Monday, December 31, 2018

Church of God Legacy

A Brief History of the Church of God and the New Testament

Ten Commandments Given at
Mount Sinai
I heard a Jewish rabbi say that the Ten Commandments shaped the course of world civilization - AlephBeta [1]. I agree with that statement, but the Jews don’t get much credit for “spreading the word” of the Ten Commandments. Ancient Israel was not an evangelical nation even though they were meant to be a kingdom of priests to the world – Ex 19:6. And to this day, the Jews are not evangelical, “In general, Jews do not try to convert non-Jews to Judaism” [2]. The Hebrew Old Testament was not even translated into any other language for a thousand years [3][11][12], and then only because of the deportation of the Jews to Babylon, where they came to speak Aramaic. So the Jews can’t take much credit for “shaping the course of world civilization”.

That all changed with Jesus. He said “I will build My church and the gates of hell will not prevail against it.” - Mt 16:18. And He told His church “Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel” - Mark 16:15. Jesus started His Church with 12 disciples and 120 members, and in a few years “turned the world upside down” – Acts 17:6.

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

And what about now? We can’t imagine the Western World without a Christian church on almost every corner. There may be pockets of Christianity in places like the Middle East or Asia - Wikipedia(Christianity_by_country) [14], but here in the West, it is part of the fabric of our society . The Book That Made Your World [15] details the many ways the Bible has influenced the world we live in: philosophy, science, literature, education, law, liberty, etc. My goal is not to show all the ways the Bible influenced our world (it takes a whole book), but rather to show that the Church of God was the force behind the scenes. The Church that Jesus started has made a difference to the whole world. There are 2.4 billion Catholics and Protestants, that is, people who profess the name of Jesus Christ - Pew Research Center [16]. 2.4 BILLION – that’s a third of the world’s population, a far cry from 120.

The New Testament itself is intertwined with that world-changing commission to preach the gospel. So let’s ask: Who wrote the New Testament? When? Who canonized it? When? Who translated it? When? Those are the questions I’ll be addressing here.  The history of the New Testament is the history of the Church of God [6], and it is not what I thought, or what one finds in encyclopedias or on Wikipedia. 


Everyone agrees that the Apostles wrote the New Testament, but most sources date the earliest writings decades after Christ’s death. However, the Gospel of Matthew was most likely written by 35 AD, just a few years after His crucifixion. The Book of James, considered to be the first epistle, was most likely written 40-41 AD - When Was the New Testament Written? [17].

Papyrus 46
2 Cor 11:33-12:9
Why a gospel so early? The traditional view is that the Apostles thought Christ’s second coming was imminent, and only after they realized it might be a while, then they wrote it down. Why then do some sources say Matthew wrote his gospel so soon? At first, right after the crucifixion, all new converts were from Jerusalem, and they were eyewitnesses to the events of Christ’s ministry and crucifixion, and everyone there was EXPECTING the Messiah. Convincing them that Jesus was the Messiah they were expecting was (relatively) easy. But as evangelists moved out into the rest of Judea and beyond, they needed an eyewitness record, they needed a written gospel. In Judea outside Jerusalem, they would have heard the OT in synagogue all their lives, but still, this was new. The Apostles devoted themselves to writing it all down VERY early on. It seems that is what is meant in Acts 6:4. “But we will devote ourselves to prayer and to the ministry of the word.” And the early church made copies everywhere they went. Granted, not as methodical and as meticulous as the Levites and scribes that maintained the Hebrew Scriptures, but they made lots of copies. Today, there are over 5000 copies of the NT, ranging from small fragments to the complete NT, making it the most represented ancient document in the world [18].


Who canonized the NT? In other words, who selected which books that made up the New Testament? The Catholic Church tries to take credit for canonization near the end of the 4th century - [20][21][22]. 

It is sometimes thought that because the New Testament has come down to us in Greek, that the Gentiles from Greek speaking areas were the ones who had authority to preserve the new canon - CBCG(Who Is Jesus?) [24].

We know the responsibility for the Old Testament canon belonged to the Jews – Rom 3:2, and there is very little controversy over the text [4].


Do you think that Jesus was going to leave the New Testament to the Jews who crucified Him?

Do you think that Jesus was going to leave it to the Catholic Church hundreds of years after the Apostles? Or leave it to non believers?

