Adventist Media Response and Conversation

Friday, December 29, 2006

Kenneth Hart's Sabbath School Class and Update

After listening to the Amazing Facts Sabbath school lesson mentioned below it is refreshing to listen to the first 20 minutes of Kenneth Hart's class as he attempts to ask some of the more difficult questions posed by the Joseph story. It is pretty good at least until he wanders away into the area of "Ifs" proposed by an 19th century SDA pioneer. If only the people being introduced to God only had a full understanding of God, the assumption that knowledge is not progressive but knowledge of God is regressive as we try to learn what patriaches knew even though Biblically we have no reason to assume that they knew too much.

Now join me as we sing "if only" from the book Holes.

The next Quarter's Lesson Study is on Ecclsiastes. Kenneth Hart's Website is not real friendly to navigate so here is the link to the page that will give access to his lesson study for this quarter.

One can't help but notice just how out of wack our Sabbath School Lesson Study Guides are. We rush through the foundational book of Genesis skipping most of the important areas and focus only on the children story aspects of the book. Our next quarter will spend the same amount of time on a ten page book. Genesis on the other hand was 76 pages. You can send your thanks for this kind of distorted view of importance to Clifford Goldstein, his email: is found at the following link and you can also let some of his cohorts know about your feelings.

This last quarter should have been simply Genesis 1-11. Which is still 18 pages nearly twice the amount of material then this quarter's Ecclsiastes Biblical material. Of course in their defense if one is only going to study the lesson the same way as a 10 year old in primary division one can easily skip all the difficult parts and the parts which make it hard to see the book as totally literal. In the grand scheme of things at the Leadership level it is more important to pretend it is all literal then to actually think about meaning, poetry, and historical context.

Doug Batchelor's Ironic Statement of the Week

Have you ever wondered why it is so common in the SDA church to assume like Doug Batchelor does that Noah and family were closed in the Ark for seven days prior to the coming of the flood. In speaking about this weeks lesson (see post below this one) Doug Batchelor says at about minute 25:21:

By this way this is something like the story of Noah. In that God told Noah there is going to be a great dearth you better store the ark with food and when Noah went in the Ark remember he spent seven days in that Ark when the door is shut and he must live off what’s in the Ark. Isn’t that right?…

He then goes on to talk about a famine for the word of God and tells us we should be storing our minds with food for the famine of the word of God. Quoting again he says:

“I think the famine may have already begun because there is a lot of Biblical illiteracy.”

Not only does the story not say anything about Noah gathering food to place in the Ark, but it says nothing of the people being shut in the Ark for seven days. The flood by rain is announced to come in seven days and they are told to get into the Ark and take animals into the Ark but it is latter and according to the story the very day that they got into the Ark that the flood came as verse

Gen 7:10-13 It came about after the seven days, that the water of the flood came upon the earth. 11 In the six hundredth year of Noah's life, in the second month, on the seventeenth day of the month, on the same day all the fountains of the great deep burst open, and the floodgates of the sky were opened. . 12 The rain fell upon the earth for forty days and forty nights. 13 On the very same day Noah and Shem and Ham and Japheth, the sons of Noah, and Noah's wife and the three wives of his sons with them, entered the ark,

While I would not say that Batchelor is Biblically illiterate I would say that his tendency to eisegesis often makes him as good as illiterate. Much of his lesson study was spent drawing parallels between Jesus and Joseph and after he manufactured a similarity declared that his presupposition that Joseph was a type of Christ is true. He even went farther and said that Joseph was a representation of Christ. There is all kinds of literature that can be looked at as having characters who are types of Christ, Batchelor however carries things even farther. In the above quote Batchelor is trying to develop the parallel between Joseph creating store housed food with Noah gathering food into the Ark. Not because the Bible says Noah did that but because Batchelor assumes Noah did that. Unfortunately much of his lessons are filled with his assumptions. At the very least Batchelor should acknowledge that his view of people being shut in the Ark for seven days is not clearly made and may not be the correct interpretation. His assumptions are often even couched in questions followed by “isn’t that right”. If only he would allow his audience to answer maybe he would learn something. Or even if he were just honest enough to say that his view is based upon Ellen White's interpretation of the flood story, then the listeners can have a chance at knowing what the Bible actually says.

The following is the main part of the Chapter in question.

(NASB) Genesis 7:1 Then the LORD said to Noah, "Enter the ark, you and all your household, for you alone I have seen to be righteous before Me in this time. 2 "You shall take with you of every clean animal by sevens, a male and his female; and of the animals that are not clean two, a male and his female; 3 also of the birds of the sky, by sevens, male and female, to keep offspring alive on the face of all the earth. 4 "For after seven more days, I will send rain on the earth forty days and forty nights; and I will blot out from the face of the land every living thing that I have made." 5 Noah did according to all that the LORD had commanded him. 6 Now Noah was six hundred years old when the flood of water came upon the earth. 7 Then Noah and his sons and his wife and his sons' wives with him entered the ark because of the water of the flood. 8 Of clean animals and animals that are not clean and birds and everything that creeps on the ground, 9 there went into the ark to Noah by twos, male and female, as God had commanded Noah. 10 It came about after the seven days, that the water of the flood came upon the earth. 11 In the six hundredth year of Noah's life, in the second month, on the seventeenth day of the month, on the same day all the fountains of the great deep burst open, and the floodgates of the sky were opened. 12 The rain fell upon the earth for forty days and forty nights. 13 On the very same day Noah and Shem and Ham and Japheth, the sons of Noah, and Noah's wife and the three wives of his sons with them, entered the ark, 14 they and every beast after its kind, and all the cattle after their kind, and every creeping thing that creeps on the earth after its kind, and every bird after its kind, all sorts of birds. 15 So they went into the ark to Noah, by twos of all flesh in which was the breath of life. 16 Those that entered, male and female of all flesh, entered as God had commanded him; and the LORD closed it behind him. 17 Then the flood came upon the earth for forty days, and the water increased and lifted up the ark, so that it rose above the earth.

Thursday, December 28, 2006

Lesson 13 the End of the Beginning

Lesson 13 Sabbath Afternoon

This week, as we come to the end of the beginning, we can see something of the principle stated above unfold. Despite the best, or the worst, of human intentions; despite what seems to be deceit, disappointment, sin, and disaster, "something else results from the actions of men than what they intend and achieve." That "something," of course, is the Lord working out His divine plan in human history.

By now most have seen the theme of the book of Genesis, that theme being God’s bringing about the nation of Israel. Here in the story of Joseph we see the change in the brothers, which leads to a united family who moves from the Promised Land to Egypt. Setting up the Exodus, which is the return to the Promised Land from Egypt. Thus Israel is not an invader of the nations in the Promised Land, they are merely returning to their land. No doubt as powerful a motive as that of having a God declare a land to be yours. Fighting with other nations over recovering your own land is more worthy then fighting with other nations to take over their lands.

