A Little Context For Me

Friday, July 29, 2016

Who Were The Nephilim? Part 5 - Jude and the Hebrew Scripture Connection

Ruins from Bashan

Before we left Jude behind, I wanted to pause and address the two passages that are cited to refute the idea that Jude is quoting from the Book of Enoch. As I studied these passages, I quickly realized that the information presented ties the passage in Jude to the Nephilim as firmly as any Enochian quote. The link is not as straightforward, but just as real. Furthermore, as these are canonical they do carry more weight.

So let’s jump in. The first passage is:

He said, “The LORD came from Sinai and dawned from Seir upon us; he shone forth from Mount Paran; he came from the ten thousands of holy ones, with flaming fire at his right hand. Deuteronomy 33:2

This chapter is Moses’ blessing upon the Hebrew people prior to their entrance into Canaan, the Promised Land. He is giving his final words before he retreats to Mount Nebo and dies. He would have chosen his words carefully. Dying men who are still in possession of all their faculties do not speak lightly or without purpose. And as readers, we need to ask why did Moses reference these two locations, Seir and Paran?

To answer that we have to back up to Genesis 14:1-16, sometimes referred to as the War of Four Against Five Kings. I want to direct you attention specifically to verses 4-6:

Twelve years they had served Chedorlaomer, but in the thirteenth year they rebelled. In the fourteenth year Chedorlaomer and the kings who were with him came and defeated the Rephaim in Ashteroth-karnaim, the Zuzim in Ham, the Emim in Shaveh-kiriathaim, and the Horites in their hill country of Seir as far as El-paran on the border of the wilderness. 

Notice who was defeated: the Rephaim, Zuzim, Emim, and the Horites. Why is this important? Who are these people? According to Josephus, ancient Hebrew historian, they are “offspring of giants”, (The Antiquities of the Jew 1.9. 174), and his conclusion is supported by Deuteronomy 2:17-25:

The LORD said to me, ‘Today you are to cross the border of Moab at Ar. And when you approach the territory of the people of Ammon, do not harass them or contend with them, for I will not give you any of the land of the people of Ammon as a possession, because I have given it to the sons of Lot for a possession.’ (It is also counted as a land of Rephaim. Rephaim formerly lived there—but the Ammonites call them Zamzummim—a people great and many, and tall as the Anakim; but the LORD destroyed them before the Ammonites, and they dispossessed them and settled in their place, as he did for the people of Esau, who live in Seir, when he destroyed the Horites before them and they dispossessed them and settled in their place even to this day. As for the Avvim, who lived in villages as far as Gaza, the Caphtorim, who came from Caphtor, destroyed them and settled in their place.) ‘Rise up, set out on your journey and go over the Valley of the Arnon. Behold, I have given into your hand Sihon the Amorite, king of Heshbon, and his land. Begin to take possession, and contend with him in battle. This day I will begin to put the dread and fear of you on the peoples who are under the whole heaven, who shall hear the report of you and shall tremble and be in anguish because of you.’

Now think about this with me for a moment, when the original twelve spies were sent into Canaan they came back with a report:

So they brought to the people of Israel a bad report of the land that they had spied out, saying, “The land, through which we have gone to spy it out, is a land that devours its inhabitants, and all the people that we saw in it are of great height. And there we saw the Nephilim (the sons of Anak, who come from the Nephilim), and we seemed to ourselves like grasshoppers, and so we seemed to them.” Numbers 13:32-33

Moses had already watched the first generation to escape Egypt miss entering the Promise Land because they feared the giants. He understood that this time they could not afford to let fear rule. They needed to rise up and face this enemy confident in God’s power to defend and advance their cause in the fulfillment of the promise God had made to Abraham so many years ago. So when Moses speaks in Deuteronomy 33, he reminds the people that these sons of giants, the children of Anak, who come the Nephilim, were not invincible. They could be defeated. It had happened before, and it would happen again.

In Deuteronomy 33, we find a connection between the “ten thousand holy ones” and the land where the Nephilim lived. Not only that, we see that the holy ones are coming to defeat the Nephilim with God fighting at their side.

