Thai Cave Rescue – the Rest of the Story

I received a batch of photos from my brother. I searched the internet and found that they were originally published by GConnect Magazine, on July 11. They beautifully tell the rest of the Thai Cave Rescue story, about all the volunteers who generously joined in the rescue effort that brings out the best in humanity. I know this fallen world often causes us grief when we see all the selfishness, pride, greed, deceit, debauchery and other evils happening around us, but sometimes, just sometimes, we see glimpses of the image of God in people. That image is marred, but not totally eradicated, which gives us hope that all is not lost. In times of crisis God awakens our souls to prod us to go on, to carry His message to all people until He returns. The photos and captions are self-explanatory. So, with credit to GConnect, here’s the rest of the story.

Noah’s Ark (2 of 2)

Noah's ark 2

(Continued from yesterday)

4. What language did Noah speak then?
Gen 11:1 Now the whole earth used the same language and the same words.
• Gen 11:6-7 The LORD said, “Behold, they are one people, and they all have the same language. And this is what they began to do, and now nothing which they purpose to do will be impossible for them. Come, let Us go down and there confuse their language, so that they will not understand one another’s speech.”

The Bible did not say. We only know that the whole earth used the same language until the tower of Babel. When man became proud and want to be independent of God, He confused their language so they will not understand each other. Presumably the first language is close to Middle Eastern languages derived from it, but we just can’t be sure.

5. How did man change skin color?
Some feel simplistically that Shem was brown-skinned, Ham was dark-skinned, and Japheth was fair-skinned. But skin color is actually determined by the amount of the pigment melanin in the skin, which in turn is controlled by genes. Genes come in pairs of pairs. Let’s use the letters A, a, B, b to code the genes that produce melanin, with capital letters A, B representing dominant genes (dark color), and small letters a, b recessive genes (light color). A person carrying AABB genes (all dominant) will have very dark skin, while a person carrying aabb genes (all recessive) will have very light skin.

During reproduction one pair is contributed by each parent. If a person with AABB mates with a person with aabb and they produce a child, their offspring would have AaBb genes for medium or brown skin. If two people with AaBb genes got married and reproduced, their children’s genes could have different A, a, B, b combinations for a range of skin colors. So although all people came from Noah’s three sons, they could have a wide diversity of skin colors.

Noah’s Ark (1 of 2)

Noah's ark 7

Q. The children in my Sunday School class (grade 3 and 4) asked a few interesting questions during our lessons on Noah’s ark. Is there something you can suggest:
1. Did fish go into the Noah’s ark?
2. How did Noah know what is clean and what is unclean animals?
3. What did lions eat in Noah’s ark? Did they eat meat then?
4. What language did they speak at that time?
5. If all people came from Shem, Ham and Japheth, how did we change skin color?

A. These are interesting questions indeed, typically asked by children:

1. Did fish go into the Ark?
Gen 6:7 The LORD said, “I will blot out man whom I have created from the face of the land, from man to animals to creeping things and to birds of the sky; for I am sorry that I have made them.”
• Gen 6:20 Of the birds after their kind, and of the animals after their kind, of every creeping thing of the ground after its kind, two of every kind will come to you to keep them alive.
• Gen 7:14 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.
• Gen 7:21 All flesh that moved on the earth perished, birds and cattle and beasts and every swarming thing that swarms upon the earth, and all mankind;
• Gen 7:23 Thus He blotted out every living thing that was upon the face of the land, from man to animals to creeping things and to birds of the sky, and they were blotted out from the earth; and only Noah was left, together with those that were with him in the ark.

My answer is “NO”. God told Noah He will blot out man, animals, beasts (wild), cattle (tame), creeping or swarming things (reptiles and insects), and birds, and asked him to bring two of every kind into the ark to preserve them. Fish was not mentioned as they can survive the Flood.

2. How did Noah know what’s clean versus unclean?
Gen 7:2 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;
• Gen 7:8-9 Of clean animals and animals that are not clean and birds and everything that creeps on the ground, there went into the ark to Noah by twos, male and female, as God had commanded Noah.

The rules distinguishing between clean from unclean animals, aquatic life, birds, insects were not given until later in Leviticus 11. So how did Noah know? I believe a clue can be found in:
Gen 4:4 Abel, on his part also brought of the firstlings of his flock and of their fat portions. And the LORD had regard for Abel and for his offering;
Cain and Abel offered sacrifice way before Moses, so we can infer that God must have told man what animals and birds were clean and suitable for sacrifice.