The stories of Genesis often have other recurring themes. For example time leading to a change in people. Esau when Jacob left wanted to kill him, years later Esau runs to hug Jacob. So in the story of Joseph the brothers change from selling Joseph to extreme allegiance to their younger brother Benjamin and from betrayal of their father Jacob to extreme love for their father, a betrayal similar to the betrayal of Esau by Jacob.

Rachel leaves with the family gods and Jacob tells Laban kill whoever they find with the gods. Joseph’s brothers saying something very similar to the Egyptian servants when they are accused of taking the silver cup.

It is quite likely that these repetitious similarities are used as a literary device. But they also so that the stories are created literature which is different from the literal view that is often taken of these stories. They are not simply stories to express the lives of the patriarchs they have a larger goal.

Consider Joseph, he is raised to the level of Second in command of the nation of Egypt, the most powerful of the ancient world kingdoms, yet Joseph is on hand to sell grain when his brothers arrive to buy grain. That is somewhat like the U.S leader of Homeland Security operating the metal detector at an airport. Not likely.

Gen 41:57 And all the countries came to Egypt to buy grain from Joseph, because the famine was severe in all the world.

Like the story of the Flood there is a narrow focus in the book of Genesis. Certainly China was not coming to Egypt to buy food, all the world often means all the world in their area of familiarity. The stories try to explain the world they see around them and to them that was the world. By our standards those things referred to would not be all countries or the whole world. But then Genesis is an introduction to both God and the people of Israel; we should not expect it to be an all-encompassing document.

Sunday Dec 24

As we read the rest of Genesis 41 and the first 17 verses of Genesis 42, we can see the providence of God unfolding. We see the steps leading to the fulfillment of Jacob's dreams way back in Genesis 37. The dreamer's dreams (Gen. 37:19) were soon coming to fruition in a manner that only the sovereign Lord could have arranged. This story is an amazing testimony to the power of God to fulfill what He says He will do in ways that far transcend our human understanding. The famine driving his brothers into his hands was, clearly, the Lord working out His will.

When Joseph had his dream about things bowing to him is it possible that he had an interpretation of those dreams? Others saw clearly a meaning in the dreams yet why would the dream include something that never occurred?

Gen 37:9-10 Then he had another dream, and he told it to his brothers. "Listen," he said, "I had another dream, and this time the sun and moon and eleven stars were bowing down to me." 10 When he told his father as well as his brothers, his father rebuked him and said, "What is this dream you had? Will your mother and I and your brothers actually come and bow down to the ground before you?"

Why the inclusion of Joseph’s mother? As Rachel died in chapter 35

Gen 35:19-20 So Rachel died and was buried on the way to Ephrath (that is, Bethlehem). 20 Over her tomb Jacob set up a pillar, and to this day that pillar marks Rachel's tomb.

Was Jacob wrong in his interpretation or are the sun and the moon someone else, if so who?

Wednesday Dec 27
Jacob revealed the corporate destiny of each tribal line. Yet, each line was composed of individuals with free will and free choice, especially in regard to their relationship with God, just as each of us experiences free will, as well. Whatever predictions God makes about nations and their future aren't the same as predestinating individuals to either salvation or damnation. God's foreknowledge of our choice isn't the same as predetermining those choices.

Do you think that any of the children of Israel saw these blessings and curses to be a reflection of their own tribal groups? If you were trying to start a new nation, with some unity would you offer characterizations of each tribe? With some tribes not even having any good qualities? Is the poetry of a blessing a divine declaration?

Just some thoughts for those who look deeper into the stories then the SDA Lesson Study Guide. As nice as it is to talk about the Bible stories the way we learned them as children, as adults there is a need to go beyond the superficial story. The superficial story with it focus on forgiveness, and God’s power to lead to a good outcome will always be there. But the stories without those superficial meanings are also important and for our overall knowledge of what the Bible is and is not we must look at the stories with more critical eyes. Until the SDA church realizes this, it is up to you Sabbath School leaders to ask the questions and probe the conventional thinking.

Tuesday, December 26, 2006

I was just reading over at Progressive the remarks about William Johnsson's retirement Bill Johnsson’s Final Plea
Julius writes on his blog:
In addition, I wonder what he meant exactly when he stated, “the Fundamental Beliefs draw the boundaries, and so long as any Adventist assents to them, he or she deserves respect and fellowship.” What if an individual Adventist has a problem with one of the 28, or one line in one of the articles? Does that person cross of the boundaries and become undeserving of respect? I doubt he meant to say this, but what are the implications of what he said? I’d love to engage in him in further conversations and learn from his wisdom and erudition.

Johnsson had written:

I leave with you three burdens on my heart:
1. Racial diversity: This family flung into earth’s far corners, this amazingly diverse Adventist movement—it’s wonderful, a creation of God. But unity is fragile. We must never take it for granted, or we may lose it.
I am convinced that we have a long way to go to achieve the harmony the Lord intends for us. Pride of race needs to be crucified. We must learn to value our diversity, to treat one another with respect and dignity. We must spend a lot of time talking to each other, face to face. Not about each other, but with each other, listening, seeking to understand, praying silently as we converse.
2. Theological polarization: Sound theology is vital; it must never be compromised. But the Fundamental Beliefs draw the boundaries, and so long as any Adventist assents to them, he or she deserves respect and fellowship. Points of doctrine not spelled out in the Fundamentals must not be allowed to divide us.
We know in part; we understand in part. A little humility can work wonders. And, as Paul says, knowledge puffs up but love builds up (1 Cor. 8:1).
3. The Scriptures our safeguard: One of my first editorials called Adventists back to the Bible (“The Bible—Our Heritage,” October 30, 1980). Let that be my last word also. Let the Book be the man of our counsel, our constant companion. For in it we find the Man altogether lovely, our Savior and Lord.

I am not so generous as Julius. I would submit there was a very specific reason that Johnsson used the term "Fundamental Beliefs," capitalized to emphasize that he is referring to the current 28 Seventh-day Adventist Fundamental Beliefs. The Traditional SDA gives little thought to the idea that there are indeed Adventists who do not accept the details of the creedal 28 statements, let alone the expanded meanings given in the book the 27 Fundamental Beliefs. There is in fact very little theological polarity within the confines of those who accept the 28 fundamental Beliefs. A bit about the fallen or unfallen sin nature of Jesus perhaps because Ellen White writes both ways on that subject. It appears to be one of these areas where "Points of doctrine not spelled out in the Fundamentals must not be allowed to divide us."

But this is how the leadership of the SDA church chooses to hide their heads in the ground. Denying the very foundational differences that are present in growing numbers within the SDA church. This was clearly pointed out by the large participation of many in regards to last Quarter's lesson study guide on the investigative judgment and 1844.

Yes there are theological differences, they are real and they are being ignored by SDA leadership and I doubt the next Editor of the Review will acknowledge them any better then the last editor.

