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Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Sunspots 639

Things I have recently spotted that may be of interest to someone else:

Christianity: Christianity Today reports that Perry Noble, recently fired as senior pastor of the largest church in South Carolina, NewSpring, is thinking strongly about starting another church.

A Relevant writer says that Jesus didn't need the approval of others.

Ed Stetser warns against overemphasizing patriotism in church services, here and here. He cites evidence that 53% of protestant pastors think that their congregations sometimes love America more than they love God.

Computing: I haven't used it yet, but Firefox Send is said to be a free, safe way to send large files to other users.

Wired has a thorough article on how the Russians are viewing and waging warfare. Scary, and it's doubtful if our government really understands.

The Guardian reports on a man who "married" a robot. CNN reports on a man who "married" a video game character.

Food: Listverse lists 10 ice cream flavors that are popular outside of the continental United States, but you probably can't find in the US at all.

Health: Scientific American reports that women with insomnia are more likely to give birth to premature babies.

History: (or botany) Listverse on the history of 10 commonly consumed fruits.

Humor: (or botany) Wired has posted a photo of a man trimming the world's largest hedge. It's really tall.

Politics: A Christianity Today writer argues that the use of nuclear weapons is inherently, and always, evil.

Listverse reminds us of times when the press made us aware of scandalous uses of power.

The Barna group reports on what Americans think makes America great. Different groups responded differently.

Science: A Clemson University professor has spent more time in the shadow of total solar eclipses than anyone else on earth.

FiveThirtyEight reminds us that there will be less solar-powered electricity during the upcoming solar eclipse.

Image source (public domain)

Sunday, August 13, 2017

Impressions, by Martin Wells Knapp, 61

In a previous excerpt, Knapp stated that there are four features of "impressions" from God. These are Scriptural; Right (consistent with good morals); Providential (in harmony with God's will); and Reasonable. His discussion of the result of living by "Convictions from Above," according to Christ's example, continues:

Next let us bear in mind that Jesus in His humanity is the Christian's model, in regard to being divinely led. His every act and word bear each of the stamps that prove them from the skies.

1. Jesus Never Said or did an Unscriptural Thing. Though born of the Spirit, filled with the Spirit, and led by the Spirit, He continually recognized the Scriptures as the rule of His conduct, and always magnified the written Word.

His mistaken followers who claim that the Spirit may lead contrary to the Bible, should learn this much-needed lesson from the Great Teacher.

The very fact that the Holy Spirit is the author of Scripture, proves that all His teachings and leadings will be in accord with it; for an infinitely wise Author will not contradict Himself. Jesus revered the written Word as a dutiful son the will of a dear father, and when He made new revelations they were simply the unfolding of the old, and were to them what the blossom and fruitage is to the bud.

His miraculous advent, the angel's message to Mary, to Joseph and to the shepherds, and all of the great events of His life, were foretold in Scripture and in harmony with it. His chief employment when a youth doubtless was the mastery of Bible truth, and in later years it was with the "sword of the Spirit" that He pierced the formality and hypocrisy of a haughty ecclesiasticism. When tempted in the wilderness to distrust God and use unlawful means to satisfy His hunger, like men do when they do wrong for a livelihood; and when tempted to test God's power by doing a presumptuous thing; and when tempted to give up His divine mission for gain, like men do when they turn from the ministry or from principle, for money or position; and, finally, when tempted to own the lordship of the devil by worshipping him; in each instance He tried the Satanic suggestion by the written Word, and thrusting the enemy through with the keen blade of a fitting Scripture quotation He put him to flight, and "angels came and ministered unto Him."

Excerpted from Impressions, by Martin Wells Knapp. Original publication date, 1892. Public domain. My source is here. The previous post in the series is here.

Wednesday, August 09, 2017

Sunspots 638

Things I have recently spotted that may be of interest to someone else:

Christianity: A Christianity Today article argues that Christians usually have no business watching rape, as depicted in visual media. Duh!

Computing: Wired considers the question of how to interact with intelligent robots -- not those of the future, but those of the present, for example in our homes, and which are nearly ready.

Ethics: You have probably heard that scientists have recently changed genes in human embryos. There are analyses in Wired, and two, here and here, in Scientific American.

Health: A Wired writer tells us how many time we need to click a mouse, so as to burn one calorie. A lot.

Scientific American reports that remaining friends with someone, after he/she develops dementia, is helpful to both.

History: Listverse has an interesting post about 10 important events in history, which are looked on differently by different countries. (Sample: how the UK and the US see the Revolutionary War.)
Scientific American on strawberries and politics. (The article says little or nothing about 21st Century politics.)

Humor: (or something) The US Government is auctioning off lighthouses, and they won't be very expensive.

A writer for FiveThirtyEight analyzed the contents of over 1000 "Chinese" fortune cookies, and found some interesting things.