The responsibility for the New Testament canon passed from the Jews to the Apostles, specifically Paul (some say James), Peter, and John (actually still Jews), and preserving that text then passed to the Church. It was John who finalized the canon [25][27]. There is internal evidence in the NT, as well as historical evidence that it was complete by the end of the first century. [17]


Who is responsible for translating the Bible? The Catholic Church again claims credit with the Latin Vulgate, that is Greek New Testament to Latin around 400 AD [7][26]. (Vulgate means language of the people, aka vernacular).  But the Catholic Church was actually playing catch up.
“The Reformers held that the Waldensian Church was formed about 120 A. D., from which date on, they passed down from father to son the teachings they received from the apostles. The Latin Bible, the Italic, was translated from the Greek not later than 157 A. D.” [3].

Why these early translations in Italic (Old Italian)? The early Church evangelists needed a Bible in the vernacular of the people. The Catholic Church actually resisted translating the Bible into the language of the people.

Those of you who have studied church history will recognize the term Waldensian. The Waldensians got their name from their most famous evangelist, Peter Waldo [8]. Some argue that Waldo got his name from the people called Vaudois (people of the valley). But they were known throughout history by many names – Vaudois, Cathari, Toulousians, Albigenses, Transmontani, Lollards, Insabbatti, etc. Insabbatti is an interesting name because it means "without Sabbath" because they didn’t keep the Catholic Sabbath (meaning Sunday), they kept the seventh day Sabbath. The book The Martyr’s Mirror [28] lists over 25 names used for them depending on country and century. Historians have also applied the name Waldensian to groups before and after the Vaudois.

Waldensian symbol
Lux lucet in tenebris
Light glows in the darkness
The Waldensians are usually associated with the Thyatira church of Revelation 2:18-24. They resisted the Church of Rome for centuries. It is difficult to say when the Waldensian era began, but we know it basically ended in martyrdom in 1655, where the French Duke of Savoy tried to eliminate the people and their libraries [29].  The massacre was so brutal it aroused indignation throughout Europe, and in England, where Oliver Cromwell got involved [30]. He sent Samuel Morland to put pressure on the French to end the persecution, and Morland also aided the Waldensians. Morland returned with a copy of the Waldensian New Testament which now lies in the Cambridge University Library [9][10]. After this, the Waldensians were scattered, but not eliminated. Those that remained seemed to lose their way, some of them joined with different branches of the Reformation. However, there are still pockets of Waldenses, even one settlement in North Carolina -  Waldensian Trail of Faith [31].

This Bible in the Cambridge University Library was not the only one to survive, nor the only one to influence translators, and thereby influence the world. In fact, every major translation of the Middle Ages was based on Waldensian Bibles [5][32].

Martin Luther
Luther used the Tepl Bible, named from Tepl, Bohemia. This Tepl manuscript represented a translation of the Waldensian Bible into the German which was spoken before the days of the Reformation. History of the Bible [3]
It is therefore evident that the [KJV] translators of 1611 had before them four Bibles which had come under Waldensian influences: the Diodati in Italian, the Olivetan in French, the Lutheran in German, and the Genevan in English. We have every reason to believe that they had access to at least six Waldensian Bibles written in the old Waldensian vernacular. - Our Authorized Bible Vindicated [7]

The New Testament Scriptures were not entrusted to the Jews or Greeks, nor the Catholic Church, but to the Church of God, who carried that responsibility from the apostles to the printing press and beyond. The Church preserved the text, and the Church translated it into the languages of the people. Nowadays, the texts don’t need the same type of safekeeping, there are simply too many copies of the Greek manuscripts in too many places, and way too many copies of translations in many languages. Today, the attacks on the Bible are of a different nature. The point is that all our Bibles have the mark of the Church of God (especially the Waldensians) on them.


What kind of influence did the Waldensians have on the world? Not only did the Waldensians resist Rome for centuries, evangelize throughout Europe, and influence Bible translation, they directly influenced the early leaders of the Reformation, two of the biggest names, Martin Luther and John Calvin.

I showed earlier that Luther used the Tepl Bible when doing his translation. Here’s the rest of the quote.

We have, therefore, an indication of how much the Reformation under Luther as well as Luther's Bible owed to the Waldenses. [3]

John Calvin

Many Christian Protestant denominations trace their roots to John Calvin and the Reformation movement, including The United Methodist Church. Calvin was influenced by four different Waldensian Bible translations – Greek, Romaunt (the common language of the Vaudois),  French, and Italic (old Italian) [32][33]. And Calvin was a cousin of the Vaudois pastor Pierre Robert, also known as OlivĂ©tan, who translated the Bible into French in 1535 - Olivetan [35].


