Welcome message

Dear friends,

Welcome to my blog. I am honored to have you visit. I hope you'll find my articles a blessing. I welcome your input and especially comments and questions.

I write as a Christian from Jerusalem, Israel about Biblical subjects.

I am particularly interested in the subjects of children, families, women's issues, corporal punishment, science and nature as these subjects relate to the Holy Scriptures.

For more information, see my website: www.biblechild.com

With every good wish - Samuel Martin

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

One of the most powerful messages from a mother I have ever read anywhere anytime - Do not miss this!

One of the most powerful messages from a mother I have ever read anywhere anytime - Do not miss this!


I read this today on The Guggie Daily and I have to link it here!


My Past is Defeated for My Children’s Future


by Jennifer Lee Wright

Here is a small but powerful excerpt - I strongly urge you to read the rest here.

http://guggiedaly.blogspot.co.il/2014/03/my-past-is-defeated-for-my-childrens.html

"After a year of being sober and trying, we became pregnant with our first child.  Something changed.  Deeply, drastically, beyond anything else I’ve ever experienced before in my life, upon becoming a mother.  Suddenly, I NEEDED God in ways I’d never known or thought was possible.  I didn’t want to mess this up.  I needed him in my marriage, I needed him in my mothering, I needed him in everyday things.  But more, I learned a whole new side of, and understanding of…...love.  I was also forced to face the demons of my past and sort through them.  I had to think upon and work through how I had been raised.  I had to realize that I didn’t have a family unit around me to help me in my new role of life.  It was devastating, heartbreaking, and healing all at the same time.
One huge life changer for me was when I held my baby.  I would look at her and I would feel such a huge, breathtaking emotion that I couldn’t understand or put into words.  All I knew was that I loved this child in greater proportions than I even knew was possible.  I felt as though I was going to explode, I had so much going on inside.  Finally the dam, that wall of protection I’d built up inside of me to be strong and carry on, broke and the flood burst forth.  I broke at the realization of what had been done to me as a child came flooding in with a clarity that made me ache to my core.  I wept out of heartbreak for myself as well as for the healing laying in my arms at a chance of a new kind of life.  A chance to break the cycle. Tears just poured out of me in a cleansing way and washed away my pain as pure love filled me from within that I never knew existed.  
As I looked at this child so small, so helpless, and so dependant on me for her everything, I simply could not imagine ever treating her the way I had been treated.  How could THAT be good and right and lovely?  It flew in the face of everything I knew about God.  Granted, I didn’t know much, but I was learning that he wasn’t the God I had been taught as a child.  He was a God of love, grace, forgiveness, peace, mercy, patience, kindness and goodness."

This is an amazing testimony and it has a strong message of Gentle Parenting as well as Jennifer was also spanked  and suffered greatly as a child! Please do yourself a favor and make sure you read this!

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Our surroundings influence how we look at Scripture

Our surroundings influence how we look at Scripture

Living in Jerusalem certainly gives one an interesting perspective about the Bible. One has to admit that living here is just a little different than say in London, England or Los Angeles, California, where I grew up.

I think it is safe to say that if we were to objectively compare Los Angeles and Jerusalem, the person in Jerusalem would probably have a better chance of having a slightly richer understanding of the Bible?

I think most people would probably agree with that. My surroundings influence how I look at Scripture (both the Old and the New Testaments).

I am not alone.

One’s surroundings strongly influence their view of the Bible. Let me give you a very simple example.

Note this seemingly uninteresting and unimportant text from Ruth:

“And at mealtime Boaz said to her, “Come here and eat some bread and dip your morsel in the wine.” So she sat beside the reapers, and he passed to her roasted grain. And she ate until she was satisfied, and she had some left over. (Ruth 2:14 ESV)

Now the word I have italicized is “wine” which here in Hebrew is חומץ (ghoh-metz)

You find this word translated in the King James Version generally as “vinegar.” (see Numbers 6:3; Ruth 2:14; Psalm 69:21; Proverbs 10:26 and 25:20

You can refer to the following website which gives a good run down of how many scholars and Bible translators have looked at this point: http://bible.cc/ruth/2-14.htm

There is no problem with translating this word “vinegar”, but it could also mean something else and depending on your perspective, you may be influenced on what you think this word means.

“Vinegar” is the common interpretation, but if you were from Jerusalem, you might look at this verse and potential meanings a bit different because of the foods that you see commonly eaten around you.

One of these foods is hummus.

Many people may be familiar with this dish made of chick peas which are cooked and then crushed and mixed with sesame seed oil, lemon, paprika, salt and eaten with bread.

It is certainly not the same thing as vinegar.

Now, the interesting thing about this is when you start to look at Hebrew dictionaries because you will find that the word for “chick pea” (from which hummus is derived) is: חמצה (Ben Yehuda’s Pocket English-Hebrew Dictionary (Pocket Books, 1961,1964).

This is quite similar and from the same root word as that mentioned above. So, were Boaz and Ruth, like many couples continue to do today here in Israel, sharing a plate of hummus, not dipping their bread in vinegar?

I am not saying that they were. But I do wish to make a point.

What difference does it make? Hummus or Vinegar? So what? So who cares? What difference does it make whether it was hummus, vinegar or bread dipped in wine (as the ESV has it)?

It can make a big difference because we all are influenced by our surroundings.

Many of those translators or grammarians who never visited the Near East or spent any time in Israel will often not be willing to look outside of their own rigid 21st century views. They don’t have firsthand knowledge. They have limited terms of reference and perspectives and they are influenced by their surroundings. They may also have specific agendas behind their translation approach.

They would never in a million years even think of hummus!

Their minds may just not be focused on that even as a possibility.

Now, this is a small example and it is something which does not have a majorly significant impact on daily life. But what about passages that do have major impacts on daily life?

What about passages that influence human relationships one with another? What about passages that influenced how parents treat children? What about passages that influence how men treat women?

With the little example I am giving here, I hope you can see how important it is to get these things right or at least not be so dogmatic that you know the truth 100%.

Intellectual honesty demands that one leave the possibility that he or she may not be correct. I think this is exactly what St. Paul is telling us when he said:

“Let God be true though everyone were a liar” (Romans 3:4 ESV)

And continuing:

None is righteous, no, not one;
     no one understands;
no one seeks for God.
     All have turned aside; together they have become worthless;
no one does good,
     not even one.” (Romans 3:10-12 ESV)

This I think is where we who love the Bible can learn some lessons about our own biases and perspectives.

We are all carrying baggage which influences how we look at things.

This is where we have to be humble and admit that at any time any of us might be teaching error or falsehood. I pray that is not the case, but I have to tell you that in Paul’s appraisal of himself, me and you, we are “liars”. Thankfully, we are not under condemnation for this because we don’t know that we may be thinking or believing something that is false. I hope we are not, but I think we need to be like the five wise virgins in the parable and make sure we have extra oil in our lamps! (Matthew 25)

Let’s consider another example.

