Wednesday, March 9, 2016

Psalm 95 (96); Idols are Demons

Most of you know that I’m working on a translation of the Greek Psalms.  They are important because the writers of the New Testament quoted the Psalms mostly from the Greek version.  Have you wondered where Paul got the idea that idols were demons in 1 Corinthians 10:19-21?  Well, read this Psalm.

Psalm 95 (96)

1 When the house was being built after the captivity, a song by David.

Sing to the Lord a new song, 
sing to the Lord, all the earth;
2 Sing to the Lord, bless his name, 
bring the good news of his salvation day to day;
3 announce to the nations his glory, 
his wonderful things among all the people.
4 For the Lord is great and is extremely praise worthy, 
he is fearful to all the gods;
5 because all the gods of the nations are demons, 
but the Lord made the heavens;
6 acknowledgement and beauty are before him, 
holiness and majesty are in his sanctuary.
7 Bring to the Lord, O families of the nations, 
bring to the Lord glory and honor;
8 bring to the Lord glory to his name, 
take up sacrifice and go into his courts;
9 worship the Lord in his holy court, 
let all the earth be shaken from his face.
10 Say to the nations, “The Lord became king, 
for indeed, he set up the building, which will not be shaken, 
he will judge people with uprightness.”
11 Let the heavens be glad, and let the earth rejoice, 
let the sea and all its fullness be shaken;
12 the plains will rejoice and all the things in them, 
then, all of the trees of the forest will rejoice
13 before the face of the Lord, because he is coming, 
because he is coming to judge the earth;
he will judge the world in righteousness

and the people in his truth. (My Translation)

Sunday, March 22, 2015

Psalm 30; Into your Hands.

Psalm 30

1 For the end; a psalm by David; in panic.

2 In you, O Lord, I hoped, may I never be ashamed;
rescue me and deliver me in your righteousness.
3 Incline your ear to me, 
be quick to deliver me;
become to me a Protector-God
and a house of refuge to save me.
4 Because you are my strength and my refuge, 
and for the sake of your name, you will guide me and sustain me;
5 you will bring me out of this snare, which was hidden for me, 
because you are my protector.
6 I will commit my spirit into your hands;
you redeemed me, O Lord, the God of truth.
7 You hated those who keep futility to no purpose;
but I hoped in the Lord.
8 I will rejoice and be glad in your mercy, 
because you looked upon my humbleness, 
you saved my soul from calamities.
9 And you didn’t imprison me in the hands of the enemy, 
you stood my feet in a spacious place.
10 Have mercy on me, O Lord, because I am afflicted;
my eye was troubled in wrath, 
my soul and my stomach.
11 Because my life failed in pain
and my years in groaning;
my strength became weak in poverty, 
and my bones were troubled.
12 I became the object of reproach along side of all my enemies
and to my neighbors, very much
and a terror to my acquaintances, 
the ones who see me outside, fled from me.
13 I was forgotten from the mind like a dead man, 
I became like a vessel of destruction.
14 Because I heard the reprimand of many who lived all around;
when they gathered together against me
they conspired to take my soul.
15 But I hoped in you, O Lord;
I said, “You are my God”.
16 My durations are in your hands;
rescue me from the hand of my enemies
and from those who hunt for me.
17 Let your face shine on your slave, 
Save me in your mercy.
18 O Lord, may I not be put to shame, because I called upon you;
May the ungodly be ashamed and be brought down to the place of the dead.
19 Let deceitful lips become speechless
which speak lawlessness against the righteous
in arrogance and contempt.
20 How much is the abundance of your kindness, O Lord, 
which you hid for those who fear you, 
you brought it to completion for those who hoped in you
before the sons of men.
21 You will hide them in the hiding place of your presence from the trouble of people,
you will shelter them in a tent from the rebuttal of tongues.
22 Blessed be the Lord, because he magnified his mercy in the fortified city.
23 But I said in my panic, 
“Then I have been driven away from the presence of your eyes.”
Therefore, you listened to the voice of my prayer
when I cried out to you.
24 Love the Lord, all of his devout ones, 
because the Lord seeks out truth
and he repays to those who practice arrogance extremely.
25 Be a man, and let your heart become strong, 
all who hope in the Lord.

