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There is much discussion over the nature of what “records” or “books” God keeps, especially regarding the “Book of Life”. One point of agreement however is that the Bible does use the simile of writing in books. That provides a visual to assist us in more fully understanding and admiring God’s standards, wisdom, and work.
The first instance in Scripture where writing in a book is used regarding God was when God gave the law of commandments through Moses. That is detailed in Exodus 20-23, summarized in Deuteronomy 30:19-20, 32:46-47, and mentioned as being in a book in 2 Chronicles 34:14. In this book both blessings and curses are listed as referred to in Deuteronomy 29:19 Tanakh (29:20 OT.)
Other books in Scripture are: the “Book of Wars” which is a collection of war songs celebrating glorious acts of God on behalf of Israel (Numbers 21:14), the “Book of Jasher” which is a chronicle of the early history of Israel (Joshua 10:13, 2 Samuel 1:18), and the “Book of Works” which is a record of the deeds of unbelievers. Those who do not possess the imputation of God’s righteousness are judged by their personal works/things they have done. (Daniel 7:9-10, Romans 3 (particularly 19-24), Revelation 20:12-13.)
The “Book of Remembrance” is mentioned in Malachi 3:16 and also referred to in Psalm 56:9 Tanakh (56:8 OT.) Those whom God has called to Himself, who are His, will as a natural outflow, exhibit a reverential fear of the Lord, a respect for who He is. Out of that flows a desire to follow God, to learn about His character and His ways, to obey Him, to share about Him, as well as the natural tears of pain/frustration borne out of oppression, persecution, and wounds inflicted by enemies of God. All of this is recorded in the “Book of Remembrance.”
And then there is the Book of Life...
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The first mention of the “Book of Life” is in Exodus 32:31-33 and the thread weaves throughout the Tanakh (Hebrew Scriptures, Old Testament) into the New Testament.
I have found much analysis in teachings on if the “Book of Life” in the Hebrew Scriptures is the same as the “Lamb’s Book of Life” in the New Testament, and furthermore if the “Book of Life” is the same as the “Book of the Living” mentioned in Psalm 69:28-29 Tanakh (69:27-28 OT). As a side-note on that Psalm 69 verse, some translations say the “Book of the Living” (Psalm 69:28-29 Tanakh, 69:27-28 OT) and others say “Book of Life” (Psalm 69:28-29 Tanakh, 69:27-28 OT.)
In analysis of what God says in the entirety of Scripture, this is what I learned. The “Book of Life”, the “Book of the Living” and the “Lamb’s Book of Life” all refer to the same book. This book lists all of God’s heirs and their inheritance, eternal inheritance. The names of God’s elect were written in the “Book of Life” from the foundation of the world. Even before we were born, God’s elect were written in the Book.
So how can YOU ensure you are truly written in? Please visit: Our Glorious Inheritance” If you want to first analyze this Book of Life concept further, please remain on this page. Thank you!
What does it mean to be elect? The “elect of God” is irrespective of national origin, religion, race. While Jews as a “nation”, the “collective group” are God’s “chosen people” we as a collective group were chosen for particular purposes. As a nation and group we do receive unique divine protection, however that is separate from being chosen for salvation in the eternal sense.
Jewish religious teachings do teach the concept of sin and the “Book of Life”, especially during Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur, focusing mainly on “missing the mark” and practical steps to take to make amends to any people affected. The teaching continues that if amends is made with a sincere heart, the sin is forgiven by God.
In Judaism, being inscribed or erased from the “Book of Life” is taught to be an annual event; inscribed, not inscribed, inscribed, not inscribed… over and over and over again. The focus is more on life on earth in the here and now.
Modern Judaism in general does not teach that mankind is born sinful, separated from God. There are no teachings on what a person would need to be saved from, or to. Little focus on the afterlife; heaven or hell, and what forgiveness from God results in other than blessings on earth.
Although, in Orthodox Judaism and in examining the Hebrew Scriptures (Tanakh) we do find: We are made from dust (Genesis 2:7), and to dust we will return to an eternal destiny (Genesis 3:19.) Many who sleep in the dust of the earth will awaken, some for eternal life [heaven], and some for disgrace, for eternal abhorrence [hell] (Daniel 12:2.)
So, back to the elect. Those are the people whom God has chosen, predestined to salvation (deliverance from destruction.) God loves all of His creation and we see tremendous evidence of that in the Bible. However, we also see God’s hatred of evil. We also see instances where God raises up an evil leader or an evil doer for purposes that are not exactly apparent to the people afflicted at the time, but as we see the complete scene unfold in the Bible, we read about how it brings about a bigger picture of good, and displays God’s goodness, love, mercy, glory (Pharaoh is one prime example.)
We always have to remember, this world is God’s, not ours. God is sovereign, which means in complete control of every aspect of everything. Regardless of what we see with our natural eyes, God does have a plan and a purpose, and it is truly all detailed in the Bible.
