Thursday, December 26, 2013

Personal Update - Champ and the Catrike

Joseph Herrin (12-26-2013)

Champ and the Catrike, 12/26/2013
(Click on any image to view larger)

Some brothers and sisters have recently inquired about my recovery from my bicycle accident that occurred a little more than two months ago. I had broken some ribs and dislocated the index finger on my left hand. My ribs have been fully recovered for several weeks now. I cannot tell that I broke them as there is no lasting discomfort or loss of mobility. My index finger on my left hand continues to heal. The finger will easily pop out of joint if I put pressure on it the wrong way. I suspect I have stretched the tendons and ligaments and it will take some time for everything to “tighten” back up. This is a minor thing, however. I only occasionally do anything with that hand that makes me aware of the need to be cautious.

My daughter attended the funeral of Marcus Kauffman this past Monday December 23rd. She returned home to Georgia the following evening. I spoke to Kristin today and she is back at work trying to get caught up on some year end tasks as office manager of a local farm supply company. She told me she is tired, but it is not a physical tiredness. It is a tiredness of soul from having endured so much of an emotional trial over the 18 days Marcus was in the hospital. Please continue to pray for all those who are close to the family of Marcus and MaryAnn.

(Kristin has a birthday December 29th. She will be turning 26 years old. Knowing that she is feeling pretty emotionally wrung out at this time, if any would like to send her a birthday card, or a note of encouragement, you can do so by sending it to my P.O. Box. She is collecting my mail and will receive them.)

Some have sent letters and financial gifts through the mail in the past couple weeks. I have been depending upon my daughter to collect my mail as I am presently about a 5 hour drive away from the town where I keep a post office box. Because Kristin has been out of town my mail has stacked up in my mailbox. I appreciate all who have written, or sent financial gifts. Kristin is putting all my mail in a large mailer today and forwarding it to me. About the middle of next week I should be able to go through it all and send acknowledgments to those who have graciously sent support. Thank you for your understanding.

I had announced some weeks back that I was led to purchase a recumbent trike so that I could exercise Champ without the danger of crashing again. Champ is a medium sized dog, probably about 65-70 pounds, but he is very muscular and pulls quite strongly. I am sure this is a parable of the beast nature, for I daily find myself on the other end of the leash trying to keep a rein on him/it. As I am sure my brothers and sisters who are similarly engaged in ruling over the flesh can testify, the pull of the beast nature can be very strong.

Me - Champ - and the Catrike, December 26, 2013

Yahweh was exceedingly gracious in providing the funds to purchase a quality recumbent that will serve my needs well. They are expensive vehicles as they remain a niche item and do not benefit from the cost savings of large scale manufacturing. I prayed numerous times about the matter. I was very torn, as I am constantly aware of many who have needs and my desire is to assist as many as possible. I knew that Yahweh had given Champ to me and I needed to exercise him daily. I cannot walk him enough to tire him out, and I am unable to let him run free off the leash as he can be aggressive toward some people and other animals (he is quite friendly to most after he gets to know them). I believe Yahweh would have me to take care of Champ properly, and running him with a bike or trike has proven to be the most effective way to exercise him. There is the added benefit of giving me exercise as well.

After praying, I asked the Father to affirm His will in this matter of purchasing a trike. I had a peace about moving forward, and I prayed that Yahweh might send forth His provision to further affirm His will. A brother in Central America sent a generous gift around that time. In my acknowledgment of his gift, I shared with him my gratitude, and that with his gift I felt God was releasing me to begin looking in earnest for a suitable recumbent trike. Some days later this brother in Christ wrote me again and said that if the amount I had available for a trike was insufficient to purchase the one I wanted that he would like to provide the balance of what was needed.

I priced out the trike that I thought would work well. It has oversize balloon tires which gives it a higher ground clearance, as well as providing some shock absorption. This was important as most recumbent trikes ride very low to the ground and I frequently travel down unpaved roads that can be rutted and bumpy. I informed the brother that the trike I desired was $550 more than I had on hand, and he promptly sent me that amount.

Only after I had the money on hand did I contact the company that sold the trike. Upon doing so, I realized there were a couple of options that would improve the trike’s safety and utility such as lights, a flag, and chain ring guard (to keep pants legs from getting caught in the chain ring). When they quoted me a final price I was about $100 short of what was required. I prayed further about the matter, telling the Father that I would like to purchase the trike outfitted in the manner that I deemed to be safe and most functional. I asked again that He would affirm His will if it was his desire for me to purchase the trike. I asked Him specifically if He would send me the $100 needed, and that $200 would be better so that I would not spend the last dollar in my bank account.

The very next day I called my daughter and asked her to check my post office box. I told her I was very close to being able to order the trike and I wanted to see if Yahweh had sent provision to do so. Kristin called me later that afternoon and told me that there was an envelope in my mailbox. It did not have a return address. It had a handwritten note inside that was unsigned. It read, “This is for your trike.” Inside the folded note was $200 in twenty dollar bills.

I have no idea who sent this, but it had to have been sent before I prayed to the Father with this specific request. I was immediately reminded of the Scripture that states:

Isaiah 65:24
“It shall come to pass that before they call, I will answer; And while they are still speaking, I will hear.”

After Kristin told me about this letter, I told her about my prayer the day before. It was a testimony to her, as well as to myself, of our Father’s omnipotent power and great grace. Truly it is written that His mercies are new every morning.

After my ribs healed (to some degree), and before I received the Catrike, I tried running Champ with my bicycle again on a number of occasions, but I never felt comfortable doing so. The experience is akin to being strapped to a rocket, trying to steer it and not fall off. Whenever Champ would see me walk near the bike he would get tremendously excited. He would begin leaping off the ground. As soon as I clipped him to the dog jogger he would try to take off, often before I was seated, or had my feet on the pedals. As soon as I was aboard the bicycle he was off pulling as hard as he could.

The experience is much better with the trike. Champ still is excited, but now he usually waits until I get seated before he takes off. With the lower center of gravity and the three wheels, I feel much more secure in the knowledge that Champ’s pulling power is more manageable and under my control. The trike also has disk brakes on both front wheels. I had never owned a bike with disk brakes before as they are usually found on high end bikes that were more costly than I wanted to pay. Having used rim brakes all my life, the difference in stopping power is very noticeable. I can bring Champ to a stop in a fraction of the distance I could before, and without fear of turning over.

Following is a video I put together of Champ and I running around the campground where I am staying on Jekyll Island, and then down the bike trail.

I have over 160 miles on the trike thus far, and Champ has run alongside me for more than 100 of those miles. It is great exercise for him, but I did not realize what a spectacle it would be. I notice people out walking who stare, or break out in a big grin. They will point to us to get friends or family to look. People driving in cars will slow down and ride parallel to us for a distance. It is not the trike that draws most of the attention. It is Champ. He runs with such enthusiasm that for much of the ride I don’t have to pedal. He is like a one dog sled team.

People just naturally like animals, and dogs in particular. I have been especially blessed when I see the wonder and delight on the face of children when Champ and I run by them. They are full of joy at the sight of him pulling hard at the harness, full of vitality, just enjoying being a working dog.

The trike did not come with an attachment for a dog, but I found a “Bike Tow Leash” on Amazon that is working out wonderfully. It was even offered in the same color as the trike, which is Bengal yellow (as in the Bengal tiger). I have thought this interesting to have my dog hooked up to a Catrike that is the color of a tiger and which has lights on it manufactured by Cateye. The Father delights to speak through parables, and riding on the Catrike in a recumbent position, representing rest, is symbolic of ruling over the beast nature.

Please understand, I do not believe I have arrived at a place of rest and victory in regard to the flesh. You can tell by the video that I am still in need of losing about 30-40 pounds. I believe, however, this recumbent trike is a testimony of what the Father wants me to set my mind to work on at this time. I have my dog attached to the trike, and he is under my control to a much greater degree than he was on the bicycle. I need to similarly rule over all the passions and desires of the flesh, buffeting my body and keeping it under subjection lest after having proclaimed the message of the disciples’ cross and a surrendered life to others, I myself should be disqualified. We all have a race to run, and have need of self-discipline.

There is a wonderful parable found in the account of Yahshua’s triumphal entry into Jerusalem. Yahshua was seated upon the foal of a donkey that had never been ridden before. This fact was recorded to convey a spiritual truth. Donkey’s represent the stubborn will of man. No man had ever completely subdued the stubborn will until Christ appeared in human form. He never did anything of His own initiative. He always did the will of the Father. When He rode the foal of a donkey that had never been ridden, He was demonstrating that He had fully subdued what no man had ever conquered before. This was soon afterward proven in Gethsemane as He cried out to the Father, “Not My will, but Your Will be done.”

This is the goal set before each of us as sons and daughters of God.

