Sunday, June 29, 2014

EXODUS 20:4-5, Commentary

Exodus 20:4-5

The prohibition in Exodus 20:4-5 is not on the making of images, but on the worship of an image. The verses around it supports this understanding, they speak of giving adoration to God alone. Verse 3 speaks of having no other gods, “You shall have no other gods before me.”, while in verse 5 we read that God is a jealous God. God explains His jealousy in the worship or adoration of created beings, “you shall not bow down to them or serve them; for I the Lord your God am a jealous God”. In Exodus 32:8 we read that the calf was seen as being god and was given adoration. In Leviticus 19:14 we read that the prohibition is on the deification of an idol. Worship of an image is prohibited in Leviticus 26:1 and in Deuteronomy 5:8-9. It was more on the worship of an image that the Commandment was centered on, clearly seen in 2 Kings 17:12

The reason why the verse includes "You shall not make for yourself a graven image” is that the ancient Jews were prone to idolatry, being in a polytheistic world. They were prone to imagining the unfathomable God through things that is visible, such as animals (seen by the making of the golden calf, Ex. 32:8) and humans (Psalm 135:15-17; Deuteronomy 4:28). Since they haven't seen God, they couldn't represent the Invisible God (Deuteronomy 4:15-16). This would change as the result of the Incarnation, when we have seen God who became man for us (John 1:1, 14; Philippians 2:6-8; Colossians 1:15; Hebrews 1:3).

However, it is incorrect to read the verse by those words. Reading it as a prohibition on images is wrong, it would create a contradiction. There are various verse where God orders the making of images and accepted images as offerings (Exodus 18:25-22; Numbers 21:4-9; 1 Samuel 4:4; 6:5; 11, 17-18; 1 Kings 6:23-36, 7:27-39; 2 Chronicles 3:5, 7, 3:10-14, 3:16, 4:2-5, 13, 15, 5:7-8). If we read Exodus 20:4-5 in the context of an absolute prohibition on images, it would suggest a contradicting God. Which would be impossible, “if we are faithless, he remains faithful— for he cannot deny himself.” (2 Timothy 2:13, RSVCE).

In short, the prohibition is on the making of images for the sole purpose of making it an object of adoration. Giving it the same treatment as being a god. The prohibition is on the worship and adoration of an image, not in the making of it. 

Peter the Rock

Now I say to you that you are Peter (which means ‘rock’), and upon this rock I will build my church, and all the powers of hell will not conquer it.” 
Matthew 16:18, New Living Translation

Jesus spoke Aramaic, as we can see in the same Gospel Jesus speaking in Aramaic, ‘Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani?’ (Matthew 27:46). So Jesus must have spoken in Aramaic when he delivered the words in Matthew 16:18. The word he called Peter was “Kepha”, the Gospel of John records this (Cephas). In Aramaic the word “Kepha” means “rock”, so Christ said to Peter, “You are Kepha, and this Kepha I will build my Church”. And from a translation of Aramaic Peshitta,

who is in heaven my Father but my church I will build Keepa this and on Keepa are that you I will give to you will subdue it not of Sheol” 
Mattai 16:18, Peshitta Aramaic/English Interlinear New Testament (The Preaching of Mattai)

And from reading John 1:42, we see that it was in Aramaic, Peter’s name was a translation of the original Aramaic.

Hebrew: you Kefa and upon this kefa

Old Syriac (C): Anath-her Kipha, v’all hode kipha

JOHN 1:42

You are Simon, son of John. You will be called Cephas” (which means “Rock”).
Holman Standard Christian Bible

You are Simon, son of John: you shall be called Cephas” –that is to say, Peter (or ‘Rock’)
Weymouth New Testament 

Thou art Simon, the son of Jonas, thou shalt be called Cephas,’ (which is interpreted, A rock.)
Young’s Literal Translation

As one Protestant commented on this (John 1:42), “The stone, or rock, is a symbol of firmness and steadiness of character – a trait in Peter’s character after the ascension of Jesus that was very remarkable.” (Notes on the Bible by Albert Barnes [1834]). Peter (Cepha-Rock) was called that by Christ, taking from the original language Christ spoke. We cannot deny that Christ called Peter Cepha. Even other verses in the Bible call Peter “Cepha(1 Cor 9:5, 1:12, 3:22, 15:5; Gal 1:18, 2:9, 2:11). If Peter was not the “Rock”, why does Paul and Christ Himself call Peter “Kepha”?

Friday, June 27, 2014

Are Fiestas Biblical?