Review now Leviticus 10:9:

“Drink no wine or strong drink, you or your sons with you, when you go into the tent of meeting, lest you die. It shall be a statute forever throughout your generations. (ESV)

Now, here the ESV agrees with most of the versions we know who can be found here: http://bible.cc/leviticus/10-9.htm.

Commentators go to great length mentioning various theories about what this “strong drink” is.

Let me be clear.

When we Americans read this (who have all visited a Costco or a Walmart and seen aisles of "strong drink:"), we immediately think of something stronger to drink than wine. I know because I asked several of my friends who confirmed this.

Here we definitely have in mind alcoholic beverages like rum, vodka, whisky, etc.

Some translations even add the word “liquor.”

Any problem with translating this word “strong drink”?

No, not really, but in fact, when we go back to our Bible perspective and ignore all of the Western civilizational influences, we find that according to that same dictionary I quoted earlier, the Hebrew word שכר (sheh-chahr) means exactly “beer”, and nothing stronger.

In fact, if anyone would simply even study the matter in the most simple of ways, one would find out that modern spirits that we are familiar with today, were simply unknown in the Biblical period!

In fact, modern distillation of spirits is not even 1,000 years old! In addition, it may not even be 600 years old according to one of my scholar friends, Prof. Randall Heskett, who along with another colleague has authored a book on wine in the Bible. Check it out. http://www.amazon.com/Randall-Heskett/e/B001HOF9VS/ref=ntt_athr_dp_pel_pop_1

This “strong drink” is in no way the equivalent of whisky and translations that use the term "liquor" are wrong!

It is in fact a beverage which had lesser alcoholic content than the previously mentioned word in that passage, which is “wine”!

Now to the point: these are simple examples which are innocent and have some interesting elements of teaching in them, but the important point is this. We Christians, especially those of us who are not experts in understanding the Bible in its original context, need to make sure as best as we can that we understand what it is that we believe about we think the Scriptures are teaching us.

As I have shown in my book, “Thy Rod and Thy Staff, They Comfort Me; Christians and the Spanking Controversy” (get it free here - http://whynottrainachild.com/2013/06/22/download-martins-book/), much misunderstanding exists in what people believe the Bible teaches about the issue of the “rod of correction” and about familial relations in the Biblical period.

My point in that book was to help provide additional information about what the Bible may be teaching regarding these important issues.

I don’t claim to have all the answers. I believe that the Holy Scriptures do have them and that it is up to us to discover what it is that God wants us to do and what God wants us not to do in today’s world.

This also extends to what God wants us to believe versus what He does not want us to believe.

We better be sure that if we are not even 100% sure what people were eating and drinking or even the clothes they wore in ancient times, we probably have to admit that we are not 100% sure how they were raising up their kids.

 I think if we all agree to handle two of our most treasured possessions, our children and God’s Word, with the utmost care that they deserve, we will be on our way to having a better relationship with both.


Thursday, March 13, 2014

In the Biblical context, what can the Great Spotted Cuckoo, the Hen, the Ostrich or the Eagle teach us about parenting our kids? Part One

In the Biblical context, what can the Great Spotted Cuckoo, the Hen, the Ostrich or the Eagle teach us about parenting our kids? Part One

 As often happens, I recently find myself taking to bird watching. That is not too hard to do with the vast multiplicity of native bird species here in the Holy Land, not to mention all the migrating birds that pass through this country on their way too and from Africa.

 Recently, I was enjoying a few moments in the park with my youngest daughter. We were amazed to see scores of white heron/egret type birds sitting in the tall cypress trees. These migratory birds were resting on a seasonal migration that they make to and from Africa and my little girl and I got to observe them on their way.

Just as we were leaving, I saw another bird fly past my car and I got a good glimpse of it. It was a Great Spotted Cuckoo. These birds are fairly common here in the Mediterranean zone and they have an amazing story (we’ll get to this shortly) that people throughout the centuries have observed here and in Europe.

I reflected on those birds and am reminded of how much we can learn from animals and birds are no exception. Let us remind ourselves of what the Bible says on this quoting here a Scriptural text which has been a repeated reference for me of late:

“But ask the beasts, and they will teach you; the birds of the heavens, and they will tell you; or the bushes of the earth, and they will teach you; and the fish of the sea will declare to you. Who among all these does not know that the hand of the Lord has done this? In his hand is the life of every living thing and the breath of all mankind.” (Job 12:7-10) (ESV)

This text seems quite clear that “the birds of heaven, they will tell you…” Yes, birds can tell us something related to the One that “in his hand is the life of every living thing and breath of all mankind.” (v.10)

Birds and winged creatures are as old as creation and even older. We even encounter the Spirit of God “hovering” over the newly created earth in Genesis 1:2. This verb used in this text relates precisely to the same verb used in Deuteronomy 32:11 to describe an eagle “hovering” or “fluttering” over its nest saying:

“Like an eagle that stirs up its nest, that flutters over its young, spreading out its wings, catching them, bearing them on its pinions,…” (more on this text later)

But I said that birds and winged creatures are older than creation? Yes, this is what I believe.

You might think it a bit strange to use the term “older than creation”, but in fact, the Bible speaks of actions taking place before creation took place. Some of these are fairly obvious like John 1 or even the more cryptic Proverbs 8 talking about Wisdom saying:

            “The LORD possessed me at the beginning of his work,
                        the first of his acts of old.
            Ages ago I was set up,
                        at the first, before the beginning of the earth.
            When there were no depths I was brought forth,
                        when there were no springs abounding with water.
            Before the mountains had been shaped,
                        before the hills, I was brought forth,
            before he had made the earth with its fields,
                        or the first of the dust of the world.
            When he established the heavens, I was there;
                        when he drew a circle on the face of the deep,
            when he made firm the skies above,
                        when he established the fountains of the deep,
            when he assigned to the sea its limit,
                        so that the waters might not transgress his command,
            when he marked out the foundations of the earth,
                        then I was beside him, like a master workman,
            and I was daily his delight,
                        rejoicing before him always,
            rejoicing in his inhabited world
                        and delighting in the children of man. (Proverbs 8:22-31 ESV)

This text gets right back to the beginning of the earth, but, if we are willing to look carefully, we can find information which talks about times even before this if we are just willing to consider it and as I said earlier, this period pictures God undertaking creative works well before the creation of the earth. And who do we find there with God Almighty: Angels who are depicted often as winged creatures. Where is this referenced?

It is found in the book of Psalms. The book of Psalms is a carefully designed group of five separate collections of books. These collections, or divisions, are lost to the English reader, but are well known in Hebraic scholarship. These divisions are enumerated as follows:

Book I of the Psalms – Psalm 1 to Psalm 41
Book II of the Psalms – Psalm 42 to Psalm 72
Book III of the Psalms – Psalm 73 to Psalm 89
Book IV of the Psalms – Psalm 90 to Psalm 106
Book V of the Psalms – Psalm 107 to Psalm 150 (1)

Now, in Book IV of the Psalms, the last four Psalms of that book are connected together. No one can read these four Psalms consecutively without noticing the progression of events described therein.

