Sunday, September 26, 2010

Judges series - Judges 15 - Vengence on the Philistines

The way to read this article is that the orange underlined texts are the verses of the Bible (NIV, unless otherwise stated). The black texts following the Bible verses (and enclosed by square brackets) are my commentaries. At the end of these Bible texts and commentaries, I have inserted a section on "Points to take note/What we have learnt/can learn".
{For full listing of all articles in this series, click here}

Samson's Vengeance on the Philistines

1 Later on, at the time of wheat harvest, Samson took a young goat and went to visit his wife. He said, "I'm going to my wife's room." But her father would not let him go in. 2 "I was so sure you thoroughly hated her," he said, "that I gave her to your friend. Isn't her younger sister more attractive? Take her instead." [Samson, now, came back for his bride. But his supposedly father-in-law gave his bride to one of Samson’s male companion on the pretext that Samson must have hated his bride too much to take her hand. Samson was asked to take the younger sister instead.]
3 Samson said to them, "This time I have a right to get even with the Philistines; I will really harm them." 4 So he went out and caught three hundred foxes and tied them tail to tail in pairs. He then fastened a torch to every pair of tails, 5 lit the torches and let the foxes loose in the standing grain of the Philistines. He burned up the shocks and standing grain, together with the vineyards and olive groves. [Samson was not about to accept that; he became mad with the Philistines. Samson had the reason for being mad, firstly, the 30 men companions assigned to him during the marriage ritual threatened his bride’s family with death threat (burn to death, {Judges 14:15}), and secondly, one of the 30 men took his bride as wife. He caught 300 foxes, had them tied tail to tail in pairs, fixed a torch on each pair of tails, and set the foxes out to burn up all the harvest of the Philistines in the area.]
6 When the Philistines asked, "Who did this?" they were told, "Samson, the Timnite's son-in-law, because his wife was given to his friend." So the Philistines went up and burned her and her father to death. 7 Samson said to them, "Since you've acted like this, I won't stop until I get my revenge on you." 8 He attacked them viciously and slaughtered many of them. Then he went down and stayed in a cave in the rock of Etam. [The town folk, Philistines, were the ones who gave him (Samson) the 30 men companions who cheated on his riddle, and one of the men (the friend referred to, here, I believed, was not Samson’s friend who came with him from his own hometown, rather it was someone assigned to him in the bride’s town) took his bride. Because of what the foxes, released by Samson, did, now, the folks (Philistines) burnt his bride family. Samson wanted revenge, attacked and slaughtered many of the Philistines before retreating to a cave at Etam.]
9 The Philistines went up and camped in Judah, spreading out near Lehi. 10 The men of Judah asked, "Why have you come to fight us?"
"We have come to take Samson prisoner," they answered, "to do to him as he did to us." 11 Then three thousand men from Judah went down to the cave in the rock of Etam and said to Samson, "Don't you realize that the Philistines are rulers over us? What have you done to us?"
He answered, "I merely did to them what they did to me."
[The Philistines, who ruled over the Israelites, took an army and went up to Judah demanding for Samson. The men of Judah had no choice but to go to the cave to find Samson. The latter explained that the Philistines did him wrong first, he merely took revenge.]
12 They said to him, "We've come to tie you up and hand you over to the Philistines."
Samson said, "Swear to me that you won't kill me yourselves."
13 "Agreed," they answered. "We will only tie you up and hand you over to them. We will not kill you." So they bound him with two new ropes and led him up from the rock.
[Samson agreed to be tied up and be handed over to the Philistines, but he made the men of Judah swear not to kill him. With that, Samson was led away to be handed over to the Philistines.]
14 As he approached Lehi, the Philistines came toward him shouting. The Spirit of the LORD came upon him in power. The ropes on his arms became like charred flax, and the bindings dropped from his hands. 15 Finding a fresh jawbone of a donkey, he grabbed it and struck down a thousand men. 16 Then Samson said,"With a donkey's jawbone I have made donkeys of them. With a donkey's jawbone I have killed a thousand men." 17 When he finished speaking, he threw away the jawbone; and the place was called Ramath Lehi. [When Samson was led up to a place called Lehi (meaning jawbone!), the Spirit of the Lord came upon him in power and he broke free from his rope binding, and he killed a thousand Philistines men with a jawbone of a donkey he found there. That, I believe, made him the judge who slain the most enemy men with a club. Shamgar, the judge in Judges 3, only managed 600 Philistines.]
18 Because he was very thirsty, he cried out to the LORD, "You have given your servant this great victory. Must I now die of thirst and fall into the hands of the uncircumcised?" 19 Then God opened up the hollow place in Lehi, and water came out of it. When Samson drank, his strength returned and he revived. So the spring was called En Hakkore, and it is still there in Lehi. 20 Samson led Israel for twenty years in the days of the Philistines. [As a further proof that it was God working through Samson, God opened up the hollow place in Lehi to let out water for Samson to drink when Samson won but was very thirsty from the fight. Samson led Israel for 20 years during that time of Philistine oppression.]