Psalm 65:5 Tanakh [65:4 OT] “Happy is the man whom Thou choosest, and bringest near, that he may dwell in Thy courts; may we be satisfied with the goodness of Thy house, the holy place of Thy temple!” And Psalm 139, in depth details the sovereignty of God and His foreknowledge of us. We also see from David in this passage, a man who desires to be in God’s will, a man who has been given that desire from His maker, a man who we can glean from this psalm, would be found among God’s elect.
God is the main character and focus in this love story through the huge, continuous thread of 66 books describing who God is, what God created and why, as well as showing God meeting us where we are at; rebellious, sinful, failing, guilty, striving yet never reaching. God meets us with His rescue, His salvation, His favor, His grace, His mercy, His goodness.
The Bible tells us of the perfect standard that God is, as well as the realization that we will never be able to reach that perfection. No matter how good we “behave”, there is always something in what we do, or in our motive, that is not “perfect”.
However, every book in the Bible, right from Genesis on, is love-filled, mercy-filled, grace-filled, as it contains His Gospel (Besorah, Good News) message. The deeper this message seeps and sinks into us, the more we will reflect just who God designed us to reflect, Him!
What does it mean when we read God “chose us”? Looking at a tangible example, let us go to 1 Samuel 17:40. “And he took his staff in his hand, and chose him five smooth stones out of the brook, and put them in the shepherd’s bag which he had, even in his scrip; (“scrip”is a pouch) and his sling was in his hand; and he drew near to the Philistine.”
Was there any willingness of the stones to be “chosen”? Did the stones move in a certain way, respond to David’s looking at them in a certain way? Of course not. The choice of which stones to select was completely David’s decision based on those that best suited his purpose, we might say a “sovereign” choice.
The way David chose those stones is exactly the way God chose Israel out of all other nations, and exactly the same way God chose specific individuals for salvation, by His grace, in His sovereignty, for His purposes, not by anything a person said or did.
Yes, we are flesh and blood human beings, not lifeless stones, however, what is the scriptural definition of our hearts before salvation? Ezekiel 36:26 “A new heart also will I give you, and a new spirit will I put within you; and I will take away the stony heart out of your flesh, and I will give you a heart of flesh.” Interesting comparison.
Salvation, being written in the Book of Life, cannot be lost, a child of God’s name can never be blotted out, because it is never about us, it is always about God and what He did. One to whom God has given the new heart and spirit described in Ezekiel 36 will persevere to the very end.
The scriptures talking of erasing, or blotting out of a name in the Book is the same concept as Hosea 8 and Matthew 7:15-23. Not everyone who believes they are in the “Book of Life” or who says they are, truly is. Their fruits (their outward words, actions, behaviors) are the best indicators, of the reality of their situation.
Let us look at the various scriptures describing “The Book of Life” and analyze. Exodus 32:31-33 “And now, if You forgive their sin But if not, erase me now from Your book, which You have written.’ And the Lord said to Moses: ‘Whoever has sinned against Me, him I will erase from My book!'” And it shall come to pass that every survivor shall be in Zion, and everyone who is left, in Jerusalem; “holy” shall be said of him, everyone inscribed for life in Jerusalem.”
In Exodus 32 all these people are worshipping the golden calf. Moses wants to be the offering of atonement for them, God says no, He has it taken care of. “Whoever has sinned I will blot”. It is not a whoever sinned now I will now blot. It is a general reassurance to David, look I’ve got this. Not all who say they are Mine, or who believe they are Mine, are truly Mine. They are not all in the Book of Life.
Malachi 3:16-18 “Then the God-fearing men spoke to one another, and the Lord hearkened and heard it. And a book of remembrance was written before Him for those who feared the Lord and for those who valued His name highly. And they shall be Mine, says the Lord of Hosts, for that day when I make a treasure. And I will have compassion on them as a man has compassion on his son who serves him. And you shall return and discern between the righteous and the wicked, between him who serves God and him who has not served Him.”
Psalm 40:7-9 Tanakh (Psalm 40:6-8 OT) “Sacrifice and meal-offering Thou hast no delight in; mine ears hast Thou opened; burnt-offering and sin-offering hast Thou not required. Then said I: ‘Lo, I am come with the roll of a book which is prescribed for me I delight to do Thy will, O my God; yea, Thy law is in my inmost parts.”
Psalm 40 tells us that there is nothing God requires us to do to be written in the Book of Life. His elect are already written in, and we are drawn by God, to God, when He gives us that revelation (opens our ears). When that occurs, the rest of what is stated here is the natural outflow.
Psalm 69:28-29 Tanakh (69:27-28 OT) “Add iniquity unto their iniquity; and let them not come into Thy righteousness. Let them be blotted out of the book of the living, and not be written with the righteous.”