A New Section of the Bike Trail on Jekyll Island

I would mention another act of grace from the Father. When I broke my ribs I lost a full month of bike riding on the island. Riding my bike around Jekyll Island was one of the things I anticipated the most in coming here. I mentioned this to the Father one day while in prayer, though I was not complaining. It was more like having a conversation with a friend. A few days later the manager of the campground sent me an e-mail. It read, “Good news! The site you are in is available for another month due to a cancellation. You can stay until February 1st if you want.”

I remembered at once my conversation with the Father. Still, I responded to the manager that I would give him an answer in a few days. I wanted to seek the Father first and make sure that it was His will that I remain longer. I received an answer of peace in this matter, and the funds came in to pay for an additional month here, so I am planning now to return to Central Georgia on February 1st.

Before I end this update, I will mention the following, Champ has a lot of strength, but he is not a long distance dog. He can pull hard for a couple miles, then he begins to run alongside rather than pulling. When I take him on our long route which is about ten miles, I end up pulling him for the last couple miles. We make frequent stops, however, and he goes through two large bottles of water on the longer runs. I also purchased some Musher’s Wax for his paws, as I noticed they were very rough after our first few weeks here. The Musher’s Wax makes a big difference. His pads are now much smoother, and less dry. (It is available on Amazon.)

Proverbs 12:10
A righteous man has regard for the life of his beast, but the compassion of the wicked is cruel.

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Mailing Address:
Joseph Herrin
P.O. Box 804
Montezuma, GA 31063

Monday, December 23, 2013

Yahweh's Book - The Necessity of a Literal Translation

The extent to which the Bible contains spiritual parables has been little understood by Christians. This is true today even of seminary trained Bible scholars, and experts in the ancient Greek and Hebrew languages, men and women who are frequently employed in the work of Scripture translation. Because these individuals do not discern the multiple layers of revelation contained in the Scriptures, they do not perceive the damage they are doing when they paraphrase. When translators choose what they refer to as a “functionally equivalent” word or phrase, rather than being faithful to bring forth an “essentially literal” translation of the original Bible manuscript, they are stripping vast amounts of divine information from the text, information whose presence they have little suspected.

This matter is best expressed by use of an illustration. I have previously shared that Joshua, the man chosen by Yahweh to lead the Israelites into the land of their inheritance, is a type of the Son of God who bore the same name. Even as Joshua lead the Israelites into Canaan to take possession of their physical inheritance, the Son of God who bore the same name leads the saints to Zion to take possession of their spiritual inheritance. In the book Christ in You - The Hope of Glory, I have looked at a specific account from the life of Joshua, demonstrating that the details provided were chosen carefully by Yahweh to reveal a profound spiritual parable. Most Christians have been taught to only read such accounts as a narrative story of the history of God’s dealings with man. Readers may derive a moral application from the historic accounts of the Bible, but they seldom perceive that the passages contain veiled truths waiting to be discovered by those who are given spiritual insight.

Following is a partial excerpt from the aforementioned book in which I have demonstrated that every detail of the account of the crossing of the Jordan River is filled with divine revelation.
As Joshua (a type of Yahshua) led the people of God into their inheritance at the crossing of the Jordan River, we are given clear types of the first resurrection from the dead. The Promised Land serves as a type of the inheritance of the saints in Christ, which is their resurrected state in glory. Even as the Jordan had to be crossed, we have to cross over from death into life. Observe now the symbolism of this crossing.

Joshua 3:3-4
And they commanded the people, saying, "When you see the ark of the covenant of Yahweh your God with the Levitical priests carrying it, then you shall set out from your place and go after it. However, there shall be between you and it a distance of about 2,000 cubits by measure. Do not come near it, that you may know the way by which you shall go, for you have not passed this way before."

The ark of the covenant stands as a symbol of the presence of God in His glory... (This glory was revealed in the Son who was the incarnation of the Father.)

Joshua commanded the priests to carry the ark into the waters of the Jordan, and all who followed were strictly charged to remain at a distance of about 2,000 cubits. Every detail of the word of God is pregnant with meaning. Yahshua would be the first man to cross into the inheritance prepared for the sons of God. It would be “about 2,000" years before any others were to follow, entering into the same inheritance prepared for the saints in glory. The 2,000 cubits stand for 2,000 years. We should note, however, that it says “about 2,000,” for no one knows the hour or the day. We are not told that it would be precisely 2,000 years from the time of Yahshua’s resurrection to the time of the resurrection of His firstborn brothers. We are only told that it will be “about 2,000" years.
This is a marvelous testimony. Joshua is leading the people of God across the Jordan, signifying that we must all pass through the waters of death before entering into our spiritual inheritance. The ark, representing the presence of God revealed bodily in the person of the Messiah, went ahead of the people. They were told to remain at a distance of “about 2,000 cubits.”

This distance was not arrived at arbitrarily. It was commanded by Yahweh who does all things with great deliberation and divine purpose. He could have told the people to stay back 1,000 cubits, or 5,000 cubits, but He did not. He could have commanded the people to surround the Ark as they did when they were camped in the wilderness. Doing so, however, would not have communicated the spiritual parable that Yahweh had purposed. The distance was set by Yahweh to prophesy of His Son being the first to cross through the waters of death and then to enter into His glorious inheritance. Yahshua would be the first to enter into ruling and reigning with the Father, but there would be a much more numerous company of overcoming sons who would one day join Him. These are those sons who attain to the first resurrection.

Revelation 20:6
Blessed and holy is the one who has a part in the first resurrection; over these the second death has no power, but they will be priests of God and of Christ and will reign with Him for a thousand years.

There is a distance in time between Christ’s ascension to the throne, and those who attain to the first resurrection from the dead. The distance is “about 2,000" years, even as the ark and the Israelites were separated by “about 2,000 cubits.” To understand more on this subject, I recommend the book from which the above excerpt was taken.

It is very important that our Bibles faithfully reproduce the words and details of the original manuscripts, for any alteration of the text will tend to obscure the spiritual insight contained therein. Consider now, how the following Bible translations have rendered this passage from the book of Joshua.

Joshua 3:3-4
When you see the ark of the covenant of the Lord your God, and the priests, who are Levites, carrying it, you are to move out from your positions and follow it. Then you will know which way to go, since you have never been this way before. But keep a distance of about a thousand yards between you and the ark; do not go near it."
[New International Version]

Joshua 3:3-4
"When you see the Levitical priests carrying the Ark of the Covenant of the Lord your God, move out from your positions and follow them. Since you have never traveled this way before, they will guide you. Stay about a half mile behind them, keeping a clear distance between you and the Ark. Make sure you don't come any closer."
[New Living Translation]

Joshua 3:3-4
"When you see the Covenant-Chest of God, your God, carried by the Levitical priests, start moving. Follow it. Make sure you keep a proper distance between you and it, about half a mile — be sure now to keep your distance! — and you'll see clearly the route to take. You've never been on this road before."

Each of these versions cited are examples of a new breed of Bibles that are known as “dynamic equivalent translations.” The word “dynamic” signifies that which is living, and changing. The opposite of the word dynamic is static, which indicates that something is fixed and unchanging. There are many proponents of the dynamic equivalent model of Bible translation. Their main goal is to make the Bible “relevant” and “understandable” to the masses. Being ignorant of the depth of information Yahweh has encoded in every word of Scripture, these translators are effectually covering up, obscuring, and bringing wholesale alteration, to the spiritual mysteries Yahweh has hidden in His word.

Proverbs 25:2
It is the glory of God to conceal a matter, but the glory of kings is to search out a matter.

The Bible contains tens of thousands of these types of symbolic details. A man could spend his entire life mining for hidden truth, seeking to unveil the mysteries of Yahweh’s word, and only skim the surface of all that lies therein.

Romans 11:33
Oh, the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are His judgments and unfathomable His ways!

Dynamic equivalent translations, although easier to read and understand, do not contain all the information Yahweh chose to communicate through His holy prophets. They end up being like a Cliffs Notes version of the Bible. These translations are focused only on the surface account, giving no heed to that which lies beneath. Christianity today is very shallow in its comprehension of spiritual truth. Human reasoning and mental apprehension have largely replaced a focus upon divine inspiration. Most Christians see only that which human reasoning can disclose to them. The mysteries of God which can be grasped only through divine revelation and spiritual enlightenment remain hidden from their sight.

Returning to the two verses in the book of Joshua that we have looked at, we can see that the divine intent has been missed by these modern paraphrases. The words “about 1,000 yards,” and “about a half mile” do not contain the same information as the words “about 2,000 cubits.” Although these substitutions may be functionally equivalent on a surface level, denoting a similar distance of space, they are not equivalent at the many deeper levels in which Yahweh communicates truth selectively to those who are granted insight. Yahweh hides truth that His sons and daughters might search it out. However, in a dynamic equivalent translation, much of this hidden information is no longer present. These types of translations transform the Bible into something that appears good on the surface, but which has no depth underneath. That so many have cast off literal translations of the Bible to embrace paraphrastic translations is an indictment upon the shallow state of the body of Christ in this hour of apostasy.