What we should have learnt:

1. While we should be prepared to be a fool for Jesus, it is not necessarily that we should allow ourselves to be made a fool of. We see here, Samson, as an Israelite, had come to an enemy town to marry, and then even as he had fulfilled his end of the bargain (concerning the riddle), he was told his wife was taken over by one of his male companions from the town. Obviously, here, the Philistines thought that they could just trample upon a child of God, an Israelite. When the honor or the name of God is being mocked, we, as one with God, should not just let things be, especially if we sense a “prompting” from the Spirit. We see here, Samson was not about to accept such mockery.

2. While revenge should not be on our mind, unless, prompted by the Spirit, we should still consider acting in honor. Here, obviously, the Philistines of the town ganged up to dishonor Samson, and in the process, dishonor the God of Israel, Samson had to act, and he sent into the fields of the Philistines, 150 pairs of foxes, each pair tied at the tails and was fixed with a lighted torch. The harvest of the enemy got burned up.
We also read that Samson, despite the wrong they did to him, Samson still acted in honor, to avenge the death of his wife and father-in-law. While I am not asking people to go take revenge, we have to understand that in those days, at that time and setting (including being under the oppression of the Philistines), if Samson had not done anything, the murderers would go free, and the name of God would have been mocked.

3. Snare of a wicked one has a way of overtaking the wicked himself. Great servants of God, like King David, believed in that; for example, we read this in Ps 35:8 (by David) –

may ruin overtake them by surprise—
may the net they hid entangle them,
may they fall into the pit, to their ruin.

We read here that Samson’s wife and father-in-law went along with town’s Philistines, to dishonor Samson, and God. They ended up being burned by the very people they plotted evil with. Do not join hands with the wicked ones, for you may just well be counted with them, and suffer the same fate as them. We read this in Proverbs 4:14 –

Do not set foot on the path of the wicked or walk in the way of evil men.

4. Be courageous does not mean no fear. Being courageous is to do the right thing despite fear. All of us have fear. Moses was fearful at the time he was called to lead the Israelites out of Egypt. He said he could not articulate well to negotiate with Pharaoh of Egypt, for example. Joshua who took over the leadership from Moses, to lead the Israelites into the Promised Land was repeatedly being told to be courageous, meaning, do the right thing despite fear. Samson had his fear; we read here he attacked and killed, and then he went into hiding in a cave.

We then read that despite fear, Samson also chose to do the right thing, be willing to be handed over to the Philistines instead of implicating the rest of his countrymen, causing needless bloodshed to his people.

5. A man of God is sensitive to the Holy Spirit. We read that when Samson came to a place called Lehi (meaning jawbone), sensing the Holy Spirit coming upon him (in Old Testament times, the Holy Spirit was not ordinarily indwelling a man; at the appropriate time, the Spirit would come upon the man), he went into action, broke loose the rope binding him, grabbed a jawbone of a donkey, and killed 1,000 Philistines with the bone!

6. Those sensitive to the Holy Spirit, and with God’s favor, will do great exploits for God. Samson obviously had the favor of God on his life, even his birth was heralded by the Lord himself, coming as an angel of the Lord. Favor of God is critical but sensitivity to the Holy Spirit, I believe, is equally important, so that we do not miss out on the exact timing of God. Samson became the man and judge recorded in the Bible to have slain the most enemy men with a club.