David in Psalm 69 is speaking of his adversaries, people whose fruits do not match someone who is truly a child of God. “You will know them by your fruits.” So when David says “May they be erased from the book of life and may they not be inscribed with the righteous”, David is speaking out of the pain and frustration of what he is dealing with from these people. Meanwhile they never were in the Book to begin with.
Daniel 12:1-2 “Now at that time, Michael, the great prince, who stands over the children of your people, will be silent, and it will be a time of distress that never was since a nation existed until that time, and at that time, your people will escape, everyone who is found inscribed in the book. And many who sleep in the dust of the earth will awaken-these for eternal life, and those for disgrace, for eternal abhorrence.”
Daniel 12 is a graphic Tanakh (Hebrew Scriptures, Old Testament) description that there is an eternal existence, as well as a description of the book that is sealed until the end, not opened each year with God standing by holding a pencil and eraser.
Philippians 4:3 “Indeed, true companion, I ask you also to help these women who have shared my struggle in the cause of the gospel, together with Clement also and the rest of my fellow workers, whose names are in the book of life.”
Revelation 13:7-9 “It was also given to him to make war with the saints and to overcome them, and authority over every tribe and people and tongue and nation was given to him. All who dwell on the earth will worship him, everyone whose name has not been written from the foundation of the world in the book of life of the Lamb who has been slain. If anyone has an ear, let him hear. “
Revelation 17:8 “The beast that you saw was, and is not, and is about to come up out of the abyss and go to destruction. And those who dwell on the earth, whose name has not been written in the book of life from the foundation of the world, will wonder when they see the beast, that he was and is not and will come. “
Revelation 20:11-15 “Then I saw a great white throne and Him who sat upon it, from whose presence earth and heaven fled away, and no place was found for them. And I saw the dead, the great and the small, standing before the throne, and books were opened; and another book was opened, which is the book of life; and the dead were judged from the things which were written in the books, according to their deeds. And the sea gave up the dead which were in it, and death and Hades gave up the dead which were in them; and they were judged, every one of them according to their deeds. Then death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire. This is the second death, the lake of fire. And if anyone’s name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire. “
Revelation 21:27 “and nothing unclean, and no one who practices abomination and lying, shall ever come into it, but only those whose names are written in the Lamb’s book of life. “
Revelation 22:19 “and if anyone takes away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God will take away his part from the tree of life and from the holy city, which are written in this book.”
How can YOU ensure you are truly written in? Please visit: Our Glorious Inheritance” Thank you!
Something cannot be both “z” and “non z” at the same time and in the same sense. For example, I cannot be both human, and non human at the same time and in the same sense. Perhaps my behavior could be considered non human if it was horrific, but I can never be both human and non human.
Truth is narrow or “narrow-minded.” 4+4=8 and only 8, all the time. No matter what. There is just that one right answer. Any other answer is wrong.
Truth excludes it’s opposite. All answers other than 8 are excluded from the truth of what 4+4 equals.
Truth is immune to sincerity, belief, and desire. It does not matter how much someone sincerely believes a wrong key will fit the door. If the key is wrong, it simply will not unlock the lock to open the door.
It does not matter how much I believe I will be able to fit into a toddler’s size of a pair of jeans if I am an adult of average size and stature.
It does not matter how much I desire a bowl of broccoli to be an ice cream sundae. The broccoli will always be broccoli.
Truth cannot always proven by science. For example, science does not prove mathematics. Science also cannot prove things that cannot be seen. For instance, you cannot see my thoughts or yours. Thoughts other than what I am thinking do in fact exist. Science also does not prove ethics. Science cannot prove that setting fire to person’s live body is evil. Hopefully we all know that is evil.
Truth is not the same as what we feel. Following your heart places a high value on your own desires and emotions. Someone may feel that they can fly. However, if they take that actual leap off of a tall building, their arms are not wings and they will most likely suffer injuries or death as they fall.
There is no such thing as my truth and your truth. Can everyone and everything be right all at the same time? Of course not. There is truth and there is non truth.
Truth matters. There are consequences for being wrong.
~ As early as Genesis 3:15 it is seen that someone must die in order to ultimately defeat sin. “And I shall place hatred between you and between the woman, and between your seed and between her seed. He will crush your head, and you will bite his heel.”
~ The theme of sacrifice is continued in Genesis 3:21 for in order for God to cover Adam and Eve with animal skins, obviously animals had been killed to now provide this covering. “And the Lord God made for Adam and for his wife shirts of skin, and He dressed them.”
~ Genesis 4:3-5, Abel’s blood sacrifice was acceptable to God, while Cain’s offering was not. It seems that Cain demonstrated disbelief in not bringing a blood sacrifice. “Now it came to pass at the end of days, that Cain brought of the fruit of the soil an offering to the Lord. And Abel he too brought of the firstborn of his flocks and of their fattest, and the Lord turned to Abel and to his offering. But to Cain and to his offering He did not turn…”
~ During the time of Noah, sacrifices were still important. Genesis 8:20 “And Noah built an altar to the Lord, and he took of all the clean animals and of all the clean fowl and brought up burnt offerings on the altar.”