The many books and writings I have made available to the body of Christ are filled with hundreds of examples of the parables hidden in Yahweh’s word. In my studies of the Scriptures, I have always relied upon a class of Bibles that are described as “essentially literal translations,” or “formal equivalency” translations, terms which are used interchangeably. These Bibles preserve the information contained in the original autographs of the Scriptures. An essentially literal Bible translation makes only those alterations to the text that are necessary to adapt the Hebrew and Greek Scriptures into a modern language. These changes are generally minor, consisting in the rearrangement of words, the addition of punctuation, and the addition of words that render the text more readable, such as inserting the definite article “the” before a noun. Many of these essentially literal translations indicate where such words have been added, often by printing the added word in italics.

Because essentially literal translations strive to reproduce the original text of the Hebrew and Greek Bibles faithfully, with a minimum of alteration, there is a high correspondence between them. Leland Ryken, in his book The Word of God in English demonstrates the correspondence between essentially literal translations by citing a portion of I Thessalonians 1:3. He begins by citing four essentially literal versions of the Bible.

"... your work of faith, and labour of love, and patience of hope in our Lord Jesus Christ..." (KJV).

"...your work of faith and labor of love and steadfastness of hope in our Lord Jesus Christ" (RSV).

"...your work of faith and labor of love and steadfastness of hope in our Lord Jesus Christ" (NASB).

"...your work of faith and labor of love and steadfastness of hope in our Lord Jesus Christ" (ESV).

You will note that these four translations are nearly identical, for they have held to a philosophy of translation that encourages fidelity to the original manuscripts. In contrast, Leland Ryken includes the following four dynamic equivalent Bible renderings of the same text.

"...your work produced by faith, your labor prompted by love, and your endurance inspired by hope in our Lord Jesus Christ" (NIV, TNIV).

" you put your faith into practice, how your love made you work so hard, and how your hope in our Lord Jesus Christ is firm" (GNB).

"...your faithful work, your loving deeds, and your continual anticipation of the return of our Lord Jesus Christ" (NLT).

"...your faith and loving work and...your firm hope in our Lord Jesus Christ" (CEV).

These four translations not only differ from the essentially literal Bible versions, but they vary widely from one another. Each of the dynamic equivalent translations insert explanatory words and phrases not found in the original manuscripts. Very often, these explanations are subjective, introducing error that leads the reader away from the actual thought of the author. The more loosely a translation treats faithfulness to the original text, the more divine information is lost, or obscured.

Following is a graphic listing many of the well known English translation Bibles, placing them on a scale from the most literal to those that take the most liberties with the text.

(Click on image to view larger)

This graphic, created by Brent MacDonald, notes which Bibles have adopted gender neutral language, which Bibles include the Apocrypha, and the approximate reading grade level of the Bibles. The reading skill level varies from third or fourth grade for the Easy to Read Version and the New International Readers Version, to twelfth grade reading level for The Amplified Bible, and grade 13 for the KJV. This higher reading level for the King James Bible is largely due to its employment of archaic words that have fallen out of common usage.

(Note: I am personally hesitant to place The Amplified Bible so high on the scale of literal translations, for as its name implies, it “amplifies” the original text, adding many explanatory words to bring out the fuller meaning of the Scriptures. I do find The Amplified Bible to be a valuable resource, however, and I refer to it frequently.)

I have found the New American Standard Bible version to be a much better translation for study than the New International Version, or far looser translations such as The Message. Yet, even the NASB translators have failed to maintain fidelity to the original Hebrew and Greek in a great many instances. There are no “perfect” Bible translations today. I have not even found one that I would describe as “excellent.” There are some good Bible versions, but all of them contain errors, many of which are serious, and all have strayed from the original manuscripts in numerous places. Consider the following example from the New American Standard Bible which is rated as one of the more literal English Bibles.

Luke 24:13
And behold, two of them were going that very day to a village named Emmaus, which was about seven miles from Jerusalem.

The writers of the New Testament did not express distances in miles. In the verse above, the Greek manuscripts use the word “stadia,” a common measure in Roman times. Stadium is the singular form of this Roman word, and stadia is plural. The English equivalent of the Roman stadia is the furlong which equates to 606.14 feet, or 185 meters. The passage above from Luke’s gospel actually records that the distance between Emmaus and Jerusalem is about “60 stadia.”

I do not believe there is a number found anywhere in Scripture that does not bear some divine significance. It is therefore inadvisable for translators to alter the text of the Bible using modern measurements that will change the numbers Yahweh has inspired holy men to record. The NAS Bible states that the distance between Jerusalem and Emmaus is about “seven miles.” The number seven is nowhere to be found in the Greek manuscripts. The only number given is “hexekonta,” which translates as “sixty.” Only a translator who does not perceive that every detail of Scripture is significant would place so little emphasis upon rendering every word as literally and accurately as possible.

I am sympathetic to the fact that a literal translation is more difficult to understand, but it is the only form of translation that preserves the divine mysteries and manifold parables contained in holy writ. I believe a better translation policy would have rendered Luke 24:13 accurately as “sixty stadia” while adding a parenthetic comment stating that this distance equates to seven miles. Following is another example of this type of translation error that is found in the New American Standard Bible.

Revelation 21:16-17
And the city is laid out as a square, and its length is as great as the width; and he measured the city with the rod, fifteen hundred miles; its length and width and height are equal. And he measured its wall, seventy-two yards, according to human measurements, which are also angelic measurements.

Are we to believe that angels measure things in miles and yards? This is what this English Bible version would lead one to believe. To be quite accurate, there is no mention of miles or yards in the Greek text from which these words were translated. Neither will you find the numbers “fifteen hundred” or seventy-two” in these verses. The literal measurements given are “12,000 stadia” for the length, width, and height of the city, and “144 cubits” for the wall. Without question the numbers 12,000 and 144 were chosen by Yahweh for the design of the New Jerusalem because of their divine significance.

Consider now, how The Amplified Bible conveys this matter. It both preserves the literalness of the translation, as well as including parenthetical explanations.

Revelation 21:16-17
The city lies in a square, its length being the same as its width. And he measured the city with his reed--12,000 stadia (about 1,500 miles); its length and width and height are the same. He measured its wall also--144 cubits (about 72 yards) by a man's measure [of a cubit from his elbow to his third fingertip], which is [the measure] of the angel.

(I will insert what I intend to be a helpful note here. As I have been writing this series, some have noted that I have made mention of particular Bible translations as being above average in some aspect of their translation policy. For example, I have mentioned that The Scriptures published by the Institute for Scripture Research does an admirable job with its naming conventions. This is not a minor point, and it provides some reason to give attention to this Bible translation. At the same time, I commented that there are other translation policies adopted by The Scriptures’ editors that I find to detract from its overall usefulness. The bias against certain words such as “holy,” and “Lord,” and the editorial explanations that state that Christians continue to be subject to the Law of Moses, are but a few examples of that which detracts from the overall value of this Bible translation.

Some may take my favorable mention of various translation policies of The Amplified Bible as another endorsement, and be inclined to run out and purchase this Bible version. You will no doubt find much benefit in adding this translation to your study resources, but it too has shortcomings. Not all parenthetical explanations are as objective as the ones found in the passage from Revelations above. It is no more than a statement of fact to say that 12,000 stadia equates to “(about 1,500 miles).” Nevertheless, a great many of the parenthetical explanations found in The Amplified Bible are subjective. Such is the case in the following Scripture.

Romans 6:14
For sin shall not [any longer] exert dominion over you, since now you are not under Law [as slaves], but under grace [as subjects of God's favor and mercy].

The words “as slaves” which are found in brackets are not found in the Greek text of the New Testament. These are explanatory words of the editors intended to amplify the meaning of the passage. These explanatory words can, and often do, change the entire meaning of a passage. They can also limit a reader to perceiving only one narrow understanding of a Scripture, rather than opening their spirit to multiple shades of meaning.

In Romans 6:14 the apostle Paul is stating without any equivocation that Christians are “not under Law.” He does not mean to state that they are still under Law, but not under Law as slaves. Because of the added words “as slaves,” some would understand this verse to mean that Paul is stating that Christians are not bound to a slavish subservience to the Law, but they still remain under the Law. The addition of various explanatory words placed in The Amplified Bible can lead the reader to erroneous conclusions.

* The subject of the Law, its role and duration, is an important one, but it is beyond the scope of this book to address it. I would refer any interested readers to the book Laying Down the Law.

Some of the bracketed and parenthetical comments found in The Amplified Bible are truly helpful, but they must all be tested carefully. Whenever men begin to expound upon the meaning of the Bible there is the possibility of error.

What I wish to convey is that whereas I find certain editorial and translation policies of individual Bible versions to be excellent, I have not found any Bible version to be free of error, or editorial bias. I believe there is value in studying from multiple translations of the Bible. I am not seeking to endorse any single Bible version as an exceptional resource to be studied exclusively.)