Did you notice the last statement, number 3. Why would not the borders be set by the Bible rather then the Fundamental Beliefs? The reason is that the Bible does not teach and Investigative Judgment or 1844, the Bible does not portray the SDA church as God's remnant church and the Bible does not even teach a need to accept a literal 7 day creation. But the 28 Fundamental Beliefs do.

Saturday, December 23, 2006

How To Destroy America

I was sent an Email that presented a speech by former Governor Richard Lamm of Colorado on the dangers of multiculturalism. His title is "I have a Plan to Destroy America". It is posted on and is well worth taking the time to read. After the green background section is the more official version of his speech.

Friday, December 22, 2006

The Christmas Story Matt and Immanuel

For my Christmas reflection this year I thought I would post an article which may help answer those pesky children's questions when they ask why does the book of Matthew keep taking all the Old Testament verses out of context? Ok they will only ask that if they take the time to read the Old Testament verses Matthew quotes and most readers of the Christmas story won't bother to investigate, but for you with more inquisitive minds, this is for you.

Matthew Chapter 2
Immanuel Context and Substance
By Ron Corson

For some time I have had a distaste for the book of Matthew. The biggest problem I have with Matthew is the author’s way of taking material out of context from the Old Testament and applying them to the life of Christ. Now we don’t know who the author of Matthew was for certain. It is set forth by tradition to be the disciple Matthew; it may or may not be. We do see that in the book of Matthew at least in the first several chapters, an intentional literary device is employed. The book tries to recapitulation the events of ancient Israel in the life of Jesus Christ. But there also seems to be a recurring theme if we look a little deeper at the verses that the author of Matthew uses. In the following verses the section used in Matthew are highlighted in bold.

To Christians the most important of these Old Testament verses is that found in Isaiah 7:14 Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign: The virgin will be with child and will give birth to a son, and will call him Immanuel.(NIV)

Thanks to the book of Matthew’s use of this verse it is often only considered to be a prophecy of Christ. Even though there is no place other then Matthew which calls Jesus Immanuel. However it is not to the name Immanuel that Matthew wants to draw attention it is to the idea of what the name means, “God with us”. In fact it was the idea of “God with us” that Isaiah had presented to the Israelites hundreds of years before. In our ardor to insist upon Immanuel as a Messianic Prophecy we often ignore the repetition Isaiah uses of the terms with the meaning of “God with us”.

Besides the reference in Isaiah 7:14 he precedes to us it two more times:

Isaiah 8:8

And sweep on into Judah, swirling over it, passing through it and reaching up to the neck. Its outspread wings will cover the breadth of your land, O Immanuel!"

Isaiah 8:10

Devise your strategy, but it will be thwarted; propose your plan, but it will not stand, for God is with us. (NIV)

God is with us is Isaiah’s words of comfort to a people about to suffer a major defeat by their enemies. And even when the enemies appear to be winning God notes that even the purposes of the enemy will not stand because God is with his people. So like the sign to Ahaz, the child born is a reminder that “God is with us”, though bad may come, God will not abandon his people, He does not leave them alone. In the echoes of Immanuel we see that though the people may have failed in their covenant with God, God has not nor will He fail. For we see an inherent promise of hope in Isaiah.

In the book of Matthew the author has taken this hope, this certainty of God with us and applied it to the person of Jesus Christ. Not because Jesus was to literally be named Immanuel and not even because of a virgin birth but because Jesus Christ was now seen as truly “God with us”. Remember the author is writing after all the events in Christ’s life had happened. He is going back in time to state his case as to why this Jesus is the Messiah. In some ways the book of Matthew is very much like the book of John. When they both begin to tell about the person of Jesus they both tell us that it is God with us, Matthew by means of Immanuel and John by means of the Logos, the Word become flesh.

Many people become sidetracked by the part of Isaiah 14:7 about a virgin conceiving a child however in the Hebrew it just means a young woman. It works out well for the book of Matthew’s purposes but again it is a foreshadowing of events to come rather then a clear straight forward prophecy. There seems to be no indication that the child born was from a literal virgin as we use the term today. Interestingly Isaiah in the first part of Chapter 8 also has a son who is used to foreshadow what will happen to Judah’s enemies when they are defeated. The first child with the name Immanuel brings confirmation to Ahaz of the disaster to come but the name and its echoes also confirm that God has not left the people.

After the proclamation of the good news that God is with us Matthew moves on to the recapitulation of the Messiah with Israel, it is possible that it is to Moses the deliverer of Israel that Matthew is comparing Christ.

"When Israel was a child, I loved him, and out of Egypt I called my son. But the more I called Israel, the further they went from me. They sacrificed to the Baals and they burned incense to images. It was I who taught Ephraim to walk, taking them by the arms; but they did not realize it was I who healed them. I led them with cords of human kindness, with ties of love; I lifted the yoke from their neck and bent down to feed them. (Hosea 11:1-4 NIV)

Herod’s death decree against baby boys reminds us of the death decree Egypt inflicted upon the children of Israel in slavery (Exodus 1:16). "When you help the Hebrew women in childbirth and observe them on the delivery stool, if it is a boy, kill him; but if it is a girl, let her live." (NIV)

Like the miraculous deliverance of Moses, Jesus is delivered from Herod’s evil also. Matthew then quotes Jeremiah 31:15-17 to show the sorrow of the people under Herod’s decree.

13 Then maidens will dance and be glad, young men and old as well. I will turn their mourning into gladness; I will give them comfort and joy instead of sorrow. 14 I will satisfy the priests with abundance, and my people will be filled with my bounty," declares the LORD. 15 This is what the LORD says: "A voice is heard in Ramah, mourning and great weeping, Rachel weeping for her children and refusing to be comforted, because her children are no more." 16 This is what the LORD says: "Restrain your voice from weeping and your eyes from tears, for your work will be rewarded," declares the LORD. "They will return from the land of the enemy. 17 So there is hope for your future," declares the LORD. "Your children will return to their own land. (NIV)

The verses in Jeremiah are referring to the exile of Israel and once again while the people must suffer the exile, God has promised relief, they are not abandoned, they can say, “God is with us”. While the verse in Jeremiah has nothing to do with Egypt or Herod’s decree Matthew has changed its setting to reflect the story he is telling. While the story being told may have a much deeper meaning then it appears. All the verses he has used reflect in their original context the healing and deliverance God offers. Matthew is a book that presents us with this Messiah, the anointed one who delivers his people from sin and its consequences.

The book of Matthew then moves a step farther then we today can comprehend. …and he went and lived in a town called Nazareth. So was fulfilled what was said through the prophets: "He will be called a Nazarene.”. (Matthew 2:23 NIV)

Since there is no Old Testament reference like this it may be that the author was using an expression of scorn used against the Messiah. Such as that expressed by Nathanael,

"Nazareth! Can anything good come from there?" Nathanael asked. "Come and see," said Philip. (John 1:46 NIV) Conceptually there may be some places which could offer the author the incentive to make the statement. Certainly the ancient history of Israel is filled with Israel’s scorn of the things of God.