My father always taught that these four Psalms were like a separate history of the world written by King David,(2) though it is not easy to prove that David wrote these Psalms though his name is ascribed as the author of Psalm 103 and the three Psalms that follow are all connected by a specific historical context well known in other parts of the Bible.

We even herein in these Psalms find information not mentioned in other parts of Scripture and herein is where I want to mention Psalm 103:19-22.

            The LORD has established his throne in the heavens,
                        and his kingdom rules over all.
            Bless the LORD, O you his angels,
                        you mighty ones who do his word,
                        obeying the voice of his word!
            Bless the LORD, all his hosts,
                        his ministers, who do his will!
            Bless the LORD, all his works,
                        in all places of his dominion.
            Bless the LORD, O my soul! (Psalm 103:19-22 ESV)

This text does not really come across as that important, but it points to something that according to the context of these four Psalms points to which happened before the creation of the heavens and the earth that we are familiar with today.

That is exactly what Psalm 103:19 says. “The LORD (here using the Tetragrammaton name of God, known in English parlance as ‘Jehovah’ – יהוה) has established his throne in the heavens.” This Hebrew word which is translated as “established” has many nuances, but is used in the laying a foundation of a house (Judges 16:26, 29); of establishment of kingdoms, (I Samuel 20:31; I Chronicles 17:24) etc. This is undertaken in the presence and with His helpers – angels, winged creatures like the cherubim and seraphim mentioned in other parts of Scripture. So we can see even before creation, bird like creatures were there working with God even in the most remote of time periods.

God also likened and compared to birds

God is even likened to an eagle Himself saying: “You yourselves have seen what I did to the Egyptians, and how I bore you on eagles' wings and brought you to myself.” (Exodus 19:4 ESV)

We can also note the importance of bird imagery to God Himself in that He chose the form of a bird to reveal the Holy Spirit to mankind. (Matthew 3:16; Mark 1:10; Luke 3:22; John 1:32) This is quite an important point to the Evangelists considering that each one of them mentions specifically that the Spirit descended upon Jesus like a ‘dove.’

What Can Birds Teach Us?  

Wise men have been speaking about birds in particular over the ages because like all animals, we can learn something from them as they exhibit aspects of God Himself through their behaviors. These behaviors can show the individual birds wise or foolish.

For example, Jesus mentions “a hen gathering her chicks under her wings” in a sense of something good and denoting His own feeling for His own people that He wanted to offer them the protection that a mother hen affords her chicks taking them under her wing, but as the passage says: “they were not willing.” (Matthew 23:37; Luke 13:34)

This metaphor remains today in English parlance where a senior person takes a junior person in some way “under their wing” (be they a man or woman without gender distinction as both men and women use this metaphor) in the sense of helping, sheltering, protecting or guiding. Hence, one who takes another “under their wing” is doing so to bestow wisdom, protection, guidance, etc.

This illustration of the hen has its opposite in Scripture. It is the ostrich. Note the following:

“The wings of the ostrich wave proudly, but are they the pinions and plumage of love? For she leaves her eggs to the earth and lets them be warmed on the ground, forgetting that a foot may crush them and that the wild beast may trample them. She deals cruelly with her young, as if they were not hers; though her labor be in vain, yet she has no fear, because God has made her forget wisdom and given her no share in understanding. When she rouses herself to flee, she laughs at the horse and his rider. (Job 39:13-18)

So the bird who leaves its eggs to be unprotected, “who deals cruelly with its young as though they are not hers”, is an animal without wisdom or understanding!

Isn’t it also interesting that the LORD tells Job says that this bird “deals cruelly with its young, as if they were not hers” and this behavior is characterized as one who “forget[s] wisdom” and has “no share in understanding.” (ibid.) This is a very interesting description which may have some teaching for parents, especially when we consider the writer in question.

Job certainly seems to have bee influenced by God in his actions toward his own children. When we read of the actions of Job concerning his own children, in the descriptions we have concerning his habits in relating to his children, he certainly comes across as a gentle, caring and loving father. (Job 1:5)

Birds and nature have been the subjects of discussions among the wise for thousands of years. Note that is highlighted in the description of Solomon in all his wisdom.

And God gave Solomon wisdom and understanding beyond measure, and breadth of mind like the sand on the seashore, so that Solomon's wisdom surpassed the wisdom of all the people of the east (he is wiser than even Job, the wise man of Uz (Job 1:1) and all the wisdom of Egypt. For he was wiser than all other men, wiser than Ethan the Ezrahite, and Heman, Calcol, and Darda, the sons of Mahol, and his fame was in all the surrounding nations. He also spoke 3,000 proverbs, and his songs were 1,005. He spoke of trees, from the cedar that is in Lebanon to the hyssop that grows out of the wall. He spoke also of beasts, and of birds, and of reptiles, and of fish. (I Kings 4:29-33 ESV)

Solomon in this text is shown to have spoken about different kinds of birds. This was no doubt done by observation and by collecting written information about birds or commissioning studies about their habits and then having them written down.

It should not surprise us that when Solomon spoke of birds, he would have almost certainly focused primarily on the bird species within his sphere of influence. It seems reasonable that his focus would have been on bird species that would have been more familiar to him and to those in neighbouring regions. While we do not have any specific scriptural evidence for this suggestion, it is not outside the realm of a reasoned approach to the materials that we do have in Scripture. END PART ONE

(1) See Ernest L. Martin "Restoring the Original Bible" Appendix One, pg. 477, ASK Publications: Portland: OR, 1994)


(2) The Story of Creation (1988) and The Post-Flood Creations of God (1989)  by Ernest L. Martin - ASK Publications Alhambra:CA)

Friday, March 07, 2014

Blind acceptance of religious leaders - Do it to your own peril!

Blind acceptance of religious leaders - Do it to your own peril!

I have to admit that I have not really lived under a system where the blind acceptance of a religious leader was a major part of my life. 

Oh yes, for the first nine years of my life I lived in a family where we were members of the World Wide Church of God (WWCG), a total hierarchically based, top-down dictatorial cult run solely for the good pleasure and at the whim of the late Herbert W. Armstrong.

Yes, my family were a part of this cult until 1974, so I guess you could say I was under that system, but from 1965 to 1974, from the time I was born until we left the WWCG, the sanctity of the WWCG Church and its Pastor General were now seen in our home as something that our family, particularly my late father, were becoming more and more uncomfortable with. 

A Roller Coaster Ride

My dad had had his difficulties with Herbert W. Armstrong. At several times during the period of 1965-1974, my father was ready to resign and leave the WWCG because of the major disagreements he had with Mr. Armstrong. 

He was told one time by one evangelist that he should not read the Bible for 10 years during a major disagreement that he had with Mr. Armstrong. I can remember my father refusing this, but lamenting that the main criteria for getting along in that denomination seemed to be:

1. Don't think
2. Don't ask any questions
3. Don't propose any new ideas
4. Just blend in and do nothing different from anyone else
5. Only propose ideas that you know the boss will like and just fit in with what he (always a he seemingly) is teaching.