Some Activities during fiesta:
1) To make an image

And you shall make two cherubim of gold; of hammered work you shall make them at the two ends of the mercy seat. Make one cherub at one end, and the other cherub at the other end; you shall make the cherubim at the two ends of it of one piece with the mercy seat. And the cherubim shall stretch out their wings above, covering the mercy seat with their wings, and they shall face one another; the faces of the cherubim shall be toward the mercy seat. You shall put the mercy seat on top of the ark, and in the ark you shall put the Testimony that I will give you. And there I will meet with you, and I will speak with you from above the mercy seat, from between the two cherubim which are on the ark of the Testimony, about everything which I will give you in commandment to the children of Israel.
Exodus 25:18-22, New King James Version

The larger room he paneled with cypress which he overlaid with fine gold, and he carved palm trees and chainwork on it.” 
2 Chronicles 3:5, New King James Version

He also overlaid the house—the beams and doorposts, its walls and doors—with gold; and he carved cherubim on the walls.” 
2 Chronicles 3:7

In the Most Holy Place he made two cherubim, fashioned by carving, and overlaid them with gold. The wings of the cherubim were twenty cubits in overall length: one wing of the one cherub was five cubits, touching the wall of the room, and the other wing was five cubits, touching the wing of the other cherub; one wing of the other cherub was five cubits, touching the wall of the room, and the other wing also was five cubits, touching the wing of the other cherub. The wings of these cherubim spanned twenty cubits overall. They stood on their feet, and they faced inward. And he made the veil of blue, purple, crimson, and fine linen, and wove cherubim into it. 2 Chronicles 3:10-14, New King James Version

He made wreaths of chainwork, as in the inner sanctuary, and put them on top of the pillars; and he made one hundred pomegranates, and put them on the wreaths of chainwork.” 
2 Chronicles 3:16

Then he made the Sea of cast bronze, ten cubits from one brim to the other; it was completely round. Its height was five cubits, and a line of thirty cubits measured its circumference. And under it was the likeness of oxen encircling it all around, ten to a cubit, all the way around the Sea. The oxen were cast in two rows, when it was cast. It stood on twelve oxen: three looking toward the north, three looking toward the west, three looking toward the south, and three looking toward the east; the Sea was set upon them, and all their back parts pointed inward. It was a handbreadth thick; and its brim was shaped like the brim of a cup, like a lily blossom. It contained three thousand baths.” 
2 Chronicles 4:2-5

four hundred pomegranates for the two networks (two rows of pomegranates for each network, to cover the two bowl-shaped capitals that were on the pillars);” 
2 Chronicles 4:13

one Sea and twelve oxen under it;” 
2 Chronicles 4:15

Then the priests brought in the ark of the covenant of the Lord to its place, into the inner sanctuary of the temple, to the Most Holy Place, under the wings of the cherubim. For the cherubim spread their wings over the place of the ark, and the cherubim overshadowed the ark and its poles.
2 Chronicles 5:7-8

Inside the inner sanctuary he made two cherubim of olive wood, each ten cubits high. One wing of the cherub was five cubits, and the other wing of the cherub five cubits: ten cubits from the tip of one wing to the tip of the other. And the other cherub was ten cubits; both cherubim were of the same size and shape. The height of one cherub was ten cubits, and so was the other cherub. Then he set the cherubim inside the inner room; and they stretched out the wings of the cherubim so that the wing of the one touched one wall, and the wing of the other cherub touched the other wall. And their wings touched each other in the middle of the room. Also he overlaid the cherubim with gold.
Then he carved all the walls of the temple all around, both the inner and outer sanctuaries, with carved figures of cherubim, palm trees, and open flowers. And the floor of the temple he overlaid with gold, both the inner and outer sanctuaries.
For the entrance of the inner sanctuary he made doors of olive wood; the lintel and doorposts were one-fifth of the wall. The two doors were of olive wood; and he carved on them figures of cherubim, palm trees, and open flowers, and overlaid them with gold; and he spread gold on the cherubim and on the palm trees. So for the door of the sanctuary he also made doorposts of olive wood, one-fourth of the wall. And the two doors were of cypress wood; two panels comprised one folding door, and two panels comprised the other folding door. Then he carved cherubim, palm trees, and open flowers on them, and overlaid them with gold applied evenly on the carved work.
And he built the inner court with three rows of hewn stone and a row of cedar beams.” 
1 Kings 6:23-36

He also made ten carts of bronze; four cubits was the length of each cart, four cubits its width, and three cubits its height. And this was the design of the carts: They had panels, and the panels were between frames; on the panels that were between the frames were lions, oxen, and cherubim. And on the frames was a pedestal on top. Below the lions and oxen were wreaths of plaited work. Every cart had four bronze wheels and axles of bronze, and its four feet had supports. Under the laver were supports of cast bronze beside each wreath. Its opening inside the crown at the top was one cubit in diameter; and the opening was round, shaped like a pedestal, one and a half cubits in outside diameter; and also on the opening were engravings, but the panels were square, not round. Under the panels were the four wheels, and the axles of the wheels were joined to the cart. The height of a wheel was one and a half cubits. The workmanship of the wheels was like the workmanship of a chariot wheel; their axle pins, their rims, their spokes, and their hubs were all of cast bronze. And there were four supports at the four corners of each cart; its supports were part of the cart itself. On the top of the cart, at the height of half a cubit, it was perfectly round. And on the top of the cart, its flanges and its panels were of the same casting. On the plates of its flanges and on its panels he engraved cherubim, lions, and palm trees, wherever there was a clear space on each, with wreaths all around. Thus he made the ten carts. All of them were of the same mold, one measure, and one shape.
Then he made ten lavers of bronze; each laver contained forty baths, and each laver was four cubits. On each of the ten carts was a laver. And he put five carts on the right side of the house, and five on the left side of the house. He set the Sea on the right side of the house, toward the southeast.
1 Kings 7:27-39