It now seems a good point for me to interject that although I find that dynamically equivalent translations degrade the overall value of the Bible by rendering void much of the divine information contained therein, I still believe this class of Bibles can be of benefit in certain situations. They may be helpful to a new believer, or to a child, who is at the elementary levels of spiritual or scholastic learning. They may also be of use to more advanced students of the Scriptures who wish to compare various translations to glean from different perspectives on the meaning of Bible passages. Dynamic equivalency Bible translations should not be relied upon exclusively, however, nor for too long, for to do so will hinder the apprehension of divine truth.

If you are beginning to perceive that there are a large number of problems in every English Bible existent today, and that none of them approach perfection, then this series is achieving one of its purposes. I desire that Christians would understand that even as the church is leavened with error, deception, and that which is false, yet the Holy Spirit is present to lead a remnant of God’s people to spiritual maturity, so too the failings of our English Bible translations can be overcome as we look to the Spirit of Christ as our tutor. Yahshua stated:

John 16:7-13
“It is to your advantage that I go away; for if I do not go away, the Helper will not come to you; but if I depart, I will send Him to you... I still have many things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now. However, when He, the Spirit of truth, has come, He will guide you into all truth.”

Yahweh did not promise that a flawless Bible translation would be preserved for His people to study anymore than He promised that the church would be pure and spotless and free of error in this age. What He did promise is that He would send us His Spirit to guide us into all truth. The Spirit is able to disclose to us truth and error, both in the church and in the Bible versions we read. We must apply ourselves in both cases to discerning between that which is true and that which is false. We must study, while always inviting the Spirit of Christ to open our eyes and our minds to discern both truth and error.

Heart4God Website:    

Parables Blog:    

Mailing Address:
Joseph Herrin
P.O. Box 804
Montezuma, GA 31063

Saturday, December 21, 2013

Yahweh's Book - Naming (Mis)Conventions

A naming convention is a convention for naming things. The intent is to allow useful information to be deduced from the names based on regularities.

If there ever was a book that would benefit from following uniform rules for names, it is the Bible. The Bible is a book of types and anti-types, of shadows and substance. Names not only bear tremendous meaning in the Scriptures, but they serve as links whereby the natural and the spiritual material in its pages might be connected.

Tragically, there has been no book in history wherein names have been recorded more inconsistently, and rendered more arbitrarily, than the Bible. The mishmash of naming practices has led to the obscuring of many deep and wonderful spiritual truths. If I were to sum up the state of names in the most popular English Bibles, the word “confusion” would accurately describe it.

In an earlier chapter I mentioned the great disservice that copyists and Bible translators have done in removing the memorial name of God (Yahweh) from scriptures. The name Yahweh occurs 6,828 times in the Old Testament. The King James Bible renders the divine name as Lord in nearly every instance. Yet, even in this they were not completely consistent. In four occasions in the Old Testament, the King James Bible renders the tetragrammaton as “JEHOVAH.” These occurrences are found in Exodus 6:3, Psalm 83:18, Isaiah 12:2, and 26:4. I would like to examine the first occurrence where the name Jehovah occurs in the King James Bible.

Exodus 6:3
And I appeared unto Abraham, unto Isaac, and unto Jacob, by the name of God Almighty, but by my name JEHOVAH was I not known to them.

The word JEHOVAH is a translation of the four Hebrew letters Yod He Vav He. The name Jehovah has largely fallen out of favor with Bible scholars, as Yahweh is widely considered to be a better translation. What is being conveyed in the KJV rendering of Exodus 6:3 is that Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob knew the Creator as “God Almighty,” but they were not familiar with the name “JEHOVAH,” or other renderings of the tetragrammaton such as Yahweh. Is this is true statement? A good way to check would be to read the book of Genesis, for it is there that the lives of these three men are recounted. The first encounter between Abraham (Abram) and Yahweh is recorded in the 12th chapter of Genesis.

Genesis 12:1
Now the Lord (Yahweh) had said unto Abram, Get thee out of thy country, and from thy kindred, and from thy father's house, unto a land that I will shew thee:

Genesis 12:4
So Abram departed, as the Lord (Yahweh) had spoken unto him; and Lot went with him: and Abram was seventy and five years old when he departed out of Haran.

Genesis 12:7-8
And the Lord (Yahweh) appeared unto Abram, and said, Unto thy seed will I give this land: and there builded he an altar unto the Lord (Yahweh), who appeared unto him. And he removed from thence unto a mountain on the east of Bethel, and pitched his tent, having Bethel on the west, and Hai on the east: and there he builded an altar unto the Lord (Yahweh), and called upon the name of the Lord (Yahweh).

In these four verses we find that the tetragrammaton occurs six times. In each instance the KJV Bible renders the divine name as “Lord,” but this is a substitution, rather than a translation. The Hebrew text actually includes the four letters of the tetragrammaton in each instance and Yahweh would be a more accurate translation of the memorial name of God.

What are we to make of the claim in Exodus 6:3 that Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob did not know God Almighty by this name? We might reason that perhaps they did not know the name of Yahweh, but that Moses in writing the book of Genesis used this name because God had revealed it to him. This is a possibility, but it becomes untenable in light of a number of verses, such as Genesis 12:8 where we are told that Abraham “builded an altar unto Yahweh, and called upon the name of Yahweh.

Still, some may argue that this is inconclusive. Maybe Moses was just using a figure of speech here, but Abraham did not actually know the name Yahweh. The matter could be settled if we could find any occurrence in Genesis where Abraham, Isaac, or Jacob used the name Yahweh when speaking to other men, or while in prayer to God. Examples of this are to be found.

Genesis 14:22-23
And Abram said to the king of Sodom, I have lift up mine hand unto the Lord (Yahweh), the most high God, the possessor of heaven and earth, that I will not take from a thread even to a shoelatchet, and that I will not take any thing that is thine, lest thou shouldest say, I have made Abram rich:

Here is a very clear testimony that Abraham knew God by the name Yahweh. We find that Abraham not only uses the name Yahweh here, but he describes Yahweh as “the most high God” (El Elyon). There are many more clear examples of this type in Genesis. Consider the following.

Genesis 15:7-8
And he said unto him, I am the Lord (Yahweh) that brought thee out of Ur of the Chaldees, to give thee this land to inherit it. And he said, Lord God (Yahweh Adonai), whereby shall I know that I shall inherit it?

This is quite remarkable. In these two verses we have Yahweh declaring His name to Abraham, and we have Abraham addressing God as “Yahweh Adonai.” The tetragrammaton is found in the Hebrew text in each occasion, and the KJV translators rendered it as “Lord.” Clearly Abraham knew the name of Yahweh! We observe in other Scripture verses that Isaac and Jacob also knew the name of Yahweh.

Genesis 27:20
And Isaac said unto his son (Jacob), How is it that thou hast found it so quickly, my son? And he said, Because the Lord (Yahweh) thy God brought it to me.

How then do we reconcile the statement in Exodus 6:3 with the evidence in Genesis? Did the Holy Spirit err in inspiring men to record conflicting statements? It is far more reasonable to conclude that our English Bibles contain some type of error here. Such an idea is resisted by those who claim that the KJV Bible is inerrant. Nevertheless, the evidence of error is before us. The problem can be resolved by accepting the translation of Exodus 6:3 adopted by The Scriptures, a divine name Bible, published by the Institute for Scripture Research.

Shemoth 6:3
And I appeared to Abraham, to Yitshaq, and to Ya’aqob, as El Shaddai. And by My Name, *(Yahweh), was I not known to them?

*(Where I have placed the name Yahweh in parentheses, The Scriptures have the tetragrammaton spelled out in Hebrew letters.)

Ancient Hebrew did not include punctuation like that found in English today. Sentences did not end with question marks, periods, or exclamation points. The reader had to discern what form of statement was being made from the context. A declarative and an interrogative statement could be written identically. W.C. Kaiser, in his writing The Old Testament Documents: Are They Reliable and Relevant, agrees that this verse should be rendered as a rhetorical question. This solves the apparent contradiction that arises from the King James rendering of this verse.

One might guess that English Bibles that make such a muddle out of the name of God, will do no better with names of lesser importance. That is sadly the case. The second name in importance in the Bible has to be that of the Son of God. The King James, and every other popular English Bible, renders the name of the Son of God as “Jesus.” This name is now so familiar to English speaking people, and especially to Christians, that adopting another, more accurate rendering, seems to be an insurmountable problem.

Jesus is truly a terrible rendering of the name of the Son of God. It completely obscures the Hebraic roots of His name. The name Jesus also hides from view the type and antitype that exist between the Israelite leader named Joshua and the Son of God. These men shared the same name. The Hebrew name of these men transliterates into English as Yehoshua. Some prefer Yahshua, Yeshua, or some other variant. Whatever name is adopted, however, there is no reason to render the name of the Israelite leader who succeeded Moses, and the Son of God, differently. They shared the same name. The translators of the KJV Bible were well aware of this. In the New Testament the successor to Moses is called Jesus instead of Joshua.