He hung in there until 1974 when we left. After that time, my father started into ministry and his first primary readers were the tens of thousands of people who left the WWCG after Herbert W. Armstrong's prophecies of the Second Coming of Christ taking place in 1975 (then later 1975) failed. 

Thousands of people were touched by my dad's ministry in those WWCG circles.

The World Wide Church of God was a church
 where blind acceptance was demanded

When we were in the WWCG, the church leaders told you the following:

1. What to do
2. What not to do
3. Who to do what they told you to do with
4. When to do anything
5. Why you had to do anything
6. Where you had to do anything
7. How to do anything

Of course, if you were a woman, you had a whole other level of the above because not only did you have your husband (that is, absolute master controlling everything you do) in charge of you, you also had the church leaders in charge of him, which meant that they also were in charge of you. 

I've talked a little bit about that here - 
http://www.thatmom.com/2014/02/24/guest-post-by-samuel-martin-new-thoughts-about-the-woman-at-the-well/

Now, as I said, in my former church, blind acceptance was demanded by the church members. You were a sheep to be fed by the shepherds and mainly by the top shepherd, the Pastor General himself.

It was totally a one-way system. Information was not exchanged and learning and growing was NEVER EVER encouraged. Blind obedience, on the other hand, was not only encouraged, it was demanded.

The only thing that was exchanged was huge sums of money that were exchanged between the church members and the church leadership, which really went to address the priorities of one man in the WWCG, the Pastor General.

Doctrinal committees existed in the church, not to promote new truths or progressive thinking. NEVER! They were there to keep people in toe and for people to reinforce existing church teaching.

I have also talked a little bit about that here - 
http://samuelmartin.blogspot.co.il/2013/02/the-two-two-churches-part-five-church.html

Blind Acceptance - A Modern Example

Now, in an environment of blind acceptance of church teachings, you have no incentive to think for yourself. You just let someone else think for you.

There is only one problem with this approach. What if that person is wrong? Or worse yet a false teacher?

This situation demands that you take appropriate action to check what you are being told and being asked to believe and especially what it is that God wishes you to do versus what God wishes you not to do.

Now, look at this simple example. I will now refer to a discussion that my late father had concerning his review of a small evangelical publication from the UK:

"there are preachers and evangelists who abuse the contexts within the Bible to apply various teachings to themselves or to those to whom they minister. Look at how this is done. Once I reviewed a small publication called "The Little Bible." It was published by an evangelical group in England who decided to pick what they considered the most important verse from each biblical book to instruct the child of God in his daily life. The portion of a verse they picked from Leviticus was 

"Do not drink wine nor strong drink" (10:9).


The impression they wanted to leave with the reader was that God didn't want any of His people to drink wine. But this was an utter perversion of the faith they were trying to promote. Certainly, the use of too much wine or strong drinks is wrong, but the publishers failed to tell their readers that the verse they used pertained only to the priests of ancient Israel (not laymen in general), and even then it only concerned them "when ye go into the tabernacle of the congregation" (10:9). The priests were allowed to drink wine or strong drinks at other times.


 Really, the pious Christian publishers of "The Little Bible" were well aware of the real teaching of Scripture on this matter, but they falsified the truth by trying to get their readers to think the command was meant for all Christians at all times. This procedure of taking teachings out of context is wrong, but it is being used on a wide scale today.

It is important that we do not interweave scriptural teachings meant for certain peoples at particular times in human history, with revelations of God meant for others at later times. Though God ordered Abraham to sacrifice his son, none of us is expected to do the same

thing. The truth is, God has even overthrown previous teachings in favor of more advanced (spiritual) ones. Only chaos will result when all the disciplines of the Bible are jumbled together in an attempt to make a homogeneous system. It is time we should all heed the admonition of Paul and start "rightly dividing the word of truth" (II Timothy 2:15). The
teachings of the Bible will then begin to make sense." (Ernest L. Martin - Progressive Revelation in the Bible, Foundation for Biblical Research: Pasadena, CA: 1974)



There is one other thing that this publication failed to tell their readers.  One of my scholar friends, Dr. Randall Heskett, who many of you will know due to his work against corporal punishment and my reference to his work in my own, has written a very important book concerning the history of wine in the Bible. 


http://www.amazon.com/Divine-Vintage-Following-Genesis-Modern-ebook/dp/B009A9LMKO/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1394227442&sr=8-1&keywords=randall+heskett+joel+butler

Now, on an FB discussion, I asked a question on my wall about what people thought the Bible meant by the use of the phrase: "Strong Drink".

A number of people said: Liquor, Whiskey, etc. focusing on a strong drink well above the level of wine in alcoholic intensity.

Randall pointed out that the Hebrew word in question means exactly "beer."

The point to all of this though is very interesting because of the publishers of that Little Bible really understood the text to mean "strong drink" in the hard liquor sense and as Randall also mentioned, liquor or spirits were probably not even invented until the 1400's.

Now, the clear point to all of this concerns our attitude to information we receive. Are we just going to accept everything we are told without checking anything? If we do, we risk being in a situation where we are letting people who may not only not have the proper knowledge we need to help us decide spiritual matters for us, but they also may be governed by other priorities which are not accurate according to the Biblical revelation. 

Let us be careful with the information we receive especially in a religious context. Be prepared to challenge information and look things up. Things that do not feel right to you, go with those feelings and follow them up. Check to make sure, if something doesn't feel right. 

In closing, keep this text in mind and always check on things to make sure that they are correct.

Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who has no need to be ashamed, rightly handling the word of truth. (2 Timothy 2:15, ESV)







 


Thursday, March 06, 2014

Anecdotal evidence showing that the impact of non-violent parenting is starting to convince even once skeptical Christian blocker communities

Anecdotal evidence showing that the
impact of non-violent parenting is
starting to convince even once skeptical Christian blocker communities

Since I have been engaging in advocacy in favor of non-violent parenting among Christians against the practice of spanking/smacking/corporal punishment, I have noted a very common message from parents (mainly mothers) who have embraced non-violent parenting. That message can be summarized as follows.

When a Christian parent (in my experience this is overwhelmingly undertaken by mothers primarily) chooses to stop spanking, for many extended families, this moment is in no way a happy moment. 

On the contrary, for many parents who were raised in the previous generation that basically only had spanking/smacking/corporal punishment as their sole parenting tool, any signal of stopping this process is a major cause for concern. 

Really, we find a great insecurity among the previous generation (and many generations before) concerning this issue because they have basically had the idea of the absolute necessity of spanking/smacking/corporal punishment drilled into them from religious leaders.

Phrases like 'spare the rod, spoil the child' and 'this is going to hurt me more than it does you' and 'this is for your own good' or 'I am better person for being spanking/smacked' are just hammered into people's heads over and over again especially by religious leaders.

Many families, in fact, have been broken up over this issue. Parents refuse to speak to their children who abandon spanking/smacking/corporal punishment. I have heard this happening over the years repeatedly. 