Then they journeyed from Mount Hor by the Way of the Red Sea, to go around the land of Edom; and the soul of the people became very discouraged on the way. And the people spoke against God and against Moses: “Why have you brought us up out of Egypt to die in the wilderness? For there is no food and no water, and our soul loathes this worthless bread.” So the Lord sent fiery serpents among the people, and they bit the people; and many of the people of Israel died.
Therefore the people came to Moses, and said, “We have sinned, for we have spoken against the Lord and against you; pray to the Lord that He take away the serpents from us.” So Moses prayed for the people.
Then the Lord said to Moses, “Make a fiery serpent, and set it on a pole; and it shall be that everyone who is bitten, when he looks at it, shall live.” So Moses made a bronze serpent, and put it on a pole; and so it was, if a serpent had bitten anyone, when he looked at the bronze serpent, he lived.” 
Numbers 21:4-9

So the people sent to Shiloh, that they might bring from there the ark of the covenant of the Lord of hosts, who dwells between the cherubim. And the two sons of Eli, Hophni and Phinehas, were there with the ark of the covenant of God.” 
1 Samuel 4:4

There are images in the Bible that were not commanded by God like the images of emerods and mice made by the Philistines as peace offering to the God of Israel mentioned in 1 Samuel 6:5; 11, 17-18.

Therefore you shall make images of your tumors and images of your rats that ravage the land, and you shall give glory to the God of Israel; perhaps He will lighten His hand from you, from your gods, and from your land… And they set the ark of the Lord on the cart, and the chest with the gold rats and the images of their tumors… These are the golden tumors which the Philistines returned as a trespass offering to the Lord: one for Ashdod, one for Gaza, one for Ashkelon, one for Gath, one for Ekron; and the golden rats, according to the number of all the cities of the Philistines belonging to the five lords, both fortified cities and country villages, even as far as the large stone of Abel on which they set the ark of the Lord, which stone remains to this day in the field of Joshua of Beth Shemesh.” 
1 Samuel 6:5; 11, 17-18 


2) To carry the image in procession

And the Levites carried the ark of God with the poles on their shoulders, as Moses had commanded in accordance with the word of the LORD.” 
1 Chronicles 15:15

They moved the ark of God from Abinadab's house on a new cart, with Uzzah and Ahio guiding it.” 
1 Chronicles 13:7 

"So Joshua son of Nun called the priests and said to them, “Take up the ark of the covenant of the Lord and have seven priests carry trumpets in front of it.” And he ordered the army, “Advance! March around the city, with an armed guard going ahead of the ark of the Lord.” 
Joshua 6:6-7

"The seven priests carrying the seven trumpets went forward, marching before the ark of the Lord and blowing the trumpets. The armed men went ahead of them and the rear guard followed the ark of the Lord, while the trumpets kept sounding.
Joshua 6:13 

So Zadok and Abiathar carried the ark of God back to Jerusalem, and they remained there.” 
2 Samuel 15:29

Now the Jordan is at flood stage all during harvest. Yet as soon as the priests who carried the ark reached the Jordan and their feet touched the water's edge,” 
Joshua 3:15

And the priests came up out of the river carrying the ark of the covenant of the LORD. No sooner had they set their feet on the dry ground than the waters of the Jordan returned to their place and ran at flood stage as before.” 
Joshua 4:18

