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Friday, June 27, 2014

Hyssop in the Bible

Exodus 12:21 Then Moses called for all the elders of Israel, and said to them, “Draw out, and take lambs according to your families, and kill the Passover. 22 You shall take a bunch of hyssop, and dip it in the blood that is in the basin, and strike the lintel and the two doorposts with the blood that is in the basin; and none of you shall go out of the door of his house until the morning. (All Bible quotations from the World English Bible, public domain)

Leviticus 14:2 “This shall be the law of the leper in the day of his cleansing. He shall be brought to the priest, 3 and the priest shall go forth out of the camp. The priest shall examine him, and behold, if the plague of leprosy is healed in the leper, 4 then the priest shall command them to take for him who is to be cleansed two living clean birds, and cedar wood, and scarlet, and hyssop. 5 The priest shall command them to kill one of the birds in an earthen vessel over running water. 6 As for the living bird, he shall take it, and the cedar wood, and the scarlet, and the hyssop, and shall dip them and the living bird in the blood of the bird that was killed over the running water. 7 He shall sprinkle on him who is to be cleansed from the leprosy seven times, and shall pronounce him clean, and shall let the living bird go into the open field.

Leviticus 14:33 Yahweh spoke to Moses and to Aaron, saying, 34 “When you have come into the land of Canaan, which I give to you for a possession, and I put a spreading mildew in a house in the land of your possession, 35 then he who owns the house shall come and tell the priest, saying, ‘There seems to me to be some sort of plague in the house.’ . . . 48 “If the priest shall come in, and examine it, and behold, the plague hasn’t spread in the house, after the house was plastered, then the priest shall pronounce the house clean, because the plague is healed. 49 To cleanse the house he shall take two birds, and cedar wood, and scarlet, and hyssop. 50 He shall kill one of the birds in an earthen vessel over running water. 51 He shall take the cedar wood, and the hyssop, and the scarlet, and the living bird, and dip them in the blood of the slain bird, and in the running water, and sprinkle the house seven times. 52 He shall cleanse the house with the blood of the bird, and with the running water, with the living bird, with the cedar wood, with the hyssop, and with the scarlet;

Numbers 19:1 Yahweh spoke to Moses and to Aaron, saying, 2 “This is the statute of the law which Yahweh has commanded: Speak to the children of Israel, that they bring you a red heifer without spot, in which is no blemish, and which was never yoked. 3 You shall give her to Eleazar the priest, and he shall bring her forth outside of the camp, and one shall kill her before his face: 4 and Eleazar the priest shall take of her blood with his finger, and sprinkle her blood toward the front of the Tent of Meeting seven times. 5 One shall burn the heifer in his sight; her skin, and her flesh, and her blood, with her dung, shall he burn: 6 and the priest shall take cedar wood, and hyssop, and scarlet, and cast it into the midst of the burning of the heifer. 7 Then the priest shall wash his clothes, and he shall bathe his flesh in water, and afterward he shall come into the camp, and the priest shall be unclean until the evening. 8 He who burns her shall wash his clothes in water, and bathe his flesh in water, and shall be unclean until the evening.

Numbers 19:16 “Whoever in the open field touches one who is slain with a sword, or a dead body, or a bone of a man, or a grave, shall be unclean seven days. 17 “For the unclean they shall take of the ashes of the burning of the sin offering; and running water shall be put thereto in a vessel: 18 and a clean person shall take hyssop, and dip it in the water, and sprinkle it on the tent, and on all the vessels, and on the persons who were there, and on him who touched the bone, or the slain, or the dead, or the grave:

1 Kings 4:30 Solomon’s wisdom excelled the wisdom of all the children of the east, and all the wisdom of Egypt. 31 For he was wiser than all men; than Ethan the Ezrahite, and Heman, and Calcol, and Darda, the sons of Mahol: and his fame was in all the nations all around. 32 He spoke three thousand proverbs; and his songs were one thousand five. 33a He spoke of trees, from the cedar that is in Lebanon even to the hyssop that springs out of the wall;

Psalm 51:1 Have mercy on me, God, according to your loving kindness.
    According to the multitude of your tender mercies, blot out my transgressions. 

2 Wash me thoroughly from my iniquity.
    Cleanse me from my sin. 

3 For I know my transgressions.
    My sin is constantly before me. 

4 Against you, and you only, have I sinned,
    and done that which is evil in your sight;
that you may be proved right when you speak,
    and justified when you judge. 