But Matthew’s failure to reference something in the Old Testament while stating it was something said through the prophets is perhaps the key to unfolding Matthew’s intent in the second chapter of Matthew. The history might not be accurate, but the concepts are what the author found most important. The Messiah has come, God with us, the deliverer miraculously inserting Himself into mankind’s world. The precious gold of God presented to a world that would kill its very savior. So in the book of Matthew the author tells us of the myrrh given to child, an aromatic resin used for the preparation of a corpse for burial. The gift of incense, the sweet fragrance that for centuries was used in the worship of God, even the gifts of the Magi have deeper meanings.

Matthew 2 is not the simplistic story I was indoctrinated to believe. It is a piece of in depth literature with more substance then history. But then isn’t that the way of so much of the Bible. Literature, poetry, Chiastic Structure, and analogy all and more find themselves used within the Bible. Human creativity and God given inspiration can create amazing things. Yet we can in our excitement of discovery often trample all over what was written in our haste to explain what our tradition has taught us.

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Memories of Mt. Hood

The other night I saw an old friend on the NBC Nightly News. It was an interview with Randy Knapp about his experience stranded on Mt Hood for 13 days in 1976. It amounted to maybe 2 seconds that made the cut. A statement that they were cold but knew they would get out.

The news about the current climbers lost on Mt. Hood brings back a lot of those feelings of when my friends were lost there. Already with one of the three found dead it will never be the happy ending we experienced at Walla Walla Valley Academy.

What struck me today about this incident of Randy on the News is that it was so short and carried none of the concern that I am sure Randy expressed to the reporters. The faith in God, the hope found in our Christian faith even the human concern for the climbers well being is cut. It is not news to Americac jounalism, even at Christmas time God has no place even when recounting events where belief in God may have been a substantial comfort to the people involved in times past and maybe to those in distress today. Mainstream media it appears is no longer the friend of Americans and most certanly is not a friend to Christianity.

Here are a few links to some articles on the Web in reference to Randy Knapp's interview.

Survivor of '76: If we made it, they can too

Three teens walked out after 13 days in a snow cave on Mount Hood
Friday, December 15, 2006
It's been almost 31 years since Randy Knapp and two high school friends emerged from their 13th night in a wet, cold snow cave on Mount Hood, where they held onto hope through prayers and struggled to survive while a snowstorm raged outside.

As the years passed, Knapp, 48, a finish carpenter and part-time pastor who lives in Medford, refused requests for interviews. But Thursday, as headlines detailed the unfolding drama of another Mount Hood climbing party in trouble, the father of two said he wanted to give the climbers' families some hope.

"Ten days into it, I could hear the helicopter up there searching, and that gave us hope," he said. "I wouldn't write these guys off. They're experienced mountain climbers, and I wouldn't give up hope. They can make it."

Knapp should know. He was 18 when the party that included Matt Meacham and Gary Schneider, both 16, set off on New Year's Eve 1975 for a summit climb from Timberline Lodge on Mount Hood's south side.

The three friends from Walla Walla High School were well prepared, with 10 days' rations, down coats and sleeping bags, crampons, rope, ice axes and a stove.

A list of snow cave storiesAssociated Press

Here are some examples of mountaineers who have used snow caves:

_ January 1976: Randy Knapp, 18, and Matt Meacham and Gary Schneider, both 16, spent 13 days in a snow cave on Mount Hood. They had started for the summit, but ran into bad weather. They were at about 7,600 feet, Knapp told The Oregonian newspaper.

They bottled the water dripping from the walls and let their bodies warm it before drinking it. They survived on a mush of pudding powder and pancake mix. Searchers were about to give up when the trio left the cave just before daybreak and spotted a search party. Two of three teens suffered mild cases of frostbite.

Hood survivor: Climbers' survival quite possible

5:30 PM PST on Friday, December 15, 2006
By KGW Staff

One man said surviving the elements on Mount Hood is possible -- he and two companions did for 17 days nearly 31 years ago.

Randy Knapp was 18 years old, Matt Meacham and Gary Schneider were both 16 in 1976.

KGW photo

Randy Knapp survived 13 nights on Mt. Hood

They got caught in a storm and after four days of trying to get down the mountain, hunkered down in a snow cave.

That's where they lived for 13 nights.

They made it out okay and Knapp believes it'll happen again.

Update 1:56 pm:

Here is a link to an Interview with Randy on MSNBC. You have to watch a commercial first of course:

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

White Memorial Infectious outbreak

Some unfortunate publicity from White Memorial Hospital.

From News

Improperly sterilized medical instrument is found to be likely cause of infectious outbreak at a Boyle Heights hospital.

By Charles Ornstein and Francisco Vara-Orta
Los Angeles Times
Copyright 2006 Los Angeles Times
All Rights Reserved

A premature baby infected by a virulent bacterium at White Memorial Medical Center died Monday morning, the second death believed to be related to an outbreak that forced the Boyle Heights hospital to close its neonatal intensive care unit to new admissions, hospital officials said.

"What started out as the happiest day of my life a month ago has become the worst nightmare," the baby's father, David Marin, 45, said in an interview in Spanish. "We are heartbroken."

Also Monday, the hospital reopened its pediatric intensive care unit after determining that two children infected with Pseudomonas aeruginosa were not related to a neonatal outbreak of the same bacterium, which sickened five. The pediatric unit was closed Friday when infections there were discovered.

First Voice Transmission on Radio

This is both seasonal, historical and religiously significant in my opinion.
FromThe First Broadcast - Christmas Eve 1906
For their entire careers, the "Sparks", the ship wireless operators, had only heard Morse code "dit - dahs" coming through their headphones. Suddenly at 9 PM Eastern Time on Christmas Eve, they heard something that made some think they were dreaming, a human voice coming from those headphones. Then they heard singing. There was a violin solo. Then a man made a speech. Some called their captain and ship's officers to come and listen.

The genius responsible was Reginald Fessenden. He had succeeded in transmitting voice and music over the air. Fessenden himself played a violin solo of "O Holy Night" accompanying himself as he sang the last verse (below). He also read the Biblical account of the birth of Christ from Luke chapter 2 over the air. The text of the angels' song "Glory to God in the Highest - and on Earth - Peace to Men of Goodwill " was heard as if by miracle.

At the conclusion, Fessenden wished all a Merry Christmas and invited the Sparks to write him at Brant Rock, Massachusetts with reception reports. Reports were received from ships all along the Atlantic northeast coast and from shore stations as far south as Norfolk, Virginia. A repeat broadcast on New Year's Eve was heard as far south as the West Indies.