This brings us to the second passage using the phrase “ten thousand holy ones”, Psalms 68:17:

The chariots of God are twice ten thousand, thousands upon thousands; the Lord is among them; Sinai is now in the sanctuary. 

If you take the time to read the entire chapter one thing becomes clear, the central theme of this Psalm is God’s victory over his enemies. Within it we find direct references to the Exodus, the wilderness wanderings, and the conquest of Canaan, tying it back to the same events presented in Deuteronomy. However, there is an additional curiosity – the mention of Bashan in verses 15 and 16.

In Deuteronomy 3, we find the battle between the Hebrew people and Bashan, a land ruled by King Og. Verse 11, provides some interesting information about him.

For only Og the king of Bashan was left of the remnant of the Rephaim. Behold, his bed was a bed of iron. Is it not in Rabbah of the Ammonites? Nine cubits was its length, and four cubits its breadth, according to the common cubit.

The thing I almost missed was where King Og lived, you know the precise street address. Thankfully, Joshua thought to write it down.

…and Og king of Bashan, one of the remnant of the Rephaim, who lived at Ashtaroth and at Edrei… Joshua 12:4

If the city of Ashtaroth sounds familiar, it should. Look back to Genesis 14:5, Ashteroth-karnaim was city in Bashan, east of the Jordan River. The same place where the original war against the offspring of the giants went down. And what is David hoping to accomplish with his Psalm? The same thing Moses was doing in Deuteronomy 33, he was reminding the people that God is victorious no matter what enemy tries to stand before him.

No matter how we slice it, Jude is referencing the Nephilim. Whether we base his quotes on the Book of Enoch or those from the Bible. He wants his readers to make the connection between the unholy ones of Genesis 6 and the judgement that will be executed by the ten thousand holy ones. Now who exactly are these ten thousand holy ones? We will look into that next time.

Part 6 of our series: http://misdirectedmusings.blogspot.com/2016/09/who-were-nephilim-part-6-who-are-holy.html

Who Were The Nephilim? Part 4 - The Jude-Enoch Connection

St. Jude By El Greco

This is part four of an ongoing series over the Nephilim. If you would like to start at the beginning of the series, click here:Who Were The Nephilim? Part 1

As we continue to examine the question of who were the Nephilim, we cannot avoid the book of Enoch. I have already addressed the question as to whether Enoch should have been included in the Bible, shared some of the book’s history, and discussed one of the major themes of Enoch, the Watchers.  You can find that post here: Why Wasn't Enoch Included In The Bible?

In this post we are going to discuss why Jude might choose to quote from what many would consider a questionable, if not downright suspect book, and how his use of Enoch informs our understanding of the Genesis 6 account.

First off if you haven’t read through the book of Jude with Genesis 6 or the Nephilim in mind, I would encourage you to do so. It is only one chapter with twenty five verses, but packed full of information. And Jude manages to pack so much in because he alludes to several Biblical accounts from the Hebrew Scripture. So how much time you spend in Jude is completely up to you, a few minutes for a quick read through or days if you look up all the events he mentions. (Guess which one I recommend?)

Let’s begin with verse 6:

And the angels who did not stay within their own position of authority, but left their proper dwelling, he had kept in chains under gloomy darkness until the judgement of the great day –

So here is where we must ask our first question, when did angels leave their position of authority and proper dwelling? The most common answer would be Satan’s rebellion, but there is a problem with this as we know that Satan is not bound in chains waiting until the judgement of the great day. In fact, the Bible tells us quite the opposite:

Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. 1 Peter 5:8 

The Lord said to Satan, “From where have you come?” Satan answered the Lord and said, “From going to and fro on the earth, and from walking up and down on it.” Job 1:7

Some have tried to make Satan’s rebellion fit Jude’s words by claiming that the angels in chains are a part of the ones who fell with Satan, and thus avoiding the Enochian connection. However, there is a problem with this as nowhere in the Hebrew Scriptures do we have any mention of angels in chains or held captive. The only place we learn of angels held captive are here in Jude, 1 Peter, and Revelation – all New Testament writings. This is important, because if we look at Jude we quickly realize that he is not presenting new revelation. He is drawing on historical events, weaving them together, and presenting a consistent principle demonstrated throughout history in God’s dealings with humanity and the ungodly.