~ In subjecting Abraham to the ultimate test of his faith, God requested him to sacrifice his son Isaac, a passage that prefigures the sacrifice of Jesus. Genesis 22.
~ God required animal sacrifices to provide temporary forgiveness of sins. God even set up certain procedures, almost all involving shed blood from the animal to “cover” the sin, remove the sin in God’s eyes.(Leviticus 4, Leviticus 16, Numbers 15:1-31). Thus when one broke a law but then offered the proper sacrifice he was keeping the overall Law.
~ There were certain sins one could commit that could not be forgiven. There was no sacrifice given to atone for them and no recourse for the offender except to die and enter hell. Some of these were homosexuality (Leviticus 18:22, Leviticus 20:13), murder (Numbers 35:30), adultery (Leviticus 20:10), cursing or smiting one’s parents (Exodus 21:15), kidnapping (Exodus 21:16), bestiality (Exodus 22:19), breaking the Sabbath (Exodus 31:14), blasphemy (Leviticus 24:16). Basically all crimes punishable by death were unforgivable.
~ However, these animal sacrifices evolved from being offered anywhere to being tied into a particular temple and altar in which to offer the sacrifice ( Deuteronomy 12). When the temple altar was destroyed, these animal sacrifices ceased.
~ God promised Abraham that all the families of the earth would be blessed by Abraham (Genesis 12:3). Since all people on earth are sinners, all people deserve God’s curse, not God’s blessing. And why are all people on earth sinners? You may read the detailed explanation here on this blog post.
~ So, only those who have been saved from their sins can be blessed of God. Thus the promise of blessing for the families of the earth must include salvation for the families of the earth and this salvation would come through the seed of Abraham. The Messiah must be of the line of Abraham.
~ The same promise was renewed to Isaac (Genesis 21:12) and Jacob (Genesis 28:14) and thus the Messiah must also be a descendant of Isaac and Jacob. Since the Jews may be defined as those who have descended from Jacob, we can say that the Savior must be a Jew. He must be a descendant of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.
~ In Genesis 49:10 we learn that the kingly line (the line possessing “the scepter”) must come out of the tribe of Judah. Since the Messiah will be God’s anointed King (Psalm 2), the Messiah must come from the line of Judah.
~ In Isaiah 11:1 we learn that the Messiah, God’s great King, must come from Jesse, hence from the line of David (Jesse was David’s father). The covenant God made with David (ll Samuel chapter 7) confirms that this great King must come from the line of King David.
~ His birth: Micah 5:2, Isaiah 7:14 (The Hebrew term “young woman” [almah] is used in the Torah of women who were virgins [Genesis 24:43 and Exodus 2:8]. The Jewish translators of the Hebrew Scriptures into the Greek Septuagint used “parthenos” to translate the word “almah”, and the Greek term “parthenos” clearly denoted virginity.).
~ The context of Isaiah 7:14 involves the LORD speaking to Ahaz about a great sign or miracle. For a virgin to become pregnant and give birth to a son is a great miracle.
~ The Messiah had to be sinless. Isaiah 53. Despised and rejected by men, pained because of our transgressions, crushed because of our iniquities; the chastisement of our welfare was upon him, and with his wound we were healed. We all went astray like sheep, we have turned, each one on his way, and the Lord accepted his prayers for the iniquity of all of us. He was oppressed, and he was afflicted, yet he would not open his mouth; like a lamb to the slaughter he would be brought, He committed no violence, and there was no deceit in his mouth. He poured out his soul to death, and with transgressors he was counted; and he bore the sin of many, and interceded for the transgressors.
~ The Messiah had to die: Genesis 3:15, Daniel 9:24-27, Psalm 22, Zechariah 12:10, Zechariah 13:6, Isaiah 53 (One interpretation of this passage is that the suffering servant describes the nation Israel. Yes Israel as a nation has suffered greatly, however notice the repetition of the personal pronoun “he” which lends weight to the One spoken of is an individual, not a nation. More information on that can be found in this Isaiah 53 post here).
~ Over 300 prophecies stated in the Tanakh (Old Testament) were fulfilled by one named Jesus. Our eternal God became man (incarnation) for our salvation; sinless, born under the Law, to fulfill the Law perfectly (Genesis 49:10). Crucified, died, resurrected, alive seated at the right hand of the Father (Psalm 110:1), fully God, fully man (Daniel 7:13-14, Isaiah 52:6-7, Isaiah 9:5 Tanakh [9:6 OT]). By faith, we are able to be reconciled to God forever. Just as Abram back in Genesis 15, by faith.
~ Ecclesiastes 1:9 “What has been is what will be, and what has been done is what will be done, and there is nothing new under the sun.” What the New Testament brings is nothing new, it is all in the Tanakh.