Again, David gathered together all the chosen men of Israel, thirty thousand. And David arose, and went with all the people that were with him from Baale of Judah, to bring up from thence the ark of God, whose name is called by the name of the LORD of hosts that dwelleth between the cherubims. And they set the ark of God upon a new cart, and brought it out of the house of Abinadab that was in Gibeah: and Uzzah and Ahio, the sons of Abinadab, drave the new cart. And they brought it out of the house of Abinadab which was at Gibeah, accompanying the ark of God: and Ahio went before the ark. And David and all the house of Israel played before the LORD on all manner of instruments made of fir wood, even on harps, and on psalteries, and on timbrels, and on cornets, and on cymbals. And when they came to Nachon's threshingfloor, Uzzah put forth his hand to the ark of God, and took hold of it; for the oxen shook it. And the anger of the LORD was kindled against Uzzah; and God smote him there for his error; and there he died by the ark of God. And David was displeased, because the LORD had made a breach upon Uzzah: and he called the name of the place Perezuzzah to this day. And David was afraid of the LORD that day, and said, How shall the ark of the LORD come to me? So David would not remove the ark of the LORD unto him into the city of David: but David carried it aside into the house of Obededom the Gittite. And the ark of the LORD continued in the house of Obededom the Gittite three months: and the LORD blessed Obededom, and all his household. And it was told king David, saying, The LORD hath blessed the house of Obededom, and all that pertaineth unto him, because of the ark of God. So David went and brought up the ark of God from the house of Obededom into the city of David with gladness. And it was so, that when they that bare the ark of the LORD had gone six paces, he sacrificed oxen and fatlings. And David danced before the LORD with all his might; and David was girded with a linen ephod. So David and all the house of Israel brought up the ark of the LORD with shouting, and with the sound of the trumpet. And as the ark of the LORD came into the city of David, Michal Saul's daughter looked through a window, and saw king David leaping and dancing before the LORD; and she despised him in her heart. And they brought in the ark of the LORD, and set it in his place, in the midst of the tabernacle that David had pitched for it: and David offered burnt offerings and peace offerings before the LORD. And as soon as David had made an end of offering burnt offerings and peace offerings, he blessed the people in the name of the LORD of hosts.” 
2 Samuel 6:1-18 KJV

And Joshua rose early in the morning; and they removed from Shittim, and came to Jordan, he and all the children of Israel, and lodged there before they passed over. And it came to pass after three days, that the officers went through the host; And they commanded the people, saying, When ye see the ark of the covenant of the LORD your God, and the priests the Levites bearing it, then ye shall remove from your place, and go after it.”Yet there shall be a space between you and it, about two thousand cubits by measure: come not near unto it, that ye may know the way by which ye must go: for ye have not passed this way heretofore. And Joshua said unto the people, Sanctify yourselves: for to morrow the LORD will do wonders among you. And Joshua spake unto the priests, saying, Take up the ark of the covenant, and pass over before the people. And they took up the ark of the covenant, and went before the people.
Joshua 3:1-6


3) To kneel BEFORE an image

Joshua and the elders of Israel tore their clothing in dismay, threw dust on their heads, and bowed face down to the ground before the Ark of the LORD until evening.” 
Joshua 7:6


4) To pray TO an image

343. Q. Is it allowed to pray to the crucifix or to the images and relics of the saints?
It is not allowed to pray to the crucifix or images and relics of the saints, for they have no life, nor power to help us, nor sense to hear us.” 

187. Do we pray to relics or images?
We do not pray to relies or images, for they can neither see, nor hear, nor help us. 
A Catechism of Christian Doctrine (“Penny Catechism”), The First Commandment, For England and Wales

5) To light candles

with the flowers and the lamps and the wick-trimmers of gold, of purest gold;” 
2 Chronicles 4:21

"From the throne came flashes of lightning, rumblings and peals of thunder. In front of the throne, seven lamps were blazing. These are the seven spirits of God.
Revelation 4:5, New International Version

"Thou shalt make also a candlestick of beaten work of the finest gold, the shaft thereof, and the branches, the cups, and the bowls, and the lilies going forth from it.” 
Exodus 25:31

In the Tent of Meeting, outside the curtain that is in front of the Testimony, Aaron and his sons are to keep the lamps burning before the LORD from evening till morning. This is to be a lasting ordinance among the Israelites for the generations to come.” 
Exodus 27:21

Outside the curtain of the Testimony in the Tent of Meeting, Aaron is to tend the lamps before the LORD from evening till morning, continually. This is to be a lasting ordinance for the generations to come.” 
Leviticus 24:3

And he said to me: What seest thou? And I said: I have looked, and behold a candlestick all of gold, and its lamp upon the top of it: and the seven lights thereof upon it: and seven funnels for the lights that were upon the top thereof.” 
Zechariah 4:2


6) Dancing and music BEFORE an image

And when the ark of the covenant of the Lord was come to the city of David, Michol the daughter of Saul looking out at a window, saw king David dancing and playing, and she despised him in her heart.” 
1 Chronicles 15:29

As the ark of the LORD was entering the City of David, Michal daughter of Saul watched from a window. And when she saw King David leaping and dancing before the LORD, she despised him in her heart.” 
2 Samuel 6:16

So all Israel brought up the ark of the covenant of the LORD with shouts, with the sounding of rams' horns and trumpets, and of cymbals, and the playing of lyres and harps.” 
1 Chronicles 15:28

They moved the ark of God from Abinadab's house on a new cart, with Uzzah and Ahio guiding it. David and all the Israelites were celebrating with all their might before God, with songs and with harps, lyres, tambourines, cymbals and trumpets.” 
1 Chronicles 13:7-8

