Tuesday, September 18, 2018

Feast Of Trumpets: Memorial Of What?

All of the Biblical Holy Days are listed in Leviticus 23. The Feast of Trumpets has the shortest description of all of them. After telling us when it occurs, the only thing it tells us to do that is sets it apart from other Holy Days is blow trumpets as a memorial. Which begs the question, “memorial of what?” Here is all that it says.

Lev 23:23 And the LORD spoke unto Moses, saying, 24 Speak unto the children of Israel, saying, In the seventh month, in the first day of the month, shall ye have a sabbath, a memorial of blowing of trumpets, an holy convocation. 25 Ye shall do no servile work therein: but ye shall offer an offering made by fire unto the LORD.

We in the Churches of God usually focus on the future fulfillment of this day - UCG(Feast Of Trumpets) [1], when Christ “descends from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first” - 1 Thess 4:16. But Lev 23 was penned by Moses when Israel was still in the wilderness. No one could have known the future meaning of the day until Thessalonians was written, so again, “memorial of what”? Can we set aside what we know the Feast of Trumpets pictures in the future, and put ourselves in the place of ancient Israel 3500 years ago? Let’s start by seeing what we can learn by examining verse 24 more carefully. Here’s the "Freeman" translation of Lev 23:24.
Lev 23:24 It will be to (all of) you a Sabbath, a memorial of Teruah*, a holy meeting.
*According to Lexicon-Concordance [2], the word Teruah is variously translated as :

shout 11
shouting 8
alarm 6
sound 3
blow 1
blowing 2
joy 2
jubilee 1
noise 1
rejoicing 1

So, rather than citing that whole list, I will use the Hebrew word Teruah.That’s it, that’s all it says about keeping the day – 1) Sabbath 2) memorial of Teruah 3) holy meeting 4) offering. Notice there is no mention of trumpets here, though Teruah is usually associated with the blast of a shofar, also called “cry of the shofar” or “shout of the shofar”. The list of words translated from Teruah give more meaning to 1 Thess 4:16 “with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God”. One article I read suggested that the memorial of Teruah is a memorial of Jericho. And there certainly are a lot of parallels between The Day of Teruah and Jericho. Here are three.

The wals of Jericho fell at the sound of the shofars

1. Six days of Jericho parallel six "trumpet plagues of Revelation.
  • For six days seven priests walk around Jericho with the ark blowing shofars -  Josh 6.
  • In Revelation, six trumpet plagues fall upon the earth - Rev 8-11.
2. Jericho typifies the fall of this world at the seventh blast.
  • On the seventh day, the priests circled Jericho seven times, and at the seventh circuit,  the people shouted when the priests blew the shofars ... the wall collapsed - Josh 6:20.
  • Rev 11:15 Then the seventh angel sounded; and there were loud voices in heaven, saying, “The kingdom of the world has become the kingdom of our Lord and of His Christ; and He will reign forever and ever.”
3. Possession of the Kingdom.
  • Israel began to take possession of the Promised Land with the collapse of Jericho.
  • Revelation 11:18 the time to reward Your bond-servants the prophets and the saints and those who fear Your name.

You can find more parallels between Day of Teruah and Jericho - Trumpets And Fall Of Jericho [3]. But Jericho was conquered after Israel entered the promised land. So The Day of Teruah couldn’t be a memorial of Jericho. The Battle of Jericho is certainly a type of the ultimate Day of Teruah , that is Christ's return, but the Day of Teruah is not a memorial of Jericho. As best I can tell, Leviticus was written just after the Tabernacle was built, meaning within two years of leaving Egypt, but clearly before entering the promised land - Wikipedia(Book_of_Leviticus) [4]. When else do we read about a shofar blast? A shofar blast familiar to all Israel? In their collective memory so to speak?

Mount Sinai

At Sinai. We associate the giving of the Ten Commandments with Sinai on the Feast of Pentecost - Israel arrives at Mount Sinai [5]. But before the Ten Commandments were given, here’s what happened.

Exodus 19:18 Now Mount Sinai was all in smoke because the Lord descended upon it in fire; and its smoke ascended like the smoke of a furnace, and the whole mountain quaked violently. 19 When the sound of the trumpet [shofar] grew louder and louder, Moses spoke and God answered him with thunder.

In fact, it is the first use of the word shofar in the Bible. And here’s what happened before that.

Exodus 19:3 Moses went up to God, and the Lord called to him from the mountain, saying, “Thus you shall say to the house of Jacob and tell the sons of Israel: 4 ‘You yourselves have seen what I did to the Egyptians, and how I bore you on eagles’ wings, and brought you to Myself. 5 Now then, if you will indeed obey My voice and keep My covenant, then you shall be My own possession among all the peoples, for all the earth is Mine; 6 and you shall be to Me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation.’ These are the words that you shall speak to the sons of Israel.”
7 So Moses came and called the elders of the people, and set before them all these words which the Lord had commanded him. 8 All the people answered together and said, “All that the Lord has spoken we will do!”

So for ancient Israel, in the desert, before entering the Promised Land, the shofar blast was a direct reminder of the covenant they made with God Himself at Mount Sinai, not that many years before. Note the people repeat their acceptance of the covenant in Ex 24:7. God’s voice is likened to a shofar blast, and it made quite an impression on Israel. Here’s their reaction after hearing the shofar and the Ten Commandments from God Himself,
Exodus 20:18 And all the people saw the thunderings, and the lightnings, and the noise of the trumpet, and the mountain smoking: and when the people saw it, they removed, and stood afar off.

Depiction of sound/color synesthesia
Note the people SAW the thunder.  According to many Hebrew scholars, this is not a mistranslation - Seeing The Sounds [6]. Some English translations say “witness” or “perceive”, like we might say in English "I see" meaning "I understand", but it looks like it really means physical sight was involved - What's Bothering Rashi? [7]. This was an intense revelation from God. "They saw what was audible and heard what was visible" - Seeing Sounds [8]. One interpretation is that it was mass synesthesia, where synesthesia means "union of the senses". There are people who routinely see sounds as color, but this was a case where everyone was seeing sounds. They SAW the thunder. As with many things Biblical, many scholars do not agree with this interpretation - Seeing Sounds [8].