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Clear Word Debate Mountain or Molehill

Whether the Clear Word book debate is a mountain or a molehill depends upon the point of view of the observer. If one agrees with the theology inserted into the so called expanded paraphrase then the controversy is simply a mole hill. If however the false information inserted into such verses as Dan. 8:14 is understood as false information then the Clear Word becomes an abomination, and that makes it a mountain. Interestingly the results of the Amazon reviewers (40 reviews) were either 1 star, the lowest review or 5 stars the highest review. There were 2 that gave 4 stars. There were no 2’s or 3’s in the reviews. It is a good example of the polar opposites that make this issue a mountain or a molehill. Philosophically there is probably also opposite views. One side believing that their traditional views paraphrased and inserted into what they think of as the Bible is a good devotional tool. The other side seeing the Bible as a tool for learning and they would like to read it for what it says to the best of their ability.

Here are some of the comments from people on about the Clear Word with a few of my comments.

5 stars: As a theology student, I regularly do exegetical research looking at the original Greek and Hebrew of the Bible. I also use paraphrase Bibles so that I can get a quick overall understanding of the passages that I'm studying...
I have compared the New Living Translation, the Message Bible, and the Clear Word. These represent different levels of paraphrasing the Bible.
The New Living Translation is the most accurate of the paraphrases. The NLT is a "thought-for-thought" translation.

The New Living Translation is a translation and not a paraphrase. Even then it’s first edition had numerous problems that they quickly corrected.

5 stars: Many have given nit-picking comments regarding this book. Consider the benefit of this book for the novice to get a clear view of the bible from 5,000 feet. It is an easy read so you won't get bogged-down with the old English language.

Now 30-40 years ago it was hard not to get bogged down in King James English but that has not been the case for quite a while. Yes from 5000 feet it looks like a Bible, the problem comes when you look closer. The same reviewer continues:

I would also offer the suggestion that while some have made comparisons of Adventist to Mormons and Jehovah's Witnesses regarding a "unique bible", I may remind them that the Catholic Church has their own version of the bible and I don't see a comparison with the Catholics. Nor have I seen a Baptist carry a Catholic bible to church on Sunday morning! Is there one Koran or different interpretations? Even the King James is interpreted differently and we can see that by the many churches with their unique doctrines.

There is indeed a Catholic Bible actually a couple, they are all translations, no paraphrases and their accuracy is very good. The New Jerusalem Bible (also the previous Jerusalem Bible) and the New American Bible are two examples and of historical note the Douay-Rheims. The above person must be a real nosey person to inspect the local Baptist’s to see what version they are using, unless of course they are one of the Baptist churches which is King James Only.

1 star: A reviewer praising this book was correct in saying reading this "bible" is like reading a novel. A novel is a work of fiction, and so is this Seventh Day Adventist paraphrase of the bible.

It is unfortunate that this book is considered an SDA Bible but we have only ourselves to blame for people’s impression.

5 stars: I believe this book will be a blessing to anyone who reads it and uses there bible along with it as a study tool.

The problem here is that the item of study is referred to as a study tool. This reviewer finds the book accurate because she already believes the way Blanco does. So it is accurate to her, whereas to most Christians it will not be accurate.

5 stars: Finally, a Bible that's an easy read. Jack Blanco takes out all the "thous and thees" and uses everyday language making this Bible a pleasure to read and understand.

Blanco has introduced the concept of modern language Bibles to this person many years after they became popular.

1 star wanted 0: This is not just another translation of the Bible. It is a corruption of the Bible in that it includes extra-Biblical propaganda inserting the theories of the Seventh Day Adventist's "prophet," Ellen G. White, long ago exposed as a plagiarist.

I can’t disagree with the corruption of the Bible part. But if the problem was the use of EGW who was a plagiarist then how would we know if it was EGW or someone else that Blanco uses. Actually we know that the Blanco version is consistent with Seventh-day Adventism and the incorporation of EGW is very likely but not always definitive.

5 stars: Firstly it is called a paraphrase not a bible. If you feel uncomfortable studying from it use the King James Bible along with it.

If a person read the Clear Word and then read a real translation with it we would not have a problem. But we all know that this is rarely ever the case with devotional books and equally rare with paraphrases.

5 stars: A word to all of those negative reviews . . . they are obviously NOT inspired as they are using their own critical views to trash other people's ideas. There are millions of books that share millions of ideas, many that may not be what you believe (especially OTHER paraphrased "Bibles" which are VERY different from the Word of God!), yet we are to be focused on Jesus and share what we believe in our hearts, NOT spend all of our time trying to be critical of other's ideas! That is from Satan. If you look at the web sites on these reviews, and names of the critical reviewers, they all have a common theme - their purpose is to trash a specific belief (not a very noble "cause" I might add).

Here we have someone who refers to other paraphrased bibles as being very different from the Word of God, yet the person feels perfectly fine to declare the Clear Word version as a work from God. Actually Jesus spend a good deal of His time being critical of the religious leaders ideas.

5 stars: I have in my library six or seven versions of the Bible. Rarely before has the Scripture been authoritatively researched and assembled with such clairity and easy reading. One is fascinated with the story line rather than wondering how to unravel the details formerly in Old English. I recommend it to anyone who has had difficulty really enjoying reading Scripture.

Here is the problem in a nutshell; expectations. The Clear Word is not a Bible; it has not been authoritatively researched. It may present Blanco’s ideas clearly but they may not be the ideas that the Bible writers intended.

5 stars: Our church uses the clear word frequently to expand on biblical principles. Everyone who visits our church (Beacon Light-Richmond, CA) wants to know where they can get one.

No matter what Blanco may say in his preface those who hold the Clear Word as a Bible or as authoritative will use it as if it were what it is not. We still find people using it in their churches, scripture reading, sermons and Sabbath School classes.

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Christmas (Winterval) From Pagan to Christian to Pagan

In England the Birmingham Council calls Christmas "Winterval" and as Christianity fades in England the Pagan roots of December 25 are the new reason for the Season.
Here is a bit from the Guardian's Special Report Christmas 2000
The National Secular Society's learned work examines this "traditional" Christmas story that is so much under threat and finds that it was always a moveable feast, morphing from one religion to another, using the same stories and symbols from one culture to another to celebrate the rebirth of the sun. Since we are now a secular society - only 7% churchgoers - Birmingham was right: winterval is exactly what we do celebrate. As for the particulars of kings, stepfathers and shepherdesses, we are only following age-old tradition in adapting the story to modern purposes.
There is likely a reason for the dismissing of Christmas by many throughout the world. Though the attacks on Christmas in this country have deminshed this year somehow I don't think the battle is over. It is funny that a federal holiday is the focus of this political correctness. It may be that we should get used to saying we are living in a post modern and post Christian age. It has been true in Europe for a while now and may soon be true here in America.

Monday, December 11, 2006

The Clear Word Debate

I mentioned in my last posts that I would deal a little with the Clear Word (first published as the Clear Word Bible). Here is what Dale Ratzlaff said in his letter to Jud Lake:

Yes, and why is it that the church continues to allow The Clear Word to be sold and now
sells the Clear Word for Kids knowing that there is purposeful and blatant deception where

the views of Ellen White and SDA theology are read right into the text without any manuscript evidence whatsoever?14 How does the church expect intelligent, informed and honest people to go along with this kind of purposeful deception?