We can see that the truth was passed from father to son for centuries, with the Waldensians being the most well known “torch-bearers”. The legacy of the Church of God is in preserving, translating, and teaching the Scriptures right from the time of the Apostles. The major Bible translations of the Middle Ages, even today, owe a debt to the Church of God. The Reformation owes its origin to the Church of God, though it did not go far enough in “reforming” the Catholic Church. They got some things wrong, but they got many things right too. Many want to claim the Waldensians in their church lineage, without actually living by the Scriptures the way the Waldensians did. The church of God is the rightful inheritor of that legacy.  While we may not be physical descendants of the Waldensians, we are their spiritual descendants. Think of the impact the Church of God has already had on the world in this age – our spiritual ancestors have shaped the course of civilization. And more to come in the next age.

Additional reading on the Waldensians.

Several authors quote from Jean Leger's book  "General History of the Vaudois Churches", but I have been unable to find it online. The Landmark Independent Baptist Church claims to have added Leger's book to their library.

The History Of The Waldenses By J. A. Wylie (1808-1890)

Authentic Details Of The Valdenses: Milner's Church History Of The Valdenses, In Piemont An  Other Countries. With Abridged Translations Of "L'Histoire Des Vaudois" by J. Bresse

A History Of The Vaudois Church From Its Origin, and Of The Vaudois Of Piedmont To The Present Day by Monastier, Antoine

Israel of the Alps by Alexis Muston



[The Revelation of Mount Sinai]  defines our destiny, and shaped the course of world civilization. Without that event, where would we be? Rabbi David Fohrman



This URL appears to be a compilation of three documents by Robert L. Webb, "History of the Bible", "True Bible and True Church Inseparable", and "Preservation of the Bible by the Waldenses". The last of these is a lengthy excerpt from "Our Authorized Bible Vindicated" by Benjamin G. Wilkinson, Ph. D. so quotes from the third part will be listed under "Our Authorized Bible Vindicated".

History of the Bible by Elder Robert L. Webb

It is worthy of consideration that the Old Testament books were not translated into other languages until very near the time of the Christian age.

[4] ibid. The Old Testament "oracles of God" were providentially committed to the Jewish, or Hebrew people (Romans 3: 1,2). The ancient Massoretes (students of Moses' law) devoted their lives to perfection in preserving and copying the Old Testament books. The story of their work is a marvelous testimony to God's preservation of His word to all generations. There is very little controversy regarding the Hebrew text.

[5] ibid. The Scriptures were translated into Latin, French, Dutch, German, and other languages where the Church of Jesus Christ existed through the centuries. 

[6] ibid. True Bible and True Church Inseparable, see [3]

A careful study of the history of the ancient Waldenses, and of Bible texts and translations, clearly reveals how inseparable the true Bible is from the true Church.

[7]  Preservation of the Bible by the Waldenses, excerpt from "Our Authorized Bible Vindicated", 1930, pp. 31-42 by Benjamin G. Wilkinson. see [3].

It is not true, as the Roman Church claims, that she gave the Bible to the world. What she gave was an impure text, a text with thousands of verses so changed as to make way for her unscriptural doctrines. 

[8] ibid.  There are modern writers who attempt to fix the beginning of the Waldenses from Peter Waldo, who began his work about 1175. This is a mistake. The historical name of this people, as properly derived from the valleys where they lived, is Vaudois. Nevertheless the history of the Waldenses, or Vaudois, begins centuries before the days of Waldo.

[9] ibid. More importantly, Oliver Cromwell dispatched diplomat Samuel Morland to force the House of Savoy to lay off the persecution; in fact, he threatened to disrupt high statecraft between England and France unless the French twisted arms on behalf of the Waldensians. ] 

[10] ibid.. Sir Samuel Morland, under the protection of Oliver Cromwell, received from Leger the Waldensian New Testament which now lies in the Cambridge University Library. After the devastating massacre of the Waldenses in 1655, Leger felt that he should collect and give into the hands of Sir Samuel Morland as many pieces of the ancient Waldensian literature as were available.


It is estimated that the first five books of the Old Testament, known as the Torah or Pentateuch, were translated in the mid-3rd century BCE and the remaining texts were translated in the 2nd century BCE. 


Some of the first translations of the Torah began during the Babylonian exile, when Aramaic became the lingua franca of the Jews.


The Bible is the most translated book in the world. The United Bible Societies announced that as of 31 December 2007 the complete Bible was available in 438 languages. 



From a review:
These things we now take for granted, but they ALL had their taproots in the Bible, not with Greek philosophers, nor with Englightenment rationalists as we have been misled to believe.