Acts 7:44-45
Our fathers had the tabernacle of witness in the wilderness, as he had appointed, speaking unto Moses, that he should make it according to the fashion that he had seen. Which also our fathers that came after brought in with Jesus into the possession of the Gentiles, whom God drave out before the face of our fathers, unto the days of David...

The Hebrew forefathers brought the tabernacle into the land of Canaan under the leadership of Joshua, who in this verse is called Jesus. It is very poor translation policy to call one man by two different names in the Old and New Testaments. The KJV also renders Joshua as Jesus in Hebrews 4:8. To make an even greater muddle, the KJV renders this same name as Jose in Luke 3:29. The NKJV, NIV, NASB, ESB, and other popular English Bible versions do no better. They all give different names to Joshua, the Israelite leader, and the Son of God.

Hebrews 4:8
For if Joshua had given them rest, He would not have spoken of another day after that.

Hebrews 4:8-9
For if Joshua had given them rest, then He would not afterward have spoken of another day.

Hebrews 4:8-9
For if Joshua had given them rest, God would not have spoken of another day later on.

Hebrews 4:8-9
For if Joshua had given them rest, God would not have spoken later about another day.

Hebrews 4:8-9
Now if Joshua had succeeded in giving them this rest, God would not have spoken about another day of rest still to come.

In the Greek manuscripts of the New Testament from which the translators worked, there is no difference between the name rendered as Joshua above, and the same name rendered as Jesus when it is used as a reference to the Son of God. The translators could have called the Son of God Joshua, or called the Israelite leader Jesus, or called them both Yehoshua. They should not have given them different names when in fact they bore the same name. Doing so hides from the eyes of the people of God the parallels contained between these two men’s lives and ministries. Consider a small portion of the similarities between their lives below. For the sake of clarity I will refer to them as OT Yahshua and NT Yahshua.

Both Leaders of God’s People
OT Yahshua: [Moses said] Yahweh was angry with me also on your account, saying, "Not even you shall enter there. Joshua the son of Nun, who stands before you, he shall enter there; encourage him, for he will cause Israel to inherit it.” (Deuteronomy 1:37-38)

NT Yahshua: “And you, Bethlehem, land of Judah, are by no means least among the leaders of Judah; for out of you shall come forth a Ruler, Who will shepherd My people Israel.” (Matthew 2:6)

Both Called out of Egypt

OT Yahshua:“None of the men who came up from Egypt, from twenty years old and upward, shall see the land... except Caleb the son of Jephunneh the Kenizzite and Joshua the son of Nun, for they have followed Yahweh fully.” (Numbers 32:11-12)

NT Yahshua: Joseph arose and took the Child and His mother by night, and departed for Egypt; 15 and was there until the death of Herod, that what was spoken by the Lord through the prophet might be fulfilled, saying, “Out of Egypt did I call My Son." (Matthew 2:14-15)

Both Filled with the Spirit
OT Yahshua: So Yahweh said to Moses, "Take Joshua the son of Nun, a man in whom is the Spirit, and lay your hand on him.” (Numbers 27:18)

NT Yahshua: “You know of Yahshua of Nazareth, how God anointed Him with the Holy Spirit...” (Acts 10:38)

Both Appoint Twelve Men
OT Yahshua: "So Joshua called the twelve men whom he had appointed from the sons of Israel, one man from each tribe.” (Joshua 4:4).

NT Yahshua: “And He went up on the mountain and summoned those whom He Himself wanted, and they came to Him. And He appointed twelve, so that they would be with Him and that He could send them out to preach...” (Mark 3:13-14)

Both Baptized in the Jordan River

OT Yahshua: Joshua said, "By this you shall know that the living God is among you... It shall come about when the soles of the feet of the priests who carry the ark of Yahweh, the Lord of all the earth, rest in the waters of the Jordan, the waters of the Jordan will be cut off, and the waters which are flowing down from above will stand in one heap." (Joshua 3:10-13)

NT Yahshua: “In those days Jesus came from Nazareth in Galilee and was baptized by John in the Jordan.” (Mark 1:9)

Many more parallels could be mentioned. The Israelite leader of the Old Testament who is commonly known as Joshua led the natural descendants of Abraham into their inheritance. This serves as a type and shadow of the Son of God who bore the same name, for He leads the spiritual descendants of Abraham into their inheritance.

This confusion in the rendering of names is not limited to these examples. There is hardly a Biblical character whose name has not been rendered inconsistently in our English Bibles. Consider the case of Jacob. Jacob was the father of 12 sons who became the heads of the 12 tribes of Israel. In the New Testament there is a book of the Bible written by a Hebrew Christian named Jacob. His book intentionally draws comparisons that point back to Jacob and his sons. The book begins with the following words:

Jacob, a bond-servant of God and of the Lord Yahshua Christ, to the twelve tribes who are dispersed abroad, greetings.

Here is a father in the Christian church, an elder among the body of believers, writing as if to his 12 sons. This is an intentional allusion to Jacob of the Old Testament who also had 12 sons. Yet most believers never make the connection. Why? Because the most popular English Bibles have rendered the New Testament believer whose name was Jacob as James. The name of the book he wrote also bears the name James. People of God, this is Jacob’s book! It is addressed to the 12 tribes.

Tell me which of your English Bible translations has a book in the New Testament bearing the name of Jacob? Why is it not there? Why render it as James, thereby obscuring the link between Old Testament and New, between type and anti-type? Why take the same name recorded in the Greek New Testament and render it in two very different ways? It was quite common for Jewish men to be named after the forefathers whose names are recorded in the Old Testament. The author of the book of James was not the only Jewish Christian who bore the name of Jacob. This was also the name of the brother of John who is similarly called James today.

Following this pattern of being named after Old Testament patriarchs we find that Simon Peter was Simeon, Judas was Judah, both being named after sons of Jacob. In these names as well, we find that the shadows of the Old Testament are fulfilled in the New, but the link is lost to most because the names have been altered. It was Judah, the son of Jacob, who suggested to his brothers that they sell Joseph into slavery for 20 pieces of silver. In the New Testament it was another man named Judah who sold the Son of God for 30 pieces of silver. Christians seldom make the connection because in the New Testament the name is written as Judas instead of Judah.

Genesis 37:26-28
And Judah said to his brothers, "What profit is it for us to kill our brother and cover up his blood? Come and let us sell him to the Ishmaelites and not lay our hands on him; for he is our brother, our own flesh..." So they pulled him up and lifted Joseph out of the pit, and sold him to the Ishmaelites for twenty shekels of silver.

Matthew 26:14-15
Then one of the twelve, named Judas Iscariot, went to the chief priests, and said, "What are you willing to give me to deliver Him up to you?" And they weighed out to him thirty pieces of silver.

One of the greatest prophets of the Old Testament was Elijah. In the King James Bible, his name is written in two different ways.

I Kings 17:22
And the Lord heard the voice of Elijah...

Matthew 11:14
And if ye will receive it, this is Elias, which was for to come.

We observed earlier that the name of Joshua is in one place in the KJV Bible rendered as Jose. More confusing still, the name of Joseph is rendered as Joses. It gets worse yet, for the prophet Jeremiah has his name rendered three different ways in the KJV Bible. He is referred to as Jeremiah, Jeremias, and Jeremy. This is horrible confusion.

As a minister appointed by Christ to serve as a teacher to His body, my desire is to make plain the truths found in Scripture. Sadly, the translators of most English Bibles have not followed policies that serve the same end. On the contrary, they have obscured the truth by following arbitrary and inconsistent naming conventions.

There are some lesser known English translations of the Scriptures that follow consistent naming conventions. One of these Bibles is called The Scriptures. It is published by the Institute for Scripture Research, a ministry in South Africa. There are certain translation policies of The Scriptures that I do not like, but I do appreciate the fact that they have chosen to render the names of Hebrew men and women consistently in both the Old and New Testaments. Some of these names require an adjustment for Bible readers who are accustomed to reading popular English Bibles, but they preserve the link between individuals who bore the same name. Following are some examples of these names in The Scriptures.

Ya’aqob for Jacob
Yehudah for Judah and Jude
Mosheh for Moses
Shemu’el for Samuel
Yeshayahu for Isaiah
Yirmeyahu for Jeremiah
Yehezqel for Ezekiel
Obadyah for Obadiah
Nehemyah for Nehemiah
Mattithyahu for Matthew
Yohanan for John

With these renderings, the Hebrew character of these names are preserved. Additionally, one can easily see how the name “Yah” and the Hebrew word “El” were constituent parts of many individuals names. Yah is an abbreviated form of Yahweh that occurs 49 times in the Old Testament, and a great many more times as a part of an individual’s name. The word “El” is translated into English as “God.”