14 Here are just three examples. In Dan. 8:14 in The New American Standard Bible reads, “He said to me, ‘For 2,300 evenings and mornings; then the holy place will be properly restored.’” Now compare this to The Clear Word Bible (CWB). My copy does say “Bible” but I understand now it is just The Clear Word. “He said to him, ‘After twothousand three hundred prophetic days (or two thousand three hundred years), God will step in, proclaim the truth about Himself and restore the ministry of the Sanctuary in heaven to its rightful place. This is when the judgmentwill begin, of which the cleansing of the earthly sanctuary was a type.’” In Jn. 8:58. NASB reads: “Jesus said tothem, ‘Truly, truly, I say to you, before Abraham was born, I am.” The Clear Word reads, “Jesus said, ‘Because I existed before Abraham was born.” The CWB omits the “I AM” which shows that Jesus is indeed the Divine Lord, the YHWH (Jehovah), the eternally existent One mentioned in Ex. 3:4-13. The CWB makes the “Bible” agree with many of the Arian statements in the writings of EGW. A third example is found in Rev. 1:10. The NASB reads, “I was in the Spirit on the Lord’s day, and I heard behind me a loud voice like the sound of a trumpet.” Even though the term “Lord’s day” was used for Sunday in the early church (See Sabbath in Christ, p. 315-330.), The CWB twists Revelation 1:10 to read, “One Sabbath morning when I had gone to the rocky island shore to meditate and worship, I suddenly heard a voice behind me that sounded as loud as a trumpet.” I encourage the reader to go to: where you will find 22 pages of documented places where CWB has added, deleted and twisted the wording of numerous texts to help them line up with the unbiblical teachings of Ellen White and Adventism. Why would anyone want to twist the Bible like this? Why would a church continue to allow such a book to be sold? The answer should be obvious to any seeker for truth. See also Cultic Doctrine, p. 303-324.

Jud Lake does not really deal with the advertised representation of the Clear Word but assumes that the disclaimer inserted into the book is sufficient and then Jud Lake ignores the rather huge issues such as that of Dan. 8:14. Jud Lake writes in response to Ratzlaff:

There is much that could be said about these strong words, "purposeful and blatant deception." But I will save a more detailed analysis for another time. The cover of The Clear Word (2000) states that it is "An expanded paraphrase." The "Preface" begins with these words:

"The Clear Word is not a translation, but a devotional expanded paraphrase of the Holy Scriptures intended to nurture growth. It should not be considered a study Bible. Excellent translations of the Scriptures are available for such purposes."

Later in the preface, the author, Jack Blanco, states: "Much like a sermon, the volume in your hands is an interpretive work based on the greatest Book ever written."

This is hardly how the book is advertised.

Checking the Adventist book center online

Reveals a total of 15 editions of the Clear Word, from paperback to leather and including The Easy English Clear Word, The Clear Word for Kids, The Clear Word Gospel of John, and a version The Clear Word Psalms and Proverbs and The Clear Word New Testament Audio CD. While the ads noted the book as a paraphrase, not once did it say “expanded paraphrase”, though of the pocket size Gospel of John the description did say, expanded devotional paraphrase from The Clear Word. I am not even sure what that means. It the pocket book of John an expansion of the material in the already expanded Clear Word or is it just taken from the Clear Word which itself is already and expansion.

The main details screen for the Clear Word reads:

For everyone who hungers for a clearer understanding of God’s Word and a richer devotional experience

Imagine how much more you would get out of the Bible if the meaning of every passage were crystal clear. Compare the same text from the King James Version and The Clear Word.

"Incline my heart unto thy testimonies, and not to covetousness. Turn away mine eyes from beholding vanity; and quicken thou me in thy way" (Psalm 119: 36, 37, KJV).

"Turn my heart toward your law more than toward accumulating riches. Help me not to desire worthless trinkets, but give me more desire for your word" (Psalm 119: 36, 37, TCW).

The Clear Word lets the power of ancient texts come through today. As the meaning of Scripture becomes more transparent, you see more of God’s grace. His love shines through even in difficult Old Testament passages. The Clear Word has renewed the devotional lives of thousands of people. Let it renew yours. Now available in the popular two-column format with the text in paragraphs.

Only at the end under the author does it even identify the work as a paraphrase on this the details page.

Jack J. Blanco is the former dean of the School of Religion of Southern Adventist University, near Chattanooga, Tennessee. He began writing this paraphrase by hand to develop a deeper devotional experience with Jesus Christ.

Jud Lake continues:

Please note this is considered by the author to be much like a "sermon," an "interpretive work" based on the Bible. As such, this paraphrase does not attempt to adhere strictly to the original manuscripts. As Eugene Peterson says in the introduction to his paraphrase, The Message (which Blanco quotes in his preface!), "The goal [of a paraphrase] is not to render a word-for-word conversion of Greek into English, but rather to convert the tone, the rhythm, the events, the ideas, into the way we actually think and speak."

The above statement may be true of a paraphrase. But there is no such definition of an “Expanded Paraphrase” the author has can’t insert information found nowhere in the Bible and assert that it carries the tone, rhythm, the events, the idea’s into a way we speak. Possibly the expanded paraphrase can carry the rhythm, but not the tone of the text, the events of the texts or the idea’s of the text. For example the Book of Mormon does an excellent job of carrying the rhythm of the King James Bible, yet without the merit of meaning that is the primary reason for use of the Bible.

Jud Lake uses something that is very familiar to those who have to deal with traditionalist Adventists when he continues:

Now, you may disagree with the way Blanco has paraphrased certain passages, but to say that the church is committing a "purposeful and blatant deception" by publishing the Clear Word greatly misrepresents the facts. Please note: The Clear Word is not an official publication of the SDA Church, but a publication of the Review & Herald Publishing Association. There has never been any official vote to publish The Clear Word at the General Conference of Seventh-day Adventists.

The churches publishing arm publishes the book, it’s Adventist Bible centers sell and advertise the book, yet since there was no vote of the official General Conference it is a book separate for the Seventh-day Adventists. As I recall the book on the 27 fundamental beliefs was never voted on either, the marketing of that book as well as the Clear Word however tells a different story then the claim that it is not “official”.

As Wikipedia says:

In addition to the fundamental beliefs, a number of "Official Statements" have been voted by the church leadership, although only some of these are doctrinal in nature.[3] Books published on denominational presses could be considered to have a basic level of endorsement by the church, but it must be realised that these are in no way "official", and that there is diversity in which books are thus accepted. Another non-"official" way of determining the church's teaching would be to examine the various majority positions among Adventist scholars. The Seventh-day Adventist Bible Commentary is significant, as are the various periodicals published by the church.

The SDA commentary would not be official either; I imagine that there are very few actual official SDA publications, maybe the Yearbook and possible some Ellen White books.