We should also note how he classifies the sin of these angels, on to verse 7:

Just as Sodom and Gomorrah and the surrounding cities, which likewise indulged in sexual immorality and pursued unnatural desire, serve as an example by undergoing a punishment of eternal fire. 

The important word here is “likewise”, informing us that the sin of the angels who are bound in chains was sexual in nature. Jude could have gotten that sexual part from Genesis 6, but it still does not answer the question about where he learned about them being kept in chains. Nor does feel the need to explain himself. Read through this section again, notice how he referencing these events in almost the same manner as we might reference a movie or TV show. He expects his audience to know what he is talking about.

Jude himself will answer the question in verse 14:

It was also that Enoch, the seventh from Adam, prophesied, saying, “Behold the Lord comes with ten thousand of his holy ones, to execute judgement on all and to convict the ungodly of their deeds of ungodliness that they have committed in such an ungodly way, and of all the harsh things that ungodly sinners has spoken against him.” 

Nowhere in the Hebrew Scriptures is Enoch called a prophet. We know that he was godly man who walked with God and never knew death because God took him, but aside from that we really have no further information about him…unless we are willing to admit the Book of Enoch into evidence which clearly Jude does. Consider this passage from Enoch:

And behold, he comes with ten thousand holy ones to execute judgement upon them and to destroy the impious, and to contend with all flesh concerning everything which the sinners and the impious have done and wrought against him. 1:9

We are going to come back to this text in a future post because it is significant to our understanding of who the Nephilim were. For now, it is sufficient to establish that Jude is referring to Enoch as a prophet something that is only established in the book of Enoch, from which Jude is lifting this quote.

I would be remiss if I did not note that there are two passages in the Hebrew Bible that also use the phrase “ten thousand holy ones”, and some believe that Jude was quoting from Deuteronomy 33:2 and Psalms 68:17. I believe that as Jude specifically ties his words to Enoch precludes this conclusion, and I believe that these passages actually strengthen the argument that Jude is indeed referring to the Genesis 6 episode. I would also point out the while Jude’s quotation of Enoch is not verbatim, it does more closely align with the Enochian quote than either of the two passages we find in Hebrew Scripture, and the discrepancies can largely be accounted for in translation choices such “impious” instead of “ungodly.”

My conclusion is that Jude accepted the Enochian account of the Watcher, or the Sons of God, as having some bearing on reality. I do not believe that he would have quoted from it if he viewed Enoch as erroneous or misleading. Does this mean that we should view Enoch as having the same value as holy and inspired text? I do not believe it does. If were to have that standing then it would have been canonized, but it was excluded from both the Hebrew and the Christian canons. Instead, it was serves to demonstrate how the Genesis 6 account was understood in antiquity and allows our reading to be informed by this understanding.

Jude is not alone among the New Testament authors in having such a high view of Enoch. In future post we will examine Peter’s use of Enoch in his letters and other instances where Enoch was alluded to in the New Testament text. In my next post, I will be taking a closer look at Enoch 1:9, the ten thousand holy ones, and how this relates back to the Genesis 6 episode.

For part 5 in this series, click here: Part 5 - The Jude and Hebrew Scripture Connection

Tuesday, July 5, 2016

The Price of Obedience

God has graciously given me a pop quiz, reminding me that what I know is of little value if I do not apply it.

I have learned so much over the years about the Bible, God, and how he interacts in this world, but there is this disconnect that happens in my life. I forget that these truths are not just some type of great spiritual abstraction. I forget that if they are to have any value they have to be lived out here and now, in this world, in this place, and before witnesses.

But even more importantly, I forget that these truths can only be witnessed if they are lived.