The names of Biblical characters are pregnant with meaning, and for this reason they should be clarified rather than obscured. Surely Satan has worked hard to sow confusion into the pages of Scriptures that truth might be hidden from the eyes of Yahweh’s people. Following are some Bible names and their meanings.

Nehemyah/Nehemiah: comforted by Yahweh
Yirmeyahu/Jeremiah: Yahweh has uplifted
Obadyah/Obadiah: Servant of Yahweh
Shemu’el/Samuel: El (God) has heard
Yehezqel/Ezekiel: El (God) strengthens

This small sampling of names reveals the great importance of Biblical names. The names of men and women oftentimes bore testimony of some aspect of God’s character, or of man’s relationship to his Creator. Many names were prophetic. Ancient cultures set great importance upon names. This is why we observe men like Daniel, Hananiah, Azariah, and Mishael being given new names by the King of Babylon when they were taken into captivity. Their Hebrew names were laid aside and new names honoring the gods of Babylon were assigned to them.

Daniel, whose name meant “(El) God is my judge,” had his name changed to Belteshazzar which means “Bel (Baal) is the keeper of secrets.” Hananiah, whose name meant “Yah has graciously given” had his name changed to Shadrach which is possibly derived from Shudur Aku meaning “command of Aku (the moon god).” Azariah, whose Hebrew name meant “helped of Yah” had his name changed to Abednego which means “servant of Nebo.” Mishael, whose Hebrew name meant “Who is like (El) God,” had his name changed to Meshach which means “who is what Aku is?” We see in these names that both the Hebrews and the Babylonians were fond of choosing names that honored their deity/deities.

The study of Biblical names can be highly rewarding. What is certain is that most of the English Bibles today have hindered, rather than helped, students of the Scriptures to discover the wealth of insight to be gleaned from Biblical names.

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Joseph Herrin
P.O. Box 804
Montezuma, GA 31063

Friday, December 20, 2013

The Passing of Marcus Kauffman

It was with a heavy heart that I received the news from my daughter a few moments ago that Marcus Kauffman passed away shortly after he was disconnected from life support. My heart is burdened for his young wife MaryAnn who is expecting their first child in about 2 months, as well as the parents, siblings, and many friends of this young man.

Marcus and MaryAnn were married only about a year ago, and she remained by his side in the hospital throughout this ordeal. Following is a picture posted on the FaceBook page Prayer for Marco, that shows MaryAnn holding his hand in the ICU.

My daughter Kristin has also remained at the hospital for all but a few days when she needed to return to work. She was present with the family when he was taken off life-support. Kristin has asked that people might continue to pray for the family during the loss of this much loved young man. I would ask that prayers be uplifted for the many friends of Marcus and MaryAnn as well. My own daughter's heart is greatly burdened, and the emotional trial has been difficult for all those involved.

I am deeply grateful for the outpouring of prayer and other forms of support for this young couple. Please pray that not only would all know the comfort and consolation of Christ at this time, but that they would hear clearly the voice of the Holy Spirit that they might understand this experience of suffering that has come upon them. Truly, we are called to bear one another's burdens. When one part of the body of Christ suffers, the whole body suffers. When one member rejoices, the whole body rejoices.

Philippians 2:1-4
If therefore there is any encouragement in Christ, if there is any consolation of love, if there is any fellowship of the Spirit, if any affection and compassion, make my joy complete by being of the same mind, maintaining the same love, united in spirit, intent on one purpose. Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind let each of you regard one another as more important than himself; do not merely look out for your own personal interests, but also for the interests of others.

I have been blessed by observing the many readers of this blog who have never met Marcus and MaryAnn personally, who have written to share they are praying, and have asked for updates on his condition. Although this is not the outcome for which many had hoped, we can be assured that Yahweh abides forever, an all-wise, all-powerful Creator and Heavenly Father whose compassion does not fail.

James 4:14
Yet you do not know what your life will be like tomorrow. You are just a vapor that appears for a little while and then vanishes away.

II Corinthians 5:1
For we know that if our earthly house, this tent, is destroyed, we have a building from God, a house not made with hands, age-abiding in the heavens.

I Peter 4:7
The end of all things is at hand; therefore, be of sound judgment and sober spirit for the purpose of prayer.

I John 2:17
And the world is passing away, and also its lusts; but the one who does the will of God abides forever

The following news site has a very good video on this event that mentions much about the family's faith in God.

FOX Carolina 21

May you be blessed with peace and understanding in these days,

Joseph Herrin

Heart4God Website:    

Parables Blog:    

Mailing Address:
Joseph Herrin
P.O. Box 804
Montezuma, GA 31063

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Christmas and the Test of Truth

Joseph Herrin (12-18-2013)

Some of my earliest and fondest childhood memories were of Christmas. Each December my parents would go pick out a live Christmas tree and bring it home. I still remember the heavy metal stand, painted green. It had thumb screws on three sides of the base to tighten down on the trunk of the tree. The center of the base held water, which my parents would keep filled so that the tree would continue to live even after it had been cut down.

My mother was in charge of decorating the tree, but she asked us as children to help her put some ornaments, or tinsel on the tree. There were also strings of colored lights to be strung on the tree. I remember one year when I must have been somewhere between 5-7 years old finding the lights to be so beautiful. Perhaps we did not have colored and blinking lights before that year. I was so enthralled by them that I lay down on my back on our living room carpet and scooted my head up under the edge of the tree boughs so I could look up through the branches at the blinking colored lights. I was transfixed at the scene before me, and the smell of the fresh evergreen was delightful.

I cannot remember a Christmas as a child when we did not have loads of presents under the tree. One of our great thrills as youngsters was trying to guess what was in the boxes. When our parents were not looking we would shake a box, or see if we could read through a thin spot in the wrapping paper. Everything about the Christmas season was magical for me as a child. There were parties at church where gifts would be exchanged. Poinsettias would be purchased and placed in the sanctuary of the Baptist church we attended. We even attended a couple of churches that put up a Christmas tree.

The allure of the Christmas holiday season did not end there, however. All my life I have loved food, and sitting around eating with friends and family was an occasion of much joy. Christmas and Thanksgiving were the only two holidays when my family did such things. When I was a child, my family would travel to visit aunts and uncles, grandparents, and cousins. There were always piles of food: turkey, dressing, mashed potatoes and gravy, candied yams, cranberry sauce, green bean casserole, cookies, pumpkin and mincemeat pies, in addition to the pre and post-feast appetizers such as chips and cheese dip, sausage balls, spiced cider, and hot cocoa with marshmallows or whipped cream on top.

My parents eventually established a tradition of opening presents on Christmas Eve. Perhaps they gave in to the clamoring of my two sisters and I (my young brother came along 8 years after me, so he wasn’t much of a presence in my early years). My parents would gather us together and my dad would read about the birth of Christ from the Gospel of Luke. Try as I might to be a good young boy, I couldn’t wait for the Bible story to end so we could get to unwrapping the boxes of presents.

I still remember some of my prized presents from childhood. One year among the various gifts I received were two yellow steel Tonka Trucks, one was a road grader and another was a steam shovel. They both had adjustable and moving parts and I spent many hours playing with them. Then there was the erector set I received one Christmas Eve. It seemed to have a million little metal parts with pre-drilled holes, and there were masses of little nuts and bolts to hold everything together. I remember one of my dad’s friends from work came over that Christmas Eve with his family. My dad and his friend spent most of the evening building things with my erector set, but I didn’t mind. I had so many other presents that I could easily wait to get my turn. I remember the Tinker Toys and the Lincoln Logs, the Lego construction kits. Perhaps all of these were my dad’s way of getting me interested in building things. I certainly didn’t mind. I spent many hours with these treasured toys.

Another fond memory of Christmas celebrations from my early years was the music. That was back in the day when music came on records. We had a decent collection of special holiday music. There were Christmas albums by Bing Crosby, Perry Como, Burl Ives, and Alvin and the Chipmunks.

It is easy to see how men and women develop such strong attachments to Christmas. The various traditions of Christmas appeal to all of the human senses, and fulfill many longings of the soul. It is a time of indulgence, but also a time of joy in giving to others. It is an unusual time of year when strangers will speak kindly to others, wishing people they pass on the street a “Merry Christmas.”

There was never any discussion in the churches I grew up in of the origins of the various Christmas traditions. We never questioned where the Christmas tree, colored lights, tinsel, wreaths, spiced cider, Christmas ham, mistletoe, or feasting originated. All these things were simply accepted as Christian traditions of long standing. There was the annual Christmas play at church put on by the children. Since the story of Christ’s birth, the journey of the magi and their camels laden with gifts, and of the angels appearing to shepherds in the field to announce the birth of the Savior, was recounted in church at this time of year, I assumed that Jesus must surely have been born on December 25th.

The only Christmas controversy, or word of concern, I remember hearing of in three decades of church attendance related to warnings of the danger of the holiday taking on too much of a materialistic emphasis, or of secularists trying to remove Christ from the Christmas holidays. To combat these threats we were plied with slogans such as “Keep Christ in Christmas,” and “Jesus is the Reason for the Season.”