7. Those who fought for God’s honor can expect to be refreshed by the LORD. It is my belief that the Philistines, in doing what they were doing to Samson, were insinuating Jehovah was nothing. I draw us to the parallel in the story of Elijah. Elijah challenged the prophets of Baal at Mount Carmel, brought honor to God (name of God was brought low due to King Ahab’s queen, Jezebel). After the mighty victory which God rendered to Elijah, including the killing of 450 prophets of Baal, Elijah was tired, and threatened death by queen Jezebel, Elijah prayed this (from 1 Kings 19:4): "I have had enough, LORD. Take my life; I am no better than my ancestors." Samson said almost the same thing (from verse 18): “Must I now die of thirst and fall into the hands of the uncircumcised?” In both cases, God refreshed His men who had served to bring honor to his Name. Elijah was provided food and drink; and here, Samson was given what he needed, water to drink, a spring (En Hakkore – spring of him who called) birthed forth, to bring the water. Just like Elijah (perhaps, one day I would do a deeper study of parallels of Samson and Elijah), Samson’s strength returned and he revived.

Anthony Chia – Lord, thank you for opening my eyes to the richness of your Word. May you continue to teach me your ways. Lord, help me to be humble even as you reveal much to me. Amen.

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Monday, September 20, 2010

Luke 6:46 - PART I – Salvation and Lordship are together

Why do you call me, “Lord, Lord” and do not do what I say? (Luke 6:46)
A sister quoted the above, and posed a question of whether or not it is possible? She then answered it as “Yes”. Indeed, it is possible (many people are like that, NOT it is right). But of course, by asking that question as in Luke 6:46, Jesus was exhorting us to do what He said (and is saying).

Separation, it is not
I have spent some time looking at the theology of Free Grace (and variations thereof), which is increasingly being expounded to be the true core theology of the Christian faith, but regrettably in my view, much of such doctrines is flawed. One of the core doctrines of Free Grace is the separation of Salvation and Lordship (Savior and Lord). When one is born again, one is typically led to say this, “I accept Jesus Christ as my (personal) Savior and Lord {or Lord and Savior}”. In my view, this Free Grace’s core doctrine of separation is flawed. Although the living out of our submission, which is the proof of submission and acknowledgment of His Lordship, takes time, lordship goes hand in hand with salvation {Free Grace is being promoted by GES (Grace Evangelical Society) founded by Bob Wilkin}.

Not works per se, but submission to His Lordship
Now, works per se (i.e. works without regard to lordship) is not necessary for salvation, but lordship is! Man is not asked to accept Jesus Christ as his Savior, but is asked to accept Jesus Christ as his Lord AND Savior. Works per se (without regard to lordship), no matter how good they are {for examples, giving away wealth, building orphanages, hospitals, etc, etc}, do not save you. Why? Because works per se and lordship are two separate matters! As far as God is concerned, if He tells you to give away the lunch pack in your hand to the crippled beggar who is before you, and you do it, that is lordship (your submission to his Lordship); but that you go and give a million dollars to an education fund without his direction, is just a work, devoid of any lordship element (although I am not saying the Lord cannot ask you to do just that, and in which case, it is submission, if you do it)! Good works is one of the products of a life of submission unto His Lordship.

Is Lordship really necessary?
Is Lordship necessary for salvation? Well, the Free Grace Christians deliberately separate salvation (Savior) and lordship (Lord), so as to justify their lens of looking at everything from their understanding of God’s free grace. When you remove Lordship from the equation, it becomes possible to take the position that all one needs to be concerned about, is to just accept salvation, and nothing whatsoever will rob you of your eternal life in Heaven in the future, not even God could “rob you” since He had not demanded any condition, in the first place, at least not under the Free Grace theology.

To me, at entering into salvation, it is necessary to acknowledge that we are willing to come under the Lordship of God. I believe, at the end of day, God is only admitting to Heaven those whom He knows will come under his Lordship. This is not an irrelevant argument; it is true whether or not, we accept God as our Lord, He is still Lord of all, but God is after a kingdom in Heaven of men who would embrace his Lordship wholeheartedly. If you are not, why should you be there? To oppose God, or to incur wrath in Him? This is theo-centric, a God-centred perspective.