We have been exploring the Greek Psalms this year and I would say that it’s been pretty interesting.  Today, we will look into another Psalm with the heading Εἰς τὸ τέλος (For the end) to see if the Psalm is eschatological or could have been seen that way.

We will approach this one is a different way.  We will start with the obvious quote from Luke 23:46 and work backwards to try to discover why Luke used Psalm 30:6 LXX in the place of Mark and Matthew using Psalm 21:2 O God, my God, pay attention to me, why did you abandon me?  

First of all, let’s analyze the quote as it is used in Luke.  Here it is from the LXX.

Psalm 30:6 εἰς χεῖράς σου παραθήσομαι τὸ πνεῦμά μου· 

Psalm 30:6 Into your hands I will commit my spirit;

Luke 23:46 καὶ φωνήσας φωνῇ μεγάλῃ ὁ Ἰησοῦς εἶπεν· πάτερ, εἰς χεῖράς σου παρατίθεμαι τὸ πνεῦμά μου. τοῦτο δὲ εἰπὼν ἐξέπνευσεν.

Luke 23:46 And after crying out in a loud voice Jesus said, “Father, into your hands I commit my spirit.”  After he spoke this, he breathed his last breath.

As you can see, the only difference in the passage is the main verb.  It is in the future tense in Psalm 30 and in the present tense in Luke.

So, why this Psalm?  To me, it doesn’t feel eschatological except for the one quote in Luke.  But if it is referring to Christ through out, what may that tell us about Jesus?

The Psalm itself is about placing complete trust in God, even when you are in great distress and you panic.  The enemies are all around, but we should trust in the Lord.  They speak about us, but the Lord will hush them.  We’re in a city that is being attached and we panic.  But, the Lord will see us through.

Our life-spans (durations/appointed times) are in the hands of the Lord.  We should trust him.

We may become “a terror” to those who know us, but God will see us through.

We should never be ashamed, but our enemies will be ashamed and be brought down to Hades (the place where the dead go).  We, on the other hand, will not be brought down to Hades as the “ROCK” sits in front of those gates for us.

As you can see, this Psalm of hope is very appropriate for Jesus to quote from.  He’s on the cross.  He’s going to die.  He’s been mocked, lied about, abandoned, laughed at, insulted, beaten, and crucified.  He’s dying, but he puts his trust in God, even though he is the Lord!  Even though he dies, he is resurrected.  And even if we may die, we will also be resurrected on the day he returns.

We may panic when our city is under siege, but we know in whom we have hoped.  He will hear our prayer.  He will answer it!

So, in all our pain, affliction, poverty, and just going through life itself, 

24 Love the Lord, all of his devout ones, 
because the Lord seeks out truth
and he repays to those who practice arrogance extremely.
25 Be a man, and let your heart become strong, 

all who hope in the Lord.

Sunday, February 8, 2015

Psalms 19; Salvation by His Mighty Acts!

Psalms 19

1 For the end, a Psalm by David.

2 May the Lord listen to you in the day of affliction,
May the name of the God of Jacob protect you.
3 May he send out to you aid from the holy place
and may he help you from Zion.
4 May he remember your every sacrifice
and let him cherish your whole burnt offering.

διάψαλμα (musical interlude)

5 May he give to you according to your heart
and may he fulfill your every plan.
6 We will rejoice in your salvation
and we will be magnified in the name of our God.
May the Lord fulfill all of your requests.
7 Now I knew that the Lord delivered his anointed one;
He will listen to him from his holy heaven;
The salvation of his right hand is in acts of domination.
8 These people are magnified on chariots and these people are magnified on horses, 
but we will be magnified in the name of the Lord our God.
9 They were bound at the feet and fell, 
But we rose and were straightened up.
10 O Lord, deliver your king
and listen to us in the day we may call on you.

Today is February 8th.  Happy International Septuagint Day!

We’ve been exploring the language of the Greek Psalms where the heading contains Εἰς τὸ τέλος (For the end) to see if they are truly eschatological in nature and in their language.  Do these Psalms point to Jesus?  Do they contain elements of the end time (from the arrival of Jesus to his return)?  How would the authors of the New Testament have seen these Psalms?  Did our early Christian ancestors point to these Psalms to prove that Jesus was foretold on the Old Testament?  Did they point to God’s salvation in the end-times?  Did they see these Psalms as both dealing with King David and dealing with Jesus?  In their minds, were these Psalms pertaining to David back then, but pertaining to Christ now?