Referring to John 8:58 most all Bibles translate the verse to retain the “I am” meaning. Using Olivetree website since it is the easiest form to look at multiple translations here are the results:

(NKJV) John 8:58 Jesus said to them, "Most assuredly, I say to you, before Abraham was, I AM."
(NASB) John 8:58 Jesus said to them, "Truly, truly, I say to you, before Abraham was born, I am."
(KJV) John 8:58 Jesus said unto them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Before Abraham was, I am.
(CEV) John 8:58 Jesus answered, "I tell you for certain that even before Abraham was, I was, and I am."
(TEV) John 8:58 "I am telling you the truth," Jesus replied. "Before Abraham was born, 'I Am'."
(RSV) John 8:58 Jesus said to them, "Truly, truly, I say to you, before Abraham was, I am."
(Rotherham) John 8:58 Jesus said unto them--Verily, verily, I say unto you: Before, Abraham, came into existence, I, am.
(BBE) John 8:58 Jesus said to them, Truly I say to you, Before Abraham came into being, I am.
(GodsWord) John 8:58 "Jesus told them, "I can guarantee this truth: Before Abraham was ever born, I am."
(Holman NT) John 8:58 Jesus said to them, " I assure you: Before Abraham was, I am."
(ISV NT) John 8:58 Jesus said to them, "Truly, truly I tell you, before there was an Abraham, I am!"
(ASV) John 8:58 Jesus said unto them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Before Abraham was born, I am.
(Darby) John 8:58 Jesus said to them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Before Abraham was, I am.
(Wey NT) John 8:58 "In most solemn truth," answered Jesus, "I tell you that before Abraham came into existence, I am."
(Young) John 8:58 Jesus said to them, `Verily, verily, I say to you, Before Abraham's coming--I am;'

In fact it is perfectly reasonable to question the Clear Word’s usage as it is the usage of the New World translation of the Jehovah’s Witnesses, see the CARM link.

It is not however, a very strong point as there are others who will translate or paraphrase the verse in a similar way:

See this link A partial listing from that website:

New American Standard Bible (NASB) (margin 1960-1973 editions): Or, "I have been."
The Living New Testament: "The absolute truth is that I was in existence before Abraham was ever born."
The 20th Century New Testament: "before Abraham existed I was."
The Complete Bible, An American Translation Goodspeed: "I tell you I existed before Abraham was born."
New Believers Bible, New Living Translation: "I existed before Abraham was even born."
The New Testament, C. B. Williams: "I solemnly say to you, I existed before Abraham was born."
The Book, New Testament: The absolute truth is that I was in existence before Abraham was ever born."

In truth it is very hard to get rid of all the Jesus divinity passages in the Bible, though it is true that early Adventists and even Ellen White had Semi-Arian tendencies it is doubtful based upon John 8:58 that such is Blanco meaning.

Finally Jud Lake says:

Later in this footnote you reference a study by one of your colleagues, Verle Streifling, that supposedly documents places where The Clear Word has "added, deleted, and twisted the wording of numerous texts to help them line up with the unbiblical teachings of Ellen White and Adventism." Don't all paraphrases add, delete, and change the wording of texts? In doing so, the authors obviously bring their theological understanding to the table. Are all evangelical paraphrases corrupting the Bible when their authors add, delete, and change the wording to reflect their particular theological understanding? Are all these paraphrases corrupt when they interpret texts differently than you do? If Eugene Peterson's The Message paraphrases a text differently from your theological understanding, is it then corrupt like Blanco's The Clear Word? Lets be fair and let a phraphrase be a paraphrase!

The problem that in Dan 8:14 reveals is, that Blanco's version is so different from any translation or paraphrase that it is clearly trying to insert meaning that is found nowhere in the Biblical text. Is that wrong? I think so. At one time we as a church would say do not add to or take away from the words of the Bible. Clearly we don’t live by that point of view anymore. In fact if it were applied to Ellen White the Adventist church would have condemned her long ago. Saying one thing and doing another has always been a problem in the SDA church. The church should not be surprised when, as has been the case for over a hundred years when people call the church on such activity.

Eugene Peterson has a problem with his verbiage when he uses New Age or Wicca terminology such as “as above so below” and Blanco has numerous interpretive problems. The advice that all should seriously consider is why use a paraphrase at all. Today there are excellent translations in English and there is no reason to use books that do so poorly at presenting the Biblical meaning as the Clear Word.

Thursday, December 07, 2006

Jud Lake and Dale Ratzlaf Debate

Stemming from the 2005 Ellen White Conference Dale Ratzlaf responded to Jud Lakes presentation. To this Jud Lake has recently responded.

Dale Ratzlaf's response to the 2005 presentation at the Ellen White Conference is found here.

Jud Lake's Response to Dale Ratzlaf is found here.

You can read my dialog's with Jud Lake here
And here, [Ellen White Summit; Response to Jud Lake's Response] and here.
[Jud Lake Responds...Round 3]

More on Jud Lakes response later, particularly about Jud's defense of the Clear Word so called Bible. A defense of which is in my opinion a fool's errand.

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Lesson 10 The Price of Duplicity

The Lesson for this week begins with the story of Jacob and Esau. The lesson states on Sunday Dec 3:

Genesis 25:27 contrasts the two boys. It's interesting that the Hebrew word describing Jacob is tam, which means "complete" or "perfect" or "morally innocent." It's the same word, translated in Job 1:8 as "perfect," used to describe the character of Job. Despite this depiction, he still was willing to take advantage of his brother's weakness in order to seek for himself the birthright. Perhaps the promise made to his mother regarding him and his brother (vs. 23) made him think that he had to have the birthright in order for that promise to be fulfilled. Whatever his motives, he obviously esteemed the birthright as something to be coveted.

What is interesting about this is the supposed Hebrew word used in Gen. 25:27. You have no doubt been subjected to a local pastor who purports to tell the congregation the meaning of a Greek word which somehow he learned in his two years of Greek in college. Occasionally they may do the same for Hebrew even though they probably had less Hebrew courses then Greek. Actual Greek scholars, the Bible translators and the lexicons don’t have that meaning but the graduate of 4 semesters of introductory Greek has figured it out. It is frankly annoying. Here the lesson author does the same thing as anyone can see if they click the link offered in the online quarterly. (The Lesson Study author has been pastor, teacher, and administrator). The texts states:

Gen 25:27
27 The boys grew up, and Esau became a skillful hunter, a man of the open country, while Jacob was a quiet man, staying among the tents. (NIV)

8535 tam (tawm);from 8552; complete; usually (morally) pious; specifically, gentle, ear:

KJV-- coupled together, perfect, plain, undefiled, upright.

Yes it is the same word used several times in the book of Job but it is also the same word used of the coupling of the frame of the tabernacle or of the beloved in the Song of Solomon.

Exod 26:24
24 And they shall be coupled together beneath, and they shall be coupled together above the head of it unto one ring: thus shall it be for them both; they shall be for the two corners. (KJV)

See also Song of Solomon 5:2, 6:9 where it is used as flawless one (NIV) and undefiled (KJV)

Interestingly enough the word Tam is closely related to twins.

