we shall see. Here is the posting:

Rephrasing the title slightly so that I can answer it, "This is the glue that holds the UK together". I will have to say, " No, it is not". Bear with me and I think that you will agree at least to some extent. Love of country is good. We should care for those around us, but once we take America out of the equation and put in other nations we can see that the statement is dubious. We may love our country but not its regime. Some parts of the world are hard to live in let alone love. A country that is hard to live in needs a concerted effort by its citizens to make it worth living in. Love of neighbour is not the same as love of country but it can make a country worth loving. Of course, love of neighbour is powered by love of God, and not just any God. Take a look at the countries that love Allah and pity their people - and pray for them. I quote from the sermon of Justin Welby ArchBishop of Canterbury's enthronement sermon; 

"For more than a thousand years this country has to one degree or
another sought to recognise that Jesus is the Son of God; by the
ordering of its society, by its laws, by its sense of community.
Sometimes we have done better, sometimes worse. When we do better
we make space for our own courage to be liberated, for God to act
among us and for human beings to flourish. Slaves were freed,
Factory Acts passed, and the NHS and social care established
through Christ-liberated courage. The present challenges of
environment and economy, of human development and global poverty,
can only be faced with extraordinary courage."

And also:

"Today we may properly differ on the degrees of state and private
responsibility in a healthy society. But if we sever our
roots in Christ we abandon the stability which enables good
decision making. There can be no final justice, or security, or
love, or hope in our society if it is not finally based on
rootedness in Christ. Jesus calls to us over the wind and storms,
heed his words and we will have the courage to build society in

The whole sermon is worth reading here: http://www.churchtimes.co.uk/a...
The Gospel of Jesus Christ made the UK great and worth loving. The same gospel blessed the USA and other nations. THIS is the glue that holds any and all nations together. When we forget that we make idols of Crowns, Flags, Armies, people and presidents; and we forget it at our peril.

Saturday, 23 March 2013

Pray for Spring - we need it!

Can we pray for Spring to arrive and stay? The elderly and infirm, the poor, the farmer and God's wild creation are all suffering at the moment. Palm Sunday could be snowed in and do we really want Easter to be cold and wet? A small shift in temperature would bring a thaw. Sunhine and blue skies would cheer everybody up especially those suffering from SAD .


I'm still getting the hang of using Blogger so serious posting is still a little while away. The biblically literate amongst you will realise that this blog will be biblically based. Specifically, it will be Christian. I'll put more information in sidebars and whatnot when I understand this thing better. I hope that what I produce will be interesting, informative and helpful. 

Every blessing, Ian G