We will take a look at verses 7-10 of this Psalm.

7 Now I knew that the Lord delivered his anointed one;
He will listen to him from his holy heaven;
The salvation of his right hand is in acts of domination.

The word “delivered” could also be translated as "saved" and “anointed one” could be transliterated as “Christ”, which is how Χριστός is handled throughout the English tradition of the New Testament.  Also, “acts of domination” can be translated as “mighty acts”.  In other words, this line could testify that “God’s mighty acts demonstrate how his salvation takes place”.  

Our question is this; “If this pertains to Jesus, in what way could God have delivered him?  In what way will he listen to him from heaven?  What were the ‘mighty acts’ that shows his ‘salvation’?”

First and foremost, if this passage is dealing with Jesus in the eyes of the New Testament authors, then it would have to be in his resurrection!  So, in raising Jesus from the dead, God shows salvation of the dead can be obtained because of the mighty acts he performed to raise Jesus from the dead.  In other words, God’s mighty acts will best death every time and  in every way!  It reminds me of 1 Corinthians 15:54-55.

54 ὅταν δὲ τὸ φθαρτὸν τοῦτο ἐνδύσηται ἀφθαρσίαν καὶ τὸ θνητὸν τοῦτο ἐνδύσηται ἀθανασίαν, τότε γενήσεται ὁ λόγος ὁ γεγραμμένος·
κατεπόθη ὁ θάνατος εἰς νῖκος.

55 ποῦ σου, θάνατε, τὸ νῖκος;
ποῦ σου, θάνατε, τὸ κέντρον;

54 Now when this perishable puts on un-perishable and this mortality puts on immortality, then the saying that was written will come true;

“Death was swallowed up in victory.
Where, O Death, is your victory?
Where, O Death, is your sting?”

Powerful acts!

As far as what God listened to from the Anointed One/Christ, that will be next week!  Stay tuned!

8 These people are magnified on chariots and these people are magnified on horses, 
but we will be magnified in the name of the Lord our God.
9 They were bound at the feet and fell, 
But we rose and were straightened up.
10 O Lord, deliver your king
and listen to us in the day we may call on you.

These last verses describe how mere human beings see themselves.  Humans think they are “magnified” in what they do, or what they have.  Here, horses and chariots “magnify” “these people”, but “We”, Christians, are magnified in the name of the Lord our God!

In God’s wrath, these mighty men on chariots and horses will find themselves with their feet bound and thus, they fall.  A shadow of what is coming for the ungodly.  But, how will God’s people be found?

The second line of verse 9 can be translated as:

But we were resurrected and were straightened up.

We were dead, but now we are not.  We were bent down, but now we stand straight!  In the same “mighty acts” that raised Jesus from the dead, we too will be raised from the dead and set upright.  We will stand up straight!

“Death was swallowed up in victory.
Where, O Death, is your victory?
Where, O Death, is your sting?”

Did the New Testament Christians see it this way?  Can we see it this way?  Is God’s salvation demonstrated in his mighty acts?  Of course it is!

10 O Lord, deliver your king

and listen to us in the day we may call on you.

Sunday, February 1, 2015

Psalms 17; He will save the humble and humble the proud.

Psalms 17

1 For the end; by the servant of the Lord, David, what he spoke, the words of this song to the Lord in the day when the Lord rescued him from the hand of all his enemies and from the hand of Saul; and he said:

2 I will love you O Lord, my strength.
3 The Lord is my support, my refuge, and my rescuer, 
God is my helper, and I will hope in him, 
my protector and my horn of salvation, 
my helper.
4 While praising him, I will call upon the Lord
and I will be delivered from my enemies.
5 Birth pains of death surrounded me, 
and the brooks of lawlessness threw me into confusion
6 birth pains of the place of the dead encircled me, 
the snares of death anticipated me.
7 And when I was oppressed, I called upon the Lord
and I cried out to my God;
He heard my voice from his holy shrine, 
and my cry before him entered into his ears.
8 And the earth shook and trembled,
and the foundations of the mountains were troubled, 
and they shook, because God was angry with them.
9 Smoke went up in his wrath, 
and fire from his presence flamed up, 
charcoal was set afire by him.
10 And he tipped over heaven and came down, 
and darkness was under his feet.
11 And he mounted a cherub and flew, 
he flew on the wings of the wind.
12 And he made darkness to be his hiding place;
his tent encircled him, 
the water was darkened by the clouds of the air.
13 The clouds passed through from the brightness before him, 
hail and coals of fire.
14 And the Lord thundered from heaven, 
and the Most High put forth his voice;
15 and he sent forth arrows and he scattered them
and he multiplied lightning and he threw them into confusion.
16 And the springs of water were seen, 
and the foundations of the world were uncovered
from your rebuke, O Lord, 
from the breathing on of the breath of your wrath.
17 He sent out from height and he took me, 
he took me for himself from many waters.
18 He will rescue me from my powerful enemies
and from those who hate me, because they had greater strength than I did.
19 They anticipated me in my day of oppression, 
and the Lord became my support
20 and He led me out to a spacious place, 
he will rescue me, because he wanted me.
He will rescue me from my powerful enemies
and from those who hate me.
21 And the Lord will reward me according to my righteousness
and according to my innocence, he will reward me, 
22 because I kept the ways of the Lord
and I didn’t depart wickedly from my God,
23 because all of his judgements are before me, 
and I didn’t remove his ordinances from me.
24 And I will be blameless with him
and I will keep myself from my lawlessness.
25 And the Lord will reward me according to my righteousness
and according to my innocence before his eyes.
26 You will be declared holy with the holy
and you will be innocent with the innocent man
27 and you will be chosen with the chosen
and you will be twisted with the twisted.
28 And you will save humble people
and you will humble proud eyes.
29 Because you will give light to my lamp, O Lord;
My God, you will give light to my darkness.
30 Because in you, I will be delivered from a gang of pirates
and in my God, I will pass over the wall.
31 My God, his ways are blameless, 
The oracles of the Lord have been burned, 
he is the protector of all who hope in him.
32 Because who is god except the Lord?
and who is god except our God?
33 God who girds me with strength
and makes my way blameless, 
34 who makes my feet like a deer
and stands me on high places, 
35 teaching my hands for battle
and he made my arms a bronze bow;
36 and he gave to me protection for my salvation, 
and your right hand helped me, 
and your instruction completely straightened me out, 
and your instruction itself will teach me.
37 You broadened my steps beneath me, 
and my footprints didn’t weaken.
38 I will pursue my enemies and I will overtake them
and I will not turn away, until they fail;
39 I will drive them out, and they shall never be able to stand, 
they will fall under my feet.
40 And you girded me able for battle, 
beneath me, You bound the feet of all who rise up against me
41 and you gave to me the back of my enemies
and you destroyed those who hate me.
42 They cried out, and there was none who saves, 
they cried out to the Lord, and he didn’t listen to them.
43 And I will crush them to powder like dust in the wind, 
I will grind them down like the mire of a street.
44 You will rescue me from the squabbling of the people, 
you will appoint me as the head of the nations;
A people, who I didn’t know, became a slave to me,
45 They obeyed me at the ear’s hearing;
foreign sons lied to me.
46 Foreign sons became old
and walked lamely from their paths.
47 The Lord lives, and blessed is my God, 
and let the God of my salvation be lifted up, 
48 The God who gives me vengeance
and subjected people under me, 
49 my Deliverer from my quick-tempered enemies, 
You will lift me up from those who rise up against me, 
You will rescue me from the unjust man.
50 Therefore, I will acknowledge you among the nations, O Lord, 
I will sing a psalm to your name, 
51 magnifying the acts of salvation of his king
and showing mercy to his Anointed One, 
to David and his descendants forever.

Over the past few weeks, we’ve been exploring the eschatological nature of the Greek Psalms, especially the language, in the Psalms that have the heading Εἰς τὸ τέλος (For the end) to see if they really carry any “end-time” language.

Well, I would say that there is no doubt that this one does.  But, let’s take a look as some of the language.

The first place I want to draw you attention to is passage of verses 4 and 5.