Can’t God just “zap” me into complete submission?
God, in personhood, is first of all, God (then followed by Creator, Father,… etc, etc), and in nature, holiness and righteousness (then followed by love, faithfulness, …. etc, etc). So you cannot argue, “Why can’t God just zap me with complete submission to his Lordship, when the time comes?” Indeed, God can, and maybe He would, but is He to zap you only, or zap everybody? Can you expect to live your life (“proof of the pudding is in the eating”) ignoring His Lordship, and then expect God to “zap” you into one who is completely submissive, when it is time for you to go to Heaven or Hell, while ignoring those headed for Hell? Or are you then going to say, “Let no one go to Hell?” If God had intended to “zap” everybody, there is no need of all the hassle of Jesus Christ to come to die on the Cross, would there be?

{Added 08/09/2011 - Biblically, Romans 10:9 is very clear about salvation necessitate acknowledgement of Lordship.  This is what the verse says: "That if you confess with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved."  In addition, Jesus said these words, "“If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me." (Mark 8:34).  It is very clear, Jesus was saying He is the Lord, we have to obey Him; how else does one define "following someone"?}

{Added 24/01/2015 - Here, is how the Apostle viewed a believer - one who has received Jesus as Lord: Col 2:6-7 (NIV) - So then, just as you received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to live your lives in him, rooted and built up in him, strengthened in the faith as you were taught, and overflowing with thankfulness.}

Will I make the mark?
You might be tempted to say, “But brother Anthony, if it were the case, how do I know if I would make the mark {on submission to His Lordship}, and God will admit me?” We live in faith, through faith, and by faith. And faith is spelled as “R I S K”. I used to want that it should be a clear-cut issue, yes or no (it is common human tendency), but you know what, that is being legalistic! There is one thing, we cannot miss when we study the ministry of Jesus when He walked the earth, and that is He was against legalism. If it were 100%, or God MUST do it, it is not faith, it is legalism. Be careful of those who just preach grace, and nothing, but grace, it may be just another form of legalism. The Pharisees were so full of themselves, they insisted no work, 100% nothing, not even healing, saving, be done on Sabbath. Today, many of the overly grace believers, on the slightest hint of work, would accuse another of going down the slippery slope of works (for salvation). Does not that sound like legalism like that of the Pharisees?

Not any lordship but His Lordship
You might again say, “But brother Anthony, are you saying therefore, one need not necessarily have to accept Jesus Christ as his Savior, and can still go to Heaven or has eternal life?” No. Submission is not blind or Lordship cannot be accidental. By submission is not blind, I mean one does not submit to nothingness, in other words, when one submits, one is submitting to someone or something, otherwise, it is not submission. Lordship is not accidental, is to mean you cannot say, “But, I also did that what, can’t you, God, just count it that I done it, in submission to you?” In the earlier example, when God said to give away your lunch pack to the beggar, you did it in submission to Him. Another, not having heard from the Lord, cannot likewise, claim that he, too, has given his lunch pack before, to a beggar, and so he too had been in submission to the Lord. No, the latter’s giving of his lunch pack was merely a work, maybe even a good work if he was with right motive, but not a submission; he did it of his own accord or due to reason known to himself. The act, though, the same as that of the former, was only accidentally the same as that which the former did. A believer of Jesus Christ may not be told in person by God, to show that act of love or kindness, but he acted from his understanding of God’s Word, and was holding out, always, God, and His Words before himself, he has acted in submission. A non-believer, on the other hand, say, one who subscribes to some philosophy that exhorted acts of kindness, can do the same act of kindness, but he has not acted in submission to the Lord, Jesus or God, and so it is not the same. This is support, to say why one has to accept Jesus as his Savior (and Lord), without going into the justification and other works of the Cross.

Back to the question. Why is it possible?
Of course, it is possible for a believer of Jesus Christ to call Him, “Lord, Lord”, and not do what He says or said. We have been created with a free-will, and that free-will is not taken away from us, upon our being born-again. God does not “zap” you into a robot under his command and control; He does not hollow you out and replace you with Jesus Christ. He puts His Holy Spirit in you to help you in your submission to His Lordship. With the help of the Holy Spirit, you are to live out your submission of that Lordship which you professed with your mouth when you invited Jesus into your life to be your Savior. The Holy Spirit is there to help you, not that He has wrestled the command and control from you. You are to choose to be sensitive to the Spirit’s leading. If we do not listen to what God has said in His Word, or through the manifestation of the Holy Spirit, our calling of Him, “Lord, Lord”, are just empty words to the Lord. Our sayings of we love God are also just empty words, because those who love the Lord, embrace wholeheartedly his Lordship over their lives. Jesus confirmed it in the Word: that those who love Him obey His commands, and those who obey His commands are the ones who love Him.