David told the leaders of the Levites to appoint their fellow Levites as musicians to make a joyful sound with musical instruments: lyres, harps and cymbals.
So the Levites appointed Heman son of Joel; from his relatives, Asaph son of Berekiah; and from their relatives the Merarites, Ethan son of Kushaiah; and with them their relatives next in rank: Zechariah, Jaaziel, Shemiramoth, Jehiel, Unni, Eliab, Benaiah, Maaseiah, Mattithiah, Eliphelehu, Mikneiah, Obed-Edom and Jeiel, the gatekeepers.
The musicians Heman, Asaph and Ethan were to sound the bronze cymbals; Zechariah, Jaaziel, Shemiramoth, Jehiel, Unni, Eliab, Maaseiah and Benaiah were to play the lyres according to alamoth, and Mattithiah, Eliphelehu, Mikneiah, Obed-Edom, Jeiel and Azaziah were to play the harps, directing according to sheminith. Kenaniah the head Levite was in charge of the singing; that was his responsibility because he was skillful at it.
Berekiah and Elkanah were to be doorkeepers for the ark. Shebaniah, Joshaphat, Nethanel, Amasai, Zechariah, Benaiah and Eliezer the priests were to blow trumpets before the ark of God. Obed-Edom and Jehiah were also to be doorkeepers for the ark.
So David and the elders of Israel and the commanders of units of a thousand went to bring up the ark of the covenant of the Lord from the house of Obed-Edom, with rejoicing. Because God had helped the Levites who were carrying the ark of the covenant of the Lord, seven bulls and seven rams were sacrificed. Now David was clothed in a robe of fine linen, as were all the Levites who were carrying the ark, and as were the musicians, and Kenaniah, who was in charge of the singing of the choirs. David also wore a linen ephod. So all Israel brought up the ark of the covenant of the Lord with shouts, with the sounding of rams’ horns and trumpets, and of cymbals, and the playing of lyres and harps.” 
1 Chronicles 15:16-28

These are the men David put in charge of the music in the house of the Lord after the ark came to rest there. They ministered with music before the tabernacle, the tent of meeting, until Solomon built the temple of the Lord in Jerusalem. They performed their duties according to the regulations laid down for them.” 
1 Chronicles 6:31-32


God DOES NOT hate Fiestas

But when thou makest a feast, call the poor, the maimed, the lame, and the blind;” 
Luke 14:13

On this mountain the LORD Almighty will prepare a feast of rich food for all peoples, a banquet of aged wine--the best of meats and the finest of wines.
Isaiah 25:6

They feast on the abundance of your house; you give them drink from your river of delights.” 
Psalm 36:8

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Images: Reflection of the Divinity

Is Exodus 20:4 an absolute prohibition on making images? Does God contradict Himself or change His mind? Why do I say this? If you read the Bible, even in that same book, God orders the making of images. 

And you shall make two cherubim of gold; of hammered work shall you make them, on the two ends of the mercy seat. Make one cherub on the one end, and one cherub on the other end; of one piece with the mercy seat shall you make the cherubim on its two ends.” 

Exodus 25:18-19 (cf. Exodus 26:1; 31)
If Exodus 20:4 is to be taken literally, then God seems to contradict Himself. People, like Protestants (especially INC and MCGI/ADD), reason that it is a command of God. Using this reasoning, can’t we also say that God seems to have change His mind in ordering the making of this image? 
The Temple in Jerusalem also had images. We read in the Bible that cherubs and palms, bulls, etc. were placed in the Temple. And if images has no place in the Sanctuary of the Lord, let us be reminded that the Temple, which contained these images, was called by Jesus Christ as “my house” (Mark 11:17). If God prohibited images, why doesn’t God tell the Israelites to remove them or Christ to have reprehended them?
In the most holy place he made two cherubim of wood and overlaid them with gold.
2 Chronicles 3:10
In the inner sanctuary he made two cherubim of olivewood, each ten cubits high.
 —1 Kings 6:23
And the gateway had windows round about, narrowing inwards into their jambs in the side rooms, and likewise the vestibule had windows round about inside, and on the jambs were palm trees. ” 
Ezekiel 40:16
of cherubim and palm trees, a palm tree between cherub and cherub. Every cherub had two faces: 19 the face of a man toward the palm tree on the one side, and the face of a young lion toward the palm tree on the other side. They were carved on the whole temple round about; 20 from the floor to above the door cherubim and palm trees were carved on the wall.” 
Ezekiel 41:18-20

Well, you may also reason that images in the Catholic Church are not commanded by God to be made. Let’s see what Scripture says concerning this. We see in the Bible the Philistine making images as a way of offering, these images were not commanded by God to be made, much more it was an offering from the enemies of the Israelites,
Make these things to show honor to the God of Israel. Perhaps then he will stop afflicting you, your gods, and your land… Then the Ark of the Lord and the chest containing the gold rats and gold tumors were placed on the cart…The five gold tumors sent by the Philistines as a guilt offering to the Lord were gifts from the rulers of Ashdod, Gaza, Ashkelon, Gath, and Ekron. The five gold rats represented the five Philistine towns and their surrounding villages, which were controlled by the five rulers. The large rock at Beth-shemesh, where they set the Ark of the Lord, still stands in the field of Joshua as a witness to what happened there.” 
1 Samuel 6:5; 11, 17-18(New Living Translation
Another is that even the Temple had image that were not commanded by God, and they were not removed or destroyed.