When Was the New Testament Written? - Fred R Coulter
"The evidence is overwhelming that the apostle James used the Gospel of Matthew as a basis for much of his Epistle. Thus, it can be concluded that Matthew was completed (perhaps with some later edits) and was in general use well before 40-41 AD. But it is also possible that Matthew had completed his Gospel as early as 33-35 AD. This theory would fully harmonize with the fact that the apostles gave themselves to “the ministry of the Word” in the first year after the crucifixion. As a Levite, Matthew undoubtedly was in charge of writing and compiling the teachings of Jesus, as described in Acts 6:4. That is why the Gospel of Matthew was the first Gospel account to be completed and why it is the first book of the New Testament."
The evidence is overwhelming that the apostle James used the Gospel of Matthew as a basis for much of his Epistle. Thus, it can be concluded that Matthew was completed (perhaps with some later edits) and was in general use well before 40-41 AD. But it is also possible that Matthew had completed his Gospel as early as 33-35 AD. This theory would fully harmonize with the fact that the apostles gave themselves to “the ministry of the Word” in the first year after the crucifixion. As a Levite, Matthew undoubtedly was in charge of writing and compiling the teachings of Jesus, as described in Acts 6:4. That is why the Gospel of Matthew was the first Gospel account to be completed and why it is the first book of the New Testament.
(A Faithful Version)









The New Testament, as canonized by the Apostle John, contained 27 books. Jerome's late fourth century A.D. Latin Vulgate version, however, which became the standard for the Catholic Church, contained a total number of 41. This added set are known collectively as the Apocrypha, a set of books found in various translations such as the NAB and RSV.


Jerome's Vulgate Latin translation dates to between AD 382 and 420.


The authority to perform such a task was essentially given to three apostles who had been with Christ on the Mount of Transfiguration: Peter and the Sons of Zebedee (James and John).

We will see shortly that it was actually the apostle John who had the commission from Christ to finalize and to complete the full canon of the New Testament.

It was recognized that John was the actual one in charge of authorizing the final scriptural books. This is why Peter emphasized the experience that he and John had witnessed on the Mount of Transfiguration with Christ (2 Peter 1:16–19).

[28] The Martyr’s Mirror by Thieleman J. Van Braght - epub or PDF download. - online HTML.
See for a full list of names that people called the Waldensians.


On 24 April 1655, an estimated 1,700 Waldensians were slaughtered; the massacre was so brutal it aroused indignation throughout Europe. ]


Oliver Cromwell became the ruler of England—the Lord Protector—in 1653, after the English Civil Wars. In 1655, when news came to England of the massacre of Waldensians by French troops, Cromwell, and all England, were gripped with horror and indignation at the reports of the brutal treatment of “those of like precious faith.” Accounts of the kidnapping, rape, and gruesome torture of women and children especially fueled the English fury. 


[32]  General History of the Vaudois Churches, p. 165. Leger

One must confess it was by means of the Vaudois of the Valleys that France today has the Bible in her own language.

[33] ibid. Four Bibles produced under Waldensian influence touched the history of Calvin: namely, a Greek, a Waldensian vernacular, a French, and an Italian. Calvin himself was led to his great work by Olivetan, a Waldensian. Thus was the Reformation brought to Calvin.

[34] ibid Olivetan, one of the most illustrious pastors of the Waldensian Valleys, a relative of Calvin.


Sunday, December 2, 2018

I'm Tired, Boss

John Coffey, The Green Mile
You tell God the Father it was a kindness you done. I know you hurtin' and worryin', I can feel it on you, but you oughta quit on it now. Because I want it over and done. I do. I'm tired, boss. Tired of bein' on the road, lonely as a sparrow in the rain. Tired of not ever having me a buddy to be with, or tell me where we's coming from or going to, or why. Mostly I'm tired of people being ugly to each other. I'm tired of all the pain I feel and hear in the world everyday. There's too much of it. It's like pieces of glass in my head all the time. Can you understand? - Youtube [1], IMDB Movie Quotes [2]

These are words from the character John Coffey in the movie "The Green Mile".  He is on death row, and he explains why he is ready to die. I think most of us can relate to the line, "Mostly I'm tired of people being ugly to each other." His "supernatural" gift made him more sensitive to people's ugliness, but really it doesn't take a special gift to see the ugliness in the world today. Read the news, ugliness is all around us. And it is unrelenting, it begins to feel as if one is always "bracing for impact". Wars and rumors of wars. Mass shootings. Pedophile priests. Financial crises caused by greed and deceit. Suicide bombings. Religious persecutions. And politics, don't overlook politics.

I'm tired too, Boss.