The original memory aid
The Day of Teruah is also a memorial of creation itself, but ancient Israel probably couldn’t have known that either. These words also came later,  “When the morning stars sang together, And all the sons of God shouted for joy” - Job 38:7. Shouted (for joy) is the same root word as teruah. I would argue that Teruah is a reminder to remember everything the Bible says to remember. Every verse where God says to remember something (and there are many) could be brought to mind by the shofar blast, making it a memory aid, like a string on your finger. The tradition of the Jews is to blow the shofar 100 times on the Day of Teruah, could there be 100 things God wants to remind us of? There are 215 verses in the KJV that use the word "remember", and 48 of these tell us as humans to remember something. I compiled a list of these verses, they are listed after the References section.

Remember these!
The holy days picture God’s plan for Israel, and ultimately for all of mankind, but they also picture His plan for each one of us. We often refer to Egypt as a type of sin, where God delivered Israel from Egypt, pictured by Passover and the Exodus, which can be likened to our personal deliverance from the slavery of sin. There is an old saying “In every generation, each person must regard himself as if he had come out of Egypt.” - The First Step [9]. Likewise, Israel experienced a national awakening on the day of Pentecost when God spoke to them directly (the Jews refer to this as the Revelation). God made a covenant with the nation of Israel. The New Testament shows a more personal connection between God and His church on the same day of Pentecost, when the disciples received the Holy Spirit as tongues of fire. At some point in our calling, God made Himself known to each one of us, a personal revelation if you will. I didn’t see thunder, or hear His voice from a mountain, or have a tongue of fire dancing on my head, but He made Himself real to me. We usually use language like “He opened my mind”.  We followed through to baptism, where we made a covenant with God, not a national covenant, but a personal one. The Day of Teruah is reminding each of us that we made that commitment. The Day of Teruah means many things to the nation of Israel, some of which have yet to come to pass, but it also means something to each of us personally – it means remember.


1. https://www.ucg.org/bible-study-tools/booklets/gods-holy-day-plan-the-promise-of-hope-for-all-mankind/the-feast-of-trumpets-a-turning-point-in-history
2. http://lexiconcordance.com/hebrew/8643.html
3. https://www.cgg.org/index.cfm/fuseaction/Audio.details/ID/1240/Trumpets-and-Fall-Jericho.htm
4. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Book_of_Leviticus
5. http://bible.ucg.org/bible-commentary/Exodus/Israel-arrives-at-Mount-Sinai/
6. https://www.chabad.org/library/article_cdo/aid/2587173/jewish/Seeing-the-Sounds.htm
7. http://www.aish.com/tp/i/wbr/48943241.html
8. http://aryehbderech.blogspot.com/2013/10/seeing-sounds.html
9. https://steinsaltz.org/essay/the-first-step

Verses with an admonition to remember

Exodus 13:3 And Moses said unto the people, Remember this day, in which ye came out from Egypt

Exodus 20:8 Remember the sabbath day, to keep it holy.

Numbers 15:39 And it shall be unto you for a fringe, that ye may look upon it, and remember all the commandments of the Lord, and do them ;

Numbers 15:40 That ye may remember, and do all my commandments, and be holy unto your God.

Deuteronomy 5:15 And remember that thou wast a servant in the land of Egypt, and that the Lord thy God brought thee out thence through a mighty hand and by a stretched out arm:

Deuteronomy 7:18 Thou shalt not be afraid of them: but shalt well remember what the Lord thy God did unto Pharaoh, and unto all Egypt;

Deuteronomy 8:2 And thou shalt remember all the way which the Lord thy God led thee these forty years in the wilderness, to humble thee, and to prove thee, to know what was in thine heart, whether thou wouldest keep his commandments, or no.

Deuteronomy 8:18 But thou shalt remember the Lord thy God: for it is he that giveth thee power to get wealth, that he may establish his covenant which he sware unto thy fathers, as it is this day.

Deuteronomy 9:7 Remember, and forget not, how thou provokedst the Lord thy God to wrath in the wilderness: from the day that thou didst depart out of the land of Egypt, until ye came unto this place, ye have been rebellious against the Lord.

Deuteronomy 15:15 And thou shalt remember that thou wast a bondman in the land of Egypt, and the Lord thy God redeemed thee: therefore I command thee this thing to day.

Deuteronomy 16:3 Thou shalt eat no leavened bread with it; seven days shalt thou eat unleavened bread therewith, even the bread of affliction; for thou camest forth out of the land of Egypt in haste: that thou mayest remember the day when thou camest forth out of the land of Egypt all the days of thy life.

Deuteronomy 16:12 And thou shalt remember that thou wast a bondman in Egypt: and thou shalt observe and do these statutes.

Deuteronomy 24:9 Remember what the Lord thy God did unto Miriam by the way, after that ye were come forth out of Egypt.

Deuteronomy 24:18 But thou shalt remember that thou wast a bondman in Egypt

Deuteronomy 24:22 And thou shalt remember that thou wast a bondman in the land of Egypt

Deuteronomy 25:17 Remember what Amalek did unto thee by the way, when ye were come forth out of Egypt;

Deuteronomy 32:7 Remember the days of old, consider the years of many generations: ask thy father, and he will shew thee; thy elders, and they will tell thee.

Joshua 1:13 Remember the word which Moses the servant of the Lord commanded you, saying, The Lord your God hath given you rest, and hath given you this land.