The nave he lined with cypress, and covered it with fine gold, and made palms and chains on it…So he lined the house with gold—its beams, its thresholds, its walls, and its doors; and he carved cherubim on the walls.” 
2 Chronicles 3:5, 7
He made two figures shaped like cherubim, overlaid them with gold, and placed them in the Most Holy Place. The total wingspan of the two cherubim standing side by side was 30 feet. One wing of the first figure was 7 1⁄2 feet[a] long, and it touched the Temple wall. The other wing, also 7 1⁄2 feet long, touched one of the wings of the second figure. In the same way, the second figure had one wing 7 1⁄2 feet long that touched the opposite wall. The other wing, also 7 1⁄2 feet long, touched the wing of the first figure. So the wingspan of the two cherubim side by side was 30 feet. They stood on their feet and faced out toward the main room of the Temple.
Across the entrance of the Most Holy Place he hung a curtain made of fine linen, decorated with blue, purple, and scarlet thread and embroidered with figures of cherubim.” 
2 Chronicles 3:10-14 (New Living Translation (NLT)
He made a network of interwoven chains and used them to decorate the tops of the pillars. He also made 100 decorative pomegranates and attached them to the chains. 
2 Chronicles 3:16
Then he cast a great round basin, 15 feet across from rim to rim, called the Sea. It was 7 1⁄2 feet deep and about 45 feet in circumference. It was encircled just below its rim by two rows of figures that resembled oxen. There were about six oxen per foot[b] all the way around, and they were cast as part of the basin.
The Sea was placed on a base of twelve bronze oxen, all facing outward. Three faced north, three faced west, three faced south, and three faced east, and the Sea rested on them. The walls of the Sea were about three inches thick, and its rim flared out like a cup and resembled a water lily blossom. It could hold about 16,500 gallons of water.” 
2 Chronicles 4:2-5
the 400 pomegranates that hung from the chains on the capitals (two rows of pomegranates for each of the chain networks that decorated the capitals on top of the pillars);” 
2 Chronicles 4:13
the Sea and the twelve oxen under it;
2 Chronicles 4:15
the flower decorations, lamps, and tongs—all of the purest gold;” 
2 Chronicles 4:21

Then the priests carried the Ark of the Lord’s Covenant into the inner sanctuary of the Temple—the Most Holy Place—and placed it beneath the wings of the cherubim. The cherubim spread their wings over the Ark, forming a canopy over the Ark and its carrying poles.” 
2 Chronicles 5:7-8 (New Living Translation (NLT)

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Trinitarian Creation

Then Elohim said, 'Let us make humans in our image, in our likeness. Let them rule the fish in the sea, the birds in the sky, the domestic animals all over the earth, and all the animals that crawl on the earth.'”

Genesis 1:26, Names of God

How many times have we read and overlooked this verse in Scripture? Various people have offered ideas to the meaning of this verse. Explanations varies from God talking to cherubims and seraphims to even aliens. But these explanations falls short upon closer analysis. It is common among the anti-Trinitarian sects to argue that God was conversing with angels and justify this by quoting Genesis 3:24. However, this would mean that humanity was created in the image and likeness of God, along with the angels. This poses a contradiction because we read, “So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them.” (Genesis 1:27, RSVCE). Some even argue that this was a form of "Royal We" (Pluralis Maiestatis), an argument we will examine later. Genesis 1:26 is a clear revelation of God being a Trinity. It shows us that each person of the Trinity was present during creation and created the world. 

We sometimes overlook this fact of Faith. Every Sunday during the Mass we recite the Nicene Creed. In the Creed we profess, 

Patrem omnipoténtem, Factórem cæli et terræ, Visibílium ómnium et invisibílium. Et in unum Dóminum Iesum Christum… Per quem ómnia facta sunt… Et in Spíritum Sanctum, Dóminum et vivificántem…" (the Father almighty, maker of heaven and earth, of all things visible and invisible. I believe in one Lord Jesus Christ… through him all things were made… I believe in the Holy Spirit, the Lord, the giver of life…)

Amidst the monotonous recitation and overlapping voices, have we stopped and meditated on this truth of the faith? The key to understanding the reason and meaning of Genesis 1:26 is simplified for us in the Creed. Each person of the Trinity participated in mainly every aspect of human existence: Creation, Sanctification, and Salvation. We are the work of the Trinity and this is the truth of our faith.

Reading the first three verses of Genesis we already see the revelation of this great mystery of our faith. 