If you love me, you will obey what I command (John 14:15).
Whoever has my commands and obeys them, he is the one who loves me (John 14:21a).

{Added 16/11/2010: If it was not possible, there was no need of Jesus to say this in Matt 7:21 - “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven."

Some things are immediate, some are not
Entering into salvation is immediate, lordship and love for God, starts with an acknowledgment, profession, and commitment, and need to be lived out. Even the Apostle Paul did not omit to say that we have to work out our salvation with fear and trembling (Phil 2:12). It is not works, per se, that we are exhorted to do, in working out of our salvation, it is our living out of the Lordship of God in our life, which we have acknowledged, professed, and committed. Clearly, insensitive separation of lordship from salvation harms the understanding of what God is trying to do in His salvation for mankind, and may even rob many of salvation!

How are you building your dream home?
It is possible to call Him, “Lord, Lord,” and not do what He says. But we are NOT to act that way. In that Luke passage, Jesus went on to talk about how 2 different persons’ houses would see different fates, one could not stand, a complete wash-out, when water of testing came, and another, could stand firm against that same water of testing because, it was built upon the foundation of Lordship of God; the former had no foundation (mere works), and it collapsed and was destroyed. Is your dream house built on the Lordship of God or is it built without foundation?

Anthony Chia – Lord, you know I believe I entered into salvation solely by your grace, your gift unto me, which I am eternally grateful. Yet, you have impressed upon my heart that you are after a kingdom of those who would wholeheartedly embrace your Lordship. May your desire be evermore fulfilled.

PS: For PART II, click this: Luke 6:46 - PART II - As Christians we are to obey His commands

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Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Ye are NOT gods

Another attempt to wrongly reinterpret

Contrary to John 10:34 & Ps 82:6, ye are NOT gods.

As an on-going proliferation, the “overly grace” believers continue their re-interpretations of scriptures with the skewed lenses of insisting that one, upon born again, is instantly and completely made perfect and righteous, and stays that way, for life, regardless of him sinning, including not needing to confess sin and ask for forgiveness, despite it being taught by the Lord Himself, or dictated by 1 John 1:9, for they believe that all sins, past, present and FUTURE, are forgiven of him AT his born-again moment. It is already unbearable that they use grace and love of God to justify the call to just bask in the grace of God, and ignore exhortation of good works, claiming that they already have the full mind of Christ at born-again, and therefore, have no need of anyone suggesting to them that they ought to or should or should try to do anything good. Their doctrines are so skewed that they believe they have arrived, when the whole counsel of the Word of God is suggesting that we are on a journey of holiness and righteousness, that we are to be holy as God is holy, we are to perfect holiness out of reverence for God, we are to imitate Christ, and grow to be more Christ-like, and that the Christian life is one, where we are no longer of the world but are in the world, and so we have to endure and be long-suffering as men, dependant on God’s love, grace and mercy, to run on, to complete the race marked for us, overcoming until the end.

And now it has come to my attention that among the overly grace believers, there are those who are re-interpreting John 10:34 and Ps 82:6 to say that we are gods to further strengthen their claim of perfectness and righteousness of a born-again. This is a misinterpretation, and must be pointed out. The clearly unacceptable thing that such overly grace believers are doing is that they are on a mission to discredit the church (institutional or otherwise), which if they have any sense of rightness in them, should have recognized that they are a part of (and should stop tearing it apart), labeling teachings by the church as lies, when many such accusations are relative emphases. It is one thing to put different emphases on different aspects of the faith, but is another, to spin new core theologies of the faith, which is what many of these overly grace believers are doing. We, as believers, must love, even the overly grace believers, just as God loves the sinners, but just as God hates sins, so must we also hate organized false teachings being spread in the church body, even when Scripture had it that, in the last days, there will be false teachings coming into the body to mislead even the elects.