I remember in my thirties being pretty self-satisfied that I was pushing back against the encroaching secularism by putting up a lighted manger scene in our front yard and wearing a button to work that said “Wise Men Still Seek Him.” I think it was the very next year that I began to encounter teachings about the pagan origins of many of the dates and traditions that surround this “Christian holiday.”

For some time I vacillated back and forth. Christmas had a very strong bond to my soul. All of my memories of Christmas were pleasant ones. I now had children of my own and as a father I delighted to give them gifts and see their reactions of joy. I have remained a child at heart in many ways, and I still enjoy colored lights and vibrant decorations. It was a struggle to consider ending an annual tradition in which my soul had found so much pleasure.

I also considered that there was much spoken about Christ at this time of year. Although I could not deny the pagan origin of the date established for the celebration, or the many traditions attached to it, I questioned the role a person’s attitude and focus had in such a matter. After all, do not the Scriptures state, “To the pure all things are pure”? Could I not observe a holiday of unclean origins as long as I made Christ my focus at this time of year, and adopted Christian explanations for the various traditions?

From my earliest days I have had an unusual affinity to God. I have never been one to place denominational beliefs over what I discerned to be truth in the Bible. I have since my youth questioned, and at times challenged, the teachings and practices of the churches that I attended. I have always understood that my chief loyalty lies with Yahweh. He it is Who created me, and it will be to Him that I will have to give an account one day.

At the same time, I have since my early years had an inquisitive spirit, wanting to understand mysteries, and to comprehend the things of God. I have made the study of the Scriptures my avid pursuit since my early teen years, and perhaps before that. I have wanted to know truth, and I have called out for it.

One thought that stuck with me from my youth is of reading the story of Solomon. There came a day when Solomon was newly appointed as king of all Israel. He went up and offered many sacrifices to Yahweh, and Yahweh appeared to him in a dream in the night. Yahweh instructed Solomon to ask for anything he desired, and it would be granted to him. Solomon could have asked for riches, for a long life, or victory over all his enemies. Instead, Solomon asked for God to grant him wisdom that he might rule well the nation of Israel. This request pleased Yahweh, and he gave Solomon breadth of mind and understand that surpassed any man before, and which would not be excelled until that day when the Son of God appeared in human form.

I Kings 3:10-13
And it was pleasing in the sight of Yahweh that Solomon had asked this thing. And God said to him, “Because you have asked this thing and have not asked for yourself long life, nor have asked riches for yourself, nor have you asked for the life of your enemies, but have asked for yourself discernment to understand justice, behold, I have done according to your words. Behold, I have given you a wise and discerning heart, so that there has been no one like you before you, nor shall one like you arise after you. And I have also given you what you have not asked, both riches and honor, so that there will not be any among the kings like you all your days.”

I remember in my youth intensely desiring that Yahweh might grant me the same gift. I did not desire wealth, or physical strength, or any other thing. What I yearned for was a wise and understanding heart. I wanted to receive the knowledge of mysteries, and to perceive spiritual truths that others did not see. I do not believe there has been a time since my teenage years when I have read the story of Solomon when this desire has not burned in my heart. I want to know truth. I yearn to have a wise and understanding heart.

Because I frequently made this request known to Yahweh, He began to reveal to me some things about the apprehension of truth, wisdom, and understanding. He showed me one of the principles of His kingdom that was inextricably linked to the acquisition of truth. The principle is revealed in the following words of the Messiah.

Luke 8:18
"Therefore take care how you listen; for whoever has, to him shall more be given; and whoever does not have, even what he thinks he has shall be taken away from him."

Christ spoke a parable in which He said, “He who is faithful with a little will be given greater things.” As Christians, we often equate this saying to money, for that is the immediate context of the parable. What we fail to understand is that parables are used to convey spiritual truths. If we understand them in a natural sense only, we will fail to comprehend the true meaning of God. In Luke 8:18 Yahshua reveals that this principle applies to the things we listen to. We are admonished to take care HOW we listen. If we want to be given more truth, more understanding, more wisdom, more discernment of God’s mysteries, we must prove ourselves faithful with that which has already been entrusted to us.

I thought on this as the Father began to show me the historic roots of various Christian holidays that are not found observed in the Bible. I began to meditate upon how Yahweh’s feasts of Passover, Pentecost, and Tabernacles had been replaced by festivals that occurred on different dates, and which contained different symbols, practices, and traditions. The modern church’s two highest holy days are Christmas and Easter. They are both traceable back to the mystery religions of ancient Babylon and the worship of fertility gods and goddesses.

This writing would be too lengthy to recount all of this information here, but I will include the following links to articles that explore the origins of these holidays.

Fat Tuesday (Mardi Gras), Ash Wednesday, Lent and Easter

Removing the High Places

As I continued my studies on the pagan origins of Christmas, I became disturbed in my soul. I could not reconcile the unclean, clearly idolatrous, origins of this festival with the Christian practice today. I knew from having been an ardent student of the Old Testament that Yahweh is a jealous God who requires purity among His people. Yahweh judged Israel and Judah repeatedly for mixing together the holy and the profane. He charged His priests and prophets with teaching His people to distinguish between that which is clean and unclean.

Ezekiel 44:23
“Moreover, they shall teach My people the difference between the holy and the profane, and cause them to discern between the unclean and the clean.”

Yahweh so impressed upon His people the fact that He did not like mixture, that he forbid them to wear a garment woven of two types of material, or to sow their field with two types of seed, or to yoke together an oxen and a donkey. Nor did this emphasis on distinguishing between the holy and unholy end with the new covenant established by Christ.

II Corinthians 6:14-18
Do not be unequally yoked together with unbelievers. For what fellowship has righteousness with lawlessness? And what communion has light with darkness? And what accord has Christ with Belial? Or what part has a believer with an unbeliever? And what agreement has the temple of God with idols? For you are the temple of the living God. As God has said: “I will dwell in them and walk among them. I will be their God, and they shall be My people.” Therefore “Come out from among them and be separate, says the Lord. Do not touch what is unclean, and I will receive you.” “I will be a Father to you, and you shall be My sons and daughters, says the Lord Almighty.”

I Corinthians 10:21-22
You cannot drink the cup of the Lord and the cup of demons; you cannot partake of the table of the Lord and the table of demons. Or do we provoke the Lord to jealousy?

After much prayer, study, and meditation on the matter, I found that I could no longer in good conscience continue to observe Christmas with my family. I sat my wife and children down and shared with them about the matter. They were very understanding, and did not object. This will strike some as remarkable, but we had already been on a journey for more than a year that others would view as quite radical. We were daily choosing obedience to God to an uncommon degree for our day.

Because we had annually exchanged Christmas gifts and cards with other family members, and participated in Christmas day gatherings with my wife’s parents, her brothers and their families, I knew that I needed to share with them as well. At the same time, I realized that it was not my place to tell them what they ought to do. I could only explain to them my own convictions and what our practice would now be. So, some weeks before Christmas in 2001 I sent out a letter to all of our family members. Following is an excerpt from that letter.
Dear Family Members,

As we enter into the midst of the holiday season, we desire to let you know of some changes we are making in our home this year. Our Heavenly Father continues to lead us into new truths that require obedience from us, and we are finding that many things that we could do in former years without any violation of conscience we are now not able to do...

It may come as a surprise to some that there are a number of holidays that are routinely celebrated by Christians that have their origins in the worship of false deities. It was prophesied by both Jesus and the Apostle Paul that in the last days before Jesus returned that the church would turn aside from truth and they would embrace many myths and fables and false traditions. This has occurred and, as the Father reveals these false traditions to us, we are hearing His call to separate ourselves from them.

There is a scripture in Revelation that is written to those who have participated in these false traditions in the days we live in. The scripture is Revelation 18:4, “Come out of her, My people, lest you participate in her sins and partake of her plagues.” We have been hearing the call of God to come out of all that does not originate in Him that we might obtain His favor and escape the judgment to fall on those who walk in disobedience...

This mixing of the sacred and the pagan, the holy and the profane is not pleasing to God. In the book written by the prophet Ezekiel, the following words are related to us:

Ezekiel 22:26
"Her priests have done violence to My law and have profaned My holy things; they have made no distinction between the holy and the profane, and they have not taught the difference between the unclean and the clean...”

As the Father has given us light and understanding of these things, we feel that we must respond in obedience and separate ourselves from these practices. For this reason we will not be celebrating these holidays established by man, instead we will seek to remember the holy days established by God; Passover, Pentecost, and the Feast of Trumpets. All of these are recorded in scripture and their dates are given.

We are not judging any others who choose to still remember these dates or participate in these celebrations. We must all walk in the light we are given, and we simply desire to share what we have received from the Holy Spirit as the manner in which we are to walk. We want to let you know of our decision that was arrived at after much prayer and consideration.