In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. The earth was without form and void, and darkness was upon the face of the deep; and the Spirit of God was moving over the face of the waters. And God said, 'Let there be light'; and there was light

Genesis 1:1-3, RSVCE

We see how the Trinity created the world. The world was created by the Father, through His Word, and given life by the Spirit. That is exactly what the creed proclaims. How can this be if it says "God created…" and this is singular, an anti-Trinitarian may argue. We must understand that Genesis was not written in English, in fact the author did not even know English existed. In the original Hebrew, the word used here for "God" is "Elohim" (אֱלֹהִים). The suffix "-im" implies in Hebrew that it is plural, such as "shamayim" (שמים) which means "heavens." It has been translated as a singular because the verbs and adjective around it are singular. "Elohim" is a plural of the word "Eloah" (אֱל֫וֹהַּ). Elohim was translated a singular 2,373 times, while as a plural 206 times. In the NAS Exhaustive Concordance of the Bible with Hebrew-Aramaic and Greek Dictionaries, the word origin for "Elohim" is plural of Eloah. And in the Brown-Driver-Briggs Hebrew and English Lexicon, Unbridged, Electronic Database, “plural in number” and “noun masculine plural.” Now in the Orthodox Jewish Bible we read Genesis 1:1 as,

In the beginning Elohim created hashomayim (the heavens, Himel) and haaretz (the earth).

Bereshis (Genesis) 1:1, Orthodox Jewish Bible (OJB)

Here we see that the author used "Elohim," rather than any other names. However it has been translated in the English plural form of "god." This we can read in Exodus 20:3 and Deuteronomy  13:2,

Thou shalt have no elohim acherim (other) in My presence.

    —Shemot (Exodus) 20:3, Orthodox Jewish Bible (OJB)

"And the ot (sign) or the mofet (wonder) come to pass, whereof he spoke unto thee, saying, Let us go after elohim acherim (other), which thou hast not known, and let us serve them;

    —Devarim (Deuteronomy) 13:2, Orthodox Jewish Bible (OJB)

The usage of the word Elohim doesn't imply that there are more than one God, but that God is a plurality (three person). It is in the light of this that God uses "us" in Genesis 1:26 because each person of the Trinity were active during creation.


Jesus was a participant in the act of Creation. It was through the Word, which is Christ, that the world came into being. In Genesis God created the world through His Word. Nothing created then went or was created outside of Christ. Even in the Old Testament testifies to this, 

By the word of the Lord the heavens were made,

    and all their host by the breath of his mouth.

  —Psalm 33:6, RSVCE

Who is this "word of the Lord"? In John's Gospel we are given the identity of God's Word. We read,

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God… And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, full of grace and truth; we have beheld his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father.

John 1:1,14 (RSVCE)

The New Testament testifies to Christ's participation in creation. John emphasizes Christ's eternal existence with the Father by stating again that the Word was with God (John 1:1-2). We read that it was “all things were made through him, and without him was not anything made that was made… and the world was made through him” (John 1:3, 10 [RSVCE]). This is true from reading Genesis, the world was created through His Word, outside of which nothing came into being. We read again and again that there is “one Lord, Jesus Christ, through whom are all things and through whom we exist.” (1 Corinthians 8:6, cf. Colossians 1:16; Hebrews 11:3). The person that was sent into the world was no other the creator, “but in these last days he has spoken to us by a Son, whom he appointed the heir of all things, through whom also he created the world ” (Hebrews 1:2, RSVCE).


The Holy Spirit is the third person of the Trinity. He is without form, He comes to under different symbols and called by many names. He is refered to as the "Paraclete/Advocate", "Spirit", "Breath", "Wind", "Holy Spirit", Gift, etc. He is not a something, but a someone. He is mentioned in Genesis as “the Spirit of God was moving over the face of the waters.” (1:2). The very meaning of "Spirit" is life, that is what the Holy Spirit gives. We read this in the Psalm 104: 29-30,

When thou hidest thy face, they are dismayed;

when thou takest away their breath, they die

and return to their dust.

 When thou sendest forth thy Spirit, they are created;

and thou renewest the face of the ground.”

It is the Spirit that gives life to the world. It was God's Breath that enabled humanity to have life, “then the Lord God formed man of dust from the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living being.” (Genesis 2:7, RSVCE). It is the Holy Spirit that gives us new life in Baptism, “unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God.” (John 3:5, cf. 2 Corinthians 3:6). It is right to call the Holy Spirit "The Lord and Giver of Life", for we receive life from Him. 

The spirit of God has made me,

and the breath of the Almighty gives me life.