However, times are changing, for the better in fact! And now, not only are we starting to see changes in how particularly women who themselves were spanked are reacting to spanking/smacking as they now have become parents themselves, but something else is happening and I have just started to see anecdotal information concerning this. 
What am I talking about? 

It concerns the fact that some parents of these mothers who have embraced non-violent parenting are now starting to change their views! This is an exciting development and I hope to have more to say about this in the near future as I collect more information. But not the following. Recently, I have received these two testimonies. Let us look at them in a before and after. The first one is from Julie and she posted the following on my blog:

Before:

I just wanted you to know that I am one whose mind was changed after reading your book on corporal punishment. I know that it was a process for me to get to the point where I would even read it...but the Lord used "secular" books on child training to begin to open my eyes. When I had my first I was given every Ezzo, Pearl, Bradley, Fugate book available by well meaning relatives..including my mom (who didn't read the books herself). My first child had severe reflux and was a terribly fussy baby. 10 years later he has been diagnosed with a severe learning disablity that has to do with auditory processing. So much of his inability to "listen and learn" had nothing to do with defiance and everything to do with his disability. I hate the fact that for the first couple of years of his life, I felt like if we were just consistent with spanking that he would learn. Thankfully, God gave me enough common sense to not do any of the extreme spanking but I still feel horrible about the spankings he did receive. I feel like a burden was lifted after reading your book. I had stopped spanking before that but always somehow felt like I was "disobeying His Word" by doing so. Your book gave me a new found freedom and I want to shout it from the mountain tops. Unfortunately, I have many relatives and cousins who were deeply into the Gothard movement and are now part of Vision forum. So the conversations are not easy. Even the conversation with my own parents has been difficult. I think they are afraid that my 4 very well behaved children are going to go bad because of it. My dad has agreed to read your book. It will be interesting to discuss it with him after. We were spanked as children but I only remember a few my entire childhood. My youngest sister was spanked once. I'm not sure why my mom gave me all the Pearl books. Anyway, just wanted to say thank you. (Note that this is unedited)

Now, this message was posted in 2011. Now let's look at what Julie just sent me by email a week or so ago!

AFTER

"I know it was a few years ago that we decided to quit spanking and we are still reaping the benefits! I am also proud that my little sister who has a 2yr old and an 8 month old has also chosen gentle parenting because of my choice. My parents have been very impressed with the outcomes and seem to be embracing our viewpoint and have been nothing but supportive. Woohoo!" (Email dated March 1 2014)

Now, this change is dramatic. The witness that Julie is providing to her family is changing her whole families view of corporal punishment/spanking/smacking.

Julie is not alone!

This is also an important testimony from Alicia Ovalle-Hunt from my FB page saying the same thing:

"I promise that the book is being used. I have shared it with several people who believed in corporal punishment. One example is my mother. She read it and told me later that she wished this book was around 30 years ago. She is sharing the book with some of her friends as well. Keep up the good work. God is using what you wrote even if you can't see it all the time."

Conclusion

I am not 100% sure what to conclude from this. For sure, I am delighted and I think we need more anecdotal information, but it seems obvious to me that if someone embraces gentle parenting and encounters resistance from their families on the basis of religious beliefs and then after a couple of years, the party who exhibited the resistance sees the positive evidence of gentle parenting, it seems reasonable that their reaction would follow what we have seen in the posts above. At least, I am praying that that is the case. 

What it shows me is that if you are encountering this resistance from your family, look to what happened to Julie and Alicia and be strengthened.

I would also ask anyone else who has a similar story to please post it here so we can collect more information and hopefully give strength to others facing this challenge. 

Much appreciated.

Samuel Martin

www.facebook.com/byblechyld

Tuesday, March 04, 2014

The Severity of God and Finding Peace in Some of the Bible's More Difficult Texts

The Severity of God and Finding Peace in Some of the Bible's More Difficult Texts

Recently, I received the following question from a dear friend (Brenda King) who I have known for about seven years. We became friends after she and her husband read my book "Thy Rod and Thy Staff, They Comfort Me: Christians and the Spanking Controversy" - get it for free here - http://whynottrainachild.com/2013/06/22/download-martins-book/

Here is the question and it is an important one.

My husband and I have had some long talks recently about the apparent disconnect between the loving, gracious God of the New Testament and some of the harsh stories in the Old Testament. Do you have any book recommendations that address that?

Now, this is a hard question full of tension. It makes me uncomfortable. I think many people could say the same thing.

I started to write something up on this question and in fact, I stopped writing on it and just abandoned it and started this piece. I was thinking of doing something really different for me and try and answer this in a different style. Sorry, but it just did not get the traction I hoped for. I guess we can all say that this happens from time to time. Just crumple up the proverbial piece of paper and toss it in the rubbish and start over.

There are many stories in the Bible which are quite hard to reconcile with our overall belief that God is love (I John 4:16) and this is because, on the surface, in some of these texts, God seemingly does not appear to be very loving at all.

We are not alone in our uncomfortable feelings. 

I can remember studying about Augustine a number of years ago and reading about his views on whether or not the innocents who were killed due to the order of King Herod in Bethlehem would be saved or not. 

I have to admit that I also did not find reading Augustine so comfortable.

I still don't have all the answers on the stories of the innocents in Bethlehem, but I think I would like to give a few ideas which guide my thinking concerning this question.

Some of these really hard texts are one's that I have noted even in my own upbringing living in the home where my father was a pastor and a theological scholar. Even in all of his writings, some Bible stories Dad never managed to publish material on. 

I have also read Dr. Gleason Archer's book "The Encyclopedia of Bible Difficulties". I have found it of some value so I am mentioning it here. 

However, with all due respect to the late esteemed Professor Archer (who I understand was fluent in 27 languages), a highly respected theologian and Bible scholar, I would like to open up some possibilities to share some of my own ideas. In fact, I have to thank my dear friend Brenda for reaching out because her question came at a time where I have been thinking quite a lot of late on some similar questions. 

Recently, I have been working on a new publication, which is turning out to be quite involved. The working title of this new publication is:

Infant/Child Salvation:
God’s Redemptive Plan For Children Who Die Before Knowing the Message
of the Gospel of Jesus Christ

I can hardly open up all of the issues that I am currently considering in that book here, but I would like to home in on one text and to give some ideas, which as I said earlier, are slightly new even to me.

Which text to discuss because there are quite a few difficult texts in the Bible?

While my post does indeed have the terms "More Difficult Texts" in it, I have to choose one text and for me, this text has become a clear entry point for this most difficult of subjects. 

This, of course, can become a huge exercise where we get into an examination of scores of commentators and theologians looking at a whole host of scholarly opinions. This is useful and to always be considered as a good idea, but in this area, as I said, I have not found too many explanations for some of these hard texts from scholars that I trust yet.

Definitely I need to keep looking and searching and by reaching out here, I hope you'll share your feedback with me. 

So, now let us look at the text which is going to be the focus of our discussion.

The Death of King David and Bat Sheva's First Son found in II Samuel 12
 
Now here is the text in question.
 