5 Behold, I was brought forth in iniquity.
    In sin my mother conceived me. 

6 Behold, you desire truth in the inward parts.
    You teach me wisdom in the inmost place.

7 Purify me with hyssop, and I will be clean.
    Wash me, and I will be whiter than snow.


John 19:28 After this, Jesus, seeing that all things were now finished, that the Scripture might be fulfilled, said, “I am thirsty.” 29 Now a vessel full of vinegar was set there; so they put a sponge full of the vinegar on hyssop, and held it at his mouth. 30 When Jesus therefore had received the vinegar, he said, “It is finished.” He bowed his head, and gave up his spirit.

Hebrews 9:18 Therefore even the first covenant has not been dedicated without blood. 19 For when every commandment had been spoken by Moses to all the people according to the law, he took the blood of the calves and the goats, with water and scarlet wool and hyssop, and sprinkled both the book itself and all the people, 20 saying, “This is the blood of the covenant which God has commanded you.”

The quotations above include most or all of the Biblical references to hyssop. Just from reading them, it seems clear that it had ritual uses in purifying, persons, houses, the nation as a whole, and other things. We aren't told why hyssop, but it seems to be a reasonable guess that its leaves, or stems, or both were able to retain fluid, at least blood fluid, fairly well. The Wikipedia article on hyssop tells us that we aren't sure what kind of plant it is, or was. There is uncertainty about the identity of almost all of the plants mentioned in the Bible, which is not surprising, since, in English, at least, it is common for one species of plant to have more than one common name.

We don't need hyssop for cleansing, as we are now under the second covenant, but we do need cleansing, and should welcome it, even if it is painful. Thanks for reading.

Thursday, June 26, 2014

The Problem Solver

The Problem Solver

This chart is an attempt to put problems in perspective. The text says "When a problem rears its head, if I can fix it, I should. But if I can't, any time I spend trying to figure out what caused it, or how to fix it, takes away from praying about it, and emphasizes the problem, rather than the Problem Solver." Note that "problem" is set in smaller type, and "Problem Solver" in larger, and the location of the brightest part of the graphic. I thank my wife for helpful suggestions.

Thanks for looking.

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Does the Bible really say that? Excerpt from my book, 41



Biblical evidence for eternal security.

This first group of scripture quotations uses references given in the statement referenced above, on traditional Southern Baptist belief:

John 10:27 My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me. 28 I give eternal life to them. They will never perish, and no one will snatch them out of my hand. 29 My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all. No one is able to snatch them out of my Father’s hand. 30 I and the Father are one.

Romans 8:29 For whom he foreknew, he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers. 30 Whom he predestined, those he also called. Whom he called, those he also justified. Whom he justified, those he also glorified.

Romans 8:35 Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Could oppression, or anguish, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? 36 Even as it is written, “For your sake we are killed all day long. We were accounted as sheep for the slaughter.” 37 No, in all these things, we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. 38 For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, 39 nor height, nor depth, nor any other created thing, will be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

1 Corinthians 1:4 I always thank my God concerning you, for the grace of God which was given you in Christ Jesus; 5 that in everything you were enriched in him, in all speech and all knowledge; 6 even as the testimony of Christ was confirmed in you: 7 so that you come behind in no gift; waiting for the revelation of our Lord Jesus Christ; 8 who will also confirm you until the end, blameless in the day of our Lord Jesus Christ. 9 God is faithful, through whom you were called into the fellowship of his Son, Jesus Christ, our Lord.

Ephesians 1:13 in whom you also, having heard the word of the truth, the Good News of your salvation—in whom, having also believed, you were sealed with the promised Holy Spirit, 14 who is a pledge of our inheritance, to the redemption of God’s own possession, to the praise of his glory.

Philippians 1:6 being confident of this very thing, that he who began a good work in you will complete it until the day of Jesus Christ.

Philippians 3:12 Not that I have already obtained, or am already made perfect; but I press on, if it is so that I may take hold of that for which also I was taken hold of by Christ Jesus.

2 Timothy 1:12 For this cause I also suffer these things. Yet I am not ashamed, for I know him whom I have believed, and I am persuaded that he is able to guard that which I have committed to him against that day.

James 1:12 Blessed is the man who endures temptation, for when he has been approved, he will receive the crown of life, which the Lord promised to those who love him.

1 John 2:19 They went out from us, but they didn’t belong to us; for if they had belonged to us, they would have continued with us. But they left, that they might be revealed that none of them belong to us.

1 John 5:13 These things I have written to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, that you may know that you have eternal life, and that you may continue to believe in the name of the Son of God.