3. Did lions eat meat in the Ark?
Gen 1:30 and to every beast of the earth and to every bird of the sky and to every thing that moves on the earth which has life, I have given every green plant for food”; and it was so.
• Gen 6:20-21 Of the birds after their kind, and of the animals after their kind, of every creeping thing of the ground after its kind, two of every kind will come to you to keep them alive. As for you, take for yourself some of all food which is edible, and gather it to yourself; and it shall be for food for you and for them.”
• Gen 9:3 Every moving thing that is alive shall be food for you; I give all to you, as I gave the green plant.

No, they did not. Man and lions and all other carnivores ate green plant for food when they were first created. Noah was told to take some of all food which is edible i.e. green plants into the Ark for food for himself and for them i.e. animals and birds. The restriction to a vegetarian diet for man was lifted only after the Flood. Presumably that applied to carnivores at the same time.

(To be continued)

All Fat is the LORD’s?

Lev 3 16 b

Q. Lev 3:16 says all fat is the LORD’s. He does not want to share either (Lev 7:25)? Why does God want all the fat and cholesterol for Himself? Does He like barbecued fat?

A. Your observation is correct, but God is spirit (Jn 4:24) and does not eat the offerings:
Lev 3:16 The priest shall offer them up in smoke on the altar as food, an offering by fire for a soothing aroma; all fat is the LORD’S.
• Lev 7:25 For whoever eats the fat of the animal from which an offering by fire is offered to the LORD, even the person who eats shall be cut off from his people.

I do not think it has anything to do with keeping His people from eat high cholesterol fat for their health either, as there is no hint of that in the text.

To understand why we need to look at the biblical background. The first mention of “fat” in the Bible is in Abel’s sacrifice, which the NT assessed to be better than Cain’s:
Gen 4:4 Abel, on his part also brought of the firstlings of his flock and of their fat portions. And the LORD had regard for Abel and for his offering;
• Heb 11:4 By faith Abel offered to God a better sacrifice than Cain, …

Abel offered the fat portions of the firstlings of his flock i.e. his best, and the LORD had regard for him and his offering.

Unlike contemporary western culture which view fat as unhealthy, the ancient Near Eastern culture treated fat as the best or choicest part. This understanding is reinforced when Pharaoh offered Jacob the best or the fat of the land:
Gen 45:18 and take your father and your households and come to me, and I will give you the best of the land of Egypt and you will eat the fat of the land.

So when Lev 3:16 says all fat is the LORD’s, it is in fact saying offer your best to God. And when a person eats the fat, he is taking what is reserved for God for himself. No wonder that person should be cut off from or ostracized by his people. I don’t think God likes barbecued fat in the physical sense; He likes it when His people put Him first as they should.

Jesus’ Sacrifice Trivial? (2 of 2)

crucifixion 3

(Continued from yesterday)

Now let me give a little theology before I respond to skeptics. When man sinned, the result is spiritual death or eternal separation from God:
Rom 6:23 For the wages of sin is death,

However, God loved us and did not want us to be forever separated from Him, so He offered to take our place:
Rom 5:8 But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.

But there is a problem. God is eternal and cannot die:
1 Tim 1:17 Now to the King eternal, immortal, invisible, the only God, be honor and glory forever and ever. Amen.
In order for God to die on man’s behalf, He had to become a man:
Jn 1:14 And the Word became flesh, and dwelt among us, and we saw His glory, glory as of the only begotten from the Father, full of grace and truth.
This is called the incarnation. Thus Jesus has two natures – His original divine nature as God the Son, to which was added His human nature when He became man.

What some people do not realize is that Jesus did not take on a human nature for only the 33 years while He was on earth, but even after His resurrection and ascension:
Lk 24:39 See My hands and My feet, that it is I Myself; touch Me and see, for a spirit does not have flesh and bones as you see that I have.
• Jn 20:27 Then He said to Thomas, “Reach here with your finger, and see My hands; and reach here your hand and put it into My side; and do not be unbelieving, but believing.”
• Acts 1:11 They also said, “Men of Galilee, why do you stand looking into the sky? This Jesus, who has been taken up from you into heaven, will come in just the same way as you have watched Him go into heaven.”

So contrary to what cults and some people believe, the divine Christ did not descend on the human Jesus for only 33 years and then leave. God the Son actually became man for all eternity after the incarnation.