We acknowledge that many family members have taken these holidays as an opportunity to express their love for one another through the giving of gifts, and we have done so ourselves in years past. We will not be able to participate in the giving or receiving of “Christmas gifts” this year, and we hope that no one will take offense at this. We are simply seeking to be found pleasing to God by walking in a clear conscience before Him.

The Father has revealed nothing wrong in giving or receiving gifts, as it is an expression of love, and there were many gifts given from one person to another in scripture. The greatest gift we have ever received is the free gift of eternal life through faith in Jesus Christ. However, this gift has no association with December 25th. We will continue to give and receive gifts on appropriate occasions, or simply as an act of love from one person to another.

As the days we are living in grow darker in many ways, we feel called to walk in a greater separation from the darkness. This is our heart and we hope you will understand and that you too will find a place of peace and security in the midst of troubled times.

In gratitude and sincerity,

Joseph, Tony, Kristin and Josiah
I anticipated that this announcement would not be well received by most, if not all, of our family members. Some were Christians, and some were not, yet all of them celebrated Christmas with much zeal. In my heart, I had peace with God, and that is what was most important to me. I desired to be found faithful with the truth Yahweh had entrusted to me, in hope that I would be given greater truths in the days ahead.

The fact cannot be avoided that truth is divisive. When a man or woman embraces truth, and orders their life in accordance with the same, it must necessarily result in separation from those who have not embraced truth. Yahweh will in this way test His people to see if they are lovers of the truth. Those who love truth are willing to suffer in obedience to it. Those who do not love truth will compromise, or make excuses, in order to continue to enjoy those things their soul loves, and to maintain peace with men. Though compromise may afford them some temporal satisfaction, the end will reveal the serious error of failing to embrace the cost of obedience to the truth.

The Father was to test me sorely in this matter of holding to my spiritual convictions. In October of 1999 my family had been led into a great adventure as the Holy Spirit directed me to leave my employment as a computer professional and to begin writing while looking to Him to supply all our needs. There was correction that came to my life at the same time, for I had accumulated many things through debt. A spirit of covetousness had been manifest in my life for many years. The, discipline I endured as Yahweh stripped me bare of all things gained during my years of covetous living was excruciating, and at times terrifying, but the Holy Spirit held me to the course.

December of 2001 found us as a family having been stripped clean of our former way of life. I had recently had my final yard sale, disposing of all the furniture and appliances we had left. The Father was indicating that He would have us traveling in a motorhome for a season, though we had no idea where it would come from. When December came I had just enough money left to pay for two weeks in a Super 8 hotel room in Perry, Georgia.

Super 8 Perry, Georgia

This was a season of intense praying for me. I had endured more than a year of fiery cleansing. I had been scourged, and was at a time of new beginnings. In hindsight I recognize why the Father led me to the Super 8 motel. The number 8 signifies new beginnings.

It had been the practice of my wife’s parents for all the years my wife and I had been married, to give each of their children and their children’s spouse’s a large financial gift at Christmas. The previous year they had given each couple $8,000. I knew that the money would meet some very pressing needs, but I did not know how our heavenly Father would work all things out. I knew that I could no longer receive the money as a “Christmas gift,” but I also knew the gift had little to do with Christmas. It was just a way for my wife’s parents to help their children out financially once a year. I committed the matter to prayer and waited to see what the Father would do.

At this time, my wife’s family had come to despise me. This was not due to the announcement that we would not celebrate Christmas, but rather because I had followed the Lord in quitting my job, with the result being that Yahweh had stripped us of our home, all but one vehicle, our furnishings, and we had only the possessions we could carry with us into the hotel room. Even those relatives who were Christians could not accept that Yahweh had led me to take my family down this path. Those who were not Christians concluded that I was a lunatic, and did not hide their displeasure.

It had been the practice of my wife’s parents to always hand out checks on Christmas morning as all of their children and grandchildren were gathered in their home. I had announced that we would not be attending any Christmas celebrations this year, so I committed the matter to the Father’s hands. We had been at the hotel some days when my wife’s parents did something they had never done before. They gave all of their children checks on December 8th instead of on Christmas day. Because I had fallen out of favor with them, instead of giving me a check for $4,000 and my wife the same, as they did with every other one of their children and their wives, they wrote a single check for $8,000 and put it in my wife’s name.

The check was endorsed by my wife’s father, and certified. This was typical, for he did the same every year. He would simply give us an envelope with an unadorned check inside. This year, however, my mother-in-law also did something she had never done before. She wrote in the comment line on the check, “Merry Christmas!” in large letters, and she affixed numerous Christmas stickers to the face of the check. I knew this was done to spite me, and to show her contempt for the convictions I had shared with each of our family members.

I recognized the test immediately. Here I was in a hotel room with my family. We had little more than a week left. I had sold the rest of our possessions and had no other way to raise income besides returning to secular employment, and the Spirit of Christ was restraining me from doing so. The money would go a long way toward meeting our needs, but if I accepted it I would be demonstrating that money was a greater priority than obeying God. It did not take me long to announce to my wife that we would not be able to accept the check, but would have to return it to her parents. My wife understood, as she saw clearly that the message and stickers on the check were intended as a dig. To my knowledge, no such message or stickers were put on any of the other children’s checks.

People of God, I firmly believe that Yahweh orders the steps of His sons and daughters. He brought me to this test because He wanted to prove my heart. He wanted to demonstrate whether I walked in the fear of Him, and how much I truly desired truth. Yahweh does not dispense spiritual knowledge and understanding indiscriminately. Truth is costly. Had I failed this test I do not doubt that my life from that day forward would have been very different from what I have experienced. Since that date, Yahweh has given me many revelations of truth which are largely unknown to the majority of His people. Receiving these further truths has also proven costly, resulting in my being rejected from various fellowships of believers, reproached by online ministers as a teacher of heresy, having to find my consolation in Christ. Yet, I would rather walk alone with Christ in truth than to have abundant fellowship with men mired in error and deception.

My wife took the check to her father who was at work and explained to him that because of what her mother had written on the check, and the Christmas stickers, that we could not receive it. I had no expectation of how her meeting with her father would go. She could have returned empty handed. Her father could have become very angry, venting his rage at me. Yet, neither of these things are what occurred. Instead, her father took the check from her and wrote her a new one without any messages or stickers on it. With that money the Father purchased for us a motorhome in very good shape. Thus, at the Super 8 Motel, on the 8th of December, Yahweh provided for us $8,000 with which we began anew as a family.

(For a fuller account of the tests, trials, and miracles of God experienced by our family, I recommend to you the autobiographical book Evidence of Things Unseen.)

During the years in which I have had an Internet ministry, I have had individuals with a hunger for truth write and inquire how to gain understanding of the hidden things of God. Many have lamented to me that the Bible is to them a closed book. Others have told me with sorrow that they do not hear the voice of God. Repeatedly, I have pointed them back to this principle of the kingdom that Yahweh revealed to me years ago. “Those who are faithful with the little they have been given will receive greater things.”

You may be vacillating over the issue of celebrating Christmas. I understand the struggle. My counsel to you is that when in doubt, follow the course of greater obedience to God. Do not think that your celebrating Christmas is of no importance in the eyes of God. He tests all hearts with such matters. He wants to clearly identify those who will place a love of truth, and conformity to it, above the desires of their soul and the acceptance of man.

If you want to receive greater revelations from the Father, you must first prove yourself faithful with what has already been entrusted to you. If God is giving you light on some subject, such as the pagan origins of Christmas and Easter, you would do well to consider carefully what Yahweh would have you do in regard to the truth.

We live in an hour where the church is compromising more and more with the world. Some denominations are even ordaining homosexuals to the ministry. Please consider that such apostasy does not occur in a single moment of time. Compromise advances one decision at a time. This is true for an individual as well as an entire denomination.

It is needful in this hour to discern clearly between the holy and the profane, between the clean and unclean. Perhaps this decision regarding what you will do about Christmas is a test in your life. Will your choice lead to a greater sensitivity to the distinction between the holy and profane, or to a greater blurring of the differences between them?

Update on Marcus Kauffman: I just received word from my daughter (7 P.M. Wednesday) that she has stayed in Charlotte rather than returning home last night as things took a serious downturn in his condition. Kristin has reported that doctors performed a CT Scan and found that Marcus has been experiencing multiple strokes. They are also continuing to struggle with pressure on his brain, and he has began having lung problems leading the doctors to do a tracheotomy to insert a breathing tube. The doctors are telling the family that they are no longer holding out hope for Marcus' recovery and are advising the family that they are at a point where the family needs to make decisions about whether to continue keeping Marcus on life support.

Kristin writes, "This has been an extremely difficult day for the family, and we are just crying out to God to meet us in this place, and for wisdom for the family. Please continue in prayer. We know that when we are at the end of our resources, and in the face of impossibility, God can work miracles. We also want to surrender to His will."

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Joseph Herrin
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Montezuma, GA 31063