Listverse describes 10 unusual places where people have lived, or still live. (Sample: a two-room burrow in a city park.)

Politics: Wired reports that a recently proposed immigration bill wouldn't help US productivity very much, if it were passed, and that Canada is getting a considerably higher portion of its skilled workers from immigration that the US is. (I have since heard other commentators on this bill, on radio, including one from Fox News, who agree that the main thing this proposal does is cut down seriously on the number of immigrants, and that it won't really add much, if any, to the number of skilled workers who immigrate.)

Wired reports that employees of the US Department of Agriculture have been ordered not to use "climate change" and related terms in their reports.

Science: Scientific American reports on a study of dog facial expressions.

Government scientists have produced a report on climate change, not yet released. It's not good. See here and here.

Image source (public domain)

Sunday, August 06, 2017

Impressions, by Martin Wells Knapp, 60

In a previous excerpt, Knapp stated that there are four features of "impressions" from God. These are Scriptural; Right (consistent with good morals); Providential (in harmony with God's will); and Reasonable. His discussion of the result of living by "Convictions from Above," according to Christ's example, continues:

In all the above, and many more particulars, it is clearly declared that all His true followers are like Him. May the Holy Spirit fix in all our hearts, the blessed truth that "His example is strictly and exactly an example for all the world." When tempted to diverge from the path of duty, or to condone sin "because we are human," let us remember that Jesus, too, was human, and that while His gospel does not save us from our humanity, nor while in this world from our infirmities, yet, if fully received, it will save us from our sins. Our transformation into the likeness of Jesus is the great object of His gospel. For this He shed His precious blood, and gives His renewing and sanctifying Spirit. Without these man could no more be like Jesus than a leopard could be like a lamb. The unregenerate man who tries to be like Jesus by doing religious acts and good works is simply a human leopard under a lamb's skin. First, we must be transformed into His image, and then having thus been made like Him we will be enabled to "Walk as He walked," and in our little sphere as the drop bears the image of the ocean, and the ray of light the image of the sun, so shall we reflect His likeness. This is our privilege here and now.

Excerpted from Impressions, by Martin Wells Knapp. Original publication date, 1892. Public domain. My source is here. The previous post in the series is here.

Thursday, August 03, 2017

Metals in the Bible

The Wikipedia says: "A metal  is a material (an element, compound, or alloy) that is typically hard, opaque, shiny, and has good electrical and thermal conductivity." Most of the elements of the periodic table are metals, although most metals are not well known to the general public. There are also alloys, combinations of more than one metal. Most of the metals and alloys now used, or at least known now, were not known in Bible times. Here's Numbers 31:

21 Eleazar the priest said to the men of war who went to the battle, “This is the statute of the law which Yahweh has commanded Moses: 22 however the gold, and the silver, the bronze, the iron, the tin, and the lead, 23 everything that may withstand the fire, you shall make to go through the fire, and it shall be clean; nevertheless it shall be purified with the water for impurity. (World English Bible, public domain.)

The five elemental metals listed in that passage, all those named except bronze, seem to have been all the metals known to humans at that time, unless you count mercury, which, under normal conditions, is a liquid, and, therefore, doesn't fit the "hard" part of the definition given at the beginning of this post. The Wikipedia article referenced in the previous sentence says that mercury has been found in Egyptian tombs from 1500 BC. Mercury is called a metallic element.

The King James Version translates nĕchosheth as brass, as early as Genesis 4:22. The Hebrew word is chalkos. But modern versions, including the New King James Version, translate these words as bronze, not brass. Bronze is mostly copper, with some tin and sometimes other metals, hence, as an alloy, it is not an elemental metal. Brass is an alloy of copper and zinc, and apparently zinc was not known to the ancients. I'm not sure why the KJV uses brass, not bronze. Perhaps the meanings of those words, in English, have changed since the KJV was translated.

Let's consider some of the mentions of the metals known to the ancients, in the Bible:

Gold was used to establish wealth, as early as Genesis 13:2, where Abraham's wealth is mentioned. There are other times, in the Old Testament, where gold is stated in terms of wealth. Gold was used in coins, sometimes, or wealth in gold was made into jewelry or drinking vessels.

Idols were sometimes made of gold. (See Exodus 20:23, for example.)

In Exodus 25, and following chapters, God told Moses to use gold in the construction of the tabernacle and its furnishings and implements. In 1 Kings 6, and elsewhere, gold was similarly used in the temple. 1 Chronicles 22:16 says that David had gathered silver, bronze and iron, in addition to gold, for use in temple construction.

In Joshua 6:24, and elsewhere, gold taken from the Canaanite tribes was put in the treasury of the tabernacle.

In 1 Kings 10, King Solomon had shields (or possibly targets) made of gold. One commentary says that these were ornamental, used to impress visitors. Another suggests that these were used in warfare, with wood and leather used, in addition to the gold, in these devices.