Job 33:4, RSVCE


The argument of the Royal We or also called Majestic Plural is a comment argument and defense among Anti-Trinitarian circles, such as the Iglesia ni Cristo. They argue that Genesis 1:26 is written in plural form to show God's majesty and it is an example of a royal "we". In this case they argue that various heads of states such as the monarch and the pope uses royal we as to show authority and majesty. However, this idea falls short in politics. The head of states, wether religious or political, are the embodiment of what they govern. They represent the state. No better example than this is in Thomas Hobbes book "Leviathan." Even in the frontispiece we see why monarchs uses the plural we. We see that the monarch embodies each and every individual in his domain, that each of them creates the monarch. He argues that humanity without a leader has "no society, and which is worst of all, continual fear and danger of violent death, and the life of man, solitary, poor, nasty, brutish, and short" (Leviathan XIII.9). He continues to argue that a social contract is created in order to avoid such savagery, a social contract or covenant to “keep them in awe, and tie them by fear of punishment to the performance of their covenants.” This then shows that the monarchs are given the contract that "authorise and give up my right of governing myself to this man, or to this assembly of men, on this condition; that thou give up, thy right to him, and authorise all his actions in like manner" to the monarch. The monarch then here encompasses the nation's aspiration and ideals. Another example of this is in the absolute monarch Louis XVI of France. One of his famous quotes is "L'etat, c'est moi" translated to as "The state is me." Here we see that the king is the state, he is what represents the state. When we think of a country, we should think of the king of that country. That is why monarchs are fond of using the majestic "we" because they believe that when he speaks, he speaks on the behalf of the people. Now, does the majestic "we" support the interpretation given by anti-Trinitarians on Genesis 1:26? No, because God doesn't represent a nation, He did not assume the office of this nation as from a contract. We must remember that the kings of Israel was appointed because they needed a visible leader that showed a united Israel (1 Samuel 8). The king of Israel was to "govern us and go out before us and fight our battle" (1 Samuel 8:20), he was appointed by a contract with His people. God was not appointed by the people to be god. God then did not speak there in behalf of the angels nor was conversing with them because we were not created in the image and likeness of angels, but in God's (Genesis 1:27). We cannot use arguments referring to monarchy because these monarchs were given authority by men. God was not proclaimed king because He was put in that authority by His creation. 

Sunday, June 8, 2014

"MIM-MIZ-RAH" (מִמִּזְרָח֙)

The most notorious verse used by the Iglesia ni Cristo in deceiving many is Isaiah 46:11. The Iglesia Ni Cristo insist that the verse refers to the Philippines, being what the call the center of the Far East. They argue that the original Hebrew word used for "the east", Mim-miz-rah, should be translated as "far east". One prominent INC apologist said:

Mapapansin sa original na wika sa Isaias 46:11 na atin nang ipinakita sa itaas ating mapapansin sa bandang itaas sa gawing kanan ang salitang ‘mimizrach’ (iyong ‘may bilog’ – pansinin din ang pronounciation na nasa gawing kaliwa sa ibaba ng Hebrew word) na may root word na ‘mizrach’ na tumutukoy sa salitang ‘silanganan’ na siyang panggagalingan ng ‘Ibong Mandaragit’.

Ating basahin sa Hebrew (ang original na wikang ginamit sa pagkakasulat ng aklat ni Isaias) ang nasabing talata:Hango sa isang Bibliang Hebrew, ang WESTMINSTER LENINGRAD CODEXMapapansin sa original na wika sa Isaias 46:11 na atin nang ipinakita sa itaas ating mapapansin sa bandang itaas sa gawing kanan ang salitang “mimizrach” (iyong “may bilog” – pansinin din ang pronounciation na nasa gawing kaliwa sa ibaba ng Hebrew word) na may root word na “mizrach” na tumutukoy sa salitang “silanganan” na siyang panggagalingan ng “Ibong Mandaragit”.Ano ba ang ibig sabihin ng Hebrew word na mizrach?“.., mizrach, is used of the far east with a less definite signification. [Smith’s Bible Dictionary]Ayon sa isang kilalang Bible Dictionary ang salitang mizrach ay ginamit upang tumukoy sa “far east” o malayong silangan.Kaya tiyak na tiyak na talagang ang Pilipinas ang tinutukoy na panggagalingan ng sugong hinuhulaan…at ito’y may patotoo pa mula sa isang Pari ng Iglesia Katolika. Na nagpapatunay na ang Pilipinas ay nasa FAR EAST o Malayong Silangan: 

However, the Hebrew word mim-miz-rāḥ comes from mizrach which means "place of sunrise, the east" (NAS Exhaustive Concordance of the Bible with Hebrew-Aramaic and Greek Dictionaries).

The Hebrew word "mizrach" is taken from "zarach" which means "to rise, come forth" (NAS Exhaustive Concordance of the Bible with Hebrew-Aramaic and Greek Dictionaries).

The Hebrew word "mim-miz-rāḥ" can be translated as being " "the east" or "the rising".
For example, this word has been translsted as being "from the rising"

"From the rising (מִמִּזְרַח־ -  mim-miz-raḥ-) of the sun to the place where it sets, the name of the LORD is to be praised."
      —Psalm 113:3, New International Version

"My name will be great among the nations, from where the sun rises (מִמִּזְרַח־ - mim-miz-raḥ-) to where it sets. In every place incense and pure offerings will be brought to me, because my name will be great among the nations," says the LORD Almighty."
      —Malachi 1:11, New International Version