Let’s get back to the skeptics. The trouble with them is that in their minds, their view of man (themselves) is too high, while their view of God is too low. From God’s perspective, the significance of Christ’s sacrifice is that the sinless Son of God offered Himself to substitute for man. The emphasis is on His deity. Since God is infinite, Jesus’ death is sufficient to atone for the sins of all men throughout human history. That would be a large number, but finite. The suffering is not just on the physical scourging and crucifixion, even though that’s one of the most cruel and painful tortures invented by men. The anguish is more on the spiritual and emotional, with Jesus carrying all the sins of all humanity on Himself:
2 Co 5:21 He made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.

The skeptics, however, see Jesus as little more than a man, may be even less, as some people have suffered longer or more intensely than He. They do not see the condescension of the Creator of the universe becoming a creature in the incarnation, nor what’s involved in atoning for sin. The incarnation gap, by the way, is infinitely more than say man becoming an ant, as both man and ant are creatures, and man does not have power to create even an ant. So skeptics dwell only on the physical, human level, thinking how short is 3 days compared to eternity. That’s not even the right perspective. No wonder they got it all wrong! Jesus took on human nature for all eternity future. He rose after three days to show that God is pleased with the atoning sacrifice, otherwise it would have to be repeated as in OT sacrifices. Foreknowledge of the resurrection does not lessen the mental anguish and pain of all the sins of all mankind bearing on Him, something the skeptics could not even begin to imagine. His sacrifice is acceptable to the Father, but not the skeptics. What arrogance! What ingratitude!

God is not too small, and Christ’s sacrifice is not too puny; the depraved mind and the darkened heart of the skeptics is. God offered them His best, but they just couldn’t see it, treating it as dirt with disdain. Reminds me of Mt 7:6:
• Do not give what is holy to dogs, and do not throw your pearls before swine, or they will trample them under their feet, and turn and tear you to pieces.

But our task is not to judge but to proclaim the gospel. So we try to be gentle and patient as the Lord leads us. Hope this helps.

Jesus’ Sacrifice Trivial? (1 of 2)

passover lamb 2

Q. Can’t it be argued that Jesus didn’t really sacrifice Himself? Yes He endured the physical pain, but not the mental anguish that comes from not knowing what would happen to Him after He died. Since He knew He would rise again and get His life back in 3 days, doesn’t that nullify His life as a “sacrifice” and render it a temporary loss instead?
If you knew for example that you had to have your hand chopped off as a punishment, but that it would grow back in 3 days, it would be much easier to accept knowing it would be a temporary pain and to just “get it over with”

A. Before we listen to the words of men, let’s see what God had to say about Jesus’ sacrifice:

1 Co 5:7 … For Christ our Passover also has been sacrificed.
• Eph 5:2 and walk in love, just as Christ also loved you and gave Himself up for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God as a fragrant aroma.
• Heb 7:27 who does not need daily, like those high priests, to offer up sacrifices, first for His own sins and then for the sins of the people, because this He did once for all when He offered up Himself.
• Heb 9:26 Otherwise, He would have needed to suffer often since the foundation of the world; but now once at the consummation of the ages He has been manifested to put away sin by the sacrifice of Himself.
• Heb 10:8-12 After saying above, “SACRIFICES AND OFFERINGS AND WHOLE BURNT OFFERINGS AND sacrifices FOR SIN YOU HAVE NOT DESIRED, NOR HAVE YOU TAKEN PLEASURE in them” (which are offered according to the Law), then He said, “BEHOLD, I HAVE COME TO DO YOUR WILL.” He takes away the first in order to establish the second. By this will we have been sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all. Every priest stands daily ministering and offering time after time the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins; but He, having offered one sacrifice for sins for all time, SAT DOWN AT THE RIGHT HAND OF GOD,
• Heb 10:14 For by one offering He has perfected for all time those who are sanctified.

Notice the following:
• Christ is the Passover lamb. The lamb was sacrificed so that when the LORD saw its blood on the doorposts and the lintel, He passed over that house to spare the firstborn of the Israelites (Ex 12:7, 12-13). In the same way, He was sacrificed so that those who trust in Him are spared.
• Christ gave Himself up for us i.e. voluntarily, out of love. No one compelled Him. Jn 10:17-18 because I lay down My life so that I may take it again. No one has taken it away from Me, but I lay it down on My own initiative.
• Unlike OT sacrifices which had to be repeated daily because they can never take away sins, He did it once for all, for all time, because that was sufficient.
• The effect was to put away sin and perfect forever those who are sanctified (set apart).
• After the sacrifice Jesus sat down at the right hand of God, meaning that God accepted and was satisfied with His offering, seating Him at the place of honor.