Let me try to dispel the claim that we are gods by looking at Psalm 82 & the relevant verses of John 10. I will deal with Psalm 82 in my usual commentary style, with particular emphasis to point out that “gods” in the psalm was not referring to gods as in deities (god and goddess), as in god like Yahweh or Jehovah or LORD is God, or as Jesus or the Holy Spirit is God, in fact, not even as (the lower) angels.

Psalm 82

A psalm of Asaph.

1 God presides in the great assembly;
he gives judgment among the "gods":
2 "How long will you defend the unjust
and show partiality to the wicked?
[The psalmist, Asaph, declared that God presides in the great assembly; He gives judgment among the rulers and judges or any others who are in positions to judge. This is the most logical interpretation of the word “gods” here. Let me explain:

I believe this psalm was an outcry against men, and based on my interpretation, it was particularly against the rulers and judges or any others who were in positions to judge, and even lead. It was not an outcry targeted against God. Verse 2 was very clear in meaning, the psalmist was expressing that it had been going on for a long time, that the unjust had be defended for, and partiality had been shown to the wicked; it could not be directed at God. The “you” in verse 2 could not have been referring to God, because simply God could not be defending the unjust and had shown partiality to the wicked. God may allow certain wickedness to continue on, but it is another matter to suggest that God has defended the unjust and shown partiality to the wicked. God is holiness, and there is no wickedness, not even a tiny bit, in God. God is good all the time. In verse 1, “he gives judgment among the “gods”, simply mean God judges among the men rulers and judges, and leaders or those who lead. The Psalmist was trying to drive home the point that we should not forget we are just vice-regents to judge and to lead; there is still God who presides and judges men in the exact same roles that He had called us to play in the world.

The “you” here, in verse 2, was referring to men, particularly, rulers and judges or any others in positions to judge. Now, if you are thinking and asking the question of whether or not, there is a basis for my claim, besides saying that it is logical, you are perfectly justified, but I will give you the answer when we come to the same word, “gods” in verse 6, which is what the overly grace believers are using as the verse to claim god status.

Before I move on to the next verse, is it possible that verse 1 was referring to God presiding in great assembly of deities or real gods? The answer is “no”, because verse 2 & the subsequent verses 3-4 suggested to us that men were being referred to. Now, this is a very short psalm, and if you believe with me that the psalmist was expressing concern over the state of affairs of men with appeal to God Almighty, and not {affairs} of the deities or gods, these verses in the body of this short psalm had to refer to men. Furthermore, verse 7 (we will see later) clearly indicated that men were being referred to.]
3 Defend the cause of the weak and fatherless;
maintain the rights of the poor and oppressed.
4 Rescue the weak and needy;
deliver them from the hand of the wicked.
[The “you” in verse 2 were asked by the psalmist to defend the cause of the weak and fatherless; maintain the rights of the poor and oppressed, rescue the weak and needy; deliver them from the hand of the wicked. The “gods” in verse 1 and the “you” in verse 2 were referring to the same – men, particularly, the rulers and judges or any others in positions to judge. In other words, the rulers and judges who purportedly were answerable to God (as in verse 1), but instead were doing the things in verse 2, were being exhorted by the psalmist to do the things he listed in verses 3 & 4.]
5 "They know nothing, they understand nothing.
They walk about in darkness;
all the foundations of the earth are shaken.
[“They” here referred to the people mentioned in verses 3 & 4, namely, the weak and fatherless, the poor and oppressed, and the needy. This category of people, according to the psalmist, they were ignorant and lacked understanding, they stumbled around among the wicked, and justice for them was perverted. They walked about (walked on, KJV) in darkness, not “they walked in darkness”. So, wicked were not them, but those who perverted righteousness and justice.

What was meant by the foundations of the earth, or the foundations of the earth were shaken? King David, in his various psalms, left us some clue. In psalm 11:2-3, these are what we read:

2For look, the wicked bend their bows;
they set their arrows against the strings
to shoot from the shadows
at the upright in heart.
3 When the foundations are being destroyed,
what can the righteous do?"

And in psalm 89:14 we read this, concerning foundation (of the throne of God):

Righteousness and justice are the foundation of your throne;
love and faithfulness go before you.

It can be inferred from these that the foundations of the earth having been shaken, was referring to the righteousness and justice of God having been destroyed or perverted.