~ Isaiah 53:1 “Who would have believed our report, and to whom was the arm of the Lord revealed?”
~ Romans 6:23 “For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
~ Jesus died a terrible death on a cross to pay the price for our sin, a death that was foretold in detail in the Tanakh, one that was part of God’s plan from before time began, and one that God allowed for a very specific purpose.
~ Jesus took our place when we deserved spiritual death. However this was Jesus in His human form. Part of the prophecy regarding Him was that He would come to earth as a man however ascend to Heaven (eternal life with God) after physical death here on earth. That is where He is. (After His death, Jesus was raised from the dead Psalm 16:10, Isaiah 53:9-10, After His resurrection, Jesus ascended to heaven and sat at the right hand of God Psalm 16:11, Psalm 68:18, Psalm 110:1).
~ Because the physical death, the shedding of blood here on earth, was the final atonement set up by God, the propitiation, the quenching of His wrath, there is no other way to reconnect with God in life here on earth, and in eternity. Believing in Jesus (putting your trust in Him) as your Lord and Savior, is the only hope of salvation.
~ John 3:16 “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.”
~ You will become a child of God by receiving Jesus. John 1:12 “But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, even to those who believe in His name.”
~ John 14:6 “Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but through Me .”
~ Colossians 1:14 “in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.”
Before reading the information on this page, please read or re read the plan God set in motion that is fully contained in the Tanakh (Tanach, Hebrew Scriptures, Old Testament.) Reading this first will put this page into it’s proper backstory and perspective. Thank you!
Next, let us look at God’s plan as it continues into the New Testament (and why the New Testament is relevant at all, for all people, Jewish people included.)
Receiving the gift of salvation is called being born again.
We were born physically, our first birth, our natural birth. There is a second birth, a spiritual birth that occurs when we receive salvation. Being born again is for ALL people, regardless of ethnicity, culture, religious background, or anything else.
And yes, the name of Jesus is mentioned as we move forward, Messiah Jesus. This might be a stumbling block or even a stopping point for some.
I implore you, please read here for more information on why Jesus. Thank you!
Jesus declared, “I tell you the truth, no one can see the kingdom of God unless he is born again.” John 3:1-21 discusses being born again.
Additional scriptures regarding the necessity of receiving salvation: Luke 16:19-31, Revelation 20:11-15, Mark 9:43-48
So, back to John 3. When you, from the heart, not just words from your head and mouth:
- Admit that you are not perfect, that you sin. That you know you, in word and in deed, cannot do every single thing perfectly in this life here on earth, and that no matter how hard you try, we are all limited and will always fall short of God’s perfect standard of holiness.
- Ask God to forgive you of your sins. Lord, I am a sinner. I know I am a sinner. I admit I am a sinner. We are not sinners because we sin. We sin because we are sinners. Does this make sense to you? (If you would like further information on this sin concept, please click this sentence to go to the dirty pitcher analogy along with tons more information on this. Thank you!)
- Believe that Jesus died on the cross for YOU (grasping the reality that Jesus IS the FINAL atonement, the propitiation.) No more covering, no more bartering, no more pleading with God to give you one more chance. You have that chance, it is finished. It has been done for you. Will you seize it?
- Receive Jesus as Lord and Savior.
Then, you are now born again and have become heir to the greatest inheritance far beyond any other!
If I, as an ordinary person say “I am” it is always followed by something. I am a woman. I am a wife. I am a mom. I am a friend. I am a daughter. I am a student. I am a teacher. I am of average height. I am of average build.
What does it mean when you ask God “Who are you?” and He answers, “I AM WHO I AM.”?
God can say “I AM” without saying anything more, because God is!
Everything and everyone in this world becomes, from birth to death, always changing. But God never changes or becomes anything different from what He is now. What He is, that He was, and ever will be. Exodus 3:14 is the most firm declaration of God’s eternal self existence that is found in the Tanach (Tanakh) or Old Testament.
Exodus 3:14 Tanach (Tanakh, Hebrew Bible, Judaica Press) “God said to Moses, ‘Ehyeh asher ehyeh (I will be what I will be),’ and He said, ‘So shall you say to the children of Israel, Ehyeh (I will be) has sent me to you.'”
Exodus 3:14 Old Testament (ESV: English Standard Version)“God said to Moses, ‘I am who I am.’ And he said, ‘Say this to the people of Israel: I am has sent me to you.'”
“I AM WHO I AM” contains each tense of the verb “to be.” We can translate it “I was, I am, I shall always continue to be.” He is the eternal “I AM.”
Moses had asked God for a name that he can pass onto his fellow Israelites in Egypt in order to validate his mission, but God replied not with a name or label but with a theology.
Some beautiful points can be drawn from this:
God exists. God is there. God is here. This may seem basic but many people live as if it were not true, or if they believe it might be true or is, it does not make any difference in life, theirs or in general.