1 Chronicles 16:12 Remember his marvellous works that he hath done, his wonders, and the judgments of his mouth;

Nehemiah 4:14 And I looked, and rose up, and said unto the nobles, and to the rulers, and to the rest of the people, Be not ye afraid of them: remember the Lord, which is great and terrible, and fight for your brethren, your sons, and your daughters, your wives, and your houses.

Esther 9:28 And that these days should be remembered and kept throughout every generation, every family, every province, and every city; and that these days of Purim should not fail from among the Jews, nor the memorial of them perish from their seed.

Job 36:24 Remember that thou magnify his work, which men behold.

Psalm 20:7 Some trust in chariots, and some in horses: but we will remember the name of the Lord our God.

Psalm 22:27 All the ends of the world shall remember and turn unto the Lord: and all the kindreds of the nations shall worship before thee.

Psalm 45:17 I will make thy name to be remembered in all generations: therefore shall the people praise thee for ever and ever.

Psalm 63:6 When I remember thee upon my bed, and meditate on thee in the night watches. 7 Because thou hast been my help, therefore in the shadow of thy wings will I rejoice.

Psalm 77:11 I will remember the works of the Lord: surely I will remember thy wonders of old.

Psalm 103:18 To such as keep his covenant, and to those that remember his commandments to do them.

Psalm 105:5 Remember his marvellous works that he hath done; his wonders, and the judgments of his mouth;

Psalm 111:4 He hath made his wonderful works to be remembered: the Lord is gracious and full of compassion.

Psalm 119:52 I remembered thy judgments of old, O Lord; and have comforted myself.

Psalm 119:55 I have remembered thy name, O Lord, in the night, and have kept thy law.

Psalm 137:1 By the rivers of Babylon, there we sat down, yea, we wept, when we remembered Zion.

Ecclesiastes 11:8 But if a man live many years, and rejoice in them all; yet let him remember the days of darkness; for they shall be many. All that cometh is vanity.

Ecclesiastes 12:1 Remember now thy Creator in the days of thy youth, while the evil days come not, nor the years draw nigh, when thou shalt say, I have no pleasure in them;

Isaiah 46:9 Remember the former things of old: for I am God, and there is none else; I am God, and there is none like me,

Ezekiel 16:43 Because thou hast not remembered the days of thy youth, but hast fretted me in all these things; behold, therefore I also will recompense thy way upon thine head, saith the Lord God: and thou shalt not commit this lewdness above all thine abominations.

Micah 6:5 O my people, remember now what Balak king of Moab consulted, and what Balaam the son of Beor answered him from Shittim unto Gilgal; that ye may know the righteousness of the Lord.

Malachi 4:4 Remember ye the law of Moses my servant, which I commanded unto him in Horeb for all Israel, with the statutes and judgments.

Luke 17:32 Remember Lot's wife.

John 15:20 Remember the word that I said unto you, The servant is not greater than his lord. If they have persecuted me, they will also persecute you; if they have kept my saying, they will keep yours also.

2 Timothy 2:8 Remember that Jesus Christ of the seed of David was raised from the dead according to my gospel:

Hebrews 13:3 Remember them that are in bonds, as bound with them; and them which suffer adversity, as being yourselves also in the body.

Hebrews 13:7 Remember them which have the rule over you, who have spoken unto you the word of God: whose faith follow, considering the end of their conversation.

Revelation 3:3 Remember therefore how thou hast received and heard, and hold fast, and repent. If therefore thou shalt not watch, I will come on thee as a thief, and thou shalt not know what hour I will come upon thee.

Monday, July 16, 2018

Five Spiritual Senses?

When I first heard the term "Five Spiritual Senses", I was skeptical. I thought it was pushing the physical-to-spiritual analogy too far. But it came from someone I respect, so I began to look into it - of course in the Bible, and of course, on the Internet. It turns out there are lots of web sites talking about five spiritual senses. Most promise to help the reader get in touch with their spiritual side through their spiritual senses, but don't actually tell what those five spiritual senses are. A small handful of sites do map from the physical to the spiritual, but they don't agree with each other.

If you like this (or not), check out my other articles at the
Between The Ears BLOG INDEX, with titles and summaries.

Complicating the analogy to five spiritual senses is that science has shown we have more than five physical senses. Counting five senses is credited to Aristotle - BBC(How Many Senses) [1]. However, modern science has described many more, somewhere between 22 and 33 - World Economic Forum [2]. Some of the extra senses seem to me like variations on the sense of touch, for examples, the sense of pain, or hot and cold, or itch, or pressure, but scientists can show each sense involves different groups of sensory cell types that send signals to different regions of the brain - Today I Found Out [3]. Meaning that some of the extra senses can't be explained by the basic five. This is not an exhaustive list of the extra senses, but consider these, gleaned  from Today I Found Out [3].

Equilibrioception:   The sense that allows you to keep your balance and sense body movement in terms of acceleration and directional changes.  This sense also allows for perceiving gravity.

Chronoception – This one is debated as no singular mechanism has been found that allows people to perceive time.

Chemoreceptors:  These trigger an area of the medulla in the brain that is involved in detecting blood borne hormones and drugs.  It also is involved in the vomiting reflex.

Thirst:  This system more or less allows your body to monitor its hydration level and so your body knows when it should tell you to drink.

Hunger:  This system allows your body to detect when you need to eat something.

Some animals have senses that humans don't, like the ability to sense an electric or magnetic field, or see polarized light - World Economic Forum [2]. Recent experiments have shown that spiders can not only detect electric fields, but also ride them for hundreds of miles in a process known as ballooning - The Atlantic [4].

One way to simplify the number of senses is to count the different types of input. Then we arrive at three senses, mechanical (touch, hearing, etc), chemical (smell, taste, chemoreceptor, etc), and light (sight, magnetoreceptor, etc.) -  BBC(How Many Senses) [1], but I don't think anyone will accept that definition of sense.