5 περιέσχον με ὠδῖνες θανάτου
καὶ χείμαρροι ἀνομίας ἐξετάραξάν με
6 ὠδῖνες ᾅδου περιεκύκλωσάν με, 
προέφθασάν με παγίδες θανάτου

5 Birth pains of death surrounded me, 
and the brooks of lawlessness threw me into confusion
6 birth pains of the place of the dead encircled me, 
the snares of death anticipated me.

The first thing that I’m reminded of is that this language of θάνατος and ᾅδης is seen in several places in Revelation.  Here they are.

Rev. 17 …μὴ φοβοῦ· ἐγώ εἰμι ὁ πρῶτος καὶ ὁ ἔσχατος 18 καὶ ὁ ζῶν, καὶ ἐγενόμην νεκρὸς καὶ ἰδοὺ ζῶν εἰμι εἰς τοὺς αἰῶνας τῶν αἰώνων καὶ ἔχω τὰς κλεῖς τοῦ θανάτου καὶ τοῦ ᾅδου.

Rev. 17 …Don’t fear, I am the first and the last 18 and the One who lives, and I was dead, and look, I live forever and ever and I have the keys of death and the place of the dead.

θάνατος and ᾅδης (Death and Hades/The place of the dead) are what Christians will escape from through our Lord Jesus Christ.  That is why the bedrock, which is Christ, stands before the gates of ᾅδης (Hades) so that we will never be bound to it. (Matt. 16:18).

Here’s the next one.  Revelation 6:7-8 at the fourth seal.

Rev. 6:7 Καὶ ὅτε ἤνοιξεν τὴν σφραγῖδα τὴν τετάρτην, ἤκουσα φωνὴν τοῦ τετάρτου ζῴου λέγοντος· ἔρχου. 8 καὶ εἶδον, καὶ ἰδοὺ ἵππος χλωρός, καὶ ὁ καθήμενος ἐπάνω αὐτοῦ ὄνομα αὐτῷ [ὁ] θάνατος, καὶ ὁ ᾅδης ἠκολούθει μετ᾿ αὐτοῦ καὶ ἐδόθη αὐτοῖς ἐξουσία ἐπὶ τὸ τέταρτον τῆς γῆς ἀποκτεῖναι ἐν ῥομφαίᾳ καὶ ἐν λιμῷ καὶ ἐν θανάτῳ καὶ ὑπὸ τῶν θηρίων τῆς γῆς.

Rev. 6:7 When he opened the fourth seal, I heard the fourth living creature say, “Come forth!”  8 I looked and behold, a green horse and the rider on it was named Death ([ὁ] θάνατος) and the place of the dead (ὁ ᾅδης) was following with him.  Authority was given to them to kill one quarter of the earth with a sword, with famine, with pestilence, and by the wild beasts of the earth.

Oh, but what happens in the end at the Great White Throne of Judgement at Revelation 20:13-14?

Rev. 20:13 καὶ ἔδωκεν ἡ θάλασσα τοὺς νεκροὺς τοὺς ἐν αὐτῇ καὶ ὁ θάνατος καὶ ὁ ᾅδης ἔδωκαν τοὺς νεκροὺς τοὺς ἐν αὐτοῖς, καὶ ἐκρίθησαν ἕκαστος κατὰ τὰ ἔργα αὐτῶν. 14 καὶ ὁ θάνατος καὶ ὁ ᾅδης ἐβλήθησαν εἰς τὴν λίμνην τοῦ πυρός. οὗτος ὁ θάνατος ὁ δεύτερός ἐστιν, ἡ λίμνη τοῦ πυρός.

Rev. 20:13 And the sea gave the dead who were in it and death and the place of the dead gave the dead who were in them.  And they were judged, everyone according to their deeds.  14 And death and the place of the dead were thrown into the lake of fire.  This is the second death; the lake of fire.

One day, there will be no more death!  There will be no more place where the dead go!  We will truly have eternal life.

In verses 7-16, the Psalmist describes what happened when David cried out to God for deliverance from Saul.  But does it also carry eschatological language that describes the Lord’s return?  I will emphasize the language.

