• Old Testament

    Calendar, the Bible, and Ancient Israel

    A calendar is a cultural convention of tracking extended time. It is internalized without much thought by a culture, but it is interesting (and important) to note that calendars have changed significantly over time. In fact, it may come as a surprise to some readers that the current method for date reckoning that Western nations use is called the Gregorian calendar, which was recently (1582 AD) put into place by Pope Gregory XIII to improve the former Julian calendar, which had been used utilized since the time of domination by the Roman Empire. The Julian calendar, named after Julius Caesar (40s BC), was largely accurate but was off by about 1 day per 100 years. Thus, Pope Gregory instituted a new calendar that would align even more precisely with the times and seasons, and would avoid having a regression (however slight it may be). So, the present calendar we use…

  • Apologetics,  Christian Living,  Culture,  Ethics

    Early Christian Opposition to Abortion

    Honestly, I am not surprised when some people claim to be Christians yet support abortion. I guess I am used to people claiming to be Christians while denying that claim by supporting all sorts of immoral nonsense. It is easy to claim to be a Christian. However, in contrast to many false believers who claim Jesus, real Christians are marked by commitment to Christ and His commandments. Real Christians are committed to the teachings of Jesus (John 13:35; 1 John 2:3) as well the teachings of Scripture as a whole (2 Tim 3:14-17). So, although I have seen my fair share of self-identifying Christians support abortion, I must admit I was a bit surprised recently when I saw a pastor of a megachurch come out and say abortion and Christianity are completely compatible. Of course a Christian analysis of this situation would affirm that abortion remains incompatible with a Christian…

  • Church

    Why Do the Dates for Easter Change?

    Growing up I was always frustrated that Easter was always on different days of the year. In contrast to Christmas or Thanksgiving, Easter always seemed to change. Sometimes it was in March, sometimes in was in April. How is one to make sense of it all? There is actually a method of behind the madness. And the method goes back a long time into history. If you compare all of the possible dates for Easter, you will observe that Easter can occur on any Sunday March 22 through April 25. Why between those dates? Easter and the Council of Nicaea It can be traced back to 325 AD, when the Council of Nicaea decreed that Easter was to be celebrated on the first Sunday after the first full moon after the spring equinox (which falls on March 21). The reason the Council of Nicaea took up the issue, was because…

  • Culture

    Marxism, Neo-Marxism, and the Goal of Destruction

    Last century the world saw over 100 million deaths thanks to the communist worldview of Marxism. You would think that such a lesson would be unforgettable. However, the Western world has not only forgotten such a lesson, but according to BBC News, Karl Marx was voted as the greatest thinker of the millennium ahead of Albert Einstein! Because of Marxism’s continued influence, it is imperative for Christians to know about it. We must recognize it, be able to decry its evil, and we must warn our churches about Marxism’s seductive and sinful promises. The Beginnings of Marxism Marxism is associated with the man himself, Karl Marx (1818–1883). Marx was born to a nominal Christian family, but he converted to atheism very early. Unsurprisingly, his atheism colored many of his views throughout his life. Marx studied the philosophy of Georg W. F. Hegel at the University of Berlin. Hegel had quite…

  • Culture,  Theology

    A Brief History of Prisons and Their Failure

    On a recent episode of The Briefing, Al Mohler discussed New York’s plan to spend $9 billion on building new prisons. Mohler included a brief discussion of the history of prisons which inspired me to do a little more research on the issue. Throughout most of human history, prisons were meant to be a temporary arrangement. Prisons in the ancient world were a place where a suspect was to be held while waiting for his case to be heard. For example, Leviticus 24:10-12 mentions the imprisonment of an individual until the verdict had been reached, and the judgment was then administered (cf. Num 15:32-36). Similarly, in ancient Mesopotamian practice, a suspect was often held in the temple until his trial. This pattern is continued in the New Testament era where prisoners were either held until their case was clarified (Acts 5:17-25; 16:23-24), or debtors were kept while they or their…

  • Old Testament

    Who was Ahasuerus in the Book of Esther?

    Sometimes different Bible translations can lead to interesting questions. For example, if we were to compare the NIV and the ESV translations, we would come across a seemingly large difference. According to the NIV Xerxes was king during the time of Esther, but according to the ESV Ahasuerus was king. NIV This is what happened during the time of Xerxes… ESV Now in the days of Ahasuerus… Why does the NIV say the king was Xerxes, while the ESV says the king was Ahasuerus? Many translations struggle with the issue of how to identify the king of Esther. To complicate matters somewhat, the LXX and Josephus identify the king as Ἀρταξέρξης (Artaxerxes), thus giving us three options. The Hebrew text reads אֲחַשְׁוֵרוֹשׁ (Ahasuerus), a name which is confirmed by other Greek translations, the Latin Vulgate, the Targums, and the Syriac translation. On the other hand, the name Xerxes is actually…

  • Church

    A Man of Whom the World Was Not Worthy

    In life there are few men and women who exemplify what could be called true greatness. This kind of greatness often defies definition and is instead understood by seeing the character within the narrative which makes them special. Today I want to share with you the story of someone who exemplified this kind of character. His name is Eric Liddell. Liddell’s story may be known to some from the 1981 movie, Chariots of Fire. The movie relates Liddell’s story, how at the age of 22 he climbed the ranks of the world’s best 100m sprinters—one of the favorites to win the 1924 Olympics in Paris. However, Liddell learned that his heat of the 100m was set for a Sunday (Liddell was a Christian who refused to participate in athletics on Sundays). To shorten a story which ought not to be shortened, he switched events, giving himself 6 months to train…