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

Maybe you or a loved one is having a health crisis. There are plenty of debilitating diseases out there. Many people in hospitals and rest homes are ready to die.  Maybe you or a loved one got injured, like a car accident, or a fall off a ladder. Maybe you or a loved one suffered loss from a natural disaster like a wildfire, or tornado, or had a hurricane destroy your home. Even if you reach old age without sickness or accident, your body will eventually run down. Solomon described it in Eccl 12:1 "Remember also your Creator in the days of your youth, before the evil days come and the years draw near when you will say, “I have no delight in them”.  The days are coming that we will have no delight in. After poetically describing how the body will wear out in verses 2-7, he concludes in verse 8 with  “Vanity of vanities,” says the Preacher, “all is vanity!”

I'm tired Boss.

The Germans gave us a word for this - Weltschmerz, yes it's in the English dictionary. It means world heavy or world weary. Frederick C. Beiser defines Weltschmerz more broadly as "a mood of weariness or sadness about life arising from the acute awareness of evil and suffering" - Wikipedia(Weltschmertz) [3]. The word was coined by a German Romantic poet of the 19th century, "The poets of the Romantic era were a notably gloomy bunch, unwilling or unable to adjust to those realities of the world that they perceived as threatening their right to personal freedom" - Merriam-Webster [4]. Others describe it as being aware of the difference between an ideal world and the real world. Most everyone sees enough good times and bad times in life to recognize the difference between the ideal and the reality. I leave the reader to decide whether you've got "angst, ennui, or weltschmertz" - MentalFloss [5]. All foretold by Solomon 3000 years ago - Eccl 1:8 "All things are wearisome; Man is not able to tell it."

I'm weltschmertzy, Boss.

Maybe you're still in good health, but you suffer from depression, and sometimes death seems like a way out. You're not alone,  more than 16 million people in the US alone are taking an anti-depressant  drug every year -Time Magazine [6], not to mention self medication with alcohol and street drugs. I think depression in America coincides with kicking God out of public life. Statistically, atheists have way higher rates of depression and suicide than believers - ChristianPost [7]. That doesn't mean believers get to look down on an atheist who is depressed. Maybe a loved one suffers from depression, and you don't know how to help. There are web sites that can help you get started helping them. Learn the symptoms NIMH [8], and "Be There" - PsychCentral [9].

And if you're depressed AND a Christian? Let the self flagellation begin. We know the plan of God, how could we possibly be depressed? We should have joy instead. There are lots of verses about joy in the Bible; joy is listed as one of the fruits of the Holy Spirit - Gal 5:22; and we are to "count it all joy when we encounter various trials" - James 1:2.  There must be something wrong if you're depressed instead of joyful; one can come to doubt that they have the Holy Spirit, or doubt that they are a true Christian, or even begin to believe that God has abandoned them. So add guilt and doubt to depression, blame the victim.

You can find examples of depression in the Bible, it just wasn't called that then. Consider the case of Elijah, who one day killed 450 prophets of Baal, and the next day ran for his life, and wanted to die “It is enough; now, O Lord, take my life, for I am not better than my fathers.” - 1Kings 19:4. Or the case of Jonah, who preached a successful warning to Nineveh, and then he too wanted to die, "Therefore now, O Lord, please take my life from me, for death is better to me than life.” - Jonah 4:3. It seems to me that Jonah had a death wish throughout the whole story. And Job, who summed it up this way

Job 3:11 “Why did I not die at birth,
17 “There the wicked cease from raging,
And there the weary are at rest.
All of us are tired, Boss.

In some ways though, that is the point of physical existence, this existence that Solomon described as too wearisome to tell. The weariness, the weltschmertz, creates in all of us a desire for rest. God created the Sabbath day by resting. But I think Lamech is expressing world weariness when he names his son Noah, saying "this one will give us rest" - Gen 5:29. Noah's name means rest. "Significantly, the competing lineage of Cain, ends up in the land of Nod, which means Restless Wandering." [10].

God gave us the Sabbath day so we could taste the rest to come. Where Job saw the grave as the  place of rest, the real rest is in a life to come, not death, but in the resurrection, and the Sabbath is a foreshadow that that ultimate rest is coming. The connection between the Sabbath rest and the eternal rest is shown in Heb 4:9 " So there remains a Sabbath rest for the people of God." No, we don't go to heaven after we die, we are resurrected on this earth with new bodies, spiritual bodies that don't wear out, that don't suffer weariness and depression. And resurrected into a world without wars, disease, and weltschmertz - UCG(life-after-death) [11]. One lesson of this life is to desire that rest that only comes from Jesus Christ.

Matthew 11:28 “Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest.



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.

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

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.



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 Surströmming, 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 [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" - [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.