So rather than looking at the Bible through the eyes of Aristotle (five senses), what does the Bible itself say about senses. Well, I expected to dig in to a list of words translated as sense and gain a sense of what it means (see what I did there?). It turns out there is exactly one occurrence of the word sense, but it is a good one, drawing the analogy between physical and spiritual. The word translated as sense is aisthetikos where we get the English word aesthetic, which changed meaning in the 19th century, but originally aesthetic and the Greek aisthetikos meant "of or for perception by the senses" - Etymonline [5].
Heb 5:14 But solid food is for the mature, who because of practice have their senses [aisthetikos] trained to discern good and evil.
This can't be talking about physical senses, no one lists a sense that discerns good from evil. Since we have senses that can discern good from evil, they must be spiritual in nature. Since there is no agreement on exactly how many senses we have, we can't answer the question of whether there is a one to one mapping between physical and spiritual senses, but we are made in God's image, and we are meant to understand God by the universe around us, so we can learn something by exploring the physical senses.
Romans 1:19 because that which is known about God is evident within them; for God made it evident to them. 20 For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes, His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly seen, being understood through what has been made, so that they are without excuse.
Psalm 19 1 The heavens are telling of the glory of God;
And their expanse is declaring the work of His hands.
2 Day to day pours forth speech,
And night to night reveals knowledge.
3 There is no speech, nor are there words;
Their voice is not heard.
4 Their line has gone out through all the earth,
And their utterances to the end of the world. 

And we are meant to see that the physical reflects the spiritual. Notice here in Matthew that Jesus was not talking about physical blindness or physical deafness. People who came to Him could physically see and hear Him, but they did not spiritually see or hear or understand.
 Matthew 13:13 This is why I speak to them in parables, because seeing they do not see, and hearing they do not hear, nor do they understand.
Why did they not understand? Because spiritual things are spiritually discerned.
1 Corinthians 2:14 The natural person does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are folly to him, and he is not able to understand them because they are spiritually discerned.
Why are they blind?
2 Corinthians 4:4 In their case the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelievers, to keep them from seeing the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God. 

Let's start with Aristotle's five senses, and what the Bible says about them, then we can look at some of the extra senses. Some of this is based on The Spiritual Senses [6] by John Edmiston, though I vary from his interpretation a little.


"The spiritual sense of sight enables the Christian to be perceptive of spiritual realities and truth and to discern good from evil" - JE.

Ephesians 1:17-20 that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give to you the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of Him, (18) the eyes of your understanding being enlightened, that you may know what is the hope of His calling, and what is the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints, (19) and what is the surpassing greatness of His power toward us, the ones believing according to the working of His mighty strength.

"The spiritual sense of sight is not independent of the Scriptures. Rather our spiritual sense of sight works together with our bible study in order to enable us to behold wonderful truths out of God's Law" - JE.


This verse from Romans links hearing with faith.
Rom 10:17 So faith comes from hearing, and hearing by the word of Christ.
"It is not just knowledge of God's Word that saves us, it must be combined with faith. The hearing of faith is not just intellectual assent to theological propositions" - JE.
Hebrews 4:2 But the Word preached did not profit them, not being mixed with faith in those who heard it.
However, 2 Cor 5:7 says "for we walk by faith, not by sight", so there is overlap between spiritual hearing and sight.

Faith is more than just belief in a set of doctrines, and it is more than knowing God exists. Faith is trust in God, submission to God, that is, faith leads to actual works of righteousness. Knowledge and belief together are not enough.
James 2:18 But someone may well say, “You have faith and I have works; show me your faith without the works, and I will show you my faith by my works.” 19 You believe that God is one. You do well; the demons also believe, and shudder. 20 But are you willing to recognize, you foolish fellow, that faith without works is useless?

Please visit Faith Comes By Hearing [7], who have made audio recordings of the Bible (or parts of it) in over 1100 languages using local speakers. Their mission is "to provide people everywhere with free access to God’s Word through Audio Bibles in every translated language".


In English, we have the expression "Does it pass the smell test?" The expression started because we use smell as a first indicator of spoiled food (apparently this does not work for cheese, or for Surstr√∂mming, see Youtube(Stinky Fish Challenge) [8], highly recommended), but it turned into a way of expressing a first response to any new situation, for example, sizing up a person selling a used car. Here's one definition of smell test - "An informal method for determining whether something is authentic, credible, or ethical, by using one's common sense or sense of propriety" - Wiktionary(smell_test) [9]. Likewise, the Bible tells us to try the spirits, we might say "do they pass the smell test?" Do we want to consume the spiritual food they are offering?

For this meaning of smell, more than one source maps the sense of smell to discernment or judgment.

For the most part, the Bible refers to smells as good and pleasing. Over and over again, especially in the book of Leviticus, we read the phrase "a sweet savour unto the Lord" (KJV spelling), referring to sacrifices in the Tabernacle. And of Jesus Christ's sacrifice we read:
Ephesians 5:2 And walk in love, as Christ also hath loved us, and hath given himself for us an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweet smelling savour.
And it keeps coming back to knowledge, as in this verse from 2 Corinthians.
2 Co 2:14 But thanks be to God, who always leads us in triumph in Christ, and manifests through us the sweet aroma of the knowledge of Him in every place.
Nearly all references to smell, savour, aroma, fragrance, odor, stink, or stench are talking about the smell itself, not the sense of smell. Few verses actually refer to the sense of smell, this one from Isaiah is not obvious, but relevant.
Is 11:3 KJV And shall make him of quick understanding in the fear of the LORD: and he shall not judge after the sight of his eyes, neither reprove after the hearing of his ears:

Brazen altar where sacrifices were made
As best I can tell, the literal translation for "make him of quick understanding" is "make him to smell". Many translations have "His delight is in the fear of the Lord". I think what it is really saying is that He (referring to Jesus Christ) will judge by smell, odd as that sounds. Not by sight, not by hearing. We are to present our bodies a living sacrifice (Rom 12:1), and at the end of our lives, we should be a "sweet savour to the Lord", just like the sacrifices in the Tabernacle, just like Jesus Himself. Will we pass the Biblical smell test?