"David said to Nathan, “I have sinned against the Lord.” And Nathan said to David, “The Lord also has put away your sin; you shall not die. 14 Nevertheless, because by this deed you have utterly scorned the Lord, the child who is born to you shall die.” 15 Then Nathan went to his house. And the Lord afflicted the child that Uriah's wife bore to David, and he became sick. 16 David therefore sought God on behalf of the child. And David fasted and went in and lay all night on the ground. 17 And the elders of his house stood beside him, to raise him from the ground, but he would not, nor did he eat food with them. 18 On the seventh day the child died. And the servants of David were afraid to tell him that the child was dead, for they said, “Behold, while the child was yet alive, we spoke to him, and he did not listen to us. How then can we say to him the child is dead? He may do himself some harm.” 19 But when David saw that his servants were whispering together, David understood that the child was dead. And David said to his servants, “Is the child dead?” They said, “He is dead.” 20 Then David arose from the earth and washed and anointed himself and changed his clothes. And he went into the house of the Lord and worshiped. He then went to his own house. And when he asked, they set food before him, and he ate. 21 Then his servants said to him, “What is this thing that you have done? You fasted and wept for the child while he was alive; but when the child died, you arose and ate food.” 22 He said, “While the child was still alive, I fasted and wept, for I said, ‘Who knows whether the Lord will be gracious to me, that the child may live?’ 23 But now he is dead. Why should I fast? Can I bring him back again? I shall go to him, but he will not return to me.” (II Samuel 12:13-23 ESV)

Of course, I think we all agree that in this very difficult passage and the very troubling text for all of us is found in verse 15:

"Then Nathan went to his house. And the Lord afflicted the child that Uriah's wife bore to David, and he became sick."

I am not going to side step this text and how (on the surface) I feel about it. It is troubling and hard to fathom from the God we think that we know. Our God is Love. (I John 4:16) How could a God of Love do this? I mean it says that the Lord "afflicted" this child and he became "sick" and then "died."

Now, about 20 years ago, I was doing research for my first book ("Thy Rod and Thy Staff, They Comfort Me: Christians and the Spanking Controversy" - Get it free here -http://whynottrainachild.com/2013/06/22/download-martins-book/) and I came across this text from the Talmud which has always stayed with me and resonated with me because I think it represents the tension that many Rabbinical scholars had who also read these texts and were troubled by them just like you and I are. 

We are not alone in how uncomfortable this makes us feel, especially those of us who have children. It just feels wrong, misguided, and cold and putting a judgment for sin on an innocent child.

While I say that, here is where I have to put on the brakes to my emotions and thoughts and say: "Wait a minute. What are you saying and thinking? This after all is the Word of the God who made heaven and earth and everything in them, including you and me."

Note what the Rabbi Simon be Lakish, a scholar who lived here in Israel almost 2,000 years ago said about some of the more difficult passages of Scripture found in the Bible (which he referred to as 'Torah').

"There are verses which are worthy of being burnt, but they are [after all] essential components of Torah." (Babylonian Talmud - Hullin 60b)

I gravitated towards this quote because even in that early time (even before I turned 30 years old), I was troubled with some of the texts in particular in the book of Proverbs which seemed to suggest that it is fine and suggested to strike a child with a stick of some kind.

Now, I realized that after studying this matter more carefully, that my view point and understanding was incorrect about the book of Proverbs and it is here where I would ask you to ask yourself the same question about the text we are talking about here. 

Now, here is where we have to ask ourselves a question. Perhaps it is possible that there is no problem with this text when it comes to our understanding of a loving God, but rather it is our earthly, terrestrial perspective which limits our understanding and maybe we don't see the full picture of the whole of the matter just in this text itself?

Your Ways Are Not My Ways

Now, this is what occurred to me just very recently after Brenda asked this question. Maybe there is nothing wrong with this text, but what is wrong is I need to get my human imperfect, sinful, weak, corruptible orientation out of the way and let's God's truth speak here. 

In this regard, I was reminded of this text (which I think we are familiar with) to be quite important. See if you agree with me:
 
“Seek the Lord while he may be found;
    call upon him while he is near;
let the wicked forsake his way,
    and the unrighteous man his thoughts;
let him return to the Lord, that he may have compassion on him,
    and to our God, for he will abundantly pardon.
For my thoughts are not your thoughts,
    neither are your ways my ways, declares the Lord.
For as the heavens are higher than the earth,
    so are my ways higher than your ways
    and my thoughts than your thoughts.
10 “For as the rain and the snow come down from heaven
    and do not return there but water the earth,
making it bring forth and sprout,
    giving seed to the sower and bread to the eater,
11 so shall my word be that goes out from my mouth;
    it shall not return to me empty,
but it shall accomplish that which I purpose,
    and shall succeed in the thing for which I sent it. (Isaiah 55:6-11 ESV)

This text really spoke to me. I am well described in the first part of this verse where it speaks about "the wicked" and "the unrighteous man". This for sure is me.

As I said earlier, I want to put my human approach to this text aside and try to see the mind of God.

As the passage says, not only are "my thoughts not your thoughts", but "neither are your ways my ways."

In fact, God's ways and thoughts are elevated to a higher level than ours that they reach up to a new level of heaven that we just don't know anything about. Or do we?

Here is where I think that these hard texts in Scripture give us a glimpse into the mind of God Himself and if we are willing to see what God is trying to show us, we may be on the way to a more correct understanding.

We are here being asked to take, not the earthly perspective, but definitely the heavenly one. Doing this may cause us some consternation as human beings, but this is a part of spiritual growth I believe. We have to as children of God grow up spiritually and in doing so, sometimes we might have to think or see things which are difficult to accept or understand.

In fact, isn't that what growing up is all about in life anyway?

We are not alone in facing difficulties in understanding things from God's point of view, the heavenly perspective. St. Paul himself also had challenges, so much so that he chose simply not to discuss them openly. This is exactly what he said. Note it here.

"I must go on boasting. Though there is nothing to be gained by it, I will go on to visions and revelations of the Lord. I know a man in Christ who fourteen years ago was caught up to the third heaven—whether in the body or out of the body I do not know, God knows. And I know that this man was caught up into paradise—whether in the body or out of the body I do not know, God knows—and he heard things that cannot be told, which man may not utter." (2 Corinthians 12:1-4, ESV)

Whatever Paul saw and heard during this heavenly vision, he was not prepared to discuss it. This story reminds me how I feel when I read II Samuel 12. Maybe you feel the same way?

Now, if we return to Isaiah 55 for a moment, there are a couple of things in this text that I think are important. I think we have to acknowledge that the way God does things is very different than you or I might do them. The thing is, though, God tells us to trust Him (Proverbs 3:4-6).  For me, this is clear and I am going with this idea 100%.

This is what really occurred to me in a greater way of late. I needed to trust God more to guide me through His Word here so I could embrace an understanding, which was not my own, but was hopefully closer to what the Lord is really trying to show us in this passage.