Jude 1:24 Now to him who is able to keep them from stumbling, and to present you faultless before the presence of his glory in great joy, 25 to God our Savior, who alone is wise, be glory and majesty, dominion and power, both now and forever. Amen.

Other passages, not listed in the document, which might also be used in defense of the idea that a saved person cannot become lost, are these:

John 5:24 Most certainly I tell you, he who hears my word, and believes him who sent me, has eternal life, and doesn’t come into judgment, but has passed out of death into life.

John 6:37 All those whom the Father gives me will come to me. He who comes to me I will in no way throw out.

Romans 8:1 There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus, who don’t walk according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit.

Romans 8:35 Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Could oppression, or anguish, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? 36 Even as it is written, “For your sake we are killed all day long. We were accounted as sheep for the slaughter.” 37 No, in all these things, we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. 38 For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, 39 nor height, nor depth, nor any other created thing, will be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Romans 11:29 For the gifts and the calling of God are irrevocable.

Ephesians 4:30 Don’t grieve the Holy Spirit of God, in whom you were sealed for the day of redemption.

1 Thessalonians 5:23 May the God of peace himself sanctify you completely. May your whole spirit, soul, and body be preserved blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.

1 Peter 1:3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to his great mercy became our father again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, 4 to an incorruptible and undefiled inheritance that doesn’t fade away, reserved in Heaven for you, 5 who by the power of God are guarded through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.


The above material is an excerpt from my self-published e-book, Does the Bible Really Say That?, which may be obtained free of charge, or purchased from Amazon for $0.99, which is the lowest price Amazon lets an author set. Scripture quotations are from the World English Bible, which is in the public domain.

The previous post in this series, beginning the topic of whether a redeemed person can lose their salvation, is here. God willing, the next post in this series will consider the same topic. Thanks for reading.

Sunspots 476

Things I have recently spotted that may be of interest to someone else:
Christianity: The BioLogos Forum has a post on "Christ, Trinity, and Creation."

Computing: Relevant reports that Google is trying to discourage Internet pornography. I'm glad they are, but good luck with that.

Gizmo's Freeware has information on anti-ransomware tools for Android information appliances.


Wired discusses the new Amazon phone.

Humor: Columnist Leonard Pitts is getting older, and forgetting things.

Science: Space.com tells us about Ceres, a dwarf planet that may have quite a bit of water.

Sports: The ball used in this year's World Cup is not the same as the one used in 2010.

Image source (public domain)

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

The Fault in Our Stars

This post is on the book, The Fault in Our Stars, by John Green. I have not seen the movie, based on that book, which is currently playing in theaters.

For the plot of the book, and more, use the first link, above, which is to the Wikipedia article on the book.

I don't wish to give away the plot, so I won't have much to say about the book.

First, it was well written. I'm not surprised that it has been a best-seller. It is aimed at the teen market. For one thing, the book is entirely as experienced by the protagonist, a 16-year-old, Hazel Grace. Some other characters, including the second most important character, are also teenagers. However, I liked it, and see no reason why adults would not appreciate the book, and, apparently, many of them have. There are references to Shakespeare and other important authors, and the dialog, which is splendid -- although it would have taken extraordinary teenagers, or, for that matter, college professors, to produce, in real life -- considers many important subjects.

Second, the book is about cancer, or having cancer. The three main teen characters all have cancer. Cancer affects living deeply -- that's one aspect, in Fault, of having it. But it doesn't make you subhuman. (The author says that he was influenced by being a chaplain in a children's hospital.) Hazel and her friend Augustus, aka Gus, come to the realization that the great paintings, such as those in art museums in The Netherlands, may be about various subjects, including, sometimes, death, but they are never about being cancer-ridden.

Third, and last, the book does not have a Christian worldview:

"All salvation is temporary," Augustus shot back. (page 59)

"Yes," he said, his voice full of confidence. "Yes, absolutely. Not like a heaven where you ride unicorns, play harps, and live in a mansion full of clouds. But yes. I believe in Something with a capital S. Always have."
"Really?" I asked. I was surprised. I'd always associated belief in heaven with, frankly, a kind of intellectual disengagement. But Gus wasn't dumb.
(page 168) Gus's idea of what heaven is not like doesn't have much to do with what the Bible says about the resurrected life -- as far as I know, the Bible doesn't mention unicorns, playing harps, or living in mansions, full of clouds or not, although these are common beliefs. He is right to dismiss such ideas. But he (nor Hazel) have no grasp of personal salvation, don't pray to God, don't go to church.


