“The Jewish Sabbath was Saturday. So why do Christians say the Sabbath is Sunday?” Ed: God made the world in six days, and rested on the seventh (Genesis 1–2). Thus he designed the working week, which has been the predominant measure of time ever since. In the Bible the seventh day of the week (which we know as Saturday) is called the Sabbath, a word which comes from the Hebrew word meaning ‘rest’. In the Law of Moses which God gave to the nation of Israel to regulate their national life, observance of the Sabbath was compulsory: ‘the seventh day is a Sabbath to the Lord your God. On it you shall not do any work, you, or your son, or your daughter, your male servant, or your female servant, or your livestock, or the sojourner who is within your gates. For in six days the Lord made heaven and
I CAN’T REMEMBER where Sylvester came from except that it was somewhere in the north of Kenya. This I do know, he’d had a long and arduous journey: setting out very early in the morning, mostly on foot with a stretch on the back of a pickup truck. At last he reached the small village where the Bible School was to be held. As I stood up to teach I noticed Sylvester on the front row—smartly dressed as though he’d just walked out of a dressing room, and keen to listen. We learned later that this was his first visit to a Christadelphian meeting of any kind. His sole previous contact with us was with an English lady who had used correspondence courses and letters to help give him a good understanding of what the Bible teaches. I was talking about the book of Revelation, and he was engrossed. He
WE HEAR LITTLE about angels in our unbelieving age. But although we hear little and see nothing of them today, they are real and there is actually a lot of information about them if we know where to look—that is, of course, in the Bible. Jesus Christ said that those who are given eternal life when he returns to the earth ‘cannot die any more, because they are equal to angels and are sons of God’ (Luke 20:36). For this reason if for no other we should want to know more about them! The English word ‘angel’ is a translation of the Hebrew word malak (in the Old Testament) and the Greek word angelos (in the New Testament). Both these words mean ‘messenger’. That is basically what angels are—they are God’s messengers. ‘Bless the Lord, O you his angels, you mighty ones who do his word, obeying the voice of
AFTER THE INCIDENT of the golden calf the people of Israel were deeply repentant. When Moses, their aged leader, toiled to the top of Mount Sinai to beg the Lord to forgive their great sin, He graciously agreed (Exodus 32:14). But He sent Moses down with a task for the people which would test their sincerity. On an earlier occasion God had spoken to Moses about building for Him a mobile temple, to be called ‘the Tabernacle’. ‘Let them build me a sanctuary’, He had said, ‘that I may dwell in their midst’ (Exodus 25:8). He had described the building carefully and shown Moses a model which he was to follow. Now the time had come to put the plan into action. The whole construction was to be made from gifts of timber, cloth, and precious metals donated by the people, and it would be put together by volunteer labour.
THIS LETTER was written to the believers in Ephesus, a prosperous cosmopolitan city in what is now Turkey. It was home to the temple of the Greek goddess Artemis (whom the Romans knew as Diana). The account of the Apostle Paul’s visit to Ephesus and his encounter with Artemis’s worshippers is in Acts 19. Followers of Christ are called to a greater Temple—formed of believers, both Jews and Gentiles. This Temple, when completed, will be greater than even the Jewish Temple at Jerusalem! Built on the foundation of the teachings of God’s word, through the apostles and the prophets, with Jesus Christ as ‘the cornerstone’, this Temple will become a dwelling-place for God Himself! (Ephesians 2:19–22). The Unity of the Faith Unity is a key theme of this letter. The barrier between Jew and Gentile has been broken down by Christ (2:14), and all true believers have become one in
IT IS HEART-RENDING when a couple cannot have a baby. And the older couples get, the harder it becomes. Desperate would-be parents go to all sorts of lengths to try to conceive. In some cases worried friends fear that they are trusting in the impossible: hoping against hope. Centuries ago, Abraham and Sarah faced a similar plight. On several occasions God had promised Abraham that his descendants would become a great multitude of people (for example Genesis 13:14–16, 15:5–6, 17:4–6). But Abraham’s wife Sarah was infertile (Genesis 11:30). Worse still, they both grew old—very old. Abraham was 99 years old, and Sarah was 90 and way past child-bearing age. But once again, God promised that Abraham and Sarah would have a son: I will surely return to you about this time next year, and Sarah your wife shall have a son (Genesis 18:10). This defied any ‘natural’ logic, all the
A PROMINENT MEDICAL professor claims that the reason why there is so much unhappiness in the modern world is that we have confused happiness with pleasure.* We have persuaded ourselves that when we buy products and experiences that give us pleasure, they will make us happy. And so most of the world’s economies are based on the promotion of pleasure, from tobacco to fast food to mobile phones and countless other commodities which promise to make us happy. But they do not deliver—it’s a scientifically proven fact. The professor suggests four basic ingredients as a recipe for happiness: Connect—foster real life interpersonal relationships Contribute—give rather than take Cope—adopt a sustainable lifestyle, with adequate sleep and exercise and reduce stress to a manageable level Cook—prepare proper unprocessed food with natural ingredients. Few would argue with this recipe. But here’s another ingredient which the professor overlooked—Faith. Faith is a way of life.
“Why should we surrender to an oppressive government?“ Ed: HERE ARE five Bible principles to consider: God is directing world affairs towards His ultimate purpose, and all governments are put in place by Him (Daniel 4:17). This means good governments, and also bad governments—which is admittedly not an easy principle to accept. But here’s an example: the Nazi government in Germany in the 1930s was an abhorrent regime which committed many atrocities. But with hindsight we can see that the Nazis had a part in God’s plan, because their persecution of European Jews provided impetus for the establishment of the state of Israel in 1948, in fulfilment of Bible prophecy (for example Ezekiel 37). Hitler was a monster, but God allowed him to do what he did. So the first point is that any government is there because God is using it. Followers of Christ must obey the government of
BEFORE THE LORD Jesus Christ came on the scene, the Jews did not refer to themselves as children of God. Rather they referred to themselves as children of Abraham. Abraham was their ancestor, whose life is recounted in Genesis chapters 12 to 25. It was Jesus who started teaching that true believers in ‘the kingdom of God and the name of Jesus Christ’ (Acts 8:12) are children of God. The Lord Jesus was the Son of God, born of the virgin Mary by means of God’s Holy Spirit (Luke 1:35). All who confess their faith in the Son of God and are baptised in the name of the Father, of the Son and of the Holy Spirit (Matthew 28:29) become adopted children of the Father. As the apostle Paul tells us: For all who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God. For you did not receive
BY THE COASTAL ROAD, the distance from the border of Egypt to the frontier of Israel is under 200 miles. At a modest pace of 10 miles a day, it could be walked in three weeks. But the journey to the Promised Land took the people of Israel over 40 years. The reason for this extraordinary delay is at once depressing and instructive. This is how it came about. Some time after they received the Law from God at Mount Sinai, the Israelites set off northwards through the Sinai Peninsula. They arrived eventually at Kadesh Barnea, an oasis in the desert not far from the boundary of Canaan. After a Iifetime of burden-bearing in Egypt, the people were looking forward to the farms and villages they had been promised. The snag was, they had no experience of warfare, and the Canaanites were Iikely to resist bitterly any attempts to evict