Now, I can say one thing that some of us might also be able to appreciate. Twenty years ago, when I was reading Simon ben Lakish, I was a totally different person than I am today. For one thing, I am a married father of two who is almost 50, so I look at things quite differently than I did 20 years ago for sure.

I think that all of us will also agree that while this text is a difficult one and we might on the surface ask ourselves why it appears in Scripture, I think those of us who feel close to the Lord will agree that this text is definitely not placed in the Bible to create a barrier between us and God. Unfortunately, I see this idea quite often on the Internet. Some people who have chosen to leave Christianity or somehow ridicule it will bring it up saying that our God is evil and brutal and worse.

But I say: "Wait a minute!" Do you understand it in a fuller way or are you just reading the Bible like today's newspaper? 

No, it is placed there to teach us something very important which we could not learn without it being there. This is the view that I am taking concerning this text. As Jesus told us, we need "eyes to see" and "ears to hear" what this text is saying.

Now all of us have eyes and ears under normal circumstances, but what the Lord was saying was that we needed to have a type of "eye" or "ear" which was in tune with Him, in tune spiritually.

If I have to choose overall, generally speaking, whether or not it is I or God who are wrong about something, I think I have to be honest enough to say that I am going to take the safe bet and raise my own hand saying I am wrong before I tell God that He needs to acknowledge here that He in fact is in error.

No! God is not wrong. You and I are wrong and our opinion is in error.

If we start from this point, I think we are closer to the truth.

We need to trust that God knows what He is doing

Now, it might seem strange to title this section in this way, but this is what I came to see in looking at this text. I for some reason began to say: "Ok, God, I trust you. I know you love me and I know that you loved that innocent child of David's and Bat Sheva's. However, I don't understand what you are trying to teach us with this example."

This was my starting point and this is where I think maybe God opened my understanding to consider some other viewpoints.  Being a parent also I think has helped me dramatically to engage this text that someone who does not have children just could not do.

When I started to think about this more I noted the following point which helped me to make a type of overall consideration about this and other difficult Biblical passages. It was the following. In the New Testament, this text is not mentioned specifically and the New Testament writers do not specifically draw some direct attention to this text, so it must have not been so important to the Lord to inspire them to add it, so if that is true, then maybe I don't need to give it more consideration than I need to.

However, I think that we can say that a general principle about some of these harder texts from our point of view has been addressed by St. Paul in the book of Romans.

Look, St. Paul was one of the most wise, erudite scholars of the ancient world. Without question, he was very knowledgeable of the Bible and was inspired by God to write more in the New Testament than anyone else.  

It would seemingly not make much sense for St. Paul not to have addressed some of these types of questions because without question some of his non-Jewish readers would have read these texts in the Bible and not understood them.

St. Paul goes to great lengths to address one particularly difficult text concerning Esau and Jacob in Romans 9. In this section, he shows a number of principles which I think we have to take cognizance of if we want to have the correct understanding. Let us look at this text and consider it, because herein St. Paul deals with several hard Biblical texts.
.
"I am speaking the truth in Christ—I am not lying; my conscience bears me witness in the Holy Spirit—that I have great sorrow and unceasing anguish in my heart. For I could wish that I myself were accursed and cut off from Christ for the sake of my brothers, my kinsmen according to the flesh. They are Israelites, and to them belong the adoption, the glory, the covenants, the giving of the law, the worship, and the promises. To them belong the patriarchs, and from their race, according to the flesh, is the Christ, who is God over all, blessed forever. Amen.

But it is not as though the word of God has failed. For not all who are descended from Israel belong to Israel, and not all are children of Abraham because they are his offspring, but “Through Isaac shall your offspring be named.” This means that it is not the children of the flesh who are the children of God, but the children of the promise are counted as offspring. For this is what the promise said: “About this time next year I will return, and Sarah shall have a son.” And not only so, but also when Rebekah had conceived children by one man, our forefather Isaac, though they were not yet born and had done nothing either good or bad—in order that God's purpose of election might continue, not because of works but because of him who calls—she was told, “The older will serve the younger.” As it is written, “Jacob I loved, but Esau I hated.”

What shall we say then? Is there injustice on God's part? By no means! For he says to Moses, “I will have mercy on whom I have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I have compassion.” So then it depends not on human will or exertion, but on God, who has mercy. For the Scripture says to Pharaoh, “For this very purpose I have raised you up, that I might show my power in you, and that my name might be proclaimed in all the earth.” So then he has mercy on whomever he wills, and he hardens whomever he wills.

You will say to me then, “Why does he still find fault? For who can resist his will?” But who are you, O man, to answer back to God? Will what is molded say to its molder, “Why have you made me like this?” Has the potter no right over the clay, to make out of the same lump one vessel for honorable use and another for dishonorable use? What if God, desiring to show his wrath and to make known his power, has endured with much patience vessels of wrath prepared for destruction, in order to make known the riches of his glory for vessels of mercy, which he has prepared beforehand for glory— (Romans 9:1-23 ESV)

Now, it is very interesting in this text that Paul shows using a number of examples of hard Biblical texts that these texts in fact are as Simon ben Lakish said "essential elements of the Torah/Bible".

God has His hand involved in ways which are hard to understand, but note what this passage says clearly (and I am believing it 100%)

1. "But it is not as though the word of God has failed."
2. "What shall we say then? Is there injustice on God's part? By no means!"
3. "You will say to me then, “Why does he still find fault? For who can resist his will?” But who are you, O man, to answer back to God?"
4. "Will what is molded say to its molder, “Why have you made me like this?” Has the potter no right over the clay, to make out of the same lump one vessel for honorable use and another for dishonorable use?"

So here is the message I get from this text in summary. 1) The Word of God was, is and will always be perfect; 2) God is just; 3) God is not to be questioned by mankind for His actions; 4) God has the right to intervene or work in humanity as He sees fit according to His good pleasure.

If we will be guided by these four principles and look at these hard texts through these spiritual lenses, perhaps we are on the road to a better understanding of them.

Mitigating Circumstances and Perspective - 
Making a difficult choice which is the right one in the long term

Sometimes seeing things from God's point of view is not so easy. St. Paul was allowed to go to the third heaven to see what was there. He was forced to see a side of God which was not earthly and it made him feel uncomfortable, so much so that he refused to speak about it.

Seeing God how He really is, is uncomfortable for us because we don't appreciate or understand Him properly.

I can remember my father (Ernest L. Martin) referring to the following three texts (II Timothy 2;15; Isaiah 28:9-13; Colossians 2:2-3) in a publication he wrote which was fundamental in his orientation to understanding how God presented the subject of knowledge. (1)

Here is where we have use our intelligence and really "Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who has no need to be ashamed, rightly handling the word of truth." (II Timothy 2:15)

Now as I am here showing, sometimes this is easier said than done and the Bible even mentions this. Note the following text from Isaiah:

“To whom will he teach knowledge,
and to whom will he explain the message?
Those who are weaned from the milk,
those taken from the breast?
For it is precept upon precept, precept upon precept,
line upon line, line upon line,
here a little, there a little.”
For by people of strange lips
and with a foreign tongue
the Lord will speak to this people,
  to whom he has said,
“This is rest;
give rest to the weary;
and this is repose”;
yet they would not hear.
And the word of the Lord will be to them
precept upon precept, precept upon precept,
line upon line, line upon line,
here a little, there a little,
that they may go, and fall backward,
and be broken, and snared, and taken. (Isaiah 28:9-13 ESV)

What this text shows is the method that God can use to teach us knowledge (and we certainly need God's knowledge to understand II Samuel 12). This is the subject of this passage starting in verse 9. But then He tells us that we must be "weaned from the milk" (verse 9).