Ps 34:8 O taste and see that the LORD is good

I puzzled over this verse for years. Now I see that it could be a reference to Passover where we take of the bread and wine which symbolizes the body and blood of Jesus, AND it could be an invitation to take in the Word of God like food, chew on it, and digest it. The Bible describes itself in different places as milk, solid food, or honey.

1 Peter 2:2 long for the pure milk of the word
1 Co 3:2 I gave you milk to drink, not solid food; for you were not yet able to receive it.
Ps 119:103 How sweet are Your words to my taste! Yes, sweeter than honey to my mouth!

It seems people want to get their inspiration from anywhere but the Bible. They look to private revelations, or false prophets, or mediums, etc. - anything but the Bible. But the fact is there is only one way.
Acts 4:12 there is no other name under heaven that has been given among men by which we must be saved
We must get up close and personal with the Word of God, and nothing is closer than taste. We need to feed on the Bible*.


The entire body experiences the sense of touch mostly through the skin, which is the largest organ of the body. But Biblically, the sense of touch seems focused on the hands. Speaking of idols, Ps 115:7 says "They have hands, but they cannot feel". Edmiston argues that touch transmits God's power. "The spiritual sense of touch transmits spiritual power and through the laying on of hands we can receive healing, the Holy Spirit and spiritual gifts." To me, this implies a two way street, where we can pass on God's power through our hands. At its simplest, touching with our hands may simply mean to embrace. And if it isn't obvious by now, I mean embrace the Word of God.

Extra Sensory Perceptions

Beyond Aristotle's five, what can we learn about spiritual perception from the extra senses described by science?

Balance - This can mean more than one thing. We are supposed to eat a balanced diet. Spiritually, do we do that? Some focus too much on prophecy, or NT without OT, or OT without NT, etc. Do we live by EVERY Word of God? Perhaps balance means we are not to rely on one sense alone. Grant Luton of Beth Tikkun [10] teaches that all Biblical truth comes in the form of a menorah (a lamp with a center stalk and an equal number of branches on either side), the left and right sides balance each other. In other words, consider both sides of an argument. Christ is both lamb and lion, both king and servant. When balanced, the menorah gives light to the holy place.

Hot/Cold - hot is often associated with zeal.
Rev 3:15 I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot; I wish that you were cold or hot. 16 So because you are lukewarm, and neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of My mouth.

Hunger/Thirst - desiring righteousness.
Matt 5:6 "Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied.

Itch - never a good thing.
2 Tim 2:3 For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears;

Eph 5:15 See then that ye walk circumspectly, not as fools, but as wise, 16 Redeeming the time, because the days are evil. 

Are things like knowledge, faith, discernment really spiritual senses analogous to our physical senses? The Bible makes these mappings here and there, so we can't ignore them. I have trouble thinking of faith as a sense, a means of perceiving, but that is what it says. All of the spiritual senses rely on knowledge and understanding of the Bible. It takes work, that is time and effort chewing on the Word, to train our senses to know good and evil. Eat from the Tree of Life, the Word of God.

* Here's an example of chewing on the Word I did for this article. I had multiple sources that said that the sense of smell was likened to discernment, but I didn't have a Bible source for it, so I went looking for how the word smell was used. That is, it seemed logical to me, but it's better to have a quote. I made the statement:
Nearly all references to smell, savour, aroma, fragrance, odor, stink, or stench are talking about the smell itself, not the sense of smell.
How do I know that? I looked up every word in that list in multiple translations using Bible Gateway [11]. From there, I looked for a word translated as smell where it means "to smell", not "a smell", and I saw it was used that way in Ps 115:6. Using QBible.com [12], I looked at the word itself, which is ruach, which normally means breath or blow, but in one verb tense (riach) means smell. So I dove deeper, using a QBible feature to go straight to the Strong's concordance/lexicon for the word "smell" - lexiconcordance.com [13], which showed the main meaning is smell, but it also lists all the places the Hebrew word is used. It showed that in ONE case, Isaiah 11:3, it is translated as "quick understanding", so I went there using Bible Hub [14], which gives the option of seeing a verse in 26 translations simultaneously. I didn't get it at first. How do you get from smell to "quick understanding"? By looking at Is 11:3 itself, which talks about judging, but not by sight or hearing.  The Jubilee Bible 2000 translation reads "and shall make him of quick olfaction in the fear of the LORD" - I didn't find that helpful. The process wasn't as linear as I described it here - it took hours, a few rabbit holes, and some head scratching. And still, I'm not 100% confident of my interpretation, but it fits.


1. http://www.bbc.com/future/story/20141118-how-many-senses-do-you-have
2. https://www.weforum.org/agenda/2017/01/humans-have-more-than-5-senses/
3. https://www.todayifoundout.com/index.php/2010/07/humans-have-a-lot-more-than-five-senses/
4. https://www.theatlantic.com/science/archive/2018/07/the-electric-flight-of-spiders/564437/
5. https://www.etymonline.com/word/aesthetic
6. https://www.globalchristians.org/pdf/20_the_spiritual_senses.pdf
7. http://www.faithcomesbyhearing.com/
8. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=e-qflm0APTk
9. https://en.wiktionary.org/wiki/smell_test
10. https://bethtikkun.com/
11. https://www.biblegateway.com/
12. http://qbible.com/hebrew-old-testament
13. http://lexiconcordance.com/hebrew/7306.html
14. http://biblehub.com/isaiah/11-3.htm

Tuesday, May 29, 2018

Filthy Rags

Isaiah 64:6 But we are all as an unclean thing, and all our righteousnesses are as filthy rags; and we all do fade as a leaf; and our iniquities, like the wind, have taken us away.

This verse seems to summarize four related stories in the book of Genesis. These four stories don't seem related at first glance, so let me explain.