Does the non-Christian worldview mean that one shouldn't read the book? No. It's a good book, but I wanted to give a heads up about that matter, which may be critical for some potential readers. Thanks for reading this.

Monday, June 23, 2014

Sexual slavery in Hollywood

Some recent articles refer to sex in Hollywood (aka the US entertainment industry) productions, and claim that some of this amounts to sexual slavery.

One of these articles, by E. Stephen Burnett, refers mostly to the HBO series "Game of Thrones," which is based on George R. R. Martin's series of novels, collectively called "A Song of Ice and Fire." See here and here for my reaction to the books -- I did not finish the series, for reasons I explain in the posts. My second post discusses and refers to some reaction to Martin's work by Christianity Today and by award-winning author of fantastic literature Elizabeth Moon.

Burnett claims that the HBO series includes pornography. He says that "naked people who act out sexual scenarios in public media in order to get money is porn." He also refers to John Piper, who says, in a post on "Game of Thrones:" "God calls women to adorn themselves in respectable apparel with modesty and self-control (1 Timothy 2:9). When we pursue or receive or embrace nudity in our entertainment, we are implicitly endorsing the sin of the women who sell themselves to this way and are, therefore, uncaring about their souls."

Piper also says that violence on-screen is not real -- no one gets killed. But nudity is real. People really expose their bodies. Further, he says that it is not ever necessary to have nude actresses in order to tell a story.

Piper dealt almost entirely with nakedness in women. There is, of course, also nudity by men on-screen. I don't know the frequency of occurrence of one versus the other.

A Cap Stewart has written two posts, here and here, in which he claims, with some anecdotes to back them up, that women are sometimes coerced into becoming sex objects. He says, with some justification, that some of them are a sort of sex slave.

None of the three authors (all of them wrote about "Game of Thrones," and other things) discussed the pornography film industry. My guess is that there might be some actual full-time sex slavery in that industry, but I have no facts to back that up. None of the authors discussed homosexual sexual activity.

Thanks for reading. Be careful what you watch. Since this post concerns pornography, I expect that it will get more views than most of my blog does, which, in itself, tells us something.


Sunday, June 22, 2014

Does the Bible really say that? Excerpt from my book, 40



The previous chapter of my book dealt with the question of who is saved, and pointed out that the Bible describes some characteristics of such a person -- not everyone who believes she has been redeemed really is. The next topic follows:

Nine: Can a believer lose salvation?

In this chapter, I’m going to present the Biblical evidence for both a “yes” and a “no” answer to that question – there’s a lot of evidence supporting both sides. I have my beliefs, but this study has been instructive in helping me to realize that the people who disagree with me on this issue have some good reasons for doing so. I hope this study does the same for you, the reader.

Eternal Security

Does the Bible say that, once a person becomes a believer, they cannot be lost? I will call a belief that answers “yes” to that question a belief in eternal security.

There is a related topic, Predestination. A particular doctrinal outlook, related to predestination, namely Calvinism, is related to eternal security. But there are many Christians who do not believe all of Calvinism to be correct, but still believe in eternal security. This is true of many Southern Baptists, for example. Article Nine of this statement of traditional Southern Baptist belief says:

We affirm that when a person responds in faith to the Gospel, God promises to complete the process of salvation in the believer into eternity. This process begins with justification, whereby the sinner is immediately acquitted of all sin and granted peace with God; continues in sanctification, whereby the saved are progressively conformed to the image of Christ by the indwelling Holy Spirit; and concludes in glorification, whereby the saint enjoys life with Christ in heaven forever.

We deny that this Holy Spirit-sealed relationship can ever be broken. We deny even the possibility of apostasy. (Emphasis in original.)

Note - “Apostasy: Abandonment of one’s religious faith, a political party, one’s principles, or a cause.” (The Free Dictionary)
The word, apostasy, occurs only twice in the New Testament, in Acts 21:21 and 2 Timothy 2:3. Most English versions of the Bible do not use apostasy in translating from the Greek, probably because readers might not be familiar with it.

Clearly, many Southern Baptists (and others) do believe in eternal security. But there are also Christians who do not believe in eternal security. What does the Bible say about the question of the chapter?


The above material is an excerpt from my self-published e-book, Does the Bible Really Say That?, which may be obtained free of charge, or purchased from Amazon for $0.99, which is the lowest price Amazon lets an author set. Scripture quotations are from the World English Bible, which is in the public domain.

The previous post in this series, on the characteristics of a true Christian, is here. God willing, the next post in this series will consider a new topic. Thanks for reading.