7 And when I was oppressed, I called upon the Lord
and I cried out to my God;
He heard my voice from his holy shrine
and my cry before him entered into his ears.
8 And the earth shook and trembled,
and the foundations of the mountains were troubled
and they shook, because God was angry with them.
9 Smoke went up in his wrath, 
and fire from his presence flamed up, 
charcoal was set afire by him.
10 And he tipped over heaven and came down, 
and darkness was under his feet.
11 And he mounted a cherub and flew, 
he flew on the wings of the wind.
12 And he made darkness to be his hiding place;
his tent encircled him, (he’s coming secretly…)
the water was darkened by the clouds of the air.
13 The clouds passed through from the brightness before him, 
hail and coals of fire.
14 And the Lord thundered from heaven, 
and the Most High put forth his voice;
15 and he sent forth arrows and he scattered them
and he multiplied lightning and he threw them into confusion.
16 And the springs of water were seen, 
and the foundations of the world were uncovered
from your rebuke, O Lord, 
from the breathing on of the breath of your wrath.

Although it seems obvious that this passage contains “end-time” language, I will share one verse from Revelation that can sum this passage up, but there is much more.  This passage is at the Seventh Trumpet.

Rev. 11:19 Καὶ ἠνοίγη ὁ ναὸς τοῦ θεοῦ ὁ ἐν τῷ οὐρανῷ καὶ ὤφθη ἡ κιβωτὸς τῆς διαθήκης αὐτοῦ ἐν τῷ ναῷ αὐτοῦ, καὶ ἐγένοντο ἀστραπαὶ καὶ φωναὶ καὶ βρονταὶ καὶ σεισμὸς καὶ χάλαζα μεγάλη.

Rev. 11:19 And the shrine of God which is in heaven was opened and the ark of his covenant was seen, and there were lightnings, voices, thunders, an earthquake, and great hail.

I don’t think it takes much to connect the two passages.

I would be doing you a disservice if I didn’t bring up the figurative nature of David’s deliverance from Saul.  We all have read the story of Saul’s defeat.  The Lord didn’t literally tilt heaven and come down.  Smoke didn’t literally go up from his wrath.  Arrows didn’t come down from heaven.  This is all figurative language that shows us that God is ultimately in control and his power is greater than any worldly power.  And so it also is in Revelation.  I’ll let all of you chew on that.

The last passage we will look at is verse 44.

44 You will rescue me from the squabbling of the people, 
you will appoint me as the head of the nations;
A people, who I didn’t know, became a slave to me…

Most of the time in the New Testament, ἔθνη (the plural of ἔθνος) means “gentiles” rather than “nations”.  Dουλεύω (to serve as a slave/to be a slave) is used around 25 times in the New Testament and many times it means “to be a slave to God or Christ”.  The reason that you don’t see it is that δουλεύω is mostly translated as “serve” when used with God.  Paul himself said that he as “a slave of Jesus Christ” and he would use this word many ways.

The Jews of the 1st Century were God’s people, but they rejected Jesus as the Christ (Anointed One).  As a result, God extended his mercy through Jesus Christ to a people he didn’t know—to us, ἔθνη/gentiles.  The Old Testament Scriptures foresaw this.  Even Jesus indirectly speaks of this in John 10:14:

14 I am the good shepherd and I know my possessions and they know me, 15 just as the Father knows me and I know the Father, and I lay down my life for the sheep.  16 But I have sheep which are not from this fold; and I must lead those sheep and they will listen to my voice, and they will be one flock, and there will be One Shepherd.

“The people that I didn’t know” became slaves to the Lord Jesus Christ.  We are to serve him as a slave as a 1st century slave served his master.  Just as a slave belongs to his master, we belong to our Master.

I will leave you with this.  Whatever you are, God will become that to you and will show that to you.  That is shown in this Psalm as the Psalmist sings about the Lord:

26 You will be declared holy with the holy
and you will be innocent with the innocent man
27 and you will be chosen with the chosen
and you will be twisted with the twisted.
28 And you will save humble people
and you will humble proud eyes.

If you are holy, God will be holy to you and will make you holy.  If you are innocent, God will make you innocent.  If you are chosen, God will chose you.  But if you are twisted and perverted, God will twist and pervert you and be twisted and perverted to you.  

He will save the humble and humble the proud.