This is simply telling us we need to be mature and in this case it means to be mature spiritually.

Now He shows us how to understand knowledge saying:

For it is precept upon precept, precept upon precept, line upon line, line upon line, here a little, there a little.” (verse 10)

This is no small matter because it is repeated in verse 13.

This text really describes how we have to look at the whole of Scripture to appreciate any one concept and this is where those who just look only at II Samuel 12 can fall into the category of people mentioned in verse 13 saying: "that they may go, and fall backward, and be broken, and snared, and taken."

We definitely do not want to be in this category of being. We want to find the riches of God and His wisdom and Truth as found in the Holy Scriptures with St. Paul saying:

"that their hearts may be encouraged, being knit together in love, to reach all the riches of full assurance of understanding and the knowledge of God's mystery, which is Christ, in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge." (Colossians 2:2-3, ESV)

A Clearer Spiritual Focus on II Samuel 12

Now, I want to talk very specifically about this text in II Samuel 12 and the potential that exists in it to look at it in a different way.

I think we will all agree that whatever the text says, we really should not concern ourselves so much with what the text itself says, but rather seek to understand what the text means.

Now, I think that we will all agree that to attempt to interpret this verse outside of the context it was given is just really ridiculous. That text, to be understood and appropriately appreciated, must be engaged not only in the context of where it is found in the Bible, but we have a whole host of issues concerning it that have to be taken into consideration to have a greater understanding of the whole picture.

We have to almost look at this text from a ship and we are trying to safely navigate through arctic waters. These hard texts are like icebergs that we have pass through safely. But, when going through waters where there are icebergs, we know that the thing we see in the water is just the "tip of the iceberg." There could be something really huge and dangerous underneath. This is why we have to navigate this text with great care. After all, we want to navigate these arctic waters and reach our destination safely.

This is definitely what God wants for us, but He expects us to study the entire body of information we have at hand to navigate these waters. (II Timothy 2:15)

I am going to summarize some points now without much elaboration, but I think you get the picture of the circumstances surrounding this birth.

1. The legal status of Bathsheba according to Judaism

2. The uncertainty of who was the real father of the child according to the law

3. Were there two witnesses alive who could corroborate the fact that David was the actual father of the child?

4. The issue of the child being designated an illegitimate child and would be disqualified from a normal ritual life and forbidden to marry anyone but a similar person and to be banned from entering the Temple of God.

5. Was the child in fact legally a Jew?

6. Would the priesthood have allowed the child to be taken into the Tent of Meeting and presented to the Lord as the law of Moses requires?

7. What about the future prospects within Judaism for a happy life for this child due to the sin of his parents?

8. Would the child have been legally able to marry within Judaism?

9. Would the sin of the father pass down to the son in this case as the Bible shows in the Torah?

10. Was God sparing the child a horrible life by taking his life before the eight day of life?

11. What does the future hold for that child?

To conclude, when you start to look at some of the mitigating circumstances surrounding his arrival on earth, they show that in fact what happened to him was far better for him from an individual view? Only God knows the answer to this question, but I think I am going to trust God's choice in this situation as the best one.

A Final Question

Now, as we reach the end of this discussion, I have one final question to ask and here I am going to rely on a teaching that my late father (Ernest L. Martin) developed during his ministry of over 40 years.(2)

We have all heard the Golden Rule: "Do unto others as you would have them do unto you." It is well known.
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But there are two rules which are a bit higher than the Golden Rule and my father elaborated a teaching surrounding them. These two rules are as follows: 1) The Platinum Rule and 2) The Diamond Rule.

Now the Platinum Rule is a little bit more valuable than Gold, so here it is:

"Do unto God as you would have God do unto you."

Now, as I said, there is one higher rule: The Diamond Rule and it is this Diamond Rule which I think is going to help us finally to understand II Samuel 12 better.

The Diamond Rule is: "Do unto God as you would have Him do unto you, IF our positions were exchanged: that is, IF You were God and He were You."

Now, let's not miss the point here. What I am asking you to do is to put yourself in God's place (though it is not possible) and try to think like Him.

What we find is that God made a decision in the life of David's infant son that the best thing for that child at that time was to die! Could God see something in the future life of that child which was not good? No, God could not see something! God could see EVERYTHING and the picture was not a pretty one!

Now, that is a pretty hard judgment, but wait a moment. Put yourself in God's situation if you can think of it and here is the question.

Can you think of a situation in your own life where death might be the best choice for one of your own children?

As a father of two daughters, it does not take me too long to think of a number of situations, where were those situations presented to me, I would not only say that death of my own child would be the best thing, but in fact, if I had to be the one to cause my own child to die, I would not hesitate for one moment to end their lives.

It might sound like I have lost my mind, but wait a moment. I said that there were a number of situations where this might be needed.

For example, the thought of someone taking my daughters and enslaving them in some type of situation where they were going to suffer unspeakable horrors at the hands of evil people, were I given a choice where I could control a situation and eliminate unspeakable horror, I would choose the lesser of two evils.

Another example might be a situation where someone was lost or shipwrecked and there was no hope for escape and a horrifying injury was causing unspeakable pain to a loved one. Herein one again might have to choose the lesser of two evils.

Many other such situations could also be proposed.  Scores probably.

Taking someone's life, no matter their age would be evil, but what would certainly be ahead of them in life were they to live which if it were certain, known and apparent, then taking their life would definitely be the best choice. It would be an act of love, even godly love!

This is what I believe happened regarding the child of David and Bath-Sheba. I cannot explain every nuance of the story, but I trust God enough and I also know that the love that I have for my own children mirrors the love that He has for us and that in some rare cases, very extreme measures are the best thing for all intended. That is what love is.

To conclude, look for a fuller discussion of the wonderful, full life that awaits David's son in the afterlife in my new book coming out, I hope, very soon. I believe you will rejoice in this very hopeful story of a child who God took home at such an early age. The Lord did not take that child home for no reason and with no plan for the future!

"No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. 38 For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, 39 nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.". - Romans 8

Final Comment: I would be blessed to share your input to this post. Thank you very much.

Samuel Martin
www.facebook.com/byblechyld
Twitter: @byblechyld
Email: info@biblechild.com

(1) Ernest L. Martin, "The Fundamentals of Biblical Knowledge" - Lesson One - ASK Publications, Alhambra: CA, 1987)
(2) Ernest L. Martin Audio Cassette Tape "The Judgement of Man and God" ASK Cassette Tape: Portland:OR 1991)








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