I believe the choice of the psalmist in using the phrase “foundations were shaken” was intentional to signify that God would be angry. An idea of this we can see in David’s Song of Praise recorded for us in 2 Sam 22. This song of praise was authored by David after his deliverance from King Saul (and his other enemies). We, of course, know that despite David’s righteous and honorable dealings with King Saul, the latter was bent on dealing with David unjustly and with wicked intentions. In verse 8 of 2 Sam 22, we read during the time of David’s distress,

The earth trembled and quaked,
the foundations of the heavens shook;
they trembled because He {God} was angry

As in the many scenarios recorded in Scripture when God’s foundations, of righteousness and justice were shaken, we could expect God to act to reinstitute those foundations again; and that was what the psalmist was banging on, in his concluding verse 8 below, which we would address in a moment.]
6 "I said, 'You are "gods";
you are all sons of the Most High.'
7 But you will die like mere men;
you will fall like every other ruler."
[Now, the verse of contention, v6; the psalmist said, ‘you are “gods”’. The “you” was referring to the people in verse 2, and the “gods” was the same “gods” in verse 1. The Strong no. used (Hebrew) for “gods” here, was H430, and when one looks at the Lexicon for the meaning, one will find that besides the meaning of true god related meaning like God, god, goddess, deities, there is another, and that is “rulers and judges”. One can see from the context of the psalm which I have also amplified, “rulers and judges” was the best fit for the meaning intended by the psalmist for the word “gods” used in verse 1 and verse 6.

In fact, the subsequent verse, v7, further suggests that the psalmist was referring to men, the “gods” will die like mere men; they would fall like every other ruler.

So, verses 6 & 7 should be interpreted as: You, rulers and judges or any others in positions to judge, and even lead, you were all sons of the Most High (God) {and they were, Israelites were the sons of the Most High}, but you would die like mere men, you would fall like every other ruler (without any distinction as sons of the Most High).
8 Rise up, O God, judge the earth,
for all the nations are your inheritance.
[The psalmist finished off this outcry against the judges and rulers of his time (the “gods”), with plea for God to arise and judge the earth, for all the nations are His.

One would realize the significance of this verse 8 when one scrutinizes the text surrounding John 10:34 where Jesus quoted, “You are gods”.]

It is very clear that the “gods” referred to in this psalm were referring to the rulers and judges or any others in positions to judge, nothing of the sort that suggested that men who were the children of God were gods. So, even when we are born again, and become children of God, we are not gods, not in this life, anyway.

John 10:34 explained

Now, I will proceed to talk about John 10:34 which referred back to the key verse which we have just looked at, Ps 82:6.

The background to verse 34 was this (you can read them from John 10:22-33): It was the time of the Feast of Dedication at Jerusalem, and it was winter, and Jesus was in the temple area walking in Solomon Colonnade. The Jews gathered around Him, and asked Jesus not keep them in suspense but to tell them plainly who He was (since prior to this, they had seen Jesus did a number of miracles, including opening the eyes of a blind). Jesus answered them saying that He had already told them but they just wouldn’t believe. Jesus declared to them that He and the Father God were one. The Jews on hearing that wanted to stone Jesus for blasphemy, saying that Jesus, “a mere man, claim to be God”. Jesus answered them by quoting Ps 82:6 in verse 34:

34Jesus answered them, "Is it not written in your Law, 'I have said you are gods'? 35If he called them 'gods,' to whom the word of God came—and the Scripture cannot be broken— 36what about the one whom the Father set apart as his very own and sent into the world? Why then do you accuse me of blasphemy because I said, 'I am God's Son'? (John 10:34-36)

At first glance, it may appear that Jesus was trying to say that men are gods since the Jews accused Him of blasphemy by stating He, a mere man, was claiming to be God. But if one thinks more deeply, that could not be the intention of Jesus, it would have been a lame answer if that was what it was intended to mean, for if it were so, then every man could likewise claim that he was God since the argument was that everyone was a god. And if that were, also the meaning for “gods” in Ps 82:6, wouldn’t it be obvious to the Jews as well, that everyone was a god. That was not what Jesus was saying; but first, let us look at the Greek word used here, in John 10:34, since the New Testament was in Greek, and the Psalms being part of the Old Testament, were in Hebrew.