And who is going to live them if those of us who declare them are not willing to submit their lives to that cause?

We live in a world that has tried hijack our faith and bastardize the promises of our God. We are told that all good things come to those who serve him, those follow the rules, and have enough faith. Blessings and abundance will spring forth, we will never know suffering, pain will never touch us, respect and honor is ours for the taking.

You have heard it. I know you have. God has given you a desire and dream, and he wants nothing more than for you to have the desires he has placed in your heart. You deserve it, you are a child of the king, you will see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living, and your life will be fountain of joy!

But you do know what? The world doesn’t need to see more happy people being happy. Really. We already know that the people with the great houses, fabulous cars, and dream jobs are happy. Everyone gets this formula, it is sold to us in every TV ad and magazine article out there. Follow your passion, chase your dream, get enough money, have the perfect family, and make the right friends and your life will be nothing short of fulfilling and blissful.

But what about everyone else? What about those of us with the crap jobs, dysfunctional families, living pay check to pay check, and just struggling to keep breathing under the pressures of this world? What about those of us doing everything right and our lives are imploding? What about us? Is there no joy for us? No hope? No blessings spilling from the heavens despite our best efforts? What about our broken hearts that were shattered because we dared to dream, dared to hope, and dared to love? Only to broken against the reality that we live in fallen world filled with others just as broken as we have ever been? Does God not love us? Is this the price of obedience?

Yes! A thousand times, yes!

Pain is the price of obedience. For you cannot love a broken world without being broken. You cannot have dreams shattered if you never dare to dream. You cannot hurt for the pains of another if you do not open your heart to their wounds and, in turn, to be wounded. You cannot find fulfillment if you do not first empty yourself, and you cannot be disappointed if you do not dare to hope.

And all of this will happen if you step out and seek the Father’s heart for your life. You will dream big dreams, you know great hopes, and you will love with a depth that defies human understanding. And the world will seek to destroy you for daring such great things. It will take the ones you love from you, it will shred your most precious dream, and it will shatter your hopes. And God will let it, with no apologies, he will let the world do a tap dance on the graves of all that you buried along the way.

This is the test. Can you still seek him while the fanfare plays? While your enemies rejoice over you demise? When you can’t see him past the jubilant crowds? Can you trust him when you know it wasn’t just a hope or dream that died, but a part of your heart?

It will be long, cold three days and nights. And you will grieve as you have never grieved before. But can you keep coming back? Can you return to that place where that precious part of you died? Search for evidence that all you have endured wasn’t in vain? Or will you give up? Declare that God is just as dead as the dream you mourn? Or will you come with spices and nard, honoring the fact that you were once given something so precious, refusing to be bitter at its loss?

But, Emily, someone is protesting now, God gave me these hopes and dreams! I deserve to have them! He tells me so! I have it written in his Word. 

And yes, you are so right, but where does it say that any of this comes without a cost?

Show me one Abraham who didn’t put a child on the alter, a David who wasn’t chased out of his homeland, an Elijah who didn’t dine on roadkill, a Jeremiah who wasn’t thrown in a pit, a Hosea who wasn’t married to a whore, a Mary who wasn’t accused of being a slut, a Paul who was not stoned and left for dead, or Christ who did not die on a cross. If you can, I will show you someone whose testimony of God’s grace and mercy is meaningless. I will show you someone who never knew what it was to walk in true faith, to rely fully on the provision and protection of God’s love. I will show you someone who will might pay beautiful lip service to my God but never dared to follow him into the wilds. I will show you someone’s who faith was not purified and tempered in the furnace of life.

Above all, I will show you someone who never knew the beauty and glory of resurrection, and this is the good news we are to bring to the world – our God is greater than any death we may ever experience. And what better way to declare this message than to live it? To place our lives in his hands, fully aware of what it will cost, and yet still declaring the truth of his love. A love that is not defeated in lives of chaos and disappointment, but a love the will shine forth in the resurrection and vindication of his children! This is the message of hope the world needs, and it can only be witnessed if we are willing to live it.