There is no reality behind God. He is the reality. He is the Creator. He is the master designer. Nothing birthed Him or created Him. He always existed. For those who believe that a cosmic big bang started things here on earth, well, how do you start something out of nothing? Where did the energy come from in order to create this big bang originate from? And a random big bang would cause chaos meanwhile everything is and was in perfect order for everything to be formed and to stay formed. Everything points to a master Creator, one who is the energy, the power.
God does not change. We change our minds depending on circumstances or our emotions. God foresees all circumstances and has no weaknesses. Nothing is a surprise to Him and He is consistent, always, with His character. Speaking of character, God is who He is, and we learn about Him in the Bible. Your view or my view of our what we would like God to be or what we believe God to be does not make it so.
When God says I AM WHO I AM, He ends the fallacy that our ideas of God or who we would like Him to be are valid. We are called to strive to know Him for who He is, not our own fantasy version of Him. Inherent in this is that we are also called to conform to Him, not the other way around. It is actually quite exhilarating. While we (and I) often battle to hold onto control and do things our way, there is such incredible freedom found in giving up the choke hold, giving up the battling, and submitting to the One who actually created us. Yes, freedom!
Please feel free to ask any questions or to discuss any aspect of this! Thank you!
Genesis 50:20 Tanach (Tanakh, Hebrew Bible, Judaica Press) “Indeed, you intended evil against me, [but] God designed it for good, in order to bring about what is at present to keep a great populace alive.”
Genesis 50:20 Old Testament (ESV: English Standard Version)“As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good, to bring it about that many people should be kept alive, as they are today.”
What Joseph said to his brothers in this verse is incredible! Let us first notice what Joseph did not say. Joseph did not say “As for you, you meant evil against me, but God used it for good.” He also did not say “As for you, you meant evil against me, but I overcame it for good.”
Instead, Joseph saw God working through his brothers’ sin and evil, cruel intentions. God worked through the evil, sinful, cruelty of his brothers to bring about Joseph’s triumph in Egypt and the saving of many lives through the famine.
Joseph saw God at work in everything! God’s hand moved and guided every aspect of Joseph’s life, and Joseph trusted this, even when in the natural, to his regular earthly human eyes, ears, and mind, things seemed terrible, horrific, alarming.
You meant it for evil, but God meant it for good describes attributes of God, His providence and His sovereignty. Regardless of the intention of people be it good or bad, God will bring about His own ultimate end. Always. What God means to happen, will ultimately happen. Always. God is always in control.
There is a powerful distinction between God’s perfect will and God’s permissive will. God’s perfect will is unchangeable. It is with His permissive will, or the various things that He allows into our lives which He uses to accomplish His divine purpose for our lives, and the big picture far beyond us.
It is our reaction to things allowed by God’s permissive will that enables us to begin seeing His perfect will, at least in the small picture, for us. It is in these moments as we pray and walk, we are matured, developed, deepened. It is good. It is beautiful. Yes, it is also challenging and can be painful. Then again, if we want to become physically fit, it is challenging and can be painful. We have work out our muscles. No different in the spiritual realm!
As Genesis 50 unfolds we see how Joseph treated his brothers with mercy, loving kindness, undeserved favor (grace.) But wait a second, read back to Genesis 37. How does mercy, loving kindness and grace become cultivated in the heart of one so cruelly treated?
The answer is found in Joseph’s theology (what one believes about God.)
Joseph had a clear understanding that what his brothers did to him was completely and thoroughly evil. However, Joseph also had the clear understanding that although they meant it for evil, God meant it for good. He may or may not have been able to see that good at the time the cruelty was occurring, but he knew God (not just knew of God, but truly knew who God is; character attributes.)
Joseph had a clear understanding that God was at work and God is in control. God can always be trusted for the outcome, again, no matter what we see or experience here on earth. The theology of the sovereign (ultimate, supreme, unrestricted, unlimited) purpose and providence of God (protective care, timely preparation) is what generated the attitude of Joseph’s heart and allowed him to respond to his brothers as he did.
God used Joseph’s suffering and his subsequent circumstances to accomplish His own sovereign purposes in a huge way. God had a plan for the world. To fulfill that, God had a plan for the nation Israel. However, to fulfill that, God had a plan for Joseph. All was tied together. God used Joseph, to preserve a people, so there would be a nation called Israel, the nation from whom the prophets would come. The nation who would be given the Scriptures, the nation from whom the Messiah would come, the nation through whom the world would be blessed. (Links to Tanakh Genesis 3:15; Genesis 12:1-3; Genesis 22:1-18; Genesis 46:3; and here is the entire block of these scriptures in the Old Testament.)
If you are Jewish, you remain Jewish, always, no matter what!
According to the Orthodox, a Jewish person is any person whose birth mother was a Jew, or any person who has gone through the formal process of conversion to Judaism. A person born to non-Jewish parents who has not undergone the formal process of conversion, but who believes everything that Orthodox Jews believe, and observes every law and custom of Judaism, is still a non-Jew, even in the eyes of the most liberal movements of Judaism.