8382 ta'am (taw-am'); a primitive root; to be complete; but used only as denominative from 8380, to be (causatively, make) twinned, i.e. (figuratively) duplicate or (arch.) jointed: KJV-- coupled (together), bear twins. ***. ta'om. See 8380.

If only Hebrew had over a million words like English maybe we would not have to suffer the multiple meanings. As it is we will all have to deal with the multitudes of speculative meanings that our pastors can come up with. At least until we grant the experts in language their due.

The story of the conflict begins with the now familiar theme of a birth of nations. We saw that in the story of Abraham, and the story of Lot. Again the focus is to take us to God’s chosen nation of Israel in a world where they were to fight for the promised land.

Gen 25:21-23
21 Isaac prayed to the LORD on behalf of his wife, because she was barren. The LORD answered his prayer, and his wife Rebekah became pregnant. 22 The babies jostled each other within her, and she said, "Why is this happening to me?" So she went to inquire of the LORD. 23 The LORD said to her, "Two nations are in your womb, and two peoples from within you will be separated; one people will be stronger than the other, and the older will serve the younger." (NIV)

The Expositor’s Bible Commentary explains the recurring motif in Genesis this way:

Another important motif is present in this account: "the older will serve the younger" (v. 23). As far back as chapter 4, the narrative has portrayed God choosing and approving the younger and the weaker through whom he would accomplish his purpose and bring about his blessing. The offering of Cain, the older brother, was rejected, whereas the offering of the younger brother, Abel, was accepted. The line of Seth, the still younger brother, was the chosen line (4:26-5:8); Isaac was chosen over his older brother Ishmael (17:18-19); Rachel was chosen over her older sister Leah (29:18); Joseph, the younger brother, was chosen over all the rest (37:3); and Judah was chosen over his older brothers (49:8). The intention behind each of these "reversals" was the recurring theme of God's sovereign plan of grace. The blessing was not a natural right, as a right of the firstborn son would be. Rather, God's blessing is extended to those who have no other claim to it. They all received what they did not deserve (cf. Mal 1:1-5; Rom 9:10-13).

If this motif is correct then the nation from Esau was to be a nation stronger then Israel. When you think about nations you would normally think about wanting the nation to become strong. Yet in this story the prediction is opposite of what most in Israel would really want to hear. Rebekah could do nothing about the strength of the nations to come from her children so like a good mother she sought to help establish the latter part of the prediction, that the older would serve the younger. That never really happened in their lives, but many years later Edom became subject to Israel as the Wikipedia says:

Nothing further is recorded of the Edomites in the Tanakh until their defeat by King Saul of Israel in the late 1000's BCE. Forty years later King David and his general Joab defeated the Edomites in the "valley of salt," (probably near the Dead Sea).[18] An Edomite prince named Hadad escaped and fled to Egypt, and after David's death returned and tried to start a rebellion, but failed and went to Syria.[19] From that time Edom remained a vassal of Israel. David placed over the Edomites Israelite governors or prefects [20] and this form of government seems to have continued under Solomon. When Israel divided into two kingdoms Edom became a dependency of the Kingdom of Judah. In the time of Jehoshaphat (c. 914 BCE) the Tanakh mentions a king of Edom,[21] who was probably an Israelite appointed by the King of Judah. It also states[22] that the inhabitants of Mount Seir invaded Judea in conjunction with Ammon and Moab, and that the invaders turned against one another and were all destroyed. Edom revolted against Jehoram and elected a king of its own.[23] Amaziah attacked and defeated the Edomites, seizing Selah, but the Israelites never subdued Edom completely.[24]

There is a very interesting pattern involved with the stories of the Patriarchs. Even though they have been promised a homeland they have never received it. They wander around from place to place like Jacob in this week’s lesson. Some may speculate that this was to build their characters. More likely it is a technique used by the author to relate the struggle of Israel as a nation with that of her forbearers.

One perennial question that comes up when talking about Jacob and Esau is the text in Malachi and later quoted in Romans:

MAL 1:2 "I have loved you," says the LORD. "But you ask, `How have you loved us?' "Was not Esau Jacob's brother?" the LORD says. "Yet I have loved Jacob,

MAL 1:3 but Esau I have hated, and I have turned his mountains into a wasteland and left his inheritance to the desert jackals."

MAL 1:4 Edom may say, "Though we have been crushed, we will rebuild the ruins." But this is what the LORD Almighty says: "They may build, but I will demolish. They will be called the Wicked Land, a people always under the wrath of the LORD.

If you look up the Hebrew word for hate you find that it means aside from hate, enemy or foe etc. So Malachi is referring to the destruction of the nation of Edom. In fact when you do a search of the word you find that the reference listed right before this one is found in Amos where God says He hates Jacob.

Amos 6:8
8 The Lord GOD hath sworn by himself, saith the LORD the God of hosts, I abhor the excellency of Jacob, and hate his palaces: therefore will I deliver up the city with all that is therein. (KJV)

Being an enemy of God is related not to race or genealogy but upon what one does, or in this case the results of a nations activities. Paul takes the Old Testament verse and makes a point which may or may not be related to the use in Malachi:

RO 9:10 Not only that, but Rebekah's children had one and the same father, our father Isaac.
RO 9:11 Yet, before the twins were born or had done anything good or bad--in order that God's purpose in election might stand: RO 9:12 not by works but by him who calls--she was told, "The older will serve the younger." N RO 9:13 Just as it is written: "Jacob I loved, but Esau I hated."

His point was that God chose who were to be the fathers of the Jewish nation and that the one chosen had done nothing to deserve the honor, it was God’s choice based upon the mercy and wisdom of God. The choice by God was likely based upon his foreknowledge, whereas in Malachi the line Jacob I loved and Esau I hated was a reference to the actions of the nations. The actions of nations or individuals are based upon the hardness of their hearts. The hardness of their hearts whether of their own accord or somehow aided by God in revealing what they are also revealing the power of God.

In conclusion As the Expositor’s Bible Commentary says:
In this connection, by quoting Malachi 1:2, 3, Paul lifts the discussion from what might appear to be a purely personal one to the plane of corporate, national life. God's love for Jacob and hatred for Esau ought not to be construed as temperamental. Malachi is appealing to the course of history as fulfilling the purpose of God declared long before. Hatred in the ordinary sense will not fit the situation, since God bestowed many blessings on Esau and his descendants. The "hatred" is simply a way of saying that Esau was not the object of God's electing purpose (cf. the use of hate in Luke 14:26, where discipleship is stated to involve "hatred" for one's own family and one's own life; they are simply put out of consideration when one takes on himself the responsibility of following Christ). The value of the account of the two brothers is to make clear that in election God does not wait until individuals or nations are developed and then make a choice on the basis of character or achievement. If he did so, this would make a mockery of the concept of election, because it would locate the basis in man rather than in God and his purpose. God's love for Jacob, then, must be coupled with election rather than explained by some worthiness found in him (cf. Deut 7:6-8).