The first story is that of Jacob and Esau where Jacob tricked his father Isaac into giving him the blessing that Isaac intended for Esau.

The second story is that of Joseph's brothers selling him into slavery in Egypt.

The third story is that of Rachel, who stole her father's idols when Jacob's family left Paddan-Aram, home of her father.

And the fourth story is of Tamar, who disguised herself as a prostitute to seduce Judah.

If you like this (or not), check out my other articles at the
Between The Ears BLOG INDEX, with titles and summaries.

OK, they don't seem related, do they? But there are elements that occur in each and every story, sort of like a theme and variations. Three elements that repeat are deceit, blood, and cloth, admittedly an odd trio. There are other repeating elements, but these three are sufficient to show the stories are related, and they show the tie to Isaiah 64:6.

The story of Jacob and Esau begins with their mother Rebecca, who was given a prophecy before the twin boys were born. 
Gen 25:23 The Lord said to her, “Two nations are in your womb; And two peoples will be separated from your body; And one people shall be stronger than the other; And the older shall serve the younger.”
Jacob Deceives Isaac
Then when their father Isaac is old, he gives Esau directions to hunt some game, and make him a savory dish, so that he can give Esau the birthright blessing. He may or may not have known that Jacob already wrested the birthright away from Esau. He also may not have known he would live another 20 years. Rebecca overhears Isaac and makes a plan of her own. Remember, she knows this prophecy that the older shall serve the younger, she's been holding that memory for decades now. So she tells Jacob to get two goats from the flock, she will make the savory dish, Jacob will bring it to Isaac, and HE will get the blessing. It is not clear from the text whether Rebecca meant for Jacob to deceive Isaac, or whether Jacob ad libbed that part. However, she did provide Jacob with Esau's garment, and goat skin for his arms and neck in case Isaac touched him, which isn't honest and straightforward. Afterward, she disowns her own involvement by telling Jacob to go to her brother Laban till "he [Esau] forgets what YOU did to him", not what WE did to him.

Rebecca and Jacob deceive Isaac.
Two goats are slaughtered for the savory dish.
Jacob wore Esau's garments.

Joseph Sold Into Slavery
Joseph was 17 when his father gave him a special coat. Jacob sent Joseph to check on his older brothers. All of them had different mothers from Joseph, and all of them were keenly aware that Joseph was dad's favorite. Joseph didn't help his cause when he told them of his dream where their sheaves bowed down to his sheaf, or the dream where the sun, moon, and 11 stars bowed down before him. Joseph had 11 brothers, so they all immediately saw the meaning of this dream. 

Gen 37:3 Now Israel loved Joseph more than all his sons, because he was the son of his old age; and he made him a varicolored tunic. 4 His brothers saw that their father loved him more than all his brothers; and so they hated him and could not speak to him on friendly terms. 5 Then Joseph had a dream, and when he told it to his brothers, they hated him even more. 
The brothers hatched a plan to "kill the dreamer", they changed their minds, and sold Joseph for 20 shekels to Midianite traders who brought him to Egypt as a slave. The brothers deceived Jacob into thinking Joseph was dead by putting goat's blood on Joseph's coat.
Gen 37:31 So they took Joseph’s tunic, and slaughtered a male goat and dipped the tunic in the blood; 32 and they sent the varicolored tunic and brought it to their father and said, “We found this; please examine it to see whether it is your son’s tunic or not.”
Jacob was deceived by his sons.
A goat was slaughtered.
The goat's blood was put on Joseph's coat.
Rachel Steals Her Father's Idols

Jacob served his father in law Laban for 20 years, then God told him it was time to go home. He and his family sneaked out while Laban was away. Unknown to Laban and Joseph, Rachel stole Laban's idols. Maybe she thought that Laban used them for divination, and without them, he couldn't find them. But he did find them. He looked everywhere in Jacob's camp, but couldn't find them because Rachel was sitting on them. In effect, she was saying "you don't want to see my bloody rags".

Gen 31:19 When Laban had gone to shear his flock, then Rachel stole the household idols that were her father’s. 20 And Jacob deceived Laban the Aramean by not telling him that he was fleeing. 
34 Now Rachel had taken the household idols and put them in the camel’s saddle, and she sat on them. And Laban felt through all the tent but did not find them. 35 She said to her father, “Let not my lord be angry that I cannot rise before you, for the manner of women is upon me.” So he searched but did not find the household idols.
Jacob and Rachel deceive Laban.
Jacob offered a sacrifice (verse 54), I'm guessing it was a goat.
Cloth was implied.

Tamar's Veil

Tamar was Judah's daughter in law. Judah's son Er, her husband died so it fell to his brother Onan to raise up an offspring for Tamar. He wouldn't, so God took his life. Judah's third son Shelah was young so Judah told Tamar to wait. Alas, Shelah married and Tamar was neglected. She devised her own plan to get offspring by seducing Judah. She got pregnant and had twin boys.

Gen 38:14 So she removed her widow’s garments and covered herself with a veil, and wrapped herself, and sat in the gateway of Enaim, which is on the road to Timnah; for she saw that Shelah had grown up, and she had not been given to him as a wife. 15 When Judah saw her, he thought she was a harlot, for she had covered her face. 16 So he turned aside to her by the road, and said, “Here now, let me come in to you”; for he did not know that she was his daughter-in-law. And she said, “What will you give me, that you may come in to me?” 17 He said, therefore, “I will send you a young goat from the flock.”

Tamar deceived Judah.
The goat made a narrow escape from being slaughtered. There's always a goat.
She removed her widow's garments, and put on a veil.

Connection To Isaiah

Now it's time to dig into Isaiah 64:6 a little deeper. The phrase translated as filthy rags is from "idim beged". Idim actually means menstruation or menstrual blood  - Strong's(idim) [1]. Beged means a covering, translated as apparel, cloth, clothes, garment, raiment, rags - Strong's(beged) [2]. 