And a person born to a Jewish mother who is an atheist and never practices the Jewish religion, is still a Jew, even in the eyes of the ultra-Orthodox. In this sense, Judaism is more like a nationality than like other religions, and being Jewish is like a citizenship (Reference.) This reference even says that it is important to note that being a Jew has nothing to do with what you believe or what you do.
Given that information, then the reality is that a person who is born a Jew can believe in and practice whatever they want, their identity as a Jew is not something that can be taken away from them. A fascinating post on the Chabad website testifies to just that: “Jewishness is not a belief, a feeling, a conviction or a lifestyle. It is a state of being. We can either celebrate it or fight against it. But it will always be there.”
I Kings 18:21 says “And Elijah drew near to all the people and said, Until when are you hopping between two ideas? If the Lord is God, go after Him, and if the Baal, go after him. And the people did not answer him a word.” Elijah the prophet was sent to rebuke those Jews who were worshiping a foreign god named Baal. The people were given a choice, if the Lord is God, follow Him, but if Baal, follow him. Ultimately the Jews renounced their idolatrous ways and returned to God.
Some have concluded that this is saying that a Jew who follows another religion is Jewish only to the point that he retains a spiritual obligation to repent and return to Judaism. Following that line of reasoning, as long as a Jew’s beliefs are idolatrous and foreign to Judaism, he/she cannot call himself or herself a Jew. In that same analysis some have made the differentiation between a non practicing Jew and one who has chosen to follow a “foreign” path (Pages 18-19 “The Jewish Response to Missionaries – Counter Missionary Handbook” by Rabbi Bentzion Kravitz.)
Is this what the Tanakh truly says? We must carefully consider the context of passages. In other words, we must look carefully at verses that precede and that follow a verse we are studying. When we take a passage “out of context” we are in danger of misinterpreting it. A passage can often be taken more than one way, until we look closely at the larger picture, perhaps an entire chapter or even the entire book.
Does it say in I Kings 18 that those who followed Baal were no longer Jews? No. Verse 18 “And he said, “I have not brought trouble upon Israel, but you and your father’s house, since you have forsaken the commandments of the Lord, and you went after the Baalim.” There is absolutely no mention of a loss of identity; what there is mention of is there were consequences from God, trouble, just like when we forsake God and pursue ungodly activities and interests. When we turn from God and follow our own path, there most certainly are consequences; natural ones as well as one’s from God.
Some may say that the Torah teaches that Jews and non Jews are given different paths to reach God. A Jew is obligated to follow the Torah while a non Jew must observe the Seven Laws of the Children of Noah. (Page 19 “The Jewish Response to Missionaries – Counter Missionary Handbook” by Rabbi Bentzion Kravitz.) That is found absolutely nowhere in the Tanakh. That is a Rabbinical thought expressed in the Oral Torah inferred from Genesis 9.
Now getting down to what the Bible actually states. The Tanakh does not specifically state anywhere that matrilineal descent should be used. The Orthodox Jews are using the following to support the matrilineal descent theory: Deuteronomy 7:1-5, Leviticus 24:10 and Ezra 10:2-3. Source.
However taking into account the context of these scriptures within the rest of the Bible, those scriptures discuss the intermarriage between a believer; a follower of God, and a non believer or a non follower of God like Deuteronomy 22:10, 1 Corinthians 5:9, 2 Corinthians 6:14-17 state.
Regarding who is a Jew, the Tanakh states that a Jewish person is any person who is a descendant of Israel (Jacob), as well as the patriarchs Abraham and Isaac, and their wives. (Genesis 12:1-3, Psalm 77:16 [Psalm 77:15 OT].) Interesting too, according to the Tanakh there isn’t any set out list of requirements to formally convert to Judaism. Ruth is held up by all as an example of conversion (Ruth 1:16.)
Who is a Gentile?
Gentiles are people who are not Jewish. Gentiles are not born Christian either. No one is BORN a Christian or is a Christian simply because their parents are Christians or they were sprinkled with water at an infant baptism. There is a personal and inner decision that each INDIVIDUAL must make for him or herself in order to become a Christian. Gentiles who place their faith in Jesus are “grafted into” the Jewish olive tree of faith Romans 11:17-25 becoming spiritual sons and daughters of Abraham (Galatians 3:28-29.)
Who is a Christian?
Anyone, GENTILE OR JEW, who receives Jesus as their Savior (Romans 10:11-13.) One is not born a Christian the way one is born a Jew or born a man (XY Sex Chromosomes) or a woman (XX Sex Chromosomes.) One is also not baptized into becoming a Christian either the way one might be baptized into a religion for example as in infant baptism by sprinkling of water. To become a Christian as the Bible states it, one must actually decide that they believe what scripture says about receiving salvation.
Bringing this page together regarding Jewish people….