Gold was used to hire armies from other kings, in 1 Kings 15, and elsewhere.

In Job 22:25, Eliphaz says that, if Job had a right relationship with God, God would be gold and silver for him. (Job did have a right relationship.) In Job 23:10, Job says that, when God was finished with trying him, he, Job, would come out pure and valuable, like gold. In Job 31:24, Job says that, if he had put his trust in gold, in riches, he would deserve punishment.

Proverbs 22:1 says that favor, presumably God's favor, is more valuable than gold.

In Daniel 2, Daniel has a vision of a statue made partly of gold. His interpretation is that that gold represents Nebuchadnezzar's kingdom.

In 1 Corinthians 3:12, Paul says that some people's foundation will be gold, but some will be of less durable substances.

Revelation 21 says that the streets of the city in the Final Kingdom will be made of gold.

Silver was used much like gold in Bible times, as wealth, and jewelry, and in constructing sacred implements, and the Tabernacle. Often, the phrase, "silver and gold," is used, to signify wealth. Note also:
Joseph was sold for silver coin in Genesis 37:28.

Leviticus 27 gives the value of different sexes and ages of persons, in silver.

In 2 Samuel 24, David bought the threshing floor of Araunah, the Jebusite, for silver coin. That site later was the site of Solomon's temple.

Judas was paid in silver for betraying Christ, in Matthew 27.

Some people worshiped idols made of silver, and of gold.

The first mention of metal in the Bible seems to be Genesis 4:22, which names Tubal-Cain as an artificer in bronze and iron.

Bronze, like gold and silver, was used extensively in the tabernacle, and also in Solomon's temple. 1 Kings 8 indicates that the main altar for sacrifices was a bronze altar.

Numbers 21 says that the people of Israel complained, and that God sent serpents among them. Moses made a bronze serpent, placed on a pole, and the people were to look upon it, and did not die if they did so. In John 3, Jesus told Nicodemus that that serpent on a pole was symbolic of His own coming death, raised up on a cross. That passage comes right before the well-known John 3:16. Unfortunately, that same bronze serpent became an idol, and was worshiped, many years later.

2 Samuel 21 mentions a spear made of bronze, and 2 Samuel 22 mentions a bronze bow.

1 Chronicles 15 says that cymbals, used in worship, were made of bronze.

Ezekiel 1 and Revelation 2 describe marvelous beings which have parts like bronze.

Bronze items were used as idols. That happened to the bronze serpent Moses made, and is mentioned in Revelation 9.

In Deuteronomy 27, Moses tells the people to construct an altar made from stones which no iron tool has been used on. Solomon's Temple was constructed of stones similarly untreated.

In Joshua 6, iron, taken from the conquest of Jericho, was set apart, added to the treasury of the Lord.

The Bible describes various armies as having chariots of iron. The bed of Og, king of Bashan, was made of iron, perhaps with softer material on the iron, although the Bible doesn't say that. Goliath's spearhead was made of iron.

Psalm 2 is one place where it says God will judge with a rod of iron. Revelation is another.

Sometimes, the phrase "iron sharpens iron," from Proverbs 2, is used as symbolic of friends, or fellow believers, acting in such a way as to make both of them better people.

Although more or less pure iron is still used today, most iron is used as part of steel, which is an alloy. Steel was known in Bible times, but probably not known in the lands of the Bible.

There are four references to tin in the Bible, but it doesn't seem to have had any great significance in commerce, or worship, except in the form of bronze.

Lead is seldom mentioned in the Bible. The first scripture given, in the second paragraph, is one such place. The others are here, here, here and here. None of these seem to have great spiritual significance, compared to that of gold, silver and bronze.

Thanks for reading. Be thankful that God made all of the elements possible.

Wednesday, August 02, 2017

Sunspots 637

Things I have recently spotted that may be of interest to someone else:

Christianity: Relevant has an article that says that many of us read the Bible wrongly.

Relevant reports that World Wrestling Entertainment has registered 3:16 as a trademark, and not because WWE is a Christian organization. (It isn't.)

Ethics: (or something) Here's an article about robot sex. Can a robot be raped?

Health: For some reason, men's sperm counts are dropping drastically.

History: (or something) Listverse tells us 10 things about Guatemala.

Humor: (or something) Wired explains, with videos, how they make those plastic air pillows for packing around merchandise that gets delivered to you.

Politics: US Senator John McCain's speech, calling for a return to civility and bipartisanship in the Senate. A classic.

FiveThirtyEight has an essay on what gives a President political power, and indicates that Mr. Trump doesn't have very much of that, and why he doesn't.

Science: Scientific American on how higher temperatures are killing, and will kill people.

Scientific American on the recent story about gene editing in human embryos, which story, says SA, is wildly overblown.

Image source (public domain)