Each story mentions clothing, or cloth in some way. The link to Isaiah is that three of them use the word beged, the Rachel story doesn't use the word beged, but euphemistically refers to her bloody rags. The Tamar story does not mention blood, but definitely the clothing.

Genesis 27:15 — Then Rebekah took the best garments [beged] of Esau her elder son, which were with her in the house, and put them on Jacob her younger son.
Genesis 37:29 — Now Reuben returned to the pit, and behold, Joseph was not in the pit; so he tore his garments [beged].
Genesis 38:14 — So she [Tamar] removed her widow’s garments [beged] and covered [herself] with a veil, and wrapped herself, and sat in the gateway of Enaim, which is on the road to Timnah; for she saw that Shelah had grown up, and she had not been given to him as a wife.
Genesis 31:35 - She [Rachel] said to her father, “Let not my lord be angry that I cannot rise before you, for the manner of women [ki derek nashim li] is upon me.” So he searched but did not find the household idols [teraphim].


These three elements of deceit, blood, and cloth occur over and over again in these stories of the last half of Genesis. All the characters were trying to solve an injustice. Rebecca knew Jacob was to get the birthright over Esau and helped him get it by deceit. Jacob's sons suffered the favoritism shown to Joseph and set about to even the score. Tamar was being cheated out of offspring and worked out her own way to get them. And Rachel knew her father had cheated Jacob and would cheat him again so she helped him escape. All of them did it their own way.

When Isaiah wrote that our righteousness is as bloody cloths, perhaps he was saying that our means of seeking justice are wrong. In a way, it is equating our righteousness with deceit. The Hebrew word for righteousness tzedek also means justice. It seems fair to say that if our means of achieving justice begins with deceit, or involves deceit, like in these four stories, it won't accomplish God's righteousness. Our justice is going to end with blood and rags.

Is it possible for man to work God's justice, His righteousness? I think so. He gave us the Ten Commandments as a guide how to do it. "For all Your commandments are righteousness" - Ps 119:172. If we follow His rules, His justice will result. His laws are universal, He backs them up. In the end, God did not allow Laban to cheat Jacob, nor allow Joseph to stay in prison. When we do things our own way to get justice, in violation of the Ten Commandments, blood and rags result. However, we know that in this life there is injustice, even for believers. I think we can all recall injustices in our own lives. Even animals can recognize injustice and unfairness - The Story About Dinah Is Not About Dinah* [3]. How do we reconcile the realities we see around us with statements like this, "For I the Lord act with kindness, justice, and equity in the world; for in these I delight - Jer 9:22"? 

White Robes

What would be the picture of God's righteousness? I think the opposite of bloody rags would be white robes. This is what the saints are wearing in Revelation, robes made white by the blood of Jesus Christ. This hearkens back to Joseph, whose coat was dipped in blood to deceive, the difference is that Jesus' blood makes the saint's robes white.

Rev 7:13 Then one of the elders answered, saying to me, “These who are clothed in the white robes, who are they, and where have they come from?” 14 I said to him, “My lord, you know.” And he said to me, “These are the ones who come out of the great tribulation, and they have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb.

*Dinah's story is also about injustice, but has no mention of cloth. 


1. http://lexiconcordance.com/hebrew/5708.html

2. http://lexiconcordance.com/hebrew/0899.html
3. https://jlfreeman-1.blogspot.com/2017/08/the-story-about-dinah-is-not-about-dinah.html

Wednesday, April 25, 2018

How Can The Law Set You Free?

"There is no freedom without the Law."

The Commandments in Paleo Hebrew
This is a quote from the 1956 movie The Ten Commandments (clip, 30 seconds in) [1]  when Moses comes down from Mount Sinai with the Ten Commandments written on two tablets of stone, and then confronts Korah the troublemaker. That quote isn't actually in the Biblical text, though James 1:25 and 2:12 refer to the Ten Commandments as the Law of Liberty, many translations read Law of Freedom.

But what does it mean, that there is no freedom without the law? It seems contradictory,  freedom implies choice, law implies restricting choice. Well, which is it? Is it true? How does the law give freedom?

If you like this (or not), check out my other articles at the
Between The Ears BLOG INDEX, with titles and summaries.

Many, including me, see the quote as true. On this point, I agree with Pope Francis who said,
The Ten Commandments are not a limitation, but a pathway to freedom, Pope Francis said in a video message broadcast to thousands gathered in Milan’s Cathedral Square earlier this week. - Catholic Herald [2]
John Rankin, Theological Educational Institute writes,
The “commandments” are literally “words” of freedom. How often do we grasp that reality? For the Israelites, they were gaining freedom from 400 years of slavery. And the ten “words” were instructions that followed and designed to protect their freedom.
The Ten Commandments lead to freedom for creativity, healthy relationships and long life. This was true in theocratic Israel (a community of choice), and is true today in a pluralistic society such as the United States. To willfully break them is to lie to the self, and begin a process of enslavement. - The Nature of the Ten Commandments [3]
Or as C.S Lewis simply said "Obedience is the road to Freedom." - AZ Quotes [4]


Free From Egypt After
Crossing the Red Sea

One answer commonly found is that the liberty ie freedom means deliverance from the bondage of sin. That certainly makes sense. The first thing God says to ancient Israel at Mount Sinai is "I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery." The thing is that God delivered Israel from slavery before giving them the Ten Commandments. So you can't argue that The Law sets you free. God already set Israel free. Michelle Fincher of Calvary Presbyterian gets the order correct and suggests that The Law keeps you free. I will argue below it's more than that, that The Law really does set you free.

"The order of these events is critical. First God freed the people (grace), then came the commandments (law). The law was never given to tell people how to “measure up” so God would accept them or love them.
The law was (and is) given to tell us how to remain free." The Ten Commandments: Signposts to Freedom [5]
In other words, without law, specifically the Ten Commandments, we as humans would be slaves to sin. Ancient Israel wanted at times to go back to Egypt. They were set free, then wanted to return to sin.