The emphasis was on the sufficiency and efficacy of Christ’s sacrifice, not on its duration. Why? Because of who Christ is, the Son of God, and no mere man. The significance was not on the “three days”, even though that had been prophesied repeatedly.

(To be continued)

7 Pairs Clean Animals?

Gen 7 2-3 a

Q. In Noah’s ark, what if any is the significance of bringing 7 pairs of each clean animal vs. 1 pair of unclean animals? Was it for sacrificial purposes after the Flood and the lands dried?

A. Some interpret the “clean animal by sevens” as seven pairs; while others interpret it to mean three pairs plus one more male, since for the unclean “a male and his female” was counted as two:
Gen 7:2 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;

But whether 7 pairs or 7, there were two purposes:
For sacrificeGen 8:20 Then Noah built an altar to the LORD, and took of every clean animal and of every clean bird and offered burnt offerings on the altar.
For food
o Gen 9:3 Every moving thing that is alive shall be food for you; I give all to you, as I gave the green plant.
o Lev 11:47 to make a distinction between the unclean and the clean, and between the edible creature and the creature which is not to be eaten.
The Jews ate only clean creatures (Acts 10:14)

Noah stayed in the ark was over a year:
Gen 7:11 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.
• Gen 8:13-14 Now it came about in the six hundred and first year, in the first month, on the first of the month, the water was dried up from the earth. Then Noah removed the covering of the ark, and looked, and behold, the surface of the ground was dried up. In the second month, on the twenty-seventh day of the month, the earth was dry.

If only one pair of every clean animal or clean bird were taken, and they had not reproduced during the year, their use as sacrifice or food would have meant the extinction of that kind of animal. The bringing of sevens, whether pairs or singles, eliminated that threat.

Cost-Effectiveness of Churches (2 of 2)

1 Sam 15 22 e

(Continued from yesterday)

Lk 13:6-9 And He began telling this parable: “A man had a fig tree which had been planted in his vineyard; and he came looking for fruit on it and did not find any. And he said to the vineyard-keeper, ‘Behold, for three years I have come looking for fruit on this fig tree without finding any. Cut it down! Why does it even use up the ground?’ And he answered and said to him, ‘Let it alone, sir, for this year too, until I dig around it and put in fertilizer; and if it bears fruit next year, fine; but if not, cut it down.’”

I know this parable probably refers to the Jewish nation since it follows Lk 12:1-5 where Jesus taught the Jews to repent. However, it clearly shows the owner’s expectation of fruit may also apply to individuals as well. Make no mistake about it, God expects more fruit:

Jn 15:2 Every branch in Me that does not bear fruit, He takes away; and every branch that bears fruit, He prunes it so that it may bear more fruit.

Nor is this an isolated incident, as both the parable of the Talents and the Ten Minas showed that God expects us to put what He entrusted to us to work and have fruit to show for it:
Mt 25:27 Then you ought to have put my money in the bank, and on my arrival I would have received my money back with interest.
• Lk 19:23 Then why did you not put my money in the bank, and having come, I would have collected it with interest?’

What am I saying? That it is neither “results alone” nor “faithful regardless of results” for all times, but being obedient to what God called you to do for that specific time. I believe I am not in a position to “judge” that senior and renowned pastor. Only he and God knew what God had called him to do, and whether he is obedient. I do not know what’s in the heart to say what he should have done. Does cost-effectiveness come into play at all? As stewards we are always accountable to God as to how we use the limited resources He entrusted to us, but pay attention to His call or special assignment which overrides the general call.

Philip the evangelist had a highly successful campaign in Samaria:

Acts 8:6 The crowds with one accord were giving attention to what was said by Philip, as they heard and saw the signs which he was performing.

But an angel of the Lord pulled him out in the midst of his campaign to speak to one Ethiopian eunuch (Act 8:26-27). Not preaching the gospel to many villages of the Samaritans (Acts 8:25), just one man. Was it cost-effective, not from our MBA mentality, but Philip was obedient and that is what counts.

If I have to make a choice, I would choose obedience over cost-effectiveness.:

1 Sam 15:22 Samuel said, “Has the LORD as much delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices As in obeying the voice of the LORD? Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, And to heed than the fat of rams.

God knows better. We can use the best of our knowledge to serve Him, but be prepared for His changing our plans at any time. He’s the Lord, we are only unworthy servants. He sometimes asks us to leave the 99 to find the one going astray. Just listen carefully, as He may speak in a still small voice (1 Kings 19:12).