If a Jewish person has decided for him or herself that Jesus is indeed the Messiah and has received Jesus as such, then they have a dual identity as Jewish and as a follower of Jesus.
The English word “gospel” comes from two old English words, “god spell” meaning “good news“, or, as it is sometimes used, “glad tidings“. This is the translation of the Greek word “enaggelion” or “evangelion“.
In the Hebrew Bible (Tanakh [Tanach], Old Testament), the word “besorah” is used, and in English is translated as, yes, the same as “gospel”… “good news” or “tidings.”
Gospel is a proclamation of good news, either oral or written, typically announcing a positive event of public importance, such as victory in battle, the accession of a king, the death of an enemy.
Interesting to note that the Hebrew Bible includes small portions in Aramaic, written and printed in Aramaic square-script, which was adopted as the Hebrew alphabet after the Babylonian exile. Also, by the time of the New Testament, many Jews didn’t even speak Hebrew anymore. Rome had conquered Greece, and the influence of Greek culture had saturated the empire.
Any assertion that the word “gospel” (again, which means “good news”) has connotations from the New Testament that are NOT for Jews, is immediately refuted by the usage of the word “besorah”(which again, also means “good news”), found in the Hebrew Bible.
Originally, the word “besorah” was used to describe the report of victory in battle ( 2 Samuel 4:10.) As the Israelites believed God was actively involved in their lives (including battles and wars) it evolved in it’s connotation. To proclaim the good news of Israel’s success in battle was to proclaim God’s triumph over God’s enemies. Believing credit for the victory belonged to God, the Israelites’ proclamation of the good news of victory was, in fact, proclamation about God.
The transition from the use of “besorah” in a military setting, to its use in a personal context, is pretty basic. If Israel proclaimed good news when God delivered the nation from its enemies, individuals would also want to proclaim good news when God delivered them from personal distress (Psalm 40:10.) The nation’s victories in war and a person’s individual victories both called for the announcement of what God had done.
The Book of Isaiah marks the full development of the term within the Hebrew Bible (Tanakh [Tanach], Old Testament). By this time the word is most often used to describe the anticipated deliverance and salvation which would come from the hand of God when the long awaited Messiah appeared to deliver Israel (Isaiah 52:7.) The military-political and personal connotations of the word were fully united in the hope of a Deliverer who would both triumph over the earthly enemies of God’s people and usher in a new age of salvation. The arrival of this Messiah would be good news.
In the Hebrew Bible, the verb form of “besorah” dominates in usage. A noun derived from the verb does appear on occasion, but the vast majority of references are to the verb itself.
Besorah or good news/tidings is made in the following places (please note, this list is for the usage of the word, not necessarily to imply that the news was actually good for the Israelites): 1 Samuel 4:17, 1 Samuel 31:9, 2 Samuel 4:10, 2 Samuel 18:19-20, 26, 31, 1 Kings 1:42, 1 Chronicles 10:9, 1 Chronicles 16:23, Psalm 40:10 Tanakh; 40:9 OT, Psalm 68:12 Tanakh; 68:11 OT, Psalm 96:2, Isaiah 40:9, Isaiah 41:27, Isaiah 52:7, Isaiah 60:6, Isaiah 61:1, Jeremiah 20:15, Nahum 2:1 Tanakh, 1:15 OT.
Delving even deeper “besorah” is from the root “basar”. The intensive form “bissier” means to bring (good) news. (In grammar, an intensive word form is one which denotes stronger, more forceful, or more concentrated action relative to the root on which the intensive is built).
“Basar” means “to bear tidings” and “basar” also means “flesh.” “Basar” meaning “flesh” occurs before Adam sinned. Adam already was flesh and bone. (Genesis 2:21.)
In Genesis 2:23-24 “And man said, ‘This time, it is bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh. This one shall be called ishah (woman) because this one was taken from ish (man). Therefore, a man shall leave his father and his mother, and cleave to his wife, and they shall become one flesh.’”
English “Gospel”; Greek “enaggelion” or “evangelion”; Hebrew “besorah.” Word study is so fascinating!
Let us consider for a moment that the English word “Gospel” states that the proclamation of good news is “they shall be one flesh.” God’s Gospel states the very way that we become connected with Him, with nothing separating us, ever. That is Good News!
Judaism does not prohibit writing the name of G-d, it prohibits only erasing or defacing a name of G-d. However, some avoid writing any name of His casually because of the risk that the written name might later be defaced, obliterated or destroyed accidentally. The commandment not to erase or deface the name of G-d comes from Deuteronomy 12:3. From this, rabbis inferred that we are commanded not to destroy any holy thing, and not to erase or deface His name.
This rabbinic prohibition applies only to what is written in some kind of permanent form, and rabbis decided that writing on a computer is not a permanent form. However, once you print the document out, it becomes a permanent form. That is why many will avoid writing the name out. Generally I will write the name “God” on this website/blog.