The Strong no. (Greek) for “gods” in verse 34 is G2316, and the Lexicon gives the same groups of meaning as the Hebrew H430. The clear additional meaning was the meaning, “of God” or “things or that of God” which was not clear from H430. What is important and relevant to us though is that G2316 has in it as well, the meaning of “gods” as representative or vice-regent, chiefly magistrates and judges. Now, this is the meaning of “gods” in verse 34 of this John 10, same as that in Ps 82:6, namely, rulers and judges or any others in positions to judge. Referring to the Jews in the temple, perhaps, the Pharisees and the Sadducees, and even other Jews who were knowledgeable enough to have considered blasphemy and wanted to stone Jesus, Jesus was pointing out that they were indeed rulers and judges, and people in positions to judge, and even lead others, yet, just as in the law (wide application of the law included the whole of the Old Testament, including the Psalms), they, rulers and judges were not judging rightly. Jesus elaborated in verses 35 & 36. Jesus said the psalmist, unto whom the word of God came to {some have preferred “whom” as referring to the “gods”, i.e. they were judges called of God}, had called them, including the Jews whom Jesus were referring to, gods, meaning rulers and judges, and any others in positions to judge; and as such gods (meaning rulers and judges), they had not judged rightly and had perverted God’s righteousness and justice (you can read these in Ps 82), and now, they, again as gods (meaning rulers and judges), wanted to say of Him, Jesus, the Ruler and Judge, whom the Father God had set apart and sent into the world, as having blasphemed when He had said that He was the Son of God when they {the rulers and judges} were only “of God” or the representatives or vice-regents of God, and He, Jesus was The Representative or The Vice-Regent of God, coming to fulfill Ps 82, according to the plea of the psalmist in the last verse, v8 - Rise up, O God, judge the earth, for all the nations are your inheritance.

In essence, Jesus had just answered them, Jesus said He was the fulfillment of Ps 82, the Ruler and Judge to come, because the sons of God (Jews, generally), of God, as rulers and judges, were not judging right, allowing the foundations of God, righteousness and justice, to be shaken. It should also be noted that Jesus, followed through, from verses 34-36, to state that Jews, as rulers and judges, of God, should believe that He was OF GOD since He was doing the works of God (to help the poor and needy, the weak and oppressed, by works of miracles, which were part of the works of God), but instead the response from them was that they again were upset, and wanted to seize Him even more. The response, I believe, was because Jesus was insinuating that they (being the gods) did not do their job right {Jesus had no need to spell them out, it was all in Ps 82, and they knew it}, and that was why He had to come!

Of course, during Jesus’ ministry on earth, He moved only in righteousness and justice, and love and faithfulness went before Him, as in Ps 89:14. He will return again, to finally take up His position as the Ruler and Judge.

Use of Daniel 2:47 showed the overly grace believers were wrong

Now, the overly grace believers also quoted another verse in the Bible and use it together with the above to adamantly suggest that we should acknowledge ourselves as gods. And this verse is Daniel 2:47 –

The king said to Daniel, "Surely your God is the God of gods and the Lord of kings and a revealer of mysteries, for you were able to reveal this mystery." (Daniel 2:47)

Now, the Strong no. for gods here, in verse 47 is not the same as that for Ps 82. Here the no. was H426, and this is the one that has essentially one meaning, god as in deities, or as in God is god. In fact, if indeed the psalmist of Ps 82 had intended that he was referring to men as gods, he would have used H426 rather than H430. Of course, the King Nebuchadnezzar was referring to the LORD as God of gods (and not referring to the LORD as the God of men). In fact, by using this Daniel verse, the overly grave believers were contradicting themselves; it was just that they did not know H426 was used in Daniel 2:47, instead of H430, as used in Ps 82 which had the corresponding Greek form in G2316, as used in the New Testament in John 10:34.

The Conclusion

Ye are not gods (H426). Those wanting to know another of core tenet of the faith being reinterpreted by the overly grace believers, can read my separate article,"1 John 1:9 is for believers".

Anthony Chia – We are NOT gods, yet we, of God, are rulers and judges. Be good rulers and judges, fellow believers, as we wait for the final coming of the Ruler and Judge, our big brother, Jesus.

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