Some teach that the freedom that Christ brought was freedom from the consequences of the Law. Explaining the phrase "under the law", John W. Ritenbaugh wrote, "it means to be under the law's penalty because we have sinned. Jesus died so that we can be freed from that penalty." - Law of Liberty [6].  In this life we are not always spared the penalty of our sins; to me, being free from "that penalty" means freedom from the penalty of eternal death, "For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord" - Rom 6:23. My assertion is that the Law sets us free in this lifetime as well. Some teach that the freedom that Christ brought was freedom FROM The Law, that we do not have to keep the Ten Commandments - God's Only Law Is Love [7]. It sounds tempting, but in fact is twisting the words of the Apostle Paul. Most everyone agrees humans need laws, but I think what we need is not just any set of man made laws (see how many laws we have, it's not working), but we need the Ten Commandments.

Some want to define terms to explain how law makes one free. I will define my own version of terms later, but consider this quote.
 If law is defined as restraint on hu­man action and liberty as the absence of restraint, the concepts are inimical and conciliation impos­sible.
In the words of Bastiat [8] (a French economits of the 19th century), liberty is "the freedom of every person to make full use of his faculties, so long as he does not harm other persons while doing so… [and] the re­stricting of the law only to its ra­tional sphere of organizing the right of the individual to lawful self-defense….”
Individual freedom is the lack of formal or informal external re­straints imposed by one man or group of men upon another, save for the collective coercion aimed at preventing individuals from acting forcibly or fraudulently against their neighbors. It is the absence of human impediment to the vol­untary action of fellow human be­ings. The permissible limitation on free choice is the recognition of an equal ambit of choice to all other men.
Freedom not only presupposes a system of law but also could not survive in the absence of law. - Individual Liberty And The Rule Of Law [9]
I found that hard to follow, but what it says to me is that you're free to do what you want (liberty) as long as you don't hurt anyone or steal their stuff. I have to think that The Law is more than that.  Bastiat's law sounds self centered to me, not recognizing kindness, or acts of charity towards others. The Ten Commandments are the expression of love itself, given by and backed by God Himself.
Matt 22:36 Master, which is the great commandment in the law? 37 Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. 38 This is the first and great commandment. 39 And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. 40 On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.

Tree Of Life

My theory is that The Law sets you free from the impossible task of deciding right from wrong, good from evil. Nearly everyone agrees we need laws to keep people from "acting forcibly or fraudulently", but people do not agree on what laws. It all started with Eve in the Garden of Eden. She ate from the wrong tree. The trees were called the Tree of Life, and the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil - note it was not called the Tree of Death, it has this long, arguably clumsy name. And Adam and Eve already knew right from wrong, they knew they weren't supposed to eat from it. So the real meaning was deeper than that. Many teach that by eating of Tree of the Long Name, Adam and Eve took it upon themselves to DECIDE good from evil. "The man has now become like one of us, knowing good and evil" - Gen 3:22. I assert that is an impossible task for an individual, but also impossible for all mankind. Again, look at all the laws man has made to address the need for people to live in liberty, you might say to maximize liberty for all, and it hasn't worked yet - men do like to write laws. In nations that base their law on the Ten Commandments, man's laws work better at providing liberty for all, but look at the fruits.
Look at human history, not just Western Civilization. True, Europe was an oppressive place during the Middle Ages, when the Church reigned supreme. And yes, liberty advanced during the Enlightenment, when deists and agnostics dared to reveal their beliefs. But this is too narrow a focus. How did Christian Europe compare with the rest of the world? Compare it with caste system India or Imperial China. The Moslem world was more advanced in learning, but how free was it? Include women in this metric. Compare chivalry and courtly love with the harems of the East. China had its balanced yin and yang – along with foot-binding. These civilizations would consider Pat Robertson to be a dangerously radical feminist. Law Of Liberty [10]
I offer two analogies to the impossible task of deciding good and evil. The first is music. There are an infinite number of frequencies (notes) in an octave. Choosing notes from an infinite "frequency space" is unlikely to produce anything melodic. But constrain your frequencies to the notes of a scale (do-re-mi-fa-so-la-ti-do) - now you can create a melody, yet still have infinite choice. The notes of the scale follow a natural, mathematical law, and all cultures have "discovered" the scale. In other words, the Law is like the musical scale, eliminating worthless choices.

Stay On The Path

My second analogy is: the law is like a path. If I want to go somewhere, I can look at a map, find the direction of the compass and start walking in that heading. However, it would be easier to follow the roads that already exist. It may not be as short a route as flight, but faster. This analogy I didn't make up, the Bible even refers to itself as a path "Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path"  - Psalm 119:105. God has solved the problem of what is good and evil, of what laws we need to live together. He has given us a map of the paths. We are set free from the curse of the law, which in my theory is trying to "know good and evil".

The Law keeps one free from slavery to sin.
The Law sets one free from the death penalty.
The Law sets one free from deciding good from evil.


1. https://youtu.be/Id6oS3L-D9A
2. http://catholicherald.co.uk/news/2013/06/12/pope-francis-ten-commandments-are-a-signpost-to-freedom/
3. http://www.teii.org/the-ten-commandments-prayer-in-the-public-schools/the-nature-of-the-ten-commandments/
4. http://www.azquotes.com/quote/874053
5. http://calvarypres.org/the-ten-commandments-signposts-to-freedom
6. https://www.bibletools.org/index.cfm/fuseaction/Topical.show/RTD/cgg/ID/674/Law-Liberty.htm
7. http://deeptruths.com/letters/Gods-law-love.html
8. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fr%C3%A9d%C3%A9ric_Bastiat
9. https://fee.org/articles/individual-liberty-and-the-rule-of-law
10. https://www.holisticpolitics.org/LawOfLiberty